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

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2014-11-27 Pick and Mix: Fresh Ideas for Diversifying Bond Exposure by John Taylor of AllianceBernstein

Policy backdrops and growth trajectories around the world are showing increasing signs of divergence. Yet many bond investors continue to congregate in a few selected pockets of the fixed income universe. In our view, its a perfect time to reconsider diversification tactics.

2014-04-05 The Lions in the Grass, Revisited by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Today we explore a few things we can see and then try to foresee a few things that are not quite so obvious. The simple premise is that it is not the lions we can see lounging in plain view that are the most insidious threat, but rather that in trying to avoid those we may stumble upon lions hidden in the grass.

2014-03-26 Unleashing Africa?s Potential by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton

Many investors who have never traveled in Africa probably have preconceived ideas about it, perhaps as a land of safaris and political strife, rich in coveted natural resources that have failed to bring widespread wealth and development to the continent. Many also might not realize how diverse the landscape, the economies and the people are on the continent, which boasts more than 1,000 languages spoken in more than 50 countries and climates ranging from hot deserts and tropical rainforests to frozen glaciers.

2014-03-16 Inequality and Opportunity by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Today we will continue our thinking about income inequality, and I will respond to some of your letters, as they make good launching points for further discussion of the topic.

2014-03-09 The Problem with Keynesianism by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Keynes himself would appreciate the irony that he has become the defunct economist under whose influence the academic and bureaucratic classes now toil, slaves to what has become as much a religious belief system as it is an economic theory. Men and women who display an appropriate amount of skepticism on all manner of other topics indiscriminately funnel a wide assortment of facts and data through the filter of Keynesianism without ever questioning its basic assumptions. And then some of them go on to prescribe government policies that have profound effects upon the citizens of their nations.

2014-02-15 The Economic Singularity by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Today, let’s think about central banks and liquidity traps and see if we agree that central bankers are driving the car from the back seat based upon a fundamentally flawed theory of how the world works. That theory helped produce the wreck that was the Great Recession and will have its fingerprints all over the next one.

2014-02-01 Central Banker Throwdown by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The Federal Reserve is signaling that it is going to end quantitative easing at some point in the future; therefore, investors are trying to find the exits before the end actually comes.

2014-01-30 The Path to Becoming an Emerging Market by Henry D'Auria, Morgan Harting of AllianceBernstein

Why have some equity markets in the developing world flourished more than others? Its a pivotal question for investors hoping to stake an early claim to the potential emerging-market (EM) success stories of the next decade.

2014-01-15 Investment Insights from a Road Warrior by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

As part of our investment process, we often take the explicit knowledge learned from our statistical models and overlay them with global travel.

2014-01-04 Forecast 2014: The Human Transformation Revolution by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

It is that time of the year when we peer into our darkened crystal balls in hopes of seeing portents of the future in the shadowy mists. This year I see three distinct wisps of vapor coalescing in the coming years. Each deserves its own treatment, so this year the annual forecast issue will in fact be three separate weekly pieces.

2013-11-14 In 20 Years, What Country Will Produce the Most Gold? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

A question like that is impossible to answer, of course, due to mining difficulties, diminishing resources, and changing government policies and regulations that help or hinder a countrys ability to mine, farm or drill efficiently.

2013-10-20 The Damage to the US Brand by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

There is no doubt that the image what I will refer to in this letter as the "brand" of the United States has been damaged in the past month. But what are the actual costs? And what does it matter to the average citizen? Can the US recover its tarnished image and go on about business as usual? Is the recent dysfunction in Washington DC now behind us, or is it destined to become part of a bleaker landscape?

2013-10-12 Sometimes They Ring a Bell by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Three items have come across my screen in the past month that, taken together, truly do signal a major turning point in how energy is discovered, transported, and transformed. And while we’ll start with a story that most of us are somewhat aware of, there is an even larger transformation happening that I think argues against the negative research that has come out in the last few years about the reduced potential for growth in the world economy.

2013-08-31 How Do I Hate Thee? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I will list a number of reasons why I hate this market and then suggest a few reasons why that should get you excited. We will look at some charts, and I’ll briefly comment on them. No deep dives this week, just a survey of the general landscape.

2013-07-16 Triangulating a Truer Course Through Emerging Markets by Tassos Stassopoulos of AllianceBernstein

Where can you find a car market which will double in size in the next five years? Brazil and Russia might be obvious places to look, but would you have expected Chile, Colombia, Ukraine and Vietnam? Picking the next big themes in emerging consumer markets is even harder than in the well-researched developed world. To get a better handle, we think, requires a triangular approach.

2013-06-25 The Great Debate on Inequality: Stiglitz versus Krugman by Michael Edesess (Article)

Economics Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz is the chief alarmist warning that income and wealth inequality in the U.S. is a very serious threat to the economy. So it comes as a surprise that his fellow Nobelist Paul Krugman ? Stiglitz’s intellectual comrade-in-arms ? disagrees with him. Their disagreement goes to the heart of today’s economic problem.

2013-04-19 Global Economic Overview - March 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Global economic trends turned softer during the month of March as indicators from Europe showed further declines and U.S. consumer sentiment moderated on labor market uncertainties, government spending cuts, and tax increases. Continuing weakness in European demand has somewhat dulled the export outlook for emerging economies, while government policies to prevent excessive asset price inflation have led to concerns about domestic consumption growth in these countries.

2013-02-07 Complacency in a Leaderless World by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

In the last 25 years, we have moved from a world dominated by two superpowers to one dominated by one, and now to a leaderless, multi-polar world. While we may talk about the G-7, or G-8, or G-20, the more apt description is G-0. We will have to learn how to live, and thrive, in this new world.

2013-01-14 Bond Market Review & Outlook by Thomas Fahey of Loomis Sayles

The ?nal quarter of 2012 was the icing on the cake of an exceptional year for the credit sectors. Fourth quarter credit gains stemmed in part from uncommonly aggressive monetary policy responses in the third quarter. As economic growth continued to undershoot expectations, major central banks made clear that they were dissatis?ed with the status quo of tepid economic growth and high unemployment. The Federal Reserve went so far as to tie its monetary policy to the level of the unemployment rate.

2013-01-08 2012: Resumption of the Stock Market Recovery by Ronald Surz (Article)

Let's take a close look at the details of what occurred in 2012 so we can assess the opportunities and prepare for the surprises that 2013 will bring. I'll give you my opinions, and you should form your own.

2012-12-18 Jeremy Siegel on 'Dow 15,000' by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Jeremy Siegel was one of very few individuals to have correctly predicted the strong performance of the equity markets over the last year. The Wharton professor and author of the renowned book, Stocks for the Long Run, forecasts continued strong performance for the year ahead.

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.

2012-10-23 Six Unexpected Ways to Boost Productivity by Dan Richards (Article)

If vacations don't boost productivity, then what does?

2012-10-02 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Two readers respond to Rob Arnott's commentary, The Glidepath Illusion, which was published on September 25. A reader responds to Adam Apt's article, How to Build a Portfolio, which appeared last week.

2012-09-18 Campaign Rhetoric and Our Energy Future by Michael Edesess (Article)

At their respective conventions, both President Obama and Mitt Romney spoke to a centrally important topic for America and the world: energy. Their positions ? political posturing aside ? are broadly similar. But rather than a coherent, sustainable vision for the energy future of the United States, both men's rhetoric reflected the usual exercise in political base-touching, apple pie-polishing, and third-rail avoidance. And two important, perhaps crucial, pieces of the energy puzzle were hardly mentioned at all.

2012-09-11 Ten Ways to Recapture Your Passion This Fall by Dan Richards (Article)

Think for a moment what it would take to hit the ground running truly excited about your business. If you struggle to figure out the formula to reach that goal, try these 10 strategies.

2012-08-21 The Profession's Faulty Assumptions: A Top Ten List by Bob Veres (Article)

In the financial planning profession, we make a lot of assumptions about the world in order to run spreadsheet models, retirement projections and sufficiency analyses, and generally determine how much a client should save and invest for the future. But many of the industry-standard inputs into our models are (how can I say this delicately?) garbage. Here are my top ten garbage inputs, with an explanation of how we might possibly improve on them.

2012-07-10 Recession is Not Imminent by Dwaine van Vuuren (Article)

Perma-bears are bombarding us with alarm bells, sounding the doom of the US economy. We find ourselves in yet another 'summer slowdown scare,' for the third year running. In 2010 and 2011, the purported slowdowns turned out to be soft landings. Investors who ran to the sidelines stared in disbelief as the stock market roared ahead, leaving them behind. We are likely in the same position now.

2012-06-26 Jeremy Grantham: US Stocks are Expensive and Bonds are Disgusting by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Jeremy Grantham, who has consistently identified overpricing in the US equity markets - he flagged both the Dot Com bubble and the irrational pricing that preceded the financial crisis, for instance - said last week that US stocks are 'a little expensive' and bonds are 'disgusting.' But his sternest warning to investors concerned the longer-term threat posed by global resource constraints.

2012-05-29 The Bargains in Europe's Great Oversell by Bob Veres (Article)

When was the last time we saw negative headlines drive valuations as low as they have in Europe? Evermore's David Marcus, who succeeded Michael Price as manager of the Mutual European Fund, says this period of obsession with Greek debt, bank restructuring and single-digit P/Es may be known as The Great Oversell.

2012-05-22 Niall Ferguson - The West's Six Killer Apps by Robert Huebscher (Article)

For five centuries, the West dominated Eastern economies. But, beginning with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the East has now caught up, according to Niall Ferguson. It did so by downloading six "killer apps."

2012-04-17 Muppet Capers by Michael Lewitt (Article)

Investors enjoyed strong stock market and credit market gains during the first quarter of the year, but storm clouds may be forming on the horizon. Corporate profits have likely peaked. Stocks may be the best house in a bad neighborhood, but houses in that neighborhood appear to be fully priced for now. There are also some troubling signs in the bond markets, particularly the long end.

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.

2012-04-03 Reigniting Your Passion for the Business by Dan Richards (Article)

Successful advisors consistently tell me they've lost enthusiasm and passion for their work compared to 10 or 15 years ago. Advisors have two choices when this happens - either accept it as a sad reality or put in place strategies to rekindle the fire that burned earlier in their career.

2012-03-27 Success: The Enemy of Creativity by Justin Locke (Article)

Creativity and imagination are universal human traits, yet it's a common idea that certain countries are more creative than others. Can this notion have any basis in fact?

2012-03-13 Europe's ?Back-door QE?: Good News for Global Bond Investors by OppenheimerFunds, Inc. (Article)

By restoring confidence in the global financial system, the European Central Bank's Long Term Refinancing Operation has allowed global bond investors to participate in attractive opportunities around the world.

2012-03-13 Europe Needs a Good Crisis by Michael Edesess (Article)

When it comes to economies in general and financial crises in particular, it's remarkable how little we actually understand. While global financial actors struggle to restructure Greece's debt and to avoid contagion throughout Europe's periphery, we should recall the lessons of the Asian-Russian crisis 15 years ago. As the writings of Joseph Stiglitz and Martin Wolf remind us - and those events illustrate - crises are part of an evolutionary process, and the afflicted economies often emerge with surprising vigor.

2012-02-14 Recession: Just How Much Warning is Useful Anyway? by Dwaine van Vuuren (Article)

In December 2011, ECRI dialled down the urgency of the timing of their call to 'within six months.' That raised the question of just how much recession warning is useful when it comes to forecasting equity market performance.

2012-01-17 An Essential Client Conversation ?Will I be able to pay for my hip replacement at age 85?? by Dan Richards (Article)

Advisors face a big challenge in planning for boomers. Your assumptions about how long they'll live and the nature and cost of their lifestyle as they age will dramatically impact your planning decisions. Conversations with boomers about those topics and about the implications of funding health care are difficult but important.

2012-01-17 Further Improving the Use of the ECRI WLI by Dwaine van Vuuren and Georg Vrba (Article)

Last week, we described how best to use the growth figure of the ECRI's WLI to predict recessions, but we also highlighted an impediment to our research -an inability of outsiders to replicate the index. Last week, however, the formula to calculate the WLI growth figure was found. Armed with that data, we have made further progress to improving the recession-dating performance of the WLI.

2012-01-10 Using the ECRI WLI to Flag Recessions by Dwaine van Vuuren (Article)

In September 2011, the ECRI proclaimed a new U.S recession would begin sometime in the coming year. It based its prediction on a host of its own internal long-leading indexes, together with its widely followed weekly leading index (WLI). I want to focus on the proper use of the WLI and examine its accuracy in recession dating, in order to put this current recession call into context.

2012-01-03 US Recession - An Opposing View by Dwaine van Vuuren (Article)

A large number of reputable analysts and companies are forecasting a new U.S recession on the immediate horizon. Attracting the most attention is ECRI, which made a public recession call on September 30th and several television reaffirmations since. But an examination of a broader range of other composite economic indicators shows that sole reliance on ECRI's forecast would be misplaced.

2011-12-06 Why Shiller and Soros May Be Wrong about Farmland Investing by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Earlier this year, Yale's Robert Shiller identified farmland as an asset class in the early stage of bubble formation. George Soros, Jim Grant and Jim Rogers have espoused similarly bullish views. But advisors - even those managing the assets of very wealthy clients - shouldn't bet the farm on these expert forecasts just yet.

2011-11-29 Sometimes We Lose Perspective by Scott A. MacKillop (Article)

It's been a rough ride lately for investors. Looking back over the course of my lifetime, however, what has been particularly exceptional is not recent market swings - these come and go - but rather the return one would have earned if they had been continuously invested in the stock market over the past 60-plus years.

2011-11-01 What, Me Worry? by Scott A. MacKillop (Article)

As we gnash our teeth over the latest crisis du jour let's remember that difficulties do not, ultimately, prevent progress. On the contrary, over my lifetime progress has continued unimpeded despite a more or less constant stream of difficulties.

2011-08-23 A Fundamental Investment Strategy for Today's Environment by Robert Huebscher (Article)

We spoke with Tim Hartch and Michael Keller, who are co-managers of the Morningstar 5-star BBH Core Select Fund (BBTEX) from Brown Brothers Harriman. The fund's strategy is strictly bottom-up, with investments in established, cash-generative businesses that are leading providers of essential products and services with strong management teams and loyal customers.

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.

2011-05-17 Pippa Malmgren on Inflation and its Geopolitical Impact by Robert Huebscher (Article)

The Cold War may have been over for a quarter century, but the inflation-driven challenges that characterized that historical era are heating back up. Today, global volatility is back, according to Pippa Malmgren, who says that commodity-driven inflation will lead to political instability in emerging markets.

2011-04-26 Why Demographics will Drive Global Growth by Sam Parl (Article)

When economic pundits trade heated predictions about the massive economic shifts we see internationally, it is easy to forget the subtleties that shade their forecasts. One such shadow overhanging any intelligent debate about our global economic future is global age demographics, according to Harvard Professor Richard Cooper.

2011-04-19 Managing Exposure to Extreme Markets by Geoff Considine (Article)

Volatility in the equity markets has subsided, courtesy of a strong bull market and fading memories of the 2008 financial crisis. Risks remain, however, ranging from the turmoil in northern Africa to sovereign debt instability in Europe. Investors can take advantage of the complacency in the equity markets by purchasing inexpensive insurance against adverse events.

2011-04-05 Two Critical Lessons from Japan An End-of-Quarter Letter to Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Given recent events in Japan and North Africa, many clients are looking to their advisors for direction on what they should do. This template for an end-of-quarter letter is intended to be a starting point for your letter to clients.

2011-03-08 Five Strategies for Older Clients by Robert Huebscher (Article)

What do a woman who volunteered with the Peace Corps in Africa, a teacher from Spanish Harlem who took up Samurai sword fighting, and a former IT manager who earned a medical degree at age 76 have in common? They are all part of a group that David Monday calls 'second-half champions.' Monday offers a five-part plan for building a practice that caters to today?s reinvigorated seniors.

2010-12-14 Year-end Letter to Clients: Investment Advice from Winston Churchill by Dan Richards (Article)

For the past 18 months, my draft letters have been designed to balance some of the extreme pessimism among many investors with an objective, positive outlook - the draft year-end letter for 2010 continues with that goal. In it, I borrow from Winston Churchill's insight into the difference between optimists and pessimists.

2010-10-19 Developed Markets and Capitalism in Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)

We are not in a globalized world today, according to Ian Bremmer. "The state is back," said the 40-year old president and founder of Eurasia Group, a political consulting firm. Both in the U.S. and throughout the world, governments are exerting their influence through regulation, trade restriction, subsidies, and bailouts, and are threatening the nature of free markets.

2010-04-06 Emerging Markets: High Growth does not mean High Returns by Dan Richards (Article)

Recent research explores the return payoff of investing in emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, writes Dan Richards. Contrary to popular beliefs, investing in high-growth emerging markets has produced inferior returns to those obtained from slower growth economies.

2010-03-16 Latest Unemployment Report Reveals the Growing Problem of the Long-Term Unemployed by Team of American Century Investments

Four out of 10 unemployed workers are designated as long-term unemployed, meaning that they have been seeking a job for at least six months. This rate exceeds any other since the 1940s. As we have evolved towards a service- and knowledge-based economy, people with at least an undergraduate degree have fared better both in terms of lower unemployment rates and higher wages. This trend has become even more pronounced during the recession that began in December 2007 relative to the past two periods of peak unemployment in June 1992 and 2003.

2010-03-15 3 Main Lessons of Psychology by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational

Psychology teaches us three main lessons. First, that the environment has a large, as yet unrecognized effect on our behavior; second, that out intuitions about what drives our behaviors are flawed; and third, that our emotions play a large role in our decision-making. These lessons have important implications for economics, and show us the importance of experiments and empiricism in economic research.

2010-02-05 Greece: Opportunities despite the Challenges by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Mobius recently traveled to Greece and discusses its fiscal problems and the likely path of tax increases and reduced government spending.

2010-02-02 Stiglitz: U.S. Economy Will Falter without More Stimulus by Susan B. Weiner, CFA (Article)

The U.S. government has botched its handling of the economy over the last eight years, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. He explained how the U.S. created the global recession - and how we can get out of it - in a public presentation on his new book, Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy.

2009-12-22 The Danger of "Expert Advice" - Financial or Otherwise by Kim Snider (Article)

A study by three neuroscientists at Emory University finds that when given expert advice, the decision-making part of our brain shuts down. That's not a big deal if the advice we are receiving is good. But what if it isn't? In this guest contribution, Kim Snider explores the problems with relying too heavily on supposed experts, and how to counsel clients who fall into this trap.

2009-11-17 Client Gifts that Stand Out by Dan Richards (Article)

Having trouble with ideas for holiday gifts for your clients? Dan Richards offers four strategies for selecting a gift with a meaningful impact.

2009-11-10 Letters to the Editor ? The ?V? Points Downward by Various (Article)

In a letter to the Editor, a reader responds to our article, The "V" Points Downward.

2009-10-06 Ten Tips from Advisors Down Under by Terry Bell (Article)

The question for advisors is what's going to happen to their role and how they can best adapt to a changing world. Irrespective of the details, change will continue. Perhaps the Australian experience can provide a few pointers for US advisors.

2009-09-22 Disaster Management, The Green Beret and Lamaze Way by Mariko Gordon (Article)

Few of us respond as easily or effectively as we might like in the face of disaster. In this guest contribution, Mariko Gordon takes a look at why, and offers three things to keep in mind the next time you're in the midst of a crisis, financial or otherwise.

2009-09-15 Five Reasons to Avoid the Gold Rush (Updated) by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

The reasons why one should sell the cat, pawn the mother-in-law, and use the proceeds to buy gold are well known. However, in this guest contribution, Vitaliy Katsenelson offers arguments why one should think twice before jumping in bed with the gold bugs, or at least remain sober while determining gold's weight in the portfolio.

2009-07-14 Some Signs of Life and Hope for a New Recovery by John P. Calamos and Nick P. Calamos (Article)

Calamos Investments' co-CIOs John P. Calamos, Sr. and Nick P. Calamos discuss the current market climate, implications of Fed and government actions, and investment opportunities in the shorter- and longer-term. Global governmental policies have restored a degree of confidence in the financial markets and many key financial metrics are back to pre-Lehman levels. Many investment opportunities will be available in the future. We thank them for their sponsorship.

2009-06-09 Simon Johnson on Obama?s Achilles Heel by Eric Uhlfelder (Article)

While he agrees with much of what the US administration is doing to confront the economic crisis, Simon Johnson, the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, fears that present policy is not addressing a key issue: the overwhelming influence of the finance industry in US economic affairs. He likens this imbalance to what we see at the core of many emerging markets crises.

2009-06-02 Building Personal Connections with Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Over the past few months, we've all read about "the new frugality" that has become part of our culture. Consumers are rethinking their spending plans - yielding some surprising results about how people decide their priorities in tough times. Dan Richards looks at the implications of this trend for financial advisors.


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