James Demmert

James Demmert has created 7 entries
  • Stranger Things: An Unprecedented Period of Low Volatility Will Run Its Course

    The rise of stock prices, coupled with the lack of market volatility, in the past 12 months has been wonderful. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have! However, it is unprecedented. Global equity indexes have not experienced a decline of more than 4% for more than 14 months in a row. Never in history has there been such a long period of low volatility. This is truly one of the “stranger things” that I have witnessed in my almost 25 years of managing financial assets and in my 35 years as a professional investor. Is this the new normal? Have we entered a new era? Sadly, I do not think it is possible.

    It’s not that months of low volatility and rising stock prices are uncommon, it’s just that this one is much longer than most. When I revisit similar periods of low volatility paired with advancing stock prices, there appears to be some common ingredients. Almost always low volatility and rising stocks come with an environment of better than expected economic and profit growth, underinvested institutional and individual investors (high cash balances) and some type of outside stimulus that make stocks the most sought after investment alternative. Historically, these phenomena have been most common during periods of economic and profit improvement – think 1985, 2003 and 2009. When I consider the financial circumstances of the past 14 months, this all fits neatly into place. We have certainly experienced a significant recovery in global economic and profit growth, which caught the over worried and underinvested public and private investor by surprise. Pile on the significant pro-growth fiscal policy, such as tax cuts, and you get the makings of a huge demand for stock exposure. The mere concept of trillions in currencies chasing a fixed number of publicly traded stocks makes for higher stock prices with low volatility – the Holy Grail!

    This cozy and profitable environment will eventually end – and we don’t dare predict when so as not to spoil its longevity. However, investors would be wise to prepare for a return to a more normal stock market. Still profitable – but not as cozy. There is enough economic and profit growth momentum for stocks to continue upward – and we believe for quite some time. Global stock prices based on earnings (Price/Earnings Ratios) are not excessive at 18.3 and the “E” continues to grow at a great clip, with the help of fiscal stimulus. This should keep the P/E reasonable as equity prices rise. What this market will be missing going forward are the over worried and underinvested public and private investors. They are no longer underinvested or as worried. Over the past 14 months every dip in stock prices was met with piles of cash itching to get more fully invested, preventing normal stock market corrections. Now that those cash levels have been depleted, we can expect business as usual. As global stock markets grind higher, we will likely see very normal 8-10% corrections along the way.

    Whenever we get our first real correction in stock prices we should be prepared. The numbers can be a bit unsettling when the Dow Jones Industrial Average is above 26,000 (it was 700 when I started in the business!). A simple and normal market correction of 8-10% would be the equivalent of 2000-2600 points! Don’t let the absolute numbers mess with your brain or emotions – try to keep your wits and look at your portfolio and the market in terms of percentages.

    For the fixed income investor, the higher interest rates that have come with the stronger economy and profit cycle are a blessing. I expect the Federal Reserve to continue raising rates this year which will make purchases of bonds even more attractive. This is not a time to own bond funds or bond exchange traded funds. These products perform very poorly as rates rise, which investors are just starting to experience. I only invest in individual bonds, which will benefit me well as rates continue higher.

    I am optimistic in regard to outlook, however circumstances could change or get “stranger”.

    *****

    New review on Amazon for The Journey To Wealth!

    5 Stars

    “Before I delve into the content of this book I want to take a moment to gush about the formatting and aesthetic of this book. The book is incredibly well organized and the layout is both pleasing and makes the information very accessible. Each page is laid out with a variety of different images. This includes beautiful black and white photos, sketches that illustrate ideas, and a lot of informative graphs. All this put together made me excited to read the material. The book itself is chalk full of material. This book covers a wide variety of information, from the history of the Global Market to how to select individual stocks to grow wealth. The information is portrayed through excerpts, facts, terminology, graphs, and an accessible voice. I found this book to be very helpful in my own understanding and I loved reading the book. James E. Demmert proves himself to be incredibly knowledgeable about the subject matter. I would highly recommend this book to those looking to learn about investing.”

    Thank you Emerson!

    *****

    If you want to learn more about investing and take command of your wealth, my book can help.

    Purchase the Paperback for only $14.95 Today on Amazon.

    No matter your level of experience, The Journey to Wealth teaches you to invest using a clear, easy-to-follow sequence of concepts. In a four-step process, you will learn how to identify your lifestyle goals for building immediate and long-term wealth, as well as how to invest according to your risk tolerance and needs. Straight-forward detailed explanations, charts and graphs, inspiring citations about wealth creation, and artwork will keep you reading, learning, and creating a SMART investment plan for your future.

     

  • Happy New Year and Hello 2018!

    In terms of investment performance it is almost sad to say goodbye to 2017.  Global politics, tragedies and dramas aside, it was an unusually great year for stock market investors. The global economy had just the right ingredients to make for stellar stock market returns – a global economic and profit cycle recovery, coupled with historically low interest rates, and a large crowd of underinvested institutional and individual investors. Historically, this rare combination delivers above average stock price performance and 2017 did not disappoint! It was a particularly good year for global investors as foreign markets outperformed US indexes.  However, can we expect more of the same for 2018?

    Though we would welcome a repeat of ‘17 in ’18, we find it highly doubtful based on my research and historical precedent. As we discussed one year ago, the first year of a global economic recovery and profit cycle can produce tremendous stock price performance and we would suggest most of that is now behind us. Many of the data points that sent stock prices soaring over the past 18 months – namely better economic and corporate profit growth – were a surprise to most investors.  This coupled with a large crowd of underinvested institutions and individuals caused a huge appetite for stock purchases and this tremendous demand for stock itself is the primary reason for the “way better than average” return of stocks.  At this point the element of significant positive surprises on the economic and profit fronts are quite slim and most of the underinvested have put their funds to work.  Does that mean that the party is over for stock market returns?  No way.  The party is just likely to be more subdued, and much better than the bond market could muster in terms of return.

    I have suggested that we have been at the beginning stages of a new business cycle and bull market for over a year now, and that the bull market of 2009-15 died with the 20 percent decline in equities during ‘15-‘16.  This was not and is still not conventional wisdom.  As I follow my theory, I see no reason why the current economic, profit cycle and bull market cannot continue for a number of years.  Unlike the media and many other investors today, I believe that the stock market is reasonably priced and that economic growth and corporate profits will continue to expand, supporting even higher stock prices as we move forward.  However, the stock price trajectory of 2017 will most likely shift down a few notches in 2018 to a level more in tune with profit growth in the 8-12% range, still far superior to just about any other liquid investment!  In terms of volatility 2017 exhibited one of the least volatile years in history with no corrections of 3% or more!  Investors would be wise to expect normal volatility (8-10% corrections) to return in 2018 as both foreign and domestic stocks churn higher. It should be a good and more normal year for stock investors.

    As you may be aware Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve chair, raised interest rates four times in the past 12 months and she and her replacement Jerome Powell will likely continue this policy to normalize interest rates.  Expect two to three rate hikes in 2018 assuming the economy and profit growth stay on course.  These rate hikes pose risks to bond mutual fund and bond Exchange Traded Funds – areas that I always avoid.  A significant rise in rates could cause these bond funds to fall in value and create massive selling and significant volatility in these instruments.  That risk (which we are not subject to) aside, a higher interest rate environment is welcome to those of us that buy individual bonds and can lock in these higher yields.  Hopefully, a healthy economy will bring attractive bond yields to your portfolio in the coming year.

    Here’s to a Happy New Year! Time to take command of your wealth. My book can help.

    Purchase the Paperback for only $14.95 Today on Amazon.

    No matter your level of experience, The Journey to Wealth teaches you to invest using a clear, easy-to-follow sequence of concepts. In a four-step process, you will learn how to identify your lifestyle goals for building immediate and long-term wealth, as well as how to invest according to your risk tolerance and needs. Straight-forward detailed explanations, charts and graphs, inspiring citations about wealth creation, and artwork will keep you reading, learning, and creating a SMART investment plan for your future.

     

  • The Biggest Risk To Financial Markets – (It is not what most investors think)

    When investors consider risk today they think of North Korea, elevated stock prices, Trump, or maybe even Bitcoin!  However, the real risk to today’s financial markets is something bigger and that is rarely mentioned. It is also something that has caused most of the big stock market declines over the past five decades.  What might that be?

    Historically, most significant and longer term stock market declines (beyond 20%) have been a result of Federal Reserve policy and its corresponding negative effect on economic growth – namely a policy of raising interest rates too much in an effort to ward off inflation, particularly during a period of strong economic growth.

    As you may know, when the Federal Reserve (“the Fed”) lowers interest rates, it has a tendency to spur economic growth as businesses and individuals become enticed to borrow and invest for future projects creating greater good for the economy as a whole.  The most recent and historic case was in 2008-09 when the Fed reduced rates to near zero in an effort to bring the global economy back to life – which eventually, and thankfully, worked!  On the other hand, during periods of strong economic growth Federal Reserve policy becomes more “tight” as they begin to raise interest rates back to more normal levels.  Over the past 12 months we have seen the Fed raise rates three times and the general consensus is that they will raise rates one more time by year’s end.

    The Fed’s main objective in raising rates is to mitigate the economy from growing too strong. What’s wrong with an economy that is growing too strong?  It creates inflation which causes the prices of goods and services to skyrocket, eventually choking off growth and causing economic havoc.  Once inflationary spirals begin they can go on for years, as any of us who recall the mid-70s-mid-80s can attest. So when economies are growing the Fed is caught in a very fine balancing act: raising rates gently enough to allow growth to continue while keeping inflation at bay; and simultaneously being sure not to raise rates too much or too fast to avoid halting economic growth and tipping the economy into recession.

    If this balancing act sounds challenging, believe me, it is!  When you keep in mind that the Federal Reserve Board is comprised of smart, experienced, individuals, it is important to remember that they, too, are prone to error – hence their track record of causing many of the past recessions and market plunges over the past few decades.  Often when economies have been perceived to be growing too strong, their policy of raising rates has not just slowed, but stopped, the economy in its tracks and caused recession.  Is Fed Policy a risk right now? NO.  Is it a risk coming in the next few years? YES.

    My company’s research suggests that the risk of Fed Policy error will become higher over the next 2-4 years.  Though we have confidence in Janet Yellen and her most likely replacement, Jerome Powell, both are prone to error given that they, like us, are human.  This economy is just shaking off a mild recession in 2015-16, so we believe it is still in its early stages (hence the rapid rise in stock prices this year).  However, as economic growth over the next few years continues, finding that right balance – the Goldilocks’ formula of “not too hot” and “not too cold” – may become a challenge and will be a risk today’s investors should prepare for in their investment portfolio.

    The Big Risk for Most Investors…But Not You!
    Strangely, the biggest risk of an error in Fed policy will be in the bond market – more so than the stock market – particularly for holders of bond funds as opposed to those that own individual bonds.  I do not suggest investing in bond funds or bond products – only individual bonds.  Bond funds have no maturity date, they will decline in value every time rates rise, and will not return to their original value until rates eventually come back to earlier levels.  This recovery time could take many years, if not a lifetime, given that we are at a historically low level of interest rates.  This risk is compounded given the nature of today’s demographics and the advent of bond “products.”

    A quick peek at where most bond assets are held today, and one quickly realizes that there are trillions of dollars in bond mutual funds, bond exchange traded funds (ETFs), and other Wall Street products.  None of these have maturity dates and once rates rise in earnest, investors will begin to experience declines – those with longer maturity funds will be the worst.  The sheer amount of assets held in these products begets a bigger problem.  Should investors try to sell their bond funds and other bond “products” (which investors always do when prices fall more than normal!) there will not be enough liquidity (buyers) to support the underlying bond prices and interest rates could likely skyrocket, causing bond funds to fall even more significantly!  We have seen smaller versions of this throughout history, but never has there been so much money tied to bond products in the past, which threatens to make this time a real doozy!

    Though I think that the next few quarters should be good for corporate profits, the economy and stocks, a significant rise in interest rates could have a negative impact on the stock market or parts of it.  

    Again, I believe that the current level of stock prices is justified based on economic and corporate profit growth.  There will be some corrections along the way, but until the Fed gets heavy handed, we should see financial markets embrace this better growth environment.

    Happy Holidays!

    Purchase the Paperback for only $14.95 Today on Amazon.

    No matter your level of experience, The Journey to Wealth teaches you to invest using a clear, easy-to-follow sequence of concepts. In a four-step process, you will learn how to identify your lifestyle goals for building immediate and long-term wealth, as well as how to invest according to your risk tolerance and needs. Straight-forward detailed explanations, charts and graphs, inspiring citations about wealth creation, and artwork will keep you reading, learning, and creating a SMART investment plan for your future.

     

  • Investing Just Got A Little Easier

    Today I am pleased to announce the launch of a paperback version of my award-winning book, The Journey To Wealth, which is now available on Amazon and priced at 63% less than the hardcover edition.

    The old rules of investing simply no longer work. In today’s uncertain times it’s no wonder that nearly 80% of Americans do not invest. Yet people at all income levels can transform their lives with a basic understanding of financial markets and a solid, stress-free investment strategy. 

    The Journey To Wealth distills the jargon of financial markets and equips readers with the tools they need to achieve financial independence. It is my hope that this new edition will be more accessible to the millions of Americans who are not currently investing but would like to start. It is far better to have a prosperous society than a struggling one, which is why I am passionate about this opportunity to share my tried and tested strategies with a wider audience.

    Success as an investor in today’s financial markets often requires going against much of Wall Street’s so-called “wisdom.” My book helps readers develop a personalized wealth plan tailored to their particular lifestyle, goals, and family circumstances. Too many investors fall prey to the same catastrophic mistakes. Such pitfalls can easily be avoided with my SMART investing philosophy, which includes:

    • Knowing about different types of investment instruments and understanding their pros and cons
    • Understanding the history of financial markets
    • Recognizing and taking advantage of market patterns and cycles
    • Learning how to maximize returns while managing risks

    In short, my book demystifies the process of investing and empowers readers to make wise investment decisions. Anyone can discover that investing the right way will help you achieve financial freedom. Here’s to your financial future!

    The Journey to Wealth strikes a winning combination: authoritative information written by a polished professional presented in a highly digestible, extremely attractive, high-quality package. — Barry Silverstein, Foreword Reviews

    Winner of The 2017 Indie Excellence Book Award. Winner of the 2017 Beverly Hills Book Award.

    Finalist in the 2017 Best Book Awards. Honorable Mention in the 2017 New York Festival of Books.

     

    Purchase Your Copy for only $14.95 Today on Amazon.

    No matter your level of experience, The Journey to Wealth teaches you to invest using a clear, easy-to-follow sequence of concepts. In a four-step process, you will learn how to identify your lifestyle goals for building immediate and long-term wealth, as well as how to invest according to your risk tolerance and needs. Straight-forward detailed explanations, charts and graphs, inspiring citations about wealth creation, and artwork will keep you reading, learning, and creating a SMART investment plan for your future.

     

     

  • Radio Interview on “People of Distinction” with Al Cole

    I was recently interviewed about my book, The Journey To Wealth, with nationally syndicated talk show host Al Cole.  His show, People of Distinction, is  featured nationally w/CBS RADIO, BBC & NPR on the #1 iTunes radio network.

    Al and I had a great discussion on investing in the world today, the fact that many people aren’t taking part in the stock market and why they should start.  Here is the replay:

    To learn more about SMART investing, check out my book:

    Purchase Your Copy Today on Amazon.

    No matter your level of experience, The Journey to Wealth teaches you to invest using a clear, easy-to-follow sequence of concepts. In a four-step process, you will learn how to identify your lifestyle goals for building immediate and long-term wealth, as well as how to invest according to your risk tolerance and needs. Straight-forward detailed explanations, charts and graphs, inspiring citations about wealth creation, and artwork will keep you reading, learning, and creating a SMART investment plan for your future.

     

  • The Reviews Are In…

    The Journey To Wealth has been blessed in that last month with wonderful reviews that I’ve listed below. I hope they will inspire you to pick up a copy and start your own journey to financial freedom. The Black & White version is available for only $14.95 on Amazon.

    *****

    There are many books that flood the investing category annually; simply differentiating a title is a major challenge. The Journey to Wealth strikes a winning combination: authoritative information written by a polished professional presented in a highly digestible, extremely attractive, high-quality package. This in itself makes The Journey to Wealth worthy of consideration as a guide to wise investing. –Barry Silverstein, Foreword Reviews

    *****

    From preferred stocks and the value and limitations of bonds to diversification processes, there is no better book on the market suitable not just for explaining investment processes, but for understanding the psychology of creating and sticking to a flexible strategy that works not by formula, but by concrete knowledge and market analytics. Sound complex? Not under James E. Demmert’s hand: he makes The Journey to Wealth accessible to a wide audience, from savvy investors to novices alike, and gives it a straightforward, jargon-free treatment that makes it an informative pleasure to read. — Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

    *****

    [A] methodical and well-organized narrative… Throughout this detailed and instructive book, Demmert crystallizes his advice into 18 principles, clearly set off in boxes for easy reference…. the narrative is generally remarkably compelling… perfect for those seeking a more in-depth understanding of global financial forces and practical investment choices and strategies. — Kirkus Review

    *****

    In an investment world loaded with so many intervening variables, The Journey to Wealth is a breath of clean, fresh air. It helps the individual investor develop a long term plan for building a nest egg. Just as important, it shows you how to protect that investment during the inevitable short term troughs that occur while riding the rising wave of wealth called the Stock Market. It is a must read for every investor! — Amazon Reviewer

    *****

    An easy read, this book is perfect for people, like me, with no finance background. I now understand how money works and what’s required to reach our goals. It’s so good, I even recommended it to both of our young-adult sons. — Amazon Reviewer

    Thank you for reading the reviews. Visit me on Facebook or LinkedIn if you would like to follow along with my posts.

    Purchase Your Copy Today on Amazon.

    No matter your level of experience, The Journey to Wealth teaches you to invest using a clear, easy-to-follow sequence of concepts. In a four-step process, you will learn how to identify your lifestyle goals for building immediate and long-term wealth, as well as how to invest according to your risk tolerance and needs. Straight-forward detailed explanations, charts and graphs, inspiring citations about wealth creation, and artwork will keep you reading, learning, and creating a SMART investment plan for your future.

     

  • Happy First Anniversary To The “Unloved” Bull Market & Global Earnings Recovery

     About one year ago stock prices began their ascent from the 15 month “funk” that began in the summer of 2015. As you may recall, China’s growth slowed during that time and global corporate profits took a tumble sending global stock indexes down nearly 20% in the summer, and once again into the first quarter of 2016. It was the first time since 2008 that stock indexes were negative for more than a year, once again testing investor’s patience.
    However, since last summer, I have witnessed a powerful rally in global stock prices that rivals some of history’s best one year advances, all in the face of above average doubt and general nonacceptance from the average investor, the media and many institutional investors. Why is this market recovery so untrusted and unloved?

    I can understand why most investors questioned the viability of rising stock prices last year, given that it coincided with the surprising (to most) election of Mr. Trump. The initial rise in stock prices, referred to last fall as the “Trump Bump,” has seemed to take on a life of its own despite Trump’s inability to get anything done on Capitol Hill. Today’s doubters are understandably under invested and paying dearly for it. Years like these don’t come often. If history is a guide these doubters will eventually capitulate and embrace the steady rise in stock prices for one main reason: the recovering business cycle and increasing corporate profits support higher stock prices.

    Though the earnings recession and market decline of 2015-16 was unusually mild, it did constitute a bear market and recession in our book. This very well may be another point of confusion for the average “doubting” investor who thinks that this bull market started in 2009 and is the longest bull market in history.  The doubters need to recognize that the prior bull market ended at the 2016 low and we are at the beginning of a new business cycle and not the end of an aging one. One can simply look at the impressive and broad recovery in earnings growth across all economically sensitive sectors and almost all regions of the globe – it’s the real deal and it’s a great time for you to be a global investor.

    Lastly, I would like to point out that although Dow 22,000 sounds high, it is not overpriced relative to earnings. Moreover, foreign markets are even less expensive relative to earnings. As global corporate profits continue to advance, markets will support even higher stock prices and a higher Dow Jones Index than one might imagine. Of course, as markets continue upward the doubters will, over time, become more fully invested – which in turn will drive stock prices higher. Nothing lasts forever, but we would suggest that we are at the early stages of better times to come. The first year of business cycle recoveries typically result in big stock market gains (just like this one) and in subsequent years returns normalize in the 8-12% range, hence the importance of being involved early.

    Though I am optimistic, I do expect the normal 8-10% corrections along the way upward. Investors haven’t seen one of those in over a year and should prepare themselves for the likelihood of a return to more normal volatility. Additionally, I want you to know that within my optimistic view, I am very aware that we are dealing with the unknown and that it is a risky world. Therefore, I suggest to continue to employ my Active Risk Management tools such as having a flexible approach to your portfolio’s asset allocation, sector management and the careful placement of stop loss orders on the economically sensitive areas of your stock portfolio.  All of which can be found in my book.

    I hope you find this update helpful.

    No matter your level of experience, The Journey to Wealth teaches you to invest using a clear, easy-to-follow sequence of concepts. In a four-step process, you will learn how to identify your lifestyle goals for building immediate and long-term wealth, as well as how to invest according to your risk tolerance and needs. Straight-forward detailed explanations, charts and graphs, inspiring citations about wealth creation, and artwork will keep you reading, learning, and creating a SMART investment plan for your future

    Purchase Your Copy Today on Amazon.