Hello, this is Jeff DeMaso with the IVA Weekly Brief for Wednesday, December 20.

There are no changes recommended for any of our Portfolios.

The S&P 500 index is still marginally below its January 3, 2022 high. As of Tuesday’s close, the index needs a 0.6% gain to set a new record. But that’s a record price. If you include dividends (and you really should), then the index, or at least 500 Index (VFIAX), has hit several new highs since last week.

Source: Vanguard and The IVA

Whether or not the S&P 500 sets that new price high before the year ends, investors have had plenty to cheer about this year.

As of Tuesday’s close, 500 Index has gained 26.2% in 2023. Total International Stock Index (VTIAX) is up 13.5%. Total Bond Market Index (VBTLX) is up 5.0%, and Federal Money Market (VMFXX) is up 4.9%.

Only two of Vanguard’s 180 or so funds are down on the year: Commodity Strategy (VCMDX) is off 6.7% and Utilities ETF (VUE) has fallen 7.1%.

Spending time in the market this year has been rewarding despite the bumps. (You can be forgiven if you’ve forgotten about October’s 10.3% downdraft from the market’s July high.) For the full year’s gains, we can all be thankful.

Is this the start of a new bull market? That’s a question I’ll look to answer in my 2024 Outlook next week.

Check Your RMDs

If you’ve reached “that age” when the government requires that you pull money out of your retirement accounts (think 401ks and IRAs), take a moment to confirm that your RMD has been processed for the year.

Yesterday, I heard from one subscriber who, two years ago, set up instructions with Vanguard to automatically deduct their RMD on the 15th of December every year. Last year (December 2022), it worked as you’d expect. This year? Well, as of the 19th, nothing had happened.

Fortunately, this subscriber has some time to correct the issue. The fines for not taking your RMD can be steep. Couple that with Vanguard’s technology mishaps, and I encourage you to check your RMD now—don’t wait for the last day of the year.

Distribution Season Is Here

I said this last week, but it’s worth repeating: Vanguard’s mutual funds and ETFs are in the process of paying out capital gain and income distributions. If one of your funds’ prices drops dramatically on a given day, it is likely not market-related but due to a payout.

You can find everything you need to navigate distribution season confidently here


This isn’t the holiday message I want to give, but be on guard—scammers are everywhere.

Earlier this week, a subscriber asked me about Vanguard Edge. As you can see in the sales materials I’ve attached below, Vanguard Edge claims to be “the hybrid trading services provided by The Vanguard Group.” The subscriber wrote asking if it was legitimate. He said, “I’d hate to get scammed, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.”

Well. I’d hate for any of my readers to get scammed. So, I’m here to confirm that Vanguard Edge is not a part of The Vanguard Group.

Strike one: The sales materials the subscriber shared with me don’t pass the smell test—the branding doesn’t look like the Vanguard I know.

Strike two: A Google search of “Vanguard Edge” doesn’t bring up much. If Vanguard had a hybrid trading platform by that name, it’d be easy to find.

Strike three: I also double-checked with Vanguard, who confirmed that they “do not offer a service under that name (here in the U.S., nor globally).”

So, there you have it. Steer clear of Vanguard Edge.

Holiday Publishing Schedule

Scheduling note: As I’ll be traveling with family for the holidays, I will not publish a Weekly Brief next week. Also, I will post the IVA Research article for Premium Members on Thursday the 28th instead of Tuesday the 26th (Boxing Day).

Here’s the plan for the rest of the year and the start of 2024:

  • Thursday, December 28: 2024 Outlook
  • Tuesday, January 2: Hot Hands Trade Alert
  • Tuesday, January 2: December 2023 Monthly Recap
  • Tuesday, January 2: 2023 Annual Market Review
  • Tuesday, January 2: 2023 Month-by-Month Review
  • Wednesday, January 3: Weekly Brief

In short, Premium Members can expect to receive five articles from me before my next Weekly Brief—yes, four will be coming at the start of the year. And, as always, if there is pressing Vanguard or market news, I’ll do my best to respond as quickly as possible. 

If you are a free member and want in on more of the action, you can upgrade to a Premium Membership here:

Our Portfolios

Our Portfolios are showing solid absolute but lagging returns for the year through Tuesday. The Aggressive Portfolio is up 14.9%, the Aggressive ETF Portfolio is up 17.4%, the Growth Portfolio is up 13.3%, the Moderate Portfolio is up 10.4% and the Conservative Portfolio is up 8.6%.

This compares to a 25.9% gain for Total Stock Market Index (VTSAX), a 13.5% return for Total International Stock Index (VTIAX), and a 5.0% gain for Total Bond Market Index (VBTLX). Vanguard’s most aggressive multi-index fund, Target Retirement 2070 (VSNVX), is up 19.4% for the year, and its most conservative, LifeStrategy Income (VASIX), is up 8.9%.

Source: Vanguard and The IVA

IVA Research

Yesterday, in Patient, Not Stubborn, I shared my analysis of my Portfolios with Premium Members.

Until my next IVA Weekly Brief, this is Jeff DeMaso wishing you a safe, sound and prosperous investment future and a very happy holiday season.

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