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

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2014-12-02 The Tooth-Fairy Economics of Jeff Madrick by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Incentives don't matter, tradeoffs don't exist and there are no limits to what the government can give you. Those who believe this dogma are likely to still have faith in the tooth fairy. In Seven Bad Ideas, a critique of the neoclassical revival in economics that surrounded Milton Friedman and that affected policy and politics worldwide for more than a generation, Jeff Madrick emerges as tooth-fairy economics' chief exponent.

2014-09-09 How Rare are Housing Bubbles? Understanding the Case-Shiller Index and its Counterparts by Cesar A. Orosco and Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Do house prices experience periodic bull and bear markets like the stock market? Or are they stable in real (inflation-adjusted) terms most of the time, with big disruptions once or twice in a century? Two popular house price series tell these very different stories. Knowing which is better will lead to superior investment outcomes and improved policy decisions.

2014-04-29 Tempest in a Teapot: Michael Lewis’ Flash Boys Solves a Problem that is Barely There by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Michael Lewis is the finest writer in a generation to turn his attention to the practice of finance, but in Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt - his account of high-frequency trading and of a likeable trader who found a way to beat it - he is a few steps off base.

2014-03-25 How to Confront the End of the Bond Bull Market by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

What does the title of Simon Lack’s latest book, Bonds Are Not Forever, mean? It’s a question that Lack clarifies and then answers - by proposing a creative way to construct portfolios that have many of the beneficial characteristics of bonds but without much downside interest-rate exposure.

2014-02-18 CAPE Crusaders: The Shiller-Siegel Shootout at the Q Group Corral by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Jeremy Siegel and Robert Shiller are close friends, but they have starkly divergent positions on how the CAPE ratio should be calculated and what that means for equity valuations. This article reports on their differing views and draws some conclusions about the market’s prospects.

2013-12-10 A Framework for Understanding Bond Portfolio Performance by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Investors are legitimately concerned that interest rates, after falling reliably for decades, are on their way up and that bond portfolio values are on their way down. Investors now seek interest-rate protection. I provide a framework for analyzing and, hopefully, predicting the returns on actively managed portfolios of bonds - a task different from analyzing the bond market itself.

2013-10-08 Forecasting Bond Returns and Evaluating Bond Funds by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

While past performance is not a guarantee of future alpha, it sure is a hint ? the skills needed to generate alpha in a given market are likely to be as valuable in one period as in another. This principle is the basis of selecting active managers. How can we adapt it to bond funds, given the larger market forces at work?

2013-07-16 Nassim Nicholas Taleb: To Prevail in an Uncertain World, Get Convex by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Investment professionals know the value of a convex bond ? it gains more from falling rates than it loses from rising ones. According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, people and institutions can and should position themselves to be convex. Indeed, they should be antifragile ? ready to gain from disorder or uncertainty.

2013-04-30 Stockman to America: Sinners, Repent! by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

In a massive volume that melds economic history and social criticism, the former Reagan administration budget director David Stockman has documented countless ways in which America went astray over the last century. Most notably, he decried the corruption of free-market capitalism by those seeking effortless profits at the public’s expense. This is the source of his book’s title, The Great Deformation.

2013-02-19 Tough Times for Classic Value Investors by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

While the U.S. equity market has performed exceptionally well since its bottom in March 2009, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has trailed the index by nearly 6%. Buffett is among a number of prominent classic-value investors who have fared poorly over this period. Over long time horizons, value investing has consistently outperformed growth strategies and the broad market index. So what is causing this recent phenomenon?

2013-02-12 The Milton Friedman Centenary: One Hundred Years of Surprisingly Little Solitude by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Milton Friedman was once a lonely voice for capitalism in a collectivist era, and seemed doomed to a hundred years of solitude. Instead, he arguably became the preeminent public intellectual of the hundred years that followed his 1912 birth.

2012-11-27 A Critique of Grantham and Gordon: The Prospects for Long-term Growth by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

The vigorous global economic growth of the last two centuries is over, according to Jeremy Grantham and Robert Gordon. That prediction, if correct, has profound and worrisome implications for investors. And the short-term trend is indeed disquieting: Growth has been close to zero over the last decade in advanced countries. But the most likely outcome is that per capita GDP growth going forward will approximate its U.S. historical average of 1.8%, and it will grow faster in developing markets.

2012-08-07 Robert Shiller on the Social Benefits of Finance by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

It's a bad sign for the finance industry that one of its leading minds - the distinguished Yale economist Robert Shiller - has felt compelled to write a book in order to defend the idea that finance itself is a constructive pursuit, worthwhile to modern society. Have things really gotten that bad?

2012-07-10 Benchmarking Your Retirement Portfolio With a Risk-Free Strategy by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Making the savings from 35 or 40 years of work pay for a retirement of the same length is a real challenge. At a zero real rate of return, you would have to save half of your income to enjoy a retirement that long without taking a cut in your living standard. There is, of course, a better way - judicious use of TIPS and annuities. A riskless strategy using those asset classes can safeguard one's retirement assets and can serve as a benchmark against which riskier portfolios can be measured.

2012-06-05 Daniel Kahneman on the Two Kinds of Thinking - Fast and Slow by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

When advisors want to understand why their clients make seemingly irrational financial choices, odds are they will find answers in the research of Nobel-winning behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman. But guiding clients toward a better financial future is only one way to apply behavioral finance. Kahneman says we solve virtually all problems, not just financial ones, with two distinct types of thinking.

2012-04-03 Fewer, Richer, Greener: Why Jeremy Grantham is (Partly) Wrong by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Is the human experience getting better or worse? This is a big question investors are rarely asked to confront, yet its answer has profound consequences for market returns.

2012-02-07 Jeremy Siegel, Rob Arnott and Other Experts Forecast Equity Returns by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

A forecast of the equity risk premium (ERP) tells you how much to save, how to allocate assets between equities and fixed income, and how much you can consume. Given its great importance, the CFA Institute recently convened a group of top-level academics and practitioners to forecast future ERPs - and to reflect on similar predictions they had made a decade ago.

2011-10-11 A Critical Look at Obama?s Economic Team by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Confidence Men is an exposé, by the reporter Ron Suskind, of what he claims is incompetence, infighting, and insubordination at the highest levels of economic leadership in the Obama administration during the global financial crisis. Those accusations are largely misdirected. After all, there was no playbook for the administration's economic thinkers to work from - the rapidly unfolding crisis forced them to improvise.

2011-10-04 Value Investing Lessons from Moneyball by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Is baseball a metaphor for life, as many literati have suggested, or for value investing? Michael Lewis' 2003 bestseller Moneyball argues the latter. More recently, the book has been adapted to make a thoughtful movie that will be of special interest to investors who believe in trying to find hidden bargains.

2011-09-06 Byron Wien Reflects on His List of Surprises by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Byron Wien is a senior managing director and vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Partners, the largest alternative investment firm in the world with $140 billion under management. Each year, for the last 26 years, he has published a list of 10 'surprises' investors should expect in the capital markets and the economy. In this interview, he reflects on his list for 2011 and what see sees ahead.

2011-08-16 Matt Ridley Makes a Case for Optimism by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Matt Ridley's new book, The Rational Optimist, uses powerful examples from history and compelling logic drawn from economic theory to remind us that human achievement is cumulative, and the future looks bright, particularly for the less fortunate in the world. It is especially welcome at this discouraging moment in time.


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