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Bears, Bulls, and Badgers

Former physicist Mike Stohler now calculates risks and returns for WFAA’s financial holdings.

Esther Seidlitz
February 14, 2022

Michael Stohler, chief investment officer at the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association, started his career in theoretical physics, earning a PhD in physics from Purdue University in 2002. But he also developed a passion for finance and investing, and he eventually earned an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business in 2006. Before coming to WFAA, he managed multi-asset-class portfolios at J.P. Morgan and served as the managing director of investments at Washington University Investment Management Company, which has one of the country’s top-performing endowments.

Stohler’s official start date at WFAA was August 9, 2021. The very next day, he took part in his first UW Now event, “Causes and Consequences of the Rise in Inflation.” While Stohler doesn’t claim to be an expert on inflation itself, he does have practical experience managing investments through inflationary uncertainty. With his expertise in finance, Stohler will offer insight during a UW Now event titled “Inflation, the Federal Reserve's Dilemma, and the Stock Market.” He’ll discuss investment strategies in this economic environment and how market volatility can open doors to new opportunities.

Chief Area of Interest/Expertise:

“I have a two-sided brain. Investing is a good fit for me in the sense that it’s both an art and a science. Physics, I think, teaches you logic and how to structure your thinking. That’s an essential piece of it, but the complicating factor in finance is you’re almost always dealing with an incomplete set of information. There’s a lot of guesswork and imagination that also needs to flank your analytical thinking.”

On the UW Now, I’ll Discuss:

“What I’m bringing to the table for this conversation is a practitioner’s perspective. I have no insider’s insight in terms of what’s happening at the Federal Open Market Committee. What I do know is how financial markets have historically responded to higher inflationary environments and how to manage uncertainty. Mine is a pragmatist’s perspective.”

One Thing I’d Like Viewers to Remember Is:

“The one takeaway is: don’t panic. We’ve got a level-headed Fed that hasn’t forgotten about its dual mandate. Markets will ultimately be rational in the long run, so if we do see some macro data that isn’t helpful, keep your finger off the eject button. That being said, if you would like to sell us high-quality assets at deeply discounted prices, give me a call.”

To Get Smart Fast, Read:

“My biggest recommendation to every audience member would be to become a regular reader of both the Financial Times and the Economist. Those two are my favorite sources of structured news flow.”

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