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

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2015-08-17 00:00:00 A Study of Real Real Returns Now in its Third Decade by Team of Thornburg Investment Management

If generals always fight the last war, investors all too often chase past performance and mistime the market. Despite the age-old admonition to buy low and sell high, few actually do, to the detriment of their portfolios and wealth. Why? No one wants to be the first to the party or the last to leave. Yet upswings in one asset class may not be all that apparent until well under way. By the time many market analysts and financial media notice, relative valuations may already have reached lofty levels. Loathe to miss out, investors pile in anyway, hoping there may be some steam left.

2015-08-10 00:00:00 Is the Small-Cap Market Out of Joint? by Chuck Royce, Chris Clark, Francis Gannon of The Royce Funds

While results for most stocks in the first half were decidedly bullish, the primary drivers of performance continue to be unsettling—especially for those with an active, risk-conscious approach who’ve lagged in an environment that has often shown favor to highly levered, non-earning, and more speculative businesses. The question is—when will the speculative bubble burst?

2015-08-06 00:00:00 Do Your Alternative Investments Have the Right Fit? by Richard Brink, Christine Johnson of AllianceBernstein

Investors who chose alternatives for downside protection in recent years have been frustrated with their performance. We think the problems were an unfavorable market environment and the unique challenges of manager selection for alternatives.

2015-08-05 00:00:00 Earnings Update: Corporate Resilience by Burt White of LPL Financial

Once again, earnings season highlights corporate America’s resilience. Investors were braced for an earnings decline in the second quarter of 2015 but will almost certainly end up with another quarterly earnings gain despite the significant drags from the oil downturn and strong U.S. dollar, largely thanks to effective cost controls that have propped up profit margins. With more than two-thirds of S&P 500 companies having reported second quarter 2015 results, we provide an earnings update.

2015-07-28 00:00:00 Are Managed-Payout Funds Better than Annuities? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Managed-payout funds promise to meet retirees’ need for sustainable lifetime income without relying on annuities. To see whether this promise can be fulfilled, I’ll answer three questions: What’s the best design for such funds? How do they compare to annuities? Can retirees do even better by combining managed-payout funds and annuities?

2015-07-23 00:00:00 Mid-Year Market Outlook - July 2015 by Team of Thomas White International

At the end of 2014, “why international?” was the prevailing investor sentiment. After all, foreign stocks had lagged U.S. equities yet again, underperforming four out of the five years between 2010 and 2014. The consensus outlook was that U.S. markets would outperform their foreign peers in any case, and so, would it really serve any purpose to hold international equities in a portfolio? Many investors followed the crowd.

2015-07-16 00:00:00 Five Portfolio Moves for the Second Half by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock

After a relatively calm few months, market volatility is back. In recent weeks, stocks have swung between ups and downs, as investors have attempted to digest the latest news out of Greece, the recent bear market in China and the growing likelihood that the Federal Reserve (Fed) will hold off on raising rates until after its September meeting.

2015-06-23 00:00:00 Why VBINX is the Wrong Benchmark For Global Tactical Asset Allocation Strategies by Adam Butler, Michael Philbrick, Rodrigo Gordillo of BPG & Associates

We recently came across a couple of articles making the sensational claim that TAA is nothing more than a repackaged and dressed-up version of market timing. Both articles – and others, we’ve subsequently learned – point to a Morningstar study showing that TAA has underperformed the Vanguard U.S. 60/40 balanced fund over the past few years.

2015-06-15 00:00:00 June Economic Update by John Richards of Bronfman E.L. Rothschild

A drop in exports, poor weather, and shipping yard difficulties led the U.S. economy back into negative territory after GDP was revised downward to -0.7%. Many economists believe this is a similar situation to what we saw in 2014 with a drop in GDP during the first quarter, and a subsequent rebound in the following quarters. However, the strong dollar effect has continued into April and May and will continue to provide a headwind for GDP. The preference by consumers to save additional earnings instead of spend is also putting downward pressure on growth.

2015-06-11 00:00:00 When Following the Herd is Risky, Where is the Safety? by Zachary Karabell of Envestnet

Risk and safety. Safety and risk. In investing, as in life, balancing both is an ongoing challenge. We know intuitively that all of either one or the other rarely yields the results we want, but finding the right mix is easier said than done.

2015-06-09 00:00:00 Four Reasons Why We Do Not Hedge Against Currency Volatility by Sponsored Content from Invesco (Article)

Currency volatility has continued to be a clear theme so far in 2015. Our International Growth strategy doesn't hedge for currency exposure, and never has. In essence, the team is much more concerned with what company managements are doing than central bankers.

2015-05-28 00:00:00 How Much Should We Invest in Emerging Markets? by Dr. Burton Malkiel of WaveFront Capital Management

Investors today are significantly underexposed to emerging markets; fortunately, the opportunity to correct this flaw is the best in years.

2015-05-23 00:00:00 Northern Trust Perspective by Jim McDonald of Northern Trust

Our monthly Perspective newsletter keeps you apprised of current market and economic conditions across an array of topics including: US, European and Asian markets, global real estate and commodities.

2015-05-21 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 '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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 "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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 Keeping Track of Changing Values by Matt Collins of Source

Stock prices keep moving, even after the exchanges close.

2015-01-05 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2014-10-28 00:00:00 Third Quarter Review 2014 by Clark M. Blackman II (Article)

The following is a letter to clients that readers may adapt for their own use.

2014-10-10 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2014-08-19 00:00:00 How to Choose the Right Fixed-Income Strategy by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

The fixed-income portion of retirement portfolios is just as important as the equity allocation, yet far less research has been devoted to it. Advisors must decide whether to pursue active or passive strategies and which types of bonds to recommend. I'll address those strategic choices and argue that the best approach is the simplest, lowest-cost one.

2014-08-05 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 ?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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 Do Commodities Belong in Your Allocation? by Geoff Considine (Article)

For much of the last several years, poor performance from commodities has hurt investors’ portfolios, a result of depressed interest rates, low inflation and slow economic growth. Any diversification value they provided was masked by strong equity-market performance. My analysis shows that only a small allocation to commodities is justified, and advisors can obtain most of the same benefits with REITs or individual TIPS.

2014-04-08 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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?

2013-10-10 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2013-09-28 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2013-09-10 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2013-08-14 00:00:00 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.

2013-07-24 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2013-07-01 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2013-06-17 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2013-05-25 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2013-05-07 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2013-04-20 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2013-04-10 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2012-12-07 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2012-10-31 00:00:00 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.

2012-10-19 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2012-09-28 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2012-08-28 00:00:00 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.

2012-08-08 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2012-06-27 00:00:00 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.

2012-06-11 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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).

2012-06-04 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2012-05-22 00:00:00 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.

2012-05-10 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2012-04-05 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2012-03-26 00:00:00 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.

2012-03-16 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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)

2012-03-09 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2012-02-10 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2012-01-26 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2012-01-13 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2012-01-06 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2011-12-08 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2011-11-16 00:00:00 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.

2011-10-27 00:00:00 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.

2011-10-18 00:00:00 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?

2011-09-01 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2011-08-15 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2011-07-15 00:00:00 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.

2011-06-28 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2011-06-10 00:00:00 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.

2011-04-19 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2011-04-09 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2011-01-04 00:00:00 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.

2010-09-27 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2010-06-08 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2010-06-01 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2010-05-07 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2010-03-26 00:00:00 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.

2010-03-02 00:00:00 Asset Allocation Perspective by Scott Wittman, CFA (Article)

Scott Wittman, Chief Investment Officer for American Century Investments, provides his quarterly review of macro-economic factors and trends which influence the tactical weighting decisions for American Century's asset allocation funds. In the article, Wittman reviews and comments on recent events, trends and expected short-term future changes in monetary, fiscal, industrial, trade, regulatory, political and financial macro economic factors. We thank them for their sponsorship. This is sponsored content.

2010-02-25 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 How to Squander $170 Billion by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Some of the managers supposed to be among the sharpest have cost their clients $170 billion dollars over the last two decades. These are "plan sponsors" who handle pension funds, endowments, and foundations, and Scott Stewart, a former money manager who now teaches finance at Boston University, has documented their value destruction in a recently published study.

2010-02-02 00:00:00 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.

2009-12-31 00:00:00 A New Paradigm for a New Century by Paul Merriman of Merriman

2009-12-15 00:00:00 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.

2009-09-08 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.

2009-08-18 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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 00:00:00 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.


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