ACTIONABLE ADVICE FOR FINANCIAL ADVISORS: Newsletters and Commentaries Focused on Investment Strategy

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Can New Portfolio-Risk Tools Improve Client Results – Or Win New Business?

by Bob Veres

New portfolio-risk tools have been created specifically to integrate with FinaMetrica and map a client’s risk tolerance with an actual (and revised) portfolio. I looked at two such tools to see if they can help advisors improve client results – or if they can help win new business. Here’s what I found out.

My Misadventure in Buying a Car: How Not to Persuade

by Dan Solin

The poor reputation of car salespeople is richly deserved. Here’s what you can learn from my experience.

12 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Donor-Advised Fund

by Ken Nopar

Just like advisors evaluate investment options for clients, they must also evaluate donor-advised fund sponsors to be sure that there is an ideal fit. Here are 12 questions to ask while investigating different options.

Does Socially Responsible Investing Work? And How to Do It

by Adam Jared Apt

Since the 1990s, there has been a movement—a very, very small movement, and mostly foreign—to produce the data needed to evaluate the social responsibility of corporations, by integrating measures of their social responsibility into financial reporting.

Last Week’s Highlights on APViewpoint

by Marianne Brunet

The top conversations on APViewpoint last week were started by thought leader Michael Edesess and member Adam Butler. They generated thoughtful discussions on why DALBAR is dead wrong on investor versus fund performance and the art and science of portfolio optimization.

The Benefits of a Diversified Precious-Metals Exposure

by Robert Huebscher

ETF Securities are pioneers in specialist investments, having developed the world’s first gold exchange-traded commodity. I spoke with Maxwell Gold, director of investment strategy at ETF Securities, on July 15.

Venerated Voices™ 2016 Q2 Rankings

by Jill Mislinski

We published over 1,000 commentaries from the mutual fund industry in the second quarter. See which authors, firms and commentaries drew the largest readership.

Recruiter Spotlight

by Various

Visit our recruiter spotlight to hear from our monthly sponsors about opportunities available for advisors in the industry.

What’s the Value of Niche Marketing?

by Beverly Flaxington

What’s the value of niche marketing? Is it necessary? Will it limit your marketing options? In this week’s column, I offer some ideas on how to create a workable niche market for your advisory firm.

Gundlach: The Once-in-a-Career Moment in the Bond Market

by Robert Huebscher

In a career spanning more than three decades, Jeffrey Gundlach had never seen the conditions the bond market faced last week. Indeed, he said the “setup for the 10-year Treasury was the worst in his career.”

Recent Commentaries

What’s New About Today’s Low Interest Rates?

by Carmen Reinhart of Project Syndicate

In an era when public debt write-offs are widely viewed as unacceptable and governments are often reluctant to write off private debts, sustained negative real returns are the slow-burn path to reducing debt. Absent a surprise inflation spurt, this will be a long process.

The Duration Connection

by Ben Inker of GMO

In his quarterly letter today to GMO's institutional clients, co-head of asset allocation Ben Inker observes, "over the last six or seven years... the performance divide has not been between low-risk assets and high-risk assets or between liquid assets and illiquid assets, but between long-duration assets and short-duration assets" ("The Duration Connection"). He advises, "the characteristics that made [short-duration risk assets] disappoint may well prove a blessing if discount rates start to rise."

A Hopeful Transmission: Fed Holds Rates Steady, But…

by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) held rates steady but noted diminished risks in the U.S. economy and a tighter labor market, highlighting in the accompanying statement “that the labor market strengthened and that economic activity has been expanding at a moderate rate.” This was in contrast to the mention of “weak growth in May”—in reference to the extremely weak May jobs report which helped push the Fed to the sidelines. The Fed also reiterated that it expects inflation to reach its 2% target in the medium term.

FOMC Interest Rates and Their Impact on the US Economy: Part 2

by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

To me, interest rates and their future direction seems to be obsessively discussed and debated by many investors. So much so, that I often get the impression that many investors believe that interest rates coupled with Federal Reserve policy are the primary drivers of our economy. From my perspective, interest rates and Federal Reserve monetary policy are contributing factors to economic growth and stability. However, I would stop short of considering them of primary importance.

Unseen Risks for Investors

by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

As we have mentioned in our recent pieces, investors are very conscious of the seen risks (especially exogenous risks) in the investment markets. Under the assumption that the seen risks are accurate and well known, let’s look at a few of the unseen risks in the stock and bond markets over the next two to three years which could frustrate investors.

The Fed's Loud Talk Policy

by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Theodore Roosevelt’s famous mantra “speak softly and carry a big stick” suggested that the United States should seek to avoid creating controversies and expectations through loose or rash pronouncements, but be prepared to act decisively, with the most powerful weaponry, when the time came. More than a century later, the Federal Reserve has stood Teddy’s maxim on its head. As far as Janet Yellen and her colleagues at the Fed are concerned, the Fed should speak as loudly, frequently, and as circularly as possible to conceal that they are holding no stick whatsoever.

Elections and the Markets: Do Stocks Reward Continuity?

by Dr. Brian Jacobsen, CFA, CFP of Wells Fargo Asset Management

How do presidential elections affect the stock market? Dr. Brian Jacobsen digs into the data to see how incumbency and change have influenced stocks historically. Find out how continuity, regardless of party, has affected the performance of specific U.S. industries.

Spotlight on Housing

by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Alongside capital investment, housing is considered a critical cyclical indicator on the health of the US economy. Currently on an upward trend, US Investment Strategist Kristina Hooper takes a closer look at housing's outsize impact and the all-important Case-Shiller index.

Developed World Economies Are Beating Econ Expectations

by Eric Bush of GaveKal Capital

The US Citi economic surprise index has vaulted to the highest level in nearly two years and the US isn’t alone in this trend. The latest reading of 43.10 is the highest reading since September 2014 and is a vast improvement over the consistent negative levels experienced between January 2015-June 2016. For the overall developed world Citi economic surprise index, the most recent level is the highest level since January 2014. Other economies that have been surprising to the upside when it comes to economic data are Japan, Australia, Canada and perhaps most surprising the UK. In fact, the index for the UK is at the highest level since October 2013.

Recent dshort Posts

Regional Fed Manufacturing Overview: July Remains Negative

The Federal Reserve System consists of twelve Federal Reserve Banks, twenty five branches, and the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. Each bank serves a larger regional district. Five out of the twelve Federal Reserve Regional Districts currently publish monthly data on regional manufacturing: Dallas, Kansas City, New York, Richmond, and Philadelphia. The average of the five for July is -3.4, unchanged from last month's -3.4.

RecessionAlert Weekly Leading Index Update

RecessionAlert has launched an alternative to ECRI's Weekly Leading Index Growth indicator (WLIg). The Weekly Leading Economic Index (WLEI) uses fifty different time series from these categories: Corporate Bond Composite, Treasury Bond Composite, Stock Market Composite, Labor Market Composite, Credit Market Composite. The latest index reading comes in at 14.4, up slightly from the previous week's revised 14.2.

Kansas City Fed Survey: July Activity Sees Slight Pullback

The latest index came in at -6.0, which indicates declining activity after a positive reading in June. The future outlook increased to 14.0 from 7.0 last month. Here is a snapshot of the complete Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Survey.

Home Ownership Rate At New Interim Low

Over the last decade the general trend has been consistent: The rate of home ownership continues to decline. The Census Bureau has now released its latest quarterly report with data through Q2 2016. The seasonally adjusted rate for Q2 is 63.1 percent, down slightly from 63.5 in Q1. The nonseasonally adjusted Q2 number is 62.9 percent, below the Q1 number and at its interim low.

Weekly Unemployment Claims: Up 14K from Last Week, Worse Than Forecast

Today's seasonally adjusted 266K new claims, up 14K from last week's revised 252K, was above the forecast of 260K. This is the 73rd consecutive week under 300K, the longest streak since 1973.

S&P 500 Snapshot: A Fractional Decline on Fed Wednesday

Fed Wednesday turned out to be a ho-hum event for the US equity markets. The combination of parsing the FOMC statement, analyzing earnings and fretting about the growing glut kept our benchmark S&P 500 in a relative zombie state ... especially for a Fed Wednesday. The -0.12% closing loss extended the fractional up-down pattern of daily closes to ten sessions. And speaking of oil, WTIC fell 2.33% today and is now 18.65% below its interim high on June 8.

The "Real" Goods on the June Durable Goods Data

Earlier today the Census Bureau posted the Advance Report on May Durable Goods New Orders. This series dates from 1992 and is not adjusted for either population growth or inflation. Let's now review Durable Goods data with two adjustments. In the charts the gray line shows the goods orders divided by the Census Bureau's monthly population data, giving us durable goods orders per capita. The blue line goes a step further and adjusts for inflation based on the Producer Price Index for All Commodities, chained in today's dollar value.