I’m a fan of the so-called “ robo-advisers.” These are online wealth management services that provide automated software-based portfolio management advice without the use of human advisers. Two of the larger robo-advisers are Betterment and Wealthfront. In addition, Schwab recently launched its version, branded Intelligent Portfolios, and Vanguard has a product called Personal Advisor Services.
The Swiss central bank sucker punched the financial community by unlinking the Swiss franc from the euro. As a result, those who trade in currency markets saw huge gains or losses. And while some blamed the bank’s move for the ensuing market volatility, both U.S. and international stocks gained that day.
When interest rates rise, the value of bonds declines. Many experts are sure that rates will increase next year, but should you worry about that? Why are experts convinced that rates will rise next year? For one, the Federal Reserve announced last week that it will start raising the federal funds rate next year from the near-zero rate of today. The Fed is also tapering quantitative easing, meaning that it’s buying back its own longer-term bonds at a much slower pace than over the past few years. This creates less demand for these bonds, which could push interest rates higher.
Over the past five years, U.S. stocks have tripled in value. For example, the Wilshire 5000 total return index increased from 27.50 to 82.62. Yet paranoia about the market has caused many investors to miss out. The chart below shows the return an investor would have received just by owning a total U.S. stock index fund and reinvesting the dividends. A total U.S. stock index fund essentially owns every publicly held company based in the U.S. Though the chart tracks a Vanguard index fund, other fund firms such as iShares, Fidelity and Schwab have similar offerings.
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