Personal Financial Planning

Hot Stock Tips from a Roman Emperor

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Stoicism is a practical philosophy that aims to help us live well. As Stoics, we learn to focus on what is within our control. We ask ourselves, “What can we do to create a good life, no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in? What is required of us as human beings and what prevents us from living up to our full potential?” These questions could not be more pertinent to investing and meeting our financial goals. How to Meet the Markets We can reflect on the markets with a general reflection used by the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, a […]

Personal Financial Planning

Race to the Bottom: Financial Lessons from Antarctica

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Matters of life or death. The decisions that matter most in life are often the ones we are least prepared to make. Life offers few opportunities to train for decisions where the consequences of a poor choice are meaningful and difficult to reverse. High-stakes decisions are fraught with high levels of uncertainty and complexity. Clear solutions appear due to the intensity of the situations. Because of this, it is important to study and learn from extreme examples. Such examples are as relevant, if not more so, in our daily lives, where the problems and solutions are sometimes opaque. The following […]

Personal Financial Planning

Retirement Planning: A First Look at Accumulation and Distribution of Wealth

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Preface: Retirement planning is not something that can be feasibly fleshed out in one 2,500-word memo, therefore consider this part one of a multi-part series on retirement (the number of parts to be determined at a later date). In Book X of the Odyssey, the wind god Aiolos gave Odysseus a bag of wind, to use sparingly as he and his crew sailed home to Ithaca. With Odysseus dispensing small breaths of wind from the bag, ten days passed and the crew neared home. Ithaca was clearly in sight, but the job was not quite finished. Quoting Homer: “now on […]

Personal Financial Planning

An Ounce of Prevention

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“I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.” – Albert Einstein Retirees are questioning the sustainability of Social Security, rising healthcare costs, and freezing of private pension plans. Despite a heightened sense of urgency, savings rates have only mildly improved and most Americans remain unprepared for retirement. The chart below shows the decline in personal savings rates since 1947. From 1947 until 1975 personal savings increased, peaking at 15% in June of 1975. Thereafter the rate declined, reaching a low of 2.5% in 2005. The rate has since increased back to 5.2%. Moreover, savings rates seem to be […]

Market Commentary

Currency and Volatility

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“Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” -Warren Buffett The third quarter certainly showed much to fear, with China and Syria topping the list. Market participants sold risk assets in anticipation of poor growth out of both China and multinational corporations’ China strategy. Both the Chinese economy and the American economy are essential to global growth. The Chinese economy is not falling off a cliff, instead its growth is merely slowing down, much like our own growth rate, which has slowed over the past 20 years. As the pool of capital becomes larger and the […]