What a Drag!

October 2015 The equity markets around the world had a tough third quarter. Here in the U.S. the S&P 500 fell -6.4%. Other indices were down even more. The NASDAQ and small cap stocks were down -7% and -12%, respectively. Globally it wasn't any better. International stocks were down -10.2%. The third quarter loss also put stocks ... Continue Reading

Grexit – What is it and Does it Matter?

July 2015 The stock and bond markets are leading very different existences right now. Historical evidence has taught us that stocks are riskier than bonds. Risk means more variation in returns - higher highs and lower lows. Lately that axiom has been turned on its head. In the second quarter stocks were more stable and bonds more ... Continue Reading

A Race to the Bottom

April 2015 The markets in 2015 are in need of an identity. Thus far neither the bulls nor the bears can make a claim. There were 61 trading days in the first quarter. Of those the S&P 500 was down 35 days and up 26 days. In fact there were only two times during the quarter that the S&P gained for more than two consecutive ... Continue Reading

Beware the Headline

January 2015 Beware the Headline Despite some volatility along the way the fourth quarter of 2014 turned out to be a fairly good time to be an investor - at least for domestic equities. For the quarter the S&P 500 made +4.9% and small cap stocks did even better at +9.8%. The news was not as good on the global front as ... Continue Reading

The Bulls Take a Breather

October 2014 Despite the fact that so many market pundits were expecting a significant stock market decline over the summer it didn't happen. Instead what we got was a relatively stable market that by the end of the quarter was almost unchanged. While volatility did increase significantly in September, the S&P 500 was up 1.1% ... Continue Reading

7 Things You Need to Know About Social Security

September 2014 The claiming strategy you elect for Social Security Benefits is one of the most important financial decisions you will ever make.  This decision could have income implications for decades. Understanding these seven details about Social Security will go a long way to helping you maximize your benefits. 1. ... Continue Reading

A Goldilocks Market

July 2014 We all know the story of Goldilocks. A little girl takes a walk in the forest and comes across a house that, unbeknownst to her, is inhabited by bears. Once inside she finds three bowls of porridge:  one too hot, one too cold, and finally one that is just the right temperature. Then there are chairs (too big, too small, and ... Continue Reading

Don’t Believe the Naysayers

 April 2014 The stock market thus far in 2014 has been more volatile that than it was in 2013.  Yet the net result was a slightly positive first quarter.  The S&P 500 was up 1.3% (not including dividends).  International stocks, though positive, were up only 0.5%.  Perhaps the biggest surprise of the quarter was in the bond ... Continue Reading

Expect the Unexpected

January 2014 Two thousand thirteen is not the kind of year that happens very often, but when it does we should rejoice.  The last time the market performed this well was 1997.  In fact the S&P 500 has only returned more on a calendar year basis four times in the last 50 years. How good was it?  The S&P 500 returned 32% and ... Continue Reading

Tempo Presents to Boston Women Communicators

Photo of Jane B. Wilson, Dan Traub, and Janice Foley On November 18, 2008, Tempo President Dan Traub presented "Managing Your Investments in a Down Economy: Tips to Use Now and Long-term to Protect and Grow Your Investments" to Boston Women Communicators (BWC). Pictured above with Dan are Jane Breschard Wilson, BWC Founder and Janice ... Continue Reading

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Déjà Vu All Over Again ¹

October 2013 The more things change the more they stay the same. At this time last year we were talking about how strong the market was despite the fact that no one expected it to be so. And every quarter since 2011 there has been some mention of the debt ceiling, sequestration, and the inability of our elected officials to get ... Continue Reading

When Good News Is Bad

July 2013 I am always interested in the stories that drive the markets. Sometimes news that is normally positive is suddenly viewed as negative. This occurred in the second quarter of 2013. Here is a piece of good news: The economy is continuing to improve. Read on to find out why that is bad. The second quarter started much the ... Continue Reading

So This is Sequestration?!

April 2013 A funny thing happened on the way to the sequester. Nothing! Like many market observers, I had expected the market would be vulnerable to decline should our government fail to avert the sequester (the automatic spending cuts that would occur should the government fail to act). And yet the sequester came and the market did ... Continue Reading

Strategies for Negotiating the Fiscal Cliff

News of the fiscal cliff seems to be everywhere at the moment. Fiscal cliff is the term given to the Bush era tax cuts that will expire and the spending cuts that will be triggered at the end of 2012 unless our government passes legislation otherwise. This would mean increased tax rates for income, capital gains, qualified dividends, and ... Continue Reading

Just the Facts, Please

October 2012 When was the last time you heard someone speak well of the state of the economy or of prospects for the stock market? You can't remember? Me neither! This might explain, at least in part, why the stock market has continued to the up-side. The markets have an uncanny ability to do the opposite of what most people expect. ... Continue Reading

Take Stock in the Summer

One common Wall Street adage says to "Sell in May and Go Away." The idea is that stocks have historically performed better from November through April than from May through October and that we would be better off not owning stocks at all between May and October. Even if you've never heard this saying before perhaps you've noticed that ... Continue Reading

The Bull is Alive!

July 2012 After two very profitable quarters (The S&P 500 gained more than 10% in Q4, 2011 and in Q1, 2012) it is not surprising that the market took a breather in the second quarter of 2012. This is especially true if you believe, as I do, that we are in the third stage of the economic recovery which is characterized by periodic ... Continue Reading

Watch the Forest, Ignore the Trees

April 2012 The first quarter of 2012 saw a continuation of the stock market rally that began at the end of 2011, with most equity benchmarks gaining over 10%. At the end of the day the stock market reflects corporate profitability and today corporate profits (and margins) are very attractive. This remains a conundrum given that ... Continue Reading

The Van Winkle Strategy

January 2012 I'm beginning to think that Rip Van Winkle was onto something. This classic tale takes place during the time of the American Revolution. Rip avoided the hardship of war by sleeping through the revolution. Ah, ignorance is bliss! Anyone who somehow tuned out in 2011 may have saved him or herself much stress as well. An ... Continue Reading

Europe is the Key

October 2011 The 2008 mortgage-credit crisis in the United States can fairly be blamed for throwing the world into recession. And while things were certainly touch and go for a while, at least our administrators (The Fed and Treasury Departments) and legislators had the ability and the will to take extreme measures to restore stability ... Continue Reading

Tyrannosaurus Debt

July 2011 After a positive stock market in April (S&P 500 up 2.8% through 4/29/11) the next eight weeks saw a steady decline. That's the bad news. The good news is that the decline was relatively tame. Over the past few years we have become accustomed to stock market swings exceeding 20%. The decline from April 29 to June 24, by ... Continue Reading

Worry All the Way to the Bank

April 2011 There is a saying that the market likes to climb a wall of worry. I've often thought about why this mythological wall of worry would help the market rise. My analysis is that excessive worries cause people who are inclined to sell to sell and once the sellers have sold there is less selling pressure (try saying that five ... Continue Reading

5 Things You Should Know About Your 401(k)

401(k) programs can often feel like a black box to both participants and plan sponsors. These 5 questions will help you demystify some important concepts. Is your 401(k) service provider a fiduciary?A plan sponsor is by definition a fiduciary. A fiduciary must: Act solely in the interest of plan participants and their ... Continue Reading

Uncertainty is a Fact of Life

January 2011 The fourth quarter of 2010 turned out to be a great time for equity investors with benchmarks rising in excess of 10%. In fact, 2010 as a whole was quite profitable. Despite a significant decline in the second quarter (when the S&P 500 lost -11.3%), stocks gained 15% for the full year. The fourth quarter for bonds ... Continue Reading

September Surprise

October 2010 The markets have a way of doing the opposite of what most participants expect. That has certainly been true in 2010 for both the stock and bond markets. After a choppy and negative second quarter for the stock market (S&P 500 down -11%) and with the weak economic recovery (continued high unemployment), many feared a ... Continue Reading

Double Dip or Short Term Breather?

July 2010 The ink had barely dried on the April issue of the Tempo Vantage, in which I touted the remarkably calm stock market, when volatility abruptly returned. Suddenly every day became a seesaw battle reminiscent of the most recent bear market. During the second quarter most equity benchmarks fell in excess of 11%. As with other ... Continue Reading

Is Healthcare Reform a Game Changer?

April 2010 For a change, recent headlines in the business section are less about stock market performance and more about healthcare reform. That shift to something else, anything else, has led to a period of low stock market volatility. Low volatility generally bodes well for the stock market. Indeed, the first quarter saw a rise in ... Continue Reading

Signaling the End of the Recession

October 2009 A minor decline the last few weeks of September could hardly tarnish what was otherwise a spectacular quarter for the stock market. The S&P 500 returned 15.6% for the quarter, which brings the year to date return to 19.2%. Many people hardly noticed how good returns have been these past months. Several people (clients ... Continue Reading