Allegedly, if you played the Beatles White album backwards, you could hear John telling the world that "Paul is dead." Paul McCartney was not only alive, but he recorded tens of albums and sold millions of copies post his purported demise. Well, I keep reading in the investment world about what is supposed to be dead. Let me dispel these nasty rumors as well.
The 60/40 portfolio is dead. Nah. For people wishing to have a slightly more conservative portfolio, holding 60 percent of your assets in stocks and 40 percent in bonds has been saved, not by an epi-pen, but by Treasury rates we haven't seen in close to 20 years. Think about it this way, bonds were earning next to nothing for the last several years, so stocks had to work really hard to generate decent portfolio returns. And they did. Until they didn't.
International stocks are dead. Really? International stocks have not done as well as large U.S. stocks over the last several years. But dead? Hardly. International returns are impacted by many things beyond their economies: geopolitics overseas, where countries' sales are derived, currency fluctuations. The last few years have not been kind to international investors, but to ignore 75% of the world's gross domestic product and declare the category dead may be a tad premature. Most investors have a home country bias — favoring investments in their back yard because they seem more familiar. This is understandable. Over allocating investments in the same currency in which you are going to spend makes some sense, but the heart of international stocks is going to continue to beat, and the returns of those stocks could potentially beat U.S. returns in the not-too-distant future. Why? Because those stocks are much less expensive than their U.S. counterparts.
Diversification is dead. Hurting, yes. Dead, not even close. Throughout my 40-year career, I have seen various asset classes heralded, hated, heralded, and hated. Whether it was Japan in the '80's, growth stocks in the '90's, international, bonds and value stocks for the 21st century's first decade, or large U.S. stocks since then, the one thing you can count on in investing is that eventually the healthiest asset classes will slow down, only to be replaced by those asset classes that seemed to be on life support. But we continue to marvel at how something that looked so good so recently could suddenly look so bad, and vice versa. Or worse, we think that something that looks healthy and has done remarkably well will continue to do so. That defies everything we know about life.
Savings accounts are dead. Saving is alive, but many savings accounts should be dead. With the safest short-term government instruments paying around 5 percent, why should your money earn virtually nothing at many bank savings or checking accounts? It shouldn't. Put a fork in those low-yielding accounts and either ask your bank or credit union what they are offering that is more competitive or move your money to places that are going to adequately compensate you for keeping it there.
There are so many different types of investments that it can be overwhelming. But you don't need to be an expert in each of them. "Maybe I'm Amazed" should be your theme song for how simple strategies spark life in investing.