Search found 2052 matches

by garlandwhizzer
Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:38 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: A Roadmap For The Upcoming US Treasury Bull Market
Replies: 40
Views: 3888

Re: A Roadmap For The Upcoming US Treasury Bull Market

I personally fail to see the attraction of long duration especially in the current fixed income environment. Long duration increases risk (rising rates, inflation) and you get paid almost nothing now to take on that risk. As for the upcoming US Treasury bull market, no one can accurately predict whe...
by garlandwhizzer
Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:24 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Larry Swedroe: Why Emerging Markets Matter
Replies: 82
Views: 6620

Re: Larry Swedroe: Why Emerging Markets Matter

gtwhitegold wrote: Lower correlations with US equities and greater expected returns are why I personally am overweight EM relative to IDM in my IPS. If this actually benefits me in the long run is yet to be seen. 1+ Me too. EM are so volatile that they're hard to hang on during their too frequent c...
by garlandwhizzer
Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:38 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Inflation and stocks and bonds
Replies: 14
Views: 793

Re: Inflation and stocks and bonds

When a self-reinforcing inflation cycle gets going and keeps increasing over time, no investment provides significantly positive real returns over time. Real assets do best but they barely keep up with increasing inflation. Bonds suffer more long term relative to stocks, but shorter term both take s...
by garlandwhizzer
Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:21 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Investment grade bonds now made up of 50% BBB rated
Replies: 26
Views: 2857

Re: Investment grade bonds now made up of 50% BBB rated

TBM holds no BBB rated bonds and almost 2/3 of its bonds are backed by the US government. Its corporate bond exposure sticks with investment grade. TBM's default risk is well controlled IMO but it does have duration risk (ave. duration 6.1 yrs. which is why its YTD return is -2.52%). No reason for p...
by garlandwhizzer
Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:49 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Doubling down on EM [Emerging Market]
Replies: 55
Views: 5987

Re: Doubling down on EM

One of the biggest mistakes investors make is to assume what has happened in the recent past, still fresh in their memory, will persist into the future. When it comes to asset classes whether it be value, international, EM, long bonds, commodities, etc., markets go through cycles of up and down repe...
by garlandwhizzer
Fri Oct 05, 2018 12:45 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Bloomberg - Cliff Asness Interview
Replies: 22
Views: 2077

Re: Bloomberg - Cliff Asness Interview

nedsaid wrote: I guess if Garland gives up on Small Value, that ought to be a buy signal. There is no doubt that this is true. The nedsaid effect works in my case reliably. Things I buy immediately drop in value and things I sell immediately go up. AQR and RAFI should pay me to bail on SCV, but I'm...
by garlandwhizzer
Thu Oct 04, 2018 5:15 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Bloomberg - Cliff Asness Interview
Replies: 22
Views: 2077

Re: Bloomberg - Cliff Asness Interview

nedsaid wrote: I am not the only one noticing that value is continuing to have a tough time. Indeed, Value has been on an extended 10 year vacation, trailing the rest of the market. It's longer than 10 years, nedsaid. The following are portfolio performance statistics comparing portfolio results fr...
by garlandwhizzer
Thu Oct 04, 2018 12:04 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Bloomberg - Cliff Asness Interview
Replies: 22
Views: 2077

Re: Bloomberg - Cliff Asness Interview

Cliff Asness is honest in addition to being brilliant and an accomplished student of the market. it is quite refreshing to read his comments on the frustrations of quant strategies particularly this year when not only value is down and has been down for a long time but also the other factors (which ...
by garlandwhizzer
Wed Oct 03, 2018 4:58 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Key differences between investing philosophies: Swedroe vs. Bogle
Replies: 144
Views: 8172

Re: Key differences between investing philosophies: Swedroe vs. Bogle

I wrote: Warren Buffett and Jack Bogle are the opposite of dull and slow witted. . . . vineviz replied: That's debatable, wouldn't you say? I don't believe it is debatable. Jack Bogle discovered and first described the elegance and effectiveness of simple index investing while still a student at Pr...
by garlandwhizzer
Wed Oct 03, 2018 2:06 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Key differences between investing philosophies: Swedroe vs. Bogle
Replies: 144
Views: 8172

Re: Key differences between investing philosophies: Swedroe vs. Bogle

vineviz wrote: If a complex strategy is riskier yet somehow fails to have a higher return then the fundamental underpinnings of our investment theories will have been falsified. I’m betting that is NOT the outcome. I believe that is the point: it is a bet, not a certainty. There are many reasons to...
by garlandwhizzer
Wed Oct 03, 2018 1:24 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Larry Swedroe: Be Prepared For Losses
Replies: 146
Views: 18995

Re: Larry Swedroe: Be Prepared For Losses

It's a good idea to be prepared for losses, no matter what your investing strategy is. There will inevitably be times when you underperform relative to other options and also times when all risk assets tank. At such times it is tempting to switch strategies, to sell the underperforming assets and bu...
by garlandwhizzer
Tue Oct 02, 2018 1:07 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: "Multialternative mutual fund returns"
Replies: 15
Views: 1659

Re: "Multialternative mutual fund returns"

Vineviz wrote: The most appropriate benchmark for this class of fund is probably a U.S. 5 Year Treasury Note, and 75% of these funds beat that benchmark over the past five years. I respectfully disagree. I'm with Taylor on this one. The 5 yr. Treasury is ultra cheap to buy, and its safety, lack of ...
by garlandwhizzer
Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:39 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: 2-year CDs at Vanguard and Fidelity Today
Replies: 484
Views: 73947

Re: 2-year CDs at Vanguard and Fidelity Today

I'm not interested in CDs for a number of reasons, lack of instant liquidity without penalty being one of them. What if rates go up as they are expected to do (about 1% over the next 12 - 15 months)? While short term bonds may not reflect that full 1% rise, money market funds being essentially zero ...
by garlandwhizzer
Mon Oct 01, 2018 12:17 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Should I use margin to buy a balanced fund?
Replies: 919
Views: 212239

Re: Should I use margin to buy a balanced fund?

WhiteMaxima wrote: don't use margin loan. basically it is kind of leveraged investment at a high interest. 1+ Taking out a loan and leveraging up to buy a volatile asset is a high risk strategy that may work if the market is kind to you or may be a complete disaster if it is not. If the market coll...
by garlandwhizzer
Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:05 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Rekenthaler: "So much for the bond bubble"
Replies: 18
Views: 2965

Re: Rekenthaler: "So much for the bond bubble"

nisi wrote: Currently, in Total Bond, an instant rise of 1.3% would cause a decline of 1.3%/year x -6.1 years = -8%. At a current SEC yield of 3%, that would mean less than three years to get back to even. Unpleasant, but nothing to stress about. I agree but the loss isn't just 8%. Compound inflati...
by garlandwhizzer
Sat Sep 29, 2018 5:03 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Should we stay in Crazytown because there's no where to run?
Replies: 129
Views: 15057

Re: Should we stay in Crazytown because there's no where to run?

Timing market tops in bulls and bottoms in bears is notoriously difficult. I am at present less optimistic about the market's future over the next year or two than I have been at any time during this current 9+ year bull market. I believe that sometime over the next year or two, a correction or bear...
by garlandwhizzer
Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:15 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Tail Risk Protection
Replies: 30
Views: 3457

Re: Tail Risk Protection

Quotes from the article in Alpha Architect by Aaron Brask on strategies to achieve tail risk protection. TRH strategies are very complex and will often end up with polarized results. As highlighted in the disclaimer above, it is important to understand these strategies are speculative in nature. Acc...
by garlandwhizzer
Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:26 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Research Affiliates: Alternative Risk Premia
Replies: 39
Views: 1929

Re: Research Affiliates: Alternative Risk Premia

grok 87 wrote: It’s a good point. The problem I have here is that the correlations are clearly not stable and arguably not knowable. Investing is not physics. 1+ Important point. If you torture backtesting data sufficiently you can indeed derive algorithms and models for expected returns/volatility...
by garlandwhizzer
Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:17 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Research Affiliates: Alternative Risk Premia
Replies: 39
Views: 1929

Re: Research Affiliates: Alternative Risk Premia

This is an interesting and thoughtful paper. It makes a strong case for a long/short plus derivatives strategy using multiple alternate risk premia in order to both reduce volatility and increase returns in our current environment of low expected investment returns of a traditional 60/40 portfolio. ...
by garlandwhizzer
Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:38 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: S&P 500 Forward P/E ratio - Are stocks highly valued?
Replies: 75
Views: 5492

Re: S&P 500 Forward P/E ratio - Are stocks highly valued?

Forward PE is a marketing tool used primarily to increase stock sales. Forward PE estimates are produced by analysts whose corporate income stream is ultimately derived from equity sales. They typically see the glass as at least half full unless its dry. Backtesting of the accuracy of forward PE dem...
by garlandwhizzer
Tue Sep 25, 2018 1:05 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Are Government Back Bonds or FDIC Insured accounts more at risk of Default?
Replies: 33
Views: 1798

Re: Are Government Back Bonds or FDIC Insured accounts more at risk of Default?

Neither government backed bonds nor FDIC insured accounts have sufficient default risk IMO to worry over. There are many things in investing that are worthy of concern. This is not one of them.

Garland Whizzer
by garlandwhizzer
Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:49 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Larry Swedroe: Factors Persist In Emerging Markets
Replies: 31
Views: 2410

Re: Larry Swedroe: Factors Persist In Emerging Markets

JimmyJammy wrote: Speaking of Value funds, I see that Vanguard International Value (VTRIX) has outperformed Vanguard Emerging (VEMAX/VWO), including on the maximum timeframe (going back to 1996). This is not a fair comparison. VTRIX contains about 13% EM and 87% DM, so it's an apples to oranges com...
by garlandwhizzer
Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:46 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Best corporate long-term bond fund
Replies: 26
Views: 2132

Re: Best corporate long-term bond fund

vineviz wrote:
I think you misunderstood me. I was not making an argument about future returns of bonds at all.

I was just illustrating that corporate bonds are less efficient portfolio diversifiers than sovereign bonds.
Totally agree with your conclusion.

Garland Whizzer
by garlandwhizzer
Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:38 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Best corporate long-term bond fund
Replies: 26
Views: 2132

Re: Best corporate long-term bond fund

vinevix wrote: By way of example, imagine so-called "conservative" portfolio that is 30% Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX) and 70% Vanguard Long-Term Investment-Grade Fund (VWESX). Over the past 25 years such a portfolio would have had an annualized standard deviation of monthly return...
by garlandwhizzer
Sat Sep 22, 2018 12:19 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: AQR podcast: stocks are not real assets and do not hedge against inflation risk
Replies: 25
Views: 2226

Re: AQR podcast: stocks are not real assets and do not hedge against inflation risk

siamond wrote: So yeah, if one is fixated on the short-term, then one should seek vehicles with a more mechanical inflation adjustment. Personally, I don't see the point, I am happy enough relying on the fact that the noise ends up faltering, and that (stock) prices will auto-adjust (and more). PS....
by garlandwhizzer
Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:59 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: For those who use a 2 year cash(like) buffer, how do you know when to use it?
Replies: 67
Views: 5683

Re: For those who use a 2 year cash(like) buffer, how do you know when to use it?

The main purpose of cash buffer is to avoid selling equity into market weakness. This is particularly important if you're retired and have no significant source of reliable ongoing income. Market downturns can be sudden and severe and this is when cash in a non-tax sheltered account comes in handy. ...
by garlandwhizzer
Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:21 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Vanguard research paper; Rising Rates, Flatter Curve
Replies: 1
Views: 504

Vanguard research paper; Rising Rates, Flatter Curve

Recent research paper on yield curve inversion by Vanguard. Is it likely to happen? What it means and is it different this time around? Comments?

https://personal.vanguard.com/pdf/ISGYIELD.pdf

Garland Whizzer
by garlandwhizzer
Fri Sep 21, 2018 11:15 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: U.S. stocks continue to soar!
Replies: 409
Views: 46481

Re: U.S. stocks continue to soar!

nedsaid wrote: This is why we need the perspective of history. Interest rates and inflation don't always fall as investors found out during the 1970's. Don't think stagflation is coming back but just in case I am keeping my TIPS and REITs. Nedsaid's point of view reflects the accumulated wisdom fro...
by garlandwhizzer
Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:42 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why should bond duration = investment horizon?
Replies: 45
Views: 2649

Re: Why should bond duration = investment horizon?

asif408 wrote: The more compelling argument for short-term bonds and bond funds is that the difference in yields between T-bills and 30 year bonds is around 1%. 4 years ago that difference was 4%. So if you believe the yield represents a good approximation of what you will receive from the bond or ...
by garlandwhizzer
Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:41 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Corporate debt bubble?
Replies: 20
Views: 2578

Re: Corporate debt bubble?

The problem with high levels of corporate debt won't manifest itself until we have a recession with a substantial drop in corporate profit streams. Likely in a recession investment grade corporate debt will suffer only modest defaults. High yield debt (junk bonds) have done quite well for a long tim...
by garlandwhizzer
Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:23 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: “Majority of working-age Americans have no retirement savings”
Replies: 73
Views: 4219

Re: “Majority of working-age Americans have no retirement savings”

I believe it is likely that there will be a retirement/long term care/medical care for elderly crisis or problem in the US and in all DMs which will manifest itself in the near future if not already. People talk about the elderly living on SS and meager savings. Try that if you're demented, severely...
by garlandwhizzer
Sun Sep 02, 2018 1:13 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: QSPIX - thoughts on interesting fund
Replies: 1552
Views: 217008

Re: QSPIX - thoughts on interesting fund

matjen wrote: Nah, we used to get lots of posts by people comparing it to only the S&P or to things like Sequoia and claiming it was underperforming. People like me would say that’s nuts. If memory serves me correctly, we have a period where value is down and momentum has not been quite as good as ...
by garlandwhizzer
Fri Aug 31, 2018 3:23 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Early retirement and withdrawal strategy for retirement accounts
Replies: 26
Views: 3122

Re: Early retirement and withdrawal strategy for retirement accounts

A few pieces of advice from one who retired 21 years ago at age 50 and still going strong. A lot of this is tax planning because taxes over a long time frame take a big bite. 1) Get rid of all debt including mortgages. If you currently have an expensive home and a mortgage, sell the house and take t...
by garlandwhizzer
Thu Aug 30, 2018 6:42 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Is this ETF safe from liquidation? RZV SCV fund
Replies: 6
Views: 627

Re: Is this ETF safe from liquidation? RZV SCV fund

There's a reason why RZV has such low assets. In spite of the fact that it's a deep value micro-cap fund and therefore outperformance is expected, since it's inception more than 12 years ago it has consistently and substantially underperformed VB, VTI, and Vanguard's S&P 500 fund. This in spite of i...
by garlandwhizzer
Thu Aug 30, 2018 6:23 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: QSPIX - thoughts on interesting fund
Replies: 1552
Views: 217008

Re: QSPIX - thoughts on interesting fund

QSPIX uses sophisticated strategies/leverage, both long and short positions, using multiple asset classes. Such a fund is expected to sometimes depart substantially from market beta as it has in this case. That departure can be in both directions, up or down. Taking a position in this fund implies t...
by garlandwhizzer
Tue Aug 28, 2018 1:45 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: VMVFX & low volatility performance
Replies: 12
Views: 1455

Re: VMVFX & low volatility performance

I believe that VMVFX is a well managed active fund for those who wish a low cost global low volatility approach to investing. How it will perform in the future, like everything else in investing, is not accurately predictable beforehand except to say that it is expected be less volatile both on upsi...
by garlandwhizzer
Tue Aug 28, 2018 1:15 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Any metrics that say US Stocks are *NOT* expensive?
Replies: 70
Views: 4861

Re: Any metrics that say US Stocks are *NOT* expensive?

MotoTrojan wrote: Forward S&P500 price/earnings look great. Forward earnings estimates are notoriously inaccurate and systematically overoptimistic. The analysts who create them are in the business of selling stocks and they tend to be quite optimistic about the benefits of what they're selling as ...
by garlandwhizzer
Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:34 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: 2000-2018 retirement - sequence of returns
Replies: 153
Views: 14036

Re: 2000-2018 retirement - sequence of returns

willthrill81 wrote: If you are guaranteed 3.5% and have full liquidity, that's certainly a better option than TBM these days, which is projected to return its yield, about 2.6%, over the next decade. Even if TBM had a slightly higher yield than 3.5%, the stable value fund might be a better option b...
by garlandwhizzer
Mon Aug 27, 2018 12:41 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: 2000-2018 retirement - sequence of returns
Replies: 153
Views: 14036

Re: 2000-2018 retirement - sequence of returns

actx wrote: there is an option they provide for retirement that is a fund that returns 3.5% per year. It is "guaranteed" as far as that goes but during 2008/2009 . .3.5%. During 2000-2002. . .3.5%. For the last 35 years it has been avail it returns 3.5%. The problem with this is that it does not ta...
by garlandwhizzer
Sun Aug 26, 2018 1:53 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Where's the Inflation Hedge for Short-Term TIPS?
Replies: 79
Views: 4856

Re: Where's the Inflation Hedge for Short-Term TIPS?

PriceOfFreedom wrote: In fact, would it be generally correct to assume the real total yield of VTAPX over the next five years would be approximately: It would not be correct to accurately predict what the real total yield of VTAPX will be over the next 5 years or for that matter any other bond fund...
by garlandwhizzer
Sun Aug 26, 2018 1:03 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: 2000-2018 retirement - sequence of returns
Replies: 153
Views: 14036

Re: 2000-2018 retirement - sequence of returns

Great post, Homer, thanks. I think one very important point to be made in addition to stock/bond mix is the enormous role that luck plays when it comes to picking the date to start retirement The 2000 - 2018 retirement started with the collapse of the tech bubble 2000 - 2003 and included the worst b...
by garlandwhizzer
Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:18 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Treasury Bonds are the Only Bonds You Need
Replies: 195
Views: 22523

Re: Treasury Bonds are the Only Bonds You Need

I do not believe in hard and fast rules that everybody must follow constantly for their bond portfolios. I believe instead in some degree of flexibility in bond allocation based on changes in personal circumstances and/or in the circumstances of the bond market. For example, in 2011, 30 yr. TIPS wer...
by garlandwhizzer
Fri Aug 24, 2018 4:00 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Larry Swedroe: TIPS Versus Nominal Bonds
Replies: 47
Views: 4495

Re: Larry Swedroe: TIPS Versus Nominal Bonds

I am not a fan of CDs especially in the current environment. Bond funds re-invest dividends which CDs do not. Bond funds are liquid if and when you either need money or find a compelling investment option. CDs lack this liquidity completely or impose a financial penalty for early withdrawal. If inte...
by garlandwhizzer
Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:09 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Larry Swedroe: TIPS Versus Nominal Bonds
Replies: 47
Views: 4495

Re: Larry Swedroe: TIPS Versus Nominal Bonds

Good article. Thanks for posting, Random Walker.

Garland Whizzer
by garlandwhizzer
Wed Aug 22, 2018 11:57 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: 30 yr tips auction: june 21: 1.0% yield?
Replies: 40
Views: 5025

Re: 30 yr tips auction: june 21: 1.0% yield?

Vanguard's ST TIPS Fund with an average duration of 2.8 years, now yields 0.86% plus inflation adjustment, only 0.02% less than the 30 TIPS. I fail to see the attraction of taking on duration risk in view of these numbers.

Garland Whizzer
by garlandwhizzer
Wed Aug 22, 2018 11:50 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Larry Swedroe: Skill Exists, But Not Enough
Replies: 6
Views: 798

Re: Larry Swedroe: Skill Exists, But Not Enough

Vanguard's Primecap Fund, VPMCX, is the best example that I know of that demonstrates long term consistent skill at outperformance. Since 11/1/1984 when it started more than 32 years ago it has averaged annual returns of 19.94%. At that rate your money more than doubles every 4 years on average. It ...
by garlandwhizzer
Tue Aug 21, 2018 1:27 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: My Favorite Alternative Funds
Replies: 209
Views: 33183

Re: My Favorite Alternative Funds

Leverage works great as long as you know beforehand what the market is going to do over a given time frame. The problem is that no one knows this in a consistent and reliable manner. Other problems include increased costs and the ability, if the tide goes against you in a big way, to lose more than ...
by garlandwhizzer
Tue Aug 21, 2018 1:15 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: It's not enough to mumble "Stay the Course"... INT'L Investing has been a disaster!
Replies: 1247
Views: 106986

Re: It's not enough to mumble "Stay the Course"... INT'L Investing has been a disaster!

wesgreen wrote: ↑Tue Aug 21, 2018 12:51 pm I can see Vanguard heading for a world of pain from angry investors some day if Intl. doesn't "revert to the mean" in a few years. Just my 2 cents worth. If international does not revert to the mean, it is not Vanguard's fault. Vanguard gives us historical...
by garlandwhizzer
Mon Aug 20, 2018 12:19 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: "75 Must Know Statistics About Long-Term Care: 2018 Edition"
Replies: 56
Views: 6078

Re: "75 Must Know Statistics About Long-Term Care: 2018 Edition"

Thanks for posting, Taylor. This is indeed one of the thorniest problems in financial planning for seniors. Having the statistics and information helps us to make these decisions properly.

Garland Whizzer
by garlandwhizzer
Mon Aug 20, 2018 12:08 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Vanguard predicts 10 year equity returns
Replies: 91
Views: 10606

Re: Vanguard predicts 10 year equity returns

Bacchus01 wrote: It is a fallacy that this is a 9 year bull market. So quickly people forget 2015/2016. The general definition for the end of a bull market is a 20% decline in market value which also defines the start of a bear market. That did not occur in 2015/2016. A decline of 10% - 20% defines ...