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There is no alternative to staying invested – The Globe and Mail

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While the current investment environment is very challenging, investors increase their risks if they bet on the hot sector of the day or pull out their money and default to cash.

Bulat Silvia/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

The current investment landscape is not an easy one to navigate. Technology stocks are trading at record highs; value stocks have been underperforming for years, although they have recently shown signs of life; bond rates are close to zero; and holding cash is a money-loser once inflation is taken into account. So, what are financial advisors and investors to do?

While the current investment environment is very challenging, the biggest risk that most investors with a long-term horizon face is not losing money, but not having enough of it. That’s why there’s no alternative to staying invested in a well-diversified portfolio.

Although there’s no magic formula, there are some prudent steps that can be taken to get through these challenging times. Here are three simple and proven investment strategies to consider:

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1. Avoid extremes

There’s a growing group of investors who think they should concentrate their portfolios on a few big technology stocks – especially because of their strong performance during the COVID-19 crisis. That’s because the dopamine hit investors get when they make a correct bet on the market direction is often very stimulating.

That effect becomes difficult for investors to control and, as long as it’s working, they’re encouraged to take on more and more extreme bets on the market’s direction. They will consider it a better strategy than diversification.

The problem with this approach is that no stock or sector outperforms the market all the time. One day, something else will replace the performance generated by the big technology stocks – and nobody knows what that will be.

That’s why good advisors preach diversification even if it makes many investors feel remorseful in the short term. These advisors will also remind investors that diversification means getting the good, missing out on the extraordinary, but preventing the tragic.

For investors who are adamant on making such bets, advisors can suggest that they set up a “fun portfolio” in which they can place a smaller amount of money in a self-directed account. That will allow them to attempt to time the market without putting all of their assets at risk.

It’s an easy way for investors to fulfill that urge while ensuring most of their assets remain in well-diversified portfolios.

2. Prevent the default to cash

Faced with one of the most challenging investment environments in decades, some investors will shy away from investing altogether and default to cash. Although a global pandemic and growing geopolitical tension are two very good reasons to stay on the sidelines right now, there’s a big risk in doing so.

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Holding too much cash in a portfolio leads to a vicious cycle. When the market goes up, investors tell themselves they’ll wait for the next correction; then, when the market goes down, they’ll say that they’ll wait for it to drop further. As such, investors who succumbed to a “cash addiction” in 2000, 2008, or even this past March paid a heavy price. Of course, it’s easy to look back at these dates in hindsight and say that investing during these periods was a no-brainer, but that’s never the case.

Finally, the accompanying table shows the lousy returns cash has provided to investors during the past 10 years. It’s very difficult for investors to reach their life goals if they get a negative real rate of return 10 years in a row. That’s why advisors help fight the addiction to cash among some investors by focusing on their financial plans, making sure they stay invested, and by helping them manage the inevitable cycles of fear and greed.

Annual return on cash, adjusted for inflation

Year Return (%) CPI (%) Real return (%)
2019 1.65 2.25 -0.60
2018 1.38 1.99 -0.61
2017 0.56 1.87 -1.31
2016 0.51 1.50 -0.99
2015 0.63 1.61 -0.98
2014 0.91 1.47 -0.56
2013 1.01 1.24 -0.23
2012 1.01 0.83 0.18
2011 1.00 2.30 -1.30
2010 0.54 2.35 -1.81

Source: FTSE 91-day T-bill total return and Canadian consumer Price Index (YOY, NSA)

3. Focus on preparation more than predictions

Predictions are about trying to forecast the future while preparation is about setting the right expectations for whatever may hold. Investing has a lot more to do with preparation as it’s very difficult to foresee what will happen in the future correctly.

Good advisors can help investors prepare by performing a “pre-mortem” of their investment portfolios to know what could go wrong and how they should react if those scenarios were to happen. For example, advisors can help investors prepare for a situation in which tech stocks could fall by 25 per cent in a short time – and whether they should buy more shares or liquidate their positions.

Preparing for these situations ahead of time allows investors to follow a process instead of their emotions when these events happen. That leads to better results in the long term.

Jonathan Durocher is president of National Bank Financial Wealth Management.

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Bitcoin hits three-month low

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Bitcoin dropped to a three-month low on Monday as investors sold cryptocurrencies in the wake of Tesla boss Elon Musk’s hinting over the weekend that the carmaker is considering or may have already sold some of its bitcoin holdings.

Musk has boosted crypto markets with his enthusiasm for the asset class, but has lately roiled trade by appearing to cool on bitcoin in favour of its one-time parody, dogecoin. The gyrations are beginning to spook even steeled traders.

“This has gone from clear FOMO (fear of missing out) to fear of not getting out, and you’re seeing a lot of people dumping,” said Chris Weston of brokerage Pepperstone in Melbourne, adding that he was looking at the 200-day moving average just below $40,000 as the next key test for bitcoin.

“Why would I want to buy bitcoin right now — even if I’m bullish — until the liquidation is over and you see some consolidation in price?”

Bitcoin fell more than 9% on Monday to as low as $42,185, its lowest since Feb. 8, while ether, linked to the ethereum blockhain, fell even more to as low as $3,123.94. Dogecoin fell nearly 7% to $0.48, and all three are well under recent records.

On Wednesday, Musk said Tesla would stop taking bitcoin as payment, owing to environmental concerns about energy use to process transactions. Defending that decision on Sunday, he suggested Tesla may have sold its own holdings.

In response to an unverified Twitter account called @CryptoWhale, which said https://bit.ly/2QsUQkw: “Bitcoiners are going to slap themselves next quarter when they find out Tesla dumped the rest of their #Bitcoin holdings. With the amount of hate @elonmusk is getting, I wouldn’t blame him…,” Musk wrote: “Indeed”.

It is not clear whether he was confirming sales or whether he referred only to the fact that he had faced criticism.

Musk said Tesla would not sell its bitcoin, but the cryptocurrency has dropped by almost a quarter since Musk’s reversal on Tesla taking it as payment.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported Tesla is seeking to enter the multi-billion dollar U.S. renewable credit market, hoping to profit from the Biden administration’s march toward new zero-emission goals.

Dogecoin is also yet to fully recover from Musk describing it as a “hustle,” although he did boost the price last week by saying he was working to improve its efficiency.

For an asset class that has surged this year, with dogecoin up about a hundredfold, ether up more than fourfold and bitcoin gaining 45%, some are beginning to call time on the wild ride.

“Our weekend trading has kicked up, and we’re looking at some serious liquidations through the exchanges,” said Pepperstone’s Weston.

“I am closing the short-bitcoin/long-ethereum trade and moving to the sidelines,” he added. “I feel the dust really needs to settle here.”

 

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore. Additional reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru and Vidya Ranganathan in Singapore. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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U.S. stocks rebound following rout, bond yields dip

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U.S. shares rebounded on Thursday after falling for three consecutive days and benchmark Treasury yields dipped, as investors snapped up technology stocks and shrugged off worries about rising prices, for now.

After posting their biggest slump in at least 11 weeks on Wednesday, U.S. shares bounced back as cash-flush investors looked past concerns that accelerating inflation may prompt quicker interest rate hikes, and deployed their funds once more.

So intent were investors on leaving inflation worries aside that financial markets barely responded to Thursday’s data, which showed U.S. producer prices posting their biggest annual gain since 2010 in April.

“It’s rebound Thursday,” said John Augustine, chief investment officer at Huntington Private Bank, which manages $20 billion. “Given the money on the sidelines, investors are going to be coming back in.”

Still, Augustine said investors should re-deploy their funds in a measured way because “inflation concerns are not going away”.

By midday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had added 1.4%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite narrowed earlier gains to be up 1.3% and 0.9%, respectively.

The MSCI world equity index, which includes 50 countries, also bounced slightly, gaining 0.2%.

U.S. stocks had tumbled earlier this week after data showed U.S. consumer prices unexpectedly jumped by the most in almost 12 years in April.

Some investors now worry that quickening price pressures could lead the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy sooner than expected, and reduce its supply of cheap money that has been propelling financial markets higher.

For now, however, inflation woes took a backseat.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields, which had spiked 7 basis points overnight in the biggest daily rise in two months, edged down by more than 3 basis points to 1.6625% as investors took a breather.

Benchmark two-year Treasury yields also pulled back to 0.1589%.

Against a basket of major currencies, the dollar was steady at 90.727, holding gains eked out on Wednesday when expectations of rate hikes burnished the currency’s appeal.

A firm dollar capped gains in the euro, which edged up 0.1% to $1.20875. [USD/]

The pull-back in Treasury yields helped gold to recoup some of Wednesday’s losses, when the jump in bond yields dampened the allure of non-yielding bullion. Spot gold climbed 0.7% off a one-week low to $1,825.61 per ounce.

A recent rally in oil prices also paused on Thursday as investors turned their attention to the coronavirus crisis in India, and as a key U.S. fuel pipeline resumed operations.

Brent crude slumped 3.5% to $66.93 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude lost 3.8% to $63.53 a barrel.

Among cryptocurrencies, bitcoin, which tumbled 13% overnight when Elon Musk said Tesla would stop accepting it as payment because of its high energy use, fell below $50,000 again on Thursday following reports that the U.S. Justice Department is investigating crypto exchange Binance.

By midday, bitcoin had dropped 2.2% to $48.314.

(Reporting by Koh Gui Qing; additional reporting by Tom Wilson and Marc Jones in London; Wayne Cole in Sydney; Editing Nick Macfie, Dan Grebler and Cynthia Osterman)

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Dogecoin dropped after Elon Musk calls it a ‘hustle’ on ‘SNL’ show

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By Alden Bentley and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The value of dogecoin dropped sharply in early U.S. hours on Sunday, after Tesla chief and cryptocurrency supporter Elon Musk called it a ‘hustle’ during his guest-host spot on the “Saturday Night Live” comedy sketch TV show.

Dogecoin was quoted as low as $0.47 on crypto exchange Binance, down 28% from levels around $0.65 before the show.

The billionaire Tesla Inc chief executive hosted the show at 11:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday (0330 GMT on Sunday).

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts had for days been eager to see what he would say, after his tweets this year turned the once-obscure digital currency into a speculator’s dream.

Asked ‘what is dogecoin’, Musk replied, “It’s the future of currency. It’s an unstoppable financial vehicle that’s going to take over the world.”

When a show cast member Michael Che countered, “So, it’s a hustle?”, Musk replied, “Yeah, it’s a hustle.” And laughed.

Musk is the rare business mogul to have been asked to host the venerable comedy TV show. The timing puts Musk back in the spotlight just as Tesla’s stock is losing steam following last year’s monster rally.

The unconventional CEO has posted numerous comments about cryptocurrencies on Twitter and criticized regular old cash for having negative real interest rates.

“Only a fool wouldn’t look elsewhere,” he said in February.

His cryptic tweets “Doge” and “Dogecoin is the people’s crypto” that month kicked off a rally in dogecoin – created as a parody on the more mainstream bitcoin and ethereum.

On Thursday, Musk tweeted: “Cryptocurrency is promising, but please invest with caution!” with a video clip attached in which he said, “it should be considered speculation at this point. And so, you know, don’t don’t go too far in the crypto speculation …”

But he also said, in the video, that cryptocurrency has a “good chance” of becoming what he called “the future currency of the Earth.”

On crypto data tracker CoinGecko.com, dogecoin has jumped more than 800% over the last month and is now the fourth-largest digital currency, with a market capitalization of $73 billion. It hit a record high Thursday above $0.73.

It has overtaken more widely used cryptocurrencies such as litecoin and tether.

Tesla said in February it bought $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin and would soon accept it as a form of payment for its electric cars, a large stride toward mainstream acceptance that sent bitcoin soaring to a record high of nearly $62,000.

Tesla shares closed 1.3% higher at $672.37 on Friday.

(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Alden Bentley in New York, and Noel Randewich and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco Additional reporting by Joe White and Vidya RanganathanEditing by Matthew Lewis & Simon Cameron-Moore)

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