The ESG and SRI Channel

Playing Chess With China

China suffered the twin indignities of a currency correction and an equity correction on the first trading day of last year. Fortunately, order was restored and investor attention turned to other global developments.

American Small Businesses Party Like It’s 2004

Look at what President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to lower taxes and slash regulations is doing to business optimism here in the U.S. Last month, the Index of Small Business Optimism soared a phenomenal 7.4 points to 105.8, its highest reading since 2004. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), which conducts the survey, reported that attitudes toward capital spending and job creation in particular surprised to the upside. Research firm Evercore ISI called it a “blowout report,” and I have to agree.

Sustainable Development Goals: Common Goals, Our Approach, Your Impact

How the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals can serve as a framework for ESG investors

Animal Spirits

I believe this rally was the result of animal spirits based on the notion that Trump’s pro-growth policies will support the economy. At the same time, many investors assume that growth in the economy will lead to upticks in inflation and interest rates, which—along with lighter regulations—are perceived as positive for business.

What May Be in Store for Alternatives in 2017?

As we enter 2017, there is a long list of issues that could affect alternative investments: policy changes in the US, elections in Europe, rising rate expectations and more. Given this changing landscape, I would like to highlight some alternative investments that I believe have the potential to benefit investors in the new year.

2017 Forecast: Skeptically Optimistic

As we’ll see, a great deal will happen in the first third of the year that could (and likely will) radically change the course of events in the last two-thirds. Furthermore, the possible outcomes are in the hands of inherently unpredictable individual humans otherwise known as politicians (and not just in the US, thank you very much!) instead of dispassionate market forces. Fancy quantitative models will be of little help.

Ringing in the New Year with a Bullish Case for Gold

I find it curious that many in the financial media continue to have a bias against gold, even though it generated better returns in 2016 than 10-year Treasuries and the U.S. dollar, which performed half as well. And when it was up as much as 28 percent in the summer, they still didn’t have anything positive to say, arguing it had gone up too much.

Luminous Times: Looking Ahead With Optimism About 2017

In conjunction with the publishing of a summary of Schwab's 2017 outlook across asset classes; this report is a more detailed summary of my 2017 outlook, with a dash of rear-view mirror analysis of the year just ended. Each of the broad topics discussed below will be further unpacked over the next couple of months in individual reports.

What Could Go Wrong?

Instead of trying to answer questions about the future, I’ll try to list those we should be asking as 2017 opens. These are the things that I sit and meditate about when I consider the future of economics, markets, and investing. Today’s economy is something like an old-fashioned Swiss watch. It’s a thing of beauty when all those delicate little gears mesh just right. If you ever take the time to actually study the inner workings of the marvelous manifestations of human ingenuity that keep us all alive, it is difficult not to come away awestruck by the ability of the human mind to craft such complexity. But if any of the gears get just a little out of whack, the entire contraption can grind to a halt.

Hope for the New Year

Consider the DOL’s new Fiduciary Rule. When it goes into effect in April 2017, it will inevitably limit the number of investment products available to retail investors. The ruling states that all retirement planners, advisors and broker-dealers must now “act in the best interests of clients” and charge only “reasonable” fees. This all sounds fine, but what’s naturally going to happen is financial professionals—in an effort to remain compliant with the rule—will recommend only the least expensive products, regardless of whether they’re a good fit. Many mutual funds—which might be better performing but have higher expenses than other investment vehicles—will fall off of brokerage firms’ platforms.

Surprise: Fed Calls On Government To Spend More Money

1. 3Q Gross Domestic Product Rises More Than Expected 2. Fed Seems to Admit That ZIRP Didn’t Work as Expected 3. President Trump Willing to Increase Domestic Spending 4. Time for the Fed to “Normalize” Monetary Policy 5. “Handing Down Your Legacy” Still Available For Free

The Latest News in Income Investing

Volatility in the market can make profitable investing a tricky task. It is important to understand the different investment options and the associated risks. With new research challenging traditional investing fundamentals, it is more important than ever to look at which strategies are available and how they can help create a diverse, flexible portfolio.

Real Assets: Prices, Performance and Predictability Dominate Investors' View of Real Assets

Investors have been drawn to real assets in general and to real estate in particular due to the comparative stability and attractiveness of their income returns and the prospects for growth.

The Latest News in Capital-Growth Investing

The new year brings an opportunity to reassess growth-oriented investments and take advantage of new opportunities. Looking ahead to possible policy changes will create a sustainable portfolio in a volatile market. It is also important to understand the needs of the younger millennial investors and their increased attention to social impact investing.

What Are the Risks of a U.S.-China Trade War?

In the fight for American jobs, we could be “risking” a trade war with China right on our southern doorstep. Though the stakes might not be as high as total global domination, they come pretty close. With rates moving up and the world resetting to less quantitative easing, inflation might accelerate. To avoid a global recession, Trump will need to make streamlining regulations a top priority.