Don’t be afraid of stocks: an examination of financial bubbles and their history


Michael D’Angelo, Staff


Pictured above is the price index of Tulips from the infamous Tulip bubble burst of the 1600s in the Dutch Netherlands. The tulip bubble burst is the first ever recorded financial bubble in history.

Chances are if you checked the financial markets on Tuesday morning, indices were in the red. Many investors were concerned with a large federal stimulus package, the recent rise in commodities, and a rise in the 10-year U.S. Treasury Bond. Headlines regarding Michael Burry’s prediction about hyperinflation, Treasury Bonds, and WTI Crude Oil exploding to over $60 a barrel flooded the news on Monday and investors were alarmed. Tuesday’s open saw the tech heavy NASDAQ dropping nearly 3 percent. 

Amid growing concerns among investors, talks of a potential financial bubble, which occurs when asset prices become based on inconsistent and irrational views about the future, surfaced and Ray Dalio’s bubble indicator found 50 of the 1,000 biggest companies are in extreme bubbles. Although this is only half of the companies considered in a bubble from the Dot Com burst, investors should certainly take notice but not let news headlines deter from their equity investing.

Nonetheless, financial bubbles and investor psychology is still a fascinating topic. I recently became interested in the concept of financial bubbles after picking up a copy of the novel, Irrational Exuberance by Economist J.D. Shiller. In his book, Shiller accurately predicted the housing crisis and suggests monetary policy tools to ease the consequences of financial bubbles. The term “Irrational Exuberance” was coined by former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan, in the late 1980s. Below is the  breakdown and examination of the history of bubbles.

Financial bubbles have occurred all throughout history; In the 1630s, the Dutch went crazy for Tulip bulbs. The price soared from 1636 to 1637 and many went so far as selling their homes to purchase the simple garden plant. Eventually, the mass hysteria surrounding tulips faded and the price of tulips declined 90 percent.. 

Do you remember Isaac Newton, the pioneer of the concept of gravity? Well, Newton was burned hard and lost a fortune when the South Sea Company bubble burst in the 1720s. The South Sea Company was promised a monopoly by the British government to trade in South American colonies. British investors dived headfirst into the South Sea and the stock reached a high over 1,000 pounds and then came down after news of fraud and the monopoly fell out. 

Bubbles are no phenomena to the past as we have seen in the modern era. The Japanese real estate and equity markets exploded in the late 1980s and then came down.  The Dotcom bubble occurred in the United States in the late 1990s to early 2000s when investors dived into tech and internet stocks. The most recent bubble occurred with the U.S. housing market in the late 2000s to 2010s. Housing prices increased dramatically leading many investors to falsely believe the inability of the housing market to crash. The market declined dramatically, due to an excess of subprime mortgage loans, followed by the global recession due to mortgage securitization. 

History certainly has a knack of repeating itself and we could be seeing another bubble occur in any sector of the economy. With bubbles and investor mania creating a collapse of asset prices, the key to surviving the next bubble is to rely less on weekend worrying, where we, as retail investors or institutional investors, absorb weekly  news on the weekend leading to a belief in an economic doom at the start of a new week. To take from Peter Lynch, we should not get scared out of stocks.

Cathie Wood and ARK Innovation: the Newest Tech Bulls


Michael D’Angelo, Staff


Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of ARK Invest, Cathie Wood (pictured above), is known on the street as a star stock-picker.

Chances are if you are a retail or an institutional investor you probably hold long positions in exchange traded funds (ETFs) or equities relating to the technology industry. Many investors want to chase the next hot technology company that is going to change the world while, preferably, garnering high returns. Some retail investors do not have the time, knowledge, energy and/or skill to pick their own individual stocks. Instead of picking stocks by themselves, investors turn to institutional fund managers to pick heavy stocks for them. Investors will purchase ETFs and mutual funds which track tech companies’ performance.

Many institutional fund managers create ETFs dedicated to following tech companies. A major ETF which tracks the tech heavy NASDAQ composite, QQQ is managed by Invesco. Vanguard manages VGT which focuses on information technology and State Street manages multiple funds dedicated to tracking various tech stocks’ market performance. 

The newest fund manager from the street to popularize tech fund management is Cathie Wood at Ark Investment Management, LLC. Wood is the real deal with managing portfolios. She holds the title of CEO and CIO of Ark Investment Management LLC. In the past, Wood worked as an assistant economist with the Capital Group in the late 70s, then as a managing director for Jennison Associates LLC and then as a limited partner for Tupelo Capital Services. Later she worked as a Chief Investment Officer at Alliance Bernstein. Wood joined ARK investment Management in 2014 and, as mentioned above, she holds the title of CEO and CIO. Wood certainly has plenty of experience in the industry and her fund returns are impressive. 

Wood managed the largest actively managed ETF in 2020 which is the Ark Innovation ETF. The ticker symbol of the ETF is ARKK. ARKK’s objective is to seek an increase in long-term capital growth by investing at least 65% of the company’s assets in American and foreign tech equities that will change the world around us. Ark calls world-changing equities, a “disruptive innovation.” 

Wood has been crushing the game since 2016 with the Ark Innovation ETF. A quick look at the prospectus for ARKK reveals the ETF returned at market value 66.47% for the year ended on July 31st, 2020. In 2019, the total market return was 12.27%, 52.38% in 2018, 43.72% in 2017, 4.9% in 2016 and from October 31st, 2014 to August 31st, 2015, the return was 0.50%.  As of December 31st, 2020, ARKK’s top 10 holdings were Tesla (10.8%), Roku (6.9%), CRISPR Therapeutics (5.5%), Square (5.3%), Teladoc Health (4.4%), Invitae Corp (4.1%), Zillow (3.1%), Pure Storage (2.8%), Proto Labs (2.8%) and Spotify (2.7%). ARKK closed January 26th at $141.38.

Ark maintains other actively managed ETFs like Ark Next Generation Internet ETF (ARKW), ARK Fintech Innovation ETF (ARKF), ARK Genomic Revolution ETF (ARKG), ARK Autonomous Technology and Robotics ETF (ARKQ), the 3D Printing ETF (PRNT) and ARK Israel Innovative Tech ETF (IZRL). All of these ETFs are dedicated to finding innovative companies with the objective of changing their respective industry and the world. 

Wood still has time to prove her stock picking skills and to return more money to her shareholders. Wood has expressed interest in creating a bitcoin ETF after bitcoin hits a $2 trillion market capitalization, and she has further expressed intent on creating an ETF dedicated to following space companies. The future is looking bright for both ARK and Wood. Time will only be able to tell the success of these companies and the bullish tech attitude of their founder.