When the Index Beats the Algorithms

You might wonder why there wasn’t more media coverage of one of the most interesting bets ever made in the investment world.  We’re not talking about betting on a company; this bet was made between Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffet and a hedge fund called Protégé Partners, on whether a basket of hedge funds managed by algorithms and super investors would beat a simple S&P 500 index fund over a period of 10 years—which happened to include the Great Recession and one of the longest bull markets in history.  Each side put about $320,000 in 2007, with the proceeds—including all gains—going to charity.

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Population in Decline

You’ve probably read some alarming statistics about the world becoming overpopulated, unable to feed itself, and meanwhile using up all the fresh water and energy that is available.  If you found these reports disturbing, and believe that humans are multiplying like jackrabbits, then here’s some good news: it appears that the human birthrate is actually trending downward on a global scale.  Demographers employed by the United Nations have estimated that there will be 140.89 million births in 2018—61,000 fewer than in 2017, and reversing (albeit by a sliver) a longstanding increase in global population.  The demographers project that birthrates will continue to fall through 2050, after which the variables make it impossible to make an accurate prediction.

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The Value of Diversification

 

It’s not always easy to grasp the value of diversification—why, in other words, it’s better to own many stocks inside a mutual fund than one or two stocks on their own.  But recent research conducted by Arizona State U. finance professor Hendrik Bessembinder offers some insight.

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Inflation Impact

We all know that inflation gradually erodes the value of our dollars, and you’re probably aware that this is one of the main reasons for investing in the stock market.  If you hide your money safely under your mattress, it becomes incrementally less valuable each year depending on the inflation rate.  To keep pace, you have to find ways to make it grow at least as fast as the value of a dollar is falling.

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What NOT To Skimp On

Save and invest.  Save and invest.  Isn’t that all you hear when it comes to planning your financial life?

An online article by an individual who refers to himself as “the Financial Samurai” makes a more balanced case regarding how you deploy your money.  Yes, you should be capable of deferring gratification and have a healthy savings rate during your accumulation years.  But there are a few items that are well worth investing in: your comfort, well-being and certain aspects of your lifestyle.  Some of these items might be considered luxuries by people who are perhaps overly frugal.

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IRS says many who prepaid property taxes may still face cap on deductions

People across the United States rushed this week to pay their 2018 property taxes early, hoping to take advantage one last time of a federal deduction that will be scaled back under the tax-code overhaul signed by President Trump.

 

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Personal Robots

The robotics revolution, so far confined to factories and the cute little device that roams your house sucking up dirt, is about to hit closer to home.  In Japan, so-called “carerobos” are now helping workers look after the elderly in assisted living facilities.  In one facility, a large-eyed humanoid named Pepper leads the residents in song, while a robotic baby harp seal named Part responds to touch and sound, turning to and nuzzling patients who stroke or talk to it.  Aibo, a robo-dog originally intended for the retail market, is being repurposed as a pet for the elderly.  Pepper also helps monitor the corridors at night, and even leads exercise classes.  A survey found that using robots encouraged over a third of the residents to become more active and autonomous.

Will robots get even more personal?  A survey of 12,000 people of mixed ages worldwide found that up to 27 percent of 18-34-year-olds would be comfortable swapping out a human romantic relationship for a romantic—and sexual—relationship with a robot.  Men were three times more likely than women to form such relationships.

About the Author: Bob Veres has been a commentator, author and consultant in the financial services industry for more than 20 years.  Over his 20-year career in the financial services world, Mr. Veres has worked as editor of Financial Planning magazine; as a contributing editor to the Journal of Financial Planning; as a columnist and editor-at-large of Dow Jones Investment Advisor magazine; and as editor of Morningstar’s advisor web site: MorningstarAdvisor.com.

Mr. Veres has been named one of the most influential people in the financial planning profession by Investment Advisor magazine and Financial Planning magazine, was granted the NAPFA Special Achievement Award by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, and most recently the Heart of Financial Planning Distinguished Service Award from the Denver-based Financial Planning Association. 

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Japan is embracing nursing-care robots

Around 5,000 nursing-care homes across the country are testing robots. AT SHINTOMI nursing home in Tokyo, men and women sit in a circle following exercise instructions before singing along to a famous children’s song, “Yuyake Koyake” (“The Glowing Sunset”).

Would you date a robot? More than a quarter of millennials say they would replace a human lover with a DROID

A new report suggests that over a quarter of 18-34 year-olds will feel it’s normal to form friendships and even romantic relationships with robots in the future. A new report has looked people’s attitudes to the future of technology. Of 12,000 interviewed, over a quarter of 18-34 year olds said they’d date a robot.

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An Independent Fiduciary

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