More on Related Themes
2014-04-30 The Return of the Renminbi Rant by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate
China?s currency, the renminbi, has been weakening in recent months, resurrecting familiar US charges of official manipulation and beggar-thy-neighbor mercantilism. But this timeworn charge ? politically inspired and grounded in bad economics ? diverts attention from far more important issues affecting the US-China economic relationship.
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.
2014-03-29 When Inequality Isn't by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
We’ve discovered so far that income inequality is a fact; however, income mobility has remained roughly the same over the last 40 years. That is, a person’s chances of rising from a lower stratum of wealth distribution to a higher stratum is approximately the same as it was in 1975.
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.
2014-02-20 Meeting an Economic Need by William Smead of Smead Capital Management
At heart, Smead Capital Management is a stock picking organization. On top of our bottoms-up stock picking discipline, we are driven by our belief and respect for the laws of economics. One example of this is the subject of demographics. As long-duration investors, we want to understand where the aging process is taking demand in major product categories and how it will shape spending and production in the US. In other words, what economic needs will grow at the margin and who out there among companies that fit our other seven criteria can meet that marginal demand.
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.
2014-02-09 A Most Dangerous Era by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
This week we were confronted with a rather troubling appendix in the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the Affordable Care Act, which suggests that the act will have a rather profound impact on employment patterns.
2014-01-25 Forecast 2014: The CAPEs of Hope by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
As we will see in the pages ahead, buy-and-hold investors are clearly sailing in dangerous waters, where the strong, cold current of deleveraging converges with the warm, fast rush of quantitative easing. Not only does this clash of forces create the potential for epic storms and fateful accidents, it dramatically increases the chances for sudden loss as rogue waves crash unwary investment vehicles against the underwater demographic reef!
2014-01-18 Forecast 2014: 'Mark Twain!' by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The surface of the market waters looks smooth, but the data above suggest caution as we proceed. Perhaps slowing the engine and taking more frequent soundings (or putting in closer stops!) might be in order. The cry should be "Mark twain!" Let’s steam ahead but take more frequent readings and know that a course correction may soon be necessary.
2014-01-12 Forecast 2014: The Killer Ds by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
We’ll continue our three-part 2014 forecast series this week by looking at the significant economic macrotrends that have to be understood, as always, as the context for any short-term forecast. These are the forces that are going to inexorably shift and shape our portfolios and businesses. Each of the nine macrotrends I’ll mention deserves its own book (and I’ve written books about two of them and numerous letters on most of them), but we’ll pause to gaze briefly at each as we scan the horizon.
2014-01-06 Foreign-Aid Follies by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate
The huge gap between the world’s richest and poorest countries remains one of the great moral dilemmas for the West. It also poses one of the toughest questions for development economics: Do we really know how to help countries overcome poverty?
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.
2013-12-31 The Ten Best Articles You Probably Missed by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Great articles don’t always get the readership they deserve. We’ve posted the 10 most-widely read articles for the past year. Below are another 10 that you might have missed, but I believe merit reading.
2013-12-24 How Much Should We Pay to Emit Carbon? by Michael Edesess (Article)
Many consider emissions of greenhouse gases to be what economists call a ’negative externality,’ meaning that they are likely to impose a cost on society through climate change and ocean acidification. The cost of that externality should, in principle, be borne by the emitters, who should pay a price to emit. But what should that price be?
2013-12-07 Interview with Steve Forbes by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
For whatever reason, Steve Forbes seems to bring out the passion in me. When I think about what central bank policies are doing to savers and investors, how we are screwing around with the pension system, circumventing rational market expectations because of an untested economic theory held by a relatively small number of academics, I get a little exercised. And Steve gives me the freedom to do it.
2013-11-24 Game of Thrones - European Style by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The Eurozone crisis is not over, and it will not end quickly or soon. Even if it seems to unfold in slow motion - like the slow build-up in a Game of Thrones storyline to violent internecine clashes followed by more slow plot developments but never any resolution, the Eurozone debacle has never really gone away. The structural imbalances have still not been fixed; politicians and central bankers have still not agreed to solve major fiscal problems; the overall economy still disintegrates; unemployment is staggeringly high in some countries and still rising; and the people are growing restless.
2013-11-19 Asset Class Allocation and Portfolios: Critique and Complication by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
In Part 1 of this essay, I explained that for asset class allocation to become an investment practice, it required a foundation of theory. And Modern Portfolio Theory was that foundation. But today, most financial journalists and investment advisors who proffer advice centered on asset class allocation are?if I may judge from their writings?oblivious of this. And why shouldn’t they be? Theory is abstract and difficult to apprehend.
2013-11-17 The Unintended Consequences of ZIRP by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Two recently released papers make an intellectual and theoretical case for an extended period of very low interest rates and, in combination with other papers from both inside and outside the Fed from heavyweight economists, make a strong case for beginning to taper sooner rather than later, but for accompanying that tapering with a commitment to an even more protracted period of ZIRP. We are going analyze these papers, as they are critical to understanding the future direction of Federal Reserve policy. Secondly, we’ll look at some of the unintended consequences of long-term ZIRP.
2013-11-06 Is Economics a Science? by Robert Shiller of Project Syndicate
Though economics presents its own methodological problems, the basic challenges facing researchers are not fundamentally different from those faced by researchers in other fields. As economics develops, it will broaden its methods and sources of evidence, the science will become stronger, and the charlatans will be exposed.
2013-11-05 Combating Climate Change - And Responding to Skeptics by Michael Edesess (Article)
The climate-change threat is real, even if it is only a matter of probabilities. What action we should take, and how action should be brought about, are knotty problems. Harvard Business School’s Business and Environment Initiative (BEI) says they can be attacked with a business approach.
2013-11-05 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Several readers respond to Bob Veres’ article, Why Deficits Don’t Matter, which was published last week. A reader responds to Adam Apt’s article, Is Gold Overpriced?, which was published Oct. 15, and a reader responds to the commentary, Scrooge McDucks, by Bill Gross of PIMCO, which appeared Oct. 31.
2013-10-22 Venerated Voices? by Various (Article)
Advisor Perspectives, a leading publisher serving financial advisors and the financial advisory community, has announced its Venerated Voices? awards for articles published in Q3 2013.
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?
2013-10-15 Is Gold Overpriced? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
New research, based on an econometric model of gold prices, has attempted to answer the question, “Is gold overpriced?”
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.
2013-10-05 The Road to a New Medical Order by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
I will aim to dwell simply on the economic ramifications of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, as it exists today. We are changing the plumbing on 17.9% of the US GDP in profound ways. Many, if not most, of the changes are absolutely necessary.
2013-10-01 Money Can Buy Happiness by Justin Kermond (Article)
Extensive research has shown that the act of buying life experiences and giving money away can make people happier than buying material items does.
2013-09-25 Japanese Equities: Is the Bear Market Over? by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company
Japanese equities have spent the last twenty-four years in a secular bear market defined by lower lows and lower highs in market price. There is now hope that a new Prime Minister, and a new brand of economics, will reverse this multi-decade trend.
2013-09-21 Rich City, Poor City by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
This week we will conclude our look at pension plans for the nonce with a 30,000-foot overview of the states and then take a deeper dive into one city: mine. This will give you at least one version of how to do your own homework about your own hometown. But fair warning, depending on your locale, you may need medical help or significant quantities of an adult beverage after you finish your research.
2013-09-10 Why DFA’s New Research is Flawed by Michael Edesess (Article)
DFA is a company with a laudable history, founded on solid principles and a valuable product concept. From its launch, the investment firm identified and filled a need at low cost to the client, based on elementary but sound theory and simple, compelling, transparent empirical research. It later increased its value to clients by pioneering passive trading strategies. I admire its founders and their accomplishments. But I am afraid the company has succumbed to a dreadful descent into scientism.
2013-09-07 Unrealistic Expectations by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Two well-respected analysts of pension funds have produced reports this summer suggesting that pensions are now underfunded by more than $4 trillion and possibly more than $5 trillion. I would like to tell you that the underfunding is all the bad news, but when you probe deeper into the problems facing pension funds, it just gets worse.
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.
2013-08-25 France: On the Edge of the Periphery by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Charles de Gaulle said that "France cannot be France without greatness." The current path that France is on will not take it to renewed greatness but rather to insolvency and turmoil. Is France destined to be grouped with its Mediterranean peripheral cousins, or to be seen as part of the solid North Atlantic core? The world is far better off with a great France, but France can achieve greatness only by its own actions.
2013-08-17 Signs of the Top by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The investment media seems obsessed with the question of whether the Fed will taper. The real question should be not about "tapering" but about credibility. What happens when fundamentals become the narrative as opposed to what the central bank is doing? What happens if the Federal Reserve throws a liquidity party and nobody comes? Today we look at some of the fundamentals. The market is in fact overvalued, but that doesn’t mean it can’t become more overvalued. Is this August 1987 or August 1999?
2013-08-10 We Can't Take the Chance by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
What would it have been like to be a central banker in the midst of the crisis in 2008-09? You’d know that you won’t have the luxury of going back and making better decisions five years later. Instead, you have to act on the torrent of information that’s coming at you, and none of it is good. Major banks are literally collapsing, the interbank market is nonexistent and there is panic in the air. Perhaps you feel that panic in the pit of your stomach. This week we’ll perform a little thought experiment to see if we can extrapolate what is likely to happen in when the nex
2013-08-06 Human Capital in the Digital Economy by Alan Winger (Article)
Human capital is a key asset that planners manage as they strive to maximize consumption throughout clients’ lives. Human capital, or lifetime income, often peaks in value early in their careers. Moreover, today’s digital economy means human capital is more volatile and less predictable than in the past, and that carries important implications for financial planners.
2013-07-27 A Lost Generation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
This week we will briefly look at why weak consumer spending is going to become an even greater problem in the coming years, and we will continue to look at some disturbing trends in employment.
2013-07-13 The Bang! Moment Shock by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
This week we resume our musings about Cyprus, to see what that tiny island can teach us about our own personal need to engage in ongoing critical analysis of our lives and investment portfolios. Cyprus is not Greece or France or Spain or Japan or the US or (pick a country). I get that. No two situations are the same, but there may be a rhyme or two here that is instructive.
2013-07-10 Employer Mandate: A Pharma Bump in the Road by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
As long-duration value investors, we at Smead Capital Management have been very attracted to the conservative accounting, shareholder friendly dividends/buybacks and bright pipeline futures of major pharmaceutical/biotech companies like Merck (MRK), Pfizer (PFE) and Amgen (AMGN). Lately, there has been weakness in these shares and we’d like to review our best theory for recent fears and price weakness, while reviewing the merit of these high quality shares.
2013-07-02 The Practical Application of Behavioral Finance by Mitchell D. Eichen and John M. Longo (Article)
From the Dot-Com bubble onward, traditional investment models have repeatedly disappointed those who relied on them. When compared to mathematically based models, behavioral finance provides a superior foundation. Here is an alternative investment paradigm, grounded in behavioral finance, that is practical and effective over time periods that are relevant for a significant portion of investors.
2013-07-01 "This Country is Different" by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Cyprus is a very small country, some 800,000 people. Among the leadership, everyone knows everyone. There is much to admire, as we will see. But Cyprus has had a gut-wrenching crisis, proportionately more dire than any in other European countries recently; and precedents are being established here for how future problems will be dealt with in the Eurozone and elsewhere.
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.
2013-06-15 Economists Are (Still) Clueless by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The economic forecasts of mainstream economists are quite positive, if not enirely optimistic, reflecting the current data. Should we not take heart from that? Alas, no. This week we look at some of our recent musings on that topic, triggered by a letter from a very serious economist who took umbrage when I wrote disparagingly about economists and forecasting a couple months ago.
2013-06-11 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A number of readers responded to Adam Kanzer’s article, Exposing False Claims about Socially Responsible Investing, which appeared last week. Kanzer’s article was in response to Adam Apt’s article, Measuring the Cost of Socially Responsible Investing, which appeared the week before. Several readers responded to other articles as well.
2013-06-08 Banzai! Banzai! Banzai! by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
In practice it may be harder for Japan to grow and generate inflation than it might be for other major nations. Today we’ll focus on Japanese demographics. While the letter is full of graphs and charts, it does not paint a pretty picture. The forces of deflation will not go gently into that good night.
2013-06-04 An Advisor’s Perspective on Prophets and Profits by Gary Moore (Article)
More than 30 years on Wall Street have proven to me that many advisors could do more business ? and do more good for our clients, profession and the world ? if we considered the moral views of investors, whether we agree with those views or not.
2013-06-01 Central Bankers Gone Wild by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
For the last two weeks we have focused on the problems facing Japan, and such is the importance of Japan to the world economy that this week we will once again turn to the Land of the Rising Sun. I will try to summarize the situation facing the Japanese. This is critical to understand, because they are determined to share their problems with the world, and we will have no choice but to deal with them. Japan is going to affect your economy and your investments, no matter where you live; Japan is that important.
2013-05-28 State and Local Pensions: What Now? by John Minahan (Article)
Alicia Munnell’s book, State and Local Pensions: What Now? is a comprehensive introduction to public pension funds for the newcomer and a useful reference for seasoned professionals. Munnell stakes out a position on an important debate between economists and actuaries regarding liability valuation, and develops a background narrative portraying economists as impulsive, argumentative and clueless.
2013-05-25 The Mother of All Painted-In Corners by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Japan has painted itself into the mother all corners. There will be no clean or easy exit. There is going to be massive economic pain as they the Japanese try and find a way out of their problems, and sadly, the pain will not be confined to Japan. This will be the true test of the theories of neo-Keynesianism writ large. Japan is going to print and monetize and spend more than almost any observer can currently imagine. You like what Paul Krugman prescribes? You think he makes sense? You (we all!) are going to be participants in a real-world experiment on how that works out.
2013-05-14 Nassim Taleb on the Anti-Fragile Portfolio and the Benefits of Taking Risks by Ben Huebscher (Article)
As we recover from the most recent financial crisis, how we can we learn from the mistakes to best prepare for the future? Nassim Taleb tackled this very question in his latest book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, which built off his previous works and applies the lessons learned to today’s biggest challenges. Taleb examined how small doses of volatility can help systems handle larger disruptors in the future.
2013-04-30 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A number of readers responded to Robert Huebscher’s article, The New Challenges to Reinhart and Rogoff, which appeared last week.
2013-04-23 The New Challenges to Reinhart and Rogoff by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Advocates for debt reduction and austerity have had no more authoritative sources than Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff. But last week, these two professors had to defend claims that errors in their research ? ranging from a typo in a spreadsheet to the failure to include data from New Zealand ? invalidated their much-acclaimed findings.
2013-04-20 Austerity is a Consequence, not a Punishment by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Austerity is a consequence, not a punishment. A country loses access to cheap borrowed money as a consequence of running up too much debt and losing the confidence of lenders that the debt can be repaid. Lenders don’t sit around in clubs and discuss how to “punish” a country by requiring austerity; they simply decide not to lend. Austerity is a result of a country’s trying to entice lenders into believing that the country will change and make an effort to restore confidence.
2013-03-06 Pain Aversion by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors
As the equity market continues to rally, the consensus among investors has called for a 3-5% pullback. Unfortunately for the market bears, "the pain trade remains higher right now." There are many who claim that equities are "overbought" or that stocks are "too extended." As market strategist Barry Ritholtz stated, "We find it hard to believe that after hiding under a rock for nearly five years, that a few months of equity inflows means investors have gone from petrified to exuberant. That process in our opinion is a longer arc, not a singular event."
2013-01-29 Economics and the Maximization of Profit (and Lies). by Dan Ariely of Dan Ariely Blog
When a friend sent me this paper the other day, I admit that I took a long hard look at myself and my economist friends. According to this study, economists, it seems, are worse than most when it comes to truth telling. This discovery was made by researchers Ral Lpez-Prez and Eli Spiegelman, who wanted to examine whether certain characteristics (for instance religiosity or gender) made people averse to lying. They measured the preference for honesty by canceling out other motivations, such as altruism or fear of getting caught.
2013-01-08 Energy and the End of Growth by Michael Edesess (Article)
Is economic growth coming to an end? That's been a hot topic of discussion, thanks to a paper by Robert J. Gordon. It had a simple but striking thesis: 'There was virtually no growth before 1750, and thus there is no guarantee that growth will continue indefinitely.' But before 1750 there were no fossil fuels either. Only once humans tapped the large deposits of coal and oil did economic growth truly awaken. The history of economic growth is, so far, the history of fossil fuels. This causes us to wonder whether economic growth will end when it is no longer powered by fossil fuels.
2013-01-02 The Unstarvable Beast by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate
As US President in the 1980's, the conservative icon Ronald Reagan described his approach to fiscal policy as "starve the beast": cutting taxes will eventually force people to accept less government spending. So why has the cost of government not only in the US continued to rise inexorably?
2012-12-27 The Ten Most-Read Articles in 2012 by Robert Huebscher (Article)
As is our custom, we conclude the year by reflecting on the 10 most-read articles over the past 12 months. In decreasing order, based on the number of unique readers, those are?
2012-12-27 The Ten Best Articles You Probably Missed by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Great articles don't always get the readership they deserve. We've posted the 10 most-widely read articles for the past year. Below are another 10 that you might have missed, but I believe merit reading.
2012-12-18 Better Angels by Michael Lewitt (Article)
If all else fails, President Obama should lock the members of Congress inside the Capital about a week before Christmas, post the military at the door, hang big-screen television in each chamber, tune them to CNBC, and turn up the volume up. Faced with listening to endless repetitions of the words "rising above" or "fiscal cliff" or "kick the can down the road," our legislators will have no trouble reaching a compromise quickly.
2012-12-11 The Next Generation of Income Guarantee Riders: Part 3 (The Income Phase) by Wade Pfau (Article)
In this third and final installment in my series on guarantee riders, I'll focus on the post-retirement income supported by income guarantee riders for variable annuities (VA/GLWBs), stand-alone living benefit riders (SALBs), and an unguaranteed portfolio of mutual funds. I'll highlight how differences among these products affect their end results, while also investigating what roles guarantees can most appropriately play in a retirement portfolio.
2012-12-04 Nate Silver's Message for Financial Advisors by Ben Huebscher and Michael Edesess (Article)
By now you are likely aware that Nate Silver of the New York Times correctly predicted the results for all 50 states (plus DC) in this year's presidential election and all but two Senate races. Silver's predictive capabilities across a range of disciplines have made him a near-deity among those whose livelihood depends on accurate forecasting - from poker players to counter-terrorism units. It's clear why: His methods work - at least in some cases. And their strengths and limitations carry important lessons for financial advisors.
2012-12-04 Cliff Diving by Michael Lewitt (Article)
While there may be compromise to avoid the self-inflicted crisis of the fiscal cliff, the course of fiscal policy is unlikely to alter significantly. There is a great deal of bold talk about tax reform, but the odds of our current leaders replacing our profoundly flawed tax regime with one that would breed economic growth and productivity are low. Congress will be lucky to avoid the fiscal cliff; asking it to alter the economy's DNA is unrealistic.
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.
2012-11-20 Kyle Bass on the Next Big Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)
If economics could be studied in a laboratory, scientists might concoct something like the circumstances now unfolding in Japan ? and policymakers should be paying close attention. According to Kyle Bass, Japan's currency ? and its bond market ? are about to collapse under the weight of the country's unsustainable fiscal deficit.
2012-11-13 How Well Does the Next Generation of Guarantee Riders Protect Your Income? Part 2 - Starting the Inc by Wade Pfau (Article)
Unlike traditional VA/GLWBs, the future payments from stand-alone income riders are tied to 10-year Treasury rates. That's bad news for retirees, who may find their future benefits compromised if interest rates remain at historically low levels - regardless of how the stock market performs.
2012-11-13 Voyages by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Anything short of drastic entitlement reform, serious cutbacks in defense spending, and serious tax reform that alters incentives away from speculation in favor of production will leave this country stuck on the dangerous path it is on today.
2012-10-30 The Next Generation of Income Guarantee Riders: Part 1 - The Deferral Phase by Wade Pfau (Article)
Clients no longer need to move their assets to a variable annuity with a rider to guarantee lifetime withdrawal benefits, thanks to the RetireOne stand-alone living benefit (SALB) rider from Aria Retirement Solutions, which can be applied to a portfolio of mutual funds and ETFs. Despite this enticing promise, however, the SALB may not offer as much downside protection as advisors and clients expect.
2012-10-23 Six Unexpected Ways to Boost Productivity by Dan Richards (Article)
If vacations don't boost productivity, then what does?
2012-10-16 Stiglitz vs. Bremmer: What?s Next for the Global Economy? by Ben Huebscher (Article)
On October 3rd, the same night Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were clashing in their first debate, two equally polarized men met in New York City's Kaufmann Concert Hall to discuss the future of economics, both here and abroad.
2012-10-02 Woody Brock on Why to Own Stocks Now by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Dr. Horace 'Woody' Brock is the founder Strategic Economic Decisions and the author of American Gridlock. In a recent talk, he explained why investors should own stocks - particularly those with stable dividends - and why bonds are very risky in today's environment. This is the transcript; a video of this talk is also available.
2012-09-25 How to Build a Portfolio by Adams Jared Apt (Article)
This is the first of a set of three articles intended for the educated layman, in which I will combine the core ideas presented in my preceding articles into a comprehensive description of how to put together a portfolio. In this one, I'll explain what is often called Modern Portfolio Theory.
2012-09-18 Your Clients' Toughest Retirement Decision by Wade Pfau (Article)
Want to trigger an impassioned debate? Ask a group of advisors about the choice between systematic withdrawal plans and single-premium immediate annuities. Fee-only advisors are loath to cede control of client assets to an insurance company that might someday default, while annuity advocates fire back that only their strategies provide a lifetime income guarantee.
2012-09-11 Ponzi Games by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Whatever schemes the European Central Bank may cook up over the next few months will only prove short-term liquidity relief to what are long-term insolvency problems. Like any Ponzi scheme, the last money in is going to be hurt the worst when the charade comes to an end. In the meantime, investors proceed at their own risk.
2012-09-04 New Research - How to Help Clients Make Better Decisions by Joe Tomlinson (Article)
Making decisions is not something human beings are very good at. We do a poor job of predicting what will make us happy in the future, we often misjudge our ability to handle risk, and our decisions are plagued by subtle biases that throw us unwittingly off course. Because the essence of financial planning is making decisions about the future, it's critical that clients and advisors understand how decision-making biases can be identified and overcome.
2012-08-28 Who Benefits from High-Speed Trading? by Michael Edesess (Article)
Speed is a virtue in most competitive pursuits; the combination of speed and accuracy is almost always the ultimate advantage. No one knows this better than the purveyors of high-speed trading technology, who have profited mightily -not only by executing rapid-fire algorithmic trades, but also by exploiting the arcane rules that govern the stock exchanges. But at whose expense are they profiting, and how long is their advantage likely to persist?
2012-08-28 The Wrong Way to Ask for Referrals by Dan Richards (Article)
There's no shortage of ideas about how advisors should operate - which means you have to be discerning about whose guidance you take. Recently, though, I disagreed with some advice from a top practice-management expert on the topic of referrals.
2012-08-28 Who?s Fooling Whom? by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Equity markets are exhibiting a remarkable degree of complacency. The VIX is currently at extremely low levels and it can maintain those levels for a long period of time. The worse things get in terms of the economic data, the higher the market goes on hopes of central bank stimulus. At this rate, the Dow will peak just as the world is coming to an end!
2012-08-21 Secrets of a Great PowerPoint Presentation by Wade Pfau (Article)
Achieving your goals as a public speaker is never easy, and modern tools - especially Microsoft PowerPoint - can hinder as much as help, if used improperly. But a carefully prepared presentation with a clear underlying message, memorable visuals and a focus on making the message useful for the audience can strongly differentiate your speech and help you make a lasting impression.
2012-08-21 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to the commentary, Maybe This Time is Different, by Andrew Redleaf of Whitebox Advisors, which was published on August 14, and a reader responds to Michael Edesess' article, Why Hedge Funds Destroy Investor Wealth, which was published last week.
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?
2012-07-31 Dealing with Elderly Clients by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
What do you do when your client base is largely made up of elderly people and they are starting to fail - especially mentally? I have a number of clients who seem to be suffering from early dementia and memory loss. I don't want to be offensive to them, but I don't trust they even understand what I am saying sometimes about their financial situation.
2012-07-24 Deciphering the Annuity Puzzle: Practical Guidance for Advisors by Wade Pfau (Article)
Economists love to try to explain why people may act irrationally; such 'puzzles' inspire numerous researchers to probe their possible solutions. The annuity puzzle, which ponders why retirees do not buy more annuities, is a classic example. After describing the basic theory behind why this is so puzzling, I will address a variety of potential explanations, and then turn to the practical guidance the puzzle offers for advisors and their clients.
2012-07-10 Why Are Advisory Fees Lower Than They Have To Be? by Bob Veres (Article)
How much should you charge for your services? Is there any way to objectively calculate a fair price? Doctors, lawyers and accountants all charge relatively similar prices for their services. Why does the financial planning profession have fees that are all over the map?
2012-06-26 A Top Analyst: North America Heading to Energy Independence by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Ed Morse, a managing director of Citigroup Global Markets, said last week that by the end of this decade the US and Canada will have a surplus of oil, leaving it with 'no room for imports.' But the longer-term picture is far less certain, as extraction moves from conventional wells to newer sources, such as deepwater fields and shale-based oil.
2012-06-19 Retirement Floors and Implications for Evensky's Cash-Reserve Strategy by Wade Pfau (Article)
Does sensible retirement planning call for funding basic needs with less volatile assets and investing more aggressively for aspirational goals? Or, with client goals clearly defined and prioritized, does sensible planning call for a total returns approach? Multiple schools of thought have emerged, but there is not yet any consensus about what constitutes a proper retirement income floor. These lingering unresolved disagreements reinforce the benefits of Harold Evensky?s and Deena Katz? popular strategy.
2012-06-19 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Readers response to Richard Vodra's article, Energy and the Wealth of Nations, which appeared on June 5 and to John Hussman's commentary, The Heart of the Matter, which appeared on June 11.
2012-06-12 The End of Economics by Michael Edesess (Article)
If Australian economist Steve Keen's book, Debunking Economics, doesn't end, once and for all, the terminally convoluted discourse that afflicts mainstream economics, nothing will. Although the book's purpose is to show that neoclassical economics is all bunk, however, it is also, remarkably, as good an introduction to neoclassical economics as any you're likely to find.
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.
2012-06-05 Energy and the Wealth of Nations by Richard Vodra, JD, CFP (Article)
It is time for a new and different approach to understanding the economy, according to ecologist Charles Hall and economist Kent Klitgaard, who together are pioneering the discipline of biophysical economics. They advocate a novel methodology that properly accounts for the realities of global energy supplies and consumption.
2012-06-05 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A number of readers respond to our article, Can Krugman Fix Our Economy?, which appeared last week.
2012-05-29 Can Krugman Fix Our Economy? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Our economy faces depression-like conditions, according to Paul Krugman, in its alarmingly high unemployment rate. It needn?t be that way, though, Krugman says ? a few simple steps could quickly solve our problems.
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.
2012-05-29 Letters to the Editor - An Attack on Paul Krugman by Various (Article)
Two readers respond to Michael Edesess' article, An Attack on Paul Krugman, which appeared on May 15.
2012-05-29 Unraveling the Mess in Europe by Charles Lieberman (Article)
There is considerable nonsense written about the European debt crisis. Greece must balance its books, whether they remain inside the Euro or not. There are major benefits and costs to both remaining inside the Euro and to exiting. There is no silver bullet that will solve their problems easily. More broadly, banks need to be recapitalized all across Europe. This has not been done as yet, perhaps for political reasons, which only compounds the economic problems and allows them to fester. It seems like the Europeans are working towards solutions, but painfully slowly.
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."
2012-05-22 Life-cycle Finance and the Dimensional Managed DC® Pension by Wade Pfau (Article)
Pension plans are like cars, according to Nobel laureate Robert Merton. People want a car they can drive and a pension that will maintain their standard of living in retirement; they do not care about what goes on under the hood. Advisors, however, must care. So when a new pension-like option hits the market, as DFA's recently did, it's important to go beyond simply kicking the tires and carefully examine how it works as a retirement-saving vehicle.
2012-05-15 An Attack on Paul Krugman by Michael Edesess (Article)
A foundational principle of modern economics is that the creation of credit leads to economic growth. That precept underlies need for quantitative easing, and it is central to the question of what role monetary policy can and should play in stimulating a faster recovery from the Great Recession. It is also the subject of a debate between one of the world's most prominent economic scholars, Paul Krugman, and a feisty Australian economist, Steve Keen.
2012-05-15 Optimizing Social Security Benefits by Wade Pfau (Article)
My dissertation was about Social Security reform, so I've read more of the Social Security Handbook than any human being should be forced to digest. Despite this background, William Reichenstein and William Meyer's new book, Social Security Strategies: How to Optimize Benefits, taught me a lot about how to strategize to get the most out of Social Security.
2012-05-15 Ponzi's Children by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Europe, whose economic condition is nothing less than terminal, is about to receive what physicians refer to as a 'zetz' of morphine in the form of M. Hollande. A 'zetz' is the final dose that doctors give to dying patients to hasten their passage to the afterlife. In Europe's case, however, the medicine is not going to be painless, and its administration is not based on mercy but on resentment and stupidity.
2012-05-08 Richard Bernstein: US Assets will Outperform over the Next Decade by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Prior to founding the firm that now bears his name, Richard Bernstein was the chief investment strategist at Merrill Lynch & Co. In this interview, he discusses why he expects US assets - both equities and fixed income - to be the outperformers among global markets over the next decade.
2012-05-01 The Future of the Automobile by Robert Huebscher (Article)
If you hailed a cab in New York at the turn of the last century - say, around 1900 - it's likely that it would have been an electric car, built by the Electric Wagon Company of Philadelphia. The technology behind those taxis, which became the first electrified fleet in 1897, is likely to power the next generation of cars - sometime in this century.
2012-04-24 Bruce Greenwald on Structural Imbalances in the Economy by Eric Uhlfelder (Article)
Bruce Greenwald likes to say that he is constituted to disagree with everybody about everything, and he was true to his word at the recent Hyman P. Minksy Conference in New York. Taking immediate exception with the virtually unanimous characterization of the economic crisis as a balance-sheet recession, Greenwald, a professor of finance at Columbia University, argued that, far from being unusual, balance-sheet recessions can in fact be found at the heart of almost all business cycles.
2012-04-24 Why a 60/40 Portfolio isn?t Diversified by Alex Shahidi (Article)
Maintaining a balanced portfolio is critical, especially when predictions of growth and inflation vary as widely as they do today. Investors are always better off spreading risk than aggressively betting on one economic outcome, and that's especially true when the range of possible economic outcomes is so wide.
2012-04-17 Rethinking Safe Withdrawal Rates: The Meaning of Failure by Wade Pfau (Article)
Merely knowing the probability that an investor's wealth will be depleted at some point is not enough to build a retirement strategy. That is the traditional measure of failure in safe withdrawal studies, and it's time to move beyond it.
2012-04-10 HBS Research: The Role of Business in Society by Michael Edesess (Article)
Many people believe that society needs to change for market capitalism to be sustainable - and it turns out a surprising number of business leaders are among them. That's the finding of a recent series of forums, organized by three Harvard Business School professors. Based on these discussions, the HBS professors advance a bold proposal - that business itself - not government, or even public-spirited nonprofits - should lead the charge to make the necessary changes to our capitalist system.
2012-04-10 Super Macro - A Fundamental Timing Model by Theodore Wong (Article)
Rather than endure losses in bear markets - as passive investors must - I have shown that a simple trend-following model dramatically improves results, most recently in an Advisor Perspectives article last month. Now it's time to extend my approach by showing how this methodology can be applied to fundamental indicators to further improve performance.
2012-04-03 The Easy Money Saloon by Michael Lewitt (Article)
When two of the world's soundest central banks (Israel and Switzerland) start investing their reserves in stocks (the Bank of Israel is run by the highly respected Stanley Fischer for God's sake!), one has to wonder what the world is coming to. Apparently the global saloon is expanding its boundaries. No doubt we will soon hear the ECB is merging with the London Stock Exchange.
2012-03-27 Questions of Character by Michael Lewitt (Article)
As a long-time investor in leveraged companies, the character of management has long informed my decisions of where to direct capital. There is no margin of safety when you invest in a company managed by dishonest or reckless managers, or a management team that has a history of placing its own interests before those of its shareholders or creditors. The same is true of choosing an investment manager.
2012-03-27 Letter to the Editor ? Jeremy Grantham by Various (Article)
A reader responds to Michael Edesess' article, Jeremy Grantham: This Time is Different, which appeared last week.
2012-03-20 Jeremy Grantham: This Time is Different by Michael Edesess (Article)
Jeremy Grantham is a paradox. A man who has said many times, 'This time it's different are the four most dangerous words in the English language,' is now saying - loud and clear - this time it really is different.
2012-03-20 The Wages of Denial by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Europe is insolvent, and hopelessly so. Her procurer - the European Central Bank (ECB) - can front her some money for a while, but in the end she is either going to have to repay him or suffer a very rough consequence. In the meantime, however, she can continue to entertain her customers, in this case those willing to extend her credit in one form or another. Sooner rather than later, however, these creditors are going to grow tired of her tricks and turn their attention otherwise. At that point, she will be left to deal with the ECB because nobody else will have her.
2012-03-13 How Do Spending Needs Evolve During Retirement? by Wade Pfau (Article)
Most people's spending patterns change over the course of retirement - expenses look very different at 90 than they do at 65. Yet most research on retirement withdrawal rates relies on constant inflation-adjusted withdrawals to develop a client's forward-looking budget. Such an unrealistic, one-size-fits-all approach can be disastrous if a client inadvertently retires with insufficient savings. Is there a better way?
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.
2012-03-13 Concentrated Equity Triple Play Higher Returns, Lower Risk, Lower Correlations by C. Thomas Howard, Ph.D. (Article)
Concentrating a portfolio on a few choice assets dramatically increases an investor's chance of superior performance. Nonetheless, most advisors and investors shun portfolio concentration as unacceptably risky. To a great extent, this is driven by the myth that adequate diversification is impossible unless one holds many stocks - a myth I will debunk.
2012-03-13 Investor Communications: Are You Upbeat, or Upfront? by Wendy J. Cook (Article)
When discussing scary markets with your clients, how do you combine the upbeat inspiration they may want with the upfront, honest information they may need to hear? Striking the right balance makes all the difference.
2012-03-06 Why Invest? - Part 2 by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
Risk tolerance is a quality inherent in an individual or an institution. Whether quantified or not, risk tolerance is the amount of return the investor requires as compensation for the extra risk that comes with investing. It's a concept that is essential for making investment decisions, yet it is elusive and maddeningly difficult to specify. Even so, many investment advisors like to give the public the impression that they're proficient at determining it.
2012-02-28 Woody Brock on Healthcare Reform and Trade Relations with China by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Dr. Horace 'Woody' Brock is the founder Strategic Economic Decisions, an economic research and consulting service. In the second part of this two-part interview, he discusses his recently published book, American Gridlock, and focuses on how to fix two of our nation's most pressing problems: the crisis in health care - made worse by ObamaCare - and our trade relations with China.
2012-02-28 Globalization: Its Saboteurs and Its Chicken Littles by Michael Edesess (Article)
The word 'globalization' provokes both excitement and fear. The excitement has sold millions of Tom Friedman books and turned a drab annual business conference, the World Economic Forum, into one of the hottest events of the year. It is front-and-center in recent tensions between the U.S. and China, and makes the European Union's economic crisis a concern for the whole world. Should we fear or embrace globalization?
2012-02-28 A Simple Strategy to Triple Client Savings Rates by Dan Richards (Article)
Whether dieting, exercising, turning off American Idol to read that book on our side table or spending versus saving, maintaining focus on our resolutions is a universal issue. While attending the American Economic Association meeting in early January, I had three conversations with leading academics concerning experiments to help people stick to their plans, including one that tripled savings rates among employees.
2012-02-21 Woody Brock on Solving America's Fiscal Problems by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Dr. Horace 'Woody' Brock is the founder Strategic Economic Decisions, an economic research and consulting service. In this interview, he discusses his recently published book, American Gridlock, and how America can grow its economy through 'good' deficit spending.
2012-02-14 The Safety-first, Goals-based Approach to Financial Planning by Wade Pfau (Article)
Little of what is taught in traditional investment textbooks is of value in personal financial planning. Risk is not standard deviation; it is the probability and consequences of not meeting one's goals. That real-world perspective animates a new book by Zvi Bodie and Rachelle Taqqu that implores advisors and their clients to lock in the funding of their essential expenses before worrying about their discretionary goals.
2012-01-31 Barry Eichengreen on the End of the Dollar by Dan Richards (Article)
Barry Eichengreen is a professor of economics and political science at the University of California, Berkeley and a former senior advisor to the International Monetary Fund. In this interview, he discusses the future of the dollar as the reserve currency and the role of the IMF in the Eurozone crisis. This is the transcript of the interview.
2012-01-31 Why Target-Date Funds Fail by Robert Huebscher (Article)
New research explains why target-date funds have failed to meet investors' objectives. While most of the criticism has been directed to overly aggressive glide paths, that is merely a symptom of the underlying problem - the misalignment of incentives between investors and fund companies.
2012-01-24 Dale Mortensen on Addressing Unemployment by Dan Richards (Article)
Dale Mortensen is an economist, a professor at Northwestern University and a co-winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Economics. In this interview, he discusses the unemployment situation in the US. This is the transcript.
2012-01-17 Martin Wolf on the Eurozone and Beyond by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Martin Wolf is widely considered to be one of the world's most influential writers on economics. Since joining the Financial Times in 1987, where he is chief economics commentator, he has received numerous awards for excellence in financial journalism. In this interview, he discusses the Eurozone crisis and prospects for global economic growth.
2012-01-17 A Nobel Laureate?s View on the US A Debt Problem, but an Unemployment Crisis by Dan Richards (Article)
Peter Diamond is a professor emeritus at MIT and the winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on unemployment and labor market policy. In this interview, he discusses the degree to which US unemployment is a structural problem and whether it can be reduced through fiscal stimulus. This is the transcript of the interview.
2012-01-17 Letters to the Editor - the Misreading of Reinhart and Rogoff by Various (Article)
Many readers responded to Robert Huebscher's article, The Misreading of Reinhart and Rogoff, which appeared last week.
2012-01-10 The Misreading of Reinhart and Rogoff by Robert Huebscher (Article)
If the cry for deficit reduction rests on an intellectual framework, it would be the work of Reinhart and Rogoff, whose book, This Time is Different, has been hailed for its historical study of financial crises. A key finding - that growth slows once the ratio of debt-to-GDP exceeds 90% - has been widely cited by those calling for decreased government spending. But those calling for deficit reduction have largely ignored a number of caveats that Reinhart and Rogoff gave with respect to their 90% threshold, and as a result many warn that the US faces a Greek-like sovereign-debt crisis.
2012-01-10 Safe Withdrawal Rates: A Do-It-Yourself Approach by Wade Pfau (Article)
Reconciling the assumptions that underpin safe withdrawal rate studies with one's own capital market expectations and constraints is a daunting task, since those studies rarely reflect the practical realities of an advisory practice. But new research now provides a generalized framework for determining a safe withdrawal rate for a given retirement duration, acceptable failure probability, asset allocation and capital market expectations. Advisors no longer must be constrained by the assumptions and choices of others.
2012-01-03 New Measures of Risk (and why markets are now very fragile) by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
Understanding risk is essential to successful investment management, yet most common measures, like beta, capture only risk within markets - disregarding systemic risk of the markets themselves. Fortunately, new research is now shining light on "fragility" or systemic risk - how fast and how severely an unanticipated event will propagate through the markets.
2011-12-27 Vitaliy Katsenelson on Krugman?s Missed Call by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Vitaliy Katsenelson is the chief investment officer at Investment Management Associates, a Denver-based money management firm, and the author of two highly acclaimed books on value investing. In this interview, he identifies what Paul Krugman failed to see with regard to China, discusses the prospects for the European and domestic economies, and explains why Microsoft is a grossly undervalued stock.
2011-12-27 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Readers respond to three recent articles and commentaries: Wade Pfau's article, GLWBs: Retiree Protection or Money Illusion?, which appeared on December 13; PIMCO's commentary, Hot Potato, which appeared on December 21; and Kay Conheady's commentary, Does the Trend Matter?, which appeared on December 20.
2011-12-20 Dennis Gartman Explains His Call on Gold by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Dennis Gartman has been publishing his daily commentary, The Gartman Letter, since 1987. He's been in the news lately because of a call he made last week on the price of gold. In this interview, he discusses the reasons behind that forecast.
2011-12-20 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Readers respond to several articles: GLWBs: Retiree Protection or Money Illusion?, Did Congress Cash In on Insider Stock Trading?, and Can this be Serious?, all which appeared last week, and to John Mauldin's commentary, The Center Cannot Hold, which appeared on Saturday.
2011-12-13 GLWBs: Retiree Protection or Money Illusion? by Wade Pfau (Article)
One of the most popular variable annuity riders is the guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit (GLWB), which offers downside protection through lifetime income, upside potential with step-ups based on market performance, and minimal surrender penalties. But, examining historical data, I have found that those riders carry a cost that will not be readily apparent to retirees: their cash flows rapidly decrease on an inflation-adjusted basis.
2011-12-06 Small-Cap ETFs: Tail or Dog? by Mariko Gordon (Article)
Now that ETFs represent anywhere from 30% to 40% of small-cap trading volume, the creature that was created to shadow its master has become bigger than the index itself. Let's look at the impact of this rapid growth and the three important questions it raises.
2011-11-29 The Investment Case for Israel by Jamia Jasper (Article)
What country went into the 2008-2009 recession in a stronger position and exited sooner than any western nation? Whose stock market has outperformed the MSCI EAFE over the past 10 years?
2011-11-22 Krugman versus Summers ? Will the US mirror Japan? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Larry Summers and Paul Krugman may share ideological leanings, but they disagree sharply about our economic prospects. Both agree that political gridlock is responsible for the failure to grow our economy, but is that impasse is so severe that the US is destined to endure the slow growth, high unemployment and deflation that has plagued Japan for the last two decades? It depends who you ask.
2011-11-15 Are TIPS Really Safe and Worry-Free? by Wade Pfau (Article)
The Fed's aggressive monetary easing has many investors considering TIPS as a cornerstone of their retirement strategy. While TIPS' unique ability to protect against CPI-based inflation is undeniable, many investors neglect to consider the risks they pose, particularly for those who have not yet reached retirement.
2011-11-15 What Clients can Learn from the Four Worst Market Calls Ever by Dan Richards (Article)
Bad investment advice can come from many sources, but perhaps none has been worse than what was offered by four experts whose media profile exceeded their investment acumen: Irving Fisher, Joe Granville, Robert Prechter and Henry Blodget. Here's some historical context and practical advice to help clients avoid the trap of listening to the gurus who dominate newspaper headlines.
2011-11-08 An International Perspective on Safe Withdrawal Rates by Wade Pfau (Article)
Prospective retirees must consider whether they are comfortable basing retirement decisions on the impressive but perhaps anomalous numbers found in historical US data. What has been safe for US retirees in the past has been far less secure for their foreign counterparts.
2011-11-01 The Small Cap Falsehood by Michael Edesess (Article)
The supposed outperformance of small cap stocks is a foundational precept on which many respected asset managers have staked their expertise over the years ? foremost among them, Dimensional Fund Advisors. A growing body of research, however, shows no such advantage for the last 30 years and, now, a new study seems to have proven that the supposed small-cap advantage may have never existed in the first place.
2011-11-01 A Better Way to do Financial Planning by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Simplicity is dangerous when it comes to financial planning. Easy-to-use tools that project your retirement savings based on minimal inputs such as your income and savings rate amount to a ?bait-and-switch,? according to Larry Kotlikoff, a Boston University professor of economics. To properly prepare for retirement, one should focus on maintaining a constant standard of living throughout their life ? what economists call consumption smoothing.
2011-11-01 Why Invest? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
Investing has its rational justifications, but like any human activity, it's contingent upon history. American society has come to regard investing in stocks and bonds as a matter of personal responsibility and even an obligation, which in part explains why we invest.
2011-10-25 A Jeopardy Champion and our Economic Future by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Several years ago, a group of IBM scientists watched the television quiz show Jeopardy at a local bar and decided that they could develop the technology to beat a human contestant. They succeeded, and the system they built, Watson, is situated at the leading edge of a wave of breakthroughs in artificial intelligence that will lower health care costs and accelerate economic growth.
2011-10-25 Miccolis, Bengen and Evensky on the New Challenges in Portfolio Construction by Michael Skocpol (Article)
Conventional wisdom about the best way to construct a portfolio has been discredited, according to three industry thought leaders ? Jerry Miccolis, Bill Bengen and Harold Evensky. Each has distinct visions of the ways in which advisors should build portfolios in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, but all three agree that traditional methods must be scrutinized.
2011-10-18 How to Fix Our Dysfunctional Tax Code by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Give an economist a clean slate, unencumbered by political ideology or allegiance, and charge him or her with designing an ideal tax system. What emerges will look nothing like the dysfunctional personal and corporate tax codes now administered by the IRS. Instead, it could resemble Larry Kotlikoff's 'purple tax plan,' one of five economic reform plans he designed to appeal to both Democrats and Republicans alike.
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.
2011-10-11 The Global ?Old Normal? by Michael Nairne (Article)
Amidst a torrent of dismal economic news and plunging stock prices, investment horizons have become increasingly short-sighted. The new normal of faltering growth and painful deleveraging appears to be only too true. However, investors capable of taking a long-term, global view will find forces at work that will likely drive resurgent world growth akin to that which occurred in the decades right after World War II.
2011-10-04 The Energy Expert You Shouldn?t Trust by Richard Vodra (Article)
Daniel Yergin, a self-described 'leading energy expert,' has written The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World, designed to provide information that policy-makers can rely upon in shaping energy policy for the decades ahead. This could be a dangerous reliance, for Yergin is an advocate for the fossil fuel community, not an honest broker of information.
2011-09-20 The Irrational Optimist by Michael Lewitt (Article)
'Most past bursts of human prosperity have come to naught because they allocated too little money to innovation and too much to asset price inflation or to war, corruption, luxury and theft,' writes Matt Ridley. These words hit the proverbial nail on the head. The misallocation of capital in today's economy is a severe threat to future prosperity and perhaps survival itself.
2011-09-13 A Response to 'A Winning Endgame' by Guy Cumbie (Article)
A Winning Endgame, Robert Huebscher's review of John Mauldin's book Endgame, made some highly problematic claims about our energy usage. Moreover, Huebscher's claim is unfounded that an energy policy, such as the cap-and-trade policy he recommended, is the right step toward solving our economic crisis.
2011-09-06 Predictably Incorrect by Bob Veres (Article)
I had to read through this commentary by behavioral economics researcher Dan Ariely twice before I was willing to draw the obvious conclusion. It's the biggest bunch of hooey I've ever read in the financial planning press.
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.
2011-07-19 Sorting Out the Annuity Puzzle by Joseph A. Tomlinson (Article)
Why do so few people buy annuities? Economic theory would predict robust demand for this financial product, especially as the workforce ages, but the reality is quite the reverse. Most efforts to explain this have focused on buyer behavior. But to better understand the annuity puzzle, we need to study the sellers.
2011-07-19 Retirement Planning and Worst-Case Scenarios by Wade Pfau (Article)
New research suggests that skepticism in a 4% safe withdrawal rate (SWR) is well justified. It is perhaps due to good luck that American retirees have not yet experienced a withdrawal rate below 4%. But a better approach than worrying about SWRs is to focus on the savings rate needed to meet your retirement spending goals, not on what the safe withdrawal rate is.
2011-07-05 Essential Summer Reading - Desperate Households and More by Michael Shamosh (Article)
Summer reruns don't have to be boring and predictable. If we use a little imagination, televised repeats can depict the problems facing our economy and markets, and the storylines can become tantalizingly uncertain.
2011-06-14 What Fama and French?s Latest Research Doesn?t Tell Us by Michael Edesess (Article)
With the high name recognition and respect that the team of Eugene Fama and Kenneth French enjoys in the world of finance, anything they publish warrants attention. Their latest offering, Size, Value, and Momentum in International Stock Returns, offers some interesting data on global equity performance. But they fail to offer any insights that explain the reasons behind their findings.
2011-06-14 Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Debt? by Kerry Pechter (Article)
Not Warren Mosler, bond trader, racecar dabbler, Senatorial candidate and recent author of The Seven Deadly Innocent Frauds.
2011-06-14 Letter to the Editor - Equity-Indexed Annuities, et al. by Various (Article)
A reader responds to our article about equity-indexed annuities. Guy Cumbie provides the latest installment in his exchange with Michael Edesess, which concerned Edesess' article three weeks ago, On the Wikileaks of the Economics Profession.
2011-06-10 Advisor Perspectives Acquires dshort.com by Advisor Perspectives (Article)
Advisor Perspectives today announced that it has acquired the web site dshort.com. Featuring daily commentaries on market trends and key announcements of economic indicators, the dshort site has grown to be a leading source of analysis since its creation by Douglas Short in 2005.
2011-06-07 Letters to the Editor - On the WikiLeaks of the Economics Profession by Various (Article)
This is a follow-up to last week's exchange between Guy Cumbie and Michael Edesess, which concerned Edesess' article two weeks ago, Letter to the Editor On the Wikileaks of the Economics Profession.
2011-05-31 Letter to the Editor On the Wikileaks of the Economics Profession by Guy M. Cumbie, CFP, CIMA (Article)
A reader responds to Michael Edesess' article The Wikileaks of the Economics Profession, which appeared last week. The article was a review of the book, What Caused the Financial Crisis.
2011-05-24 Robert Shiller: I'm Betting the Farm by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Yale's Robert Shiller, the economist who foresaw the implosions of the tech bubble in 2000 and the housing market in 2007, is now closely watching a different asset class. This time, however, it is one that is in an early stage of bubble formation, not of collapse.
2011-05-24 The WikiLeaks of the Economics Profession by Michael Edesess (Article)
What Caused the Financial Crisis presents the most comprehensive account I have seen of the regulations that, when considered as a whole, have incentivized unprecedented self-delusion and risk-taking in the subprime mortgage market. To put it in a manner that financial advisors will understand, the book shows that the policies and regulations greatly increased the Sharpe ratio of the financial industry - they increased the return for taking risk.
2011-05-10 Howard Marks on the Human Side of Investing by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Howard Marks is widely regarded for his thought-provoking essays on the discipline and process of value investing. He is the chairman and co-founder of California-based Oaktree Capital, and he delivered the keynote address at the Value Investing Congress in Pasadena last week.
2011-05-10 What Return can we Expect from Stocks? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
What return can we expect from stocks over the long term? This sentence contains four problematic terms: 'return,' 'expect,' 'stocks,' and 'long term.' Intended for the educated laymen, this article considers each in turn.
2011-04-28 Venerated Voices? Update for the First Quarter of 2011 by Advisor Perspectives (Article)
Advisor Perspectives, a leading publisher serving financial advisors and the financial advisory community, has published a quarterly update to its 2011 Venerated Voices awards. Final results will be tallied at the end of the year. Rankings were issued in three categories: The Top 25 Venerated Voices? by Firm, The Top 25 Venerated Voices? by Author and The Top 10 Venerated Voices? by Commentary.
2011-04-26 Ethics Among Thieves by Michael Edesess (Article)
'Inside Job' is a thoroughgoing indictment of the financial industry that has its virtues but relies on some unsavory vices. On the one hand, through interviews, congressional testimony, and other video, the film exposes cronyism, corrupt ethics, and excessive power at the core of the financial industry. On the other, the movie at times unfortunately feels more like a polemic than a hard-hitting, fact-finding investigative reporting piece.
2011-04-12 A Top Value Manager Looks Outside the US by Robert Huebscher (Article)
David Winters, manager of the Wintergreen Fund, began his career working for Max Heine, where Seth Klarman and Michael Price also worked. In this interview, Winter discusses the why he believes many of today's best opportunities are outside the US and how he is hedging against the threat of inflation.
2011-03-08 The Clued-in, the Clueless, the Oblivious and the Conflicted by Michael Edesess (Article)
I?ve now read perhaps 10 books about the financial crisis. Maybe I?m a junkie, but each has given me new information or a fresh way of looking at events. 'All the Devils Are Here' offers a treasure trove of information about company behavior during the crisis, notably Fannie and Freddie, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, AIG, Countrywide, and Ameriquest.
2011-03-01 Simon Johnson on the Unconscionable Risks We Face by Dan Richards (Article)
Simon Johnson is a professor of economics at MIT and was the chief economist for the International Monetary Fund. In this interview, he explains why the underlying factors which led to the financial crisis remain unresolved. This is the transcript; a video is also available.
2011-03-01 Understanding Variable Annuities with GMWBs by Robert Huebscher (Article)
It's very tempting: a variable annuity with minimum lifetime payout that can increase - but never decrease - based on market performance. That temptation comes in the form of an increasingly popular variable annuity rider known as a guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefit. We explain the flaws in a widely publicized study by Morningstar/Ibbotson, and provide our own analysis of the product.
2011-02-22 Toward an Understanding of Risk - Part 2 by Robert Huebscher (Article)
How should clients think about risk in their portfolios? Advisor Perspectives put that question to a cross-section of prominent advisors and academics. Their answers encompassed diverse opinions and underscored how crucial that question is to the investment process. In part one of this series, which appeared last week, we heard from seven practitioners in the financial planning community. This week, we hear from seven well-known academics, including two Nobel Prize winners.
2011-02-22 John Campbell on the Proposed Squam Lake Reforms by Dan Richards (Article)
In this interview, John Campbell, chairman of the economics department at Harvard, discusses his research into the underlying drivers of securities prices, and the key recommendations for reforming the financial system, based on his participation in the Squam Lake Group. This is a transcript of the interview.
2011-02-15 Toward an Understanding of Risk by Robert Huebscher (Article)
How should clients think about risk in their portfolios? Advisor Perspectives put that question to a cross-section of prominent advisors and academics. Their answers encompassed diverse opinions and underscored how crucial that question is to the investment process.
2011-02-15 David Laibson on the Hidden Challenges of Aging Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
In this interview, Harvard economist David Laibson discusses his research into the challenges of helping elderly clients with their financial planning. He also discusses how to overcome the procrastination and laziness that often result in inferior investment decisions. This is a transcript of the interview.
2011-02-01 Can Economics Save the Economy? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Christina Romer, Greg Mankiw and Paul Krugman were among a group of thought leaders who spoke at a conference in Cambridge last week. They cited a lack of sufficiently powerful and politically feasible policy options, calling into question whether economists will be able to produce the clear path to the stronger recovery that the Obama administration seeks.
2011-02-01 The Inflation the Fed Fears Most by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The term inflation is widely used but generally misunderstood. Economists, politicians and the general public understand it to mean one thing. Inflation, however, has a very different meaning to our central bank, as I will explain.
2011-01-25 Beyond the Efficient Market Hypothesis by Michael Edesess (Article)
John Cassidy's 2009 book, "How Markets Fail," drives the final nail in the coffin of the Efficient Market Hypothesis. Well, perhaps the penultimate nail - as I'll explain. It is the most compelling argument I have read that we need a new and improved theory of markets, a theory that subsumes the efficient market hypothesis, much as Einstein's relativity theory subsumed Newtonian physics.
2011-01-25 Advisor Perspectives Announces First Venerated Voices Awards by Advisor Perspectives (Article)
Advisor Perspectives, a leading publisher serving financial advisors and the financial advisory community, today announced its first Venerated Voices? awards, recognizing the market commentators who were most frequently read by advisors during 2010. Awards were issued in three categories: The Top 25 Venerated Voices? by Firm, The Top 25 Venerated Voices? by Author and The Top 10 Venerated Voices? by Commentary.
2011-01-24 A Malicious Mix of Economics and Politics by Charles Lieberman (Article)
I suspect 2011 will continue to produce its ups and downs (much like the past few years). The European debt crisis is still a big issue. The US Municipal debt (particularly in Illinois) issue is lingering. Congress is still Congress. When and if these issues present themselves and the markets react, we could view those situations as continued buying opportunities since the underlying fundamentals of stocks improve. However, long term investors should not wait for dips to begin investing, but rather start a systematic plan of redistributing cash back into the market.
2011-01-11 The Two Elephants Facing the US Economy by Michael Lewitt (Article)
The consensus has reached the conclusion that financial markets will enjoy a strong start to 2011. This is reason enough to approach the markets with caution as the year begins. When everybody is leaning to one side of the boat, the vessel is far more likely to tip over, particularly if it hits an unexpected wave.
2010-12-28 The Ten Best Articles You Probably Missed by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Great articles don't always get the readership they deserve. Here are 10 articles that you might have missed, but we believe merit reading.
2010-12-14 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to our article, Black Gold, Texas Tea, which appeared on November 30.
2010-12-06 An Uncertain Future for Housing Prices by Robert Huebscher (Article)
A renewed decline in housing prices would surely impede economic growth. Yet that is a strong possibility, according to housing expert Laurie Goodman of Amherst Securities. Goodman was joined in Boston last week to discuss the housing market by Karl Case, who, along with Yale professor Robert Shiller, created the Case-Shiller index.
2010-12-06 Real Return Expectations by Michael Nairne (Article)
There is nothing more important to long-term investors than the real rate-of-return that they can reasonably expect to earn on their investments. We forecast the expected real annual return for US stocks over the next 10 years and then set out ways to potentially improve on what many will find to be a discouragingly low expected return.
2010-11-30 Black Gold, Texas Tea by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The flow of money into gold-related funds is, at least in part, driven by good intentions - hedging against dollar debasement, inflation, and systemic risk. As investors drive the price of gold to record levels, though, they are overlooking an equally compelling commodity hedge, one that the Beverly Hillbillies once dubbed 'black gold, Texas tea' - oil, that is.
2010-11-23 Will Municipal Bonds be the Next Disaster? by Dennis Gibb (Article)
It has been an article of faith that municipal bonds are safe investments, but this complacency about the safety of munis may soon be proven unwise.
2010-11-23 Why Diversify? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
Although diversification is commonly regarded as a good thing, there are nonetheless those who regard it as a guarantee of mediocrity. It isn't, but there are right ways and wrong ways to go about diversifying a portfolio. Let's explore how diversification works.
2010-11-16 A Reading List for 2010: Part 2 by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
Updated for 2010 and in time for the holidays, here is the latest installment of my recommended books. I originally wrote this list in 2008 and again last year. I intend to keep adding to and revising it every year. It contains seven sections: Selling, Think Like an Investor, Behavioral Investing, Economics, Stock Market History, Risk and Books for the Soul. The first three sections were presented last week and the remaining four are presented here.
2010-11-09 A Reading List for 2010 by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
Updated for 2010 and in time for the holidays, here is the latest installment of my recommended books. I originally wrote this list in 2008 and again last year. I intend to keep adding to and revising it every year. It contains seven sections: Selling, Think Like an Investor, Behavioral Investing, Economics, Stock Market History, Risk and Books for the Soul. The first three sections are presented below and the remaining four will be presented next week.
2010-11-02 A Top Economist's Nightmare Scenario by Charlie Curnow (Article)
Remember the 1970s? Stagflation like we saw then could return to the U.S. if unsustainable public debt levels trigger a selloff of government bonds and dollar-denominated holdings, according to a recent study by John C. Cochrane. Cochrane, a finance professor at the University of Chicago, is perhaps best known for his response to Paul Krugman's article in the New York Times on why mainstream economics failed to anticipate the financial crisis.
2010-11-02 The SEC?s 12b-1 Proposal is Based on Misguided History, Flawed Economics by John H. Robinson (Article)
The SEC's stated aims of its proposed Rule 12b-1 reform are laudable: increasing transparency, reducing investor fees, and increasing competition among mutual funds. However, John Robinson's review of its 278-page proposal found major flaws, including a misinformed historical pretext and naïve economic analysis.
2010-10-29 Four Critical Investment Themes for the Next Decade by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Four investment themes will dominate market behavior over the next decade, according to Martin Murenbeeld, the chief economist at DundeeWealth Economics, a Canadian investment manager and financial advisor. Investors, he said, would be wise to overweight gold and other commodities.
2010-10-19 Bernanke's Impossible Dilemma by Robert Huebscher (Article)
David Wessel, economics editor of the Wall Street Journal, examines the challenge Ben Bernanke faces. His goal is to provide full employment and price stability. Yet he faces a slowly growing economy, unemployment close to 10%, consumers deleveraging and spending frugally, renewed fears of banking system instability, and the threat of an asset bubble is growing somewhere in the markets. Monetary and fiscal policy options have been seemingly exhausted, and the public is losing confidence in all aspects of government.
2010-10-19 Allen Sinai: US at the Crossroads by Robert Huebscher (Article)
America is at a crossroads in a shifting global economy, and it's not just our economy that is in trouble. We have moved from a mindset of prosperity to a much gloomier self-conception, and dysfunctions within our government and society are pushing us downward. That sobering assessment was delivered by Allen Sinai, the president of Decision Economics, an economic research firm he founded in 1996.
2010-10-19 Harvard Experts: Economy is Like a Bus Winding Down a Mountain Road by Charlie Curnow (Article)
Five Harvard economists, including Ken Rogoff and John Campbell, emphasized the need for U.S. policymakers and households to cut down on borrowing and increase savings during a panel discussion on Tuesday, October 13 at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
2010-09-28 The Future of Oil by Robert Huebscher (Article)
No commodity impacts the global economy more than oil. When geopolitical threats loom, two questions often dominate discussion: Will the price of oil rise? And what will be the economic consequences? We review the key drivers of recent, current, and forecast oil prices, including a template for the necessary eventual alignment of supply and demand.
2010-09-28 Lessons in Ethics: The Incredible Story of Patrick Kuhse by Charlie Curnow (Article)
Patrick Kuhse is the last person you'd expect to give a lecture on business ethics. As a deputy bond trader for Oklahoma's $9 billion general fund during the early 1990s, Kuhse arranged kickbacks for his superiors in the state Treasurer's office. In return, he received an increase in his commissions which, over time, netted him $3.89 million more than he would normally earn, according to court estimates. But today, business ethics are his specialty.
2010-09-21 America?s Demographic Advantages by Art Patten (Article)
Joel Kotkin's inherent optimism is a welcome antidote to the gloom and doom that's taken hold of so many in the wake of the great recession. In The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, he uses copious reference material and broad strokes to paint a relatively cheery vision of America's future, which he believes will be driven largely by people, place, and national character.
2010-09-14 What the Taylor Rule Says about Interest Rates by Charlie Curnow (Article)
The Taylor Rule, a widely cited forecasting tool, predicts that the current inflation rate of 1.2 percent and the unemployment rate of 9.6 percent will keep the target federal funds rate in the range of -3.5 to -4.5 percent. We report on a presentation last week by an official at the Boston Federal Reserve Bank.
2010-09-13 It's Time for Tax Cuts, Not Tax Hikes by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The Obama Administration is considering extending the Bush tax cuts except for families with income above $250,000, as well as offering some tax cuts for business to spur investment spending. The Administration's proposed extensions of the Bush tax cuts, especially if augmented by more favorable depreciation allowances to encourage capital spending, are pro-growth. It is therefore surprising that the Administration would undermine the benefits of such proposals by failing to extend the Bush tax cuts for all households.
2010-08-31 The Alternative to Big Bonuses by Charlie Curnow (Article)
Do bankers deserve big bonuses? Economists will tell you that bonuses improve employee productivity by rewarding good work. But did the large performance-based payments given to Wall Street securities traders, for example, really steer them to better choices during the run-up to the recent financial crisis? What about financial advisors who base their fees on a percentage of the assets they manage? We take a critical look at Dan Ariely's latest research and the insights it provides.
2010-08-24 What Investors Really Want by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Using a mean-variance optimizer to construct a retirement portfolio that sits on the efficient frontier is tantamount to dining on a well-prepared meal that was pureed in a blender, believes Meir Statman, a professor of finance at Santa Clara University. Statman's research focuses on behavioral finance, and how advisors can help investors make smarter decisions.
2010-08-24 This is No Way to Run a Railroad by Michael Lewitt (Article)
In the latest edition of the HCM Market Letter, This is No Way to Run a Railroad, Michael Lewitt says the railroad known as the United States economy is chasing its own tail these days. Driven by misbegotten fiscal and monetary policies that ignore the lessons of history in favor of discredited financial and economic theories, the economy is trapped in a cycle of boom and bust. Lewitt also comments on the bond market, the European stress tests, GM, and the private equity industry.
2010-08-24 How to Choose the Right Social Media Archiving Strategy by Blane Warrene (Article)
Advisors who have embraced social media as an important component of their marketing and service toolbox must monitor and manage the content they distribute. In this guest contribution, Blane Warrene discusses how to collect and store postings and comments made by you and others on social media platforms and store the information in a readily accessible database.
2010-08-17 Misconceptions about Risk and Return Uncovered by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
Our beliefs about risk and return determine how we construct portfolios and manage risk. Research over the last decade suggests that a number of the ideas on which many investors and advisors rely lead to portfolios that are too highly exposed to market risk. In this article, we review a number of ideas that determine how we select assets and how we determine what to expect from those assets.
2010-08-10 Zvi Bodie on Stocks and Annuities in Retirement by Dan Richards (Article)
In this interview, retirement expert Zvi Bodie discusses the role of stocks and annuities in a retirement portfolio, and how advisors and clients should think about risk. This is the transcript of the interview.
2010-08-03 Woody Brock: How to Achieve Growth without 'Bad' Deficits by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Of all the challenges facing our nation, none is as daunting as trying to achieve economic growth and reduce unemployment without adding layers of debt to our already bloated deficit. Legislators and economists have debated the merits of stimulus measures, changes in tax rates, and monetary policies, but they are no closer to a consensus than they were at the onset of the financial crisis. H. 'Woody' Brock, however, says a genuine solution is possible.
2010-07-27 Robert Shiller: A Cautious Outlook for Stocks by Dan Richards (Article)
Dan Richards recently spoke with Robert Shiller, the Yale economist who foresaw the financial crisis and created the Case-Shiller housing index. Shiller discusses the potential for a double-dip recession, valuations in the US equity market, and the outlook for a housing recovery. This is the transcript of the interview.
2010-07-20 Martin Leibowitz? Failed Defense of the Endowment Model by Michael Edesess (Article)
The latest book from Martin Leibowitz, one of the most respected thinkers in the investment industry, attempts to justify the endowment model of investing. As Michael Edesess writes in this review, Leibowitz's defense is highly problematic, and that should concern any advisor utilizing a Yale-like strategy.
2010-07-13 Nouriel Roubini on Crisis Economics by Michael Edesess (Article)
There's good reason why Nouriel Roubini has been dubbed Dr. Doom. After reading his book co-authored with Stephen Mihm, Crisis Economics, one might despair for our economic system. Roubini makes the recent crisis seem inevitable, hard to stop, and very hard to keep from happening again.
2010-06-22 Niall Ferguson on Japan, China, and the US by Dan Richards (Article)
Harvard's Niall Ferguson is arguably today's leading economic historian. In part two of this interview, Ferguson explains why he fears the future is bleak for Japan, why China may someday be the leading global superpower, and what all this means for the US. We provide a video and a transcript.
2010-06-01 The Burden of Choice by Charlie Curnow (Article)
Columbia business professor Sheena Iyengar, author of The Art of Choosing, is the woman behind the famous jam study. Her research, which has been cited by Dan Ariely and others, shows the implications of providing consumers with choices that are too numerous or complex to easily evaluate. Charlie Curnow reviews her book.
2010-05-25 Sleeping with the Enemy by John W. Pfenenger II, CFA (Article)
When it comes to investing, our worst enemy may be the one we see in the mirror every morning - ourselves. In this guest contribution, John Pfenenger looks at how emotions affect investment decisions, and how understanding behavioral economics can help advisors work with their clients.
2010-05-11 Why Some Hedge Funds Made Money in 2008 by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Steven Drobny is the co-founder of Drobny Global, an international macroeconomic research and advisory firm that counts many of the leading global hedge funds and money managers as clients. He is also author of a recently released book that identifies why some hedge funds made money in the 2008 crisis, while the majority did not. In this interview, he discusses the common themes among successful strategies.
2010-05-04 Lacy Hunt: Keynes was Wrong (and Ricardo was Right) by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Underpinning the Obama administration's economic policies is the work of John Maynard Keynes, the legendary British economist who called for large fiscal and monetary interventions to counter the Great Depression. On this critical issue, Keynes was wrong, says Lacy Hunt, the internationally renowned economist with Texas-based Hoisington Investment.
2010-05-04 Iran, Iraq and Embracing the Devil by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Just as imbalances arise in economics, so they do in geopolitics. Its power weakened, the US now faces a difficult choice in the Mideast, where its best option is now to strike a deal with the regional player it most demonizes, Iran, according to George Friedman, founder and CEO of the geopolitical consulting firm STRATFOR.
2010-04-27 The Four Horsemen of Growth: David Kelly?s Guide to Markets by Katie Southwick (Article)
With unprecedented volatility now largely behind us, J.P. Morgan's Chief Investment Strategist David Kelly believes that the economy is entering a period of recovery. To move forward, we must abandon our negative mindsets and focus on opportunities for expansion.
2010-04-27 Investing Insights from Doctors by Dan Richards (Article)
Dan Richards works out in the early mornings with a psychiatrist, who recently forwarded an article in the New York Review of Books by Jerome Groopman, a physician and frequent writer on the challenges of modern day medicine. As Dan read it, he was struck by the parallels between the things that cause doctors and investors to go wrong.
2010-04-20 Unconventional Wisdom: An Interview with Robert Shiller by John Heins (Article)
"Few macroeconomic prognosticators have been as publicly right as Yale's Robert Shiller,whose first and second editions of the book Irrational Exuberance laid bare, with remarkable timing, the speculative bubbles forming first in the Internet-crazed stock market and next in residential real estate," writes the highly regarded newsletter Value Investor Insight in its preface to this interview with Shiller and excerpt from his latest book. Value Investor Insight, which bills itself as the "Leading Authority on Value Investing, offers a no-obligation, one-month free trial subscription.
2010-04-13 Are Public Employees Bankrupting the Nation? by Charlie Curnow (Article)
While markets may be recovering, public debts are still mounting. Charlie Curnow reviews Plunder, the new book by Steven Greenhut, which blames public sector unions for a large portion of these debts. To Greenhut, we the taxpayers are helpless villagers, while corrupt public employee unions are barbarians at the gate, raiding government treasuries and leaving us with nothing but unfunded liabilities.
2010-04-13 Shameless by Michael Lewitt (Article)
The fiscal train wreck in the United States has not been set back on the tracks, and the global imbalances that led to the financial crisis have not gone away. Quite to the contrary, writes Michael Lewittin Shameless, the latest edition of his HCM newsletter. In fact, if progress isn't made with respect to these issues, and if intelligent financial reform is not enacted, future instability is guaranteed.
2010-04-13 James Heckman on the Drivers of Human Success by Dan Richards (Article)
"What we have come to learn from modern genetics, which has huge social implications, is that it's neither nature nor nurture. It's both combined," says James Heckman in this interview with Dan Richards. Heckman, who won the Nobel Prizein Economics in 2000, discusses the key drivers of success in human development.
2010-03-23 A Tale of Two Depressions: What do the New Data Tell Us? by Barry Eichengreen and Kevin H. O?Rourke (Article)
Barry Eichengreen and Kevin H. O'Rourke offer the fourth installment of their comparison of data from the current recession to those of the Great Depression - A Tale of Two Depressions. Global industrial production continues to recover - something for which policy deserves considerable credit. But before indulging in self-congratulation, policymakers should note that the level of industrial production is still 6% below its previous peak.
2010-03-16 Rational Deficit: An Interview with Dan Ariely by John Heins (Article)
Through creative research and clever articulation of his ideas, behavioral economist Dan Ariely has established himself as one of the brightest thinkers today on the subject of human decision-making, particularly with respect to influences of which we are largely unaware. In this wide-ranging interview with the investment newsletter Value Investor Insight, Ariely describes the unwitting biases that can lead to bad decisions and what investors can do to guard against them.
2010-03-16 Paul Romer: What Drives Economic Growth? by Dan Richards (Article)
Paul Romer is a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and the focus of his research is the drivers of economic growth. In this interview with Dan Richards, Romer identifies what sets apart fast growing countries, and which policies best stimulate economic growth. We provide a transcript and a link to a video of the interview.
2010-02-23 Jason Zweig on Protecting your Wealth by David Raileanu (Article)
Jason Zweig is a senior writer and columnist for Money magazine and frequently writes for the Wall Street Journal. In this interview, he discusses strategies for protecting client wealth, proper asset allocation, and the role of advisors in a fiduciary relationship.
2010-02-23 Rethinking the Fundamentals of Client Communication by Dan Richards (Article)
Dan Richards says advisors need to fundamentally rethink both the information they communicate and - just as importantly - how they communicate. Changing these two key dimensions of your communication strategy - what you send clients and how you send it - will be critical to future success.
2010-02-16 Boom and Bust by Michael Lewitt (Article)
The US and global economies are "trapped in a cycle of boom and bust as a result of fiscal and monetary policies from which there is no easy escape," says Michael Lewitt of Harch Capital Management. Lewitt believes the S&P will rally to 1,200-1,250, but says the long-term prognosis is "somewhere between grave and terminal." We are privileged to provide this excerpt from Lewitt's monthly newsletter and encourage our readers to subscribe to it directly.
2010-02-16 Robert Shiller on Trills, Housing and Market Valuations by Dan Richards (Article)
Robert Shiller, a professor of economics at Yale University and co-creator of the Case-Shiller Housing Index, discusses several topics in this interview with Dan Richards, including his plan for governments to finance their debts by issuing "trills," a security representing a fractional claim on the country's GDP.
2010-02-16 How Professionals Select Investments by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
In this guest contribution intended for the educated layman, advisor Adam Apt discusses the process by which investment managers select individual securities, contrasting the disciplines of fundamental and technical analysis.
2010-02-09 China?s Quest for a Shortcut to Greatness by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
The Chinese economy must be getting out of control, because the Chinese government is doing the unthinkable: It is desperately trying to put the brakes on its economy. Author and fund manager Vitaliy Katsenelson looks back at how China got into this trouble and looks forward to China's prospects.
2010-02-09 It's Not My Fault by Emilio Vargas (Article)
In this guest contribution, Emilio Vargas says you don't need a Ph.D. in economics or a sophisticated computer model to figure out bubbles. Just look at their recent history.
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.
2010-02-02 Change ? The Only Constant by Christina Ho (Article)
The Institute for Private Investors serves families with over $50 million in assets. Their data show wealthy investors have increased their use of tactical asset allocation and are positioning their portfolios to defend against liquidity, concentration and inflation risk.
2010-02-02 Chuck Akre on the Akre Focus Fund by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Chuck Akre is the Managing Member and Chief Executive Officer of Akre Capital Management, which he founded in 1989. He has a track record of above-average performance over the last 20-plus years managing mutual funds, separately managed accounts and partnerships, and he discusses the strategy he employs in his new Akre Focus Fund.
2010-01-26 Robert Merton on Regulating Derivatives by Dan Richards (Article)
Robert Merton is a professor of finance at the Harvard Business School and the 1997 winner of the Nobel Prize in economics for his work on pricing models for options and derivatives. In this interview with Dan Richards, Merton explains the role of derivatives in creating the financial crisis, and what steps regulators should take to address them.
2010-01-26 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
In our letters to the Editor, readers comment on recent articles about Paul Krugman, health care, John Cochrane and the need for trust in advisory relationships.
2010-01-19 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Readers responded to a range of topics in our letters to the Editor: our Paul Krugman interview, our article last week on the causes of the financial crisis, our article on the true cost of insuring the uninsured, and our article on costless collars using options.
2010-01-12 Bruce Berkowitz on the Keys to Success for the Fairholme Fund by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Bruce Berkowitz, manager of the Fairholme Fund, was just named Morningstar's US fund manager of the year. In our interview, he discusses current market conditions, the thesis behind several of his largest positions, his views on health care reform, and the elements of the macro environment that concern him most.
2010-01-12 The Financial Crisis Post-Mortem: Suicide, Accident or Murder? by Michael Skocpol (Article)
Since the stunning collapse of America's financial system in 2008, questions have swirled around how we got here and who's to blame. The subsequent finger-pointing has yielded few answers, but now one economist has taken a cue from CSI's Gil Grissom and Law and Order's Jack McCoy. He performed an autopsy.
2010-01-12 Olivier Blanchard on Global Stability by Dan Richards (Article)
Olivier Blanchard is the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, a position he has held since September 1, 2008. In Dan Richards' interview, Blanchard discusses the steps being taken to revive the global economy and what he believes is in store for beleaguered debtor nations - particularly Greece.
2010-01-05 Paul Krugman on Deficits, Taxes, Inflation, and Recovery by Dan Richards (Article)
Dan Richards' interview with Paul Krugman, the 2008 Nobel prize winner in Economics, covers his views on the size of the next stimulus package, how high marginal tax rates should go, and lessons from the Japanese experience. Whether or not you agree with him, Krugman is highly influential and his views may presage future policy decisions.
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.
2009-12-01 Allen Sinai: Jobless Recovery and the Failure of Current Economic Policies by Robert Huebscher (Article)
As the Democratic leadership in Congress has looked for ways to simultaneously create jobs and reduce the deficit, a key person they have turned to and continue to rely on is Allen Sinai. Sinai now fears the US is in the "mother of all jobless recoveries" and that the economic policies of the Obama administration are not working.
2009-11-17 Disheartened by Michael Lewitt (Article)
We are again privileged to publish an excerpt from Michael Lewitt's HCM Market Letter. In this issue, titled "Disheartened," Lewitt argues that the powers-that-be are making limited progress addressing the structural problems in the economy, and that the greatest challenge is to achieve budgetary discipline.
2009-11-10 Not by Return Alone: Judging Investment Performance by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
In the latest installment of his articles intended for an educated layman, Adam Apt addresses the relationship between risk and return, and shows that the connection between them is neither rigid nor obvious, and that we can be cheated of our money by disregarding risk and fixating only on return.
2009-11-03 The Best Books on Investing by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
Author and fund manager Vitaliy Katsenelson provides us with his list of the best books on investing. It contains six sections: Selling, Think Like an Investor, Behavioral Investing, Economics, Stock Market History, and Books for the Soul.
2009-10-20 Life in and after the NBA Financial Planning for Professional Athletes by Robert Huebscher (Article)
During a 13-year career that began in 1987, Chris Dudley was called on to defend some of the greatest centers in NBA history - among them Shaquille O'Neal, Robert Parish, and David Robinson. While developing a reputation as an exceptional shot-blocker and rebounder, Dudley also devoted time to preparing for his post-basketball career - as a financial advisor - and he shares with us his thoughts about financial planning for the professional athlete.
2009-10-13 A Tale of Two Depressions: October 2009 Update by Barry Eichengreen and Kevin H. O?Rourke (Article)
Barry Eichengreen and Kevin H. O'Rourke update their article, "A Tale of Two Depressions," and report that global industrial production shows clear signs of recovery, but weak consumer spending in the US may prevent a rapid recovery.
2009-10-06 So Far so Good: The Decrepit Decade Winds Down by Ron Surz (Article)
Ron Surz provides his award-winning market commentary, covering performance in the US and global markets, broken down by style, sector, and other dimensions.
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 Predictably Irrational - How Investors Frame Decisions by Robert Huebscher (Article)
One of the most provocative sessions at last week's Schwab Impact conference was given by Dan Ariely, who deftly summarized his current research in the important field of behavioral finance. Ariely's message was that, no matter how good their intentions or how deep their experience, people - investors specifically - consistently make the wrong decisions. They behave irrationally, and predictably so.
2009-09-15 Investing Lessons from Golf and Blackjack Players by Robert Huebscher (Article)
At key moments investors refuse to take those chances that will make them money. Behavioral finance has a term for this - risk intolerance. Research supporting these claims comes from two divergent pastimes - the games of golf and blackjack.
2009-09-15 Theoretical Support for the Moving Average Crossover by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)
In this guest contribution, Keith Goddard matches an appropriate descriptive theory about how asset markets work with recently published normative theory using Ted Wong's moving average crossover as an indicator for timing portfolio changes in active portfolio management strategies. He proposes that the theory of "Rational Belief Equilibrium" in asset markets, developed by Stanford professor, Mordecai Kurz, helps to explain why moving average crossovers have demonstrated predictive value in the stock market, and why they might continue to offer predictive value in the future.
2009-09-01 Politics and Fund Managers by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Those readers who would like to know whether to invest with Democrat or Republican fund managers finally have some guidance, thanks to a new academic study. We report the results, along with a host of reasons why you shouldn't read too much into this data. We also provide the names of the top fund manager donors to each party over the period from 1992 to 2006.
2009-08-25 Jim Cramer Exposed: Does He Generate Alpha? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
Paul Bolster and Emery Trahan, professors of finance at Northeastern University, were curious about the Mad Money phenomenon, and applied the full force of their analytical powers to a study of Jim Cramer's advice. They published their analysis earlier this year, and it reveals answers to key questions - such as whether Cramer's picks move the market or whether Cramer can legitimately call himself a skillful stock picker.
2009-08-25 Building a Practice in America?s Fastest Dying City by Robert Huebscher (Article)
While many - perhaps most - advisors use client appreciation programs as part of their marketing efforts, Mo Young has embraced this idea and made it his sole marketing focus. Young's practice is based in Youngstown, Ohio - which has the distinction of losing population more rapidly than any other city in the US - yet Young has added several hundred new clients over the last four years with his strategy.
2009-08-25 Should Investors Hold More Equities Near Retirement? by Ron Surz (Article)
A just-published paper argues that investors should hold more equities as they near retirement, contrary to conventional wisdom and to the glide paths employed by the target date fund industry. Ron Surz examines this research, and argues that the authors of the paper failed to properly consider the risks inherent in such a strategy.
2009-08-25 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
In our letters to the Editor, a reader responds to Dougal Williams' article last week, A Crash Course in Investing: Six Lessons from the Market Meltdown, and other readers respond to our article on Actively Managed TIPS and to an Advisor Market Commentary on healthcare policy.
2009-08-18 Beam Me Up Scotty, Vulcans Have Taken Over Planet Finance by Mariko Gordon (Article)
You don't need to be a dyed-in-the-wool Trekkie "to boldly go where no man has gone before." In this guest contribution, Mariko Gordon explains how one of these characters - Mr. Spock - helps shine a light on the value of emotion in the never-ending quest for sound investment decision-making.
2009-08-11 At the Risk of Repeating Ourselves by Michael Lewitt (Article)
We have said before that Michael Lewitt's newsletter is a must-read, and this edition is no exception. Lewitt questions whether we are witnessing a summer calm before the storm, comments on the secured and unsecured debt asset classes, and opines on the abuses of unregulated dark pools of capital. We encourage you to subscribe to this valuable publication through the link we provide.
2009-08-11 Behavioral Finance Traps En Route to Investment Success by Dan Richards (Article)
To understand why investors fail to stick to their plans, economists and academics are studying the rapidly growing field of "behavioral finance," analyzing the patterns of behavior that cost investors serious money. Dan Richards looks at the current research and its implications for investors and advisors.
2009-08-04 Paul Krugman on the Prospects for Recovery by Eric Uhlfelder (Article)
Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman tells Eric Uhlfelder that massive government spending is essential for generating growth, but fears the first stimulus package will not be enough to keep the economy from slipping back into recession nor reducing unemployment.
2009-08-04 How to Think about Return and Risk at the Same Time by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
In this guest contribution targeted to the educated layman, Adam Apt discusses the relationship between return and risk. Only when you can keep in mind at one and the same time these two concepts can you properly understand how to invest. And you will also understand why you should invest. Without the marriage of the concepts, you will be playing the market-or shunning it-as if it were a casino.
2009-07-14 Behavioral Finance ? A Three-Part Model for Client Relationships by Susan B. Weiner, CFA (Article)
Behavioral finance can improve your client relationships during market turmoil, if you recognize your clients' emotional right-brained reactions before you offer insights based on your analytical left-brained analysis. By applying a three-pronged process of Recognize-Reflect-Respond, you can adapt to new information in a thoughtful and effective framework.
2009-07-14 Billie Jean, YOU are the One by Mariko Gordon (Article)
Michael Jackson's Billie Jean wasn't the first to make headlines. Back in 1973, Billie Jean King moved the sports world a big step forward ... a step that the financial services industry is still waiting to take. Guest contributor Mariko Gordon of Daruma Asset Management explains why our overwhelming male-oriented industry necessarily leaves investment returns on the table.
2009-07-07 Marty Whitman: The Outlook for Distressed Securities by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Marty Whitman is the founder, Co-Chief Investment Officer, and Portfolio Manager of the Third Avenue Value Fund and a veteran value investor with a long, distinguished history as a control investor. In our interview, he discusses the opportunities in distressed securities created by the financial crisis.
2009-06-30 Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 2 by Theodore Wong (Article)
Many renowned financial experts declare that passive investing in a diversified index like the S&P500 is the only sensible way to manage money. In a follow-up to his article two weeks ago, Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 1, Ted Wong says that he respects their opinions but is unable to verify their claims. By examining the evidence, he shows that the Moving Average Crossover (MAC) system offers a superior risk-return profile to a buy-and-hold strategy.
2009-06-30 A Tale of Two Depressions: June 2009 Update by Barry Eichengreen and Kevin H. O'Rourke (Article)
In an update to an article we published two months ago, two economists compare today's global crisis to the Great Depression. World industrial production, trade, and stock markets are diving faster now than during 1929-30. Fortunately, the policy response to date is much better. The update shows that trade and stock markets have shown some improvement without reversing the overall conclusion -- today's crisis is at least as bad as the Great Depression.
2009-06-30 Letters to the Editor: The Road to Zimbabwe by Various (Article)
In the second set of our letters to the Editor, we publish responses to to our article, The Road to Zimbabwe.
2009-06-09 Nassim Nicholas Taleb?s Prescription for a Black Swan-Proof Economy by Bruce W. Fraser (Article)
According to Black Swan author Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the U.S. economy is broken - but not beyond repair - and that repair will not be a snap. It does not necessarily need more regulation, but more intelligent regulation - plus the will to let entities like Citibank and General Motors fail once they become too big and cumbersome and act irresponsibly.
2009-05-19 David Swensen's Ascent by Mebane Faber (Article)
Mebane Faber provides an excerpt from his new book, The Ivy Portfolio, on the ascent of David Swensen and the development of the tools employed to manage Yale's endowment. Faber shows the data Swensen used to determine Yale's aggressive allocation to alternative asset classes.