Thursday, September 21, 2017

Bitcoin Heaven and Hell



The cryptocurrency Bitcoin generated considerable interest in mainstream financial media as it neared $5000 per “coin” at the end of August.  With a 500% increase over the past year, many na├»ve buyers have rushed in recently.  But over the past two weeks they have discovered that “what goes up can go down”.  Bitcoin plunged  -38% from September 1 to September 14 (see the following chart).  The precipitous decline followed comments from Chinese officials that the government was looking to ban exchanges dealing in Bitcoin, and JP Morgan Chairman Jamie Dimon called Bitcoin a “fraud” during an appearance on CNBC.  So, if you are tempted to invest in Bitcoin, just be aware that eye-popping rises can be followed by stomach-churning declines!  The following chart (from coinbase.com) tells the story of 9/1 to 9/14 - the two weeks in Bitcoin hell. 


Monday, September 18, 2017

Womack Weekly Commentary: September 18, 2017



­Womack Weekly Commentary


September 18, 2017

The Markets

“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, in practice there is.”

Yogi Berra was talking about baseball, but the concept also applies to diversification, according to the GMO White Paper, The S&P 500: Just Say No. From the title, you might think the authors – Matt Kadnar and James Montier – don’t like U.S. stocks. They do:

“Being a U.S. equity investor over the past several years has felt glorious. The S&P 500 has trounced the competition provided by other major developed and emerging equity markets. Over the last 7 years, the S&P is up 173 percent (15 percent annualized in nominal terms) versus MSCI EAFE (in USD terms), which is up 71 percent (8 percent annualized), and poor MSCI Emerging, which is up only 30 percent (4 percent annualized). Every dollar invested in the S&P has compounded into $2.72 versus MSCI EAFE’s $1.70 and MSCI Emerging’s $1.30.”

The authors’ concern is U.S. markets have performed so well, investors may be tempted to abandon diversification and concentrate their portfolios in indexed U.S. stocks. Kadnar and Montier wrote, “Human nature is to extrapolate the recent past. It is easy to see, given the strong performance of U.S. equities in both absolute and relative terms, why many are suggesting they are the only asset you need to own.”

Focusing assets in the United States, according to GMO, ignores the most important determinant of long-term returns: valuation. “From our perspective, one has to make some fairly heroic assumptions to believe that the S&P is even remotely close to fair value.”

High valuations haven’t dulled the appeal of U.S. stocks for investors, though. Last week, the S&P 500 closed at a record high, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted its biggest gain since last December, reported CNBC.com.


Data as of 9/15/17
1-Week
Y-T-D
1-Year
3-Year
5-Year
10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)
1.6%
11.7%
16.4%
8.0%
11.3%
5.4%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.
0.7
18.9
18.3
1.6
4.4
-0.2
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)
2.2
NA
1.7
2.6
1.8
4.5
Gold (per ounce)
-1.7
14.1
0.9
2.3
-5.7
6.3
Bloomberg Commodity Index
0.5
-2.6
2.6
-11.1
-10.5
-6.9
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index
0.4
8.1
7.1
10.5
9.5
6.7
S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

7 steps to protect yourself after the equifax breach. From May through July, hackers exploited a website vulnerability at Equifax, one of the major consumer credit reporting agencies. If you have a credit report, there is a chance your sensitive and personal information including Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers, may have fallen into the wrong hands. The stolen information could be used in tandem with passwords taken from other databases to commit financial crimes against you, reported a source cited by Consumer Reports.

Here are seven steps to take to help protect your assets and credit:

1.      Find out if you were affected. From a secure computer or encrypted network connection, go to the Equifax website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. Scroll down and click on ‘Potential Impact.’ You will be asked to provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number.

2.      Enroll in TrustedID Premier. If your data has been breached, Equifax will offer enrollment in TrustedID Premier. The program provides up to $1 million in ID theft insurance, Social Security Number Scanning, 3-bureau credit file monitoring, and the option to freeze your Equifax credit report.

3.      Place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your other credit reports. Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis also provide credit reporting services. Contact each of the companies to place an alert or a freeze on your credit report:

·         A fraud alert warns both current and prospective lenders they must take reasonable steps to verify your identity before providing credit. When you’re a victim of ID theft, an alert can be put in place for up to seven years.

·         A credit freeze is different. It restricts access to your credit report. If you request a freeze, the credit agency will send a letter with a personal ID number (PIN). Keep the PIN in a safe place. You’ll need it to unfreeze your accounts, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

4.      Change your passwords. Create new passwords for online banking, brokerage, and financial accounts. Each account should have a unique password. Best practices suggest passwords have 12 to 14 characters.

You may want to consider using a password management application. They’re designed to store and retrieve passwords so you can keep track of multiple long, unique password combinations without security issues like storing passwords improperly or failing to remember them.

5.      Activate two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication provides an additional layer of security for email and other accounts. After you enter your user ID and password, you’ll be asked for a code to verify your identity. You can have the account provider text a code to your phone, although that creates vulnerability if your phone is stolen. A better option may be to download an authenticator app so you can generate your own code.

6.      Beware email links. Some fraud attempts are obvious: text or email from a Nigerian prince or an update request from a financial institution where you don’t have an account. Others may be more difficult to spot. As a rule of thumb, if you receive an email with a link requesting you update or make changes to a financial account, don’t click on it. Call the financial institution or go directly to its website to make any changes.

7.      Keep an eye on your accounts. Check bank, brokerage, and other financial statements for suspicious transactions. If you find unauthorized activity, report it to the institution and the proper authorities.

If you have any questions or concerns about this breach or the markets, please contact us.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”
--Amelia Earhart, American aviation pioneer

Best regards,

Womack Investment Advisers, Inc.


WOMACK INVESTMENT ADVISERS, INC.
Oklahoma / Main Office: 1366 E. 15th Street - Edmond, OK  73013
California Office: 4660 La Jolla Village Dr., Ste. 500 - San Diego, CA 92122

Phone (405) 340-1717 - Toll Free (877) 340-1717



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* These views are those of Peak Advisor Alliance, and not the presenting Representative or the Representative’s Broker/Dealer, and should not be construed as investment advice.
* This newsletter was prepared by Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indices referenced are unmanaged. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.
* To unsubscribe from the Womack Weekly Commentary please reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe” in the subject line, or write us at megan@womackadvisers.com

Sources: