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Business

January 12, 2013

10 Trends to Watch in Finance

(Continued)

6. Demographics are a huge driver.I am not in the camp that believes demographics are the be-all-end-all, but one should not underestimate how significant a factor they are. The aging of the baby boomers is affecting housing (they are downsizing), job creation (they are working longer), investment planning (they have been heavy bond buyers) and generational wealth transfer (it's a-comin').

The pig is still moving through the python, and the ramifications will be felt for years.

7. The death of buy-and-hold has been greatly exaggerated. Investors have a tendency to take the wrong lesson from recent experiences, and this one is no different.

Buy-and-hold investors don't have a lot to show since the market peak — 2000 or 2007 — but that is more about valuation than anything else.

Since the punditocracy declared the end of buy-and-hold investing, something interesting has happened: Ten-year buy-and-hold returns became half-decent. Time has moved today's 10-year-return start date near the post-2003 dot-com bust lows (March 2003). And three-year returns have outperformed both tactical portfolios and global macro as an investment style.

The lesson here is not that buy-and-hold is dead. Rather, it's that when you begin investing and the valuation you pay matter a great deal to your returns.

8. What hyperinflation?

The deficit scolds have been warning for years that hyperinflation is imminent. I have been hearing these ominous warnings my entire adult life. "This is unsustainable! Inflation is about to explode!" But inflation has been rather tame, and we are not experiencing anything remotely like hyperinflation.

They keep using that word "unsustainable," but with all due respect to Inigo Montoya, I do not think that word means what they think it means.

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