Fourth Quarter 2015 Appraisal Letter

As the opening theme of this quarter and year-end letter, I want to examine a popular business maxim: “What gets measured, gets managed.” The maxim comes courtesy of management consultant Peter Drucker, who was much honored around the middle of the last century. I remember reading ... read more...

First Quarter Appraisal Letter

10 April, 2015 by Mark O'Brien in Quarterly Letters
The first quarter of 2015 saw stock prices rise in January and February (with several new record highs) only to stall out in March.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed on March 31st at 17,776.12, down less than 1% for the quarter. Treasury bond yields notched lower over the quarter into ... read more...

Fourth Quarter Appraisal Letter

21 January, 2015 by Mark O'Brien in Quarterly Letters
As we finish one year and start another, we have to remind ourselves that the stock and bond markets are on their own schedule.  They don’t appreciate a good year, such as we just had.  Even less do they recognize or give extra credit for a new theory or policy.  Neither do the stock and bond ... read more...

Third Quarter Appraisal Letter

24 October, 2014 by Mark O'Brien in Quarterly Letters
The feel of the market has changed.  To use a Wall Street term, investor sentiment has swung from complacency at the beginning of the quarter to an emotion bordering on fear at the end of the period.  Thus a piece of routine bad news that would have made little impression on stock prices in ... read more...

Second Quarter Appraisal Letter

10 July, 2014 by Mark O'Brien in Quarterly Letters
In this appraisal letter, as with earlier ones, we identify what happened in the capital markets in the quarter just ended.  The underlying assumption is that we cannot predict the next turn in the market (nor can anyone else), but that we can spot trends and then decide if we want to join them ... read more...