Individual Investor Performance: Money in 60 Seconds

Question 1: Over the past 20 years, how have individual investors done? What kind of returns have they had?

Well, back up. We know that active managers tend to underperform the markets by about the amount of fees — mutual fund managers underperform by about the amount of fees. Over the past 20 years, individual investors have done even worse. So at a time when, according to Dalbar, the stock market has gone up annually 5.6, 5.8%, bonds have gone up annually 4.5%, individual investors — their money has gone up annually about 1.9%. So that doesn't even keep up with inflation, which is estimated to be 2.2%. Why is this? Because we sometimes are our worst enemies. I mean there are many reasons for it. But you over-trade, you tend to panic when times are tough, markets are bad, and you're trading in and out at the wrong time.

Question 2: My company doesn't report its gender pay gap, so it doesn't have one … right?

Uh, wrong. On average, if women are making 80 cents to a man's dollar — sometimes it's 78 cents, sometimes it's 82 cents — then on average, your company has a gender pay gap. And that can be even if it's great people who are there, because in a society in which men have been socialized to negotiate and women have been socialized not to, and bosses — who are just looking for the bottom line — if someone asks for the money they'll give it to them, and if they don't, they won't … you've got a gender pay gap. So if your company isn't reporting one, ask them to.


And go deeper on topics like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence at Microsoft on The Issues

When Donald Trump first started talking about buying Greenland last week, we figured it was a weird story with less legs than a Harp seal.

Signal readers, we were wrong. President Trump was so serious about purchasing the autonomous Danish territory that this week he abruptly cancelled a trip to Denmark after the country's prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, labelled the idea "absurd."

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The Amazon in flames – More than 70,000 forest fires are burning in Brazil right now, most of them in the Amazon. That's up 84% over the same period last year, and it's the highest number on record. This is the dry season when farmers burn certain amounts of forest legally to clear farmland. But critics say Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro's efforts to loosen conservation rules have encouraged farmers, loggers, and miners to set more fires, many of them illegally. Bolsonaro – a science skeptic who recently fired the head of the agency that tracks deforestation – says, without proof, that NGOs are setting the fires to embarrass his government. Meanwhile, the EU is holding up a major trade deal with Brazil unless Bolsonaro commits to higher environmental protection standards, including those that affect the Amazon.

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Over the past fifty years, the Amazon rainforest has shrunk by an area equal to the size of Turkey. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Brazilian government supported settlement of the sparsely populated region for security reasons. Since then, huge swaths of the forest -- which is crucial for limiting the world's greenhouse gasses -- have been cleared for farmland used to feed Brazil's population and support its massive agricultural exports. Greater awareness of the environmental impacts in the 1990s produced tighter conservation regulations, though plenty of illegal clearing continues. In recent years, the annual deforestation rate has begun to rise again, and Brazil's new president Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to weaken regulations further in order to support businesses.

3: The US has recruited Australia to join its nascent mission of protecting ships in the critical Strait of Hormuz. Along with Britain and Bahrain, Australia is now the third country to join the US-led maritime mission, as high seas brinksmanship with the Iranians continues.

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