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Connect the Dots

© Can Stock Photo / bradcalkins

Do you remember the “connect the dots” pictures for children? By drawing lines from one dot to the next, the players discover that a coherent picture emerges from a seemingly disorganized collection of dots on the page.

Likewise, our work involves creating a picture that makes sense out of all the things going on in the world. In our version, though, there’s no handy numbering guide to draw our attention to the relevant dots.

Instead there seems to be an infinite number of dots in the world. So our first task is to do some sorting. For example, a vast mass of information is available about the day-to-day movement of the stock market. We can sort out any dots that fit into the category “the market goes up and down”—and then discard them. They are not pertinent for long-term investors.

Time horizon plays a large role in sorting as well. There is a wealth of opinions about nearly any investment alternative. A short-term technical analyst may have an opinion that is useful to a day trader but worthless to investors who are thinking in terms of years or decades.

But our work involves more than sorting out what to ignore. We frequently need to dig deeper—to read SEC filings, to research what happened in prior cycles years ago, and to look up many years of operating results. In other words, we still have to be able to find some of the specific dots we know are needed to complete the picture.

For example, we believe that inflation in the next few years will exceed consensus expectations. There is little information from the past decade supporting this view, in our opinion, but as we dig deeper, the patterns going back many decades suggest we may have it right. (No guarantees.)

Another way of saying all of this is that perspective, context, and background matter as we try to connect the dots. We are fortunate to have time to think deeply—and clients who value our methods and our work are a big plus. Together, we’ll create the picture.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else on your agenda, please email us or call.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

The economic forecasts set forth in this material may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

Meet Our Research Sources

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / meggichka

You already know Mark Leibman and our LPL Registered Administrative Associate Greg Leibman. But you might not know our allied staff economist, our fixed income research director, our market strategist, or the fellow who oversees the whole allied research effort. John Lynch, Matthew Peterson, Ryan Detrick, and Burt White have decades of experience, advanced degrees, specialized training and the appropriate professional designations.

Most importantly, they each have the ability to communicate economic and market developments with the context and background needed to get at the real meaning and significance.

These folks do not work at 228 Main. They are the key people among dozens in LPL Financial’s Research Department. In our quest to find the right investments, and to understand the economic and market environment in which we live, they play a major role. They put out reports, they help conduct the daily Research Morning conference call, they blog, they tweet—they communicate.

One of the wonderful things about life in the 21st century is the vast amount of information available. We’ve spent a lot of time appraising the quality of commentary from across the financial industry. We are able to follow key specialists at Schwab and Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo and other firms, as well as our most respected peers and money managers.

The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times provide a great overview of the major stories of the day, and more detailed trade publications are a vital source of news about the industries in which we’ve invested. People with specialized knowledge are available through blogs and social media, as well. We read the Detroit newspapers for auto industry news, Australian papers for news on global raw materials producers, and we find news sources for other situations as needed. Subscription-based investment research and data round out our fundamental sources.

We have what we need to do our own thinking, draw our own conclusions, and take action in pursuit of your interests. If you have specific questions, please call or write to ask them.