I remember the first time I tried raspberries as a kid. They were straight out of my grandmother’s garden, but were complete mysteries to me. All I knew was that the plants had thorns and that I should avoid them, but after one bite I wondered why they weren’t in every meal! When my entire paradigm for fruit consisted mostly of Life Saver flavors, getting new information was a revelation.
Even later in life, I think that same sense of discovery still motivates me and getting new information is always an exciting moment. Sometimes it reinforces your old ideas, and sometimes it tears them down entirely. For me, just like when I was a kid the most interesting outcome is when it opens up new possibilities you never even considered. It’s not that you were wrong, it’s just that you had no idea there was another way.
In that same spirit, today I made a bunch of data updates to the site touching almost every calculator, portfolio, and asset. Some changes are minor, others include important improvements to older data sets, and a few completely new stock indices may change the way you look at portfolio construction.
Here’s what changed:
- Mid Cap Value and Mid Cap Growth are now part of the assets list and are options in the calculators!
- To make room, Micro Cap and 10-Year Treasuries have been removed. They are still fine options, but were a bit redundant to others and arguably muddied the water more than they helped.
- As an alternative to Micro Cap, try Small Cap Blend.
- As an alternative to 10-Year Treasuries, try Intermediate Term Treasuries.
- 5-Year treasuries have been renamed Intermediate Term Treasuries, which not only better follows convention but also more accurately describes the asset. Note that the basic asset and associated funds are unchanged.
- Older historical data for a variety of stock and bond funds has been switched to better sources. See the individual assets and latest Simba Spreadsheet release for more details. This may affect the returns you previously saw from the same portfolio, so be sure to review your favorite portfolio options for any changes.
- Various expense ratios were updated with new information, and older data was appropriately adjusted for a fair comparison.
- In addition to the calculators, all asset pages and portfolio summary charts were updated with the new data.
Beyond the technical data modifications, I also took the opportunity to make a few portfolio updates:
- Any portfolio that previously used 10-Year Treasuries was switched to Intermediate Term Treasuries. This should not notably affect performance, but will definitely make it easier to find an appropriate index fund.
- The Permanent Portfolio was tweaked to use Treasury Money Market instead of Short Term Treasuries, as this more closely matches Harry Browne’s original recommendation.
- New 15-Year Rolling Returns charts have been added to each Portfolio summary page. 15-year timeframes are important data points not only in the Portfolio Finder, but also in various retirement research.
Now that may not sound like a lot on the surface, but the work required for an overhaul like this to every calculator and chart was quite a bit of effort. A few mistakes are likely inevitable, so if you happen to run across anything that looks a little suspicious please don’t hesitate to contact me. With your help we should be able to catch any issues pretty quickly.
Perhaps you’re wondering why the new data matters. Believe it or not, even the best historical data we have for many assets comes with a variety of caveats and assumptions and different sources may disagree on the best values for older indices. I covered my methods for improving on the US stock data in a previous post, and am honored that after reviewing my methodology the Bogleheads team has adopted my numbers for the latest Simba spreadsheet. A fellow data-head named Longinvest followed a similar process for the treasury funds. Together I believe they represent the best freely-available data we have access to.
Improved data aside, the most fun part of the update is the addition of Mid Cap Value and Mid Cap Growth to the calculators. Too often ignored in asset allocation discussions (likely because there simply wasn’t enough good data available to study), mid caps are underrated assets that I’m sure will get your attention. Give the Portfolio Finder a whirl, and you’ll quickly notice how prominently Mid Cap Value now features in the most consistent portfolio options. New information should inspire new ideas, and I look forward to where this takes us.
Hopefully you’ll find the new data as interesting as I do. Better data enables us to make better decisions, so take the time to explore and reevaluate the various asset allocation options. My hope is that the new information will help you find a portfolio flavor that you’ll appreciate for a lifetime.