Some rules of the mutual fund road

Unfortunately, there’s no reliable scorecard for the mutual funds in your 401(k), says Jonathan Burton in MarketWatch. But if you want to choose your own funds, rather than relying on a target-date fund, there are some strategies that can help you “glitter in your golden years.” First, “costs matter”—if you opt for a managed fund over an index fund, make sure the higher fees are worth it, and “don’t pay top dollar for mediocre results.” Look at a fund’s standard deviation to gauge its risk level, with higher numbers meaning greater risk. See how a fund stacks up to others in its same category, not just broad benchmark funds. And remember, when a fund changes managers, it’s a new fund.

The misunderstood dollar surge

With the U.S. dollar’s spectacular surge against the euro and other currencies, says Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, there’s a “dramatic change in mood sweeping financial markets,” and “bulls now believe America is turning the corner.” U.S. stocks are up 20 percent since July, in sheer relief. But gloom seems more in order. The boost from the stimulus checks is “running out fast,” housing prices have further to fall, and the export boom can’t last as the rest of the developed economies fall “to the delayed effects of the credit crisis.” In effect, we’re “not witnessing a dollar rally so much as a collapse in European and commodity currencies. The race to the bottom has begun in earnest.”