Grow Your Portfolio the Intelligent Way

What Say You on the Pandemic Solution?

By Jim Woods
  • What Say You on the Pandemic Solution?
  • ETF Talk: Transportation ETF JETS Invests in More Than Just Flight
  • Focus, Integration, Celebration
  • The Wisdom of Erased

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What Say You on the Pandemic Solution?

In his 2005 best seller, “The Wisdom of Crowds,” author James Surowiecki argues for what he describes as a deceptively simple idea: Large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant those few may be. He also theorizes that the wisdom of crowds is better at solving problems, fostering innovation and coming to wise decisions — and this, I suspect, also is true when it comes to finding a coronavirus pandemic solution.

So, with the wisdom of crowds firmly in mind, today I need your help.

Today, I want to find out your views on this situation and what you think is the best approach when it comes to how society should deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, the following survey questions were sent to me over the weekend by friend, colleague and Fast Money Alert co-editor, the always-brilliant Dr. Mark Skousen.

I found the questions so pitch perfect that I asked Mark if I could send them out to you for your response. He agreed and today’s issue was born. (Hey, it pays to have very smart friends in your inner circle!)

So, let’s get to this brief survey now.

Which of the following statements best describes your view of how to best deal with the coronavirus pandemic:

1) Hard Quarantine. This pandemic is serious enough to justify the government imposing an economic lockdown, closing schools, restaurants, gyms, concerts, conventions, travel and non-essential businesses.

2) The Middle Ground. This pandemic is serious, justifying the wearing of masks, social distancing, limitations on large gatherings, but without closing businesses, schools, restaurants and travel.

3) Laissez-Faire Position. This pandemic is not that serious, and should have been handled by individuals, institutions and businesses deciding for themselves how to respond without government mandates.

4) None of the above reflects my views.

Now, while I am tempted to share my answer to this survey, I am going to hold off on revealing my response until next week’s The Deep Woods. My reason is because this survey isn’t about me, it’s about you.

To send me your response, all you have to do is go to the special Coronavirus Pandemic Survey page on my website.

There, you can tell me your answer, and you can write any additional comments you have on the situation.

The way I see it, the more comments you have, the better, because if we are going to get a true sense of the wisdom of crowds, I need the most complete response you can give.

So, it’s up to you to speak out and tell me what you think.

Next week, I will report back to you the results of this survey, and I will share some of what I think are the most interesting responses.

Rest assured, all responses will be held in the strictest confidence, and no names will ever be revealed. You have my word on that — and if you know me, you know that there is nothing more sacred to me than my word.

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ETF Talk: Transportation ETF JETS Invests in More Than Just Flight

(Note: First in a series on post-pandemic boom ETFs)

The U.S. Global Jets ETF (NYSEARCA:JETS) is an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that traverses the world, as it invests in both U.S. and non-U.S. companies involved with the airline industry.

Companies within this fund are not solely passenger airlines, but aircraft manufacturers and airports and terminal services companies as well. JETS is a diverse ETF comprised of small-, mid- and large-cap companies throughout the United States and the world.

About 70% of the fund is weighted towards U.S. large-cap passenger airlines. It uses a tiered-index weighting methodology driven mostly by market cap and passenger load. The rest of its portfolio, both national and international, is populated with companies in supporting industries. These supporting companies are chosen according to basic factors such as gross margins, sales growth and sales yield.

JETS has an expense ratio of 0.60%, a yield of 2.35% and $1.40 billion in assets under management. Year-to-date, the fund’s total return is down 48.70%. However, this is an understandable drop. This ETF is centered around all things pertaining to flight, which has been one of the most downtrodden sectors since March due to COVID-19.

A glance at the chart shows the strength of the fund prior to COVID-19. Though it dipped sharply in early March, JETS gained its footing in early June and is now on a steady, mid-level trend.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

The majority of JETS’s portfolio is made up of stocks, and its top five holdings are Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV), 10.87%; Delta Airlines Inc. (DAL), 9.82%; United Airlines Holdings Inc. (UAL), 9.50%; American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL), 8.45% and Allegiant Travel Co. (ALGT), 3.89%.

It may be a bit of a surprise to some investors to learn that U.S. Global Jets ETF (NYSE:JETS) is in the global transportation segment, as the majority of its weight is held in U.S. stocks. However, it earned its spot in this segment because it runs the gamut from airline companies to manufacturers and service firms.

This fund may be worth considering if it meshes with the goals of an individual investor. For investors looking to place themselves firmly in all things sky bound, JETS offers a direct approach.

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

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In case you missed it…

Focus, Integration, Celebration

A few years ago, a friend asked me to describe my personal “ethos” with just a few words.

Now, judging by that question, you can tell that I hang out with some pretty smart friends. And in this case, I knew my answer needed to be appropriately thought out to satisfy my friend’s curiosity. At first, I thought this task would be difficult. Yet after just a brief period of reflection, I answered with the following three words…

Focus. Integration. Celebration.

Naturally, my friend demanded I amplify this answer, and so I went about explaining these “three pillars” of my personal ethos so that each concept would be simple and easy to understand. So, with your permission, I want to do the same here.

Focus.The first pillar here is the most essential, as it also serves as a basis for all information processing, and for the application of the two other pillars of my ethos. The term focus here means much more than just concentration. By focus, I mean focus in the wider, philosophic sense. Perhaps a quote here from my favorite philosopher and my favorite novelist, Ayn Rand, will explain what I mean by philosophic focus:

“In any hour and issue of his life, man is free to think or to evade that effort. Thinking requires a state of full, focused awareness. The act of focusing one’s consciousness is volitional. Man can focus his mind to a full, active, purposefully directed awareness of reality — or he can unfocus it and let himself drift in a semiconscious daze, merely reacting to any chance stimulus of the immediate moment, at the mercy of his undirected sensory-perceptual mechanism and of any random, associational connections it might happen to make.”

So, when I say “focus” is the first pillar of my personal ethos, I mean it in this sense. I mean it in the sense that whatever it is I am doing, whether it is writing, speaking, analyzing companies, reading, composing and playing music, horseback riding, weight training, martial arts, combat marksmanship, driving a race car, walking a dog or just petting my cat, I do it in a state of full focus. I do it with the full, volitional and conscious awareness of reality — in the moment.

You’ve no doubt heard about the importance of “living in the moment,” as it has become somewhat of a cliché in the self-help movement. So, let’s avoid this cliché, and just say that living in the moment requires that you live each moment in full focus.

Integration. The second pillar of my ethos comes after you’ve focused your mind on the facts and sensations of reality. Through the process of mental integration, you can categorize the facts, sensations and feelings you’ve experienced in that state of full focus, and you can begin determining what they all mean and how they fit into your broader, and deeper, philosophic premises such as the things you value.

For example, let’s say you focus your mind on something that is on the surface mostly a physical pursuit, weight training. Yet is it mostly a physical thing? While the actual performance of the movements might be primarily physical, what you’ve likely already integrated before you even decide to begin weight training are the facts that challenging your muscles with progressive resistance loads is a good thing for your physical well-being.

Indeed, the integration of higher-order concepts of “well-being” requires a long chain of philosophic integration that has to do with the value you place on your existence, your health, your appearance, the maintenance of your functional ability, etc. The wider point here is that the ability to focus on facts and integrate those facts into your philosophic matrix is the necessary second pillar of a rational ethos, and it’s one you must be consciously aware of if you are going to engage in the third pillar of this ethos.

Celebration. Once you’ve focused on reality and integrated those facts with your personal worldview, i.e. your personal philosophic premises, then and only then can you rationally indulge in the most pleasurable pillar — celebration. For me, celebration is the result of the focused integration of the concretes of reality and what they represent in my life. Staying with the weight training example, I know that a focus on facts means I need to weight train to stay in good physical shape.

Staying in good physical shape is a value to me because I’ve integrated the virtue of good health and the absence of disease in my life as rational values for me to pursue. And despite being on the losing side of my fifties, I am for the most part in excellent physical condition, largely free of disease and strong, flexible and fully functional. It is this combination of focused integration that permits me to celebrate this circumstance.

You see, when you live a life in full focus, and one in which you integrate the ideas and values that really matter to you, then and only then can you rationally celebrate your existence. It is this celebration, in all its glorious forms, that make life worth living.

Whether that celebration is the pleasure of watching your children grow up, or whether it’s staring into the eyes of the person you love most and feeling that love come right back to you, or whether it’s something as simple as performing a set of intense barbell curls — when you live a life of focused integration, you can justly celebrate life in all of its forms.

For me, the three pillars of focus, integration and celebration comprise the basis of my personal ethos. And thanks to my friend’s question some years ago, these three pillars also represent the consistent themes running through my lifestyle website and podcast, Way of the Renaissance Man.

If you want to hear more about the various ways I and others focus, integrate and celebrate life, I invite you to check out the articles, interviews and podcasts available right now at WayoftheRenaissanceman.com.

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The Wisdom of Erased

Maybe this isn’t the time or place

Maybe this is just time we waste

I just wish that I could see your face

For just one moment we could get back what took so little time to be

Erased, erased

–Monte Montgomery, “Erased”

When it comes to guitar virtuosity, there is perhaps no one better than Monte Montgomery. He’s so good, in fact, that the Austin, Texas-based singer/songwriter was named one of the “Top 50 All-Time Greatest Guitar Players” by Guitar Player Magazine and won the “Best Acoustic Guitar Player” award at the Austin Chronicle’s Austin Music Awards seven years in a row.

You may know Montgomery’s work if you watch the TV show “Last Man Standing.” The show’s star, Tim Allen, tapped this unique talent to compose and perform the music for the show after Allen saw him performing on the great and highly recommended concert series broadcast, “Austin City Limits.”

In the lyrics from his song “Erased,” Montgomery reflects on the fleeting nature of love and loss, and how what can take a lifetime to build can also evaporate in an instant. Being mindful of this fact can help us do what’s required to preserve and protect those things we value most, lest they suddenly become erased.

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.

In the name of the best within us,

Jim Woods

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