Grow Your Portfolio the Intelligent Way

The Cat and the Horror (2023)

By Jim Woods

There was a cat sleeping on my porch
She didn’t know what I had witnessed

The lacerated skyline of metropolis
A bleeding out of her twin sons
Flying lancets piercing steel hulls
Black smoke seasoning the azure sky
As the falling man descends to the concrete

Incendiary ideas born in Bronze
To please a prophet on a white horse
Hatred of the good for being the good
Crumbles a once-proud icon
Falling ash blankets District streets

A macabre concoction of concrete, bone, blood
Fury rises in the giant’s heart
Rage and revenge burn white
Country targeted, let there be fight
Two decades later, let there be flight

There is a cat sleeping on my porch
While the world remembers

— Jim Woods, Sept. 6, 2023


On Monday, we mark the 22nd anniversary of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

For me, the passing of more than two decades hasn’t been enough to fade the scars.

For me, those scars will never be allowed to fade.

Etched on my personal black box recorder are the memories I had circa 1999, when I checked in at the World Trade Center lobby to report to work for my first day at Morgan Stanley. The firm’s training program for new advisers/traders took place in those Twin Towers, and in the weeks that followed, I spent many an afternoon high atop the Manhattan skyline, learning the business inside the iconic monument erected to celebrate capitalism, Western achievement and the wealth of nations.

Their boldness, their glaring simplicity, their twin-brother-like stance and their defiance of the rest of the New York City skyline were all part of the reason the World Trade Center was targeted for destruction by forces whose primary directive is death to the infidel.

On that day, when the blue skies were pierced by the stiletto insertion of commercial jets into the towers, I watched the events unravel from some 2,500 miles west. A condo nestled at the foot of the Hollywood Hills hardly seemed congruent to the billowing smoke oozing out of the structural siblings.

The only connection in my mind was… my mind.

A mind having been there just a couple of years earlier, wondering what it would be like to actually be there in that moment.

Wondering if I would have been incinerated along with the roughly 2,600 other souls that were extinguished that day.

Wondering if I would have acted heroically, the way so many did.

Wondering if I would have succumbed to the cowardice that so often accompanies paralytic fear.

I would like to think I could have been a hero. I need to think I would have been a hero.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to find out.

Instead, from afar, from the safety of Hollywood, I watched. All day, all night, I watched. Compelled by the horror; compelled by the enormity. Thinking to myself, “Will this be the world from here on?”

Would the world be plunged into war? At that moment, I wanted war. I wanted vengeance. I wanted to pound those responsible, and the philosophy that animated these acts into a pulp.

I still want to.

I want to stoke the burn of that day. I want to remember the collapse of icons.

I want to keep calling out the life-hating, celebratory death cult of ideas that is radical Islam, and I want to rejoice in its defeat.

The scars of history must never be allowed to heal, and no salve of time should be permitted to mask the day America would be altered forever.

Note: For the full immersion experience, I invite you to listen to a special audio essay of “The Cat and the Horror.”


ETF Talk: Exposing Ourselves with This Emerging-Market ETF

Once in a while, we find ourselves exposed. And, regardless of whether we’ve done it on purpose or not, there is a level of vulnerability in exposure.

However, being vulnerable is not always a bad thing, as it opens us up to opportunities we may not have otherwise been given — and when opportunity arises, it is worth seizing. So, I say we expose ourselves to the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Small-Cap Exchange-Traded Fund (NYSE: EEMS). EEMS is an emerging-market ETF, meaning it gives exposure to emerging-market economies in the form of small-cap stocks.

The fund holds a broad portfolio that attempts to avoid any heavy allocations toward any one region, country, sector or firm. As it is a small-cap fund, it does not have the concentration issues that many large-cap funds may have. Further, it is a fairly well-balanced fund as well, when looking from a sector-specific perspective.

Exposing ourselves to EEMS opens up the possibility for potentially better “pure plays” on local economies in emerging economies, as the fund is not dominated by large-cap stocks. Moreover, EEMS may also provide better exposure to sectors that are underrepresented in funds overwhelmed by large-cap stocks.

So, while its peers may offer exposure to the largest companies in the developing world, they may be impacted more significantly by broader macroeconomic trends versus changes in local consumption.

You have to pay to play when it comes to this ETF, seeing as it has an expense ratio of 0.70%. However, its price is fairly reasonable given the exposure it offers, which includes exposure to both Taiwan and South Korea, something many of its peers do not offer.

EEMS has net assets of $324.92 million and assets under management of $318.51 million. Though it has a higher expense ratio, it offers a dividend yield of 1.38%, and its last ex-dividend date was June 7.

As you can see from the chart below, the fund is trading in an immensely robust fashion. It opened at the highest end of its 52-week trading range, with an open price of $56.27, while its 52-week peak was $57.19.

Further, its 200-day moving average has stayed solid, with a bit of an uphill tilt. Though its 50-day moving average saw a bit of a dip in the early months of the year, it has managed to regroup and move higher — both of these are signs of a fund with strong momentum.


In summation, EEMS offers a broad portfolio — with exposure to potentially better “pure plays” in local economies of the developing world and sectors that are underrepresented in funds overwhelmed by large-cap stocks.

So, while exposing ourselves may open us up to vulnerability, it also can open us up to seize-worthy opportunities — as we see with this small-cap emerging-market fund.

As always, I am happy to answer any of your questions about ETFs, so do not hesitate to send me an email. You may just see your question answered in a future ETF Talk.

Finally, since we have spoken about both exposure and opportunity, I will leave you with a quote from a woman who was open to, and seized, both: Helen Keller.

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.”


In case you missed it…

On the Intangible Essence of Friendship

Friendship. It’s an essential component of any life well-lived. However, it’s also somewhat of a mysterious proposition, because what draws one person to another is often difficult to define. Yet, we all know what a friend is, and who our friends are, and what we like about our friends.

Interestingly, most of us have friends of different varieties. Some are business friends, some are neighborhood friends, some are hobby-related friends, or friends that like the same type of music, or football team or automobile brand. I have a variety of friends like this, as I suspect you do as well.

But then there are friends that you connect with on a slightly different level. Indeed, a deeper, more profound level. Not necessarily on a deep philosophical level (although, for me, this is usually the connection I make), but on a “spiritual” level. Now, when I say spiritual, I am speaking here of the human spirit, or the “sense of life” that a person embodies.

Yet what, precisely, do I mean by a sense of life?

Well, the term comes from the great novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand, who defines sense of life as “a pre-conceptual equivalent of metaphysics, an emotional, subconsciously integrated appraisal of man and of existence. It sets the nature of a man’s emotional responses and the essence of his character.”

This technical definition of sense of life isn’t the easiest thing to grasp. Rather, it’s one of those intangible aspects of another person that just resonates with you. It’s sort of like finding the flame of a kindred spirit among the many faces one encounters during a lifetime, and then recognizing yourself in that fire.

I am fortunate to say that I have found more than a handful of these sense-of-life brothers in arms throughout my 50-plus trips around the sun, and I am grateful for each and every one of you (and because I know my close-knit clan of sense-of-life compatriots are regular readers of this column, I know you are smiling right now, which also makes me smile).

Last week, I had the great fortune to be visited by one of my sense-of-life brothers in arms, my friend James “Mr. C.” Here we are outside the ranch with a bottle of “Heaven’s Door” bourbon, musical genius Bob Dylan’s brand of premium whiskey, which I highly recommend.

James is one of the most accomplished guys I know.

He’s an extremely successful businessman who spent more than three decades as an auto industry executive. He’s also a successful entrepreneur, investor, husband, father, grandfather, former United States Marine, and all-around excellent man. Yet, all of those accomplishments are in addition to Mr. C’s radiant sense of life, a component of his personality that I was drawn to from our very first meeting a few years ago.

I really enjoyed hanging out with James, as it’s the kind of experience that lets you know there are others who see the world through a similar lens, and who take on existence the way I think it should be taken on — with love, aggression, wit, smarts, principles and a real sense of fun.

So, my recommendation for you is the following: Take a quick mental inventory of your true friends. The ones whose sense of life you most resonate with. Then, pick up your phone, text, call or write them an email telling them how much you appreciate them in your life.

Or, if you are fortunate to have a platform of the sort that I do here in “The Deep Woods,” you can tell them all, for the whole world to hear, how much you appreciate them being a part of your life.

Doing so will make you feel honored to be alive, and I suspect that doing so will make your sense-of-life brothers-in-arms feel the same way, too.


On Mourning

“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.”

— David Levithan

Nearly 22 years ago, the whole country mourned those we’ve never met. Sadly, today’s polarized body politic seems compassionate lightyears away from that unified September day. Let’s hope for all of our sakes that we don’t have to go through another tragedy such as 9/11 in order to have that sense of unity again.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

P.S. I will be holding a special, subscribers-only teleconference entitled “What Do the Three Pillars of the Market Tell Us About Q4?”on Sept. 13 at 2 p.m. EST. The event is free, but you must register here to be able to attend. Don’t miss out!

P.P.S. Come join me and many of my Eagle colleagues on an incredible cruise. If you book before Sept. 29, you’ll receive a spend-as-you-wish $250 shipboard credit! In addition, this is all-inclusive — meals, drinks and even the excursions are included in your one-time price! We set sail on Dec. 4 for 16 days embarking on a memorable journey that combines fascinating history, vibrant culture and picturesque scenery. Enjoy seminars on the days we are cruising from one destination to another, as well as dinners with members of the Eagle team. Just some of the places we’ll visit are Mexico, Belize, Panama, Ecuador and more! Click here now for all the details.

In the name of the best within us,

Jim Woods

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