More on Related Themes
2014-12-29 Adventures in Forecasting by Scott Brown of Raymond James
Every December, economists are asked for their projections for the coming year. Whats GDP growth going to be? How many jobs will be added? Whats the Fed going to do? How will the financial markets react? We build models of the economy models that we know are not precise. There are simply too many variables.
2014-12-27 Sungarden's 2015 Investor Preview by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research
2014 is nearly behind us. And since we tend to not want to do things the way the Wall Street herd does, our 2015 outlook is formatted this way: we list a group of potential scenarios, and then assign our best guess probability that they will happen next year. This is about considering the possibilities, not making outright predictions.
2014-12-23 2015 - What Does Cycle Analysis Suggest by Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live
We cant predict the future if it were possible fortune tellers would all win the lottery. They dont, we cant and we arent going to try to. However, we can analyze what has happened in the past, weed through the noise of the present and try to discern the possible outcomes of the future.
2014-12-22 Come and Listen to a Story About a Man Named Jed by Ted Ake of Willingdon Wealth Management
For those that were around in the 1960s, the Beverly Hillbillies were a highlight of lowbrow humor. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs played the theme song that I still sing today. The story of a poor mountain family that strikes it rich when oil is found on their land, made millions of us laugh as they moved to a huge mansion in Beverly Hills.
2014-12-22 A Look Back at 2014 (and a 2015 Preview) by Robert Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
At the beginning of this year, we had three broad thoughts about what it would look like. First, we expected U.S. economic growth would accelerate moderately. Second, we believed Federal Reserve tapering would occur slowly and that global monetary policy would remain accommodative. And third, we forecasted that the U.S. equity market would grind higher due to central bank liquidity, modest economic acceleration, solid corporate earnings, contained inflation and an improving fiscal situation. These views formed the basis for the predictions we made in January. And at this point, we can offer a
2014-12-21 Your Time is Gonna Come: From Considerable Time to Patient by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
Regardless of the obsession around the specific words used, the statement is somewhat par-for-the-course; and supports our consistent view that rates should begin rising at some point in mid-year 2015, that the US dollar will remain strong, and that the yield curve should continue to flatten (as a result of benign inflation keeping longer-term rates fairly low). Although our view is that the stock market will be at the mercy of more frequent mood swings, the secular bull market we believe began nearly six years ago should persist in 2015.
2014-12-21 European QE Draws Attention to Irish Bonds by John Taylor and Dennis Shen of AllianceBernstein
Europes bond markets are starting to focus on the potential impact of ECB sovereign-bond purchases. While we expect QE to prompt a further narrowing of peripheral European sovereign-bond spreads, its important to stay focused on country fundamentals when selecting exposure.
2014-12-17 Are Bonds Really Less Risky than Equities? by Patrick Rudden of AllianceBernstein
Its practically an investing axiom that government bonds are much less volatile than equities. But that depends on how you look at it. In fact, our research suggests that income streams from stocks are actually much less volatile than those of government bonds.
2014-12-13 Bulls, Bears and Pigs by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research
So, the global stock markets have your attention. Whether you are focused on declining economic prospects in Europe, Emerging Markets weakness or the recent slide in the U.S. stock market, we are all forced to contemplate something that may now be driving up beside us, not merely in the rear-view mirrora stock bear market.
2014-12-11 Global Carry Is Correcting by Alexander Giryavets of Dynamika Capital L.L.C.
The day after Thanksgiving we noted that Global Carry has gone parabolic and needs to be watched carefully. It has been mildly correcting since and we encourage investors to stay cautious. We also review where we stand in terms of Risk On/Risk Off factor.
2014-12-11 Inequality and the American Child by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate
Though an average American childhood may not be the worst in the world, the disparity between the country's wealth and the condition of its children is unparalleled. And, without compensatory measures, unequal opportunities translate into unequal lifelong outcomes by the time children reach the age of five.
2014-12-06 Draghi Crosses the Rubicon while Juncker Peddles "Europhemisms" by John Beck of Franklin Templeton Investments
The announcement by newly installed European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker of a package designed to secure 315 billion of investment for the eurozone garnered a lot of press interest in late November. However, John Beck, director of Fixed Income, London, and portfolio manager, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group, believes a speech by European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi at a bankers conference in Frankfurt earlier in the month offers more practical insight for investors. Here he outlines lessons to take from Draghis speech in the lions
2014-12-03 Can Stocks Deliver the Goods in 2015? by Burt White of LPL Financial
We believe stocks will deliver mid- to high-single-digit returns in 2015. We expect earnings, and not valuations, to do the heavy lifting in producing potential stock market gains for investors in 2015. Monetary policy is in transit in 2015, when stocks will face a shift from the very loose monetary policy of the Federal Reserves (Fed) quantitative easing (QE) program to an environment in which the Fed begins to hike interest rates.
2014-12-01 Global Carry Gone Parabolic? by Alexander Giryavets of Dynamika Capital L.L.C.
Global Carry has gone parabolic. Last such move precipitated the Taper Tantrum, only this time the parabolic move is exaggerated by US dollar appreciation.
2014-11-24 Equities Benefit as U.S. Growth Solidifies by Robert Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
The dominant news story last week was President Obamas announcement of new executive actions on immigration policy, but investors chose to look past any political risks and focused on the positives. Specifically, markets reacted well to signs that the European Central Bank would expand its monetary easing and to a surprise interest rate cut in China.
2014-11-23 Chinas Monetary-Policy Surprise by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate
In economic policy, as in most other areas, actions speak louder than words. By cutting its policy benchmark interest rates, the Peoples Bank of China has underscored the tactical focus of Chinese governments stabilization policy: it aims to set a floor of around 7% on GDP growth.
2014-11-22 A Tale of Two Worlds by Doug MacKay and Bill Hoover of Broadleaf Partners
We are in a Tale of Two Worlds. One worlds success is highly dependent on the outlook for oil and other commodities, while the others is far less exposed and perhaps even a beneficiary of a more bearish climate. Commodity dependent countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and Australia are hurt by falling oil prices, weak global demand and new sources of supply, while the United States, with a far larger consumer driven economy, experiences an overall net benefit, as perhaps seen in earnings from the likes of Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Lowes in recent days.
2014-11-21 3 Things Worth Thinking About, Including the Message from Commodities by Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live
Following the October swoon, stocks have vaulted to all-time highs. As I discussed previously in "Sentiment Is Off The Charts Bullish," there have only been few occasions where investors have felt so "giddy" about the financial markets. Such periods of exuberance have never ended well for investors as they were deluded by near-term "greed" which blinded them to the building risks.
2014-11-19 Examining the Divergence between Equities and Credit by Bradley Krom of WisdomTree
Over the last year, U.S. equities rallied, and credit spread generally tightened. However, in recent months, this winning formula has started to diverge. Concerns about global growth, potential changes in monetary policy and uncertainty from geopolitical risk weighed on investor sentiment.
2014-11-14 High-Yield Bonds & Oil Prices by Team of LPL Financial
The decline in oil prices and its impact on the high-yield market has been cited as a concern for investors. This week we stay on the topic of high-yield bonds and take a closer look at the potential impact of oil prices on the high-yield bond market and whether recent concerns are justified.
2014-11-11 The Opportunity in Japan is Not Over by Christopher Gannatti, of WisdomTree
We believe that the ultimate success of Abenomics will be judged over a period of multiple years, and while certain actionsespecially those from the Bank of Japanhave been significant, others, like structural third arrow reforms, will take time.
2014-11-10 Three Reasons Why Commodity-Related Debt May Hold Value Under Pressure by Kathleen Gaffney of Eaton Vance
In this timely Insight, Kathleen Gaffney discusses how a flexible multisector bond strategy can be a great way to gain exposure to, and take advantage of, potential value opportunities in hard-hit commodity related debt.
2014-11-04 International Equity Commentary: September 2014 by Team of Thomas White International
International equity prices corrected in September as investors became concerned about slower global growth and the continued withdrawal of monetary stimulus by the U.S. Federal Reserve. Stronger than expected U.S. growth could support the global economy in the coming quarters, but has made investors anxious of early interest rate hikes. The Euro-zone economic recovery is faltering yet again as growth has slipped in most large countries.
2014-10-31 Financial Markets Review Third Quarter 2014 by Team of AMG Funds
Similar to earlier this year, the third quarter featured further evidence of a multi-speed economic recovery across the globe. Central banks reacted in a less-than-coordinated fashion compared to years prior, with the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of Japan (BOJ) loosening monetary policy while the U.S. Federal Reserve (the Fed) retained more of its status quo as detailed further here.
2014-10-28 Under the Magnifying Glass by Brian Andrew of Cleary Gull
Recent market volatility has investors trying to sort through the little things to determine what is most important to the future of asset prices. Securities markets move up and down on a daily basis based on many different factors, some more relevant than others. The markets during October have proven that little things can lead to greater volatility as investors attempt to sort out the most relevant facts from those with less meaning. Our objective, and that of our investment managers, is to sift through these details to discern what has relevance and what is noise during the trading day.
2014-10-28 Will the Ebola Scare Haunt the Stock Market? by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
Kristina Hooper prescribes four key takeaways from the Ebola epidemic and what it means for investors.
2014-10-27 Equities Recover Some Ground and Still May Have Room to Run by Robert Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
With global deflation and growth fears fading, U.S. equities snapped their four-week losing streak last week with the S&P 500 Index gaining 4.1%. This advance marked the largest weekly gain since January 2013. Following the correction from the mid-September to mid-October, the S&P 500 has now rallied 8%, leaving it only 3% from its all-time high.
2014-10-27 Tobacco Bonds Appeal May Be Smoke and Mirrors by Tom Metzold, Cindy Clemson, Leanne Parziale of Eaton Vance
Despite attractive returns, tobacco bonds may be too risky for many investors. In this Insight, we compare these bonds with traditional municipal bonds and pinpoint what matters most now for investors in this sector.
2014-10-24 What to Expect from U.S. Midterm Elections by Robert McConnaughey of Columbia Management
Next months midterm election battle for control of the U.S. Senate is going to be a dramatically close call. Republicans can gain control of the Senate if they win six new seats. Incumbent Democrats are defending 21 seats, and seven of those are in broadly red states won by Mitt Romney in 2012.
2014-10-24 5 Things To Ponder: To QE Or Not To QE by Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live
Over the last few weeks, the markets have seen wild vacillations as stocks plunged and then surged on a massive short-squeeze in the most beaten up sectors of energy and small-mid capitalization companies. While "Ebola" fears filled mainstream headlines the other driver behind the sell-off, and then marked recovery, was a variety of rhetoric surrounding the last vestiges of the current quantitative easing program by the Fed. As I have shown many times in the past, there is a high degree of correlation between the Fed's liquidity programs and the advance in the markets.
2014-10-23 No More Black Mondays by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
In a true demonstration of impeccable and apropos timing given the recent volatility we have experienced, yesterday marked the 27th anniversary of one of the stock markets most infamous and chronicled events. Black Monday, October 19, 1987 was one of those multiple standard deviation occurrences that statisticians will tell you are not supposed to ever really happen, but as is the case more frequently than most realize, it of course did happen, and its impact is still being felt today even as there are fewer and fewer investors around that actually had to suffer through it.
2014-10-23 Risk and Uncertainty, Confidence and Fear by Scott Brown of Raymond James
In recent weeks, the financial markets appear to have been reacting less to weaker expectations of global growth and more to the increased downside risks that is, to the fear that things could get a lot worse. The downside risks to Europe are considerable, but America is much less dependent on exports than most other countries and the prospects for moderately strong growth into 2015 remain promising.
2014-10-23 3 Things Worth Thinking About: Inflation, the Current Rally and Faith in the Fed by Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live
What is quickly being realized on a global basis is that injecting the system with liquidity that flows into asset prices, does not create organic economic demand. Both Japan and the Eurozone's interventions have failed to spark inflationary pressures as the massive debt burden's carried by these countries continues to sap the ability to stimulate real growth.
2014-10-21 The Skinny on Fatter Tails for Fed Policy by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
Kristina Hooper comments on escalating fears that a slowdown in global growth could hamstring the US recovery and what that means for monetary-policy outcomes in the United States.
2014-10-20 Equity Losses Continue, but This Correction May Be Ending by Robert Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
Markets endured a sharp pullback and higher volatility, but technical factors suggest we may be nearing the end of the current correction. Long-term, we believe fundamentals remain sound, the U.S. economy should continue to grow and equities should be able to grind higher.
2014-10-20 Five Ways to Keep Out of the Bond Liquidity Trap by Douglas Peebles of AllianceBernstein
Bond investors are used to managing interest-rate risk and credit risk. But the financial crisis should have taught us that there are times when liquidity risk can be just as important to manage. Now is one of those times.
2014-10-19 Where Are We? A Psychological View by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research
When markets get temporarily unruly as they have recently, it tends to drive folks like us to go back and prove to ourselves once again that each and every part of our existing portfolios (the stocks and the hedge positions we own) is as valid to us as it was when we bought it. And, with many stocks on our watch list getting closer to being viable additions to the mix as their prices drop, we are essentially scouring our investable universe to see if we can either improve our upside potential, strengthen our defenses, or both. It is a rigorous process, always.
2014-10-17 A Moody Market by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover of Broadleaf Partners
For those that may not have noticed, stock market volatility has been on the rise in October, with more up and down 1-2% days and powerful intraday moves than we've seen since the Great Recession. Weak overseas economies, fears over what rapid declines in energy prices could mean, and Ebola are just a few of the factors that have been used to explain the disappointing action.
2014-10-17 5 Things To Ponder: "Buy" or "Run" by Lance Roberts of STA Wealth Management
This past week investors to a blow from a sharp selloff in the financial markets. I have spilled quite a bit of ink in recent months discussing the probabilities of such as corrective event as the Federal Reserves current liquidity operation came to a conclusion this month.
2014-10-16 Global Carry a.k.a. Risk Parity by Alexander Giryavets of Dynamika Capital L.L.C.
It is customary to think of Risk Parity Asset Allocation and Carry Trading Strategy as two different things. We explain that the Risk Parity after the Global Financial Crisis is nothing else but a hugely successful Global Carry Trade funded in Japanese Yen, Dollar and Euro. The performance of this trade is fantastic, the allocation is huge (100s of blns of $) and the risk of crash that will precipitate the next financial crisis is growing day by day. But for now the music is still playing.
2014-10-16 Risk Aversion and Dollar Strength by Rick Harper of WisdomTree
Since the dollar is the primary reserve currency of the world, investors typically seek exposure to the dollar via short-term assets when market sentiment begins to shift. As we explain, the U.S. dollar can serve as an effective hedge to market uncertainty when volatility unexpectedly spikes.
2014-10-14 Finally, a Five Handle! by Brian Andrew of Cleary Gull
Last Fridays jobs report was significant in that for the first time since July of 2008 the unemployment rate dipped below 6%. The September report indicated that the unemployment rate fell from 6.1% to 5.9%. While we have seen improvement in labor markets for some time now, the Fed still seems to want to take their time reducing stimulative policy.
2014-10-13 Five Ways to Keep Out of the Bond Liquidity Trap by Douglas J. Peebles of AllianceBernstein
The good news is that liquidity risk is manageableand can even offer attractive opportunities, given the right time horizon. When liquidity dries up in one sector, it can be plentiful in another. If managed properly, it can be an additional source of returns. Here are five things investors can do to stay afloat.
2014-10-09 The Fed's Invisible Hand, and Other Things to Think About by Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live
I have not been a huge advocate of the Federal Reserve's QE programs for the simple reason that outside of inflating asset prices, it has done nothing for the broad swath of the American economy.
2014-10-07 Most Risk Assets Should Continue to Find Support by Robert Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
Equity prices continued to slide in the face of uncertainty over global growth and pending changes to monetary policy. U.S. growth is continuing to improve, and shows further signs of divergence from the rest of the world. Markets may remain sloppy for a while, but fundamentals suggest most risk assets should continue to perform well.
2014-10-06 The Most Important Chart in the World by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company
One of todays most glaring inter-market divergences is the relative performance of US versus non-US equities. For dollar-based investors, non-US stocks have underperformed US stocks by an astounding 40% over the past five years.
2014-10-03 Financial Repression (and How to Defend Yourself From It) by Mike Shedlock of Doug Short
I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Gordon Long last week. Gordon is publisher and editor of Gordon T Long Macro Analytics. The topic was "Financial Repression". What is financial repression? I defined it as "a set of fiscal and monetary policies for the expressed benefit of the ruling class: politicians, banks, and the already wealthy, at the expense of everyone else." In the video, I give numerous examples of repression, noting that central bank sponsored inflation is the epitome of financial repression. We also discuss what to do about financial repression.
2014-10-01 Markets’ Rational Complacency by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate
A century ago, financial markets priced in a very low probability that a major conflict would occur, blissfully ignoring the risks that led to World War I until late in the summer of 1914. Back then, markets were poor at correctly pricing low-probability, high-impact tail risks; they still are.
2014-09-30 The Fed Trap by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate
The US Federal Reserve is grappling with the disparity between its unconventional policy's success in preventing economic disaster and its failure to foster a robust recovery. Given that this disconnect has fueled financial-market excesses, the exit will be all the more problematic especially for the market-fixated Fed.
2014-09-30 Economic Atonement by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital
This Friday is Yom Kippur, the day when Jews around the world ask forgiveness for their transgressions from the year past. Rabbis remind the penitent to dwell on their sins of omission, in which they did nothing when a more thoughtful and proactive action was needed, and sins of commission, in which they actively participated in an unjust action. And while not all economists are Jewish, Gene Epstein the economics editor at Barron's, offered his thoughts on how this applies to the group.
2014-09-29 Looking Past the Risks, Equities Still Appear Attractive by Robert Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
Last week featured some positive economic news, but equity markets sank nonetheless, with the S&P 500 Index falling 1.3%. On the bright side, we saw some strong data from the housing market and an upward revision to second-quarter gross domestic product growth (GDP).
2014-09-22 A Lack of Surprises Helps Equity Markets Make Gains by Robert Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
Equity markets rose again last week, with the S&P 500 Index climbing 1.3% and reaching another record high. Bond yields and the U.S. dollar drifted higher, while emerging market equities and commodities struggled. Two major events that resulted in a continuation of the status quo helped market sentiment.
2014-09-22 Copper Breaking Through Important Support as USD Continues to Surge by Team of GaveKal Capital
Copper, after having been turned down by the falling trendline last week, is breaking down through the upward sloping support line today.
2014-09-19 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust
The choice for Europe: coming together or breaking apart; Scotland votes nay; The dollar has been the beneficiary of global uncertainty
2014-09-16 Of Kilts, Ballots, Bankers and Dots by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
Kristina Hooper breaks down the hairy mix of economic data, central bank policy and geopolitical events, including Scotland's potential exit from the UK, that markets are combing through right now.
2014-09-04 Global: Recovery Continues, but Headwinds Persist by Keith Wade of Schroders Investment Management
Keith Wade, Chief Economist at Schroders, discusses why Schroders has trimmed global growth projections for 2014 and 2015.
2014-09-01 Democracy in the Twenty-First Century by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate
The economist Thomas Pikettys forecast of still higher levels of inequality does not reflect the inexorable laws of economics. Indeed, the main question today is not really about capital in the twenty-first century; it is about democracy in the twenty-first century.
2014-08-29 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust
Flexible labor markets are key to recovering from recession; Wage trends present a challenge for the Fed; Bank settlements are sizeable, but the benefit to housing has been limited
2014-08-27 The Price is Right - The S&P 500 Index Deconstructed by Edward Talisse of Chelsea Global Advisors
Is the widely followed S&P 500 equity index wildly overvalued at its current price of 2,000? Well, that depends upon your assumptions about earnings and dividend growth and your risk adjusted required rate of return.
2014-08-15 The Fragmentation of Bretton Woods by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate
In recent years, political support for economic multilateralism has eroded, undermining the effectiveness of the Bretton Woods institutions and disrupting the international monetary system. This is not only hampering the global economys ability to meet its potential; it is also contributing to geopolitical insecurity.
2014-08-12 What a Credit-Shy Consumer Means for Growth by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
Consumers have been cautious about running up credit-card debt since the financial crisis. But is that necessarily bad for the economy? Kristina Hooper breaks it down.
2014-08-06 What Asset Class Rallied Last Week amid the Sell-Off? by Luciano Siracusano III of WisdomTree
Last Thursdays sell-off in U.S. stocks (the Dow was down 317 points, the S&P 500 Index was down nearly 2%) marked the biggest stock market decline in nearly four months. The S&P 500 Index closed at 1,930 after it broke its 50-day moving average for the first time since April.
2014-08-05 Mixed Signals by Brian Andrew of Cleary Gull
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to take in baseball tryouts. I know you are thinking it is August so what tryouts would be taking place in the middle of the season? These tryouts were for U-8 boys. For the uninitiated, this is when boys aged 7 and younger try out for next seasons teams. My son spent two days at a baseball camp and then finished yesterday with team tryouts. During tryouts there were six stations covering the fundamentals of the game.
2014-08-05 Drawing Parallels Between Company Quality and Economic Strength by Francis Gannon of The Royce Funds
First-half results were mildly bullish, and included a brief period where higher-quality companies reasserted themselves during the more volatile months of April and early May. Co-Chief Investment Officer Francis Gannon talks about how the market has responded to the Fed's monetary stimulus, the economically sensitive characteristics that populate most of our firm's portfolios, and where we have been finding opportunities.
2014-08-05 So, What Did We Learn? by Scott Brown of Raymond James
The busy week of economic news left investors uneasy. The 4.0% GDP growth figure contributed to concerns that the Fed may be forced to raise short-term interest rates sooner rather than later. However, while the economic data reports, and even the Fed policy statement, had something for everybody, the outlook for monetary policy should be essentially unchanged.
2014-07-19 Bull Stumbles by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen & Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Any near-term correction would be healthy in the context of an ongoing secular bull market. Trying to time the market is always difficult, even though the market is in a potentially weak phase, both in terms of the annual and election cycles. And while sentiment is elevated in the United States, both Europe and China provide opportunities to invest where the mood is decidedly less enthusiastic.
2014-07-15 Flip Floppers Drive Stocks Lower by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
In the course of one slow news week, stocks went from celebration to selloff. What changed? Not the strong economic data, says Kristina Hooper. Its a classic flip-flop from investors who had time to mull over recent numbers and change their minds.
2014-07-08 Blowout Jobs Data Wont Trigger Quicker Rate Hike by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
The markets are digesting a stellar jobs report, which may fuel debate over when the Fed will start raising rates. But its important for investors to understand the Feds holistic approach in order to avoid a kneejerk reaction, writes Kristina Hooper.
2014-07-05 2014 Mid-Year Outlook Update: Living Actively Forecast Continues by Stephen Wood of Russell Investments
Does 2014 at mid-year remain a year of living actively for investors as outlined in Russells 2014 Annual Global Outlook issued last December? In that report, my colleagues on the global team of investment strategists agreed on the macro-view that 2014 would be better represented as a year of validation than a year of appreciation. And now, as we examine the underlying fundamentals in the macro- data at mid-year, I dont see a reason yet to alter our year of validation call.
2014-07-01 LPL Financial Research Mid-Year Outlook 2014: Investors Almanac Field Notes by Jeff Kleintop of LPL Financial
At this years halfway point, we are pleased to offer the LPL Financial Research Mid-Year Outlook 2014: Investors Almanac Field Notes containing key observations and updates to our outlook for 2014. Similar to a farming almanac, our Investors Almanac is a publication containing a guide to patterns, tendencies, and seasonal observations important to growing. The goal of farming is not merely to grow crops, but to sustain living thingsinvesting shares the same goal.
2014-06-24 A Mosaic Approach to Raising the Fed Funds Rate by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
The Federal Reserve is using a wide swath of economic data and anecdotal evidence to determine when to raise its benchmark interest rate. While prudent, it may stir up anxiety and volatility for equity investors, writes Kristina Hooper.
2014-06-23 Will Small-Cap Stocks Close the Gap with Large-Caps? by Vadim Zlotnikov of AllianceBernstein
Small-cap stocks have lagged large-cap stocks by a substantial margin over the past few months, but a close look at the causes makes us think they could be in for a reversal of fortune.
2014-06-19 Mexicos Breakout Moment? by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate
Mexico has a good chance to realize its impressive structural-reform agenda. Doing so would give the rest of the world an important example of how such programs can be designed, implemented, and, most important, sustained until a critical mass of revitalized sectors and thus faster growth and greater prosperity is achieved.
2014-06-14 ECB Leaves the Door Open for Further Action by David Zahn of Franklin Templeton Investments
he European Central Bank (ECB) delivered a robust package of monetary policy measures on June 5 and promised more to come if needed to help stave off deflation and support the eurozones fragile economic recovery. Among the moves announced were interest rate cuts, including a negative interest rate on excess deposits that banks hold with the ECB, and new facilities to support bank lending to small businesses. We asked David Zahn, portfolio manager for the Franklin Global Government Bond Fund, for his thoughts on what these latest measures could mean for investors.
2014-06-13 ECB Leaves the Door Open for Further Action by David Zahn of Franklin Templeton Investments
The European Central Bank (ECB) delivered a robust package of monetary policy measures on June 5 and promised more to come if needed to help stave off deflation and support the eurozones fragile economic recovery. Among the moves announced were interest rate cuts, including a negative interest rate on excess deposits that banks hold with the ECB, and new facilities to support bank lending to small businesses. We asked David Zahn, portfolio manager for the Franklin Global Government Bond Fund, for his thoughts on what these latest measures could mean for investors.
2014-06-10 The Central Bank Divide: 3 Implications for Investors by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock
Major central banks are no longer moving in lockstep. While the Fed is pulling back, other central banks are maintaining very easy monetary policy. Russ explains three implications this new dynamic has for investors.
2014-06-07 Long-Term Opportunity in Tech Sector Volatility by Matthew Moberg of Franklin Templeton Investments
The technology sector seems to have again demonstrated just how frustrating markets can be. An investor favorite last year, the sector has been volatile in the first part of 2014, leading some to believe a tech bubble could be brewingor perhaps a slow leak has already begun. Matthew Moberg, portfolio manager for Franklin DynaTech Fund, says he doesnt pay much attention to semantics or speculation. Hes busy looking for companies that he believes have staying power and growth potential beyond temporary trends. And, he says hes using recent volatility as an opportunity
2014-05-29 China Sets America’s Mental Trap by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate
It is often said that a crisis should never be wasted: Politicians, policymakers, and regulators should embrace the moment of deep distress and take on the heavy burden of structural repair. China seems to be doing that; America is not.
2014-05-28 Value Offers a Cushion: Why Last Years Winners Are Now Losers and Vice Versa by Russ of BlackRock
A trend in markets this year has been the poor performance of last years stock market winners, and the resilience of some of last years losers. Russ takes a look at whats behind this trend, specifically with retailers and emerging markets.
2014-05-27 Economy Begins to Accelerate While Equities Push Higher by Robert Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
U.S. equities finished higher last week as the S&P 500 advanced 1.3%, snapping a two-week losing streak and ending at a new record high. Markets seemed to lack conviction, but the path of least resistance appeared skewed to the upside as momentum for the economic recovery was positive.
2014-05-22 Russian Interests by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments
Tensions between Russia and Ukraine remain high, and have spilled onto the international stage. The Western world seemed to be caught off guard by Russian President Putins reaction to civil unrest in Ukraine, leading to Russias annexation of Crimea and spreading into a broader question of regional sovereignty. The situation remains fluid, so its difficult to predict just exactly how it might play out. But given escalating conflict in Eastern Ukraine, we do not envision an easy or quick end to the conflict.
2014-05-21 Are Corporate Balance Sheets Really That Liquid? Debunking the "Cash Mountain" Myth by Team of GaveKal Capital
We frequently read about the "cash mountain" that has piled up on corporate balance sheets since the global financial crisis. In many cases the level of cash is given as evidence that the the non-financial corporate sector is stronger now than ever before.
2014-05-16 Concerned Optimism by Scott Brown of Raymond James
In her congressional testimony, Fed Chair Janet Yellen chose her words carefully. She indicated that if the economic outlook evolves as anticipated (growth picks up, the labor market tightens, and inflation moves toward the Feds 2% goal), then the Feds asset purchase program (QE3) will likely end in the fourth quarter. However, she refused to be pinned down on when the Fed would begin raising short-term interest rates. Global concerns and the housing sector will bear close observation.
2014-05-16 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Strike up the band! The Dow is now in positive territory for the year AND even set a record close. Who would have thunk that after the dismal January and the pessimism that reigned from the winter? The recovery continued as earnings season offered more surprises and the economic numbers show a country moving beyond the thaw of winter. Now if only China (Europe and Russia) could follow suit.
2014-05-15 Inequality Disaster Prevention by Robert Shiller of Project Syndicate
Thomas Pikettys impressive and much-discussed book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has brought considerable attention to the problem of rising economic inequality. But it is not strong on solutions.
2014-05-15 Thoughts on Investing in Convertible Securities by Alan Muschott of Franklin Templeton Investments
Changes and potential changes in monetary policy across the globe, along with increased volatility in currency and equity markets, have thrown a spotlight on convertible securities, described by some as offering the best of both worlds in terms of stock and bond characteristics. But what are they, how do they work, and how can they play a part in a diversified investment portfolio in todays market? Alan Muschott, portfolio manager for Franklin Convertible Securities Fund, who has been investing in convertible securities for more than a decade, provides his take.
2014-05-13 The Bull Market Isn’t Over. It’s Changing. by Sponsored Content by OppenheimerFunds (Article)
Markets, especially in the developed world, have hit new highs. However, a rising economic tide will no longer lift all boats to the extent it once did. Find out why Chief Economist Jerry Webman believes the winners are likely to be organic revenue generators, efficiency vendors and innovators.
2014-05-13 Equity Markets Remain Mixed as Fundamentals Slowly Improve by Robert Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
U.S. equities finished mixed last week as the Dow Jones Industrial Average was the only major index to end in positive territory. The overall macro narrative appears favorable despite the lack of market direction. Scrutiny of beaten-down momentum stocks resurfaced, although broader market spillover remained muted.
2014-05-09 Thoughts on Investing in Convertible Securities by Alan Muschott of Franklin Templeton Investments
Changes and potential changes in monetary policy across the globe, along with increased volatility in currency and equity markets, have thrown a spotlight on convertible securities, described by some as offering the best of both worlds in terms of stock and bond characteristics. But what are they, how do they work, and how can they play a part in a diversified investment portfolio in todays market? Alan Muschott, portfolio manager for Franklin Convertible Securities Fund, who has been investing in convertible securities for more than a decade, provides his take.
2014-05-06 The U.S. Economy Reached a Turning Point in April by Robert Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
U.S. equities finished higher last week with the S&P 500 advancing nearly 1.0%. Positive sentiment has been supported by growing traction for the economic recovery, key economic data and corporate commentary. Although the upbeat dynamics were mentioned in the latest FOMC statement, policy normalization expectations have not changed. Another widely discussed tailwind was M&A headlines. Although tensions continue in Ukraine, geopolitical risks were mostly on the back burner.
2014-04-30 Valuing Legends by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management
Some time ago a sportswriter asked legendary quarterback Johnny Unitas what he thought he was worth relative to the enormous salaries being paid to today's best quarterbacks. Unitas said, "Maybe about $750,000." The sportswriter was incredulous and said, " Mr. Unitas, the top quarterbacks today make several million dollars a year." To which Unitas replied, "Well, you have to understand, I'm 75 years old." I love that story. It tells you so much about one of the greatest players in NFL history, but it also serves as a reminder that the process of valuation is far from an exact science.
2014-04-25 A Creative Approach to Revitalize South Korea?s Economy by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments
South Korea has been an exciting country to follow since Templeton started investing in emerging markets in 1987. The country represents one of the great success stories of the modern age, rising from extreme poverty at the end of the Korean War to become an affluent, democratic and highly technologically advanced country. However, we believe recent years have seen signs that the methods and structures that gave rise to the years of dramatic economic progress have started to lose their effectiveness.
2014-04-24 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
After a week of panic, investors focused on the positives and went bargain hunting throughout. Thus far, earnings are not as bad as expected; Chinas woes could mean new stimulus; labor and manufacturing seem to be in full fledge thaw. Hope the holiday season brings more good news.
2014-04-22 Unloved Emerging Markets May Hold Value for Opportunistic Bond Investors by Kathleen Gaffney of Eaton Vance
· Emerging markets have come under pressure over the past year due to the Federal Reserve tapering its asset purchases and increased expectations of higher interest rates in the U.S. · We think investors should consider emerging markets to find opportunities that may provide a yield advantage and diversification away from U.S. interest-rate risk. · A multisector approach that uses bottom-up, fundamental credit analysis may be helpful in finding opportunities in emerging markets.
2014-04-14 Economic Insight: Fed Policy Goes Back to the Future by Thomas Luster of Eaton Vance
We fully expected the strength the economy showed in late 2013 to carry over into 2014; however, that simply was not the case. Instead, we saw weaker-than-expected economic data across a wide range of economic indicators. Not surprisingly, interest rates fell modestly during the quarter rather than continuing their trend higher from last year, while U.S. stocks (as measured by the S&P 500) reacted similarly ? barely advancing after a 32% gain in 2013.
2014-04-10 Shale Reserves Are No Shell Game by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management
Since the times of Ancient Greece, ?The Shell Game? has been a confidence trick used to convince bystanders into believing they have a legitimate shot at guessing correctly and doubling their bet. We are currently in one of the more transformational periods of energy consumption, distribution and discovery seen in some time. The technology of extracting once undiscovered pools of energy is reverberating throughout economies and potentially causing tectonic shifting of political structures.
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.
2014-03-31 Will Jobs Benefit From a Spring Thaw? by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
The upcoming jobs report, a bellwether for the health of the US economy, could reveal that the harsh winter has created a coiled spring in the labor market, writes Kristina Hooper.
2014-03-29 Are You Being Advised or Sold To? by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research
Independent advisors come in all shapes and sizes the ones who get it treat the client as a teammate, not an opponent, and see their role as being the clients advocate, representative, and interpreter, within an increasingly complex investment world. Shortcuts and overkill by Wall Street ?rms increase the chance of the clients later feeling fooled, and feeling like a fool. Independent ?rms will continue to be the winners in that battle for the clients affections because they are far less likely to allow that to happen.
2014-03-28 Johnson Controls: Back To Consistency? by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs
Johnson Controls (JCI) traces its roots back to an interesting bit of history. One hundred and thirty-one years ago, Warren Johnson was a professor in Whitewater, Wisconsin. It was here that he invented and installed the first electric tele-thermoscope ? known today as the thermostat ? in his classrooms. The invention served a dual purpose: it kept his students more comfortable and put an end to the hourly interruptions from the janitor checking the rooms? temperature. Of course we can?t confirm this, but it would be our guess that Professor Warren was a regular student favorite.
2014-03-27 Real Estate Alpha Hides in Smaller Neighborhoods by Eric Franco of AllianceBernstein
After a spectacular five-year run, global real estate stocks look headed for a period of more normal returns. We think winning in this space will require a more discriminating eye?and venturing into the often neglected nooks and crannies of the smaller-cap real estate world.
2014-03-26 Unleashing Africa?s Potential by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton
Many investors who have never traveled in Africa probably have preconceived ideas about it, perhaps as a land of safaris and political strife, rich in coveted natural resources that have failed to bring widespread wealth and development to the continent. Many also might not realize how diverse the landscape, the economies and the people are on the continent, which boasts more than 1,000 languages spoken in more than 50 countries and climates ranging from hot deserts and tropical rainforests to frozen glaciers.
2014-03-24 Stocks Rise as Economic Backdrop Slowly Improves by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
U.S. equities finished higher last week, with the S&P 500 increasing 1.4%. Ukraine seemed to be receding in investors? minds. Despite the volatility and sharp increase in bond yields on Wednesday, the hawkish takeaways from the FOMC meeting were not a lingering overhang.
2014-03-21 The Global Economy?s Tale Risks by Robert Shiller of Project Syndicate
Fluctuations in the world?s economies are largely due to the stories we hear and tell about them. In Japan, "Abenomics" has created a powerful narrative of positive change, whereas the stories being told in other advanced countries are far scarier.
2014-03-18 Can the Fed Fend Off the Ides of March? by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
Mid-March hasn?t been associated with much good luck in Europe historically. And with Ukraine mired in conflict, this year?s no different. But investors should resist the urge to react to geopolitical uncertainty and expect steady guidance from the Fed.
2014-03-17 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Remember when tiny Greece was a market mover? Well, now its tiny Crimea. With the growing global tensions and concerns about Crimeas secession from the Ukraine to Russia, investors chose to take a week off (for the most part) and take some equity profits, while moving back into the safe haven of treasuries. With little news on the domestic economic calendar, investors looked abroad and didnt care much for what they saw in China. (Still, the yuan must be better than the ruble these days.)
2014-03-12 High and Sustainable Profitability by William Smead of Smead Capital Management
To understand our third criteria for selecting stocks, you need to imagine athletes who have found the fountain of youth. Consider this: Robinson Cano has been one of the most consistently successful baseball players over the last ten years, and the Seattle Mariners just signed Cano to a 10-year contract for $240 million. Companies, however, don't have ten to twenty-year careers, because the average company in the S&P 500 Index lasts 50 years.
2014-03-10 With Fed in Charge, 5-Year Bull Run Poised to Continue by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
The Federal Reserve?s loose monetary policy and gradual improvement in the economy are two big reasons the stock market can keep moving higher, says Kristina Hooper. Will it be reflected in this week?s consumer sentiment and spending data?
2014-03-04 A Century of Policy Mistakes by Niels Jensen of Absolute Return Partners
A century ago Argentina ranked as one of the wealthiest countries in world. Today it is a shadow of its former self. A long string of policy errors explain the long slide from riches to rags. Europe, like Argentina 100 years ago, is facing enormous challenges - as well as potential pitfalls - and the management of those challenges will define the welfare path for many years to come. Unfortunately, the early signs are not good. Our political leaders, afraid to face public condemnation, have so far chosen to ignore them.
2014-03-03 Casting a Wide Asset Net in a Volatile Sea by Ed Perks of Franklin Templeton
It?s fair to say that investors will likely never be fully comfortable with market volatility. But actively managing the inevitable bumps that accompany equity investments, even in bull markets, can help make the ride a little less harrowing, according to Ed Perks, executive vice president and director of Portfolio Management, Franklin Equity Group. He explains how understanding the fundamental dynamics behind market selloffs is key to uncovering potential opportunities in the face of a rough market ride.
2014-02-28 Is an Avalanche Waiting to Hit the U.S. Stock Market? (The Slippery Slope of Stupidity) by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services
The U.S. economy as we know it is headed for a huge correction. The only questions remaining are when will it start and what will be the trigger that starts the cascade? Financial and economic implosion is always a slow and stealthy process that grows over time behind the scenes.
2014-02-28 Bounce Back by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen & Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
US stocks have bounced and the markets still attractive and in the midst of a secular bull market. But there are likely to be bumps along the way; notably given that this is a midterm election year; which are known for first-half pullbacks. A diversified portfolio is important and both European and Chinese stocks appear to have upside, while Japan continues to frustrate with a two-steps forward, two-steps back sort of approach. And a final reminder not to replace fixed income assets with equities in search of higher income without recognizing the risk profile of a portfolio has changed.
2014-02-25 Alternative Energy Brief by Edward Guinness of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management
This month we provide our Outlook for the Alternative Energy sector in 2014.
2014-02-20 February Flash Update by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group
It's too early to mean much, but so far out 2014 forecast is falling nicely into place. The market highs on Dec 31st have held, bonds are outperforming stocks, gold is outperforming both stocks and bonds, while gold mining shares are soaring! The anticipated volatility in emerging markets and Japan as well as the wild card of the Chinese economy continue to unfold, while bad weather has postponed the evidence of strong 2014 US growth.
2014-02-20 The Fed: Yellen's Tapering Tightrope by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
In reducing quantitative easing, the Federal Reserve chairwoman faces a big challenge: preventing asset bubbles at home without pressuring developing economies.
2014-02-18 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital
The new thinking amongst market analysts is that one must respond to every news flash, every short-term nuance, any variable that creates a daily ripple in prices or attitude, or risk having your portfolio drift in obscurity and underperformance. The new "keeping up with the Jones" demands that we stay tuned to business news programming 24/7 to see if were conforming to expectations.
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.
2014-02-10 Growth and Policy Uncertainty Cause Choppy Markets by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
U.S. equities closed with modest gains last week, as the S&P 500 overcame Monday?s decline, the largest one-day percentage loss since June 2013. The weaker-than-expected ISM manufacturing and vehicle sales data drive the sell-off on Monday, exacerbating the focus on slowing momentum for the U.S. recovery. The impact of adverse weather complicates the picture. Also, although January non-farm payroll missed expectations, there were more upbeat indications for the household survey.
2014-02-10 Two Reasons for Value to Outperform in 2014 by Will Nasgovitz of Heartland Advisors
Weve seen the longest period of growth outperformance since 1932, but the two catalysts could cause value to return to favor. First, tapering by the Fed should allow interest rates to normalize and thereby benefit the Financials sector. Second, theres potential for a correction in the Consumer Discretionary sector, which appears overvalued: The groups P/E is above the historical average and performance has tracked upward despite flat earnings revisions.
2014-02-08 International Equity Commentary - December 2013 by Team of Thomas White International
International equity prices saw marginal gains in December as investors weighed the improved global economic outlook against the reduction in monetary stimulus from the U.S. Federal Reserve. Economic trends have become more positive across most regions, helped by the improving business environment and consumer sentiment in the U.S. as well as in Europe. Japan continues to see stronger export gains as demand revives in its major markets and the cheaper yen remain supportive.
2014-02-06 Stagnation by Design by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate
The difficulties that many rich countries now face are not the result of the inexorable laws of economics, to which people simply must adjust, as they would to a natural disaster. On the contrary, the decline in most households income over the past three decades, particularly in the US, is the result of flawed policies.
2014-02-05 Emerging Market Turmoil Creates January Decline by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
U.S. equities finished lower last week, as the S&P 500 ended January with the first monthly loss since August 2013 and the largest monthly decline since May 2012. A global retreat from risk has been sparked by unrest around the world, sell-offs in emerging markets led by a 20% decline in the Argentine peso, weaker than expected economic reports from China, U.S. economic growth concerns in light of frigid temperatures and anxiety over Fed tapering.
2014-02-05 2014 Market Outlook by Kevin Mahn of Hennion & Walsh
Some Bumps along the Road of Global Recovery
2014-02-05 The Importance of Taking a Long-Term Perspective by Jeffrey Knight of Columbia Management
For asset allocation decisions, we find great value in maintaining a long-term outlook for major asset classes. Twice a year, in fact, we conduct an extensive update of our five-year return forecasts for several asset classes. The purpose of this exercise is two-fold. First, taking a longer term perspective helps us to set strategic asset allocations and design portfolios for diverse investment goals.
2014-02-01 Central Banker Throwdown by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The Federal Reserve is signaling that it is going to end quantitative easing at some point in the future; therefore, investors are trying to find the exits before the end actually comes.
2014-01-30 The Path to Becoming an Emerging Market by Henry D'Auria, Morgan Harting of AllianceBernstein
Why have some equity markets in the developing world flourished more than others? Its a pivotal question for investors hoping to stake an early claim to the potential emerging-market (EM) success stories of the next decade.
2014-01-29 Watching the Polar Bear by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
With temperatures hovering around zero and wind chills in the negative teens, I cant think of any better label for Fridays stock market sell off than a "polar bear". Here in Michigan at the Detroit Zoo, one of the nations finest, we have a rather unique polar bear exhibit. Visitors to the zoo can actually walk through tunnels interspersed throughout the polar bear environment created in the exhibit. At one point you are underneath the big furry creatures as they swim about. It is a beautiful sight.
2014-01-28 Harvard’s Post-Crisis Endowment Strategy by Justin Kermond (Article)
Jane Mendillo took the helm as CEO and president of Harvard Management Company (HMC) in 2008, after the endowment suffered a devastating $10 billion loss, which depleted its worth by more than 27%. Under her leadership, HMC has emerged from the crisis with innovative changes in its policies and processes regarding asset allocation and risk management of alternative assets.
2014-01-28 Emerging Market Issues Weigh on U.S. Equities by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
U.S. equities finished lower last week as the S&P 500 declined 2.6% and suffered the largest weekly pullback since June of 2012. U.S. stocks are down approximately 3.0% both year to date and from all-time highs. In 2014, lack of direction in the market has been a focus, and the waning influence of macroeconomic news caused a notable shift late last week.
2014-01-28 Commodities In 2014: Supply Remains A Concern by Doug Ramsey of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management
If a reacceleration of EM demand for raw materials were imminent, one would think the MSCI BRIC Index would be the first to sniff it out. Yet that index remains among the poorest performing market composites in the world. Still, commodity demand will eventually right itself. Our worry is supply. Capital spending levels remain elevated, and are far above the levels seen just over a decade ago-on the eve of Chinas great commercial and residential construction boom. Commodity producers didnt anticipate that boom, which is precisely why it was so powerful.
2014-01-23 Economic Growth is Likely to Improve in 2014 by Derek Hamilton of Ivy Investment Management Company
We believe a global economic upturn is likely in 2014, although the overall growth rate will remain sluggish. We think developed countries will show the largest improvement, which in turn will help support growth rates in emerging markets.
2014-01-21 Achieving Escape Velocity by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate
While the prospect of faster global GDP growth in 2014 is good news, it is too early to celebrate. Indeed, there is a risk that, by tempting policymakers into complacency, this years economic upturn could even end up being counterproductive.
2014-01-21 Digging for Natural Resource Opportunities in 2014 by Frederick Fromm, Stephen Land, Matthew Adams of Franklin Templeton
The natural resources sector has been through a period of transition in the past year, one which has pushed many companies toward cost reduction and greater capital discipline amid an environment of rather sluggish global economic growth. Franklin Equity Group Analysts Fred Fromm, Stephen Land and Matthew Adams think an improving economic outlook could set the stage for potentially stronger commodity demand going forward, and see healthy potential demand growth for energy in particular. They share their outlook for the natural resources sector in 2014, and where they are finding opportunities.
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.
2014-01-17 Digging for Natural Resource Opportunities in 2014 by Frederick Fromm, Stephen Land, Matthew Adams of Franklin Templeton
The natural resources sector has been through a period of transition in the past year, one which has pushed many companies toward cost reduction and greater capital discipline amid an environment of rather sluggish global economic growth. Franklin Equity Group Analysts Fred Fromm, Stephen Land and Matthew Adams think an improving economic outlook could set the stage for potentially stronger commodity demand going forward, and see healthy potential demand growth for energy in particular. They share their outlook for the natural resources sector in 2014, and where they are finding opportunities.
2014-01-17 Continuing a Winning Formula for 2014 by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
In any competition, sports or investment management, there are lessons to learn to improve and better results.
2014-01-16 A Flight to Quality by Ben Fischer of Allianz Global Investors
CIO NFJ Ben Fischer delivers his 2014 outlook, focusing on the Feds tapering of its bond-buying program and how high-quality, dividend-paying stocks should respond.
2014-01-15 The Haves and the Have Nots by Scott Migliori of Allianz Global Investors
CIO Equity US Scott Miglioris 2014 outlook calls for moderate growth, an accommodative Fed and a stock-pickers market, favoring areas of the economy that are insensitive to growth.
2014-01-15 Investment Insights from a Road Warrior by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
As part of our investment process, we often take the explicit knowledge learned from our statistical models and overlay them with global travel.
2014-01-13 Stocks Rise Modestly in First Full Week of Trading by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
U.S. equities finished mostly higher for the first full week of the year, with the S&P 500 gaining approximately 0.6%. There were no meaningful directional drivers behind the price action, which is a dynamic that has been prevalent so far in 2014.
2014-01-09 The Year Ahead - 2014 by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company
In the spirit of year-end prognostication, heres my annual review of secular trends and historic behaviors that are likely to influence key markets in 2014.
2014-01-08 Rehab World by Niall Ferguson of Project Syndicate
The late English chanteuse Amy Winehouse sang, "They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said No, no, no." Perhaps 2013 should be known as the year of Winehouse economics, with the singers being the worlds most important central banks, led by the Federal Reserve.
2014-01-08 When the QE Tide Recedes, Focus on What is Revealed by Robert McConnaughey of Columbia Management
While there is fierce debate on the ultimate effectiveness of monetary stimulus surging from the central banks, one cannot dispute the boost that it has given to asset prices. While we may be seeing some "green shoots" of overall growth pick-up in the developed world, the post-crisis recovery in asset values has not been primarily driven by economic or earnings growth. Instead, we have been in a high correlation environment where the rising tide lifted most diversified investor boats as repressed "risk-free" rates pushed money out into riskier asset classes.
2014-01-07 The World of Thinking Machines by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
The New York Times recently published an article that discussed a new version of a computer chip that will be released later this year that is expected to automate tasks that currently require direct programming. In this report, we will open with an examination of the philosophy of learning. We will then discuss the potential dangers of such machines, including the ability to perform humanlike actions without a moral sense. We will also examine the potential economic and social side effects. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.
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.
2014-01-02 The World Economy's Shifting Challenges by George Soros of Project Syndicate
As 2013 comes to a close, efforts to revive growth in the worlds most influential economies are exerting competing pressures on the global economy. Perhaps not surprisingly, while Europe and the US will continue to play an important global role, developments in Asia will determine the worldwide outlook in 2014 and beyond.
2013-12-31 The 10 Most-Read Articles of 2013 by Various (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...
2013-12-31 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to Michael Edesess article, How Much Should We Pay to Emit Carbon?, which appeared last week.
2013-12-31 Tech Bubble Circa 1999, or Something Different? by J.P. Scandalios of Franklin Templeton
Technology sector stocks have been investor favorites in 2013, pushing the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index to its highest level since 1999 and drawing comparisons to the "dot com" bubble which burst soon thereafter. Will we see a redux of the tech bust in 2014? John P. Scandalios doesnt think so. Investor fever for anything "dot com" in the late 1990s was built more on promise than actual results.
2013-12-26 A Strong Finish for 2013 by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
For our weekly subscribers, we wanted to take an opportunity to look back on the year. We began 2013 with an outlook for the prospect of improvement for the global economy and risk assets. We thought global policymakers unprecedented attempts to reflate global growth would show some signs of bearing fruit, especially in the United States and China. In our forecast, equity markets would continue to be choppy in light of the fiscal cliff issues, but an inevitable political compromise would reduce the economic drag.
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?
2013-12-24 Fed Taper Brings Us Back to the Future by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
A return to normal economic conditions is now more palpable following the Feds decision to start unwinding QE and early signs of a revival in consumer spending, growth and jobs, writes Kristina Hooper.
2013-12-23 Risk Assets Take Fed Taper Announcement in Stride by Roger Bayston of Franklin Templeton
The US Federal Reserve (Fed) delivered an early holiday surprise to some market participants, announcing at its December 18 policy meeting it would start slowing its asset purchase program known as quantitative easing in January. For some thoughts on what this may mean for the markets in the new year, we turned just after the announcement to Roger Bayston. He believes the markets should be able to take the Feds tapering in 2014 in stride, although investors should prepare for the proposition of higher Treasury yields.
2013-12-21 What Has QE Wrought? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Now that we have begun tapering, we will soon see lots of analysis about whether QE has been effective. What will the stock market do? The US economy seems to be moving in the right direction, but the Fed has forecast Nirvana (seriously) - do we dare hope they can finally get a forecast right? Or have they jinxed us?
2013-12-18 Three Investments that Could Return to Favor in 2014 by Jeffrey Knight of Columbia Management
When investors lose confidence in an asset class, especially one that had been popular enough to attract outsized allocations, subsequent rebalancing generally leads to prolonged periods of underperformance. Technology stocks after 1999, for example, underperformed the S&P 500 in eight of the next 10 years and by a cumulative total of more than 40 percentage points. Today, many believe that interest rate sensitive bonds might have just begun a similar era of waning investor confidence, portfolio reallocation and underperformance.
2013-12-17 5 Takeaways from the Mini-Budget Deal by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
The bi-partisan budget agreement inked last week has real implications for investors, including its impact on consumers, the stock market and the Fed, writes Kristina Hooper.
2013-12-12 Payment Industry - Follow the Money by Team of Baird Investment Management
The substantial growth in credit and debit card usage is a multi-decade trend driven by increased global consumer activity and a shift in behavior to less transactions completed by cash or check. As the buzz of the holiday season takes hold, consumers wouldnt think twice about leaving home with just a debit or credit card in hand. The simple act of a purchase followed by swiping a plastic card occurs a staggering several hundred million times each day, with a step up in activity during the holiday season.
2013-12-12 Looking Back 40 Years, What Can We Learn About This Current Corporate Debt Market? by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management
I recently wrote a blog post detailing the potential opportunity in municipals as it has historically rebounded after a negative total return. Accordingly, I have been asked if this pattern was representative in the investment grade corporate arena.
2013-12-11 What Will 2014 Bring for The Equity Markets? by Marco Pirondini of Pioneer Investments
As the year draws to a close, investors are searching for clues as to what may be in store for the economy and markets in 2014. What have we learned from the markets in the month of November? Honestly, not very much. The scenario has not changed much in the last 30 days.
2013-12-10 Low Demand Will Depress Oil Prices by Patrick McVeigh (Article)
The U.S. - and indeed, the world as a whole - is approaching the threshold of peak oil demand, rather than peak supply. Prices will fall in the coming years, regardless of fluctuations in supply.
2013-12-09 America's Partisan Peril by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate
Many Americans started 2013 with high hopes that congressional leaders would overcome, even if only partly, the polarization and political dysfunction that had slowed recovery. But optimism foundered over the course of 2013, while frustration soared.
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.
2013-12-04 What's the Problem With Advanced Economies? by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate
Is todays slow growth in advanced economies a continuation of long-term secular decline, or does it reflect the normal aftermath of a deep systemic financial crisis? Fortunately, we do not need to answer that question definitively in order to boost the pace of economic recovery.
2013-12-03 Why Does the U.S. Have High-Cost Low-Quality Healthcare? by Michael Edesess and Kwok L. Tsui (Article)
The U.S. has worse mortality rates than virtually all other developed nations, and yet it spends twice as much per capita on health care. How on earth has the U.S. racked up such an appallingly bad health-care record, and what is the solution? A recent edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association identified many of the problems but was not persuasive in prescribing a cure.
2013-12-03 Looking Out on the Horizon for Equities by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
U.S. equities finished higher for an eighth consecutive week as the S&P 500 increased 0.1%, representing the longest positive streak since 2004. Inertia may have carried markets forward in a relatively quiet trading week without major headlines. Retail news appeared fairly positive in anticipation of a strong start to the Thanksgiving shopping weekend. Economic data was mixed.
2013-11-28 Five Reasons Inflation Is Still Missing by Chun Wang of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management
Apart from a couple of market-oriented drivers that could reverse course on a short-term basis, we are not seeing convincing evidence of an imminent pick-up in inflation. Let us be clear. There is most definitely inflation in the financial markets, but that does not seem to benefit the average person in the U.S. The liquidity injected by various central banks went mostly into the financial markets first and foremost; only a small fraction of it trickled down to the average person. That is why all this money printing has not been reflected in various inflation measures.
2013-11-25 Solving the Income Puzzle by Christopher Remington, Michael Cirami, Kathleen Gaffney, Scott Page of Eaton Vance
Income needs may be as high as they’ve ever been, while the yield potential from many traditional investment classes has dwindled to generational lows. Investors who remain in high-priced, low-yielding core bond strategies could experience loss of principal (and mounting retirement shortfalls) if interest rates revert toward their mean. We advocate creating an integrated, multi-pronged income plan that may offer yield potential that meets investor needs, while managing key risks found in the typical core fixed-income allocation.
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.
2013-11-22 What is the Current Market Reality? by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments
At this years Global Investment Forum, the discussion among Pioneer investment professionals was generally positive. Of course, everyone was conscious of the current market reality: that the major force behind recent positive, though benign, market trends is the unprecedented creation of liquidity and extremely loose stance of monetary policies around the world. Monetary policy alone cannot be the only conduit to a new economic model of income growth and job creation.
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.
2013-11-19 A Glimpse of a Yellen-Led Fed by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
Kristina Hooper highlights some key takeaways from incoming Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellens testimony before the Senate last week, including when the Fed is likely to taper its bond-buying program.
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.
2013-11-14 In 20 Years, What Country Will Produce the Most Gold? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
A question like that is impossible to answer, of course, due to mining difficulties, diminishing resources, and changing government policies and regulations that help or hinder a countrys ability to mine, farm or drill efficiently.
2013-11-14 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Here in the United States, we had local and regional elections last Tuesday. Several of the ballot initiatives, and many of the candidates, addressed what has commonly been phrased as the inequality gap. To be sure, in an ideal world, everyone has access to, and participation in, the bounty that this country has to offer. From sea to shining sea we do have a plentitude of idea-makers and resources available.
2013-11-12 The Bomb Shelter Portfolio: Maximum Income with the Least Risk by Geoff Considine (Article)
Conservative investors are faced with unappealing choices. They can reduce risk and accept low yields and high exposure to rising rates, or they can push the bounds of their risk tolerance to increase yield. My analysis shows a way out of this predicament: a “bomb shelter” portfolio of ETFs, which offers attractive yield with minimal volatility and exposure to rising rates.
2013-11-12 Markets Vacillate Between Stronger Economy and Fed Accommodation by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
U.S. equities finished mostly higher last week as the S&P 500 increased 0.6%, ending higher for the fifth straight week. The return of central bank action was a primary concern. The European Central Bank (ECB) surprised investors with a 0.25% rate cut, while the debate over the Federal Reserves impending tapering decision continued in earnest.
2013-11-05 The Key Issues in Today’s Muni Bond Market by Hildy Richelson and Stan Richelson (Article)
Investing in high quality municipal bonds paying a predictable cash flow and returning your principal at the end of the investment is a well-trodden system for lifetime economic success. In this article we discuss some key issues in purchasing municipal bonds to help you make wise choices for your investing system.
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.
2013-11-01 Risk Management: An Ounce of Prevention by Seth Masters, Daniel Loewy, Martin Atkin of AllianceBernstein
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But if the sickness is excessive portfolio volatility, prevention can entail more than one step.
2013-10-30 Getting Back into Value Equities by Kevin Simms of AllianceBernstein
It finally feels like a great time to be a value investor again. After several challenging years, market conditions have become much more conducive to finding undervalued, controversial stocks with long-term payoff potential. Even after this years equity-market rally, we think the value rebound is just beginning.
2013-10-29 Defining the EM Corporate Bond Opportunity by Sponsored Content from Loomis Sayles (Article)
Finance is a numbers business. Investors study prices, yields, rates of return. However, when it comes to sizing up emerging markets, we think they should also pay attention to semantics. In the past, terming a country “emerging” made it synonymous with low credit quality and higher risk. But today, many emerging markets boast strong credit profiles while parts of the developed world buckle under heavy debt loads.
2013-10-28 Beyond the Noise, More of the Same? by Scott Brown of Raymond James
Delayed economic data reports have begun to arrive. The figures point to a disappointing 3Q13 (relative to expectations) and the partial government shutdown is unlikely to help in 4Q13. The recovery had been poised for improvement this year, but fiscal policy has been a major headwind. Economic figures will be distorted in October (due to the government shutdown) and in November (due to the rebound from the shutdown). Yet, beyond the noise, the underlying pace of growth is likely to remain disappointing in the near term. Is there hope for 2014?
2013-10-26 A Code Red World by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The heart of this week’s letter is the introduction of my just-released new book, Code Red. It is my own take (along with co-author Jonathan Tepper) on the problems that have grown out of an unrelenting assault on monetary norms by central banks around the world.
2013-10-26 Why U.S. Dollar Will Remain World's Reserve Currency, Despite Political Brinkmanship by Tatjana Michel of Charles Schwab
The U.S. dollar is not likely to lose its premier world reserve-currency status anytime soon. But continuing U.S. political brinkmanship could drive foreign countries into other currencies faster. With the market focus shifting to monetary policy and growth, we expect a Fed taper delay to give foreign currencies some time to recover.
2013-10-23 Investment Bulletin: Global Equity Strategy by Team of Bedlam Asset Management
The portfolio enjoyed another index-beating month with a gain of 0.9% versus 0.6%, so improving further the long term numbers. As noted in previous Bulletins, correlations between growth and equity market returns are low. Investors remain fixated otherwise, but some confusion is reasonable given that growth in earnings per share is also slowing. Yet strong equity markets can be justified by the Free Lunch Theory.
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.
2013-10-22 Rolling Returns: A Better Way to Measure Performance by Sponsored Content from The Royce Funds (Article)
Though calendar-year returns are among the more common measurements of a portfolio’s performance, rolling returns arguably offer a more compelling story. They provide a particularly robust analytical tool for evaluating manager performance, especially during volatile periods.
2013-10-22 Washington Strikes a No-Surprise Deal - Now What? by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments
Congress called a time-out in the budget/debt fight last week, striking a deal to avoid default and fund the U.S. government through January 15, 2014 and raise the debt limit through February 7, 2014. While the parties agreed to budget talks, they did not commit to reaching an agreement (technically, Paul Ryan and Patty Murray, the House and Senate budget committee chairs will begin a process of fiscal negotiations, due to wrap up by mid-December).
2013-10-22 How Many Monkeys Does it Take to Find a Successful Strategy? by Michael Edesess and Kwok L. Tsui (Article)
Give a monkey enough darts and she will eventually hit the bulls-eye on a dartboard. We wouldn’t dare consider that monkey an expert dart thrower, but investment professionals have been using essentially that same logic to assert that their strategies ? often called “smart betas” ? will outperform the market. New research exposes the faulty mathematics upon which such claims are based.
2013-10-21 Fourth Quarter Investment Outlook by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
The macro theme of the fourth quarter and early 2014 is monetary reflation and global growth resynchronization. The Feds surprising decision to postpone tapering its QE program will likely encourage further risk-taking. In the meantime, we observe increasing signs of a synchronized improvement among the four important economies - the United States, Europe, Japan and China.
2013-10-21 Europe Turning a Corner? by Brandon Odenath of J.P. Morgan Funds
Since late last year, investors have seen periods of strong outperformance by assets from the most impacted parts of Europe, leaving many observers wondering if Europe is turning a corner. Intervention by the ECB and the ability of those liquidity injections to stop the bleeding in the economy has helped. The reduction of austerity and drag coming from fiscal policy should be the key to faster economic growth.
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?”
2013-10-15 A Q3 client letter: Mike Tyson on Sticking to Your Plan by Dan Richards (Article)
Each quarter I post a template for a client letter, as a starting point for advisors who want to send clients an overview of the three months that just ended and the outlook for the period ahead.
2013-10-15 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Readers respond to Robert Huebscher’s article, The Futility of the Endowment Model, which appeared last week.
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.
2013-10-08 Listen to the 10th Man by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
Theres no shortage of short-term risks in todays market or conventional wisdom on how they will play out. But prepping for the unexpected could limit the number of surprises and better insulate investors portfolios, writes Kristina Hooper.
2013-10-04 Government Shutdown and Beyond by Team of Neuberger Berman
After months of eerie quiet in Washington, DC, fiscal conflicts have taken center stage, most prominently with the October 1 "shutdown" of U.S. government services. Markets are nervously watching if Congress can move past current wrangling to create a workable budget while navigating both the debt ceiling and shutdown-related fallout. In this issue of Strategic Spotlight, we consider how the budget debates could play out and the implications for investors.
2013-10-02 And That's The Week That Was by Rob Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Move over Ben BernankeTed Cruz has the floor. (Somehow investors seem more interested when Dr. B speaks.) With politicos facing debates on debt ceilings and budget funding, few have confidence that they can act reasonably and with compromise (and the Cruz debacle did not help matters). Stocks fell over five consecutive days as portfolio managers set up positions for the next quarter. Labor and manufacturing releases highlight a hectic week on the economic calendar, but shenanigans from DC may steal the headlines.
2013-10-01 The Eight Principles of Value Investing by Scott Clemons and Michael Kim (Article)
In any environment, but especially one characterized by uncertainty, eight principles of investing are critical. These bedrock beliefs help guide our thinking at the levels of asset allocation, security selection and identification of the third-party managers we engage to help manage our clients’ assets.
2013-09-28 The Renminbi: Soon to Be a Reserve Currency? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Contrary to the thinking of fretful dollar skeptics, my firm belief is that the US dollar is going to become even stronger and will at some point actually deserve to be the reserve currency of choice rather than merely the prettiest girl in the ugly contest the last currency standing, so to speak. But whether the Chinese RMB will become a reserve currency is an entirely different question.
2013-09-27 Read My Lips... by Dimitri Balatsos of Tesseract Partners
Chairman Ben Bernankes press conference this week, commenting on the decision by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) not to taper, reminded us of the famous slogan of Presidential hopeful George H.W. Bush at the 1988 Republican National Convention Read my lips: no new taxes. Yet, after he won the election, he raised taxes in an effort to reduce the public deficit.
2013-09-25 More Than a Sugar High by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors
The recent decision by the Fed to delay any tapering may be a preview of what to expect by a Yellen Fed. As the Fed appeared to remove virtually every yardstick or goal post that they have provided recently, one thing is certain, they seem determined to keep the accelerator nailed to the floor as they drive the economy at full speed. According to Cornerstone Macro, based on the Feds move, it appears increasingly likely that growth is more likely to reaccelerate.
2013-09-24 William Bernstein ? “Stocks for the Long Run” by Michael Edesess (Article)
William Bernstein’s reading of history is that if you want to build a nest egg and protect against the “four horsemen” that threaten it over the long term, the best thing to do is invest in a globally diversified stock portfolio.
2013-09-23 America's Labor Market by the Numbers by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate
Net monthly job creation in the US was up in August, while unemployment was down. But, to get a real sense of the American labor markets health, we need to look at other indicators, and what these numbers have to tell us about both the present and the future is far from reassuring.
2013-09-23 Post Fed, Expect More Surprises by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
Kristina Hooper says investors should brace for more big market swingsand some fiscal curveballsin the wake of the FOMCs decision not to taper in September. But the economy is throwing some good surprises our way too.
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.
2013-09-20 Will Europe's Improving Economy Push Interest Rates Higher by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased in the second quarter after six straight declines. Data expectations were on the optimistic side, but investors appeared to become more confident before the release, thanks to encouraging evidence from supposedly reliable forward-looking indicators.
2013-09-20 Companies Can Do More to Unlock Shareholder Value by Kurt Feuerman of AllianceBernstein
As the global recession and financial crisis move further back in the rearview mirror, companies have been more proactive about using their balance sheets in ways that enhance shareholder value. But we think they can do a lot more.
2013-09-18 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Depending upon where you reside, or on which side of the issues you fall, it was a good week last week. We averted a military strike on Syria by the U.S., at least temporarily; we had reasonable adjustments to economic growth statistics; and most made some money in their portfolios. While cyclical dynamics are relatively benign, the broader secular outlook continues to build a solid foundation for recovery.
2013-09-17 Where, Oh Where, is Ferdinand Pecora? by Martin Weil (Article)
Five years later, one would like to think that the fundamental conditions that led us to the precipice in 2008 have been corrected. One might presume that the individuals and companies who gamed a largely unsupervised bazaar of counterparty debt and derivatives for their own benefits have been charged and convicted. One would be wrong on both counts.
2013-09-17 How One Advisor Attracts HNW Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Recently, a California-based advisor explained how she shifted her practice to focus on affluent clients. Her success was the result of a simple but thoughtful five-step plan.
2013-09-17 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to Joe Tomlinson’s article, A New Tool to Calculate Long-Term Care Needs, which appeared last week.
2013-09-17 Investing for Real People by Sponsored content by Oppenheimer Funds (Article)
Investor goals are the same, but solutions have changed. Today, aiming to meet basic needs requires new solutions. Laser focus on investor goals will help uncover appropriate investment opportunities. Expanding the opportunity set beyond the usual suspects will be critical to long-term success.
2013-09-17 The Upside of Low Expectations by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
The stock market has benefited from a pessimistic outlook recentlyand so could the consumer, writes Kristina Hooper.
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.
2013-09-10 The Party's Over. Why Own Commodities? by Jon Ruff, Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein
Commodity prices soared during the first decade of this century. But now the partys over: new sources of supply are coming on line just as demand from China is slowing, leading to expectations of price declines. So should investors shun commodity-related investments?
2013-09-09 The Shape of Things to Come by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
With a week to go before the September FOMC meeting, theres little that stands in the way of Fed tapering. Fridays jobs report didnt impress but it probably wasnt bad enough to stop central bankers from pulling some punch, writes Kristina Hooper.
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.
2013-08-28 On Tapering, All Signs Point to “Maybe” by Scott Brown of Raymond James
Investors looking to the July 30-31 Fed policy meeting minutes for clear clues on future moves were left disappointed. Nearly all senior Fed officials expect that a reduction in the pace of asset sales is likely to be warranted by the end of the year. However, they appear evenly divided on whether that will be sooner (September) or later (December). The economic data remained mixed, suggesting that the decision will be a close call.
2013-08-27 The Price Clients Pay for Worst-Case Forecasts by Bob Veres (Article)
Clients and the world at large give inordinate attention to downside scenarios, and nobody is calling our attention to the much larger upside of our business and investment landscape. The human brain amplifies this effect, because it is hardwired to notice threats much more than opportunities. I recently spoke with Dennis Stearns ? an advisor who happens to be an expert in scenario planning ? about the role planners need to play to counteract media-driven negativity.
2013-08-26 The Case for More Mortgage QE by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
Disappointing new home sales dont mean that tapering is less likely to occur in September. Rather, it may only mean that when tapering begins, the Feds likely to start small and only trim Treasuries.
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.
2013-08-19 What's the Point of Investing in Dreams? by Vadim Zlotnikov of AllianceBernstein
Is innovation dead or are we on the cusp of new technological revolutions? Without resolving this epic debate, we believe that market conditions today are conducive to investing in companies with disruptive potential, but it takes a sober approach to find big dreams that can deliver big returns.
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?
2013-08-13 So Now What? by Scott Brown of Raymond James
What did we learn last week? The Fed may not be in any hurry to begin reducing the rate of asset purchases. The economic data suggest a mixed picture.
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
2013-08-08 Dcf Vs. Multiples by Kurt Havnaer of Jensen Investment Management
Valuing a stock is arguably one of the investment managers most difficult tasks. A variety of tools and methodologies exist to value equities, and the assumptions used in those are estimates of future unknowns. According to Aswath Damodaran, a valuation expert and finance professor at New York University, multiples are the most common method used by investors to value stocks.
2013-08-08 Coming Soon: September Volatility by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Since spiking earlier this summer, market volatility is now back to spring lows. Investors, however, shouldnt expect this calm to continue come September. Russ has four reasons why.
2013-08-06 The Changing of the Monetary Guard by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate
With leadership transitions at many central banks under way, many of those who were partly responsible for creating the global crisis that erupted in 2008 are departing to mixed reviews. The main question now is the extent to which those reviews influence their successors behavior.
2013-08-06 Equities Grind Higher as the Economy Continues to Muddle Through by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
U.S. equities advanced last week, with the S&P 500 increasing 1.10%.1 For the month of July, the S&P gained 5.09%, and equities have increased 21.33% year to date. Second quarter earnings season is nearly complete, and there has not been a material change in estimated earnings for the balance of the year or 2014. Revenues were slightly ahead of expectations, and earnings per share were approximately 3% higher than expected, annualizing at about $110 per S&P 500 share.
2013-08-02 Stock Forecast: Positive With a Chance of Rally? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
The S&P 500 Index closed the month of July with a 4.9 percent gain. What does this increase mean for the next few weeks and following three months? Research suggests markets continue to rally.
2013-08-02 3 Reasons Silver Is Not the Same As Gold by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Many investors who remain cautious on gold wonder whether they should get their precious metal exposure through silver instead. In response, Russ explains why the two metals arent interchangeable.
2013-08-01 July 2013 Market Commentary by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management
Fixed income investors have enjoyed a steady move higher in bond prices over the past five years. Given the consistency with which bond values have increased, it is understandable if bond investors were surprised by the just over 0.60%, or 60 basis point rise in ten year Treasury yields and corresponding movement down in bond prices during the second quarter.
2013-07-30 The Power of Diversification and Safe Withdrawal Rates by Geoff Considine (Article)
When Bill Bengen published his seminal research in 1994, a 4% safe withdrawal rate (SWR) was clearly attainable with a variety of asset allocations. But bond yields are lower now than they were then, and equity returns for the next 20 years are unlikely to exceed those of the prior two decades. Indeed, a new paper by three highly respected researchers showed that SWRs for stock-bond portfolios are well below 4%. But as I will demonstrate, a 4% SWR is still possible with a more diversified portfolio ? and without subjecting clients to additional risk.
2013-07-30 Leuthold's Chun Wang on 10-year Rates by Chun Wang of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management
So now the question is how high can it go? Just like every other market, bond yields tend to overshoot, and we think 3% is the upper bound in the short-term. However, we believe it will settle back closer to 250 bps by the end of the year.
2013-07-26 Wedding Bells in Romania by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments
I was invited to attend the wedding of one of our Romanian staff in June, and I jumped at the opportunity to celebrate with the happy couple, visit a different part of Romania, and talk to locals about life there. The celebration represented a microcosm of the juxtaposition of old and new in Romania, and this is similar for investors there as progress continues toward market reform.
2013-07-24 Earnings Acceleration Likely Needed for Next Upturn in Stocks by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
U.S. equities finished mostly higher last week. For a fourth straight week, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrials were up (returning 0.73% and 0.57% respectively for the week), while the NASDAQ underperformed at -0.34%. It was a busy start for second quarter earnings. More than 70% of the 100 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings have beaten consensus earnings per share expectations by approximately 3% in aggregate.
2013-07-22 What the *&%! Just Happened? by Ben Inker of GMO
In a new quarterly letter to GMOs institutional clients, head of asset allocation Ben Inker highlights the period from May 22 to June 24 characterized by "the universality of the declines" across asset classes.
2013-07-19 Is Inflation Really Gone Forever? by Jon Ruff of AllianceBernstein
Recent movements in asset prices suggest that markets have forsaken any possibility of an inflation outbreak in the next decade. We believe that view is far too sanguine.
2013-07-19 Fixed Income Fed Insight: It's All About Employment by Christopher Molumphy of Franklin Templeton Investments
We can try to guess what the Fed is thinking, but ultimately the Fed is driven by inflation and the labor markets. With inflation seemingly under control, its really the labor markets that dominate. So if you want to know what the Feds going to be doing, look at the labor markets how many jobs we create each month and, most importantly, the unemployment rate.
2013-07-19 Opportunity in Europe by Team of Neuberger Berman
A striking feature of this years global stock market rally is that international markets have significantly trailed U.S. stocks. Nevertheless, Neuberger Bermans Asset Allocation Committee (AAC) recently made the contrarian call of upgrading its view for international developed markets, particularly Europe. In this Strategic Spotlight, we provide an update on the European economy and lay out some reasons for optimism despite the dour growth outlook.
2013-07-18 What's Next for the U.S. Dollar? by Nic Pifer of Columbia Management
Global government bonds have performed poorly so far this year. Year to date through July 13, the Barclays Global Treasury Index, which covers 30 investment grade domestic government bond markets, is down 5.5% in unhedged U.S. dollar terms. The same index hedged back to U.S. dollars is down 0.6% year to date. This difference in returns highlights a key point.
2013-07-17 China's Curbs on Bank Lending: Implications for the World Economy? by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments
Banks are by far the top-weighted sector group in China, so theres little chance for the broad market to buck the trend. Indeed the problem is sector-specific at first glance. Policy makers want to curb excess bank lending in an effort to make the industry better managed and more selective.
2013-07-17 The Bernanke Guessing Game by David Wismer of Flexible Plan Investments
There can be little doubt that US equity markets have become more dependent than ever, at least in the short-term, on the every utterance of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his fellow FOMC members.
2013-07-17 Bubbles Forever by Robert Shiller of Project Syndicate
In 2006, the largest global real-estate bubble in history imploded, and the collapse of a major worldwide stock-market bubble a year later triggered the global financial crisis. Although one might think that we have been living in a "post-bubble" world since then, talk of new bubbles keeps reappearing.
2013-07-16 Triangulating a Truer Course Through Emerging Markets by Tassos Stassopoulos of AllianceBernstein
Where can you find a car market which will double in size in the next five years? Brazil and Russia might be obvious places to look, but would you have expected Chile, Colombia, Ukraine and Vietnam? Picking the next big themes in emerging consumer markets is even harder than in the well-researched developed world. To get a better handle, we think, requires a triangular approach.
2013-07-16 Arc of a Diver: The Budget Deficit's Plunge by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
The budget deficit has been cut by more than halffrom over 10% of GDP to less than 5% today. June saw a budget surplus! The health of the private sector (given its deleveraging since 2007) more than offsets the drag from public sector deleveraging.
2013-07-15 Mid-Year Outlook: Waiting to Move Beyond a Muddle-Through Economy by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
By focusing on current economic conditions while giving due importance to the uncertainty created by Fed actions we offer thoughts for consideration in evaluating risk-on investments.
2013-07-15 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
After weeks of naysaying and fear-mongering about the Fed, investors finally embraced news from Bernanke and friends and equities moved back into record-setting territory. While most accept the fact that the Fed has entered the beginning-of-the-end of its bond-buying stimuli, the minutes from the latest policy meeting and a few comforting comments from Dr. B. himself helped calm the masses that the program would not end yesterday.
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.
2013-07-11 The Taper by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors
If SNLs Emily Litella worked on Wall Street, shed probably be asking Whats all this hubbub about the Feds tapir? After all, its a fine animal that never hurt anyone on Wall Street. It would then be pointed out to her that the word was taper and not tapir. She would politely end her commentary with her famous Never mind.
2013-07-10 3 Risks that Could Derail the Market Rally by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Stocks can withstand moderate rate increases, as we saw last Friday when they rallied despite a sell-off in bonds. But Russ K warns that they may not withstand these three other scenarios.
2013-07-09 Retirement Portfolios: Fears over Rising Rates are Overblown by Joe Tomlinson (Article)
The second quarter saw increases in interest rates, losses in every category of bonds and investors abandoning fixed-income markets. The distress has been particularly acute among retirement investors who considered bond funds to be safe. But are fears of bond losses overblown? I will make the case that the rise in interest rates is actually good for retirement portfolios. To see this, one has to look beyond the quarterly statement losses and focus on overall retirement outcomes.
2013-07-09 ENERGY MLPs: A Suitable and Sustainable Asset Class by Sponsored Content from ClearBridge Investments (Article)
Greater capitalization. More liquidity. The energy MLP market has grown steadily, with good reason: our constant demand for energy. While oil prices go up and down, volume has stayed consistent. Production is increasing. And the infrastructure is needed to support it. Add some risk, and you’ve got an investment which could fit in a diversified portfolio.
2013-07-02 Gundlach’s One-Word Explanation for June’s Decline by Robert Huebscher (Article)
According to Doubleline’s Jeffrey Gundlach, a single word explains the declines global capital markets experienced in June.
2013-07-02 Avoiding the Interest Rate Freight Train with Individual Bonds by Stephen J. Huxley, Jeremy Fletcher and Brent Burns (Article)
For bond funds, rising rates mean that total return has to fight losses on the underlying portfolio. As a fund’s net asset value (NAV) declines, coupon interest may not be enough to overcome the price loss. Making the same fixed-income allocation to high-quality individual bonds instead and holding them to maturity is a superior strategy when rates rise.
2013-06-27 Turmoil Shouldn't Derail Turkey by Carlos von Hardenberg of Franklin Templeton Investments
In 2012, Turkeys stock market rose more than 50%, posting one of the strongest performances of any global equity market last year. However, recent news of protests sweeping the nation has started scaring off some investors, at least in the short term. We consider turmoil to often be a natural part of change and development, and these short-term political disturbances likely wont be the last. Ive invited my colleague Carlos von Hardenberg, Managing Director, Turkey, based in Istanbul, to share some local insight.
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.
2013-06-25 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
All markets came under pressure last week (and this morning) over the dual concerns of a slowing global economy coupled with the Federal Reserves suggestion that things are improving and thus tapering might start by the end of the year.
2013-06-25 Rates, Dividends and The Laws of Gravity by Don Taylor of Franklin Templeton Investments
The laws of gravity may dictate that what goes up must come down, but interest rates seem to have their own converse course of action what goes down eventually will go up. Although it seems like interest rates can stay stuck in low gear for years, (decades even, in the case of Japan) eventually they will creep higher, and talk is heating up about the timing and magnitude of such creep in the US. As the portfolio manager of Franklin Rising Dividends Fund, Don Taylor was quick to comment that higher interest rates dont mean all dividend-paying stocks are doomed.
2013-06-24 The Case for Rotating into (Select) Cyclical Sectors by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Although defensive sectors are back to outperforming cyclical sectors amid Junes market volatility, Russ still believes theres a strong case for preferring cyclicals or at least select cyclicals
2013-06-21 Outlook for the Global Bond Market by Nic Pifer of Columbia Management
The global economy continues to expand, but seems stuck on a moderate, below-trend trajectory. Lately, the story seems to be more about a growth rotation across regions than a clear-cut acceleration or deceleration at the global level. Looking to 2014, however, we still expect the global economy to accelerate to a more trend-like pace.
2013-06-21 Un-Addiction by Jeremy Boynton of Laureate Wealth Management
It appears that the Un-Addiction process has begun. This marks a significant shift for the world of investments. Volatility is on the rise. Interest rates are rising / normalizing. In such a fragile economy, it seems prudent to consider that the risks of economic recession are somewhat higher, even if they are still not the base case. As always, please feel free to contact me with any thoughts or questions.
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.
2013-06-14 A Move Away from Defense by Ted Baszler of Heartland Advisors
It may seem a little counterintuitive, but as stocks have rallied to new highs since 2009, defensive sectors have led the way. This outperformance has been reflected in the relatively high forward price/earnings multiples among staid sectors like Utilities, Health Care, Telecom, and Consumer Staples.
2013-06-12 Silver Lining: Fed's Tapering Signals Stronger Economy by Eric Takaha of Franklin Templeton Investments
The Federal Reserves warning that it planned to scale back purchases of Treasuries sparked a storm on Wall Street, bringing instability to what had been a pleasant May in the US markets. Almost lost in the noise, however, is a silver lining: the Fed thinks the economy may be healthy enough to fly on its own.
2013-06-11 Bursting the Bond Bubble Babble by Andy Martin (Article)
Interest rates will eventually go up. The 50-basis-point spike in May on the 10-year Treasury bond may have been the beginning. But despite industry and media assertions, history shows that there is nothing to fear from rising rates.
2013-06-11 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
The last few weeks have seen volatility emerge as concerns about the Feds policy of quantitative easing and the timing of changing it have taken center stage.
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 Vincent Reinhart on Debt and Growth in the U.S. and Japan by Robert Huebscher (Article)
High debt levels translate to slower growth, according to Vincent Reinhart. That conclusion will be disheartening to those who jumped on the errors several University of Massachusetts scholars found last month in Carmen Reinhart (Vincent’s wife) and Ken Rogoff’s research. But Vincent Reinhart is the author, along with his wife and Rogoff, of a study published in 2012 that documented the degree to which high debt-to-GDP levels correlate with slower economic growth in developed countries.
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.
2013-06-04 Stocks: How Long Will the Bull Run? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Conditions appear favorable for the next 12 to 24 months. What could change the markets prospects in the longer term? Heres a look.
2013-06-01 After the Gold Rush by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate
The run-up in gold prices in recent years from $800 per ounce in early 2009 to above $1,900 in the fall of 2011 had all the features of a bubble. And now, like all asset-price surges that are divorced from the fundamentals of supply and demand, the gold bubble is deflating.
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.
2013-05-29 Outlook on the Japanese Equity Market by Team of Nomura Asset Management
The Nikkei Stock Average closed 128 points higher, or 0.9%, to close the week at 14,612 following the dramatic 7.3% sell-off on Thursday, May 23, 2013. The Tokyo Stock Price Index (TOPIX) also added 6 points, or 0.5%, to 1,194, following a 6.9% sell-off on Thursday, May 23rd.
2013-05-28 Economic Climate Change & the Long-Term View on Yields by Sponsored Content from Loomis Sayles (Article)
Will rates rise? It’s a logical question. US Treasury yields have been in a secular downward trend since the 1980s and almost frozen at historic lows for the last several months. While recent cyclical improvements suggest the US economy is heating up, we do not expect interest rates to start soaring to record highs. The interest rate environment will eventually undergo climate change, but the process will be gradual. There are secular headwinds cooling rates, and we expect them to persist for years to come.
2013-05-28 Taking Stock by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
U.S. and global equities were under pressure last week, with all major U.S. indices lower for only the fourth time this year. With discussion of the Fed tapering its stimulus, market uncertainty gained momentum. The S&P 500 was down 1.0% for the week.1 We consider the market pullback technical in nature since the mention of a Fed quantitative easing exit likely created a natural point to take profits after the recent rally.
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.
2013-05-22 When Will the U.S. Economy Stop Slowing Down and Start Speeding Up? by Marco Pirondini of Pioneer Investments
As earnings data from companies comes trickling in, it all but confirms a slowdown in the second quarter.
2013-05-22 Is Japan's Economic Rebound For Real? by Daisuke Nomoto of Columbia Management
The two phrases Abenomics and the BOJs Shock and Awe Monetary Easing are all over the headlines about Japan. Prime Minister Abe unveiled his economic policy late last year calling for a 3% annual nominal gross domestic product (GDP) growth target and an aggressive monetary easing by the BOJ (The Bank of Japan) to achieve 2% inflation. The BOJ unleashed the worlds most intense burst of monetary stimulus last month promising to double the monetary base to 270 trillion yen ($2.7 trillion) by the end of 2014 to defeat deflation.
2013-05-21 Five Tips for Winning in the “Trust and Value” Economy by Meridith Elliott Powell (Article)
In this our economy, the consumer is in control. What advisors sell is a luxury, and an advisor’s competitive advantage is how he or she sells it. Success depends on your ability to build and expand relationships in what I call the “trust and value” economy.
2013-05-21 DC Plan Sponsors Should Look Further than Their Own Backyard by Alison Martier, Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein
US defined contribution (DC) plan sponsors large and small are seeking ways to help plan participants achieve better outcomes. Over the last 30 years, compelling evidence has accumulated that suggests currency-hedged global bonds may be an important part of the solution.
2013-05-21 Putting Cash to Work: 3 Ways to Enter the Market Today by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
With global equities up more than 25% since their bottom last June, many investors are wondering: Is it too late to move cash from the sidelines to stocks? No, says Russ, and he offers three ideas for where find value today.
2013-05-20 Bernanke's JEC Testimony by Scott Brown of Raymond James
On Wednesday, May 22, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will testify on The Economic Outlook. The next monetary policy meeting is four weeks away, but Bernanke is likely to provide a preview of what will be discussed at that time specifically, on the issue of when to begin reducing the rate of asset purchases. The short answer may be it depends.
2013-05-17 4 Reasons to Still Hold High Yield by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
With high yield spreads historically tight and prices at all-time highs, some market watchers are wondering whether its time to jump off the high-yield bandwagon. Russ weighs in and explains why this asset class is still worth holding.
2013-05-15 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Fiscal Cliff. Sequester. Different names for similar budgetary issues that both basically resulted in games of Congressional kick the can. Now in a stroke of luck for non-compromising politicos, the budget deficit is shrinking as higher payroll taxes and paybacks from previously bailed out entities (thanks Fan) have enhanced government revenues since the beginning of the year.
2013-05-15 How to Take Advantage of the Great (Sector) Rotation by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
The real Great Rotation may just be a shift to cyclical sectors from defensive ones rather than a move to bonds from stocks. Russ explains and offers 3 ways to play this rotation.
2013-05-14 Mohamed El-Erian: The Three-Speed Global Economy by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The global economy is operating at three distinct speeds, according to Mohamed El-Erian, and investors need to understand the implications of the divergent paths that key countries are following. Japan and most European countries are going backward, he said, and could continue in that direction for decades. The U.S. is “healing,” but not quickly enough to get to “escape velocity.” Certain emerging markets, meanwhile, are adapting technology and innovation and are growing rapidly.
2013-05-14 Inflation Update by Team of North Peak Asset Management
Basing investment decisions on inaccurate measurements of the inflation rate can result in investors unknowingly positioning their portfolios to lose purchasing power over time. This mis-measurement could be especially dangerous when yields are low. For example, evaluating a nominal 3% investment opportunity using an inaccurate 2% inflation rate indicates a marginally attractive 1% real return opportunity. However, if inflation is actually running at 5%, this becomes a deeply unattractive negative 2% real return investment.
2013-05-09 Equity Market Distortions Create Big Payback Potential by Joseph Paul, Kevin Simms of AllianceBernstein
Even after this years equities rally, market imbalances created by the financial crisis in 2008 have not disappeared. When these distortions unwind, we expect deep value stocks to rapidly recover.
2013-05-07 On Trees and Forests by Guy Cumbie (Article)
A reader responds to Robert Huebschers article, The New Challenges to Reinhart and Rogoff, which appeared last week.
2013-04-30 Implementing Behavioral Portfolio Management by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)
Behavioral portfolio management is based on the notion that if the advisor can redirect his or her emotions and mitigate the impact of client emotions, it is possible to build superior portfolios by harnessing market emotions. This article describes how this can be done and presents evidence of the superiority of focusing on investor behavior when constructing and managing portfolios.
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.
2013-04-30 The U.S. Economy A Gain in GDP? by Marie Schofield of Columbia Management
The advance estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis last Friday showed that the U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.5% in the first quarter, below expectations of an increase of 3.0%. Despite the decent first quarter advance, year-over-year gains in nominal and real GDP are largely unchanged from the prior quarter at 3.4% and 1.8%, respectively. While growth rates at this slow pace in these measures have typically heralded recessions, they appear stable but also underscore a critical problemthe failure to generate escape velocity.
2013-04-30 Beyond Gold: 4 Reasons to Think Energy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
While the sell-off in gold has dominated headlines lately, another commodity oil has also experienced price declines in recent months. But despite crudes drop, Russ is still a fan of energy stocks for four reasons.
2013-04-26 The Sustainability of U.S. Interest Rates Rising by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments
Investors are growing concerned, with good reason, we think, that yields have bottomed for the 10-year Treasury and will surge as the economy gains strength. Prices, which move inversely to yields, would fall, and the question is whether rising rates in 2013 could trigger a bond bear market along the lines of the Great Bond Bear Market of 1994. We dont think so.
2013-04-26 Why Demographics Will Keep the U.S. Ahead by Randall McLaughlin of Baird Investment Management
The aging of the developed world does give us some powerful information about which industries might do well in the future. The increased use of healthcare services as a population ages is well-documented. In addition, as people age, they transition from accumulating possessions to using their wealth to buy experiences. Travel companies are examples of companies that could benefit. The favorable demographic profile of the United States supports our manufacturing renaissance thesis as companies tend to want to locate manufacturing close to the end client.
2013-04-25 Murkier Prospects for Merkel by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
An anxious German electorate may make it harder for the chancellor to continue her pro-cooperation approach to Europes fiscal crisis.
2013-04-23 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to Michael Edesess’ article, Will Germany Lead the World’s Energy Revolution?, and a reader responds to Robert Huebscher’s article, Michael Pettis - Can China Save Itself?, both of which appeared last week.
2013-04-22 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
The deadly bombings in Boston last week, along with a spate of senseless killings in Newtown and Aurora, should highlight for those consumed by economics and financial market statistics the fragility of life and a sense of perspective about helping those in need at their darkest hour. How noble that on the day of the U.S. equity markets most damaging point collapse in years, our focus was on Boston and not on our wallets or portfolios.
2013-04-22 Commodity Declines and Weak Data Startle Investors by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
U.S. equities declined last week as the S&P 500 fell by more than 2.0%, which came on the heels of a new all-time high the prior week. Led by gold, commodities experienced volatility and declined over the past two weeks. Other detractors included disappointing first quarter Chinese economic numbers and somewhat softer U.S. releases.
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.
2013-04-19 Global Economic Overview - March 2013 by Team of Thomas White International
Global economic trends turned softer during the month of March as indicators from Europe showed further declines and U.S. consumer sentiment moderated on labor market uncertainties, government spending cuts, and tax increases. Continuing weakness in European demand has somewhat dulled the export outlook for emerging economies, while government policies to prevent excessive asset price inflation have led to concerns about domestic consumption growth in these countries.
2013-04-18 After Boston: Why the US Market is Vulnerable by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
The events in Boston were a tragic reminder that markets still face risks from terrorism and geopolitics. In fact, the US market is especially vulnerable to such exogenous shocks right now given that there isnt much bad news discounted into prices.
2013-04-18 Inflation and Interest Rates by Scott Brown of Raymond James
The Federal Reserve began its first asset purchase program in the fall of 2008, during the depth of the financial panic. Some observers feared that the Feds actions would fuel higher inflation. However, the Fed is now well along in its third asset purchase program and inflation (as measured by the PCE Price Index) has remained low. In fact, Fed officials expect that inflation will trend at or below the 2% target for the next couple of years. That hasnt stopped the inflation worrywarts from predicting that inflation is still just around the corner.
2013-04-16 Will Germany Lead the World’s Energy Revolution? by Michael Edesess (Article)
Germany’s energy plans lie between Scylla and Charybdis: fossil fuel-generated carbon dioxide emissions on the one hand and potentially catastrophic nuclear energy on the other. With strong motivation to avoid both, Germany has been left with only one alternative. The direction of energy policy in the U.S. ? and the rest of the world ? may rest on whether Germany succeeds in its ambitious plan to embrace renewable sources.
2013-04-11 Patton, the Pope, and Skylar by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management
In the powerful opening scene to the movie, "Patton," the famous general stands before his troops and boldly states, "Americans love a winner, and will not tolerate a loser." Its hard not to stand a little straighter when you hear a line like that. We do like to think about ourselves as the greatest country in the world. Certainly in economic terms the United States has accomplished more than any other civilization known to man.
2013-04-10 Economic Slowdown Halts Equity Rally by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
The latest softness in economic indicators probably means that more consolidation in the equity markets is required before we can advance beyond the recent all-time highs. During March, nearly all of the activity for the S&P 500 was within 1% of 1550. Equities may move lower due to deteriorating technical conditions and the possibility of weak first quarter earnings reports.
2013-04-10 Surprising Surge!! by Jim Tillar, Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup
Momentum from 2012s surprisingly strong performance continued into the first quarter of 2013 with stocks rising sharply. Our portfolios did well but lagged behind our benchmarks in the quarter. Taking a little longer view, over the trailing 12 and 36 months we mostly matched the double-digit gains of our benchmarks, which we are very pleased with since we usually underperform during strong market advances. So far this year small- & mid-capitalization, value, and domestic stocks were the market leaders, while international, growth, commodity stocks and Apple were laggards.
2013-04-10 The Global Growth Quest by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate
The last few years have highlighted the declining potency of long-standing growth models. Moreover, the search for more robust growth models will take much longer and be more complicated than many recognize especially as the world economy pivots away from unfettered globalization and high levels of leverage.
2013-04-05 What's Next for U.S. and European Markets? by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments
I was asked recently to provide some color around the state of global fixed income markets as we close out the first quarter of 2013. Of course, one of the more watched situations in the global markets has been Cypruss banking crisis. I wont go into too much depth on the subject here, as my colleague, Cosimo Marasciulo, has recently provided a comprehensive analysis.
2013-04-02 Bernanke’s Motives Behind Quantitative Easing by Paul Franchi (Article)
We are at a turning point: away from one global monetary standard, to a yet-to-be-determined new form.
2013-04-02 A Q1 Letter to Clients: Why Warren Buffett is Bullish on Stocks by Dan Richards (Article)
Since 2008, I have posted templates to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients an overview of the year that just ended and the outlook for the period ahead. This quarter’s letter draws on Warren Buffett’s most recent letter to shareholders, and why he is bullish on the US equity market.
2013-04-01 The Global Economy on the Fly by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate
In a fragile global environment, has America become a beacon of hope? While the US is experiencing several positive economic trends, Europe continues to stagnate, and China will be vulnerable to a hard landing in 2014 unless its new leaders accelerate the pace of reform.
2013-04-01 The Discipline of Buy and Sell Decisions by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments
The thought of giving up a once-treasured possession can be an emotional exercise for anyone, even if the object of affection has outlived its use. As investors, we can find it difficult to sell a once-favored holding even more difficult than the decision to purchase it. But sometimes, you just have to let go.
2013-03-28 2 Factors Keeping a Lid on Interest Rates by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Investors have been expecting interest rates to rise, but with the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond back below 2%, Russ explains two structural factors that are slowing the rate rise.
2013-03-27 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Even after a global market surge that virtually wiped away the four year bear market, equities still seem to be the best game in town. Corporate and individual investors are flocking back to a haven they had abandoned in favor of bonds when, in an era long ago, yields and credit rating offered them a secure place to park money.
2013-03-22 ING Fixed Income Perspectives March 2013 by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management
Developed sovereigns are still broadly unattractive, but global central banks appear poised to ease. We prefer EM currencies that will continue to benefit from positive global growth and tolerate further upward pressure on the U.S.
2013-03-22 US Stocks: Third Times the Charm by Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein
At 1550, the S&P 500 has regained the peak it reached in March of 2000 (when the tech bubble burst) and again in October of 2007 (before the credit crunch hit). But we think the third times the charm: We think the stock market still has room to rise because equities are now more attractively valued and of higher quality than they were at previous peaks.
2013-03-21 Global Markets Time Factor by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate
In recent months, the dichotomy between booming financial markets and sluggish economies (and dysfunctional politics) has loomed large. The critical element of time and who controls it could well mean the difference between an orderly global resolution of todays ongoing financial problems and a return to serious trouble.
2013-03-19 Putting GMO’s Ideas to Work: Protected Leveraged Investing by Geoff Considine (Article)
Fears of market overvaluation lead many advisors to seek to protect against downside movements while retaining as much upside potential as possible. Recent research from GMO illustrates a low-cost way to accomplish this: decreasing equity exposure and concentrating that allocation in high-beta securities.
2013-03-19 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
Stocks had a very quiet week with volumes reaching levels that one associates with holiday trading.
2013-03-18 And That’s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Move over Dow Jones, here comes the S&P. What few thought possible a year ago is coming to fruition as the major indexes continue to push toward record territory. The S&P 500 is close (but no cigar) to besting its personal high set in late 2007, before this whole banking mess emerged and sent equities into a tailspin. Confident investors seemed to be overlooking the numerous concerns (budget/sequester, payroll taxes, Europe, China) so they can participate in the record run.
2013-03-13 Feared Copper "Flood" More Likely a Trickle by Jon Ruff of AllianceBernstein
Investors have turned bearish on commodities, particularly in the case of copper, where recent talk of a looming surge in new supply has sparked fears of a price rout. Were skeptical about the copper supply-glut story and dont think whats happening in copper is a "canary in the coal mine" for the rest of the metals markets.
2013-03-13 Dow--Then and Now by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is making record highs, knocking the 2007 peak off its pedestal, but investors arent celebrating.
2013-03-12 America?s Criminal Crony Capitalism by Michael Edesess (Article)
Charles Ferguson believes that every prosecutorial tool at our disposal should be used to indict, fine severely, and imprison those whose transgressions contributed to the recent financial crisis ? not just their companies, but the executives as individuals.
2013-03-12 Bill Ackman on What Makes a Great Investment by John Heins (Article)
In addition to commenting on his high-profile current investments, Pershing Square Capital's Bill Ackman in a recent interview with Value Investor Insight describes the general company traits he looks for in both active and passive investments, why a high public profile is an important element of his strategy, whether his thesis on J.C. Penney has evolved, what lessons he's learned from a few prominent mistakes, and why his short conviction on Herbalife is as high as ever.
2013-03-12 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
Stocks rose each day last week as the notion of a ho-hum global economy was reassuring to those who fear either a recession or a surge in economic activity.
2013-03-07 US Manufacturing Restores Competitive Vigor by Joseph Carson of AllianceBernstein
The US manufacturing sector has repeatedly figured out how to reinvent itself when faced with competitive threats. In recent years, American companies have become much leaner, regaining an edge in global markets that should lead to a bigger role in economic growth.
2013-03-05 Global Equities Update by Alex Crooke, Head of Global Equity Income (Article)
Henderson's Stephen Peak provides an update on recent developments in Europe and touches on the key issues that are influencing market behavior.
2013-03-05 No Rest for the Wicked by Scott Brown of Raymond James
With headwinds fading, the U.S. economic recovery appeared poised to pick up more substantially in 2013. Unfortunately, fiscal policy is going in the wrong direction.
2013-03-01 Seeking a Fixed Income Fix by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments
While governments worldwide continue to struggle with debt and budget issues, for the most part, corporations have turned lemons into lemonade and have become lean and mean. While not without risk, corporate credit actually looks to be in fairly good shape, according to Eric Takaha who, as senior vice president and portfolio manager of Franklin Strategic Income Fund spends a good deal of time analyzing the space.
2013-02-27 "Abenomics" & the Weakening YenToo Far, Too Fast by Chun Wang of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management
Japan's new Prime Minster Shinzo Abe made more of an impact on the market than anyone else last month. In what the market has dubbed "Abenomics," Abe not only launched a new fiscal stimulus, but also pushed the Bank of Japan to raise its inflation target from 1% to 2% AND agree to a new open-ended QE program. The reluctance on the BoJ's part is clearly visible because the new open-ended QE will not start until 2014 and there is no commitment to asset purchases after 2014. Shortly afterwards, the BoJ governor said he would step down, a clear sign of disagreement.
2013-02-25 We Expect High-Yield Defaults to Remain Low by Jeff Skoglund of AllianceBernstein
High-yield bond defaults are historically low today, even for troubled companies. Despite the worries we hear in some corners about looming high-yield defaults, we think default rates will stay low for at least the next few years. In the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown, US companies did the responsible thing and got leaner, reducing head count and overhead costs aggressively. When the recovery gained traction, they held the line on expensesand profit margins are at historic highs today.
2013-02-21 Fed Must Tune in to Changing US Economy by Joseph Carson of AllianceBernstein
With each passing month, more questions are being asked about the sluggish US economic recovery. Why has growth been subdued since the recession ended in mid-2009? What's changed in the economy? How long can loose monetary policies persist before promoting more inflation or creating a new bubble?
2013-02-20 Two New Country Views for a Two-Speed Global Economy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
The global economy is stuck in a two-speed regime: Developed markets like Europe, Japan and the United States are stalling, while China is re-accelerating. Russ explains what this divergent growth landscape means for his country outlooks.
2013-02-19 Alan Greenspan on the Market and the Global Economy by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
During his six-decade-long career in financial services, Alan Greenspan was a central figure in seminal events that drove investment markets, from the savings-and-loan crisis to the dot-com bubble to the housing crisis. Now, nearing 87, he rarely speaks in public. But he did so last week, offering his forecasts for the U.S. and European economies.
2013-02-19 All is Not Well Down Under by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Though Russ continues to like Australian equities for the longer term, he explains why he may downgrade his near-term view of the Australian market soon.
2013-02-19 On Competitive Devaluations by Scott Brown of Raymond James
Aggressive monetary policy moves in recent years have been accompanied by a growing fear of a currency war. In a currency war, or competitive devaluation, countries attempt to weaken their currencies to boost exports, but each devaluation leads to counter devaluations. That's not what's going on now. However, whether a country is purposely devaluing its currency or is merely pursuing accommodative monetary policy is irrelevant, the consequences are the same. The recent meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bankers highlights the lack of coherent policies to boost growth.
2013-02-13 January Retail Sales: Why Stocks May Be Vulnerable by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
When the Commerce Department releases the headline January retail sales number on Wednesday, economists expect to see a big drop from December. Russ explains why the number could come in even lower and the implications for investors.
2013-02-12 The Best Tool You?ve Never Heard Of by Bob Veres (Article)
What's the most useful tool for your advisory practice that you've probably never heard about? I nominate an online service that fills in the blanks in your client asset management system.
2013-02-11 After ATRA, Tax Management Gains Importance by Daniel Eagan, Paul Robertson of AllianceBernstein
The US tax reform just enacted has made effective tax management of portfolios far more valuable for some investors. The old rules of thumb never really worked, but their shortcomings will now cost investors more.
2013-02-11 When to Worry About Inflation by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Though the Fed continues to flood the US economy with money, Russ explains why inflation isn't likely to be a problem until 2014 and what investors can do in the meantime to prepare.
2013-02-11 Stocks: Why "Risk On" Rules by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Investors appear to believe the equity market will muddle through its many challenges.
2013-02-11 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
For many months I have been commenting that the critical element most lacking from our rebound in economic development has been "consumer confidence." Wouldn't it be nice if we could not only quantify confidence but also to define it, accurately? After all, something so nebulous as one's opinion about something, also has the power to shape behavior and consequences for a myriad of financial and economic events. Besides, one man's opinion might not be shared by a multiplicity of others
2013-02-08 Golden State Gets Upgrade by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
The turbulent clouds that settled upon California's bond market are beginning to dissipate, as the state's general obligation debt was recently upgraded to 'A' by Standards & Poor's. It has been almost a year since the rating agency has had a sunny outlook on the Sunshine State, but a series of improving economic data and better fiscal position have been turning things around.
2013-02-08 Messing with the Bull by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital
With the announcement this week of its massive $5 billion lawsuit against ratings agency Standard & Poor's, the Federal Government took a bold step to squelch any remaining independence of thought or action in the financial services industry. Given the circumstances and timing of the suit, can there be any doubt that S&P is paying the price for the August 2011 removal of its AAA rating on U.S. Treasury debt?
2013-02-08 World War C: Neosho Capital On The Currency War by Chris Richey of Neosho Capital
This summer, Brad Pitt will star in a new film called "World War Z", an action-horror film about a post-zombie apocalypse Earth, hence the "Z" in the title. Zombie films are not our cup of tea at Neosho (we thought the genre was dead), so it is debatable whether we will see this film, but one thing is clear to us, we are perched on the precipice of "World War C", where "C" stands for "currency".
2013-02-07 Complacency in a Leaderless World by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate
In the last 25 years, we have moved from a world dominated by two superpowers to one dominated by one, and now to a leaderless, multi-polar world. While we may talk about the G-7, or G-8, or G-20, the more apt description is G-0. We will have to learn how to live, and thrive, in this new world.
2013-02-05 How Much Should the US Spend on Healthcare? by Michael Edesess (Article)
How much of GDP should be devoted to healthcare? And how high should the government-provided safety net be? Only after those questions are answered can the issue of how to change government policy be addressed ? if indeed it needs to be changed at all.
2013-02-05 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to Joe Tomlinson's article, Predicting Asset Class Returns: Recommendations for Financial Planners, which appeared last week, and another reader responds to Dan Richards' articles.
2013-02-05 The 2030 Outlook by Bill O'Grady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management
Over the next several weeks we will look into the more distant future, to the year 2030. We will explore the long-term strategic alternative world development scenarios as laid out by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) and present our views regarding the developments. The NIC forecasts the likely paths that are either currently underway or are forecast to occur in the future. The NIC projects four possible global political and economic states based on these expected trends.
2013-02-05 2012 Equity Market Market Year in Review by Natalie Trunow of Calvert Investment Management
Equities started the year strong as global inflation remained tame, and aggressive, accommodative monetary policy by central banks around the globe helped equity markets rally hard off their lows posted in the fall of 2011. Continuously improving U.S. economic data, strong corporate earnings, and policy steps toward mitigation of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe also provided support for the equity markets worldwide.
2013-01-31 Stability Still Matters as Investors Embrace Risk Again by Kent Hargis of AllianceBernstein
After years of chasing safety at all costs, investors are now reaching for opportunities in long-spurned riskier stocks. But they will still want to safeguard their portfolios against painful market swings in the future.
2013-01-30 EU Financial Tax Portends Loss of Market Leadership by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital
Although it was barely noticed by the American press, on January 22nd, EU finance ministers approved a new "Financial Transactions Tax" (FTT) that has implications for market competitiveness around the world.
2013-01-29 Investment Basics by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management
I've always been curious about how famous people would have done had they pursued completely different careers. Some of our former presidents make excellent examples. For instance, Abe Lincoln towered over his contemporaries. I wonder how he would have fared as a basketball player had the game existed during his life. Our heaviest president, William Howard Taft weighed well over 300 pounds. Had football risen to prominence a few decades earlier, could gridiron greatness have been part of his resume?
2013-01-24 Beggar Thy Currency Or Thy Self? by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate
One need not be an economist to figure out that, while all currencies can depreciate against something else (like gold, land, and other real assets), by definition they cannot all depreciate against each other. Yet, when push comes to shove, country after country is being dragged into a negative dynamic of competitive depreciation.
2013-01-23 Inflated Expectations? by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
Investors should prepare themselves for higher long-term inflation because the market may be ignoring it, a mistake that could come back to haunt. On the heels of encouraging economic data, central bankers are projecting only modest price increases for goods and services over the next 10 years. But history tells us that an inflation spike is inevitable when governments print money so aggressively. As such, investors with long-term time horizons should have substantial exposure to inflation-hedging asset classes. Now, more than ever, real returns matter.
2013-01-22 Dylan Grice: Witch Hunts, Inflation Fears, and Why I?m Bearish in 2013 by Michael Skocpol (Article)
For someone who started his remarks proposing to 'kill all the economists,' Dylan Grice can wax surprisingly sentimental, with a fresh, human take on monetary policy that leads him to some worrisome conclusions. Making a case for gold, cash, and other safe havens, Grice said the biggest threat to investors today is a problem that has plagued societies throughout history ? mistrust.
2013-01-22 The Economic Fundamentals of 2013 by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate
The global economy this year will exhibit some similarities with conditions prevailing in 2012 no surprise there. But there will be some important differences, as fiscal austerity spreads to more advanced economies, the risk of a hard landing in China rises, and the threat of war in the Middle East grows.
2013-01-22 Equities Set to Break Out of the Bear Trap by Catherine Wood of AllianceBernstein
In the face of significant uncertainties, US and global equities rallied in 2012 and at the start of the New Year. We think there might be more to come as stocks break out of the bear trap.
2013-01-22 Consumer Staples: Don't Overpay for Safety by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Many investors have flocked to the perceived safety of defensive sectors over the past few years, including consumer staples. But Russ gives three reasons they might want to think twice about the sector now.
2013-01-16 Obama Claims We Don't Have A Spending Problem by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
There's a lot to talk about this week. A lot of my contemporaries are offering their predictions for the New Year. But with our nation now over $16 trillion in debt and annual budget deficits over $1 trillion, I don't think there is any way to accurately predict what will happen this year. Another financial crisis could rear its ugly head just about any time.
2013-01-16 The Trillion Dollar Trick by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital
The birth, and the apparent death, of the trillion dollar platinum coin idea may one day be recalled as a mere footnote in the current debt crisis drama. The ultimate rejection of the idea (which was to use a loophole in commemorative coinage law to mint a platinum coin of any denomination) by both the President and the Federal Reserve seems to offer some relief that our economic policy is not being run by out-of-touch academics and irresponsible congressmen. In reality, our government has been creating more than one trillion dollars out of thin air every year for the past five.
2013-01-15 Gundlach?s Predictions for 2013 by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Don't expect the low volatility that characterized the capital markets in 2012 to continue. Global economic uncertainty remains, and markets are poised like a 'coiled snake' to reward or penalize investors in certain asset classes, according to Jeffrey Gundlach.
2013-01-15 Template for a Year-End Client Letter 2012 in Review: Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future by Dan Richards (Article)
Client concerns about whether you're on top of things can be reduced by sending regular overviews of what's happened in the immediate past and the outlook for the period ahead. That's why each year since 2008, I have posted templates to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients an overview of the year that just ended and the outlook for the period ahead.
2013-01-15 The Nothing That Is by Michael Lewitt (Article)
The world is awash in money. But money isn't what it used to be. I would point to two characteristics of modern money that should be keeping portfolio managers up at night (they certainly keep me up at night).
2013-01-14 Bond Market Review & Outlook by Thomas Fahey of Loomis Sayles
The ?nal quarter of 2012 was the icing on the cake of an exceptional year for the credit sectors. Fourth quarter credit gains stemmed in part from uncommonly aggressive monetary policy responses in the third quarter. As economic growth continued to undershoot expectations, major central banks made clear that they were dissatis?ed with the status quo of tepid economic growth and high unemployment. The Federal Reserve went so far as to tie its monetary policy to the level of the unemployment rate.
2013-01-11 2 Reasons to Stick With Emerging Markets by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Think emerging markets equities have run their course? Not so fast despite recent strong performance, Russ explains why there's room for further EM gains in 2013.
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.
2013-01-08 3 Key Dates to Watch After the Fiscal Cliff Deal by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
After last week's partial deal, Russ explains when investors should expect more market volatility and another round of late-night drama from Washington.
2013-01-07 Germany and Eastern Europe: Lessons in Free Trade by Team of Thomas White International
Economies in east and central Europe are attracting huge foreign investments into the automobile sector.
2013-01-03 The Political Economy of 2013 by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate
Watching America's national leaders scramble in the closing days of 2012 to avoid a "fiscal cliff" that would plunge the economy into recession was yet another illustration of an inconvenient truth: messy politics remains a major driver of global economic developments. This will become even more evident worldwide in 2013.
2013-01-02 Brian McMahon on Thornburg?s Investment Income Builder Fund by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Brian McMahon is the chief executive officer and chief investment officer for Thornburg Investment Management, where he the co-portfolio manager for the $11.4 billion Thornburg Investment Income Builder Fund (TIBAX). The fund's goal is income production, and it has outperformed its benchmark, the Morningstar Moderate Target Risk, over the last ten years (10.87% versus 2.88%). In this interview, he offers his views on the economy and the markets, and how he has positioned his fund.
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.
2012-12-26 Gundlach's High-Conviction Investment Idea by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Count Jeffrey Gundlach among those who expect Japan's currency to collapse because it can't service its debt. Japan's challenges may parallel those that the US faces, and Gundlach feels strongly that they have created a compelling investment opportunity.
2012-12-18 Jeremy Siegel on 'Dow 15,000' by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Jeremy Siegel was one of very few individuals to have correctly predicted the strong performance of the equity markets over the last year. The Wharton professor and author of the renowned book, Stocks for the Long Run, forecasts continued strong performance for the year ahead.
2012-12-18 Pulling Back the Lens in Emerging Markets by Western Asset Management (Article)
Emerging markets remain resilient, according to Western Asset Portfolio Manager Rob Abad. But in the face of so much global uncertainty, investors would be wise to consider the latest trends and dynamics impacting this maturing asset class.
2012-12-18 The Case for Conservative Optimism by Clark M. Blackman II (Article)
Advisors should heed the wisdom from George Washington: Troubles pass. Tomorrow will be better. This kind of optimism is the key to finding success as an investor, as a businessperson, and in life.
2012-12-11 Luck versus Skill in Investing: New Insights from the World of Sports and Beyond by Michael Skocpol (Article)
Skill exists in investing. Indeed, the most skilled managers today are likely the most skilled there have ever been. But there's more to it.
2012-12-11 Shared Sacrifice by David Rosenberg (Article)
Now that everyone is focused like a laser beam on Fiscal Armageddon, it may be more appropriate to look at what is happening on Main Street rather than Washington. Looking ahead, it is going to be more about the economy, and taking it a step further, at times like these, it is important to understand where the real economic power resides, and this is with the people.
2012-12-11 Loomis Sayles' Matt Eagan on the Macro and Fixed Income Outlook by David Schawel, CFA (Article)
In this interview, Loomis Sayles' Matt Eagan discusses the fixed income universe, Fed policy and issues facing the global macro economy. Eagan is the co-manager, along with Dan Fuss, of the Loomis Sayles Bond Fund and he manages the Loomis Sayles Strategic Alpha Bond Fund.
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.
2012-12-11 Fine Wine - Why it's for More than Just Drinking by Mark E. Ricardo, JD, LLM, AAMS (Article)
For many investors, an ideal asset class would combine superior long-term absolute and risk-adjusted returns with a hedge against inflation and stock market volatility. There's a way to get all of that, in an asset class you might never have thought of until now: fine wine. Investment-grade wine deserves careful consideration, particularly now that - unlike other collectibles, such as art and rare books - it can be traded on a regulated exchange.
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.
2012-11-27 Over the Cliff: Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles on the Looming Deficit Crises by Michael Skocpol (Article)
As President Obama and Congressional leaders hurtle Thelma-and-Louise-style toward a budgetary precipice, another deficit-tackling duo hit the road earlier this month to deliver a simple message: This all could have been avoided.
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.
2012-11-20 President Obama?s Re-Election and the Impact on the U.S. Economy by Eaton Vance Distributors, Inc. (Article)
President Obama?s re-election resolves a major element of uncertainty that has hung over the political landscape. But what kind of impact will his victory have on the economy and the markets, especially with the House still in Republican control? We posed that question to a roundtable of five investment professionals from Eaton Vance Management, Hexavest and Richard Bernstein Advisors.
2012-11-20 The Fallacies in Today?s Retirement Plan Assumptions: Putting the Hedonic Pleasure Index to Work by Bob Veres (Article)
Are you dramatically underestimating your clients' retirement lifestyle expenditures when you use Monte Carlo software? If you stop and look at a number of important assumptions hidden in the current models, you'll suddenly have a lot less confidence in the retirement plans you?re mapping out for your clients.
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 The Downside to Socially Responsible Investing by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Who wouldn't want a cleaner environment or a more just society? We can all agree these are worthy goals. But it's an established fact that pursuing them through one's investing is costly; environmental-, social- and governance-based investing (ESG) does fine on a gross basis, but loses money net of fees. Now, a recently published paper argues that that ESG is basically a waste of time.
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.
2012-11-13 Emerging Markets: Maintaining Perspective by Robert O. Abad (Article)
In this Q&A, Western Asset Portfolio Manager Robert Abad discusses the latest dynamics and trends within emerging markets (EM). Although EM continue to demonstrate resiliency, Mr. Abad believes that given the amount of global uncertainty today, it is important that investors evaluate opportunities alongside a manager equipped to guide them through the risks and rewards of this evolving asset class.
2012-11-13 Bank Loans: Looking Beyond Interest Rate Expectations by John Bell and Kevin Perry (Article)
Portfolio managers of Bank Loan Strategies, John Bell and Kevin Perry, outline the major advantages and risks of bank loan investing and the roles that a bank loan allocation can play in a fixed income portfolio.
2012-11-06 Lacy Hunt on Our Economic Future by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Last week I spoke with Lacy Hunt, an unequivocal advocate of deficit reduction. Hunt defended ? as persuasively as few others can ? the need to address our fiscal imbalances. But equally respected economists are advocating for the other extreme, and he shares some common ground with them.
2012-11-06 ClearBridge Advisors - Market Commentary Q312 by Harry ?Hersh? Cohen (Article)
Vibrant end demand is missing, as consumers have neither the wherewithal nor the will to spend as they did in prior periods.
2012-11-06 Asset Location: Nine Tips to Create ?Tax Alpha? by Glenn Frank (Article)
With campaign season finally over, taxes are going to dominate the debate in Washington in the months ahead ? however things shake out at the polls today. It's going to be confusing; it's going to be uncertain. But many of the most critical questions advisors will ask can be answered with an analytical approach to deciding where to 'house' assets ? in taxable or tax-sheltered accounts.
2012-11-06 The Prize for the Fiduciary Standard: Global Market Leadership by Stephen Winks (Article)
Tough times in the brokerage business are about to get tougher. A difficult investment environment and damage to its reputation are threatening the industry, and now it faces regulatory challenges under Dodd-Frank as it evolves from its current sales-driven culture to a professional services culture focused on advice and the fiduciary standard. Bold leadership will be necessary to navigate this challenge; without it, the brokerage industry and their clients will suffer.
2012-10-30 Building Portfolios that Beat their Benchmark: Measuring Nanometers with a Yardstick by Bob Veres (Article)
Using tools he co-developed with the Nobel-prize winning economist Bill Sharpe, one advisor has found that he can reliably outperform an appropriate benchmark. His work proves it is possible to build a portfolio knowledgably. You just need the right tools to get the job done.
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 How to Change the Regulatory Debate - Before it's Too Late by Bob Veres (Article)
After almost a decade of lobbying, arguing, and posturing, the long fight on Capitol Hill over who will regulate RIAs and how to define 'fiduciary' is approaching a close. Within the next six months, there will no longer be any real excuse to put off a decision, and new players, both in Congress and at the SEC, will be eager to start fresh.
2012-10-23 Chip Roame on the Next Big Problem by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The financial crisis decimated consumer wealth, and scandals such as J.P. Morgan's 'whale' and MF Global's collapse have plagued the investment industry. But the next challenge advisors and money managers face may be even worse.
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.
2012-10-09 Is Gluskin's David Rosenberg Right about Utilities? by Geoff Considine (Article)
They're not the sexiest property on the Monopoly board, but in today's market, there's plenty of evidence mounting that utilities are a great source of income. Indeed, Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg made the case for utilities in a recent commentary.
2012-10-09 Dividend Income: Music to Our Ears by ClearBridge Advisors (Article)
The hunger for income among investors is helping put dividends in the spotlight, say Hersh Cohen and Mike Clarfeld of ClearBridge.
2012-10-09 A Q3 Letter to Clients - Insights from a Wall Street Legend by Dan Richards (Article)
Here is a template for a letter to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients an overview of the past 90 days and the outlook for the period ahead. In it, I draw upon investing principles articulated by the legendary Barton Biggs, who passed away earlier this year.
2012-10-09 High-Dividend Yield Strategy under the Microscope by Michael Nairne (Article)
High-dividend yield stocks have become the favorite recommendation of a host of advisors, but an undue focus on income alone obscures the irreducible fact that long-term investment success is based on the total return of a portfolio including both income and capital growth. This raises two questions. How has the total return of a high-dividend yield strategy fared relative to the market? How does its total-return performance compare to the returns of other possible stock-selection strategies?
2012-10-09 The Yin and Yang of 2012 Stock Markets Through September by Ron Surz (Article)
Despite investor concerns about the economy, stock markets delivered substantial returns in the year-to-date, with the S&P 500 returning more than 16% and Europe, Australasia, Far East (the EAFE index) delivering more than 10%. This growth has been in the face of investor withdrawals from equity mutual funds. So if mutual fund investors are selling, who is buying?
2012-10-02 Confronting the Unemployment Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Policymakers seeking a path to economic recovery must first answer one crucial question: Is our persistently high unemployment structural or cyclical? If it's cyclical, then monetary and fiscal measures designed to boost consumer spending will restore the US to full employment in due course. But if we face a structural problem, then quick fixes won't work until we correct deeper imbalances that have left 12.5 million Americans without jobs.
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.
2012-10-02 A Daily Reading Plan That Attracts New Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Digesting news and sharing it with clients is part of every advisor's daily routine. Doing that efficiently, however, in such a way as to better position yourself with your clients, requires a structured approach that is far from obvious.
2012-09-25 Bill Gross: Hedging Your Bet on Deflation versus Inflation by Ben Huebscher (Article)
Will deflation or inflation prevail? The answer to that one question determines portfolio construction, according to Bill Gross, founder, managing director, and co-CIO of PIMCO.
2012-09-25 Investing in a Resource-Constrained World by Richard Vodra, JD, CFP (Article)
The potential consequences of stagnant oil production and climate change for society are written about frequently, but here is a simpler question that is important to our community: How are these and related facts likely to affect investment returns going forward? How can we even frame such questions usefully?
2012-09-18 Still Broken After All These Years by Martin Weil (Article)
Four years ago this week, the financial crisis took the world's economies to the brink of collapse. September 15, 2008, the day Lehman Brothers failed and sent global financial markets into cardiac arrest, was my wedding anniversary. My wife and I were celebrating at the time on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey ? a memorable trip, to be sure. Reflecting back on that moment now, I?m struck by how little distance our nation has traveled since.
2012-09-18 The Trend is Your Friend by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)
John Hussman's recent market commentary, The Trend is Your Fickle Friend, highlighted the limitations of trend-following investment strategies that rely on moving-average crossover rules as a primary filter. But an extensive study conducted by our firm demonstrated that a simple moving-average crossover system outperforms buy-and-hold, while reducing drawdown risk and volatility.
2012-09-18 Recognize the Relative Advantages of Natural Resource Equities vs. Commodities by RS Investments (Article)
This RS Investments research brief examines how shifts in commodity fundamentals presents the case for employing natural resource equities as a means to benefit from favorable long-term secular trends, while achieving superior risk-adjusted returns, similar diversification benefits, and more reliable inflation protection relative to commodities.
2012-09-18 Gundlach ? The End of the Bond Bull Market by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Likening bullishness on Treasury bonds to a 'mass psychosis,' Jeffrey Gundlach made his strongest statement yet that interest rates are about to rise. In a conference call with investors last Tuesday, he said that the rate on the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond could increase by 100 basis points by the end of the year.
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 The Ultimate Income Strategy - Higher Yield and Lower Volatility by Geoff Considine (Article)
Investors, especially those in the de-accumulation phase of their retirement, count on high income and low volatility. Achieving the best possible tradeoff between yield and risk is a major challenge for advisors. Over the last two years, I've shown how to construct a low-risk portfolio - the ultimate income portfolio (UIP) - that yields over 9.0%. Let's look back at how those portfolios performed and the components of this year's UIP.
2012-09-04 Three Essential Steps to Reach the Next Generation of Investors by Kim Dellarocca (Article)
Every day for the next 19 years, some 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach retirement age. Their huge pool of wealth will shift from accumulation to distribution. Financial professionals are losing those assets, so how do they go about replacing them?
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?
2012-08-21 The Profession's Faulty Assumptions: A Top Ten List by Bob Veres (Article)
In the financial planning profession, we make a lot of assumptions about the world in order to run spreadsheet models, retirement projections and sufficiency analyses, and generally determine how much a client should save and invest for the future. But many of the industry-standard inputs into our models are (how can I say this delicately?) garbage. Here are my top ten garbage inputs, with an explanation of how we might possibly improve on them.
2012-08-14 An Imperfect Storm by Janus (Article)
Changing regulations have drained liquidity from the corporate bond markets, as growth in bond ETFs is distorting a shrinking market. These converging forces are likely to result in a more volatile environment, but we see opportunity for managers able to understand the fundamental risk and reward.
2012-08-14 Blind Faith by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Central banks are facing political and practical obstacles that will render it very difficult for them to deliver anything more than anodyne words and actions as summer moves into the always dangerous August holiday season. IPhones should be kept on alert at the beach through Labor Day.
2012-08-07 Why Hedge Funds Destroy Investor Wealth by Michael Edesess (Article)
If all the money that's ever been invested in hedge funds had been put in Treasury bills instead, the results would have been twice as good. So claims Simon Lack - a former JPMorgan executive whose job was once to help steer billions into hedge funds - in his recent book, The Hedge Fund Mirage: The Illusion of Big Money and Why It's Too Good to Be True. You'd think hedge fund advocates would immediately pounce on this and refute it; but it's irrefutable.
2012-07-31 The False Promise of Gold as an Inflation Hedge by Michael Edesess (Article)
If you were a time traveler, hopping from one point in history 2,000 years forward or back, you'd best carry with you - if your time machine will allow it - a small stash of gold. Gold has been an effective hedge against inflation over the very, very long term. But that's about all it's good for. The other common reasons for owning gold - in particular, to use as a short-term or even a long-term hedge against inflation - are baseless.
2012-07-31 Expect Headwinds for Stocks If Hoisington is Right about Bonds by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)
Might today's historically low interest rates in the U.S. persist for years to come? The latest Quarterly Review and Outlook from Hoisington Investment Management forces readers to consider that possibility, refuting the reversion-to-the-mean mindset that causes many people to expect higher interest rates in the not-too-distant future. If the Hoisington model for the economy turns out to be right, the implications for the stock market are unfavorable.
2012-07-31 Venerated Voices by Venerated Voices (Article)
We published our quarterly update for the Venerated Voices awards. Rankings were issued in three categories: The Top 25 Venerated Voices by Firm, The Top 25 Venerated Voices by Advisor and The Top 10 Venerated Voices by Commentary.
2012-07-17 Breaking Bad by Michael Lewitt (Article)
With our largest business and government institutions committing every conceivable act of legal or moral anomie, we have every right to ask who is going to protect the rest of us from those who have been entrusted with so much power and influence. The institutions that were supposed to be the lifeblood of our economy are the same institutions that inflicted the greatest harm on society. When the family has to be protected from the man who is supposed to protect the family, the family is in serious trouble.
2012-07-10 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Several readers respond to Bob Veres' article, The Profession's Faulty Assumptions: A Top Ten List, which appeared last week. Also, a reader responds to Joe Tomlinson's article, How Safe are Annuities?, which appeared on August 14, and a reader responds to Beverly Flaxington's column, Dealing with Gossip in a Small Firm, which appeared last week.
2012-07-10 Benchmarking Your Retirement Portfolio With a Risk-Free Strategy by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
Making the savings from 35 or 40 years of work pay for a retirement of the same length is a real challenge. At a zero real rate of return, you would have to save half of your income to enjoy a retirement that long without taking a cut in your living standard. There is, of course, a better way - judicious use of TIPS and annuities. A riskless strategy using those asset classes can safeguard one's retirement assets and can serve as a benchmark against which riskier portfolios can be measured.
2012-07-10 A Mid-Year Client Letter: Wisdom from Three Wall Street Veterans by Dan Richards (Article)
Here is a template for a letter to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients an overview of the past 90 days and the outlook for the period ahead.
2012-07-10 Insights into the First Half of 2012 by Ron Surz (Article)
U.S. stock markets at mid-year have earned a respectable 9.5% return. A euphoric first quarter 12.6% gain gave way to a 2.8% minor setback in the second quarter. Foreign markets have not fared as well, earning only 3.4% over the first half of the year. The graph below provides the details, and adds a look at gold's performance.
2012-07-03 Don't Get Emotional by Michael Nairne (Article)
With the developed world mired in slow growth and the eurozone teetering on the brink of disintegration, to many investors the future seems bleak. Some are so disheartened they are abandoning the stock market as a hopeless endeavor. Yet, one of the abiding tenets of investing is that investor sentiment is rarely predictive of the future.
2012-07-03 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to John Hussman's commentary, Enter, the Blindside Recession, which appeared on June 25.
2012-06-26 Jeremy Grantham: US Stocks are Expensive and Bonds are Disgusting by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Jeremy Grantham, who has consistently identified overpricing in the US equity markets - he flagged both the Dot Com bubble and the irrational pricing that preceded the financial crisis, for instance - said last week that US stocks are 'a little expensive' and bonds are 'disgusting.' But his sternest warning to investors concerned the longer-term threat posed by global resource constraints.
2012-06-26 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.
2012-06-12 The Problems with Trying to Benchmark Unconstrained Portfolios by Ken Solow (Article)
Benchmarking unconstrained, 'go-anywhere' managers is difficult. Common methods to determine an appropriate benchmark - such as an ex-post regression of how the fund was invested - can obscure the actions of the manager. Is the only solution to simply select an arbitrary benchmark and proceed accordingly?
2012-06-12 Kingdoms of the Blind by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Recent events offer a rare illustration of the combined effects of the failure of monetary, fiscal and regulatory policy to coordinate a meaningful response. Rising budget deficits, record low interest rates, J.P. Morgan's proprietary trading blunder and the botched Facebook IPO process speak to abject policy failures in virtually every aspect of finance. It's not even a question of not having learned our lessons; our collective policy intelligence actually appears to have diminished.
2012-06-05 Finding the Best Dividend Fund by Geoff Considine (Article)
Assets are flowing into dividend-stock funds. But many experts are warning that those investors are setting themselves up for significant losses. Using an objective methodology that assesses tradeoff between yield and risk, we can determine those funds that investors should prefer - and a few they should avoid.
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 The Father of Efficient Markets: Is Warren Buffett Smart or Lucky? by Dan Richards (Article)
Eugene Fama is generally regarded the father of modern finance. His research has expanded upon the capital asset pricing model to identify the value and small-capitalization contributions to risk. Dan Richards spoke with him on May 1, the day before his guest talk at the CFA Institute annual meeting. This is the transcript of the interview.
2012-05-29 The Bargains in Europe's Great Oversell by Bob Veres (Article)
When was the last time we saw negative headlines drive valuations as low as they have in Europe? Evermore's David Marcus, who succeeded Michael Price as manager of the Mutual European Fund, says this period of obsession with Greek debt, bank restructuring and single-digit P/Es may be known as The Great Oversell.
2012-05-22 David Rosenberg - I am not a Permabear by Robert Huebscher (Article)
While most sell-side analysts are correctly classified as permabulls, Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg has been branded as the opposite - a permabear. He rejects that label. He recently said he's indeed bullish - on bonds and income - and has been so for quite a while.
2012-05-15 Lacy Hunt on Debt, Austerity and Recovery by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Global economies are experiencing unsustainable debt disequilibrium, according to Lacy Hunt. Economic textbooks preach that equilibrium, rather than transition, should be the predominant condition. But our attempts to reduce our indebtedness by taking on more ? and less productive ? debt are weakening our economy and creating unstable conditions.
2012-05-15 James Montier on the Failures of Modern Finance by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The seeds of the next crisis have already been sown, according to James Montier - and they are fundamental flaws buried deep within the current theory and practice of finance. Bad models were the root of the financial crisis, Montier said, and a slew of behavioral biases are reinforcing financial instability.
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.
2012-05-08 Q2 Outlook: "Sell in May" May Not Work This Year by OppenheimerFunds (Article)
Chief Economist Jerry Webman explains why he believes the U.S. economic recovery is real and CIO Art Steinmetz talks about how stocks are as cheap compared to bonds as they have been in decades.
2012-05-01 Another Story of Too Much Debt: Investing During Unsustainable Economic Conditions by Brian McAuley (Article)
US-based investors cannot ignore the macro environment, and therefore must consider the consequences of our increasing indebtedness and its impact on capital markets. We can gain valuable insights into our fiscal problems from the housing bubble and the European sovereign debt crisis - lessons which every value investor should heed.
2012-05-01 Q2 Outlook: by OppenheimerFunds (Article)
Chief Economist Jerry Webman explains why he believes the U.S. economic recovery is real and CIO Art Steinmetz talks about how stocks are as cheap compared to bonds as they have been in decades.
2012-04-24 65+5+Dividends: The case for quality dividend stocks in the first five years of retirement by Legg Mason ClearBridge Advisors (Article)
Retirees are living longer than ever before, and for many, outliving their money is a real concern. A good reason to consider quality large-cap dividend stocks in the early years of retirement - which have historically offered higher returns than fixed income with lower volatility than equities overall.
2012-04-17 The Real Reason to Worry about Oil by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Few question the prevailing wisdom that tensions with Iran have caused the recent rise in oil prices. But another possibility exists - and it's a much greater long-term threat to economic growth.
2012-04-17 Muppet Capers by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Investors enjoyed strong stock market and credit market gains during the first quarter of the year, but storm clouds may be forming on the horizon. Corporate profits have likely peaked. Stocks may be the best house in a bad neighborhood, but houses in that neighborhood appear to be fully priced for now. There are also some troubling signs in the bond markets, particularly the long end.
2012-04-17 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
We have several letters from readers, including one in response to Lisa Keung's article on myths about women and investing and one in response to a recent commentary by Dan Ariely.
2012-04-10 Allocating to Real Assets: Why Diversification Matters by Cohen & Steers (Article)
One way to extend the long-term purchasing power of a traditional stock and bond portfolio is through an allocation to real assets. But individually, categories like commodities, natural resource equities and REITs can be volatile. Cohen & Steers meets the challenge with a focus on broad asset-class diversification.
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 Paul Kasriel's Parting Thoughts on the Economy by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Paul Kasriel, the chief economist at Northern Trust, will retire at the end of this month. In this interview, he explains why he is optimistic about the prospects for the US economy and why supposed headwinds - from the price of oil to the housing market - pose much less of a threat than most people believe.
2012-04-03 Fewer, Richer, Greener: Why Jeremy Grantham is (Partly) Wrong by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
Is the human experience getting better or worse? This is a big question investors are rarely asked to confront, yet its answer has profound consequences for market returns.
2012-04-03 A Q1 Letter to Clients: Bernanke, Buffett and Siegel on the Prospects Ahead by Dan Richards (Article)
Here is a template for a letter to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients a summary of what's happened in the past 90 days and the outlook for the period ahead.
2012-04-03 Reigniting Your Passion for the Business by Dan Richards (Article)
Successful advisors consistently tell me they've lost enthusiasm and passion for their work compared to 10 or 15 years ago. Advisors have two choices when this happens - either accept it as a sad reality or put in place strategies to rekindle the fire that burned earlier in their career.
2012-04-03 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 GMO: Two Questions We Can't Answer by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Its reputation was built on stellar returns achieved with long-term bets on undervalued asset classes. Current market conditions, however, pose two unanswerable questions for GMO ? leaving the firm with an uncertain strategy for its equities and fixed-income allocations.
2012-03-27 Success: The Enemy of Creativity by Justin Locke (Article)
Creativity and imagination are universal human traits, yet it's a common idea that certain countries are more creative than others. Can this notion have any basis in fact?
2012-03-27 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.
2012-03-20 Bob Rodriguez on the Dangers in Today's Markets by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Bob Rodriguez is the managing partner and chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based First Pacific Advisors. In this interview, he discusses how the challenges faced by the US economy will impact the capital markets.
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 Europe's ?Back-door QE?: Good News for Global Bond Investors by OppenheimerFunds, Inc. (Article)
By restoring confidence in the global financial system, the European Central Bank's Long Term Refinancing Operation has allowed global bond investors to participate in attractive opportunities around the world.
2012-03-13 Europe Needs a Good Crisis by Michael Edesess (Article)
When it comes to economies in general and financial crises in particular, it's remarkable how little we actually understand. While global financial actors struggle to restructure Greece's debt and to avoid contagion throughout Europe's periphery, we should recall the lessons of the Asian-Russian crisis 15 years ago. As the writings of Joseph Stiglitz and Martin Wolf remind us - and those events illustrate - crises are part of an evolutionary process, and the afflicted economies often emerge with surprising vigor.
2012-03-13 The Gutenberg Economy by Michael Lewitt (Article)
As commentators near and far speculate on what 2012 will bring to the global economy and markets, there is little question that one factor will be decisive: the central banks' printing presses. Both the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank (ECB) will keep printing dollars and euros around the clock until their presses run out of ink.
2012-03-06 Learn Long and Prosper by Mariko Gordon (Article)
Business and investing share many things in common. And as my recent talk to a group of MBA students reminded me, one of them is this: There's a downside to experience.
2012-02-28 Jim O?Shaughnessy: What Now Works on Wall Street by Katie Southwick (Article)
Understanding the science of investing has been the lifelong passion of Jim O'Shaughnessy, whose 1996 book, What Works on Wall Street, was among the first to explain the benefits of quantitative, empirical methods. Now, with the hindsight of the two bear markets since, he has refined his approach - rejecting some of his original ideas in favor of improved ways to forecast market performance. His new and improved approach finds that a dividend-oriented global strategy is best in today's environment.
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?
2012-02-21 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.
2012-02-21 David Rosenberg: "Searching for Certainty in a Sea of Uncertainty" by Katie Southwick (Article)
David Rosenberg is known for his bearish outlook, and he has not yet seen anything in recent economic news that persuades him to change his tune. Contrary to prevailing "bullish complacency" and the widespread belief that central banking systems "have the answers to the ongoing global debt deleveraging cycle," in the United States Rosenberg sees monumental deficits, flat growth, an underlying trend of deflation, and current fiscal policies that will limit future flexibility. In other words, trouble remains on the horizon.
2012-02-07 Neel Kashkari on PIMCO's Equity Strategy by John Heins (Article)
Bond titan PIMCO has been methodically building its equity-investing expertise. Here the architect of that effort, Neel Kashkari, and his first major hires describe their strategy and how they're uncovering value in today's market.
2012-02-07 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Readers respond to past articles, including Robert Huebscher's article, The Misreading of Reinhart and Rogoff, our interview with Lacy Hunt, and Wade Pfau's article, Safe Withdrawal Rates: A Do-It-Yourself Approach.
2012-02-07 Jeremy Siegel, Rob Arnott and Other Experts Forecast Equity Returns by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
A forecast of the equity risk premium (ERP) tells you how much to save, how to allocate assets between equities and fixed income, and how much you can consume. Given its great importance, the CFA Institute recently convened a group of top-level academics and practitioners to forecast future ERPs - and to reflect on similar predictions they had made a decade ago.
2012-01-31 Bob Doll Believes the Recent Equities Rally Could Continue by BlackRock (Article)
Conditions have improved compared to last quarter, with the US economy showing signs of acceleration and European policymakers moving further along the path of progress. With the bearish tone receding, investors should consider moving into "risk" assets and out of "safe" assets, especially on pullbacks.
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 Letters to the Editor ? Reinhart and Rogoff by Various (Article)
Several readers respond to Robert Huebscher's article, Beyond Reinhart and Rogoff, which appeared last week.
2012-01-24 Michael Lewis on the True Depth of the Crisis in Europe by Larry Siegel (Article)
Michael Lewis is a financial writer and author, most recently of Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, in which he reported on the European debt crisis from several of the affected countries. In this interview, he discusses a range of topics, including the future of Wall Street and the challenges of great financial writing.
2012-01-24 Beyond Reinhart and Rogoff by Robert Huebscher (Article)
My article two weeks ago, The Misreading of Reinhart and Rogoff, elicited a number of challenges, both from those who argued that excessive debt imperils our economic growth and from those who claimed that my proposed solution was unworkable. Among those challengers was Lacy Hunt, who raised several valid concerns. I will explain why I disagree with Hunt and others, and why the dollar's position as the reserve currency increases our borrowing capacity. But our ability to borrow cannot be a license to spend unwisely, and I will conclude by expanding on the policy choices the US must pursue.
2012-01-24 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Two readers respond to Robert Huebscher's article, The Misreading of Reinhart and Rogoff, which appeared on January 10, and a reader responds to Matthew Jarvis' letter to the Editor last week, which was in response to Wade Pfau's article, GLWBs: Retiree Protection or Money Illusion?, which appeared on January 10.
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 An Essential Client Conversation ?Will I be able to pay for my hip replacement at age 85?? by Dan Richards (Article)
Advisors face a big challenge in planning for boomers. Your assumptions about how long they'll live and the nature and cost of their lifestyle as they age will dramatically impact your planning decisions. Conversations with boomers about those topics and about the implications of funding health care are difficult but important.
2012-01-17 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.
2012-01-10 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 Gundlach on the Key Risk for Bond Investors by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Watch out if you own a bond fund that underperformed its benchmark by 2% or more last year, as most did. Rather than put their careers at risk by suffering a second year of poor performance, those fund managers will turn to indexation, according to DoubleLine?s Jeffrey Gundlach. And since the Barclay?s Aggregate Index holds nearly 35% of its assets in Treasury bonds with near-zero yields, its investors will endure poor returns.
2012-01-10 How an Advisor Doubled New Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
It's not always the bold strategic initiatives that pay dividends; rather, executing the little things makes a big difference. In the fall of 2010 I ran a workshop for advisors in which I discussed a regular focus on a short list of high priority prospects. An attendee described how he'd used this idea last year as the jumping off point to add 15 minutes to his Monday morning team meeting - and doubled the number of new clients.
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.
2012-01-03 How Top Execs Game Retirement Plans by Michael Edesess (Article)
Corporate executives and employee-benefits consultants have engineered a cascade of arcane methods to deprive ordinary retirees of benefits they thought they were promised, in order to fatten corporate profits and the benefit packages of top executives. That is the harsh message of Wall Street Journal reporter Ellen E. Schultz's meticulously-researched book, Retirement Heist.
2012-01-03 Ghosts of Christmas Past by Michael Lewitt (Article)
While Europe desperately needs the liquidity that the latest bailout scheme provides, nobody should mistake liquidity for solvency and think for a moment that the crisis is over. Much more work is needed to heal the wounds that European policy makers and business leaders have inflicted on their societies since the European Union was formed.
2011-12-27 The Ten Most-Read Articles in 2011 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.
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.
2011-12-20 Gundlach on the Key Threat to Global Economies by Robert Huebscher (Article)
If class warfare is to be the dominant theme in next year?s presidential campaign, it will revive the premise of Ernest Hemingway's 1937 novel, To Have and Have Not, which he wrote in the midst of the second downturn of the Great Depression. That was also the title Jeffrey Gundlach gave his conference call with investors last week, during which he warned that wealth inequality will threaten European and domestic economies. Last week also saw Morningstar pass over Gundlach as a candidate for its fixed-income manager of the year award, so we?ll look at whether that decision made sense.
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 Can this be Serious? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Of the hundreds of investment books that we are asked to review, a recent one stood out for its utter audacity: '401(k) Day Trading: The Art of Cashing in on a Shaky Market in Minutes a Day,' by Richard Schmitt. The premise of this book is as preposterous as its title. But it raised two important questions, meriting this review.
2011-12-06 Why Shiller and Soros May Be Wrong about Farmland Investing by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Earlier this year, Yale's Robert Shiller identified farmland as an asset class in the early stage of bubble formation. George Soros, Jim Grant and Jim Rogers have espoused similarly bullish views. But advisors - even those managing the assets of very wealthy clients - shouldn't bet the farm on these expert forecasts just yet.
2011-12-06 The Quality Conundrum by J.J. Abodeely, CFA, CAIA (Article)
We are witnessing the end of a remarkable and confounding era for stocks, best described by the 'quality conundrum' investors faced for much of the last two years. During that time the combined outperformance of low-quality stocks alongside the underperformance of high-quality stocks was unprecedented in the last 30 years. Now, we are embarking on an era where high-quality stocks will likely significantly outperform low-quality stocks, resolving this conundrum.
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?
2011-11-29 Sometimes We Lose Perspective by Scott A. MacKillop (Article)
It's been a rough ride lately for investors. Looking back over the course of my lifetime, however, what has been particularly exceptional is not recent market swings - these come and go - but rather the return one would have earned if they had been continuously invested in the stock market over the past 60-plus years.
2011-11-22 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.
2011-11-22 Investment Trends in the Financial Advisory Profession by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Advisors are optimistic about the returns Treasury bonds will provide over the next decade, but they are less sanguine about the projected performance of US equities. Their inflation expectations are consistent with the historical data. These findings and many others arise from our study, Investment Trends in the Financial Advisory Space: Key Implications for the Investment Management Industry, a research report now available from Advisor Perspectives.
2011-11-15 Michael Aronstein on Today's Key Macro Trends by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Michael Aronstein is the president and chief executive officer of Marketfield Asset Management. Since its inception in 2008, his fund has returned 31% while the S&P has been down 15%. I spoke with him about the key macroeconomic and strategic issues facing investors today.
2011-11-15 It's All Greek to Me by Michael Lewitt (Article)
As one who has written that there is little chance of a long-term solution to Europe's problems without a radical rethinking of global economic policy, the Europeans still have little choice once they peer over the cliff to realize other than to step back and buy some time before taking the inevitable leap. For, in the end, they have no other options than to jump.
2011-11-15 Are Gold Prices Correlated to the Real Federal Funds Rate? by Georg Vrba, P.E. (Article)
The price of gold depends on many variables, among them the real federal funds rate, which is the federal funds rate adjusted for inflation. But the real federal funds rate, or RFFR, alone does not explain variation in gold prices. One must also look at the change in the RFFR for a full understanding.
2011-11-08 Bill Gross' Revised Paradigm: The New Normal Minus by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Following the financial crisis of 2008, PIMCO articulated its 'new normal' forecast of slow growth and mediocre capital market returns. Appending the even drearier modifier 'minus' to that outlook, Bill Gross said that expectations now appear worse than even he previously feared. Gross was pessimistic in both the near and long terms, and he startled the audience with his premonition that 'capitalism is at risk.'
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 Questions to Ask about Non-Traded REITs by Robert P. Seawright (Article)
The attraction of high yields comes at the expense of higher risk, a time-worn lesson that should be an ongoing focus for investors in non-traded REITs.
2011-11-01 Regulatory Armageddon by Bob Veres (Article)
Suppose you were somehow able to convince 40 advisors, who are all well-known thought leaders in the profession, to gather in the same room for a six-hour brainstorming session. The goal: to identify the single most important thing that the financial planning profession should be thinking about now. What do you think they'd come up with? Fasten your seat belts, because this may be the most important report you'll read all year.
2011-11-01 What, Me Worry? by Scott A. MacKillop (Article)
As we gnash our teeth over the latest crisis du jour let's remember that difficulties do not, ultimately, prevent progress. On the contrary, over my lifetime progress has continued unimpeded despite a more or less constant stream of difficulties.
2011-10-18 Gundlach: Markets Aren?t Cheap Enough Yet by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Prices for risky assets are straddling the extremes of two potential outcomes. A 'hurricane' may hit, in the form of a blow-up in Europe or a move to put the US federal government on an austerity program, driving prices lower. Or world economies will plod along, in which case optimistic pricing makes sense. But prices should be 'truly cheap' against those parallel problems, according to Jeffrey Gundlach, and that is not yet the case.
2011-10-18 Bob Doll: Why the US is Positioned Strongly by BlackRock (Article)
Investor unease has risen dramatically over the past quarter in the face of growing concerns about the world's economic and financial health. The focal point has been the intensifying debt crisis in Europe. The issues facing Europe are highly complex, but essentially are underscored by a single question: Is Europe facing a solvency crisis or a liquidity crisis?
2011-10-18 Focusing on Relationships is a Mistake: Harvard Business School by Dan Richards (Article)
Conventional wisdom says that when it comes to client loyalty and profitable businesses, deep relationships are what counts. But a September Harvard Business Review article raised some important questions about whether this is the case.
2011-10-13 Why Is Financial Market Volatility Increasing? by Alan A. Fustey of Index Wealth Management
While price movements in financial markets are largely unpredictable, there are periods where volatility tends to cluster. The flash crash shows that high frequency trading does have the potential to heighten volatility given the right circumstances, however knowing when these circumstances are present can only be detected in hindsight. There are structural changes that are occurring in the global economy, technology and securities trading that have the potential to make the recent increase in market volatility a new permanent standard.
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 Thomas Friedman's View of the Future of the US by Michael Edesess (Article)
Andy Rooney once said, 'It's just amazing how long this country has been going to hell without ever having got there.' Our country's roughly 30-year march to perdition is the subject of Thomas Friedman's and Michael Mandelbaum's new book, That Used to Be Us. Rooney may still be right, though - the authors identify, albeit not all that convincingly, a path to salvation.
2011-10-11 Managed Futures are not a New Asset Class by Michael Kitces (Article)
The focus on finding investments that have a low correlation to equities has grown to such an obsession that we're willing to name anything that has a low correlation as 'a new asset class.' While some alternatives truly have their own investment characteristics unique from stocks and bonds, other alternatives - like managed futures - simply represent an active manager buying and selling existing asset classes.
2011-10-11 A Q3 Client Letter Drawing on Buffett?s Optimism 'The U.S. is coming back now' - and why three inves by Dan Richards (Article)
Since 2008, each quarter I have posted a template for a letter to clients; these are consistently among my most popular articles. This quarter's letter provides clients with perspective on the recent market turmoil.
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 Jeffrey Gundlach: Preparing for the Coming Crisis by Katie Southwick (Article)
Speaking at a luncheon in New York last week, Jeffrey Gundlach, the founder and chief investment officer of DoubleLine Capital, gave investors advice on how to survive pending crises at home and abroad. After outlining the current state of U.S. debt and tax policy, Gundlach advised against European investments, favoring the U.S. dollar and owning U.S. government bonds as a hedge against credit.
2011-10-04 Moneyball Investing by F. Sean Bonner (Article)
In capital markets, emotions often rule the day, to the benefit of those who best remain well grounded in theory and math. The same holds true in baseball, as the new movie Moneyball reminds us.
2011-09-27 A Buying Opportunity in Investment-Grade Corporate Bonds by Chris Shayne, CFA (Article)
Given that yields on Treasury and high-quality corporate bonds are near 50-year lows, investors looking for relative value in fixed income should consider purchasing lower-rated investment-grade corporate bonds. As Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg said last Wednesday, 'if you have money to put to work, and are looking for a reward that more than compensates for the incremental risk involved at this juncture, credit is a good place to be looking.'
2011-09-27 When Greece Defaults by Keith Goddard (Article)
The Greek default is indeed inevitable, but there remain two possible ways the world may learn about it, and financial markets will react very differently depending on which of these two processes for default occurs.
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 The Handicap of Experienced Investors by J.J. Abodeely, CFA, CAIA (Article)
In the investment business, assets under management are concentrated with the largest and most established firms. Understandably, investors tend to allocate capital to managers after they've established a good track record. Unfortunately, for many, the analysis stops there. By failing to separate good results from identification of what makes a great investment manager, investors are primed for disappointment.
2011-09-13 The Risks of Exchange-Traded Products by Dennis Gibb (Article)
Every major financial crisis has been foretold by timely but ultimately ignored warnings. At the end of mania, the rush to secure more fees, investment performance and status trumps common sense. In the last few months, the drumbeats of warnings from financial journals and regulators about exchange-traded funds have been sounding. Few seem to be listening.
2011-09-13 Warren Buffett's Advice on Effective Client Meetings by Dan Richards (Article)
For many clients, the regrettable reality is that meeting with their advisor is no longer an uplifting experience. Here are three steps to make meetings with clients a more positive experience, so that they?re not seen as akin to a visit to the dentist.
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 Byron Wien Reflects on His List of Surprises by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
Byron Wien is a senior managing director and vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Partners, the largest alternative investment firm in the world with $140 billion under management. Each year, for the last 26 years, he has published a list of 10 'surprises' investors should expect in the capital markets and the economy. In this interview, he reflects on his list for 2011 and what see sees ahead.
2011-09-06 Five Strategies for a Sideways Market by Kane Cotton, CFA and Jonathan Scheid, CFA (Article)
If this slow growth environment coupled with asset price volatility continues for (to steal a quote from Fed Chairman Bernanke) 'an extended period,' what additional portfolio strategies might aid the overall risk/return profile of investor portfolios? More specifically, how do you manage investments in a sideways market?
2011-09-06 No Way Out by Michael Lewitt (Article)
There aren't enough Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerbergs to innovate our way out of the Everest of debt we have built for ourselves (and will continue to build for the foreseeable future). The good news (a purely relative evaluation) is that astute investors will find enormous opportunities in today's markets as they increasingly reflect unsustainable fiscal and monetary imbalances.
2011-08-30 What to Tell Clients Today - Ten Tips for Effective Client Communication by Dan Richards (Article)
Given the recent market tumult, many advisors know they should be communicating with clients, but hesitate because of uncertainty about what to say and apprehension about making things worse rather than better. Here are five general guidelines for client communication in turbulent markets and five tips for crafting the message that you send today.
2011-08-30 Borking the Budget by Michael Lewitt (Article)
It now appears that the obstreperous approach that succeeded in the Bork nomination fight is being applied to the federal budget. Instead of treating this subject with objectivity and reason, both parties have borrowed the tactics that their most radical elements have historically applied to social issues like abortion.
2011-08-30 Errata and Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
We correct a couple of errors which appeared in our article last week, The Simplest, Safest Withdrawal Strategy. A reader also responds to that article, and two readers respond to other recent articles.
2011-08-23 Strategies for a Rising Rate Environment by Jayant Kumar of Fisher Francis Trees & Watts (Article)
Shortening the duration of a fixed-income portfolio is often considered the default option, but it is not the only way to hedge against a potential rise in interest rates. This article provides investors with a framework to analyze and implement a range of fixed-income strategies, and highlights various investment considerations that should carefully be taken into account.
2011-08-23 Why Investors are 'Mad as Hell' ? And what you can do about it by Dan Richards (Article)
Last Friday, Jason Zweig of the Wall Street Journal wrote about fear and anger as the two dominant attitudes of American investors today ? fear about their future and anger at those they see as responsible for the latest crisis. Today's investor psyche has fundamental implications that will require changes in how you interact with clients. Before getting into how to respond, let?s look at what's driving today's mindset.
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.
2011-08-23 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to our article, Jeremy Grantham Guarantees Gold will Crash, which appeared on May 18, 2010. Another reader responds to Michael O. Kokesh's Letter to the Editor, published last week, which was in response to Paul Kasriel's July 26 commentary, Washington Had a Spending Problem.
2011-08-16 Gundlach - 'The Cusp of a Global Banking Panic' by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Don't interpret last week's volatility as merely a reaction to S&P's downgrade of US Treasury debt, according to Doubleline founder and chief investment officer Jeffrey Gundlach. Investors are actually fearful of a global banking crisis, he said, because many countries face a perilous choice - defaulting on their sovereign debt or inflating their way out of trouble.
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.
2011-08-16 A Commentary on the Correction by Michael Nairne (Article)
Market corrections are always painful and this one particularly so because of the lingering anxiety from memories of the 2008-2009 market crash. I explore the history of stock market corrections and examines the dynamics of the recent downturn as well as actions that may be warranted, depending on individual circumstances.
2011-08-09 New Insights on the Role of Alternative Investments in High-Net-Worth Portfolios by Scott Welch, CIMA (Article)
Trends and developments over the past five years allow greater access to alternative strategies and dictate a different conversation with investors about the purpose and trade-offs of such strategies, as well as appropriate ways to incorporate them into well-diversified portfolios.
2011-08-09 Does Government Intervention in Financial Markets Slow Economic Growth? by Michael Edesess (Article)
As we saw with the Dodd-Frank legislation and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the question underlying the debate over financial regulation is whether it stifles economic growth. Leo F. Goodstadt's book, Reluctant Regulators, provides useful insights from the experiences of Hong Kong and China. It also causes us to ponder whether our measurement of economic growth is fundamentally flawed.
2011-08-09 America's Tarnished Credit Rating by Bob Veres (Article)
In this letter designed to be sent to clients, Bob Veres explains the impact of S&P's downgrade of the US sovereign debt rating.
2011-08-09 Can American Become Greece? by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)
Investors face four possible implications from the recent downgrade of America's long-term credit rating by Standard & Poor's: 1) Lower prices for financial assets; 2) Higher volatility in the asset markets; 3) Greater potential for trend-following investment strategies, and 4) Attractive opportunities in 'blue chip' stocks.
2011-08-09 How Conservative Investing Threatens Retirement by Dan Richards (Article)
Just as the Great Depression left a generation with a poverty mentality that still persists, the two bear markets of the last 10 years risk shaped an entire generation's attitude to investing. That's a key finding from a survey of affluent Americans commissioned by Merrill Lynch and released earlier this year, and it raises important implications for how financial advisors should deal with conservatively-minded investors.
2011-08-02 A Winning Endgame by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Reducing our nation's debt burden is no longer only the rallying cry of Tea Partiers and fiscal conservatives. As the debate over the debt ceiling proved, it is now the goal of the president and many fellow Democrats. John Mauldin and Jonathan Tepper's book, Endgame, published earlier this year, makes a compelling argument as to why reducing the deficit is so critical and why we face a long, slow and ultimately painful period of deleveraging. I will explain their thesis and then provide the counterargument.
2011-07-19 Gundlach: A Debt Ceiling Impasse Could Drive Rates Lower by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Failing to raise the debt ceiling would be a 'huge financial calamity,' according to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and the general consensus view. But that opinion is 'exactly wrong,' at least as far as the Treasury market is concerned, DoubleLine's Jeffrey Gundlach said in a conference call with investors last Tuesday.
2011-07-12 An End-of-Quarter Letter to Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Given recent unrest in Europe and uncertainty about economic growth, many clients are looking to their advisors for direction. This template for an end-of-quarter letter is a starting point for your own letter to clients, one that can be a catalyst for a conversation about how to position portfolios.
2011-07-12 The Real Story behind Bond Yields by Michael Nairne (Article)
One of the most important questions that individuals should ask before making any investment is 'Am I being paid enough for the risk of this investment?' I analyze the returns available today from government bonds and answer this important question for this asset class.
2011-07-12 The Titanic Has Sailed by Michael Lewitt (Article)
It was entirely predictable that the U.S. equity market would rally on the news that Greek would not default this month, but it does little to convince me that the long-term outlook for European sovereign debt or the global economy has improved. Markets - particularly the equity markets - are trying to pretend that the global economy is experiencing a self-sustaining recovery. A hard look at the economic numbers would tell an objective observer that no such recovery is occurring.
2011-07-05 No More Stupid Forecasts! by Michael Edesess (Article)
Dan Gardner's book Future Babble takes the sport of expert prediction apart piece by piece, showing why it's phony, why people still pay close attention to it and why people (including the experts themselves) continue to believe in it. Along the way, the author fills his pages with enough interesting information and anecdotes to keep us reading with pleasure.
2011-07-05 Fox in the Henhouse by Joseph Calhoun and Douglas Terry (Article)
In 1971, President Nixon ended the Bretton Woods gold standard currency system. That move set us on a path of debauching our currency through inflation. Ever since, we have counted on the Federal Reserve to preserve the purchasing power of our money. We have depended on the fox to protect our hens.
2011-06-28 The End of QE2: What Does It Mean for Investors? by BlackRock (Article)
The financial crisis sparked widespread flight from risk. Although the crisis is over and equity prices have rebounded, many investors have not yet returned to the capital markets. For them, the safe-haven appeal of money market funds remains strong. In this paper, American Century Investments® proposes a strategy of "smart risk taking," an active asset management approach that seeks to identify, understand, manage, and be consistently rewarded for risk.
2011-06-28 Reducing Risk through Value-Oriented Tactical Strategies by Mark E. Ricardo, JD, LLM, AAMS (Article)
Conventional wisdom was that the best way to reduce portfolio risk is to adopt a diversified long-term strategic asset allocation. That paradigm was challenged - deservedly so - following the 2008 financial crisis. Fortunately, an improved paradigm has emerged: Investors should combine long-term strategic allocations with a value-oriented tactical rebalancing strategy.
2011-06-21 Investing Based on Jeremy Grantham's Forecast for Diminishing Resources by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In his most recent commentary, Jeremy Grantham became one of the first mainstream investment professionals to publicly forecast a world economy threatened by diminishing natural resources. A survey of our readers showed that an overwhelming majority agree with Grantham's views. But constructing a portfolio positioned to capitalize on those themes is exceedingly difficult.
2011-06-21 Challenging Conventions: Natural Resource Equities vs. Commodities by RS Investments (Article)
Investors look to the commodity market to provide three primary benefits: portfolio diversification, inflation protection, and equity-like returns. However, empirical data shows that over the last decade, shifts in underlying fundamentals have undermined the role which commodities are expected to play in a diversified portfolio, particularly relative to natural resource equities. In this paper, we review how changes in fundamentals impact the unique return streams generated by both commodities and natural resource equities in the context of the benefits expected from each investment option.
2011-06-21 The Greek Comedy by Michael Lewitt (Article)
It is no longer prudent to dismiss the possibility of a worst-case outcome for the Greek debt crisis. Greece is not only laying bare the flawed structure of the European Union, but the fragility of the global financial system. An interconnected and networked global economy cannot ignore problems on its so-called periphery because there is no longer any periphery. Derivatives and other counterparty relationships have seen to that.
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 The Consequences of Policy Failure by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Investment performance for the rest of the year will be determined by the macro-economic views of investment managers. While microeconomic factors are always extremely important in charting investment strategies, they are particularly important today as the U.S. and global economies continue to fight their way through the detritus of the global debt crisis. A compelling case can be made for weaker 2Q112 growth based on a combination of factors.
2011-06-14 A Cautionary Tale from the World's Most Influential Economist by Dan Richards (Article)
Raghuram Rajan was recently cited by The Economist as having the most important ideas for the post-crisis world. In this interview, he identifies key policy issues the Obama administration must confront. This is a transcript of the interview.
2011-06-10 Why Bill Gross Doesn?t Like Stocks (or Treasury Bonds) by Sam Parl (Article)
Stocks have come to the end of a ?wonderful journey,? according to PIMCO's Bill Gross, and are now on their own, like ?a baby bird just released from the nest.? The journey Gross spoke of is the multi-decade decline in real interest rates, which have fueled bull markets across ?risk assets,? especially in equities and bonds.
2011-06-07 New Challenges for the Endowment Model by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The multi-billion dollar endowments of elite institutions like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are supposed to never be strapped for cash, but that's not how things played out during the financial crisis, when all those schools and many others were forced to raise liquidity under adverse market conditions. The endowment model, despite those failures, is still basically sound, according to Luis Viceira, but it needs several key improvements before institutions and individuals can rely on it.
2011-06-07 The Best Way to Start a Client Meeting by Dan Richards (Article)
What does it take for a meeting with a key client to be successful? To answer that question, first you have to quantify how you measure success.
2011-06-07 Why Jim Rogers is Bullish on Gold by Dan Richards (Article)
The veteran investor Jim Rogers explains why he is bullish on gold and the US dollar, and offers his thoughts on Asian economies why he chose to move his family to Singapore. This is the transcript of the interview.
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 Bookstaber on the Limits of Capitalism by Sam Parl (Article)
What can we do so that we?re not fighting yesterday?s war? That was the question posed by Richard Bookstaber when he spoke at the sixth annual MIT Sloan Investment Management Conference on April 29. Bookstaber, a Senior Policy advisor to the SEC and to the Financial Security Oversight Council, offered an elucidating perspective on the origins of economic crises and the proper role of regulation.
2011-05-31 Hedging In an Inflationary World by Andrew Foster (Article)
These days, given the complex web of global financial transactions in which companies are enmeshed, it is unrealistic to expect management to avoid hedging. When I invest, however, I search for companies that follow simple, consistent, and short-term hedging policies ? and whose business models are strong enough to adapt to the inherent volatility and uncertainty of the marketplace.
2011-05-17 Dylan Grice on Japan's Coming Hyperinflation by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The Japanese scenario haunts US policy makers, who recall that country's two-decade miasma of lethargic growth and escalating fiscal deficits with apprehension. What scares them most, perhaps, is the potential endgame Japan now faces: an insolvent government crippled by uncontrollable inflation. While Japan's current situation closely parallels the experience of other countries that went on to confront hyperinflation, according to Dylan Grice, we shouldn't expect a crisis in the near term.
2011-05-17 Pippa Malmgren on Inflation and its Geopolitical Impact by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The Cold War may have been over for a quarter century, but the inflation-driven challenges that characterized that historical era are heating back up. Today, global volatility is back, according to Pippa Malmgren, who says that commodity-driven inflation will lead to political instability in emerging markets.
2011-05-17 The Smooth Illusion by Michael Lewitt (Article)
In retrospect, the Federal Reserve's interminable zero-interest policy and its quantitative easing programs are likely to be seen not only as ineffective but damaging to the prospects for sustainable long-term economic growth. A number of asset classes are beginning to exhibit bubble-like behavior, something that would be far less likely to occur were interest rates normalized.
2011-05-10 Lessons from the Farm by Michael Nairne (Article)
Farmers know all about droughts. Droughts occur in nearly all climates and impair all types of crops. They are unpredictable, yet are recurring and can last for years. Likewise, performance droughts abound in the world of investing.
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.
2011-05-03 My Breakfast with Dave by Robert Huebscher (Article)
A month ago, one of the most closely followed market observers, Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg, moved his Breakfast with Dave commentaries behind a pay-wall, ending an era of free access to his insights. Last Friday, however, he presented his views publicly to an audience of 500 advisors and investors, your author included.
2011-05-03 Gary Shilling - Five Things that can Derail the Recovery by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Die-hard deflationists - those who foresee a continued bull market in bonds - are so few in number these days they could all share an elevator, according to Gary Shilling. One is Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg, whose views are considered elsewhere in this issue. But the loudest such voice belongs to Shilling himself, who has advocated for a long position in Treasury bonds continuously since 1980, a stance that has always proved prescient so far.
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 Why Demographics will Drive Global Growth by Sam Parl (Article)
When economic pundits trade heated predictions about the massive economic shifts we see internationally, it is easy to forget the subtleties that shade their forecasts. One such shadow overhanging any intelligent debate about our global economic future is global age demographics, according to Harvard Professor Richard Cooper.
2011-04-26 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.
2011-04-19 Gundlach: Treasuries will Rally When QE2 Ends by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The bonds that PIMCO's Bill Gross sold to take a 3% short position in the Treasury market may have found a buyer in Doubleline's Jeffrey Gundlach. In a conference call with investors last week, Gundlach said that Treasury prices would rise in the near term, once QE2 expires on June 30.
2011-04-19 Managing Exposure to Extreme Markets by Geoff Considine (Article)
Volatility in the equity markets has subsided, courtesy of a strong bull market and fading memories of the 2008 financial crisis. Risks remain, however, ranging from the turmoil in northern Africa to sovereign debt instability in Europe. Investors can take advantage of the complacency in the equity markets by purchasing inexpensive insurance against adverse events.
2011-04-19 Four Ways to Make Recommendations Stick by Dan Richards (Article)
All too many client conversations are monologues, with the advisor talking and clients listening. Even when you ask if clients have questions, they say 'no.' If you want clients to buy into your recommendations, you have to engage them in conversation.
2011-04-12 Ten Trends that will Reshape the Fund Industry by Robert Huebscher (Article)
For advisors scouring among thousands of mutual funds, bargains and inefficiencies will be harder to find in coming years. Intense competition among funds for shelf space will not translate to lower fees, and the new class of broad asset allocation funds is unlikely to live up to its marketing promises. Those were among the surprising forecasts from Geoff Bobroff, with whom I met last week.
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.
2011-04-12 Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me by Michael Lewitt (Article)
"The budget crisis is a crisis of leadership," writes Michael Lewitt in the latest issue of the HCM Market letter. "There is no intellectual mystery involved in cutting the budget - entitlement spending must be reduced through the adoption of tighter eligibility standards... The markets will also have to evaluate whether Congress and the Obama administration can make any meaningful progress on budget reform, which will mean tackling the entitlement issue. The failure to rein in federal deficits remains a profound threat to the dollar and interest rates."
2011-04-05 Two Critical Lessons from Japan An End-of-Quarter Letter to Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Given recent events in Japan and North Africa, many clients are looking to their advisors for direction on what they should do. This template for an end-of-quarter letter is intended to be a starting point for your letter to clients.
2011-04-05 The Future of Investment Manager Due Diligence (and a Look Back at Q1 Performance) by Ron Surz (Article)
Despite the continuing global financial crisis, the uprisings in the Middle East and the Japanese disaster, global stock markets delivered positive results in the first quarter of 2011, as described in this capital market review. In the second part of the article, you'll discover what due diligence procedures need to change and why.
2011-03-29 GMO's Market Outlook: 'Disappointingly Overvalued' by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Opportunities across US and foreign assets classes are unattractive, according to Ben Inker, the head of asset allocation at the Boston-based global money manager Grantham, Mayo, van Otterloo & Co. (GMO). Neither the equity nor fixed income markets hold the potential for investors to earn acceptable inflation-adjusted returns, Inker said.
2011-03-29 Inflation versus Deflation: Two Experts Disagree by Robert Huebscher (Article)
An important question for all investors is whether low inflation rates will persist or whether the economy is heading toward much higher inflation. The answer to that question will dictate asset class allocations, portfolio construction and ultimately the rates of return investors should expect.
2011-03-22 Japan Update by Bob Veres (Article)
This letter, suitable for sending to clients, explains the consequences of the tragedy in Japan and how investors should gauge its economic impact.
2011-03-22 Gundlach Sets the Record Straight by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Jeffrey Gundlach corrects two inaccuracies in a recent interview that appeared in Barron's, and offers his assessments of valuations for the Japanese markets, municipal bonds and high-yield bonds.
2011-03-15 Mason Hawkins and Staley Cates on Today?s Opportunities for Value Investors by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Southeastern Asset Management's Mason Hawkins and Staley Cates, two of today's most respected value investors, discuss their portfolio and the principles behind their Graham and Dodd methodology. They explain why they like certain commodity-based companies and why they disagree with Bruce Berkowitz on the opportunities in the financial sector.
2011-03-15 Running on Empty by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Despite the increasing undercurrent of negative news creeping into the financial markets, the stock market remains strong. HCM expects equities to continue to perform well for the foreseeable future (i.e. through the end of June) although most of this letter will discuss the reasons why it shouldn't. In some ways, this market is a lot like Charlie Sheen. It pretends to have tiger blood and the powers of a warlock, but deep inside it is suffering from an addiction to a substance (i.e. debt) that will ultimately kill it.
2011-03-15 Margin Shrinkage - It Can Happen to You by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
Profit margins are a tick away from all-time highs and are creating the impression of cheap equity valuations. But that impression is a mirage, because today's generous margins are destined to shrink.
2011-03-08 Ed Hyman: The Key Threat to Economy Recovery by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Ed Hyman is not worried about China, quantitative easing or fiscal deficits. Equity market performance this year will be strong, he predicts, and the US economic recovery will proceed. But there is a caveat in his outlook ? and it is an immense one.
2011-03-08 The Sweet Spot by Michael Nairne (Article)
Today?s low interest rates and lackluster stock valuations suggest portfolio returns going forward will be modest. Investors in search of higher return opportunities need to consider small-company value stocks. We explore how this asset class can improve portfolio performance for long-term, patient investors and deal with its risks and limitations.
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 Bruce Berkowitz on the Exceptional Value in the Financial Sector by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Fairholme's Bruce Berkowtiz, US stock-fund manager of the decade, discusses his large position in the financial sector and why he believes the big bets he is making do not amount to Russian roulette. He also comments on his recent nomination of former Florida Governor Charlie Crist to the board of St. Joes.
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 Stop Wasting Time and Money on Client Communication by Dan Richards (Article)
The world has changed in all kinds of ways. What worked in terms of client communication as recently as five years ago doesn't work nearly as well today. As a result, you need to fundamentally change how you communicate with clients.
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 The Stuxnet Paradigm by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Michael Lewitt discusses the situation in Egypt, the economy, rising risk appetites in the market, sovereign debt and municipal bonds. 'It might be very easy,' he writes, 'to be impressed by the 'two years and thousands of man hours' that Ms. Whitney spent researching the fiscal condition of the 15 largest states. What in the world required so much time and effort? It shouldn't have taken nearly so long to determine that these states are in severe financial trouble and that their options for dealing with it are limited.
2011-02-08 The Key Ingredient to Effective Communication by Dan Richards (Article)
When it comes to communicating with clients, too often we revert to the habit of using words alone. To maximize the impact of your communication, you need to help others visualize your message.
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.
2011-01-25 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.
2011-01-18 Jeffrey Gundlach: The Greatest Investment Opportunity of 2011 and 2012 by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In June of 2007, against a backdrop of strong equity and corporate bond performance, Doubleline's Jeffrey Gundlach was one of the first to warn investors that sub-prime mortgages were 'a total unmitigated disaster, and they are going to get worse.' In an equally bold statement, last week he identified the asset class he considers the greatest investment opportunity for the next two years. Again, it was one for investors to avoid.
2011-01-18 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A number of readers respond to Nancy Opiela's article, Tactical Asset Allocation and Market Timing: What's the Difference?, and one reader responds to Michael Lewitt's article, The Wages of Growth. Both articles appeared last week.
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.
2011-01-04 The Coming Decade of Sideways Markets by Robert Huebscher (Article)
'We are in the middle of a sideways market, and we still have another decade to go,' says Vitality Katsenelson. In this interview, Katsenelson shares his insights on the decade ahead and the many factors that may keep China from leading us out of the recession.
2011-01-04 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to our article, Debunking Ken Fisher, which appeared two weeks ago. Another reader responds to the article, Return Distributions and the Shiller P/E Ratio, by Keith C. Goddard, which originally appeared on February 2, 2010.
2010-12-28 The Ten Most-Read Articles in 2010 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...
2010-12-28 The Squam Lake Report: Reforming the Financial System by Dougal Williams (Article)
Ken French and Robert Shiller were among a group of leading economists who, in the fall of 2008, convened what was to become known as the Squam Lake Group. Their recently released and much-talked about book offers its authors' collective best answer to a defining question of our day.
2010-12-21 How Much Smid-Cap Exposure is Best? by Jon Quigley, CFA and John Bright, CFA (Article)
Small- to mid-cap stocks have outperformed since 1999 and have attracted considerable attention. We offer a few things to consider in determining how much exposure to smid-cap stocks you should maintain.
2010-12-14 The End of the Asian Bull Market by Robert Huebscher (Article)
A broadly diversified emerging market investor would have earned nearly 12% annually over the last five years, far outpacing investors in the US and other developed markets. Over the next five or even ten years, investors relying on emerging economies will not be as fortunate, however, according to Louis-Vincent Gave, CEO of the Hong Kong-based research and investment management firm GaveKal.
2010-12-14 Looking Back at a Year of Policy Mistakes by Michael Lewitt (Article)
As we approach the end of 2010, the global economy remains captive to a boom-and-bust cycle resulting from years of pro-cyclical monetary, fiscal and regulatory policies. With very limited exceptions, the same policies that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis remain in place. The only difference is that government balance sheets are far more leveraged than they were heading into that crisis.
2010-12-14 Year-end Letter to Clients: Investment Advice from Winston Churchill by Dan Richards (Article)
For the past 18 months, my draft letters have been designed to balance some of the extreme pessimism among many investors with an objective, positive outlook - the draft year-end letter for 2010 continues with that goal. In it, I borrow from Winston Churchill's insight into the difference between optimists and pessimists.
2010-12-06 Research-driven Market Insights from Janus: 4Q Market Perspectives by Janus Investments (Article)
Offer clients research-driven market insights. Every quarter, Janus equity and fixed income teams share their insight and outlook on global market sectors and key macroeconomic indicators in Janus' Market Perspectives Series. We thank Janus Investments for their sponsorship.
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.
2010-11-30 The Word that Defines Effective Communication by Dan Richards (Article)
Fairly or not, if clients initiate a call, many will believe that the conversation wouldn't have taken place otherwise ... even though it's precisely the same conversation, advisors get much more goodwill and credit if they take the first step in making that call happen.
2010-11-23 Why Three Top Bond Managers Like Equities by Robert Huebscher (Article)
You'll rarely - perhaps never - hear a fund manager say that market conditions do not favor investing in their chosen asset class. That's why it was so remarkable when several prominent managers recently admitted that they favored equities over their own discipline - fixed income.
2010-11-16 Jeremy Siegel on the Upside for Equities and the Virtues of QE2 by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In our annual interview, Jeremy Siegel, the Russell E. Palmer Professor of Finance at the Wharton School, offers his forecast for equities - a 10% to 20% gain in 2011, along with a continued rally through the end of this year. He also explains why the current round of quantitative easing is exactly what is needed to stimulate the economy.
2010-11-16 Through the Looking Glass with Steven Rattner by Jack Falvey (Article)
Steven Rattner, the one-time 'Car Czar' and author of Overhaul, has been busy redefining terms while trying to put his considerable spin on history. He wants to convince us that the auto industry was magically transformed from a cash-bleeding rusting hulk to a paradigm of corporate profitability. The auto industry was not overhauled. In fact, Dismembered would have been a far more accurate title.
2010-11-16 Reducing Portfolio Risk through Sustainable Investing by Jon Quigley (Article)
By incorporating a broad swath of extra-financial data as a risk factor and tilting a portfolio away from companies with poor environmental, social and governance policies, we can better reduce that portfolio's risk of extremely negative outcomes.
2010-11-09 New Strategies in Alternative Investments by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Alternative investments, broadly speaking, and hedge funds, more specifically, have performed as intended over the last 20 years, modestly increasing returns and significantly reducing risk when added to a traditional stock-bond portfolio. Selecting the appropriate vehicle is the challenge, and that task has been made easier by the introduction of new exchange-traded strategies.
2010-11-09 How Modern Is Your Portfolio Theory? by Direxion Funds (Article)
After 58 Years, is there Another Way to Conquer the Efficient Frontier? In the past, active or "tactical" investment management referred to jumping in and out of stocks and bonds - market timing. With the introduction of sophisticated funds that help the masses harness the power of institutional managers and alternative asset classes and strategies, today, tactical management may help to renovate your portfolios - and help you retain and attract assets.
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.
2010-11-09 Keynesian Confusion by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Keynesian policies are inflicting untold damage on the U.S. and global economies today. Keynes did not have to be misread. The reason that the current recovery is below par is that the economy is experiencing a massive paradox of thrift. We doubt that reducing already low rates is going to stimulate much of anything other than more frustration on the part of savers. Sooner or later, everything being earned on the upside of this liquidity-induced rally will be given back in spades - the only question is when.
2010-11-02 Flaws in Vanguard?s Withdrawal Strategy: Income versus Total-Return Portfolios by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
Vanguard advertises that its mission is to simplify investors' retirement decisions. In a recently published study, however, it oversimplified the critical choices investors and their advisors face in constructing a portfolio for the withdrawal phase of retirement.
2010-10-29 Asset Allocation in an Uncertain Economy by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Advisors should not bet on whether the recession will be L-, V-, or W-shaped. Instead, Ron Albahary said they should use strategic asset allocation and overweight or underweight those asset classes that have historically done well at certain points in the economic cycle. Albahary is the CIO of Convergent Wealth Advisors, a Washington, DC-based wealth manager.
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.
2010-10-26 What Drives High-Yield Bonds (and Why You Should Listen to the Ratings Agencies) by Robert Huebscher (Article)
High-yield bonds are attractively priced - or they aren't - depending on how likely you think a double-dip recession is and how severe you think it might be. What drives the high-yield market was the subject of a talk last week by Martin Fridson, a global credit strategist with BNP Paribas Asset Management who is a highly regarded expert on distressed debt.
2010-10-19 Developed Markets and Capitalism in Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)
We are not in a globalized world today, according to Ian Bremmer. "The state is back," said the 40-year old president and founder of Eurasia Group, a political consulting firm. Both in the U.S. and throughout the world, governments are exerting their influence through regulation, trade restriction, subsidies, and bailouts, and are threatening the nature of free markets.
2010-10-19 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.
2010-10-12 Misconceptions in the Great Bond Bubble Debate by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Interest rates, many claim, have bottomed, making bonds the latest asset class worthy of the dreaded "bubble" label. Others counter that deflationary forces will prevail and that bonds offer the best risk-adjusted returns in the market. Which side of this debate you take matters profoundly, but making that call is not simply a matter of predicting the direction of interest rates, as is the typical focus of analysts.
2010-10-12 Simon Johnson on Why This Crisis Wasn?t the Last by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Is the last financial crisis over? Did we at least fix the problems that caused the crisis? Were those the worst of our problems? Answering those three questions was the focus of a talk by Simon Johnson, formerly the chief economist at the IMF.
2010-10-12 Why Warren Buffett is Optimistic: A Quarterly Letter to Send Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Dan Richard's quarterly letter is designed to balance some of the extreme pessimism among many investors. Negative sentiment is understandable given the real challenges facing the U.S. and European economies, but is also a function of the overwhelmingly negative media coverage to which clients are exposed. To balance today's disproportionately negative views, you need hard facts.
2010-10-12 Beggar Thy Neighbor, Beggar Thyself by Michael Lewitt (Article)
In the latest edition of the HCM Market Letter, Michael Lewitt argues that reported attempts by countries to devalue their currencies will only result in higher inflation and not economic growth. QE2 will similarly fail, and the necessary "heavy lifting" for the economy should be through fiscal, not monetary, policy. A continuation of Keynesian policies, as advocated by Paul Krugman, will also fail. Lewitt warns of dangers in ETFs and offers his investment recommendations.
2010-10-05 The Information Risk Premium: A New Danger to Client Portfolios by Bob Veres (Article)
Michael Aronstein, who manages the Marketfield Fund, connected two dots that most of us are aware of intuitively, but may not have consciously considered. As Bob Veres writes, Aronstein says that the primary challenge for investment advisors, financial planners and money managers today, which is different from the challenges you faced in the past, is the sheer amount of attention that investors are now able to pay to the ups and downs in their portfolios.
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 A Better Alternative - Natural Resource Equities by RS Investments (Article)
Investors look to the commodity market to provide three primary benefits: portfolio diversification, inflation protection, and equity-like returns. However, empirical data shows that over the last decade, shifts in underlying fundamentals have undermined the role which commodities are expected to play in a diversified portfolio, particularly relative to natural resource equities. RS Investments reviews the return streams generated by both commodities and natural resource equities in the context of the benefits expected from each investment option. We thank them for their sponsorship.
2010-09-21 Two Compelling Articles to Send Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
One of the most important roles for advisors is being an emotional anchor for clients ... preventing the highs from being too high and the lows from being too low. Dan Richards offers two recent articles that counteract the sense of pessimism about the economy ... driven in large measure by daunting headlines about housing prices, unemployment, deficits and political discord in Washington.
2010-09-14 A Better Way to Invest in Gold by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
In the year since Geoff Considine last wrote about gold, underlying prices have risen 24%, leading to several important questions - including whether his advice of a year ago still holds today. We look closely at how a direct investment in GLD performed as compared to a bond-plus-call-option strategy, and which conditions favor each strategy.
2010-09-14 The Centre Cannot Hold by Michael Lewitt (Article)
"A refusal to shed discredited monetary and fiscal policies and embrace creative and politically bold solutions is keeping our economy mired in high levels of structural unemployment and below-trend growth," writes Michael Lewitt in the latest edition of the HCM Market Letter. He also believes that "misguided faith in Keynesian solutions to debt crises, a near-religious belief that mild deflation must be avoided... and uninformed media hype about the alleged benefits of mergers and acquisitions" should be added to the list of bad ideas that lead economic policy and markets astray.
2010-09-14 Municipal Bonds : Much Healthier than Feared by Jim McDonald (Article)
Investors and advisors are growing increasingly concerned about investing in bonds. Historical levels of flows into the asset class have driven prices up significantly. The extended economic downturn continues to apply pressures to municipalities and states are struggling with their balance sheets. Despite these headwinds investment professionals maintain that municipal bonds should continue to play a role in client portfolios. We thank Northern Trust Investments for their sponsorship.
2010-09-07 Jeffrey Gundlach on Bonds, Stocks and Gold by Robert Huebscher (Article)
DoubeLine's Jeffrey Gundlach recently reduced his position from "overweight" to "small underweight" in Treasury bonds, and cited "divergent behavior across the yield curve." In this interview, he discusses that behavior and the rationale behind his move, as well as his thoughts on other asset classes, including equities and gold.
2010-09-07 The Three Factors of Fear by Bob Veres (Article)
Bob Veres presents the latest release from his new service, which provides advisors with sample letters that they can share with their clients. In this edition, he looks at human psychology and the three factors of fear to understand why markets may now appear scarier to investors.
2010-09-07 The Free Lunch Illustrated by Michael Nairne (Article)
One of the most remarkable discoveries in modern finance is the ability to improve the expected return of a portfolio while simultaneously reducing its risk. In this guest contribution, which advisors can share with clients, Michael Nairne explains that the proverbial "free lunch" does exist, its exploitation requires a focus not only on the returns and volatility of the assets in the portfolio but on the degree of covariance between those assets.
2010-08-31 David Blitzer on How Indices Work by Dan Richards (Article)
Many investors read about the Dow Jones or S & P 500 index being up or down 200 points but don't really understand what this means. Today's interview with David Blitzer of S & P provides an explanation of how indexes work that can be shared with clients. This is a transcript of the interview.
2010-08-31 Evaluating Unconstrained Managers by Various (Article)
How can advisors evaluate an unconstrained asset manager, such as John Hussman of the Hussman Fund? In a follow-up to a recent article on research by Roger Ibbotson, we present views from several advisors on the role of returns-based style analysis and whether it can help identify whether managers such as Hussman deliver alpha.
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 Build America Bonds Power the US States by Hildy Richelson, Ph.D. (Article)
A skeptical attitude toward new products has long served the best interests of advisors and their clients, almost without fail. However, in this guest contribution, Hildy Richelson argues that advisors should not be afraid to embrace one of the market's most prominent recent innovations: the Build America Bond (BAB).
2010-08-17 A Double-Dip Recession Remains Unlikely ? A Mid-Year Update by Bob Doll (Article)
The past couple of months have been difficult for investors, but we are holding to our view that the recovery will continue and stocks will gain ground. Bob Doll, Vice Chairman and Chief Equity Strategist for Fundamental Equities at BlackRock, discusses the current situation, the predictions he made at the beginning of 2010 and opportunity in the financial markets for the second half of the year. We thank BlackRock for their sponsorship.
2010-08-17 Letters to the Editor: Harold Evensky, et. al. by Various (Article)
Our letters to the Editor include three responses to articles in last week's issue from Harold Evensky of Florida-based Evensky & Katz.
2010-08-10 Is the Market Efficient? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
After Marxism, no economic theory today may be as derided and despised as the hypothesis of market efficiency. The idea is often misunderstood, sometimes willfully. So what does "market efficiency" mean? In the latest installment of his series for the educated layman, Adam Jared Apt provides some answers.
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.
2010-08-03 Rebuilding Confidence in Stocks by Dan Richards (Article)
These days, there's a cloud of uncertainty over markets, with questions about economic growth, government deficits, the timing and impact of interest rates increases, unemployment levels and the housing market. As Dan Richards writes, this environment is when advisors can bring value, by providing perspective on both sides of the debate about the value that stocks provide at today's levels.
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 Cash Investing: Considerations for Investing in a Low Interest-Rate Environment by Northern Trust Investments (Article)
Northern Trust's chief economist, Paul Kasriel, forecasts that interest rates will remain low for the remainder of 2010. Investors are looking for guidance on how they should best position their cash and fixed income portfolios to take this environment into consideration, and should consider the tradeoff between liquidity and yield. We thank Northern Trust for their sponsorship.
2010-07-20 Jeremy Siegel on Why Stocks are Undervalued by Dan Richards (Article)
The Wharton School's Jeremy Siegel remains an outspoken proponent of stocks for the long run, as he demonstrates in this interview with Dan Richards. In the transcript of this interview, Siegel explains why equity investors should not be deterred by sour economic forecasts or by signals of apparent overvaluation based on Shiller P/E ratios.
2010-07-13 Deficits Monetary and Moral by Michael Lewitt (Article)
"The word 'deficit' has come to epitomize not only our economic dilemmas but also our moral and intellectual failures to address them in an era that should be boasting of new breakthroughs in the social and physical sciences," writes Michael Lewitt in the latest installment of his HCM Market Letter, Deficits Monetary and Moral. "Instead, our ability to solve complex problems is weighed down by flawed and corrupted government processes and the lack of courage to forthrightly change them."
2010-07-06 How to Calculate Your Personal Safe Withdrawal Rate by Lloyd Nirenberg, Ph.D (Article)
Traditional approaches for determining safe withdrawal rates (SWRs) rely on back-testing portfolios with different asset allocations using historical data. Instead, in this guest contribution, Lloyd Nirenberg provide a new, transparent analysis that enables investors to explicitly update their SWR based on new beliefs about their future returns and inflation.
2010-07-06 Template for a Mid-Year Letter ? Navigating through this Calamitous Decade by Dan Richards (Article)
It's always important for clients to feel they're being kept informed of what's happening in markets - but never more so than in markets like we've seen in the past few months. Dan Richards provides a template for a mid-year market commentary to clients, adaptable to your own opinions and circumstances, based on a recently rediscovered speech by Benjamin Graham.
2010-06-29 Timber as an Asset Class: If a Tree Falls in the Forest, Should you Buy It? by Charlie Curnow (Article)
"If the sun shines and it rains, the trees grow about on schedule," wrote Jeremy Grantham, chairman of Boston-based investment firm GMO, in his quarterly newsletter in April 2007. Grantham's enthusiasm for timber, which remains true to this day, may be excessive, despite the fact that, on the surface, historical data seems to support his optimism. If a tree falls in the forest, should you buy it?
2010-06-29 Inflation Protection Investment Strategies by Vern Sumnicht (Article)
The value of the dollar is sure to erode, and investors will be left to grapple with the inflationary consequences. As Vern Sumnicht shows in this guest contribution, recent policies suggest steep inflation may be just around the corner. Fortunately, investors have some options to bolster their portfolios against the threat of inflation.
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.
2010-06-15 Today?s Top Economic Historian: The Path to European Stability by Dan Richards (Article)
Harvard's Niall Ferguson is arguably today's leading economic historian. In this interview with Dan Richards, Ferguson discusses the current troubles and future outlook for Europe. We provide a transcript and a video.
2010-06-15 Strategy Advice from Apple and Google by Dan Richards (Article)
Last week Dan Richards conducted a webinar focused on the key decision that will drive advisors' long term success. Richards talks about what advisors can learn from the success of Apple, Google, Coke and Walmart.
2010-06-15 BlackRock Examines an Altered Fiduciary Landscape by BlackRock (Article)
Do your plan sponsors understand what it means to be a fiduciary and act prudently in that capacity? Are they aware of recent regulatory changes and how these may impact their fiduciary duties? Joe Lee, head of BlackRock's Advisor-Sold DC Distribution, discusses the opportunity advisors have to build and strengthen relationships with plan sponsors in the current environment. We thank them for their sponsorship.
2010-06-08 Why Wall Street Won't be Reformed by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Michael Lewitt, author of the highly respected HCM Market Letter, has just released a new book, The Death of Capital. In this interview, he identifies the challenges facing those who seek to regulate Wall Street, and why most of the proposed reforms are likely to fail.
2010-06-08 Five Strategies for a Rising Rate Environment by Kane Cotton, CFA and Jonathan Scheid, CFA (Article)
The Federal Reserve can't accommodate forever, and the global stimulus effort will likely lead to inflation. Our growing indebtedness can only result in increased borrowing costs. That much we know. What we don't know is when and how quickly interest rates will rise. In this guest contribution, Kane Cotton and Jonathan Scheid examine five strategies for a rising rate environment.
2010-06-08 Ten Ways to Improve Manager Selection by Nancy Opiela (Article)
Today's emphases on fiduciary responsibility, risk management and increased transparency require better due diligence when selecting managers. Especially in today's turbulent markets, advisors who spend more time and resources to do due diligence well can find themselves at a distinct competitive advantage. While these ten tips won't necessarily help you identify the next active management superstar, they can bolster your manager selection and due diligence program.
2010-06-08 The First Thing We Do, Let?s Kill All the Quants by Michael Lewitt (Article)
In the latest issue of the HCM Market Letter, Michael Lewitt draws the parallels between the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and financial reform - both, he says, demonstrate our inability to learn from our mistakes. Lewitt also comments on quantitative trading strategies, economic recovery and the capital markets.
2010-06-01 Three Ways to Improve Safe Withdrawal Rates by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
Using Monte Carlo analysis, Geoff Considine examines three ways safe withdrawal rates can be increased beyond the baseline 4% guideline. He compares and quantifies the benefits of increasing diversification beyond equities and bonds, increasing allocations to fixed income, and employing tactical asset allocation.
2010-06-01 Municipal Bond Market Insights by Northern Trust Investments (Article)
Not surprisingly, the most profitable investment trends tend to be those with the most staying power. That could be particularly good news for investors in municipal bonds, since structural forces are in place that may make tax-free bonds - and the income they generate - even more valuable in the years to come. Northern Trust provides their secular outlook for municipals, and we thank them for their sponsorship.
2010-06-01 Europe: Value or Value Trap? by Dan Trosch, CFA (Article)
European equities seem much cheaper than in the US, says Dan Trosch of Fortigent in this guest contribution. Europe trades at a 26% Price to Book discount and a 20% Price to Cash Earnings discount to the US. Some European industries and stocks are deservedly cheap and value traps; other industries and stocks are attractive and will benefit from global growth in exports and other macro trends.
2010-05-18 Jeremy Grantham Guarantees Gold will Crash by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Jeremy Grantham, the investor celebrated for his ability to spot and exploit bubbles in asset classes, guaranteed yesterday that the current bull market in gold will end. His proof? He bought some - for his own account - at the end of last week. That comment was tongue-in-cheek, but he went on to identify two asset classes likely to go into bubble territory.
2010-05-18 Anthony Boeckh on the Great Reflation by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Tony Boeckh has been the guiding force behind Bank Credit Analyst, and in this interview he discusses his new book, The Great Reflation. Boeckh stakes out a deflationary forecast, and explains how the flow of liquidity in the financial system will determine asset class performance.
2010-05-18 Actively Passive or Passively Active? by Craig L. Israelsen, Ph.D. (Article)
The active-passive debate typically centers on the nature of the investment product - whether it is an actively managed fund or a passive index fund. This, however, is only one aspect of that debate, and to consider it alone represents too simplistic a view, says Craig Israelsen in this guest contribution. A broader issue, namely how a portfolio of actively or passively managed funds is managed over time, has a more profound impact on whether one is truly an active or passive investor.
2010-05-11 A Historical Perspective on the Slight Depression by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Armed with textbooks and formulas, economists attack a problem by drawing lines, forming equations and trying to fit data to the real world. Niall Ferguson, a historian by training, thinks you can learn more simply by analyzing what has already happened. So what's a historian's take on the current crisis? Ferguson says it has yet to run its course.
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.
2010-05-11 God Is Dead: The Implications of the Goldman Sachs Case by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Michael Lewitt provides us with the most recent issue of the HCM Market Letter, where his discusses the implications of the Goldman Sachs case. Lewitt says Goldman faces a terrible dilemma, and should heed the lessons of the downfall of Drexel Burnham two decades ago. Lewitt also comments on the private equity industry, public pension funds, and bank capital requirements and the ratings agencies.
2010-05-11 Predicting Financial Crises by Charlie Curnow (Article)
MIT Sloan School senior finance lecturer Mark Kritzman thinks he has found a warning signal to predict the onset of financial crises in a new statistical model called the absorption ratio. The absorption ratio predicts systemic risk by measuring how tightly markets are coupled, and thus how vulnerable they are to the spread of negative shocks.
2010-05-11 A Coming Wave of M&A? by Seth P. Hieken, CFA (Article)
In this guest contribution, Seth Hieken of The Colony Group says to expect M&A transactions to accelerate over the course of the year. If correct, there are several important guidelines investors may wish to follow.
2010-05-11 Inspire Client Trust by Delivering Clear, Insightful Investment Communications by Ani Yessaillian (Article)
One of the best ways to build trust with your clients is to consistently deliver clear, insightful investment communications. In this guest contribution, consultant Ani Yessaillian tells you how to make the most of your quarterly performance report and your off-cycle investment communications.
2010-05-11 Tagline, You?re It by Wendy J. Cook (Article)
Have you ever noticed that it can be easier to write a 6,000-word treatise than to come up with six perfect words, like, say, "You're in good hands with Allstate®"? As Wendy Cook writes, sometimes less is more - more frustrating, that is. How do you say a lot with a little in corporate taglines?
2010-05-04 Timely market insights: Sector reviews and quarterly perspective on the financial markets by Janus (Article)
Janus provides sector reviews and reports on quarterly market performance in a new commentary. While economic recovery is in place, the firm says, its magnitude is uncertain. Topics covered include winners and losers in the energy sector, Chinese growth from within, the evolution of internet-related media and communications, and the financial impact of health reform. We thank Janus for their sponsorship.
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.
2010-05-04 How Much is that Investment Worth in Real Money? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
In the latest installment of his series of articles geared to the educated layman, Adam Apt looks at the topic of the time value of money, and how discount rates can be used to determine the value of a security. He shows the practical applications of present value calculations and its limitations.
2010-04-27 China: House of Cards or Emerging Superpower? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Few topics are as contentious as the fate of the Chinese economy. The bulls argue that its growth will propel the global economic recovery and that China will ultimately supplant the United States as the leading world superpower. According to the bears, the Chinese economy has been fueled by unsustainable fiscal stimuliand is a prototypical bubble poised to burst. Five panelists at the Strategic Investment Conference debated this question.
2010-04-20 Letter to the Editor ? The Interest Rate Debate by Various (Article)
As a Treasury bond bear of modest conviction, advisor Martin Weil read with interest Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg's piece in our April 12 issue. Though providing little data to support his thesis, Rosenberg makes a solid argument for why it is inflation, not supply and demand, that drives Treasury prices and yields. In taking this position, he pits himself against, among others, Jim Grant, with whom he has been carrying on a running debate.
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 Today?s Number One Way to Demonstrate Your Value by Dan Richards (Article)
Advisors provide the greatest value by being an emotional anchor for clients- keeping the highs from being too high during times of untrammeled optimism, such as we saw in 2000, and the lows from being too low during periods of absolute pessimism, such as we saw a year ago and in many cases still see today. Playing that role takes more than just having an opinion - you need credible evidence to back you up, which Dan Richards offers.
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.
2010-04-07 Currency Manipulation: A Primer by Komal Sri-Kumar of TCW Asset Management
The air is thick with allegations that China is manipulating its currency by keeping the renmibi fixed and undervalued with respect to the U.S. dollar. All of this is in anticipation of whether Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will designate China as a currency manipulator in his semi-annual report to Congress on trade practices. This designation could lead to new U.S. sanctions against Chinese exports. Ultimately, however, the key to success for U.S. authorities would not be public criticism of the United States' largest creditor, but a thoughtful discussion behind closed doors.
2010-04-06 A Q1 Letter to Send Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Dan Richards provides the latest in his very popular series of quarterly letters for advisors to send to their clients. This Q1 2010 article combines the attributes he considers essential: a balanced outlook, candor, short enough for clients to get through yet long enough to be substantial, fact-based, and customizable to your own voice.
2010-04-06 Emerging Markets: High Growth does not mean High Returns by Dan Richards (Article)
Recent research explores the return payoff of investing in emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, writes Dan Richards. Contrary to popular beliefs, investing in high-growth emerging markets has produced inferior returns to those obtained from slower growth economies.
2010-04-06 Follow-up to the Folly of Peer Group Analysis by Various (Article)
In response to a recent commentary by Research Affiliates, The Folly of Peer Group Analysis, a reader offers his own research on the performance of indices against peer groups, once impurities have been eliminated from those peer groups. John West and Ryan Larson of Research Affiliates provide additional analysis.
2010-04-06 Ten Steps to Get Started with New Media Marketing by Kristen Luke (Article)
For advisors not familiar with social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Viddler, BlogTalkRadio, and YouTube), Kristen Luke provides a 10-step plan to get started.
2010-04-01 Market Insight by Duncan W. Richardson of Eaton Vance Investment Managers
A year ago today, changes in the financial markets were nearly overwhelming for investors. At the close of last year's first quarter even the most sanguine of observers couldn't help but worry that the worst might not be over yet. Investor fear was reflected in the March 2009 asset allocation survey by the American Association of Individual Investors showing record low 41 percent allocations to equities and record high 45 percent allocations to cash.
2010-03-30 China's 2010 Growth Forecasts Upgraded by the World Bank by Team of American Century Investments
The World Bank raised China's 2010 growth forecasts to 9.5 percent last week from the 8.7 percent projected in November, but also predicted that China's growth will slow somewhat in 2011, to 8.7 percent. It also recommended higher interest rates and a stronger currency for China amidst growing concerns over rising inflation and a property sector bubble. The Chinese government emphasized the need for structural reforms in recent presentations to the National People's Congress.
2010-03-30 Surprising New Research on Diversification from Emerging Markets by Dan Richards (Article)
Historically there have been two reasons to invest in emerging markets: the promise of higher returns that come with faster growing economies, albeit with greater volatility, and the prospect that emerging markets will offer diversification from the performance of stocks in developed economies. Dan Richards reports that new research into the impact of global diversification, though, has produced some surprising results.
2010-03-30 Seven Tips for a Successful Family Foundation by Nancy Opiela (Article)
Managing a foundation's assetswins you the cachet of being seen as helping your clients fulfill their philanthropic goals, and it is extremely lucrative work that can create a practice-building bridge to the next generation.The administrative aspects, as Nancy Opiela writes, can be daunting and she offers seven tips for a successful family foundation.
2010-03-30 Not a Lost Decade for Diversified, Balanced Portfolios by Joni L. Clark, CFA, CFP (Article)
Did the last ten years really demolish the foundations of Modern Portfolio Theory and classic investing principles? How did portfolios that stuck to the principles of effective diversification and buy-and-hold investing actually perform during the so-called "Lost Decade?" The answers to both questions is an unqualified "no," writes Joni Clark of Loring Ward in this guest contribution, based on her analysis of a DFA-based strategy.
2010-03-29 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Last week's data revealed continued economic recovery, even though housing continues to lag, an alarming trend given that future Fed moves could negatively impact the sector. Optimists still hope that dismal housing numbers reflect poor winter conditions, however, and will reverse themselves in the coming months. As the first quarter comes to a close, expect managers to rebalance positions, take some profits and even lock in losses for tax purposes. The new month will bring a plethora of economic data, highlighted by the unemployment rate late in the week.
2010-03-24 No Greece in the American Machine by Nouriel Roubini of RGE Monitor
Sovereign debt risk recently graduated from an emerging economy hitch to an advanced economy problem. The Greek debt crisis occupies center stage of the political and economic debate, and Greece's problems could soon spread to Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland. Comparisons between these countries and troubled U.S. states are in vogue. Implicit and explicit backstopping from the federal government, however, should prevent state and municipal debt crises from reaching levels faced by European governments.
2010-03-23 Employment Gains Likely by Bob Doll of BlackRock
The jobs-shedding phase appears to have ended, but new jobs are still not being created. Unemployment claims have declined in March, however, and so this scenario may soon reverse. Temporary employment has increased, and many firms have discussed plans for permanent hiring. Factoring in census hiring, payrolls may increase by more than 200,000 this month. Once jobs growth commences in earnest, corporate earnings should also increase and investor uncertainty should diminish, and this should drive the next cyclical bull market in equities.
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 The New Investment Paradigm: Graham Meets Markowitz by Bob Veres (Article)
Broadly speaking, the financial services industry has been divided into two competing paradigms since roughly 1950. One, articulated by Harry Markowitz, suggests advisors add value through diversified portfolios optimized along the efficient frontier. The other, advocated by Benjamin Graham, says advisors add value by purchasing assets at prices less than their fair value. Bob Veres reconciles those views and describes the New Paradigm that has emerged.
2010-03-16 Greeks Bearing Gifts by Michael Lewitt (Article)
We are again privileged to publish the most recent edition of Michael Lewitt's HCM Market Letter, Greeks Bearing Gifts. Lewitt comments on Goldman Sachs' derivative transactions that helped Greece hide its debt and its larger implications for the financial system, for the European periphery and for Spain in particular. Lewitt also addresses the state of decline of the US economy and other topics.
2010-03-15 Weekly Commentary and Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
The conventional wisdom seems to be that the worst is over and a slow but self-sustaining recovery is taking place. A very quiet and slow week of trading produced yet another advance in the stock market. Concerns over Greece and other sovereign debt issues receded, while evidence on the global economy was mixed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.5 percent while the NASDAQ gained 1.8 percent over excitement generated by the new product line by Apple.
2010-03-15 Market Rebound Continues by Bob Doll of BlackRock
Equity markets notched positive returns again last week, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.6% to 10,625, the S&P 500 Index advanced 1.0% to 1,150 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.8% to 2,368. Economic growth should continue to improve, which should provide a boost to investor confidence. Additionally, merger and acquisition activity has picked up strongly in recent weeks, as have corporate share buybacks, trends that help promote an equity-friendly environment. On balance, equity markets should endure ongoing periods of volatility, but the cyclical bull market has further to run.
2010-03-09 Lesson's from an Investing Time Machine by Dan Richards (Article)
Time travel is every investor's fantasy - imagine if you could go back forty years and make investment decisions, knowing then what you know now. That's precisely the opportunity that Dan Richards gave a group of investors one recent evening.
2010-03-09 Equities Notch Weekly Gains by Bob Doll of BlackRock
Last week was strong for risk assets, and equities in particular, as the broad U.S. averages entered positive territory for the first time since early January. All sectors were positive, with materials up the most at 6 percent. A profits-led recovery seems to be unfolding, which will lead to increases in capital expenditures, and eventually, employment. After six negative weeks, flows in equities have been positive for three weeks running. Accommodative liquidity conditions and a healing economy support a pro-growth investment stance.
2010-03-08 Weekly Commentary and Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
Stocks rallied last week as evidence continued to show that even though unemployment is lagging, the rest of the economy is doing better. While the unemployment rate stayed constant at 9.7 percent, falling labor costs allowed companies to increase profit margins, and thus buoy stocks through solid fundamentals. If interest rates stay low, conditions will be perfect for stocks, because stock markets respond to prospects for profits and interest rates. McIntyre also examines the possible impact of health care reform, and the recent performance of Dow Chemical and Boeing.
2010-03-02 Robert Pozen on the Financial Crisis, Social Security, and the Mutual Fund Industry by Dan Richards (Article)
Robert Pozen is the chairman of MFS Investment Management and a senior lecturer at the Harvard Business School. In this interview with Dan Richards, he discusses the financial crisis, Social Security, and the mutual fund Industry. We provide a transcript and a video replay of the interview.
2010-03-02 Recovery Continues, But Jobs Data Critical by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
The economic recovery remains intact, but data remains mixed and outlooks are still uncertain. Employment trends remain the most critical economic data, because the labor market is the mechanism that sustains and reinforces growth. At present, corporate earnings and balance sheets are supportive of companies increasing their payrolls. Trading remains uneven, but higher-risk assets still hold long-term upside potential.
2010-02-26 Focus on the Forest, Not the Trees by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Despite the reflexive rebound in global equity markets, deflation is still the primary trend for consumer prices and asset values as households rebuild balance sheets and as governments face sovereign default risks. Investors should focus on bonds, hybrids, and dividends with consistent yields as they search for safety and income at a reasonable price.
2010-02-23 A Greek Tragedy, 'PIIGS,' and a Euro Challenge by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Greece's public debt has risen to 110 percent of its gross domestic product, and its budget deficit stands at 14 percent of GDP, well above the EU limit of 3 percent. This has raised concerns about other European states with questionable finances, including Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain. The political risks of a Greek default, however, will probably motivate other EU nations to support the troubled country.
2010-02-23 Interest Rates, Inflation and the PIMCO Total Return Fund by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The current generation of financial advisors has never experienced rising interest rates, but that will change, based on the forecasts we collected in our survey last week. We review our survey results and look at the implications for the largest bond portfolio, the PIMCO Total Return fund.
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.
2010-02-18 Paper Hangers by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital
The 80-year decline in central banking discipline is the biggest problem facing developed economies. Finance ministers from Washington to London, Tokyo, Madrid and Athens are attempting to fill fiscal gaps by issuing greater quantities of currency and debt. Governments need to curtail spending in order to meet financial obligations.
2010-02-16 G7 Weekly Economic Prospects by Christopher Probyn and Geoffrey Somes of State Street Global Advisors
Christopher Probyn and Geoffrey Somes of State Street Global Advisors say in their weekly economic commentary that US retail sales rose 0.5 percent in January, but consumer confidence fell 0.7 points, to 73.7. Investor risk appetites improved following assurances that the EU will stand behind Greek fiscal reforms.
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.
2010-02-13 Fear Takes the Wheel by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital
Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital says in his economic commentary that the recent strength of the stock market may be more attributable to fears of inflation than an improving economy. Growing U.S. debt levels threaten to swamp to dollar, and are leading investors away from dollars and treasury bonds.
2010-02-12 Insights from CM Analyst Conference Part II by Tom Wu of Franklin Templeton
Tom Wu of Templeton Asset Management says the emerging markets of Turkey and Hungary may offer opportunities for rapid growth. Turkey has built its foreign exchange reserves to $70 billion, while the MCSI Hungary Index posted 78 percent returns in 2009. Wu notes, however, that these opportunities for growth come with higher risks.
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 The China Conundrum by Dan Richards (Article)
Few issues divide investors today more than the investment merits of China, despite that country's tremendous potential. China's strong economic performance through the global financial crisis has reinforced this divide. Dan Richards looks at the cases for and against investment in China, and offers his own opinion.
2010-02-05 Greece: Opportunities despite the Challenges by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
Mobius recently traveled to Greece and discusses its fiscal problems and the likely path of tax increases and reduced government spending.
2010-02-04 Country Stock Market Performance by Team of Bespoke Investment Group
Worries about a few EU countries and the Euro currency have rattled global equity markets. Sovereign debt credit default swaps have been rising sharply for countries such as Greece and Portugal in recent days. Equity markets in Spain, Portugal, and Hungary are down more than 5% today alone. They highlight the year to date performance and performance since the 1/19 peak for the major equity markets of 81 countries around the world.
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.
2010-02-02 Who will Pay for the Burlington Acquisition? by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
According to investment manager Vitaliy Katsenelson, Warren Buffett overpaid in Berkshire's acquisition of Burlington Northern. He states, "Though I agree with Buffett's assessment of the Kraft-Cadbury deal, I fear that investors and media are completely ignoring Berkshire's own, $30-billion-plus acquisition of a very cyclical, capital-intensive, not terrifically high-return-on-capital business - Burlington Northern."
2010-02-02 Easy Money by MacKay of Broadleaf Partners
The authors are bullish on US equities, noting that ?that at current rates of improvement, S&P 500 profits could be back to the peak levels achieved in 2006 by the second quarter of this year,? and when profits were at that level, the S&P 500 was 30% higher than it is now. The economy is stronger than many suspect and they forecast ?a recovery based on the strength of corporate profits and business spending rather than the consumer.?
2010-01-26 Stop the Presses! by Jeremy Grantham of GMO
Grantham?s commentary begins with his reflections on the proposed financial reform, the ?Volcker Plan,? and the recent Supreme Court ruling on corporate campaign contributions. He continues with a fo
2010-01-26 Using Alternative Investments to Build a Stronger Portfolio by Robert M. Hussey (Article)
Traditional asset classes may no longer provide sufficient portfolio diversification, but there's a new wave of mutual funds that offer alternatives strategies previously available only to large institutions. Robert Hussey of Natixis Global Associates describes how alternative strategies can be used in a mutual fund package. We thank them for their sponsorship.
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 The Potemkin Market by Michael Lewitt (Article)
We are again privileged to publish the current issue of Michael Lewitt's newsletter, titled The Potemkin Market. Lewitt updates his forecast for the S&P 500, criticizes the current financial reform efforts and the ongoing GSE bailout and Fed Chairman Bernanke. Lewitt argues that risk is overpriced in many segments of the market.
2010-01-26 Punctuated Equilibrium by Dan Richards (Article)
Dan Richards says we're dealing with a more fundamental issue than the recent market turmoil. "We're going through one of those rare periods of ground-shaking change that have taken place throughout history, something that was in the works well before last fall's market excitement," he says, and explains how advisors should deal with more demanding customers, new technology and global competition.
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.
2010-01-23 Annual Report Letter to Shareholders by Hawkins and Cates of Longleaf Partners
Interestingly we have not been asked about the 'lessons of 2009.' The first answer to that unasked question is that bottoms-up fundamental company analysis matters quite a bit. If it wer
2010-01-22 Reflections Across the Pond by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital
Having been among the economic engines of Europe for much of the past decade, it appears as if the British economy has run out of steam. Inflation is rising while bankruptcies and unemployment continu
2010-01-21 Unlocking Potential Through Corporate Governance by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
I cannot stress enough my belief of the strength of the correlation between good governance and good corporate performance. As a result of this connection, we often see stock prices rise as a result o
2010-01-19 Arlington Econometrics Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
My work is leading me towards smaller cap and emerging markets as untapped sources of capital gains. Additionally, since earnings acceleration patterns are quite narrow, the universe of possible cand
2010-01-19 Steve Leuthold: The Market will Rally This Year by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Steve Leuthold is chairman of the $4.5 billion Leuthold Group and one of the most widely-followed market analysts. In his keynote presentation at last week's Fortigent conference, he offered an upbeat forecast for the first half of 2010.
2010-01-19 John Cochrane on the Dangers of Current Economic Policies by Dan Richards (Article)
John Cochrane is a professor of finance at the University of Chicago and the incoming president of the American Finance Association. Cochrane is also author of the widely-circulated article, How did Paul Krugman get it so Wrong?. In this interview, Cochrane identifies the shortcomings and dangers of current economic policies.
2010-01-19 A Market for Contrarians by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Along with Steve Leuthold, Rob Arnott, Doug Kass and DoubleLine co-founder Joe Galligan were among the speakers at Fortigent's conference. These three speakers' bearish sentiment extended across a wide range of asset classes, opening lots of possibilities for those who prefer contrarian bets.
2010-01-16 Q1 2010 Newsletter by Bradley Turner of Chess Financial
It is our expectation that the returns of the major assets classes will generally be lower and less correlated in the year ahead. We reach this conclusion based on several factors, the first of which
2010-01-14 Is Recovery Here to Stay? by William H. McAfee of WHM Capital Advisors
There are still high levels of uninvested cash sitting idly on the sidelines. Equity markets are likely to do well in 2010 as the perception of risk diminishes and cash flows out of low yielding mone
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 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.
2010-01-05 The Falling Dollar: Should We Worry? by Elisabeth L. Talbot, CFA (Article)
Over the past several months, it has become increasingly fashionable to refer to the decline of the U.S. dollar as another financial "crisis." Yet, given the current state of the global markets, declaring that the dollar's recent losses amount to a "crisis" is an overstatement, says Elisabeth Talbot in this guest contribution. To the contrary, current conditions surrounding the dollar are arguably supportive of - if not integral to - economic recovery.
2010-01-05 Perspectives on 2009 and Beyond by Ron Surz (Article)
We are again privileged to provide Ron Surz' award-winning market commentary. Surz examines global performance in Q4, 2009 and the prior decade.
2009-12-30 Monetary Policy: Inflation-Deflation, Debt, Excess Reserves, Currency Volatility by Michael J. Schussele of Michael J. Schussele, CPA
2009-12-29 Jeremy Siegel on the Undervaluation in US Equities by Robert Huebscher (Article)
"I think that earnings growth next year will be stronger than anticipated and will break the all-time high for the S&P, which was in the second quarter of 2007, when earnings for the trailing 12 months were in the low 90s," says Siegel. "In 2011 or 2012 we will break that amount. With $90 in earnings and a 15 P/E ratio, you get 1,350 for the S&P."
2009-12-29 End-of-Year Letter Templates by Bob Veres (Article)
Bob Veres is the editor and publisher of Inside Information, a publication focused on practice management and related issues for the financial planning profession. He just introduced a new monthly service, Client Articles, which will contain articles (and cartoons) that can be sent to clients, for example as part of your quarterly newsletters. He provides two sample letters.
2009-12-29 Diversification is Not Enough by Roger J. Schreiner (Article)
The mainstream financial services industry, the media and academia - virtually everyone - has overestimated the value of diversification in risk management. The recent crisis has shown that investors need more than simple diversification to protect them from both the known and the unknown risk that they will eventually encounter. In this guest contribution, Roger Schreiner, says that when it comes to risk management, diversification simply is not enough.
2009-12-15 Barton Biggs on Undervaluation in the S&P 100 by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Barton Biggs, the former Chief Global Strategist for Morgan Stanley who now runs the hedge fund Traxis Partners, says the high-quality, large-capitalization stocks in the S&P 100 are now undervalued by one standard deviation. In our interview, Biggs also discusses his fears and how investors should protect themselves from the worst-case scenarios.
2009-12-15 The Next Black Swan? Underfunded Public Pensions by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The plights of California and other states reveal an ominous threat our economy faces: underfunded public pension liabilities. We examine the size and scope of this problem, focusing on whether the underlying assumptions used to calculate liabilities are realistic.
2009-12-15 A Template for a Year-end Letter by Dan Richards (Article)
Many advisors have told Dan Richards they receive a positive response from the quarterly review letters they've sent over the past year based on the templates he has provided. Here's a template that can be a starting point for a year-end review letter.
2009-12-08 Dubai?s Moon Shot by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
Dubai is like NASA; both have proven that anything is possible when you ignore economic costs. As Vitaliy Katsenelson writes, many technological discoveries were made in the process of putting a man on the moon; but the project did have, and was expected to have, a negative return on capital.
2009-12-01 Ten Ways to Connect with Your Clients? Children by Nancy Opiela (Article)
When you work with a top client throughout his or her life, you have an opportunity to ensure that the client's family stays with your firm beyond the current generation. Financial legacies are often lost when wealth passes from generation to generation, so building intergenerational connections can ensure both a successful transfer of assets - and an advisory relationship that endures after your original client passes on.
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 Bruce Greenwald on Positioning First Eagle?s Funds by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Bruce Greenwald is a professor of finance at Columbia, the Director of Research at First Eagle Funds, and a leading expert on value investing. Last week we published part one of our interview, where he discussed the structural problems in the economy and his forecast for higher unemployment. This week he discusses the positioning of First Eagle's investments, and why Warren Buffett's purchase of Burlington Northern was a mistake.
2009-11-17 Our Steroidally Challenged Economy by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
Vitaliy Katsenelson writes that the US economy is like a marathon runner who, after suffering an injury, takes steroids in order to return to racing. His performance is fine, but what don't see are the risks, just as our economy is now "steroidally challenged."
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 Bruce Greenwald on Structural Problems in the Economy and Unemployment by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Bruce Greenwald is a professor of finance at Columbia University, the Director of Research at First Eagle Funds, and perhaps the foremost expert on value investing. In part one of our two-part interview, he discusses the structural problems facing the economy, the parallels to the Great Depression, and the implications for the unemployment rate.
2009-11-10 3Q 2009 Financial Markets Review by Janus (Article)
At the end of the 3rd quarter, the S&P 500® Index posted its strongest back-to-back quarterly performance since 1975. While the economy continued to stabilize and the U.S. consumer showed signs of life, concern over the health of the consumer remained. Learn more about the key drivers of global financial markets from the perspective of the Janus investment team through this 3Q Financial Markets Review. We thank them for their sponsorship.
2009-11-10 Roubini: Fed Policies are Destabilizing the Financial System by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Nouriel Roubini, the once-obscure economist who gained celebrity and the title "Dr. Doom" after correctly forecasting the financial crisis, believes that current Fed policies are destabilizing the markets and pushing the economy toward another collapse.
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 Worry of the Dollar?s Collapse Is Overblown by Frank Wei, CFA (Article)
The fundamentals for the dollar could not be worse. The U.S. economy has continued to struggle, the federal deficit has skyrocketed, and the government has adopted super-easing monetary policies and aggressive fiscal spending. But anxiety over a potential dollar collapse is overblown. A gradual decline appears more likely, according to Frank Wei of FundQuest in this guest contribution.
2009-10-27 The ?V? Points Downward by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Long-term equity investors face a critical juncture. They can believe a V-shaped economic recovery is imminent, if not underway, and valuations for broad-based equity indexes properly reflect an end to the "decrepit decade" of return-less risk in US markets. Or they can believe true economic recovery - growth, not just stability - is still a long way off and US equity valuations are in bubble territory, not reflective of the rough terrain ahead. We provide our thoughts.
2009-10-20 Letters to the Editor - Fama-French and the Active-Passive Debate by Various (Article)
Last week's article, Luck vs. Skill in Mutual Fund Alpha Estimates, on the latest research from Ken French and Gene Fama drew plenty of responses. We publish two of them, both in support of active management.
2009-10-20 Finance After Auschwitz by Michael Lewitt (Article)
We are again privileged to provide an excerpt from Michael Lewitt's HCM Market Letter. In this installment, Finance After Auschwitz, Lewitt examines the dangers posed by Iran, whether the market is overvalued, the future of securitization, and what should be done about the private equity industry.
2009-10-20 Three Ways to Inspire Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Given the beating their portfolios have taken and the general mood of skepticism, often your goal when meeting with clients is to have them leave feeling more optimistic and upbeat about their future prospects and in particular about your role as their advisor. Dan Richards offers three ways to uplift your clients' spirits, while confronting today's crucial issues and building your credibility.
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.
2009-10-13 In Defense of Leveraged and Inverse ETFs by Tom Lydon (Article)
Leveraged and inverse exchange traded funds (ETFs) have been a lightning rod for controversy. Reasonable concerns underpin criticism of them, but these funds are largely misunderstood. Tom Lydon sets the record straight and identifies those investors for whom leveraged and inverse funds are appropriate.
2009-10-06 Green Shoots and Head Fakes in Housing by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The greenest of all green shoots - the recent rise in housing prices - is little more than a mirage, according to Whitney Tilson, founder and CEO of T2 Partners, a New York-based hedge fund and mutual fund manager. "It's likely the news of home price stabilization will turn out to be the mother of all head fakes," Tilson said. He spoke to a group of financial analysts in Boston last week.
2009-10-06 Analyst Viewpoints: Market Perspectives from Janus' Seven Global Sector Teams by Janus (Article)
The retail, financial and healthcare sectors are critical drivers of economic recovery. The analysts at Janus examine the latest trends in these industries, and assess which companies are best positioned to capitalize on opportunities in both the short and long term. We thank Janus for their sponsorship.
2009-10-06 A Quarter-End Letter to Send Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Last fall, Dan Richards began posting quarter-end letters that advisors could adapt for their own use. Many advisors have told him that they have received an outstanding response to the letters they sent as a result, and Dan provides a template for a third-quarter letter.
2009-09-29 Turning Intention into Action by Dan Richards (Article)
Dan Richards' recent article, A Wakeup Call for Advisors: Turmoil at the Top of the Market, drew by far the largest response of any his articles in the last year and a half. Focusing on a number of recent articles on affluent investors leaving existing advisors, the article laid out five strategies to respond to this trend. Of course, laying out the strategies is the easy part - it's acting on them that's tough - and Dan offers suggestions for advisors looking for a way to prioritize their action plan.
2009-09-29 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
In our letters to the Editor, a reader responds to our article last week, The Financial Market Solution to Carbon Emissions, and another to our article two weeks ago, Mohammed El-Erian: We Have Not Reached Escape Velocity.
2009-09-22 The Financial Market Solution to Carbon Emissions by Robert Huebscher (Article)
While health care remains the hot topic on Capitol Hill, another piece of legislation is poised to gain similar attention. Regulating carbon emissions to address the threat of global warning is a top priority of the Obama administration, and its favored approach is to create a "cap-and-trade" market. John Parsons, an expert in the field, explains how this financial market solution might work.
2009-09-15 Mohammed El-Erian: We Have Not Reached Escape Velocity by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Kicking off this year's Schwab Impact conference in San Diego, Mohammed El-Erian told an audience of nearly 1,000 advisors on Sunday night that the US financial system has not fully emerged from the financial crisis. El-Erian and his co-presenter, Larry Fink of Blackrock, addressed a range of topics, including the safety of the financial system, the future of regulation, and the outlook for inflation.
2009-09-15 The 'Cash For Clunkers' Economy by Michael Lewitt (Article)
We are once again privileged to offer the latest edition of the HCM Market Letter, edited by Michael Lewitt, titled The 'Cash for Clunkers' Economy. Lewitt examines the drivers behind the current market rally, the health of the banking system and the housing industry, the the future for derivatives regulation. If you enjoy this newsletter, we encourage you to subscribe directly though the link provided with our article.
2009-09-08 Infrastructure Investing by Michael D. Underhill (Article)
With global markets improving, liquidity returning to the credit markets, and valuations improving, the infrastructure market looks promising. In this guest contribution, Michael Underhill argues that infrastructure assets,when chosen correctly, can diversify an investor's portfolio because of their low correlation with other asset groups, their consistent returns coupled with lowered levels of risk, and their potential for inflation-linked returns.
2009-09-01 Additional Thoughts on the ?New Normal? by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
A number of readers responded to Geoff Considine's article three weeks ago, What the New Normal Means for Asset Allocation, including Larry Katz, Director of Research at Merriman, whose response we published last week. Katz criticized Considine along a number of dimensions, and in this guest contribution Considine defends his New Normal asset allocation.
2009-08-25 The New Normal and Asset Allocation Merriman?s Response by Larry Katz, CFA (Article)
Larry Katz, Director of Research at Merriman, Inc., responds to Geoff Considine's article two weeks ago, What the New Normal Means for Asset Allocation. He has multiple objections concerning much of Considine's logic, and would not recommend his alternative portfolio to their clients.
2009-08-25 The Case for Optimism by Dan Richards (Article)
Only a few months ago, economist's doomsday scenarios caused widespread concerns that we were about to revisit the Great Depression. That consensus view on the economy has shifted remarkably quickly, with a much more positive outlook for the immediate period ahead. Dan Richards cites two recent articles making a persuasive case for optimism.
2009-08-25 Beating a Dead Dragon by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
The last thing you may want to read is another article about China - how many ink cartridges have been exhausted writing about its phenomenal growth numbers in the past decade? - but what Vitaliy Katsenelson has to say may surprise you: China's economy is hardly as vibrant as everyone thinks it is.
2009-08-18 A Crash Course in Investing Six Lessons from the Market Meltdown by Dougal Williams, CFA (Article)
The market decline from October 2007 to early March 2009 was the worst since the late 1930's. Stocks dropped 60%, investor uncertainty skyrocketed, and trust and confidence were shattered. The age-old rules for personal investing are now being questioned: Is Buy-and-Hold dead? Has Asset Allocation outlived its usefulness? Does Diversification still work? In this guest contribution, Dougal Williams provides answers to these questions that can serve as a guide for long-term investment success.
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 What the New Normal Means for Asset Allocation by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
Bill Gross of PIMCO forecasts a New Normal - slow economic growth, higher inflation, and increasing correlations among asset classes. If this view is correct, what should investors do? Geoff Considine examines the implications for asset allocation and financial planning by stress-testing some well-known asset allocations to see how well they will serve investors in the forecast environment.
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.
2009-08-04 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 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
In our letters to the Editor, readers respond to last week's article, How Long is the Long Run?, Geoff Considine's article, The Retirement Portfolio Showdown: Jeremy Siegel v. Zvi Bodie , and Ted Wong's article, Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 3.
2009-07-28 Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 3 by Theodore Wang (Article)
Buy-and-hold remains deeply entrenched in the financial planning community, despite many of the flaws Ted Wong's previous articles have illustrated. Although many financial advisors suffer dearly from their buy-and-hold practices, they are reluctant to change their approach. Who dares to challenge investment sages like Bogle, Siegel, and Malkiel who emphatically support this long-standing investment principle? Academic research studies overwhelmingly endorse buy-and-hold. How can they all be wrong?
2009-07-21 SIFMA?s Proposed by Ron Rhoades (Article)
On July 17, 2009, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association ("SIFMA") announced that its Private Client Group Steering Committee unanimously supports a new federal fiduciary standard for broker-dealers and investment advisors, embracing a proposal advanced by the Obama administration a week earlier in a draft of the "Investor Protection Act of 2009." Ron Rhoades looks at whether this shift in direction by SIFMA poses a radical change in business models, or whether the "new federal fiduciary standard" is something else in disguise.
2009-07-21 Q2 2009 Performance among the Most Popular Mutual Funds in the Advisor Perspectives Universe by Robert Huebscher and Mary Pitek (Article)
Each quarter we analyze changes in the Advisor Perspectives database - a $50+ billion universe of high- and ultra-high net worth assets managed by Registered Investment Advisors. Our analysis has three parts. We look at changes in asset allocation, the performance of the most popular mutual funds, and the mutual funds that showed significant gains or losses in popularity during the quarter.
2009-07-14 Some Signs of Life and Hope for a New Recovery by John P. Calamos and Nick P. Calamos (Article)
Calamos Investments' co-CIOs John P. Calamos, Sr. and Nick P. Calamos discuss the current market climate, implications of Fed and government actions, and investment opportunities in the shorter- and longer-term. Global governmental policies have restored a degree of confidence in the financial markets and many key financial metrics are back to pre-Lehman levels. Many investment opportunities will be available in the future. We thank them for their sponsorship.
2009-07-07 Gary Shilling: Recovery is a Year Away by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Among economists, Gary Shilling owns one of the most prescient forecasting records, having accurately predicted the credit crisis and the performance of key asset classes over the last several years. Now, he says, the chances that the current wave of "green shoots" will be the finale to the recession are "pretty low."e
2009-06-30 In Search of Unconventional Thinking by Dan Richards (Article)
Astute investors search out insights that aren't reflected in stock prices. For this to work, though, you have to be prepared to differ from the pack and defy conventional thinking - once an idea enters the mainstream, it no longer gives you an edge. Dan Richards discusses some important positive ideas that unconventional thinking elicits from the news and analysis presented in traditional media.
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.
2009-06-23 Compelling Evidence That Active Management Really Works by Ken Solow (Article)
The majority of academic studies conclude that active management does not add value for investors. However, a closer look at how many studies were conducted reveals several flaws in their methodology that are not as well-known as the accepted conclusion about active versus passive management. Guest contributor Ken Solow revisits work by two Yale researchers showing the value added through active management.
2009-06-23 Letters to the Editor ? Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale? by Various (Article)
Ted Wong's article last week, Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale?, drew a large number of questions and comments from readers.
2009-06-16 New Target-Date Fund Research from Janus by Janus (Article)
New research shows widespread target-date fund misuse and misperceptions by defined contribution plan participants. Janus Investments' white paper shows that investors misunderstand the role of target date funds in their overall portfolio and rely heavily on their employer for investment advice. We thank them for their sponsorship.
2009-06-09 Simon Johnson on Obama?s Achilles Heel by Eric Uhlfelder (Article)
While he agrees with much of what the US administration is doing to confront the economic crisis, Simon Johnson, the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, fears that present policy is not addressing a key issue: the overwhelming influence of the finance industry in US economic affairs. He likens this imbalance to what we see at the core of many emerging markets crises.
2009-06-09 Bill Gross and the New Normal by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Nearly a half-century of global economic prosperity has ended, and investors must gird themselves for muted returns from the capital markets, according to Bill Gross, a Managing Director at PIMCO. Gross shared his outlook at the Morningstar Investor Conference.
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.
2009-06-09 Let?s Talk Stocks: Berkowitz, Marsico and Weitz by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Three of the industry's most accomplished value investors - Bruce Berkowitz of the Fairholme Fund, Tom Marsico of Marsico Capital Management and Wally Weitz of Weitz Funds - spoke at a panel discussion at the Morningstar Investor Conference on May 28. We present some excerpts of their thoughts on key questions raised during the panel.
2009-06-09 Q1 2009 Performance among the Most Popular Mutual Funds in the Advisor Perspectives Universe by Robert Huebscher and Mary Pitek (Article)
Each quarter we review changes in the Advisor Perspectives (AP) Universe, which represents $50 billion in high-net worth assets managed by RIAs. Our analysis looks at changes in asset allocation, the mutual funds and ETFs that gained or lost market share, and the performance of the most popular actively managed mutual funds. This analysis focuses on performance across the most popular mutual funds.
2009-06-02 Jeremy Grantham's Warnings to Investors by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Of the thousands of investment letters penned in the industry, only one draws as much readership as Warren Buffet's annual letter to his shareholders: The quarterly commentary written by Jeremy Grantham. Grantham, the Chairman of the Boston-based investment firm Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo, was a featured speaker at Morningstar's Investor Conference last week, and he spoke at two breakout sessions. Those who, like me, attended both were richly rewarded, as he gave two distinctly different talks, addressing many subjects not covered in his commentaries.
2009-06-02 Market Perspectives from Janus' Seven Global Sector Teams by Janus (Article)
The last 18 months have challenged advisors, as they now wait for the market and economy to stabilize. Despite the generally bearish sentiment, Janus believes many individual investment opportunities in the market today offer compelling valuations and risk/reward profiles. We thank them for their sponsorship.
2009-05-26 What the ?Missing Out? Argument Misses by Theodore Wang (Article)
Market timing is discredited by passive investment advisors as a voodoo ritual. Buy-and-hold proponents argue most compellingly by citing the "missing out" scenario - they show a dramatic drop in return, to Treasury Bill levels, if investors are out of the markets for only a few good days. In this guest contribution, Ted Wong debunks the missing out argument, using 137 years of market data.
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.