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Joseph Slife

Joseph Slife

Writer/researcher

Joseph Slife has been a news writer for the Associated Press, a college instructor, and a radio host.

From 1990 to 2003, he was a writer/researcher for Larry Burkett at Christian Financial Concepts and Crown Financial Ministries, and he served as the executive producer for CFC/Crown Radio from 2000-2005.

He first joined SMI's writing team in 2008, before going on to serve nearly six years as senior producer/co-host for WORLD Radio. He returned to Sound Mind Investing in 2017.

Joseph and his wife Joye have three grown sons.

Most Recent Articles

Can a Bear Be Your Friend?

A bear market isn't much fun. But there are different ways to respond to a bear.

If you're still in the prime accumulation phase of your investing life, a bear market is your friend. Really. A quote in the current issue of the SMI newsletter puts it this way, "You make most of your money in a bear market; you just don't realize it at the time."

The reason is that during a bear market, your new investment dollars go farther — i.e., you can buy more shares with less money — as Austin Pryor explained in our March 2019 issue:

[D]uring the investing phase of your life, you’re going to be a net buyer of stocks for many years to come. You want your monthly investing dollars to stretch as far as possible, acquiring as many stock and stock-fund shares as you possibly can. And that happens when prices are down....

Stock prices that have been battered by a bear market work in your favor, allowing you to stockpile shares to the max.... So, learn to love the bear! The truly long-term investor realizes we need more of them.

What might have cost $100 a few weeks ago may be available for $75 now. If you saw the same deal at Walmart, you'd think, "Wow, that's a pretty good sale." But as an old saying goes, "The stock market is the only one where people run away when there's a sale."

So if you're younger, don't run from the bear. Run toward him! (SMI's Just-the-Basics strategy is great for this approach.)

In years to come, you'll be glad you did!

Keeping your distance from Mr. Bear

For those of us who are older (and therefore have shorter investing time frames), a more cautious approach may be in order— one that involves trying to preserve the value of our holdings as much as possible and perhaps steering new investing dollars toward non-stock investments.

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SMI on Facebook Live: The Market’s Wild Ride

SMI executive editor Mark Biller offered a market update yesterday via Facebook Live, joining hosts Rob West and Steve Moore for a special video edition of the radio program MoneyWise Live.

Despite the big rebound this week, Mark warned investors to "set appropriate expectations" regarding where the market will go from this point.

You can watch here. (Or listen to the audio here.)

And here is the transcript.

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When a “Bucket Strategy” Shines

Market reversals are unnerving for everyone. But for a person in retirement or close to it, a sudden and deep downturn can be terrifying. It’s scary to see one’s nest egg diminish by tens of thousands of dollars (or even more) in just a short period. And if the investor needs some of that retirement money soon, he or she faces the demoralizing prospect of withdrawing funds at the worst possible time.

We can be thankful that bull markets tend to be long and bear markets tend to be short, but that is scant comfort when a bear begins to prowl. And, unfortunately, many retirees and near-retirees are caught off guard when that happens.

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Setting an Emergency-Savings Target

Money — or rather the lack of it — keeps many Americans up at night. Specifically, many people lose sleep over unexpected expenses, according to research by the American Psychological Association.

Other research confirms what is intuitive: people who don’t have an emergency fund to help meet such expenses are much more stressed than those who do.

Establishing an emergency savings reserve is crucial to maintaining financial stability. Indeed, building a reliable reserve should take precedence over your investing. Otherwise, you may find yourself forced to liquidate investments to meet short-term emergency needs. That will have negative tax implications if the investments must be sold from a tax-advantaged account. Worse yet, you could be forced to sell at an inopportune time — i.e., when prices have fallen.

So having a savings reserve isn’t just a stress reducer. It’s a critical element of a long-term money-management strategy.

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April Sighting

Sighting: Gold & Stocks – A Complicated Correlation

The equity market sell-off in the past few weeks has been shocking.... But what may also surprise you is the recent weakness in gold. Shouldn’t the safe-haven asset shine most in turbulent times?.... George Milling-Stanley, chief gold strategist for the SPDR ETF business, tells [ETF.com] what’s happening in the gold market and what ETF investors can expect going forward.

ETF.com: In this type of market...you’d expect people to flock to safe havens like gold. But gold, too, is under pressure. What gives?

Milling-Stanley: ...[A] lot of investors had bought equities on margin.... [R]ather than selling their equities in order to meet the calls for additional margin, they sell something that has held its value, which at that point is gold. They use the proceeds from sales of gold to meet the cash margin calls on their equities....

ETF.com: Had gold not been a strong asset — it rallied significantly in 2019 — would it still be the No. 1-choice asset to be liquidated when investors need to come up with cash?

Milling-Stanley: That last summer we broke out of the top of a trading range that had been in force for six straight years is very important. Gold is a much more valuable asset the higher its price, allowing people the ability to sell less gold to meet those cash margin calls. Another thing worth saying is the fact that gold is a very deep and liquid market....

ETF.com: Asset flows show that redemptions have been happening primarily in the biggest, most liquid gold ETF, GLD. It’s not in competing funds such as the SPDR Gold MiniShares Trust (GLDM)...or the iShares Gold Trust (IAU). Does that speak to trading liquidity?

Milling-Stanley: Exactly. GLD is by far the most liquid gold ETF out there. There’s no question it’s still the 800-pound gorilla. The total amount of gold backing physical gold ETFs around the world currently stands at around $140 billion to $150 billion. GLD alone is more than one-third of that....

ETF.com: Aside from cash flow needs, should we expect gold ETFs to attract more assets from here?

Milling-Stanley: Unless there is renewed pressure from the equity markets — which might postpone a recovery in gold prices and postpone inflows into the ETFs — we’re going to see gold prices recover, and money move back into GLD in more force than they had been, if history’s any guide.

– From a 3/17/2020 post at ETF.com, a site covering exchange-traded funds. Read more at bit.ly/2JdvOOM

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Money Roundup: ETFs and the Coronavirus Crash, Wise Words on Surviving Bear Markets, and More

Here's this week's collection of worthwhile reads on investing, personal finance, stewardship — and even medical statistics. We hope you find these articles to be helpful.

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Why Isn’t Gold Glittering?

In tumultuous times, gold typically assumes the role of a safe haven. This time, not so much.

Or perhaps we should say, "Not yet."

As you may know, gold enjoyed a strong run-up the weeks and months before the pandemic. That robust performance is now making gold the victim of its own success.

Here's an explanation form George Milling-Stanley, chief gold strategist at SPDR (the company that runs the GLD exchange-traded fund). He spoke with ETF.com:

ETF.com: What gives?

Milling-Stanley: ...The issue is a lot of investors had bought equities on margin. When the value of the equity drops 7% or more in a day, they face calls for additional margin because their investments are worth less than they were before.

But rather than selling their equities in order to meet the calls for additional margin, they sell something that has held its value, which at that point is gold. They use the proceeds from sales of gold to meet the cash margin calls on their equities....

ETF.com: Had gold not been a strong asset — it rallied significantly in 2019 — would it still be the No. 1-choice asset to be liquidated when investors need to come up with cash?

Milling-Stanley: That last summer we broke out of the top of a trading range that had been in force for six straight years is very important. Gold is a much more valuable asset the higher its price, allowing people the ability to sell less gold to meet those cash margin calls.

Another thing worth saying is the fact that gold is a very deep and liquid market. That has also been something that came to the rescue of investors. For example, it’s more liquid than timber land or real estate or private equity, or many other so-called liquid alternatives. Gold is the original liquid alternative, and probably the most efficient liquid alternative out there.

Here's is what the run-up and subsequent decline in GLD looks like (chart begins four months ago, in mid-November 2019):

As investors with gold holdings have rushed to raise cash, GLD has borne the brunt of redemptions. Here's why:

ETF.com: Asset flows show that redemptions have been happening primarily in the biggest, most liquid gold ETF, GLD. It’s not in competing funds such as the SPDR Gold MiniShares Trust (GLDM)...or the iShares Gold Trust (IAU). Does that speak to trading liquidity?

Milling-Stanley: Exactly. GLD is by far the most liquid gold ETF out there. There's no question it's still the 800-pound gorilla. The total amount of gold backing physical gold ETFs around the world currently stands at around $140 billion to $150 billion. GLD alone is more than one-third of that....

ETF.com: Aside from cash flow needs, should we expect gold ETFs to attract more assets from here?

Milling-Stanley: Unless there is renewed pressure from the equity markets — which might postpone a recovery in gold prices and postpone inflows into the ETFs — we're going to see gold prices recover, and money move back into GLD in more force than they had been, if history's any guide.

That view tracks with what SMI executive editor Mark Biller wrote in a post last week: "Gold has generally been a good performer overall during past bear markets, but sometimes does sell off along with other assets during the early 'liquidity crunch' phase that we're still experiencing."

We can't know how long this liquidity-crunch phase will last, but it can't go on indefinitely.

The takeaway here is that the decline in gold is likely due to short-term factors, not to any change in the typical non-correlation between gold and equities in times of market distress.

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SMI on the Radio: Exercising Both Faith and Caution

The rapid market decline has many investors wondering what to do. SMI executive editor Mark Biller had advice on Monday's MoneyWise Live from Moody Radio.

To listen to a portion of the program, click the play button below — or, if you prefer, scroll down for the transcript. (And for more radio appearances by members of the SMI team, visit our Resources page.)

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SMI's Mark Biller With the Latest on the Market Upheaval – Today on MoneyWise Live

Despite the latest efforts of the Federal Reserve, market turmoil seems to be getting worse, not better.

What should investors do — and not do — at a time like this? SMI executive editor Mark Biller offers advice this afternoon on MoneyWise Live from Moody Radio.

MoneyWise airs at 4:00 p.m. ET/3:00 p.m. CT.

For a listing of Moody stations across the U.S., go to MoodyRadio.org and click "STATIONS" near the top of the page.

Or you can listen online at this link.


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SMI on the Radio: “If You’ve Wondered What a Market Panic Looks Like, This Was It” (audio and transcript)

Monday was a day for the record books. As SMI executive editor Mark Biller said late yesterday afternoon on MoneyWise Live, "If you've wondered, 'What does financial market panic look like?' this was it."

Mark explained why the turmoil was so pronounced — and he offered guidelines for responding calmly and thinking about the current upheaval both strategically and biblically.

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