More on Related Themes
2015-05-21 Global Review and Equity Commentary: April 2015 by Team of Thomas White International
As expected, the global economy slowed during the first quarter but should gain momentum in the coming months. The U.S. economy almost came to a standstill during the first three months of the year as adverse winter weather limited activity. Consumer spending moderated and construction activity slowed, while lower oil prices discouraged businesses in that sector from capital investments. The stronger dollar and labor disputes at some of the seaports limited export gains, and led to a widening of the U.S. trade deficit.
2015-05-21 Our May 2015 Market Commentary by Adam Jordan of Paul R. Ried Financial Group
We could spend this letter going into detail on the topics du jour, such as if/when we think the Fed will finally raise interest rates (they will...eventually). Or whether Greece will leave the Euro (they probably will...eventually). Or what we think of China’s growth (It will continue slowing...Slowly).
2015-05-20 Economy is "Good Enough" for Stocks by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock
With economic data remaining mixed, BlackRock Global Chief Investment Strategist, Russ Koesterich, discusses why investors should continue to favor stocks over bonds.
2015-05-08 Global Economic Overview and Equity Commentaries: March 2015 by Team of Thomas White International
The global economy is facing subdued growth in the short term, as adverse weather and a stronger currency have slowed the pace of U.S. expansion. Unusually severe winter weather on the U.S. East coast restricted business and consumer activity during the first three months of the year.
2015-05-06 International Equities: Another Turn of the Wheel by David Ruff of Forward Investing
It’s a truism that markets move in cycles and that the ideal time to invest is right at or near the start of an upswing. Diversification is another key tenet of Investing 101. Yet inertia and the pull of the crowd often lead investors to concentrate assets in markets that may be nearing their peak while ignoring potentially more promising opportunities.
2015-05-01 After the Market Crisis: Does Diversification Still Work? by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock
Diversification may not have worked during the last market crisis, but this isn’t an argument for skipping exposure to international stocks.
2015-04-25 Why International Diversification Matters Today by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management
The tendency of U.S. investors to invest close to home is understandable, but it’s not optimal. Russ has three reasons why international diversification matters now more than ever for U.S. investors.
2015-04-16 Three Portfolio Moves to Consider Now by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock
While the first quarter largely played to script, there were a few surprises. Russ explains, noting three portfolio moves to consider as the second quarter kicks off.
2015-04-14 The Case for Not Currency Hedging Foreign Equity Investments: A U.S. Investor’s Perspective by Catherine LeGraw of GMO
In a new white paper, Catherine LeGraw of GMO's asset allocation team explains GMO's approach to currency hedging, a topic which has gained relevance as the U.S. dollar has strengthened.
2015-04-11 Slip Sliding Sideways by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen & Jeffrey Kleintop of Charles Schwab
Volatility will likely continue and more sideways action could be in store for the US equity market. We believe US economic data will start to rebound, helping push stocks higher in the second half of the year. The Fed remains in focus, but a rate hike is not likely until the latter half of 2015, which has helped slow the dollar’s upward momentum; potentially comforting the market and letting businesses better react. Better near-term opportunities may exist overseas as the Eurozone economy is improving and Japan seems poised to rebound from soft data.
2015-04-07 Behind Arnott's Strategy for PIMCO's All Asset Funds by John Coumarianos (Article)
If you thought a stretch of subpar performance would shake a fund manager's confidence, you'd be wrong in the case of Rob Arnott. Through Research Affiliates, his Newport Beach firm most famous for its fundamental indexing strategies, Arnott manages PIMCO's All Asset funds. These include PIMCO All Asset (PAAIX) and PIMCO All Asset All Authority (PAUIX).
2015-04-02 Optimism amid a global view of equities by Todd A. Bassion of Delaware Investments
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported on Wednesday that it expects India’s economy to grow by 7.7% in 2015, making it the fastest-growing major economy in the world. This puts India in a position to possibly outpace China, where growth is slowing to the government’s official target of approximately 7%.
2015-03-28 International Equity Commentary: February 2015 by Team of Thomas White International
International equity prices gained during February on expectations that the central banks in Europe and Japan would continue their quantitative easing programs, while the U.S. Federal Reserve could possibly delay its interest rate hikes. At the same time, economic trends from most major economies remained relatively stable. After two quarters of robust gains, the U.S. economy expanded at a slower pace during the fourth quarter of 2014, as expected.
2015-03-10 'Cheating' for Alpha with Beta by Ryan J. Lehman (Article)
In a recent white paper, our colleagues at GMO very appropriately asked, "Is Skill Dead?" In this paper they examined the results of the large-cap blend peer group, and offered an optimistic outlook for active managers despite recent underperformance. In this article, I expand upon their work and our own by discussing how managers "cheat" for alpha by taking positions in out-of-benchmark risk premia and beta exposures, and how those bets have compromised recent results.
2015-03-03 The Return of the Comeback: Is 2015 the Year for International Stocks? by Zachary Karabell of Envestnet
For several years, many professional investors and advisers have been bullish about the prospects for investing outside the United States. Calls to overweight European stocks or global stocks have been typical each January for the past years, and this year is no different.
2015-02-20 The Case for Global Investing by Team of Litman Gregory
As U.S. stocks have outperformed developed international and emerging-markets stocks in recent years, we’re starting to hear more people question the benefit of investing outside of the United States. This is an important question, and we acknowledge that owning foreign stocks has been an unsatisfying experience over the past couple of years. Moreover, given some of the current economic and geopolitical forces, it can appear likely to continue this way.
2015-02-17 U.S. Dollar Strength Continues to Impact U.S. Multinationals by Jeremy Schwartz of WisdomTree
S&P 500 Index has traded inversely to the currency moves over recent years, and it has become increasingly negatively negatively correlated. One reason, we believe, is that a growing share of revenue and profits for U.S. corporations comes from overseas—and that share seems likely to increase with the globalization of the economy.
2015-02-06 Should I Stay or Should I Go: Global Diversification Could be 2015’s Winner by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
Last year ended on a weak note for US equities; and January continued the trend; Divergences will remain a theme and likely keep volatility elevated; US investors haven’t felt the need to diversify globally…they should
2015-02-06 After the Perfect Storm in US Smaller-Cap Stocks by Bruce Aronow of AllianceBernstein
Last year was a tough one for US small- and mid-cap stocks, but there’s reason to think 2015 may be different. For investors who trimmed their smaller-cap allocation last year, we think it may be time to consider taking it back to its long-term target.
2015-02-05 Your Alpha is My Beta by Adam Butler, Mike Philbrick and Rodrigo Gordillo of Butler|Philbrick|Gordillo & Associates
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of a short correspondence with Lars Kestner, a well known quant and derivatives trader, and creator of the thoughtful K-ratio as a measure of risk adjusted performance. We connected on the definition of alpha, and how the term has been so abused in media and marketing as to become almost meaningless.
2015-02-03 Seeking Value Amid Volatility by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock
Stocks struggled last week, and once again the losses were most pronounced in the United States. Financial markets remain highly volatile, with violent swings in the oil price and interest rates adding to the angst. With the Fed likely to start removing monetary accommodation, 2015 was bound to be a more volatile year than last.
2015-01-29 3 Things - Fed Mistake, ECB QE, Housing by Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve made their latest monetary policy announcement. Janet Yellen, the current Chairwoman, made several statements that led the markets to believe that they remain on course for increasing the overnight lending rate this year.
2015-01-28 Why European Euphoria Isn?t Likely to Last by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock
The ECB took definitive action against deflation fears with a broad asset purchase program that impressed the markets. Here is a quick analysis of its impact on stocks and bonds beyond the short term.
2015-01-22 Fixed Income in 2015: Lower for Longer? by Jonathan Heckscher of Pennsylvania Trust
2014 surprised many bond investors as interest rates fell dramatically on the longer end while they rose as expected on the short end. The result was another solid year of returns for investors that remained in longer-duration bonds, and was adequate for most investors that shortened their duration.
2015-01-20 Seeking Strong Int'l Growth Stocks Amid Mixed Macro Signals by Sponsored Content from Invesco (Article)
Previously stretched valuations have become reasonably constructive in Europe's stalled economy. China's structural reforms and corruption crackdown could be positive in the long term. The commodity cycle downturn hurts resource-dependent emerging markets but benefits net commodity importers.
2015-01-13 "Divergent" Markets by Jim Tillar, Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup
We expressed some concern about financial markets in last quarter's client letter and stated the theme of the letter was volatility. That characteristic carried over into the fourth quarter and caused our concern to heighten considerably.
2015-01-12 A Five-Year Global Financial Forecast: Tsunami Warning by John Mauldin of Mauldin Economics
It is the time of the year for forecasts; but rather than do an annual forecast, which is as much a guessing game as anything else (and I am bad at guessing games), I?m going to do a five-year forecast to take us to the end of the decade, which I think may be useful for longer-term investors.
2015-01-07 Keeping Track of Changing Values by Matt Collins of Source
Stock prices keep moving, even after the exchanges close.
2015-01-05 Tips for Navigating The Market in 2015 by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock
As the calendar turns to 2015, its time to assess the investing landscape and your investment portfolio to ensure youre well positioned for the New Year. The BlackRock List can help.
2014-12-10 Lessons Learned in 2014 by Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein
In 2014, US stocks forged ahead, international developed and emerging-market stocks lagged, bonds did better than expected, and the IRS took a bigger bite. Here are some lessons for US investors to carry forward into 2015.
2014-11-14 Investment Update October 2014 by James Klein of Meritage Portfolio Management
Coming off a strong second quarter, stocks turned in a mixed performance for the three months ending September 30. The fundamental backdrop for stocks remained relatively stable, with interest rates drifting slightly lower and generally supportive news flow around corporate earnings, economic growth, inflation and Fed policy. While this familiar combination of factors has been hospitable for stocks, this past quarter reflected a growing unease about the prospects of further upside.
2014-11-05 What a Rising Dollar Means for Your Stock Portfolio by Jeremy Schwartz of WisdomTree
Typically, if a companys home currency is weakening compared to the currency where the companys sales are generated, this will have a positive effect on sales and profitability, and if the home currency is strengthening, it could negatively impact sales and profitability.
2014-10-10 Divergent Returns by Jim Tillar, Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup
The theme for this newsletter is volatility. Not only are we seeing volatility in financial prices, but also in economic data and in some indicators we use to gauge the market's risk level.
2014-10-08 Nervous Investors, Choppy Markets by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
It was a choppy third quarter for global asset classes. Domestically, Large Cap equities rose slightly but Small Cap US stocks fell.
2014-10-03 5 Things To Ponder: Motley Cognizance by Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live
It has been an interesting week in the financial markets as the current correction process has continued. As shown in the chart below, the correction has primarily occurred in the mid, small and international equities as money has rotated into mega-large cap stocks for safety.
2014-09-22 Two Themes Investors Should Focus on Now by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock
With countries growth, monetary policy and market performance increasingly diverging, Russ shares two themes investors should focus on as year-end approaches.
2014-09-16 Economic Update by Team of Cambridge Advisors
After a rocky month in July, stocks resumed their march higher in August. The S&P 500 was up 4.0% for the month and is up 9.9% year-to-date. The small cap Russell 2000 index also performed well for the month, up 5.0%. Year-to-date, small cap stocks have lagged and are up only 1.75% as of the end of August. International stocks continued to struggle in August and year-to-date with performance of -0.4% and +2.93% respectively.
2014-09-11 Diversifying With the Yen? Not if Japanese Equities Are Involved by Jeremy Schwartz of WisdomTree
The discussion of currency-hedged strategies has shaken some of the core beliefs of investors. Traditional investment vehicles that package equity risk plus a secondary currency risk on top of the equity risk have been referred to as the traditional plain vanilla exposure because they were the first to the market, and it is what investors have been using for so long.
2014-09-09 Growing Income and Wealth with High-Dividend Equities by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)
High-dividend equities have significant advantages for growing income and wealth: getting sufficient yield, keeping up with inflation and outliving available funds. Such a portfolio produces higher income per dollar invested, growing income and principal over time, higher total returns, lower volatility and a reduced risk of outliving savings.
2014-08-27 From the Alps to the Tetons by Brian Andrew of Cleary Gull
Central bankers seem to be the focus once again. If the global economy were strong enough to stand on its own, we wouldnt spend every waking moment worrying about what Fed Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and her European Central Bank counterpart Mario Draghi are going to do next. The fact that these bankers are front and center again in investors minds, is a function of both how sluggish the global economy is and how persistent the hangover from the mid-2000s real estate party continues to be.
2014-08-05 Avoiding the Unintended Migration from Investor to Speculator by Bob Andres of Andres Capital Management.
The identification of value/price in the allocation of capital is essential to successful investing. Assets purchased at levels above intrinsic value reflect an approach based on hope and momentum not sound risk/reward analysis and normally portend negative results.
2014-08-01 Second Quarter 2014 Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory
Overall, our macro view and assessment of the risks and returns across the major asset classes has not changed meaningfully since last quarter. We continue to see the U.S. and global economies on a slow path of recovery from the 2008 financial crisis. ... Despite our more positive fundamental outlook, we also continue to view the markets as too dependent on central bank largesse, too short-term focused, and too complacent about the risks and imbalances that remain in the global economy in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
2014-07-31 Opportunities in Developed International Equities by Christopher Gannatti of WisdomTree
Each year, WisdomTree screens the universe of dividend payers in developed international markets so that we can refocus the weights of constituents back to relative value and away from simply holding increasing amounts of stocks that have performed well. The rebalance was recently completed, suggesting that this is an opportune time to review the positioning of our broad developed international Indexes.
2014-07-30 High Stock Dividends: A Competitive Retirement Income Solution by C. Thomas Howard of AdvisorShares
Sufficient yield, keeping up with inflation, and outliving the funds available are three major concerns facing investors who are building a retirement portfolio. A high dividend yield equity portfolio can provide a competitive approach to addressing each of these concerns.
2014-07-29 How to Blend In a Currency Hedge by Jeremy Schwartz of WisdomTree
Looking across developed markets today, a common thread is that central bank policies have pushed interest rates to very low levels to support their economies.
2014-07-23 U.S. Equities Continue to Look Attractive: Equity Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
As we sit down to write this Outlook we are struck by two trends: the consistency of the economic recovery in the U.S. and the dramatic escalation of geopolitical turmoil. Whether these two trends will collide to derail the bull market is an open question, but usually geopolitical flare-ups have only short-term effects and do not overwhelm long-term economic trends. Thus, they tend to appear as hiccups in stock market progress.
2014-07-23 Does Active Management Succeed in International Small-Caps? by Team of The Royce Funds
Divergent conclusions about the relative success of active management in the international small-cap universe prompted us to do our own examination, which stresses the importance of choosing the appropriate benchmark and evaluating the consistency of a fund's performance over long-term time periods.
2014-07-22 2014 Another Ho Hum Year from Hedge Funds by Ryan Davis, Brian Payne of Fortigent
Through the first six months of the year, hedge funds have generated a positive, albeit somewhat modest return. According to data compiled by Hedge Fund Research, the Fund Weighted Composite of hedge funds in their universe had generated a 3.2% return, compared to the S&P 500s 7.1% gain. While not terrible on a standalone basis, many investors had greater hopes for the asset class following five straight calendar years of underperformance versus the broad equity markets.
2014-07-21 A Farmland Investment Primer by Julie Koeninger of GMO
Farmland is a real asset that combines solid investment fundamentals with the potential for attractive cash yields, inflation hedging, and consistent returns from biological growth. Furthermore, farmland total returns tend to be uncorrelated with financial asset returns, offering genuine portfolio diversification for institutional investors.
2014-07-09 U.S. & European Flows: Potential Opportunity in European Debt? by Bradley Krom of WisdomTree
In discussions with our clients, we often notice their interest in hearing where WisdomTree or the industry is seeing inflows in order to gain new ideas for investment. As the market for global exchange-traded products continues to evolve, we believe that investors will increasingly look to global ETP flows for investment ideas.
2014-07-08 Slow but Steady Growth by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
In the second quarter of 2014 major asset class performance was positive. The Dow was up 2.4%, the S&P up 4.7%, and the NASDAQ up 5%. International equities nearly kept pace with US equities; the MSCI ACWI ex US was up 3.8%.
2014-07-03 Why Invest in International Now? by Team of AMG Funds
In light of the strong performance from U.S. stocks over the past five years, its reasonable for an investor to ask Why international stocks now?. We are convinced that the reasons for investing internationally are even more compelling today than they were twenty years ago. Permit us to illustrate the most significant reasons for investing internationally today.
2014-06-24 Are Dividend Stocks Too Expensive? by Geoff Considine (Article)
Dividend strategies tend to have a strong value tilt and lower price-to-book (P/B) and price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios than the market as a whole. But those strategies can become overvalued. When this occurs - we are currently in such a period - building a high-dividend, low-risk portfolio requires extra care.
2014-06-04 Why should clients seek out investable benchmarks? by Jason M. Laurie of Altair Advisers
Benchmarks are fundamental measuring tools that gauge the relative performance of securities, investment managers and portfolios. They help answer the question, How are my investments performing? Yet despite their importance, they often have inherent shortcomings that can make them less than optimal for evaluating performance.
2014-05-16 Why Should Clients Seek Out Investable Benchmarks? by Jason Laurie of Altair Advisers
Investable benchmarks enable clients to see what their returns would have been had they invested in a passive alternative to any actively managed recommendations. They answer the question, How are my investments performing?, with far greater clarity, yet they are still a rarity in the investment world. We believe that is changing.
2014-05-08 A Light Unto Cities by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate
Once notorious for its drug gangs, Medellín, Colombia, now has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most innovative cities in the world. The tale of the city’s transformation holds important lessons for urban areas everywhere.
2014-05-02 April 2014 Pension Finance Update by Brian Donohue of October Three Consulting
April was another down month for pension sponsors, marked by declining interest rates and sluggish stock markets. Both ?model? plans we track lost ground last month, with our traditional ?Plan A? losing about 2% and the more conservative ?Plan B? dropping less than 1% during April. For the year, sponsors have now given back roughly one-fourth of 2013's ?bounty? ? Plan A is now down 5% during 2014, and Plan B is down more than 2%.
2014-04-29 Europe: Market Capitalization vs. Smart Beta by James Calhoun of AdvisorShares
A bullish investor consensus for European equities appears to be building. More and more, we are hearing and reading that European equities are attractive and undervalued. It may be the right time for greater exposure to developed international equities, and Europe might be the right place for investors to focus. However, why stop there? Why stop at the regional level?
2014-04-25 ?Cautious? Investors: Saying One Thing, Doing Another by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Five years into an equity bull market, investors say they?re still cautious. However, Americans hold as much risk in their financial portfolios as they did during the tech bubble in 2000. Russ explains what?s behind this trend and what it means for investors.
2014-04-15 Does Rebalancing Really Pay Off?? by Michael Edesess (Article)
No investment advice is more universally offered than the advice - originally posited by William Bernstein - to rebalance your portfolio. Yet, the evidence that this practice is beneficial is shockingly meager.
2014-04-08 On Cruise Control by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
The first quarter was a relatively calm start to the year. The Dow was down 0.7%, the S&P up 1.3%, and the NASDAQ up 0.5%. International equities were nearly flat as well with the MSCI ACWI ex US down 0.1%. European equities were up 1.5% and Pacific equities were moderately negative, with the MSCI Pacific down 3.3% for the quarter. Emerging market equity indices were down 0.8% for the quarter, with China down 6.7%.
2014-04-02 Gain International Exposure with Small-Caps by David Nadel of The Royce Funds
Portfolio Manager and Director of International Research David Nadel discusses our attraction to international small-caps, how our investment approach translates into the international small-cap universe, how we try to avoid value traps, the effect monetary policy has had on our approach and performance, and more.
2014-03-28 Why International Now? by David Garff of AdvisorShares
One of the ongoing challenges that advisors face is determining what percentage of their clients assets should be allocated to international equities. The magnitude of this decision is often amplified when the United States has years of persistent out/under performance. US clients will inherently gauge the success of their portfolio based on the S&P 500, or similar index. The challenge for advisors is explaining why a more diversified exposure to global equities is meaningful in the long-run, despite recent years of outlandish performance.
2014-03-26 Europe is a Land of Opportunity in 2014 by Kevin Mahn of Hennion & Walsh
While we are forecasting a high, single-digit gain for the S&P 500 index over the course of 2014 at this time, we do still contend that U.S. stock market returns will likely be outpaced in 2014 by certain International ? Developed Country stock market returns (notably Europe) as regions such as the Eurozone continue to emerge from their own recession.
2014-03-12 The Goldilocks Conundrum: A Market Review by Rick Vollaro of Pinnacle Advisory Group
When we decided to ride the central bank liquidity wave in 2013, we knew there was a chance the market could have a pretty good year, but like most investors we were pleasantly surprised with the gains that the U.S. stock market delivered. Including dividends, the S&P 500 Index soared by 32%, well in excess of what even the most optimistic prognosticators envisioned at the start of the year.
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.
2014-02-07 2013 Year-End Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory
We find ourselves with a more sanguine big-picture view, at least over the nearer term, than we have had in some time. U.S. and global economic fundamentals gradually improved over the past year across a number of dimensions, and seem poised for continued improvement or at least stability in 2014. However, as we look ahead, the longer-term risks related to excessive global debt, subpar growth, and unprecedented government policy that we have worried about since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis still remain largely unresolved.
2014-02-05 Emerald Economic Commentary by Team of Emerald Allocation Strategies
As Yogi Berra once said, "You got to be careful if you don?t know where you?re going, because you might not get there." As we look back on 2013 and look ahead to 2014,we want to share our thoughts on the road traveled and more importantly, the possible road ahead.
2014-02-03 A Happier Ending for IMF Reform? by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate
Despite an elegant solution that involved no new commitments of resources, the US Congress last month refused to take up a long-delayed funding proposal for the IMF. But there is also a silver lining here, because disappointment can be turned into renewed opportunity.
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.
2014-01-28 Expect Higher Volatility to Persist by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management
Last weeks selloff can be attributed to EM turmoil, stretched valuations and mediocre earnings. Volatility is likely to move higher to levels closer to long-term averages. We suggest investors adopt overweight positions in European and Japanese stocks.
2014-01-14 The Diversification Obituary by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent
According to some major media outlets, 2013 was the year diversification died. With the S&P 500 racing to a more than 30% gain (the largest since the late 90s), it seemed as though no other asset class truly mattered last year. While it is true domestic equities had a banner year, one-asset class portfolios will never be robust, and there is reason to believe 2013 is a prime example of why diversification is incredibly important.
2014-01-10 5 Investor Tips for 2014 by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
While the winding down of QE signals better times ahead, investors need to be selective and focused in taking smart risks, says US Investment Strategist Kristina Hooper.
2014-01-10 2014 Economic and Investment Outlook by Team of Ivy Investment Management Company
Although the December 2013 U.S. budget pact between House and Senate negotiators was a welcome development, partisan battles over government spending still are possible in 2014. The agreement ends a three-year budget fight and sets government spending through fall 2015, but it does not eliminate the need to raise the nations borrowing limit - the "debt ceiling."
2014-01-07 A Healing Economy by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
The quarter continued the theme of the year, with U.S. equities continuing their dramatic performance. For the quarter, the Dow was up 9.6%, the S&P 9.9%, and the NASDAQ 10.7%. The years returns substantially exceeded last year"s "expert predictions" and much of this years punditry with the Dow up 26.5%, S&P up 29.6%, and NASDAQ up 38.3%.
2013-12-31 A Look Ahead at 2014 by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Last week, Russ shared his annual look back at his 2013 economic and investment calls. Now, its time for his annual look forward.
2013-12-20 Five Resolutions for 2014 by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds
Entering 2014, the global investment environment is as challenging as ever. After a super 2013 in returns, U.S. equities can no longer be considered inexpensive and yet still look attractive relative to the prospective returns on savings accounts and long-term bonds. Long-term bond yields are higher than a year ago but could still rise further as the Federal Reserve begins to reduce quantitative easing.
2013-12-15 Lessons Learned in 2013 by Seth Masters of Alliance Bernstein
In 2013, interest rates rose, bonds fell, equities soared, and US income-tax rates climbed higher. Before starting to place bets for 2014, investors would be wise to think about some important lessons from 2013.
2013-12-05 No Silver Bullets in Investing by James Montier of GMO
In a new white paper today, James Montier of GMOs asset allocation team reviews recent "innovation in our industry." He argues, "one of the myths perpetuated by our industry is that there are lots of ways to generate good long-run real returns, but we believe there is really only one: buying cheap assets."
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.
2013-11-18 Two Investments to Consider when You're Coming off the Sidelines by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
For investors on the sidelines of the equity market, Russ offers his take on which market segments to consider now and which to remain cautious of.
2013-11-15 Taper or Not, Stocks and Bonds Could Gain by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners
Both bond and equity markets are well-positioned, regardless of whether the U.S. Federal Reserve tapers its asset purchase program.
2013-10-22 After the Minimalist Debt Ceiling Deal: The Good & Bad News by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Last week, investors cheered that Washington finally reached a last-minute debt ceiling deal. But despite their big sigh of relief, the debt ceiling deal wasnt all good news. Russ provides a quick look at the good, the bad and the investing implications of the compromise.
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 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 Why Customized Content Beats Canned Content by Neil Rhein (Article)
If you’re communicating syndicated (“canned”) content that is similar (or identical) to what every other advisor is saying, you’re just adding to the noise.
2013-10-10 Economic and Market Overview: Third Quarter 2013 by Team of Envestnet
The economic environment in the third quarter was one of growth, albeit at a slower pace than most economists, and the Federal Reserve (?Fed?), believe can be self-?sustaining. The slow but steady gains the economy made were enough to buoy the stock market, but likely only because the Fed has seen it necessary to maintain its aggressive monetary policy. While employment gains were anemic during the quarter, the unemployment rate actually declined to 7.3%, largely due to a contraction in the labor force.
2013-10-08 The Futility of the Endowment Model by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In the past two decades, the so-called endowment model has been adopted by hundreds of endowments, foundations and advisors ? particularly those serving ultra-high-net-worth clients. By aggressively allocating to illiquid alternative asset classes, those investors hoped to duplicate the results of Yale and other top-tier institutions. New research exposes the futility of those efforts.
2013-10-08 Q3 Brings Plot Twists; Volatility to Continue in Q4 by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Russ reviews how the third quarter shaped up vs. his expectations, noting which calls he got right and which he got wrong, and he updates his outlook for this quarter.
2013-10-04 The Economy, the Fed, and Politics by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
It was a good quarter to invest in equities, and despite a down second quarter, overall a good year as well. The Dow was up 1.5%, the S&P 4.7% and the NASDAQ 10.8%. Year-to-date returns were very positive with the Dow up 15.5%, S&P up 17.9%, and NASDAQ up 24.9%. International equities were also positive for the quarter and year with the MSCI ACWI ex US up 9.4% and up 7.5% year-to-date. While emerging market equity indices were up 5% for the quarter they remained negative -6.4% for the year.
2013-10-03 Third Quarter Market Commentary: Let's Reminisce by Robert Stimpson of Oak Associates
US stocks have risen each quarter of 2013, outperforming most other asset classes and emerging markets along the way. In the third quarter, the S&P 500 Index rose 5.24% and pushed the year-to-date gain to 19.79%. All sectors within the S&P 500 have produced positive returns this year, although the pro-cyclical groups have outperformed the defensive ones.
2013-10-02 The Death Knell of Global Synchronized Trade by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
At Smead Capital Management, we believe the interest on September 18th in emerging markets, oil and gold are the last gasps of a dying trend. Our discipline demands that you must avoid popular investments and completely avoid investments attached to a perceived new era. We argue that the international investment markets reaction to Bernankes reprieve on September 18th is proof of a vision we have of the future.
2013-10-01 Money Can Buy Happiness by Justin Kermond (Article)
Extensive research has shown that the act of buying life experiences and giving money away can make people happier than buying material items does.
2013-09-28 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 How to Strengthen Your Portfolio Core by David Fabian of Fabian Capital Management
In strength training and investing, your core is everything. Its the foundation or base from which you build upon to reach new levels of success. Without a solid core, you are doomed to underachieve because you dont have the right balance needed to attain your goals. By starting from the ground up using concrete core holdings, you can add additional tactical positions from which to enhance your returns. That way you will have a well-rounded portfolio strategy that is easy to understand.
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.
2013-09-17 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.
2013-09-10 Investor Anxiety + Uncertainty = More Volatility Ahead by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
As Russ expected, both equity and bond market volatility have risen in recent weeks. Russ explains why this rocky road is likely to continue, and he provides two ideas for potentially insulating portfolios amid volatility.
2013-08-29 Monthly Investment Commentary by Litman Gregory Research Team of Litman Gregory
U.S. stocks resumed their positive streak in July (after a slightly negative June). Large-cap stocks rose in three out of the four weeks and were up 5% for the month. Smaller companies generally outperformed their larger-cap counterparts. After Federal Reserve comments regarding the timing of its stimulus withdrawal upset markets in May and June (particularly the bond market), investors seemed to take comfort in the Feds more recent comments. Among other points, Chairman Bernanke reiterated that a decision to taper bond purchases is different from raising the federal funds rate
2013-08-23 Economic Update: August 2013 by Lori Liffring, Michael Bridgeman, Gaylan Abood, Justin Anderson, Karen Benefiel of Cambridge Advisors
Stocks had another strong month in July with the large-cap S&P 500 index up 5.0% and the small-cap Russell 2000 up 7.0%. International stocks in developed markets were also 5.2% higher as measured by the MSCI EAFE index while emerging market stocks were up less than 1%. Bond prices stabilized during the month resulting in only a slight 0.1% gain.
2013-08-22 Hot Potato: Momentum As An Investment Strategy by Ryan Larson of Research Affiliates
Investors increasingly are attracted to momentum as a key ingredient in their portfolios. But how does momentum fare as a stand-alone strategy? In this issue of Fundamentals, we look at the pros and cons of this important risk factor.
2013-08-20 Which Crowd? Mulling the Investment Wisdom of the Masses by Steven Grey (Article)
With every investment or trade, the profits that accrue with the passage of time eventually prove one party the wiser. But of what practical value is the notion of collective wisdom if investors can’t consistently identify the ’wise’ crowd before the fact?
2013-08-14 Focused Only on the US? Here's What You're Missing by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Many investors remain fixated on whats happening in the United States -- and particularly on what the Federal Reserve will do -- but Russ explains why they shouldnt lose sight of whats happening abroad.
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.
2013-07-24 Bursting of the Bond Bubble by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group
Our April newsletter focused on the extreme overvaluation in the bond market. I argued that money market funds (or cash) were likely to outperform bonds and bond funds over the next decade. In May I applied the same logic to US stock prices and the inherent fallacy in the prevailing TINA (there is no alternative to stocks) hypothesis. Although stocks are likely to outperform bonds over the next decade, both asset classes remain seriously overvalued. In a world of overvalued assets, zero return looks much better than large potential losses even when that means foregoing transitory
2013-07-24 D-Day +1 by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
I have termed last Friday (7/19/13) as D-Day because for the past few months my work has targeted that date as a potential turning point for the equity markets. Given the upside stampede, my sense was/is that turn would be to the downside for the first meaningful pullback of the year. In past missives I have elaborated on the reasons and clearly the media has listened.
2013-07-22 The Purgatory of Low Returns by James Montier of GMO
This might just be the cruelest time to be an asset allocator. Normally we find ourselves in situations in which at least something is cheap; for instance when large swathes of risk assets have been expensive, safe haven assets have generally been cheap, or at least reasonable (and vice versa). This was typified by the opportunity set we witnessed in 2007.
2013-07-13 The Bang! Moment Shock by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
This week we resume our musings about Cyprus, to see what that tiny island can teach us about our own personal need to engage in ongoing critical analysis of our lives and investment portfolios. Cyprus is not Greece or France or Spain or Japan or the US or (pick a country). I get that. No two situations are the same, but there may be a rhyme or two here that is instructive.
2013-07-10 Market Perspectives Q2 2013: Fed Fears by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
Investors have been hypersensitive to the inevitable reversal of the Federal Reserves bond purchasing economic stimulus program known as QE3. Signs of sustainable economic recovery have been closely monitored as a harbinger of a likely end of the program.
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 The Practical Application of Behavioral Finance by Mitchell D. Eichen and John M. Longo (Article)
From the Dot-Com bubble onward, traditional investment models have repeatedly disappointed those who relied on them. When compared to mathematically based models, behavioral finance provides a superior foundation. Here is an alternative investment paradigm, grounded in behavioral finance, that is practical and effective over time periods that are relevant for a significant portion of investors.
2013-07-01 Ireland and the Austerity Debate by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate
People on both sides of the austerity debate are trying to position Ireland as the poster child for their case. Though neither side can claim victory, this tug-of-war illustrates the complex range of arguments in play and highlights why conclusive economic policy making is proving so elusive.
2013-06-26 Win Ben's Money by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
From 1997 to 2003 a show called, Win Ben Steins Money ran on the Comedy Central Network. The last five years, investors in the US have been playing a very similar game we are calling, Win Bens Money. The new game stars Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Ben Bernanke. The object is to win the money the Fed creates via Quantitative Easing (QE) through macroeconomic analysis. In this missive, we will look at how these investors chased Bens Money and consider what to do going forward.
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.
2013-06-18 Retirement Income Designations ? Which Should You Choose? by Wade Pfau (Article)
With more than 50 certification programs based on the withdrawal phase of the planning lifecycle, advisors are faced with a paralyzing choice about which designation provides the most valuable curriculum. Here’s some guidance on choosing the right program for advisors.
2013-06-17 Sector Distortions Can Be Costly in Passive Investing by Joseph Paul, Kevin Simms of AllianceBernstein
Passive investing strategies that emulate an index have become increasingly popular. But passive investing can go awry when sector concentrations leave investors exposed to unintended risks.
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.
2013-06-12 Cyclical Stocks Appeal After Defensive-Led Rally by Vadim Zlotnikov of AllianceBernstein
This years equity market rally was initially led by defensive stocks, as macroeconomic concerns persisted despite improved risk appetite. With valuations in these sectors looking stretched and cyclically oriented stocks starting to rebound in May, is a bigger shift starting to unfold?
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.
2013-06-06 June Economic Update by Justin Anderson of Cambridge Advisors
Stocks sold off on the last day of the month but still managed to finish higher in May with the large-cap S&P 500 index up 2.2% and the small-cap Russell 2000 up 4.0%. International stocks finished the month lower with the MSCI EAFE index down -2.9%. Bond prices came under significant pressure as yields rose after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke hinted that Quantitative Easing may be tapered off sooner than the market expected. The 10-Year US Treasury Yield rose sharply to end the month at 2.16%.
2013-06-01 Central Bankers Gone Wild by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
For the last two weeks we have focused on the problems facing Japan, and such is the importance of Japan to the world economy that this week we will once again turn to the Land of the Rising Sun. I will try to summarize the situation facing the Japanese. This is critical to understand, because they are determined to share their problems with the world, and we will have no choice but to deal with them. Japan is going to affect your economy and your investments, no matter where you live; Japan is that important.
2013-05-28 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.
2013-05-25 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.
2013-05-23 Does Behavioral Investing Make Sense Anymore? by Kevin Simms, Joseph Paul of AllianceBernstein
Value investing has faced a crisis of confidence after five tough years. Here’s why we think the behavioral investing principles that underpin the discipline are more relevant than ever.
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.
2013-05-14 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 Nassim Taleb on the Anti-Fragile Portfolio and the Benefits of Taking Risks by Ben Huebscher (Article)
As we recover from the most recent financial crisis, how we can we learn from the mistakes to best prepare for the future? Nassim Taleb tackled this very question in his latest book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, which built off his previous works and applies the lessons learned to today’s biggest challenges. Taleb examined how small doses of volatility can help systems handle larger disruptors in the future.
2013-05-07 Attractive Dividends? Earnings Growth? A Way to Get Both by Team of Lord Abbett
International equities provide broader opportunities for combining appealing divided yields and earnings growth.
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.
2013-04-23 The New Challenges to Reinhart and Rogoff by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Advocates for debt reduction and austerity have had no more authoritative sources than Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff. But last week, these two professors had to defend claims that errors in their research ? ranging from a typo in a spreadsheet to the failure to include data from New Zealand ? invalidated their much-acclaimed findings.
2013-04-20 Austerity is a Consequence, not a Punishment by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Austerity is a consequence, not a punishment. A country loses access to cheap borrowed money as a consequence of running up too much debt and losing the confidence of lenders that the debt can be repaid. Lenders don’t sit around in clubs and discuss how to “punish” a country by requiring austerity; they simply decide not to lend. Austerity is a result of a country’s trying to entice lenders into believing that the country will change and make an effort to restore confidence.
2013-04-19 First Quarter Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory
Looking ahead, significant uncertainty surrounds fiscal and monetary policy in terms of what policies will be adopted and their ultimate economic and financial market impacts. More broadly, still-high global debt levels pose an economic headwind. Against this backdrop, our outlook for stocks has not improved. If anything, given the sharp run-up in stock prices, we are getting closer to reducing our U.S. equity exposure further than we are to increasing it.
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.
2013-04-10 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management
The market continues to experience volatility around the new record high. Again, this is to be expected as this is a very psychologically important level so we shouldnt expect the market to blow through this and never look back. There is still a lot of background "noise" in the markets. Last weeks jobs numbers were disappointing, we have had some weaker economic numbers, Cyprus, etc. None of this looks like it can change the fact that money has nowhere else to go but stocks at this point, but the economic numbers bear watching.
2013-04-03 Spring Economic Commentary by Larry Maddox of Horizon Advisors
The Fiscal Cliff We loudly went over the cliff and received a largely quiet and unexpected market reaction? Risk of rising interest rates After a 30 year period of declining interest rates, caution is in order. Our thoughts on portfolio fixed income positioning. The heightened awareness of uncertainty Despite lingering uncertainty investors should be committed to long term well diversified porftolios.
2013-04-03 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management
After hitting a record close last week the market is showing some warning signs, which is to be expected. You dont typically break through an important resistance point without testing it and re-testing it so some volatility around a record high is normal. We are also slightly concerned that small and mid cap stocks have drastically underperformed the S&P 500 over the past two days.
2013-03-27 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management
The continuing mess in Cyprus and the S&P 500 nearing a record close dominated the news this week. As I said last week, Cyprus is insignificant, the only important aspects of what is going on is timing. If the crisis hit the news during a time when the market was oversold and due for a rally then it would have little, if any, impact. The fact that that market has rallied this year without much of a selloff gives traders an excuse to use something like this to take profits.
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 Why Are Emerging Markets Struggling in 2013? by Ryan Davis of Fortigent
Despite one of the sharpest rallies in US equities in recent memory, emerging market equities have been left curiously behind in 2013. Through last Friday, the market segment was down 1.0%, compared to an S&P 500 index that was up 10.0%. This seems to violate the regime that investors have gotten used to over the past 10 years, whereby the emerging markets equity index served as a high beta proxy for the US equity market.
2013-03-14 DC Plan Sponsors: Now's the Time to Get More From Bonds by Stacy Schaus of PIMCO
Long on equities and light on bonds, todays DC plan lineups may expose participants to extreme market risks. Plan sponsors could potentially improve retirement outcomes by trimming choices for stocks and considering additional options for bonds. The inclusion of active fixed income strategies with global exposure or additional income opportunities could help participants reach their retirement goals.
2013-03-05 Is Now the Time to Diversify? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent
The use of global diversification in constructing client portfolios has come under fire in recent years due to the underperformance of many risk assets. Traditionalists who stuck to their familiar S&P 500 and BarCap Aggregate Bond index blends generally outperformed their diversified peers in 2011 and 2012, as historic risk premiums failed to materialize and various alternative investment strategies faced headwinds.
2013-03-01 Is It Time to Get Back into Stocksor Too Late? by Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein
After five years of fleeing stocks for the perceived safety of bonds, US mutual fund investors became net buyers of stock funds in January. While some see the return of the retail investor as a negative indicator for stocks, we say, "Better late than never."
2013-02-19 Asset Class Allocation and Portfolios by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
Asset class allocation has been so thoroughly absorbed into the culture of investing that today, most investment guidance is built around it, and you may even have heard that it is the foundation of an investment plan. And like nearly all respectable investment ideas, it is misunderstood and abused. One misconception is that asset class allocation and portfolio management are the same thing. I'll explain why they aren't later, but let's start by considering another misconception.
2013-02-15 International Equity Commentary January 2013 by Team of Thomas White International
International equity prices sustained the uptrend in January, helped by data releases that supported the growing optimism over healthier global economic growth. Though the U.S. and U.K. economies declined unexpectedly during the fourth quarter of last year, the pace of growth improved in several Asian countries, including China, during the period.
2013-02-12 Fixed-Income Insights: When High Yield Loses Some Height by Zane Brown of Lord Abbett
If one sought an indication of how monetary policy and historically low interest rates can influence investor behavior, the high-yield bond market could provide some perspective. In 2012, investors' ongoing demand for income was reflected by the high-yield market's 15.6% return, the $32 billion that flowed into the asset class, andas several headlines pronouncedthe market's record-low yields of less than 6%.
2013-02-05 Fourth Quarter 2012 Equity Market Review by Natalie Trunow of Calvert Investment Management
With the excitement of the QE3 announcement wearing off in the fourth quarter, market participants refocused on the less-than-stellar earnings season in the U.S. and uncertainties surrounding the U.S. presidential election and impending fiscal cliff, while the negative impact of Hurricane Sandy further dampened investor sentiment. Despite a double-dip recession in the eurozone, there was some progress on the European policy front and China's economy continued to show signs of stabilizing, which helped international stocks outperform their U.S. counterparts.
2013-01-17 International Equity Commentary December 2012 by Team of Thomas White International
International equity prices made robust gains in December, as further improvement in economic trends across most regions lifted the outlook for 2013. Policymakers in the U.S. managed to put together an agreement at the last minute and averted the 'fiscal cliff', one of the major risks that had restricted investor sentiment during earlier months. In Europe, though economic signals remain largely weak, the further fall in bond yields of the troubled countries has helped sustain optimism about resolving the region's fiscal crisis this year.
2013-01-15 Demographics and the Decline of Equity Mutual Funds by Paul Franchi (Article)
Until the last few years, mutual fund flows followed performance. Recently, however, money has flowed disproportionately into bond funds and out of US equity funds despite a strong rally in the equity markets. Changing demographics explain this shift, which has important implications for advisors and the mutual fund industry.
2013-01-15 From Cliff to Ceiling! by Jim Tillar, Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup
When it was all said and done not much happened in the final quarter of 2012. Anxiety picked up immediately after the election as the bickering over the fiscal cliff escalated. In the end, the worst-case scenario was avoided at least for a couple of months and stocks ended about where they began the quarter.
2012-12-26 Assessing ISG's "Ten for '12" by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman
Earlier this year, we offered a forward-looking view of 10 macro themes that we anticipated for 2012. These ideas were meant not to be "surprises" but rather guideposts within the context of a longer-term strategic allocation. At year-end, we are pleased to note that seven of our 10 themes fully materialized. We provide a brief look below.
2012-12-15 The Cost of Viewing the US as a Safe Haven by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Since exiting the recession in mid-2009, US stocks have significantly outperformed international markets. But can the United States still be viewed as a safe port in a storm? Russ K explains why it might be time for investors to consider raising their allocation to international stocks.
2012-12-14 2013: A Year in Global Equities by Virginie Maisonneuve of Schroders Investment Management
Global equities are very attractively valued and we are positive for their prospects in 2013 as the global economy normalises. Progress in Europe, the end of China's growth slowdown and continued momentum in the US economic recovery will support global equities. Longer-term investors must position themselves for a growth-saturated world in which sustainability and innovation will be even more important.
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.
2012-12-07 3 Implications of a Fiscal Cliff Tax Hike by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
From the outside, its hard to find much evidence that Washington is getting closer to a fiscal cliff deal. Perhaps there is more going on behind the scenes than the headlines suggest, but as of today it is hard to find much evidence that the odds of a deal have risen. As the potential for fiscal drag rises, it is worth reiterating why this is so dangerous. From my perspective, the biggest risk to the economy, and to financial markets, comes from the tax side of the equation.
2012-11-19 4 Reasons Not to Taiwan On by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Russ K shares four reasons hes downgrading his view of Taiwan from overweight to neutral and shares potential single country solutions he prefers instead.
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 Seeking Shelter from the Storm? Consider Mega Caps by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Russ Koesterich discusses how mega cap stocks are attractively valued and may be more resilient to the impact of the potential fiscal cliff.
2012-11-09 With the Election Over, Get Ready for the Fiscal Cliff by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Russ Koesterich discusses how the close election could translate into more gridlock on the fiscal cliff, as well as longer-term tax and entitlement reforms.
2012-11-07 October 2012 Monthly Commentary by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds
A light flashed on in my car this morning, telling me that it was due for service. When I take it in, the mechanics will presumably check both the engine and the brakes before deciding on exactly what it is that I need to repair, replace or adjust. For investors, after nine months of ups and downs in markets, an investment strategy checkup is in order.
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 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.
2012-10-31 US Stocks Facing a Bumpy Ride by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
The US stock exchanges are slated to reopen for trading on Wednesday, after Hurricane Sandy prompted the longest weather-related closure of the New York Stock Exchange since 1888. What can investors expect when trading resumes? Russ K explains.
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 Yield Hunt by Michael Lewitt (Article)
The high-yield market is not in danger of imminent collapse as some have argued. As long as defaults remain relatively low, and interest rates remain invisible, investors will continue to chase yield. But a few things could cause a sharp sell-off in the near future.
2012-10-19 International Equity - Monthly Product Commentary: September 2012 by Team of Thomas White International
International equities made strong gains in September as aggressive policy action from central banks in Europe and the U.S. helped offset concerns over moderating economic growth across the globe. The European Central Bank (ECB) announced a program to buy unlimited quantities of debt issued by troubled countries such as Spain, Portugal, and Greece, provided they adhere to a strict fiscal adjustment timetable.
2012-10-19 Stealth Mode by Stephen J. Taddie of Stellar Capital Management
After more than 30 years of declining rates, a reversal that started a longer term trend of higher interest rates, like that experienced from the late 50s to early 80s could be devastating to bond investors. In addition, interest rate increases have not treated many other income investments like fixed rate preferred stocks very well as many of these issues have extremely long maturities, and/or are perpetual. This makes stretching for yield in this type of environment both challenging and hazardous.
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.
2012-10-02 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.
2012-09-28 The Permanent Portfolio Turns Japanese by Adam Butler, Mike Philbrick of Butler|Philbrick|Gordillo & Associates
Our last few articles dealt with the Permanent Portfolio, a widely embraced static asset allocation concept proposed by Harry Browne in 1982. To review, the simple Permanent Portfolio consists of equal weight allocations to cash (T-bills), Treasuries, stocks and gold to ward against the four major financial states of the world.
2012-09-25 How to Build a Portfolio by Adams Jared Apt (Article)
This is the first of a set of three articles intended for the educated layman, in which I will combine the core ideas presented in my preceding articles into a comprehensive description of how to put together a portfolio. In this one, I'll explain what is often called Modern Portfolio Theory.
2012-09-18 Campaign Rhetoric and Our Energy Future by Michael Edesess (Article)
At their respective conventions, both President Obama and Mitt Romney spoke to a centrally important topic for America and the world: energy. Their positions ? political posturing aside ? are broadly similar. But rather than a coherent, sustainable vision for the energy future of the United States, both men's rhetoric reflected the usual exercise in political base-touching, apple pie-polishing, and third-rail avoidance. And two important, perhaps crucial, pieces of the energy puzzle were hardly mentioned at all.
2012-09-18 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.
2012-09-11 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.
2012-08-28 Permanent Portfolio Shakedown Part 2 by Adam Butler and Mike Philbrick of Butler|Philbrick|Gordillo & Associates
In our Permanent Portfolio Shakedown Part 1 we investigated the history of the approach, tracing it back to Harry Browne in 1982. The company he helped to found, The Permanent Portfolio Family of Funds, has been running their version of the strategy in a mutual fund for almost 30 years, with fairly impressive results. Harry's thoughts about the portfolio are worth repeating in this second installment.
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.
2012-08-08 Monthly Product Commentary: International Equity - July 2012 by Team of Thomas White International
International equities made modest gains during the month of July on repeated assurances from European policymakers that they will explore all possible steps to prevent a collapse of the monetary union and arrest further economic decline. Developed markets in Europe's Nordic region and the Asia Pacific, excluding Japan, as well as select emerging markets in Asia ended with healthy gains for the month.
2012-07-24 Litman Gregory Mid-Year Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory
High debt levels in developed countries create headwinds that are likely to hamper global economic growth in the years ahead. Europe's debt woes raise the risk of a damaging financial crisis, and global stock markets reflected these concerns in the second quarter. Why are we discussing this now? It is partly a reflection on having reached a quarter of a century in business and thinking about how we have conducted our business.
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.
2012-06-27 Q3 2012 Outlook by Asset Allocation Committee of Neuberger Berman
The second quarter experienced a return to volatility as heightened concerns over the European sovereign debt crisis and an aura of pessimism around the pace of global economic growth have reverberated through financial markets. The year began on a positive note, with all major equity indices posting strong double-digit gains.
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?
2012-06-11 Bertha and Casey by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments
Markets braced last week for a bailout on Spain which came this weekend. Its banking sector is in wretched condition and joins other European banks at 25 year lows in share price. The official downgrades came long after the stock market had voted with its feet. European leaders had little to add to the debate. There's some talk of a twin track: some European countries pressing on to further integration, some coping with contraction and austerity on their own.
2012-06-08 Monthly Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory
Global stock markets dropped sharply in May amid renewed macroeconomic fears. Large-cap U.S. stocks fell 6%, while small and mid-cap stocks lost 6.6% and 6.7%, respectively. Domestic stocks are still well in positive territory for the year, with returns ranging from just over 5% for large-caps to 3.4% for small-caps. Foreign markets fell further, as questions over the stability of the eurozone dominated headlines. Both developed and emerging-markets were down 11% for the month and in negative territory year-to-date (down 3.3% and 0.4%, respectively).
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.
2012-06-04 It's All Relative by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Equities have pulled back and are flirting with correction (-10%) territory. We believed this was a needed process, and remain modestly optimistic that economic data will rebound and the market will eventually resume its move higher over the next several months. The Federal Reserve has made clear that it stands ready to act should the US economy deteriorate, or the European debt crisis escalate, but we remain skeptical. The more important issue in our view is how the coming "fiscal cliff" is addressed.
2012-05-31 Institutionalizing Courage by Robert Arnott of Research Affiliates
Most investors measure wealth in terms of the value of their portfolio. We believe it is better to measure wealth in terms of the portfolios ability to support sustainable spending. This months Fundamentals explores why this approach requires courage.
2012-05-29 Letters to the Editor - An Attack on Paul Krugman by Various (Article)
Two readers respond to Michael Edesess' article, An Attack on Paul Krugman, which appeared on May 15.
2012-05-22 Investing Through a Bumpy Ride by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds
Its been a tough quarter so far. The U.S. economy is still growing, but not at a sufficient pace to excite anyone. Meanwhile, investors have had plenty to worry about including a fiscal cliff in the United States, a slowdown in China and, right now most ominously, further turmoil in Europe. Despite plenty to worry about, the realities of a U.S. economic recovery, very conservative allocations and relatively attractive valuations suggest that investors should still consider adding stocks and other risky assets to their portfolios.
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.
2012-05-10 Diversification 301: Tailored Solutions for Your Portfolio by Team of American Century Investments
We continue our discussion of diversification and its application to investor portfolios. We explain how there is no single universal diversified portfolio suited to all investors and occasions. Instead, diversification is a highly customizable framework that can and should be uniquely tailored to suit each individual investors goals and risk tolerances. Earlier articles in the series discussed the basic benefits and rationale for diversification and a discussion of alternative investments that can be used to diversify a traditional balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds.
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.
2012-05-04 Stocks Cheap? Not so Fast! by Mike Paciotti of Integrated Capital management
Markets seem to have forgotten that which ailed us just 4 months ago. Talk of another Lehman style meltdown by a major financial institution has given way to positive earnings results, record profit margins and a much publicized recovery in the US. Equities, have now taken center stage once again with many major asset management firms proclaiming their attractive nature. Over the course of the next few paragraphs, we will examine this argument in greater detail by deconstructing equity market returns into component pieces.
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 The Income Hunt: Opportunities Abroad by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
When it comes to fixed income portfolios, investors are often too reliant on domestic debt issues. However, as Russ explains, today there are a number of reasons why US investors should consider looking outside their own country particularly toward emerging markets for their fixed income needs.
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 Why a 60/40 Portfolio isn?t Diversified by Alex Shahidi (Article)
Maintaining a balanced portfolio is critical, especially when predictions of growth and inflation vary as widely as they do today. Investors are always better off spreading risk than aggressively betting on one economic outcome, and that's especially true when the range of possible economic outcomes is so wide.
2012-04-24 Real Career Risk by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Real career risk is too many people doing what you do for a living. Granthams problem is that every day three million brilliant people get up and spend most of their waking hours trying to practice wide asset allocation. Most of those three million brilliant people have strong backgrounds in economics and lean on their ability to make macroeconomic predictions. Too many people are doing the same thing at the same time for a living. Therefore, they need to either move to another town or wait patiently for most of the other bright people to take up another profession.
2012-04-17 The Rebalancing Problem by Michael Nairne (Article)
Selling winning asset classes to buy losers runs counter to human nature. But doing so with discipline can increase the potential return of a portfolio while critically maintaining its risk profile. The rebalancing premium is an important and often overlooked addition to returns of properly managed portfolios.
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.
2012-04-05 Calm After the Storm by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
The Fed has announced that it stands ready to promote economic growth with all the tools at its disposal. The Fed policy of low interest rates and cheap credit may still be needed to help the job market heal for some time to come. However, the inevitability of a rise in interest rates at a foreseeable point may encourage investors to avoid fixed income securities. The financial reality is that markets clear and prices depend on buyers as well as sellers. Time horizons and global forces are always considerations. The importance of diversification is always prudent for long-term investors.
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 Beyond Bonds: The Role of Risk Assets in Liability-Driven Investing by Sebastien Page of PIMCO
In liability-driven investing, unless the plan is fully immunized or significant leverage is employed, the bond portfolio only hedges part of the liabilities. Overall, when diversifying across risk assets, there are choices that may be more attractive to pension plans than they are to liability-agnostic investors, such as risk assets with exposure to duration. Plan sponsors who choose to maintain a short duration stance on a total portfolio basis should consider alternative sources of diversification beyond equities.
2012-04-02 1Q 2012: Why The Rally Can Last by Chuck Royce of The Royce Funds
We're seeing one of those rare occasions when one of our predictions for the market as a whole worked out almost exactly the way we thought it would. For a while now, we have been noting the disjunct between the very negative and alarmist headlines and the more optimistic view our own analyses and contacts with managements were revealing. It seemed to us as early as last September that the economy was in better shape than the conventional wisdom was suggesting.
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 The Top Three Myths about Women Investors by Lisa Kueng (Article)
Successful marketing requires an understanding of your target market. Too often, however, advisors are misled by outdated industry ideas and strategies that have shifted over time. Advisors who target women investors should avoid myth-based errors that others have made.
2012-03-26 Monthly Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory
We recently spoke with portfolio managers from two fund management teamsChris Davis and Ken Feinberg of Clipper and Selected American Shares, and Pat English of FMIwho have historically exhibited different views toward banks and financial services firms. In addition to providing insight on current risks and opportunities in the financial sector, the interview touches on a number of topical subjects including the Federal Reserve, the European debt situation, and the housing market.
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.
2012-03-16 Why Invest in Asia Bonds? by Teresa Kong of Matthews Asia
The development of Asias bond markets is one of the regions most profound economic changes of the last decade. This month Teresa Kong, CFA, writes about the diversification Asias bond markets can offer investors, and their three primary return drivers: credit, currency and interest rates.
2012-03-15 Market Update: A Real Recovery, or a False Start? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton
The Dow has hit its highest level in years, loan rates are at record lows and the U.S. economy appears to be gaining momentum. Even the housing market is starting to look inviting. But is this a real recovery -- or a false start like last year's? Wharton's Jeremy Siegel and Scott Richard think the economy is showing signs of a true rebound, and predict that stocks should do well in the next 12 months. But bonds, they warn, are in dangerous waters, and economic growth will be in jeopardy if oil prices keep rising and the European credit crisis worsens. (Video with transcript)
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.
2012-03-09 Economic Update - March 2012 by Team of Cambridge Advisors
We continue to deal with the added risk to the global economic system caused by the high degree of debt that exists throughout the developed world. A spirit of cooperation in Europe helped to put those concerns on the back burner in February. Solutions for Greece have been announced however, these are not permanent solutions and the problems go much further than Greece. We expect more turbulence from sovereign debt problems to reemerge in coming months.
2012-03-09 Why Equities Are Attractive Today by Matthew OConnor of Hartland & Co.
Is today the right time to invest in equities? Equity investors have experienced a roller-coaster ride. As a result, many investors have run as far as they can from equities, pulling out roughly $135 billion from U.S. stock mutual funds last year. Even with the S&P 500 Index off to its best start in 25 years and inching closer to its 2008 high*, investors continue to withdraw money from U.S. stock mutual funds. So, where are we? Is it the right time to invest in equities? Due to a combination of reasons, we believe equities do look particularly attractive today and for the long term.
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.
2012-02-10 Missed Opportunities? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Investors eased back into stocks to start the year. This is the start of a sustainable trend, but equities rarely go up in a straight line and near-term caution may be warranted. Another deadline is approaching for Congress and the President to make a deal. Something will get done, but any hopes for substantial action remain dim. Markets appear to be more comfortable with the European debt crisis and the risks associated with it. Central banks around the world are easing, which could help support international stocks in the coming months.
2012-02-01 Will I be able to retire ever? Answers to our clients #1 question! by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
Our clients are divided between those who are at least 65 and already retired (30%) and those clients aged 35-65 for whom retirement seems like an ever receding mirage. In this commentary, we will concentrate on the mechanism that we use to implement a clients retirement income strategy, review how this strategy has performed since January 2000, and review the lessons learned.
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.
2012-01-26 2011 A Difficult Year for Active Investors by Owen Murray of Horizon Advisors
Actively managed mutual funds greatly underperformed their respective benchmarks in 2011. This was primarily due to extreme market conditions triggered by the European debt crisis. Investment managers were not rewarded for good fundamental decision making as fear dominated trading activity in the global markets. Active manager underperformance / outperformance trends tend to be cyclical, but over time, good active managers add value. We expect actively managed funds to outperform once market volatility subsides and fundamental factors reemerge as a key consideration for investors.
2012-01-25 2011 Review and Outlook by Ronald W. Roge and Steven M. Roge of R. W. Roge
While there is plenty to worry about globally, particularly the European financial crisis, Iran, and domestic policy decisions, we can take some comfort that corporate earnings continued to grow and our economy is muddling through with positive GDP numbers. Traditionally, election years are positive for equities. Since 1928 there have been 21 Presidential elections with only three of those years producing negative returns for the S&P 500. Until we have more clarity on the U.S. election, domestic policy decisions and the European financial crisis we will remain cautious and flexible.
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.
2012-01-13 Investing in 2012: Same Issues, More Extreme Valuations by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds
When all was said and done, 2011 turned out to be the metaphorical equivalent of a roller coaster ride.There were quiet positives: The addition of 1.6 million jobs with the unemployment rate falling from 9.4% to 8.5%, a gradual improvement in light vehicle sales, the demise of Bin Laden and gathering economic momentum as the year drew to a close. There were scary negatives: soaring oil prices in reaction to the Arab Spring the human and economic toll of the Japanese tsunami the inability of Europe to deal with its complicated debt issue and the inability of Washington to deal with simpler one.
2012-01-13 Euro Fears by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
Global investing is likely to be very challenging in the year ahead. While the euro has so far been resilient, many eurozone countries face substantive debt refinancing in the coming year. Given the current political, structural, and economic reality there is no simple cure to the euro crisis. The ECBs evolving pursuit of liquidity policies and potential interest rate cuts may be helpful, but major political changes may be necessary. Beyond Europe, the remainder of the global economy may be very dependent on a continuing expansion of the American economy and improving consumer demand.
2012-01-10 Safe Withdrawal Rates: A Do-It-Yourself Approach by Wade Pfau (Article)
Reconciling the assumptions that underpin safe withdrawal rate studies with one's own capital market expectations and constraints is a daunting task, since those studies rarely reflect the practical realities of an advisory practice. But new research now provides a generalized framework for determining a safe withdrawal rate for a given retirement duration, acceptable failure probability, asset allocation and capital market expectations. Advisors no longer must be constrained by the assumptions and choices of others.
2012-01-06 Euro Fears by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
The euro crisis has dominated financial headlines and threatened global economic growth for the last two years. The European Union (EU) has repeatedly failed to articulate an effective plan to address Europes debt problems and deteriorating finances. German demands for austerity and economic rectitude by eurozone members, while politically popular in Germany, ignore basic principles of orthodox Keynes-Samuelson macroeconomics for dealing with a financial slump. There is no historical example of austerity leading to growth.
2012-01-06 What Happened in 2011Whats up for 2012? by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital
This all lends itself to a volatile, but nearly flat trend for stocks and bonds in 2012. Fundamentals dont yet support a run-up, but easy money may put a floor underneath assets over the short run. Unless the situation were to change, we believe aggressive dips in stock markets represent buying opportunities. We tend to think bonds will underperform equities in 2012, given their dramatic outperforming in 2011.
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.
2011-12-20 A Look Back at 2011 by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
Although 2011 started off on a relatively strong note for the global economy and markets, the past year was dominated by fears that contagion from the European debt crisis would derail the recovery. Overall global economic growth struggled as most areas of the world experienced growth slowdowns (the notable exception being the U.S.) Emerging markets were also faced with some mounting inflation pressures, which presented a challenge for policymakers. Although there have been some signs of progress regarding the debt crisis, uncertainty levels remain high going into 2012.
2011-12-13 Harnessing the Power of Momentum by Michael Nairne (Article)
A market phenomena that we can harness on behalf of our clients is momentum - the propensity for price trends to persist in the short-term. I examine the origins of momentum, illustrate its return premium and consider how managers can leverage momentum on behalf of investors.
2011-12-08 Global Economy and Market Summary Third Quarter 2011 by Stephen Hammers of Compass EMP Funds
The world economy has continued to slow during the last few months. The next several quarters are likely to be weak for three reasons. First, fiscal policy will continue to be restrictive as plans to trim excessive federal budget deficits continue to unfold. Second, private sector demand looks gloomy because households will continue to deleverage from high debt levels while unemployment remains a problem. Third, the uncertain future of the Euro-zone debt situation remains a major setback to future economic growth.
2011-12-03 December Monthly Economic Update by Justin Anderson of Cambridge Advisors
While the improving domestic economic picture seems to be pointing to continued slow growth, the markets are focused on Europe as they continue the tumultuous process of finding a resolution to their debt crisis. Until a long-term solution is found, we will likely continue to experience above average market volatility. In this environment we continue to favor a diversified mix of asset classes with an emphasis on yield.
2011-11-22 Morningstar?s Attempt to Predict Performance by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Few question that skillful mutual fund managers exist, but virtually all attempts to identify them ex ante have failed. Last week, Morningstar took up the challenge with its Analyst Ratings, which aim to identify funds with the 'long-term potential for superior risk-adjusted performance.' Given the futility of such efforts over the last several decades, advisors should approach this new effort with skepticism.
2011-11-16 As Alternative Investments Move into the Mainstream, Advisors and Investors Need to Choose Wisely by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors
We believe that having a piece of an overall portfolio that is committed to liquid alternatives is a critical component to long-term portfolio stability, capital preservation and growth. No one wants a repeat of 2008, or anything close to it. There are an abundance of liquid alternative choices available, some of which have proven themselves through various market cycles and environments. They have gone from Wall Street to Main Street for good reason. Embrace the opportunity, and you and your clients may just sleep a bit better at night during these volatile times.
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.
2011-11-08 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 Danger in European Stocks by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
European equity prices, depressed by fears of a sovereign debt crisis, are cheap to such a degree that William Bernstein, author of The Intelligent Asset Allocator, called them a true bargain. Income-oriented investors, in particular, may be tempted by 4.2% dividend yields and a market-wide P/E ratio of approximately 11. My analysis, however, contradicts Bernstein's and shows the underlying risk those investments carry.
2011-10-27 Third Quarter Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory
Since 2008, we have been in a period where macroeconomic forces are particularly influential and must inform our portfolio strategy. This quarter's developments in which we saw heightened concerns about a global economic slowdown, political gridlock, and serious concerns about shorter-term European and longer-term U.S. debt problems are consistent with the risk scenarios we've been discussing the past several years.
2011-10-25 How a Trivial Oversight Created a Big Problem by Dan Richards (Article)
Over 25 years working with advisors, I've learned that while you need to get the big things right, small issues are often much more important than they appear on the surface. Last week I met with a 25-year industry veteran who told me about a big price he paid for a seemingly minor oversight.
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?
2011-10-11 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.
2011-10-04 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.
2011-09-27 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.
2011-09-27 Do Low Correlations Favor Active Managers? by FundQuest Investment Management & Research Group (Article)
There has been much debate regarding the challenges for active managers in market environments with persistently high correlations. Some argue that high correlations hinder active managers seeking to generate alpha through security selection. Indeed, in a recent study, we found that active managers were more likely to succeed in low-correlation environments.
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 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.
2011-09-01 Updated Ideas for Fixed Income Positions by Team of American Century Investments
The current environment and related factorsincluding double-dip recession concerns, equity and high-yield corporate bond market volatility, moderate inflation expectations in the near term, and premium pricing for U.S. Treasury securitieshave raised questions for investors as they return from summer activities and re-examine fixed income investment positions. It is difficult to address all investor situations and scenarios. So for our hypothetical allocations in this piece, we will focus on fixed income positioning within employer-sponsored retirement plans, both qualified and non-qualified.
2011-09-01 Q&A with Litman Gregory Research by Team of Litman Gregory
We regularly use a Q&A format to address questions from readers about our investment views and current strategy. This format permits us to address a range of different topics and allows readers to focus on areas that are of interest to them. This Q&A piece was worked on jointly by members of our research team and tackles questions received during the past several weeks. We have grouped the questions into broad categories for convenience. The main topics include the Fairholme Fund, Investment-Grade Bonds, Floating Rate Loans, Municipal Bonds, International Bonds, China and Commodity Futures.
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.
2011-08-16 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.
2011-08-15 Panic Is Not a Strategy - Nor Is Greed by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
Originally published in 2008, it's time for a refresher about the perils of panic. Asset allocation, diversification and rebalancing are as close to a "free lunch" as you can get as an investor. ThIn world where time horizons have shrunk precipitously, think longer-term.
2011-08-12 Making Sense of the Markets by Team of Neuberger Berman
It is one thing to theorize about markets. It is quite another to invest. With that sentiment in mind, we offer a sampling of views from some of our portfolio managers across our firm who each independently form their own conclusions as to what to make of the market and how to position portfolios according to their respective investment disciplines.
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.
2011-07-26 Investing with a View of Significant Inflation by Bob Kargenian (Article)
Almost all the analysis we read has concluded that, with the Fed seemingly printing money out of nowhere, the inevitable consequence must be significantly higher inflation. We're not convinced, but we have identified which strategies are likely to best protect clients if inflation accelerates.
2011-07-19 A New Approach for Forecasting Market Returns by C. Thomas Howard (Article)
I propose a method for predicting future market movements, which I call the strategy market barometer (SMB). The SMB is calculated by measuring the extent to which investors are rewarding specific investment strategies being pursued by active equity managers. My research reveals that equity strategy performance ranking is a useful predictor of future market returns, and tests confirm that market returns vary in line with SMB measurements.
2011-07-19 Retirement Planning and Worst-Case Scenarios by Wade Pfau (Article)
New research suggests that skepticism in a 4% safe withdrawal rate (SWR) is well justified. It is perhaps due to good luck that American retirees have not yet experienced a withdrawal rate below 4%. But a better approach than worrying about SWRs is to focus on the savings rate needed to meet your retirement spending goals, not on what the safe withdrawal rate is.
2011-07-19 You and the Internet, Part II - Places to Go, People to See by Wendy J. Cook (Article)
In my last article, How to Waste Time and Influence People, we covered productive ways to wander on the Internet. You also can benefit from harnessing the Internet as it relates to your advisory practice.
2011-07-15 Earnings Heat Up by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Earnings season is heating up and will provide a status update on the "soft patch" and where companies' confidence level lies. Stocks have been more volatile but are they telling us something about potential future direction? Debt ceiling talks continue in Washington, with a deal still likely to come in the final days before the supposed August 2 deadline. The make-up of spending cuts, tax changes, and any entitlement reform may be key to longer-term market reaction. Contagion fears are growing in Europe and solutions are difficult to come by.
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.
2011-07-05 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.
2011-06-28 The Diversified Portfolio Index by Charles Fahy, Sr. (Article)
Investment rates of return that are average but consistent are the products of exceptional performance. Over longer time horizons, these returns become increasingly difficult to outperform. One such example is the Diversified Portfolio Index - a buy-and-hold strategy deployed across all major asset classes.
2011-06-16 U.S. Investors Overexposed to U.S. Dollar Risk? by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
The U.S. dollar has experienced significant weakness over recent years. And there is a risk the U.S. dollar will experience ongoing deterioration for an extended period of time. U.S. investors may want to take this possibility into consideration when assessing the U.S. dollar risk inherent in their investment portfolios. Our analysis into the aggregate financial asset holdings of the U.S. personal sector finds that the vast majority of investor?s financial assets are denominated in U.S. dollars and as a result, significant U.S. dollar risk exposure is evident.
2011-06-14 Bruce Berkowitz - Ignoring the Crowd on Financials by Sam Parl (Article)
Bruce Berkowitz has said that his deep value and contrarian investing style will not guarantee short-term results, but he promises his shareholders will be rewarded for their patience over the long term. Last week, he explained why some of his positions - especially those in the financial services sector - are among the best opportunities in the market.
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 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 Pause or Panic? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Economic data has deteriorated to the point that talk of a double dip recession has returned. The risk of another recession is low as most indicators remain well in expansion territory. Several factors are contributing to a soft patch, but a rebound is likely in the latter part of 2011. Along with talk of recession risk, chatter about the need for QE3 by the Fed has increased. The bar is quite high for QE3, but it is very likely the Fed will not let its balance sheet shrink in the near-term. Global growth is decelerating as well, with China tightening and Japan dealing with reconstruction.
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.
2011-05-24 How to Build a Low-Risk High-Income Portfolio by Geoff Considine (Article)
Prominent investors, including Bill Gross and Warren Buffett, now say that the yields on long-term government debt do not justify the risks. But is this perception correct? I offer a way to answer that question - and to construct a low-risk high-income portfolio - using the prices of put options to derive the true risk levels of various asset classes.
2011-05-24 The WikiLeaks of the Economics Profession by Michael Edesess (Article)
What Caused the Financial Crisis presents the most comprehensive account I have seen of the regulations that, when considered as a whole, have incentivized unprecedented self-delusion and risk-taking in the subprime mortgage market. To put it in a manner that financial advisors will understand, the book shows that the policies and regulations greatly increased the Sharpe ratio of the financial industry - they increased the return for taking risk.
2011-05-24 A Washington Forecast for Advisors and Investors by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Only entitlement reform can bridge the federal deficit, and your clients should prepare for changes to Medicare and Social Security, according to Andy Friedman. Cost-sharing and means-testing are among the big changes that Friedman sees on the horizon. Don't expect much progress in the near term, though, as Friedman forecast continued gridlock on the budget at least until the 2012 elections are decided.
2011-05-17 Pippa Malmgren on Inflation and its Geopolitical Impact by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The Cold War may have been over for a quarter century, but the inflation-driven challenges that characterized that historical era are heating back up. Today, global volatility is back, according to Pippa Malmgren, who says that commodity-driven inflation will lead to political instability in emerging markets.
2011-04-19 Rear View Mirrors by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
It was another positive quarter for U.S. equity investors. The market?s resilience in the face of the Fukushima earthquake, Middle East rebellions, and euro uncertainties was remarkable. The U.S. economy continued to demonstrate significant signs of recovery with new jobs in March and a 1% drop in the unemployment rate since November. While European markets were up 6.5% in dollar terms, Asian indices were down 2%. Bond market was mixed, with treasuries down and diversified indices flat. Oil prices were up over 16% while the dollar fell 6.4% relative to the euro but up 1.3% to the yen.
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 Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest by Barry M. Ferguson (Article)
The two stupidest characters ever to grace the big screen - Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne - were first introduced to the world in Jim Carrey's 1994 movie, Dumb and Dumber. If that movie were made today, its leading characters could easily be our government and the supposedly independent Federal Reserve Bank. Both of these institutions have foisted their misguided policies on the American public, who, in their passive acceptance, have proven themselves to be the dumbest of all.
2011-04-09 Risk 3.0 Investment Solutions for the New Market Realities by Mitchell Eichen and John Longo of The MDE Group
In spite of the stock market rebound from its March 2009 lows, the 2007-2009 bear market still looms large. Investors have lost faith in the conventional methods of portfolio management. Investor confidence was not merely shaken, but shattered. Risk was either improperly measured, or considered a distant second to return. In this paper, we introduce a new approach to portfolio management that builds upon prior work. The main contribution is that specific kinds of risk are explicitly considered. The portfolio is then optimized, using human judgment, for the current market outlook.
2011-04-02 Expert Roundtable on Inflation: Should You Be Worried? by Mark W. Riepe, Liz Ann Sonders, Rob Williams, Michael Iachini & Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab
Inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services; your money buys less. With oil and other commodity prices rising, the Federal Reserve's current easy monetary policy and the economy picking up, many investors are worried about inflation. Mark Riepe, head of Financial Research and president of Charles Schwab Investment Advisory, led a roundtable discussing why Wall and Main Street may have different perspectives on inflation. The roundtable also covers our inflation outlook, ways to protect your investments and inflation-savvy investments you might want to consider.
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 Statistical Insights into Everyday Problems by Sam Parl (Article)
You know that the volatility of an investment matters as much as its overall return. But you may not know that research into this fundamental investment principle has been applied in many other disciplines to explain phenomena as unexpected as waiting times in lines at Disney World.
2011-03-22 No Shortcuts to Greatness by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
Nothing defined Alan Greenspan's tenure as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank more than his wholehearted embrace of capitalism. According to a current Fed governor, however, both Greenspan's Fed and the Fed today have not been the stalwarts of capitalism that the Maestro believed them to be.
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 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 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 Subsuming the Efficient Market Hypothesis by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)
A recent article highlighted important gaps in the efficient markets model (EMH) that limit its practical applications. It encouraged a search for a new theory of markets that builds upon EMH by rendering it as a special case within a broader, more general theory. Mordecai Kurz? Rational Belief Equilibrium is such a theory.
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.
2011-02-22 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.
2011-02-08 The Downside to Venture Investing (like Facebook?) by Dan Richards (Article)
In this interview, Harvard Business School professor Josh Lerner discusses the dangers of venture capital investing and the basis behind Facebook's valuation. This is a transcript of the interview.
2011-02-01 Can Economics Save the Economy? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Christina Romer, Greg Mankiw and Paul Krugman were among a group of thought leaders who spoke at a conference in Cambridge last week. They cited a lack of sufficiently powerful and politically feasible policy options, calling into question whether economists will be able to produce the clear path to the stronger recovery that the Obama administration seeks.
2011-02-01 Why Public Funding of Venture Capital Has Failed by Dan Richards (Article)
Josh Lerner is a professor at the Harvard Business School, with a joint appointment in finance and entrepreneurial management. In this interview, he discusses his research on why public-funded venture capital sometimes succeeds but other times fails. This is a transcript of the interview.
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.
2011-01-04 Think International, Think Small by Wasatch Funds of Wasatch Funds
Outperforming in today?s investment climate requires taking advantage of the wealth of opportunities available globally. Foreign stocks offer strong growth potential and attractive fundamentals, particularly small cap and micro cap companies. In this paper we explore what makes international investing particularly compelling, and the unique advantages of foreign small and micro cap companies, including: higher growth potential, better valuations due to the market inefficiencies of smaller companies and lower correlation with U.S. stocks, and under representation in portfolio allocations.
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.
2010-11-23 Why Diversify? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
Although diversification is commonly regarded as a good thing, there are nonetheless those who regard it as a guarantee of mediocrity. It isn't, but there are right ways and wrong ways to go about diversifying a portfolio. Let's explore how diversification works.
2010-11-16 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.
2010-11-09 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 Waiting for Superman: The Fate of Teachers? Unions by Charlie Curnow (Article)
In 'Waiting for Superman,' the new documentary film about the shortcomings of American public education, director Davis Guggenheim argues that, in order to compete with rival school systems in Asia and Europe, the U.S. must rein in its teachers unions and embrace the free market principles of private schools and privately managed charter schools. Is this a fair assessment?
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.
2010-11-02 A Top Economist's Nightmare Scenario by Charlie Curnow (Article)
Remember the 1970s? Stagflation like we saw then could return to the U.S. if unsustainable public debt levels trigger a selloff of government bonds and dollar-denominated holdings, according to a recent study by John C. Cochrane. Cochrane, a finance professor at the University of Chicago, is perhaps best known for his response to Paul Krugman's article in the New York Times on why mainstream economics failed to anticipate the financial crisis.
2010-10-29 Henry Paulson: An Inside Look at the Financial Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson candidly spoke about the details of his efforts to rescue the economy during the financial crisis, and offered some optimistic thoughts about the potential for growth in the US economy in the face of new financial regulation.
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 Harvard Experts: Economy is Like a Bus Winding Down a Mountain Road by Charlie Curnow (Article)
Five Harvard economists, including Ken Rogoff and John Campbell, emphasized the need for U.S. policymakers and households to cut down on borrowing and increase savings during a panel discussion on Tuesday, October 13 at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
2010-09-27 Are 401(K) Investors Fighting Yesterday's War? by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates
It is time for investors and their advisors to look forward, not backward, in their 401(k) investment planning. Inflation is the biggest single enemy to long-term investors. A portfolio of real return assets balanced with a stock- and bond-heavy 401(k) fund menu is the best way to build a portfolio for an uncertain future. To do this, one needs to include inflation hedges before inflation strikes and when they are least costly.
2010-09-07 Financial Markets Commentary by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
With federal tax credits for housing done, housing sales plummeted 26 percent in August. To soak up excess capacity in construction, the Obama administration just proposed a $50 billion infrastructure spending plan. Whether such a stimulus can be approved by a recalcitrant Congress two months before midterm elections is of course a big question. There already should be another round of excellent earnings in October, however, as well as an 8 percent year-end return in the S&P 500.
2010-08-24 What Investors Really Want by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Using a mean-variance optimizer to construct a retirement portfolio that sits on the efficient frontier is tantamount to dining on a well-prepared meal that was pureed in a blender, believes Meir Statman, a professor of finance at Santa Clara University. Statman's research focuses on behavioral finance, and how advisors can help investors make smarter decisions.
2010-08-10 When Active Management Matters by Kenneth R. Solow, CFP and Michael E. Kitces, MSFS, MTAX, CFP (Article)
Financial planners have eagerly awaited any research that could finally, definitively prove - or disprove - the pesky notion that active management is effective. Though no one has yet risen to that challenge, past academic studies have been improperly interpreted to show that portfolio policy, or asset allocation affects portfolio returns far more than active management. As Ken Solow and Michael Kitces write in this guest contribution, the most recent study to tackle the active management debate, by Yale professor Roger Ibbotson, shares two weaknesses with previous research.
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.
2010-07-27 Active Managers Add More Value in Bull than Bear Markets by Jane Li, CFA, CAIA (Article)
In this guest contribution, Jane Li of FundQuest argues that both active and passive investing have their strengths and weaknesses; it depends on the market segment in question and on the economic climate. Active managers tend to add value in bull markets, but their value is shakier in bear markets.
2010-07-20 Martin Leibowitz? Failed Defense of the Endowment Model by Michael Edesess (Article)
The latest book from Martin Leibowitz, one of the most respected thinkers in the investment industry, attempts to justify the endowment model of investing. As Michael Edesess writes in this review, Leibowitz's defense is highly problematic, and that should concern any advisor utilizing a Yale-like strategy.
2010-07-13 Fake Diversification Exposed: Does Asset Allocation Work? by David B. Loeper, CIMA, CIMC (Article)
Domestic equities are down roughly 14.5% from their April 23rd high. Many advisors tout sophisticated (and very expensive) asset diversification strategies, supposedly to protect their clients against precisely these circumstances. So, with this recent decline, Dave Loeper asks whether all of those supposed diversifiers protected portfolios?
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 Improving on Morningstar's Ratings: Moving Beyond Past Performance by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)
Past returns provide little or no help in choosing the best fund going forward, and Morningstar's stars are the best known example of this failure. In this guest contribution, Tom Howard presents new evidence of the failure of past performance to predict future returns, and shows how his strategy-based rating methodology offers measurably better predictive power.
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.
2010-06-08 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 Global Equity Markets Slip on Greek Debt Crunch by Team of American Century Investments
Fears of a Greek default have heightened concerns about the financial stability of several other peripheral European countries. Spain, Ireland, Italy and Portugal, however, are not in the same situation as Greece. Italy in particular is in a separate, stronger category than the others. It is less reliant on foreign financing, with Italians owning a high percentage of their own sovereign debt. Italy also lagged in the economic boom prior to the global recession, a blessing in disguise because its banking sector is now not as over-leveraged to the housing market as banks in other countries.
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.
2010-05-18 Spain: After the Bubble by Charlie Curnow (Article)
Today, Barajas Terminal 4 one of the most visible artifacts of the profligacy that fueled Spain's property bubble and led to the country's current financial crisis. Spain, like several other European states, has continued to spend rapidly over the past two years, even as its economy has contracted. As a result, the Spanish government's debt has skyrocketed, raising fears of a possible sovereign default.
2010-05-18 Understanding Recent Negative International Bond Returns by Team of American Century Investments
This year so far has been a challenge for U.S. investors in high-quality, unhedged international bonds, continuing a downtrend for this sector that began in December of last year. Fortunately, the long-term strategic reasons for holding international bonds remain intact, including inflation protection from a potentially weaker dollar as the U.S. budget deficit grows, and diversification benefits versus traditional domestic fixed income.
2010-05-14 The Effect of Inflation on Purchasing Power by Robert Urie of Pioneer Investment Management
This paper provides an analysis of what inflation is and its effect on purchasing power. Inflation is a broad rise in the price level of goods and services that reduces purchasing power. In recent decades it has occurred in two predominant forms: rapid, steep increases in prices and a long, persistent rise in prices that gradually erodes purchasing power. Both forms result from a combination of the level of economic growth, monetary policy and unforeseen supply and demand shocks.
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 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.
2010-05-07 The Big Picture, the Investment Landscape, and Our Portfolio Strategy by Team of Litman Gregory
Debt reached binge levels during the past decade. Money to reduce the debt will have to come from somewhere, and much of it will come from reduced spending. Spending cuts could produce a sluggish economy, possibly for many years to come. There are some positives that could contribute to a better outcome, however, including continued strength from emerging economies. Domestically, we could see stimulus spending, low rates, and inventory rebuilding create a virtuous circle in which businesses with strong balance sheets add jobs, and consumer and business confidence builds and feeds on itself.
2010-04-16 Is Healthcare Reform Really a Game Changer? by Daniel J. Traub of Tempo Financial Advisors, LLC
Recent headlines in the business section have been less about stock market performance and more about health care reform. That shift in focus has led to a period of low stock market volatility. Low volatility generally bodes well for the stock market. While there will certainly be changes within health care as a result of the recent reforms, however, the new laws will not be as much of a game changer for the 84 percent of the economy that is not devoted to health care. It will take years before the law is fully implemented, and the complete details are still a bit sketchy.
2010-04-14 The Global Bond Market: Opportunity or Opportunity Cost by David W. Rolley of Loomis Sayles
The U.S. bond market is unlikely to offer investors the yield or capital appreciation opportunities they need to meet their investment objectives in 2010. Instead, investors will need to expand their investment universe. Investments in non-U.S., high-quality governments and supranationals could offer capital preservation, while emerging-markets debt and corporate debt might present performance prospects. In the non-dollar securities arena, investors could take advantage of securities offering capital preservation as well as performance.
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.
2010-03-30 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 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.
2010-03-26 narrative power by tom brakke of the research puzzle
The investment world illustrates the power of narrative. People up and down the informational food chain use stories to enlighten and deceive. For stock investors, many stories originate with companies and their officers, who learn that crafting a narrative that puts everything in the best light is part of their leadership role. Sell side analysts sometimes reinforce those messages by making the telling of certain stories part of their brands. Investors must therefore read widely and read well, and realize that understanding comes from taking nothing for granted and questioning everything.
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 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.
2010-03-02 Asset Allocation for Grantham?s Seven Lean Years by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
Followers of Jeremy Grantham know his consistently accurate long-term forecasts well, as well as his ability to identify and avoid asset bubbles and steer clients into high-performing asset classes. Grantham's prescience is remarkable but not irreplicable. Geoff Considine shows that his Monte Carlo simulations nearly match Grantham's forecasts, and he reviews the implications for asset allocations.
2010-02-25 The Global Bond Market: Opportunity or Opportunity Cost by David W. Rolley of Loomis Sayles
The U.S. bond market is unlikely to offer investors enough yield or capital appreciation opportunities in 2010. Investors should instead expand their investments to include global bonds. High-quality governments and supranationals could offer capital preservation, while emerging market debt and corporate debt may present performance prospects. Non-dollar securities could offer both capital preservation and performance.
2010-02-18 The Ultimate Buy-and-Hold Strategy: 2010 update by Paul Merriman of Merriman
An investor's choice of assets if far more important than the times he decides to buy or sell those assets. In a nutshell, the ultimate buy-and-hold strategy is this: Use no-load funds to create a sophisticated asset allocation model with worldwide equity di-versification by adding value stocks, small company stocks and real estate funds to a traditional large-cap growth stock portfolio.
2010-02-16 Robert Shiller on Trills, Housing and Market Valuations by Dan Richards (Article)
Robert Shiller, a professor of economics at Yale University and co-creator of the Case-Shiller Housing Index, discusses several topics in this interview with Dan Richards, including his plan for governments to finance their debts by issuing "trills," a security representing a fractional claim on the country's GDP.
2010-02-02 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 Good Day Sunshine by James A. Skinner of The Royce Funds
This is a review of 2009 market performance, with a focus on small-cap stocks. Historically, the authors argue, small-cap stocks are likely to lead in the decade that follows a decade of sub-par performance.
2010-01-26 Diversification Really Does Pay Off by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
The last decade severely tested investors' belief in the value of diversification and strategic asset allocation, leading some in the financial media to assert that diversification and asset allocation failed and were worthless during the crash of 2007-2008. Now is an ideal moment to look back and assess the carnage.
2010-01-19 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Readers responded to a range of topics in our letters to the Editor: our Paul Krugman interview, our article last week on the causes of the financial crisis, our article on the true cost of insuring the uninsured, and our article on costless collars using options.
2010-01-12 Bruce Berkowitz on the Keys to Success for the Fairholme Fund by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Bruce Berkowitz, manager of the Fairholme Fund, was just named Morningstar's US fund manager of the year. In our interview, he discusses current market conditions, the thesis behind several of his largest positions, his views on health care reform, and the elements of the macro environment that concern him most.
2010-01-12 The Financial Crisis Post-Mortem: Suicide, Accident or Murder? by Michael Skocpol (Article)
Since the stunning collapse of America's financial system in 2008, questions have swirled around how we got here and who's to blame. The subsequent finger-pointing has yielded few answers, but now one economist has taken a cue from CSI's Gil Grissom and Law and Order's Jack McCoy. He performed an autopsy.
2010-01-12 Olivier Blanchard on Global Stability by Dan Richards (Article)
Olivier Blanchard is the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, a position he has held since September 1, 2008. In Dan Richards' interview, Blanchard discusses the steps being taken to revive the global economy and what he believes is in store for beleaguered debtor nations - particularly Greece.
2010-01-05 Paul Krugman on Deficits, Taxes, Inflation, and Recovery by Dan Richards (Article)
Dan Richards' interview with Paul Krugman, the 2008 Nobel prize winner in Economics, covers his views on the size of the next stimulus package, how high marginal tax rates should go, and lessons from the Japanese experience. Whether or not you agree with him, Krugman is highly influential and his views may presage future policy decisions.
2009-12-31 A New Paradigm for a New Century by Paul Merriman of Merriman
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 Letters to the Editor ? Morningstar Responds by Various (Article)
Our article last week, Morningstar's Ratings Fail over a Full Market Cycle, drew two responses from readers and a response from Morningstar. John Rekenthaler, Morningstar's VP of Research, says the three-year time period we chose was arbitrary and does not necessarily reflect a full market cycle. We also have a letter regarding our article last week, The Investment Value of Art.
2009-12-08 Morningstar Ratings Fail over a Full Market Cycle by Robert Huebscher (Article)
When active managers are tested, as they were during the 2008 bear market and 2009 bull market, so are the systems used to predict their performance. Perhaps no system is as widely used as Morningstar's "star" rating system. In an update to a study we originally did two years ago, we show that Morningstar's ratings fail to offer any predictive ability when measured over a full market cycle.
2009-11-17 Client Gifts that Stand Out by Dan Richards (Article)
Having trouble with ideas for holiday gifts for your clients? Dan Richards offers four strategies for selecting a gift with a meaningful impact.
2009-11-10 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.
2009-11-03 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.
2009-10-20 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.
2009-10-13 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.
2009-09-29 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.
2009-09-22 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.
2009-09-08 Are REITs Now Undervalued? by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
The last couple of years have been rough for real estate, but there was a time not too long ago when it seemed that this was a 'special' asset class, with REITs providing valuable diversification benefits and consistently high returns. Do today's low valuations represent an opportunity to buy? Can investors expect a return to low correlations for REITs with the major equity market indexes?
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 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.
2009-08-11 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.
2009-08-04 Paul Krugman on the Prospects for Recovery by Eric Uhlfelder (Article)
Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman tells Eric Uhlfelder that massive government spending is essential for generating growth, but fears the first stimulus package will not be enough to keep the economy from slipping back into recession nor reducing unemployment.
2009-08-04 How to Think about Return and Risk at the Same Time by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
In this guest contribution targeted to the educated layman, Adam Apt discusses the relationship between return and risk. Only when you can keep in mind at one and the same time these two concepts can you properly understand how to invest. And you will also understand why you should invest. Without the marriage of the concepts, you will be playing the market-or shunning it-as if it were a casino.
2009-08-04 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.
2009-07-21 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.
2009-07-07 Marty Whitman: The Outlook for Distressed Securities by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Marty Whitman is the founder, Co-Chief Investment Officer, and Portfolio Manager of the Third Avenue Value Fund and a veteran value investor with a long, distinguished history as a control investor. In our interview, he discusses the opportunities in distressed securities created by the financial crisis.
2009-06-30 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.
2009-06-09 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 Changes in the Most Popular Mutual Funds by Robert Huebscher (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 the most popular mutual funds.
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.
2009-05-26 The Importance of Being Active by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)
New research from Tom Howard of Athenainvest shows buying and holding the typical active US equity fund is a recipe for underperformance. On the other hand, Howard shows that funds actively placing stock selection bets and enjoying recent return success earn increasingly superior returns and experience an improved likelihood of beating the market as the fund ages. Howard argues for the importance of being truly active as a fund manager.
2009-05-19 Waiting for the Fifth Wave by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In response to skepticism we've expressed in the past about technical analysis, one of our readers invited us to attend the Market Technicians Association symposium in New York last week. Our skepticism remains, but it was an enjoyable event and we report on the forecasts of Elliot Wave theorist Robert Prechter.