By understanding the impact of human behavior on investment returns and devising a disciplined Investment Policy Statement, DIY investors can overcome damaging behavioral forces and increase their chances of achieving success.
Most ETFs (exchange traded funds) are passively managed, which means they are essentially run by computers. They are designed to mimic an index. As a result, they are very cheap to set up and maintain. Investors benefit from the low costs. But Wall Street is trying to entice investors into paying more for actively managed ETFs. Here’s a list of the biggest ones.
Research firm Dalbar studies the returns that individual investors actually achieve, and compares that to the returns that are offered by the market as a whole. The results are consistent year after year: investors only “capture” about two-thirds of the market returns. This article offers suggestions for dealing with poor market timing.
Chart of the PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund (ETF). This fund provides exposure to 14 commodities from four sectors: energy, agriculture, industrial metals, and precious metals. Many commodity funds weigh constituents by economic importance, resulting in a heavy energy overweighting, but DBC is well-diversified across commodity sectors, making it a true broad-basket commodity fund.
Chart of the volatility of the stock market, as measured by the VIX index. VIX is often called the “fear guage” for stock market investors, because it tends to spike higher when there is bad news about the economy, or geopolitical events, or anything of significance that may cause stock markets to fall.
Chart of weekly claims for unemployment. This is one of the key components of the ZenInvestor Recession Watch model, which anticipates the start and end of economic downturns with a 6 month lead time. Weekly jobless claims by themselves are not a good predictor of stock market moves, but when they are combined with other key indicators such as the yield curve, capital investment, inflation, they are very informative.