MFA Quarterly Commentaries

2018 Q4: Are we in a recession or bear market?

Posted by on Jan 29, 2019 in MFA Quarterly Commentaries

There was no place to hide in 2018. Virtually every asset class around the globe had negative returns. In 2018, the U.S. total stock market was down -5.24% while both developed and emerging international markets were down a bit over -14%. Global real estate was down and -5.9% for the year. 1 Most of the pullback came during the last quarter of the year. From their 2018 peaks, and with much media fanfare, global markets approached or entered "bear market territory" (losses of 20% or more) during the worst December since the Great Depression.

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2018 Q3: Why invest in foreign equities?

Posted by on Oct 30, 2018 in MFA Quarterly Commentaries

With the US stock market up over 10% through the third quarter this year, you may have asked yourself why your portfolio wasn’t up more. The answer lies in global diversification. You hold many types of investments in your portfolio and most of the other asset classes in the portfolio are flat or down for the year. That’s a normal part of diversification. It’s rare to have all parts of the portfolio up or down at the same time. It’s normal to have some areas performing well while others aren’t. Let’s look at the performance of global stock markets year-to-date through 9/30/2018 as...

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2018 Q2: Sustainable Investing

Posted by on Jul 24, 2018 in MFA Quarterly Commentaries

Over the years we have quietly evolved our investment philosophy and holdings so as to be able to focus our investment towards those companies doing the most good (and least harm) for the planet and for society. In doing so, we have become leaders in this approach to incorporating environmental and socially responsible criteria into building client portfolios. In fact, MFA is one of the top investors in the sustainable funds of Dimensional Fund Advisors’ (“DFA”).

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2018 Q1: Round trip to tax time

Posted by on Apr 15, 2018 in MFA Quarterly Commentaries

The First Quarter’s Round Trip The global stock markets started the year off with a bang and by the end of the first quarter of 2018 they were back to a touch below where they started the year. After roaring up 6% to 8% in January, various global markets ended the quarter modestly down: U.S. stocks were down -0.61%, international stocks were down -1.18%. In the meantime, various bond market indices were also down slightly (flat to down about -1.5%). Over the past 12 months, overall diversified returns were about where we would expect with a large variance in returns. Bonds were flat or down...

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2017 Q4: Are we floating in a bubble?

Posted by on Jan 15, 2018 in MFA Quarterly Commentaries

Happy New Year! We enter 2018 after an exceptional year in the global stock markets. The U.S. market delivered a whopping 21% while global developed and emerging markets outdid that, delivering 24% and 37% respectively.1 It’s common to experience that good news with mixed emotion. On the one hand, you celebrate a generous year in portfolio returns. On the other hand, you might be wondering if markets are now getting overpriced and whether you should be cutting back your stock allocation or even getting out altogether. The emerging field of behavioral finance gives us lots of insight into...

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2017 Q3: Are we at the top?

Posted by on Oct 31, 2017 in MFA Quarterly Commentaries

Global Stock markets have extended the bull market run nine months into 2017. Bonds and real estate funds produced only modest returns. As we pen this letter every three months, we try to write to the issues we think are most on our clients’ minds. A common concern we hear is that the markets seems high, the bull market has had a very long run, there is lots of uncertainty in the world (political and otherwise) and, well, “when is this going to end?” The question of the hour is, “are we at a top?”.

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