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

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2014-04-23 Highest equity returns may not deliver the best gains by Team of Eaton Vance

Many investors do not consider taxes when investing in equities, nor can they quantify the tax drag on their portfolios. Equities may wield an inherent tax advantage over many other asset classes, as long-term capital gains are taxed at lower rates than ordinary income. Employing the use of equity mutual funds managed for after-tax returns may further help exploit the tax advantages inherent in this asset class.

2014-04-23 Trading Secrets: Understanding the Boom and the Bust by Tad Rivelle of TCW Asset Management

It isn’t what you earn – it is what you keep that matters in investing. While systematically underwriting too little risk may mean that you do not earn all that you might, underwriting too much towards the end of a business cycle can be disastrous. With this in mind, it becomes obvious that timing an investment strategy may be the most important single decision an investor needs to get right. But how is one to know where you are in the cycle?

2014-04-23 The Real Obamacare Nightmare is Just Beginning by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Last Thursday, the Obama administration said that a total of eight million Americans had signed up for Obamacare. In a hastily called press event, President Obama spiked the football, took a victory lap around the White House and declared the healthcare law a smashing success – although they still haven’t told us how many enrollees have actually paid a premium, or how many were simply replacing their policies that were canceled due to Obamacare.

2014-04-23 Gold as a Defensive Asset by Ade Odunsi of AdvisorShares

In our previous commentary “Gold and the US dollar – a love hate relationship” we used a normalized time series of the price of gold expressed in US dollars and an index representative of the value of the US dollar on currency markets to show the inherent relationship between the price of gold and the financing currency. As the financing currency strengthens on currency markets, one would expect the price of gold expressed in that currency to fall.

2014-04-23 Positioning Your Portfolio for Rising Rates. by Team of Forward Management

Accelerating outflows from bond funds in 2013 highlight investor nervousness over the prospect of rising interest rates. Investors may want to carefully assess the role of fixed-income investments in their portfolios, particularly in light of other types of income-producing vehicles. Upon careful evaluation of their options, investors can make adjustments suitable to their objectives.

2014-04-23 New Home Sales Plunge In March by Team of GaveKal Capital

New home sales dropped by 14.5% in March and are now down over 13% year-over-year. All four regions are now negative on a year-over-year basis. Meanwhile, median price rose over 11% to a all-time new high of $290K as months' supply spiked to its highest level since October 2011.

2014-04-23 Hasenstab: Separating the Wheat from the Chaff by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton Investments

Fixed income investors have dealt with a number of headwinds in early 2014, including unrest in Eastern Europe, the prospect of rising interest rates in the United States and fears about slowing growth in China. Michael Hasenstab, executive vice president and CIO, Global Bonds, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group®, has been on a global tour to assess conditions in select countries first-hand, looking beyond what the media headlines portray.

2014-04-23 Yellen’s Three Big Questions (and a Few Others) by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Speaking to the Economic Club of New York, Fed Chair Janet Yellen presented an analysis of the monetary policy actions taken to address the Great Recession and offered guidance on what will drive policy decisions going forward. The centerpiece of her talk was about the three big questions that the Fed has to answer. However, there are a number of other debates going on in economics right now that have long-term consequences.

2014-04-23 Poker Mentality?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

have often stated that the rarest trait on Wall Street is “patience.” I have also repeatedly reprised Charles Dow’s quote that, “The successful investor/speculator needs to ignore two out of every three potential money making opportunities.”

2014-04-23 Evolving Infrastructure Investing – Broader, Deeper, Global by (Article)

Infrastructure offers an attractive combination of potential inflation hedging, income generation and long-term capital growth. In this video, Shundrawn Thomas, Global Head of ETFs, outlines the distinctive approach that FlexShares' NFRA ETF takes by starting from the bottom up in identifying companies with infrastructure ownership across traditional and new infrastructure sectors.

2014-04-22 Why Annuities HATE Ken Fisher. And you should too. by John H. Robinson (Article)

Before we commend Ken Fisher for his vitriolic antipathy toward variable annuities, there is one little problem we need to recognize. Fisher’s claims are at odds with a growing body of empirical research published in peer-reviewed academic and professional journals.

2014-04-22 The Surprising Number One Driver of New Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Among sophisticated clients, referrals aren’t the most important determinant in deciding on an advisor. Here’s what is.

2014-04-22 What SEC Social Media Guidance Means for You by Kristen Luke (Article)

Recently, the SEC published new testimonial and social media guidelines that cleared the way for advisors to use social media review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List. Such sites were previously restricted because they provided content that was generally seen as testimonials. While the new guidance may seem like a big leap forward for financial advisors who use social media, there are still many restrictions, so it is important to understand what you can and cannot do.

2014-04-22 The State of the CFP Board Registered Financial Planning Programs? by Caleb Brown (Article)

Each year I spend several days visiting various Certified Financial Planner Board-registered programs throughout the country to ensure that as an industry, we are continuing to source, screen and integrate the best available talent for the financial planning firms we represent. On the plus side, I found many students are ready and eager to enter the financial-planning world. But there were also ominous signs for the future of our profession.

2014-04-22 The Power of Storytelling by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I’ve read in the past that you encourage telling stories about clients. There are lots of compliance reasons that deter us from getting too specific when telling a client-based story. In addition, I don’t see how stories are of importance. Can you clarify?

2014-04-22 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Readers respond to three recently published articles, and the authors of those articles respond to those letters.

2014-04-22 Career Center by Various (Article)

Find career opportunities for firms that seek to add financial advisors and planners to their staff. Read more to find out how to post opportunities at your firm.

2014-04-22 Does Rebalancing Reduce Risk? by Michael Edesess (Article)

In a previous article I asked whether rebalancing increases return, as the term "rebalancing bonus" implies. I concluded that it does not. In this article I ask whether it is a tool for reducing risk. The answer depends on whether you believe that the standard deviation of long-term returns is the appropriate measure of risk. This article will show why it often is not.

2014-04-22 Unloved Emerging Markets May Hold Value for Opportunistic Bond Investors by Kathleen Gaffney of Eaton Vance

· Emerging markets have come under pressure over the past year due to the Federal Reserve tapering its asset purchases and increased expectations of higher interest rates in the U.S. · We think investors should consider emerging markets to find opportunities that may provide a yield advantage and diversification away from U.S. interest-rate risk. · A multisector approach that uses bottom-up, fundamental credit analysis may be helpful in finding opportunities in emerging markets.

2014-04-22 Taxes are the Pits, But Not for Everyone It Seems by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

A number of Americans breathed a joyful sigh of relief last week after closing the books on their 2013 income taxes. The annual rite of passage rarely elicits excitement when addressed in conversation, and this year was unlikely to be any different. But, the latest tax data suggests the economy is gaining speed, news bound to make even the most hardened filers crack a smile.

2014-04-22 Israel – Under the Radar by Brad Jensen of AdvisorShares

In recent travels and presentations, I was asked frequently about Israel. How is it that the Israeli market is #2 in our country ranking methodology? It seems as though the country is off the radar screen of most investors, so a quick overview of the market and why it ranks high currently seems to be in order.

2014-04-22 The Democratic Disruption of Finance by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

There seems to be no limit to the exciting possibilities that come from combining technical innovations, the Internet, and social media. What is less appreciated is the extent to which the same phenomenon is starting to play out in finance, via a democratization process that could transform the institutional landscape.

2014-04-22 2016 (Part 3, The Election Situation) by Bill O’Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In this final report, we will analyze why we think 2016 may be a pivotal election and examine the potential that it could bring about a coalition change similar to the 1932 and 1980 elections. We will discuss the various methods of addressing the current high level of private sector debt and offer what we believe to be the three highest probability scenarios of how the current problems can be addressed and their impact on the domestic political scene and on America’s superpower role. Unlike our last two reports, we will conclude with market ramifications.

2014-04-22 Hope Is Not A Strategy by Steven Rubenstein of Arrow Partners

With almost 20 years in the third party marketing (3PM) business, we thought we had seen and experienced it all.

2014-04-22 First Stock Market Crash on NYSE Reminds Us What Can Happen At A 25x CAPE by Team of GaveKal Capital

The panic of 1901 was the first crash on the New York Stock Exchange, brought on by a battle for control of the Northern Pacific Railway. June 1901 marked the peak in valuations for 27 years, only to be eclipsed in the months preceding the September 1929 peak in stock prices. Between June 1901 and December 1920, the 10 year real P/E (Shiller CAPE) fell from 25x to 5x.

2014-04-22 Emerging Europe: Regional Economic Review - Q1 2014 by Team of Thomas White International

The International Monetary Fund’s latest assessment of the global economy pointed out that robust economic recovery in developed countries has significantly reduced the risk of a downturn this year. The Washington-based lender said it sees growth in emerging and developing Europe as a whole at 2.4 percent in 2014, which is expected to accelerate to 2.9 percent next year.

2014-04-22 Float Factor with Steve O'Neill by (Article)

Closed-end funds with floating rate senior loans may be attractive to those concerned about a spike in interest rates, says Steve O’Neill of RiverNorth.

2014-04-21 The Economic Cost of Brazil’s Spending Spree by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Brazil has been on a spending spree during the past few years, which, unfortunately, has failed to generate meaningful growth and has led to negative economic consequences. In addition to the lavish spending in preparation for the FIFA World Cup™ this summer and the Olympic Games in 2016, Brazil’s national oil company has been spending billions of dollars on expensive offshore oil exploration, production and energy development.

2014-04-21 Spring Checkup: Five Investment Ideas for Your Portfolio by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

As the second quarter of 2014 gets underway, many investors are wondering how they should adjust their portfolios given the events of the first three months of the year. Russ shares five investing opportunities that he and his BlackRock colleagues think are worth considering this spring.

2014-04-21 Cast a Wider Net for Asian Income Stocks by Stuart Rae, Katsuhiko Mano of AllianceBernstein

Equity income has been a hot theme for Asian investors. But safer sectors that typically provide higher dividend yields are expensive. By casting a wider net, we think attractively priced income stocks can still be found in unexpected parts of the markets.

2014-04-21 The Federal Reserve's Two-Legged Stool by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

In viewing the Fed’s mandate as a tradeoff only between inflation and unemployment, Chair Yellen seems to overlook the feature of economic dynamics that has been most punishing for the U.S. economy over the past decade. That feature is repeated malinvestment, yield-seeking speculation, and ultimately financial instability, largely enabled by the Federal Reserve’s own actions.

2014-04-21 North American Energy Sector Fuels Stock Indexes Higher by Team of GaveKal Capital

In North American, the energy sector is the best performing sector so far this quarter. Energy stocks, on average, have outperformed the MSCI World index by almost 5% this month.

2014-04-21 Rising Food Prices May Whet Investors' Appetite for Agriculture by Nick Kalivas of Invesco Blog

Food prices are affected by a wide range of factors - from weather to geopolitics. Today, these factors seem to be pointing toward rising food inflation, and investors want to know where potential opportunities may lie.

2014-04-18 Quarterly Review and Outlook by Van Hoisington, Lacy Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

After examining much of the latest scholarly research, and conducting in house research on the link between household wealth and spending, we found the wealth effect to be much weaker than the FOMC presumes. In fact, it is difficult to document any consistent impact with most of the research pointing to a spending increase of only one cent per one dollar rise in wealth at best. Some studies even indicate that the wealth effect is only an interesting theory and cannot be observed in practice.

2014-04-18 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

In a currency war, everyone loses. Should monetary policy be coordinated across countries? The International Monetary Fund is at a crossroads.

2014-04-18 Financial Television: Five Things You Need to Know by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Whether you are new to the retirement investing mindset, you go back to the days of Rukeyser and Kangas, or are somewhere in between, here is my list of things you will often see when watching financial TV ... and how to separate the reality from the hype and sales pitch.

2014-04-17 A Bend in the Road is Not the End of the Road by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Turmoil in Ukraine, growth concerns in Japan, and weakness in U.S. equity markets are giving U.S. investors a short-term case of heartburn but none of this should undermine the overall case for optimism.

2014-04-17 Designing Balanced DC Menus: Considering Diversified Fixed Income Choices by Stacy Schaus, Ying Gao of PIMCO

Sponsors of defined contribution plans face a dual challenge: They must present investment options appropriate for plan members and design menus that encourage selection of well-structured portfolios. We believe that actively managed strategies designed to potentially reduce risks, invest globally and enhance yield relative to the index may improve diversification and lower concentration risk in fixed income offerings. Plan sponsors may consider a range of return and risk measures as they evaluate current and prospective fixed income offerings.

2014-04-17 What to Make of the Rebound in Emerging Market Equities by Dara White of Columbia Management

A month ago, much of the news from the emerging markets (EM) was negative. We saw headlines highlighting the liquidity headwinds created by U.S. QE tapering, Russia’s aggressive opportunism in the Ukraine, and China’s imminent hard landing.

2014-04-17 Investors Ignore Frightful Geopolitics by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

When the former Soviet Union collapsed almost 25 years ago, most global strategic forecasters assumed that the U.S. would adapt pragmatically to her new status of sole world superpower. Instead she has pursued a variety of misguided nation-building adventures and has largely shrunk from her primary responsibility of neutralizing the ambitions of petty dictators around the world. From this perspective, America's multi-generational expenditures on military personnel and equipment has become more of a stealth economic stimulus program rather than an insurance policy for global stability.

2014-04-17 Two Major Players Graduate from MSCI FM 100 – Is it Still Worth Tuning into? by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Major changes are coming to the MSCI Frontier Markets 100 Index. Russ K explains the significance and why it reinforces his view that investors should have an allocation to the frontier.

2014-04-17 US Econ Roundup - Initial Claims Improve To 6 1/2 Year Lows and Philly Fed Accelerates by Team of GaveKal Capital

While initial jobless claims were just a bit higher this week than last (304K vs 302K), the widely watched 4-week moving average slid down to 312K which is its lowest level since October 2007. Continuing claims fell to 6-year low as well. Finally, the less looked non-seasonally adjusted initial claims series remains firmly negative on a year-over-year basis. This is important because increases in this series tend to signal higher future levels in the seasonally adjusted series.

2014-04-17 Tick, Tock, Tax Time by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

In 2014, Americans will pay $3 trillion in federal taxes and $1.5 trillion in state taxes. Believe it or not, according to the Tax Foundation, that means more of your income is being spent on taxes than on food, clothing and housing combined!

2014-04-17 Hasenstab in Ukraine, on Ukraine by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton

Ukraine is a country both rich with potential and strategically well positioned. While recent events have been very difficult for many, the people of Ukraine have shown their strength. It’s also been heartening to see the proactive support from the international community. Michael Hasenstab, chief investment officer, Global Bonds, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group®, shares his view on the long-term potential of this unique country after a recent visit to Kiev.

2014-04-17 Fixed Income Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

Given that the Fed is likely to complete its asset purchases this year and may raise rates in early 2015, we still feel that Treasuries and investment grade bonds are unattractive. Although yields in the high yield universe are low by historical standards, they still give us a decent cushion against rising rates, especially at the shorter end of the maturity spectrum. Maintaining a shorter duration exposure in high yield and some convertible bonds, as well as a cash reserve, continues to make sense.

2014-04-17 Equity Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

Short term, we would not be surprised if the market took a breather after its strong gains last year. Additionally we may see volatility related to news coming out of the Middle East and Russia. But longer term, we remain very optimistic on the outlook for U.S. equities. In addition to the reasons we discussed above we believe U.S. equities are very attractive relative to the alternatives. The great bull market in bonds appears to be over. The great decades of emerging market growth appear to be behind us.

2014-04-17 Why Energy is Catching the Market's Eye by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Over the last month the energy sector has outperformed the market, and as you can see in the chart below, has done so by 6.5 percent. Year-to-date the sector is beating the S&P 500 Index by over 3 percent. In a spectacularly performing market during 2013, energy lacked some of the incredible performance seen throughout the other sectors, but recently it has turned up, catching the attention of the market yet again.

2014-04-17 U.S. Financials: Investment Theme Update by James Calhoun of AdvisorShares

We reaffirm our recommendation for U.S. Banking and Financial Services as a satellite equity investment. The Federal Reserve’s "Stress Test" reinforces a constructive outlook and conservative risk profile for U.S. Banks. The positive results confirm that U.S. banks have enhanced their ability to withstand macroeconomic challenges by reducing problem assets during the past few years. Equally important, the financial sector appears to be more exposed to a key driver of the broader equity market advance over the last few years: share buyback programs and increasing dividends.

2014-04-17 What's Wrong with PIMCO? by James Calhoun of South Texas Money Management

When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke first talked about reducing or tapering the Federal Reserve’s asset purchase program back in May of 2013, the market response was dramatic. Investors started fleeing bonds, causing bond prices to drop and bond yields to rise. In a rising interest rate environment, the net asset value (NAV) of fixed income mutual funds falls as rates rise. This often leads to shareholder redemptions (they want out!), forcing these bond mutual fund portfolio managers to sell bonds in an unfavorable market.

2014-04-17 Ukrainian Crisis: Should Investors Avoid the Russian Stock Market? by Philip Lawton and Noah Beck of Research Affiliates

This is neither to treat the profoundly worrisome crisis in Eastern Europe cavalierly nor to advocate profiting, however indirectly, from the distress of Ukraine, a sovereign nation whose people have suffered horribly over the last three-quarters of a century. It is merely to caution international investors that, from a strictly financial perspective, withdrawing assets from Russia might not be the right move.

2014-04-17 High Frequency Trading: Under the Spotlight by Team of Manning & Napier

The growing popularity of HFT is troubling; investors, media outlets, and academics alike are expressing concerns. We applaud any and all efforts that help to shine a light on HFT and its potential threat to the fair and orderly functioning of financial markets. While it remains to be seen if action will be taken against HFT, it is encouraging that ongoing research and dialogue on the subject is catching the broader attention of regulatory bodies that are tasked with preserving the levels of transparency and fairness that all market participants benefit from.

2014-04-17 Pinning Hopes on the 'Chosen One' by Sharat Shroff of Matthews Asia

, I would caution against expectations of a quick fix or a fixation over the short term. As in much of the rest of Asia, India and Indonesia are attempting to tackle their issues and this makes us optimistic for the future. We look forward to an environment of better governance that is critical for both social and economic progress.

2014-04-17 Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust by Sam Stewart of Wasatch Funds

Former Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes was well-known for his conservative offense-often quoted as saying, "There are only three things that can happen when you pass, and two of them are bad." The two bad outcomes are either an incompletion or an interception. Instead, Hayes favored a methodical, grind-it-out approach, running the ball directly into the line: "three yards and a cloud of dust." What Hayes’ style of play may have lacked in pizazz, it more than made up for in results. The U.S. economy today is following a similar offensive playbook, but with less satisfying results.

2014-04-16 Gold Strategy Investor Letter, Q1 2014 by John Hathaway of Tocqueville Asset Management

John Hathaway, manager of the Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX), remarks in his latest quarterly letter that it appears "the precious metals complex has bottomed and is attempting to gain footing following the grueling two-plus year correction that started in August of 2011." Giving credence to gold's utility as an equity hedge, he notes that "the positive returns generated by equity markets over the past two years have represented a substantial barrier for capital to reenter precious metals.

2014-04-16 Put/Call Study: Equity Correction Ahead? by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

Equity put/call ratios provide an interesting lens on greed and fear. The chart below presents the S&P 500 since January 2000, flagging 5-day put/call ratios in excess of one standard deviation versus the long-term average of 63%. Readings below 53% have occurred during powerful rallies and near interim tops. Readings above 73% have occurred during fearful sell-offs and near interim bottoms. Fearful readings have occurred at least once annually since 2001 with the latest example in April 2013.

2014-04-16 Uncle Sam Seizes Children's Tax Refunds To Pay Parents' Debts by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

This is one of those special weeks when I get to bring you key information that you probably haven’t seen elsewhere. As a speed-reader, I look at a large volume of information every week before deciding what topics to publish on Tuesdays. It was early Saturday evening when I ran across today’s topic which is getting scant coverage in the media, but everyone reading this needs to understand this latest (and possibly illegal) money-grab by our government.

2014-04-16 Every Portfolio Has Faith by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

At Smead Capital Management, we believe that everyone who invests has faith in someone or something. We also believe that who and what you put your faith into is greatly influenced by the time period involved. As we look out into the rest of 2014 and beyond, we would like to consider the kind of faith required by the largest pools of investment dollars in the US. This includes looking at who they are trusting, what they are trusting in, and what time frames they are operating under.

2014-04-16 The Wile E. Coyote Stock Market? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Last Wednesday, when the D-J Industrials were up some 180 points, I could not shake the feeling that this was the “Wile E. Coyote stock market.” The visual is when Wile runs off a cliff, but his feet keep moving, until he looks down and realizes there is nothing underneath him. The resulting fall was similar to what happened late last week to the equity markets. Indeed, I really did not understand, or trust, last Wednesday’s Dow Wow for the reasons mentioned in these missives.

2014-04-16 An Uncomfortable Discussion by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Income inequality is a touchy subject. It’s hard to have a polite conversation, but like it or not, we are going to have a discussion this year. I will not take a position here (this is largely a political question). Rather, I will try to illustrate what the data say and to present the different points of view.

2014-04-16 A Classic Barometer by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Investors seem a bit too eager to tout emerging market equities. Much as they did with technology stocks during the early-2000s, investors today are looking for the best re-entry point. Data clearly do not support anymore the notion that emerging markets are a superior growth story, yet investors seem to be ignoring the classic warnings signs for fear of missing out. One such classic warning sign is the slope of the yield curve. Historically, steeper yield curves have been reliable forecasters of stronger overall nominal economic growth and stronger profits growth.

2014-04-16 Echo-Mania at The Fed by Cliff Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors

Greetings from a thawed out Savannah! Q1 of 2014 will be remembered for a number of things, but the most prominent were the erratic weather patterns and arctic-blast temperatures that most of the country experienced. I missed writing my Q1 letter for the first time in ten years due to a nasty bout with pneumonia in mid-January. For those of you who have never had pneumonia, I do not recommend it!

2014-04-16 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

And what a bad week it was. After flirting (and setting) new record highs on both the S&P and Dow, equity investors worried about the upcoming earnings reports and freaked out over the some disturbing news from China. Stocks plunged late in the week with the Nasdaq particularly hard hit, though the other indexes followed suit and gave up all of their prior gains for the year. For the most part, domestic developments remain strong but news on the global front have prompted investors to seek out the safe-haven of treasuries. Over-reaction or new trend?

2014-04-16 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks fell last week upset by the growth sectors of biotechnology and social media stocks. Energy issues and related infrastructure were largely unaffected. It is clear that hedge funds and others have become forced sellers as their macro bets on being long growth areas, but being short the bond market have blown up in their faces. Until this settles down the overall market is likely to continue its correction.

2014-04-15 Career Center by Various (Article)

Find career opportunities for firms that seek to add financial advisors and planners to their staff. Read more to find out how to post opportunities at your firm.

2014-04-15 Equity Market Insight by Thomas Faust, Jr. of Eaton Vance

After a powerful rally in 2013, the first quarter of 2014 saw the bull market demonstrate a measure of resilience in the face of several headwinds. In the latter half of January, stocks fell sharply on emerging-market concerns, with volatility spiking to more "normal" post-financial crisis levels. The market bounced back strongly in February and went on to record a new all-time closing high on March 7. Performance was choppy in the final few weeks of the quarter, as investors digested mixed economic reports, geopolitical issues and the latest U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) meeting.

2014-04-15 Does Rebalancing Really Pay Off?? by Michael Edesess (Article)

No investment advice is more universally offered than the advice - originally posited by William Bernstein - to rebalance your portfolio. Yet, the evidence that this practice is beneficial is shockingly meager.

2014-04-15 A Conversation with DFA’s David Booth by Robert Huebscher (Article)

It’s possible for an airplane company to manufacture excellent jets that reliably and safely reach their destination, even if some of its engineers design questionable components. Indeed, its products may be among the best ever designed. That’s my impression DFA, which was reinforced after meeting with its co-founder and co-CEO, David Booth.

2014-04-15 The Quality that Defines Star Performers by Dan Richards (Article)

Why do so many advisors work incredibly hard to build their practices, reach a solid level of success - and then plateau? In the last 30 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of those stuck advisors and with a few who reached increasingly higher levels of success. I’ve identified one trait that separates the two groups.

2014-04-15 Beyond Moneyball - Setting the record straight by Justin Kermond (Article)

In The Sabermetric Revolution: Assessing the Growth of Analytics in Baseball, Benjamin Baumer and Andrew Zimbalist attempt to set the record straight. Baumer and Zimbalist contest parts of Michael Lewis’ Moneyball story and broadly address how sophisticated analysis has been used in other sports and why it’s exceedingly difficult for even the most creative and sophisticated approaches to maintain a competitive edge.

2014-04-15 Make Your Website An Asset-Gathering Powerhouse by Dan Solin (Article)

Although e-commerce does not involve personal meetings, the need to establish an emotional connection with your prospective clients remains the same. Achieving this goal requires a change in strategy. Here are some tips.

2014-04-15 A Women’s Viewpoint of Bullying by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I was once asked by a major periodical to comment on research that showed an inordinate percentage of women who get to senior-level positions in investment firms end up voluntarily leaving to start their own business or to enter new industries. The "brain drain" of women from investment advising has been significant. I thought about this brain drain when I received another letter on the issue of bullying, this time from a woman.

2014-04-15 Global markets: 2nd quarter expectations by Bill McQuaker (Article)

Bill McQuaker, Co-Head of Multi-Asset, takes a look back at first quarter global market developments and notes his expectations on how markets and economies will unfold, with some potential issue resolution, in the second quarter.

2014-04-15 Our Most Read Article from Last Week: Do Small Cap-Value Stocks add Value in Retirement Portfolios? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Research going back to Fama and French in the early 1990s has shown that small-value stocks have produced superior returns. Subsequent debate has centered on whether this superior performance will continue and if investors should tilt portfolios to capture those returns. I’ll examine the historical evidence, incorporate it in retirement examples and discuss the future prospects for small-cap value.

2014-04-15 Credit Availability Underpins Recovery in Commercial Real Estate Prices, But Also Poses Risks to CMB by Bryan Tsu of PIMCO

Credit availability, low interest rates, limited new construction and improving economic conditions have contributed to the recovery in commercial real estate (CRE) prices. We expect a strong 2014 in the commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) market, which has been a primary source of CRE credit expansion. Increasingly aggressive loan underwriting is a concern. CMBS investors need to speak with their wallets and push back on either valuations or underwriting standards if recent trends continue.

2014-04-15 Weekly Market Update by Team of Castleton Partners

US Treasury yields registered their largest weekly drop since early February, driven by dovish minutes from the March Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting and equity market weakness. With the technology stocks at the epicenter of the equity storm, major indices fell nearly 3% last week. As Q1 earning season begins in earnest this week, equity performance is very much expected to remain in the headlines. Reaching yields last seen in early March, five year notes were the best performer across the Treasury curve, falling 12 basis points on the week to yield 1.58%.

2014-04-15 Approaching a Pause? A Market Review by Rick Vollaro of Pinnacle Advisory Group

First quarter market performance was as whippy and volatile as the weather. Unusually cold temperatures in the U.S. not only froze much of the country’s population, but it also wreaked havoc on the quality of economic data, and kept markets on edge regarding how investors should be positioned. Geopolitical issues also rose from the ashes as various emerging markets had currency issues and Russia showed poor sportsmanship and invaded the Ukraine shortly after the conclusion of the Olympic Games.

2014-04-15 Complacency Makes Volatility Markets a Dangerous Place by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

With a dissipation of economic stress in Europe, and a general strengthening of economic conditions in the U.S., equity market volatility has plunged to new lows. Some would argue that market intervention by central banks is acting as an unnatural dampener to market volatility, raising the question as to whether a gradual removal of those policies will cause volatility to resurface. So far, the answer is up for debate, but current positioning suggests many investors are becoming complacent and will be caught off sides if such a scenario emerges.

2014-04-15 Beta Earthquake by Ben Hunt of Salient Partners

One of the things I like to keep my eye on when I’m puzzling out what’s going on in the market are the specific company factors that loosely define concepts like Momentum and Value. I do this because any sort of big market move, like we’ve seen over the past week, is inherently over-determined and over-explained. That is, there are dozens of "reasons" trotted out by the financial media and various experts, ALL of which are probably right to a certain degree.

2014-04-15 What's Next for Emerging Markets? by Nathan Rowader of Forward Management

Emerging markets (EM) have been an enduring growth story, but their recent stretch of underperformance and fears of a global economic slowdown are chilling investors’ enthusiasm. Pulled between opportunity and risk avoidance, many investors have been left uncertain as to what they should do next.

2014-04-15 5 Things You Need to Know About the Selloff by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Kristina Hooper puts the sharp pullback in the stock market in perspective for investors who may be wondering about a correction.

2014-04-15 2016 (Part 2, The Political Situation) by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

As we survey the political landscape for 2016, the next presidential election could be historic. In this report, we will examine the domestic political situation using four different archetypes to describe the U.S. political landscape. We will then offer a history of the interaction between these groups and address the likelihood of various policy outcomes based on the relative strengths and weaknesses of the four political groups. Unlike our usual reports, we will not conclude with market ramifications but instead discuss the transition to Part 3 of this analysis.

2014-04-15 Running Backwards to Catch Up by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

Did you ever try to run backwards? I find walking backwards difficult enough. Running in reverse can send you tumbling.

2014-04-14 The Default Outlook by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

On April 1st, TXU/Energy Future Holdings skipped their interest payment due that day, immediately triggering a default by some reporting mechanisms. While the company has a 30 day grace period to pay the coupon payment, most expect them to use the grace period to work further on a restructuring and ultimately file for bankruptcy at some point over the next 30 days.

2014-04-14 US Stock Markets Surprisingly Steady - First Quarter Review by David Edwards of Heron Financial

Surprisingly steady! How can we say that? Because compared to the price swings of the last six years, the recent 3.9% decline in US Stocks (from a record set April 2) barely registers relative to the powerful uptrend since mid 2011.

2014-04-14 We’re Shuffling the Cards on Our European Play by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Did you know that over the last year the Greek stock market is up roughly 45 percent? The country that many believed would never recover from a six-year recession is now making astounding strides, recently being added to the MSCI Emerging Markets Index at the end of 2013.

2014-04-14 Uncovering Opportunities in Emerging Markets by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

Emerging markets have underperformed expectations, but the longer-term secular outlook remains constructive for many regions. Highly negative investor sentiment and outflows have sharply reduced prices, significantly improving relative value in emerging markets. We see opportunities in emerging markets in interest rates, sovereign credit and select companies for investors with a longer-term investment horizon. ?

2014-04-14 Economic Insight: Fed Policy Goes Back to the Future by Thomas Luster of Eaton Vance

We fully expected the strength the economy showed in late 2013 to carry over into 2014; however, that simply was not the case. Instead, we saw weaker-than-expected economic data across a wide range of economic indicators. Not surprisingly, interest rates fell modestly during the quarter rather than continuing their trend higher from last year, while U.S. stocks (as measured by the S&P 500) reacted similarly – barely advancing after a 32% gain in 2013.

2014-04-14 Margins, Multiples, and the Iron Law of Valuation by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The Iron Law of Valuation is that every security is a claim on an expected stream of future cash flows, and given that expected stream of future cash flows, the current price of the security moves opposite to the expected future return on that security. A corollary to the Iron Law of Valuation is that one can only reliably use a “price/X” multiple to value stocks if “X” is a sufficient statistic for the very long-term stream of cash flows that stocks are likely to deliver into the hands of investors for decades to come.

2014-04-14 Why Today’s Environment Favors Active High Yield Strategies by Darren Hughes, Scott Roberts of Invesco Blog

Fixed income investors are looking for ways to prepare their portfolios for rising interest rates. While bond prices generally fall when rates rise, history shows that high yield bonds have typically held up well in rising rate environments.

2014-04-12 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The Federal Reserve’s search for stability. The patterns of world trade are undergoing important changes. Greece issued debt this week: good news or bad news?

2014-04-12 In the End, Time is Everything by Doug MacKay of Broadleaf Partners

While some will claim that valuations are to blame for the large selloff in growth stocks, high growth stocks almost always have premium valuations. In some sectors of the market, we’ve found that it makes more financial sense to pay up for a company of the future than to pay down for one in the past. As Warren Buffet has said, "Price is what you pay, but value is what you get."

2014-04-12 Risk Tolerance: Defining a Misunderstood Term by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

First, let’s be clear: "Risk" is the possibility that you will need money but don’t have it, either because your portfolio’s value plunged, because your investments don’t have near-term liquidity, or both. What freaks investors out in the here-and-now, is VOLATILITY. Yet many traditional approaches to building a portfolio don’t really take this into account, other than a token survey question or two when the client is first starting to invest.

2014-04-12 Proper Perspective by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen & Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Getting caught up in the weeds is easy in this 24-hour news cycle where everyone is looking to make a splash, but successful investing requires staying above the fray. The U.S. economy is growing and equities appear fairly valued, Europe has issues to deal with but has come a long way from the depths, Japan may be working against itself but improvement has been seen, and the threat of a Chinese debacle at this point seems minimal.

2014-04-12 Every Central Bank for Itself by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Whether the FOMC can actually turn the taper into a true exit strategy ultimately depends on how much longer households and businesses must deleverage and how sharply our old-age dependency ratio rises, but markets seem to believe this is the beginning of the end. For now, that’s what matters most. Under Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s leadership, the Fed continues to send a clear message to the rest of the world: Now it really is every central bank for itself.

2014-04-11 Bubble Bursting? Only for Biotech & Internet Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

The recent sluggish performance of U.S. stocks is leading some market watchers to question whether we’re witnessing the bursting of an equity bubble. Russ explains that while U.S. equities overall are not in a bubble, valuations have started to become an issue, particularly for certain segments of the market.

2014-04-11 Equities Appear Attractive in Years Leading Up to Fed Tightening by Kevin Mahn of Hennion & Walsh

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said her expectation for the first increase in the Federal Funds Rate would come approximately six months following the end of the asset purchase program.

2014-04-11 Chinese Checkers with Gold Prices by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

For decades many of us in the hard money world have speculated that cloak and dagger activity by large financial interests has played a large role in determining performance in the gold market. The focus of this alleged manipulation is believed to be in the London market, and has been widely referred to as "The London Fix." However those who have blown the whistle have been dismissed as alarmists, gold bugs, conspiracy theorists or worse. But recent revelations should bring us closer to the truth.

2014-04-11 Can You Have Your Cake and Eat It Too? by David Braun, David Holdreith of PIMCO

Many insurers would like to optimize both total return and book yield income, which may be seen as competing and divergent goals. In fact many insurers fall somewhere on the spectrum between these goals or shift their objective based on business and market conditions. While it has long been an accepted practice to track manager performance with regard to total return, tracking book income has been more elusive: PIMCO has an innovative and unique solution to help manager’s track alpha generated by active managers.

2014-04-11 Quarterly Letter by Ron Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp & Co.

Most of the economic and market trends we’ve been discussing for the past few years remain in place. Russia’s action in the Ukraine / Crimea may have long-term implications, particularly for Europe, but the near-term economic implications are modest. It remains to be seen whether this gets added to our long-term worry list or not.

2014-04-11 Gold - Managing the Downside by Ade Odunsi of AdvisorShares

We get a lot of questions regarding the impact on portfolio risk of having an allocation to gold. In particular given the status of gold as a safe haven asset, focus has centered on its performance during periods of extreme market stress – what is the downside to gold during periods of high risk aversion? The high level answer to this question is that the financing currency used to make the gold purchase matters and as is often the case when discussing portfolio construction, “you ask a simple question, you get a complex answer”.

2014-04-11 Tax Management - Optimized for Investors by Scott Bartone of O'Shaughnessey Asset management

Academic studies of portfolio management often neglect real world considerations. Turnover is often used to gauge tax management capabilities, but used in isolation turnover can be misleading. Tax lot accounting is integral to maximizing after-tax returns. Tax management must be an integral part of a manager’s buy/sell discipline, and should be applied throughout the year. OSAM’s after-tax results in 2013 are indicative of an effective, integrated tax management process.

2014-04-11 Why China's A-Shares Matter Now by Winnie Chwang of Matthews Asia

Although we often receive questions on mainland China’s A-share equities, which trade on the Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges, we currently invest in Chinese equities primarily via Hong Kong-listed companies and also by way of U.S.-listed Chinese firms. China’s domestic A-share market remains largely closed to foreign institutional investors. The only way for foreigners to participate in this market is to enroll in China’s Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) program or invest via a manager who has a quota in this program.

2014-04-11 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 134.9, up from last week's 133.6 (revised from 133.5). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 3.3 from last week's 3.0.

2014-04-10 The March Employment Report by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Last week began with a speech by Janet Yellen. The Fed Chair was not expected to say much of consequence, but instead, she continued to emphasize the large amount of slack in the labor market and the Fed’s strong commitment to reduce it. The clear implication is that short-term interest rates are not going up anytime soon. This message may have been meant to counter misconceptions taken away from her recent press conference.

2014-04-10 The Russians Are Coming by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming is a 1966 American comedy film directed by Norman Jewison and based on Nathaniel Benchley’s book The Off-Islanders. The movie tells the Cold War story of the comedic chaos that happens when a Soviet submarine runs aground closely offshore a small island town near New England and the crew is forced to come ashore. Last Friday, however, rumors that the “Russians are coming” swirled down the canyons of Wall Street, causing a late Friday Fade that left the S&P 500 (SPX/1865.09) down an eye-popping 24 points.

2014-04-10 Financial Market Warning Signs by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

For those that are actually loving the rise in this U.S. financial market this past week, Warren Buffett has so me pretty cheeky advice to share in his annual letter to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders.

2014-04-10 India: Poised for Change? by Team of Manning & Napier

In the current slow growth environment, India’s economy will likely continue to feel the downward pressure being exerted by high interest rates and a more challenging global liquidity environment that has negatively impacted foreign capital flows into the country. Despite the challenging short-to-intermediate-term outlook, there are a number of internal dynamics, such as favorable demographics, improving labor productivity, and the potential for tremendous growth in domestic consumption, which provide the opportunity for more robust growth in the future.

2014-04-10 Looking at Current Long-Term Growth Plays by Chip Skinner of The Royce Funds

Portfolio Manager and Principal Chip Skinner talks about the market's more volatile behavior in the first quarter, potential growth areas that he finds interesting, ideas in which he has high confidence, and one stock that has recently done well for him.

2014-04-10 Wanting Work Makes a Difference by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

As the Fed considers the precise timing of tightening monetary policy, a key consideration will be how many Americans want to get back to work. Monetary doves found an olive twig amid the floodwaters last week when the labor force participation rate increased slightly.

2014-04-10 Building Shareholder Value through M&A: Valeant Pharmaceuticals by Brian Fontanella of Diamond Hill Investments

There has been a notable increase in merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the specialty pharmaceutical industry over the past year. This has been driven by several factors including the relatively low cost of debt and the magnitude of cost savings that can be realized. But recently, tax savings have been an additional driver of deal activity.

2014-04-10 "I Will Gladly Pay You Tuesday for a Hamburger Today" by Robert Mark of Castle Investment Management

In October of 2013, Robert Shiller won the Nobel Prize in economics for his research on spotting market bubbles. Shiller, an economist and professor at Yale University who accurately predicted the housing bubble, is a pioneer of behavioral finance, or the understanding of how psychology causes us to act irrationally with our money.

2014-04-10 Shale Reserves Are No Shell Game by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

Since the times of Ancient Greece, “The Shell Game” has been a confidence trick used to convince bystanders into believing they have a legitimate shot at guessing correctly and doubling their bet. We are currently in one of the more transformational periods of energy consumption, distribution and discovery seen in some time. The technology of extracting once undiscovered pools of energy is reverberating throughout economies and potentially causing tectonic shifting of political structures.

2014-04-10 Investment Success Often Depends On Choosing the Right Investment Horizon by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, reminds investors of the dangers of extrapolation, terming it "one of the worst biases of investing." Complicating matters is Sicart's contention that "possibly the second worst investment bias is our need to believe a good story."

2014-04-10 Assuage Your Fears of Rising Rates with Global Diversification by Julie Salsbery of PIMCO

?Although PIMCO believes interest rates are fairly anchored in the near term, we think investors can position their fixed income portfolios more defensively. Global diversification across developed and emerging markets can offer a defense against rising U.S. rates by reducing the concentration of risks within a portfolio, while also potentially lowering volatility and enhancing returns.

2014-04-10 Why the U.S. Should Export Crude Oil by Tim Guinness, Will Riley, Jonathan Waghorn of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management

The Ukraine-Russia crisis, as well as Russia’s position as a major energy provider, has renewed the discussion on whether the US should export crude oil. A forty year old decree bans U.S. producers from exporting crude oil, and it needs to be repealed. It represents misguided protectionism and is a hangover from the days before the US embraced free trade. We think that exporting crude oil would be an economic benefit to the US, as it incentivises the full development of the US shale resource.

2014-04-10 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

One quarter down; three to go. After a rough January, stocks rebounded to complete a solid quarter with the Dow Jones the lone main index still "in the red." The new week found decent numbers from manufacturing and labor and investors moved past the "bad weather" excuse, though still took profits from high-flying bio-techs and internet stocks. The late-week selling hindered the overall equity performance.

2014-04-10 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

The Fed gave a push to stocks early in the week, but news about Washington DC investigating the so-called High Frequency Traders drove down the momentum stocks which were still suffering from the previous week’s hangover.

2014-04-10 Muni Land with Steven Pikelny by (Article)

Municipal bond closed-end funds currently may present a cost-effective tax-free opportunity, says analyst Steven Pikelny of Morningstar.

2014-04-10 March 2014 Pension Finance Update by Brian Donohue of October Three Consulting

Pension finances deteriorated slightly in March, and both ‘model’ plans we track ended the first quarter of 2014 in modestly negative territory. Traditional ‘Plan A’ lost about 1% last month and is now down almost 4% for the year, and ‘Plan B’ slid less than 1% during March, ending the quarter almost 2% in the red.

2014-04-09 Whatever It Takes 2.0? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

If you are convincingly irrational the market may expect extreme measures and front run your bluff. It’s in this spirit that ECB President Draghi is threatening the market with another bazooka. We discuss implications for investors.

2014-04-09 Russia and the Baltics by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

The Ukrainian crisis and the Crimean annexation have been closely watched by the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). For many, the recent developments are bringing recollections of the start of the Soviet Union. In this week’s report, we will explore the geopolitical atmosphere in the Baltic states after the Russian annexation of the Crimea, focusing on Estonia. We will start with a brief history of the relations between Russia and its Baltic neighbors. We will then take a look at what the local press is reporting, the reports coming out of Russia and the word on the street.

2014-04-09 Management’s History of Shareholder Friendliness by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

Many years ago, United Airlines had the slogan, "Fly the Friendly Skies." At Smead Capital Management, we like to own companies for a long time which are "friendly" to their public shareholders. In this missive, we will define what it means in our eyes to be shareholder friendly and give a company specific example of this friendliness.

2014-04-09 How High-Frequency Trading Benefits Most Investors by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

A controversial new book came out in late March that lambastes so-called “high-frequency trading” on the major stock exchanges and claims that such computerized trading robs retail investors of good executions and profits on their stock orders. The book, “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt,” was written by former bond salesman turned author, Michael Lewis, who appeared on CBS’ 60 Minutes on March 30. Since then, his book has stirred up quite the controversy among stock market investors.

2014-04-09 Reasons To Remain Optimistic In 2014 by Sandra Martin of Martin Investment Management

The equity markets have taken a respite in 2014 after returning more than 32% in 2013. Margin expansion has been the largest influence on profit growth and should continue with present low inflation expectations. We believe that mergers and share buybacks may continue to increase shareholder value for large capitalization stocks.

2014-04-09 Take an Active Approach to Selecting Your Active Manager by Robert McConnaughey of Columbia Management

For some time, we have written about the challenges active equity managers face from a market with unusually high cross-correlations. We have also stated our belief that the correlation pendulum would swing back to more normal levels (at least) as the aftershocks of the 2008 financial crisis abated, with a corresponding benefit to active managers. That swing is well under way and a growing number of commentators have begun to echo our observation.

2014-04-09 Master Limited Partnerships by Greg Reid and the Salient MLP Team of Salient Partners

Master Limited Partnerships (“MLPs”) are a unique asset class in the investment landscape. Historically, MLPs have been primarily owned by high net worth and retail investors due in part to the tax complexities. However, MLPs have started gaining traction over the past few years among institutional investors as they seek alternative sources of yield in our present low-yield world.

2014-04-09 Dare to be Great II by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

In September 2006, I wrote a memo entitled Dare to Be Great, with suggestions on how institutional investors might approach the goal of achieving superior investment results. I’ve had some additional thoughts on the matter since then, meaning it’s time to return to it. Since fewer people were reading my memos in those days, I’m going to start off repeating a bit of its content and go on from there.

2014-04-08 Fixed Income Perspectives: Implications of a Hawkish Fed by Phil Apel and James McAlevey (Article)

Phil Apel and James McAlevey, portfolio managers of the Henderson Unconstrained Bond Fund, explaining that interest rates are poised to move higher and credit appears likely to outperform government securities in 2014.

2014-04-08 Do Small Cap-Value Stocks add Value in Retirement Portfolios? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Research going back to Fama and French in the early 1990s has shown that small-value stocks have produced superior returns. Subsequent debate has centered on whether this superior performance will continue and if investors should tilt portfolios to capture those returns. I’ll examine the historical evidence, incorporate it in retirement examples and discuss the future prospects for small-cap value.

2014-04-08 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 How to Avoid the Coming Crunch on Advisor Compensation by Dan Richards (Article)

Here are the two key ways that life will look very different for financial advisors in 10 years: a change in the structure of advisor practices and downward pressure on compensation.

2014-04-08 The Secret to Selling to Women by Dan Solin (Article)

If you want to achieve success as a financial advisor, master the art of selling to women.

2014-04-08 Why I Sold - Part 6: Ensuring a Successful Transition by Jim Whiddon (Article)

Whether you are moving forward with a merger or are still debating whether to do so, you must consider what will happen after you blend with another firm. Here are the three most important elements to keep in mind.

2014-04-08 Greatness is Overrated by Justin Locke (Article)

I have no objection to greatness per se, but let’s think about the practical uses - and potential negative effects - of this word.

2014-04-08 How to Get Chatty Clients off the Phone by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

My clients are very happy - I know because they call me with every little question and I respond. Some just call to talk about Obamacare or the market trends. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the conversations, but it gets very difficult to plan my day with this much chatting.

2014-04-08 Adding Direct Mail Advertising to Your Marketing Mix by Elizabeth Snyder (Article)

Advisors rarely generate the positive activity necessary to make direct mail worthwhile and cost effective. But they have an opportunity to capitalize on direct mail as a marketing strategy, especially since it offers advantages over electronic marketing (such as email): Direct mail reaches people directly in their homes and provides physical documents that recipients can save and refer to later.

2014-04-08 Obamacare by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

Last Monday marked the deadline for new sign-ups under Obamacare. On Tuesday, I appeared on CNBC to discuss the future of Obamacare and the effect it is likely have on the mid-term elections.

2014-04-08 Overcoming Fear and Loathing in Lost Wages by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Personal income, not job growth, may have drawn the ire of investors as stocks sold off on Friday. But look for the market to rebound on continued economic progress and soothing remarks from the Fed, writes Kristina Hooper.

2014-04-08 Labor Markets Looking for a Spring Blossom by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

With an unusually harsh winter finally ending, economists were excited to see if labor markets would rebound in March. By many accounts, they were left wanting for more, but the underlying theme in the March report was consistent, steady job growth.

2014-04-08 On Cruise Control by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

The first quarter was a relatively calm start to the year. The Dow was down 0.7%, the S&P up 1.3%, and the NASDAQ up 0.5%. International equities were nearly flat as well with the MSCI ACWI ex US down 0.1%. European equities were up 1.5% and Pacific equities were moderately negative, with the MSCI Pacific down 3.3% for the quarter. Emerging market equity indices were down 0.8% for the quarter, with China down 6.7%.

2014-04-08 Asset Allocation Implications of a Flattening Treasury Yield Curve by Martin Pring of Pring Turner Capital Group

The Treasury yield curve has started to flatten in recent weeks. Based on historical relationships, this process is likely to have important implications for investors because it signals that the business cycle has moved to a more self-reliant and less Fed dependent state.

2014-04-08 Avoiding Losers Is as Important as Picking Winners in High Yield Markets Today by Andrew Jessop, Hozef Arif of PIMCO

Although high yield bonds span a broad range of sectors, industries and individual credits, their yields today tend to fall within an increasingly narrow range. Narrow dispersion means portfolio decisions that target outperformance should now be guided by avoiding deteriorating credits as much as by selecting the most attractive rising stars. Strategies for picking the rising stars can extend to CCC rated credits where agency ratings lag the improvement in the underlying credit profile.

2014-04-08 Moving Forward With the Normalization of Yields by Scott Mather, Michael Story of PIMCO

One response to yield normalization is to consider retaining core bonds and diversifying the specific risk factor of concern, in this case duration. In the past, global bonds have captured most of the upside but avoided a significant amount of the downside relative to domestic-only bonds. Generating capital gains from bonds in a rising yield environment requires defining concretely what yield normalization means – where yields are going and when they will get there – and setting these expectations against forward market pricing, country by country.

2014-04-08 A Surplus of Controversy by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

When the US Treasury recently added its voice to critics of Germany’s chronic trade surplus, it underscored the deep disagreement over what, if anything, should be done about it. It is a highly contentious debate, often informed more by ideology than facts.

2014-04-08 Cementing Europe’s Recovery by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

Europe’s renewed sense of hope and confidence, however encouraging, is not yet sufficient to produce appreciable gains for current and future generations. A few things need to happen over the next several weeks and months if Europe is to minimize the risk of another prolonged period of under-performance and financial risk.

2014-04-08 Predatory Trading — Just How Big an Issue is High-Speed Trading? by Matt Waldner of Columbia Management

High-frequency trading (HFT) is a topic institutional investors and traders have been battling for years. A new book titled Flash Boys by author Michael Lewis of Moneyball fame, investigations out of U.S. regulators and a 60 Minutes spot on a recently developed exchange, IEX, brought this topic from Wall Street to Main Street. In this article, we’ll take a walk around the issue, educate our investors, and hopefully, quell any concerns.

2014-04-08 Our Five Year Forecast Beginning February 20, 2014 by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Late last month I took on the role of judge, not in a court of law, but in a university competition, the CFA Institute Research Challenge Southern Classic. My task was to choose one of fourteen teams from South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama universities to go on to represent their region in the Americas Regional bracket of the CFA Institute Research Challenge. The challenge gives university students from around the globe an opportunity to gain real-world experience as they assume the role of a research analyst

2014-04-08 Is This an Andy Hardy Kind of Market? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

With Mickey Rooney’s death over the weekend (at age 93, after accumulating show business credits spanning 10 decades), I got to thinking about the Andy Hardy movie series that propelled Mickey at the ripe old age of 16 into stardom. In the 50’s the TV screen was awash with black and white classics of the 30’s and 40’s. Like the Great Depression generation, many of the baby boomers binged on Andy Hardy movies long before Walking Dead, Breaking Bad or House of Cards.

2014-04-07 First Quarter of 2014 Brings Many Reversals, Regressions to the Mean by Ron Surz of PPCA

Unlike 2013, diversification worked in the first quarter of 2014. As revealed in our 2013 market commentary, U.S. stocks dominated with a 33% return while diversifying assets like commodities lost 10%. As shown in the graph on the right, diversification into real estate and commodities was handsomely rewarded in the first quarter.

2014-04-07 The Other Side of the Mountain by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Having witnessed the glorious advancing portion of the uncompleted market cycle since 2009, investors might, perhaps, want to consider how this cycle might end. After long diagonal advances to overvalued speculative peaks, the other side of the mountain is typically not a permanently high plateau.

2014-04-07 The Doubt of Appearances by Dimitri Balatsos of Tesseract Partners

Households have made significant progress mending their balance sheet in the post-crisis period. Assets have been boosted on the back of higher home values and stock prices, while liabilities have been trimmed, mostly mortgages, thanks in large part to widespread home foreclosures.

2014-04-07 Examining Companies Through the Lens of ESG by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

No matter where we invest, there’s always some sort of risk. This includes not only geopolitical or macroeconomic factors in a given country, but also issues that are unique to a specific sector or individual security. As bottom-up stock pickers, my team and I must assess the potential risks and returns related to each and every company we invest in. One area that warrants closer examination is environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities, which can play a big role in our stock selection and valuation process.

2014-04-07 Back-to-Back 1% Down Days? by Team of GaveKal Capital

Beginning the year, there had only been five 1% down days over the previous six months. With Friday's decline, the total has edged up to nine 1% down days over the previous six months. If the SP500 were to closes at its current level (1846), this would be the tenth 1% down day in the last six months.

2014-04-05 Investing for Retirement: The Defined Contribution Challenge by Ben Inker and Martin Tarlie of GMO

Target date funds are rapidly becoming the workhorse for DC plans. These funds have grown substantially in recent years, partly as a result of automatic enrollment made possible by the Pension Protection Act of 2006. By and large, current target date funds resemble the old investment advisor adage that stock weight should be about 110 minus a person’s age. While this satisfies the common-sense intuition that, all things being equal, weight in stocks should go down as a person ages, there are a number of problems with this approach. In this paper we focus on two in particular.

2014-04-05 The Lions in the Grass, Revisited by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Today we explore a few things we can see and then try to foresee a few things that are not quite so obvious. The simple premise is that it is not the lions we can see lounging in plain view that are the most insidious threat, but rather that in trying to avoid those we may stumble upon lions hidden in the grass.

2014-04-04 Bob by Bill Gross of PIMCO

PIMCO recommends overweighting credit and to a lesser extent volatility and curve. Underweight duration. Although credit spreads are tight, they are not as compressed as interest rates, which are now in the process of normalization. While PIMCO agrees with Janet Yellen that such normalization will be a long time coming (the 12th of Never?), probabilities suggest that as the Fed completes its Taper, the 5–30 year bonds that it has been buying will have to be sold at higher yields to entice the private sector back in.

2014-04-04 Putin and the Naughty Chair by Robert Stimpson of Oak Associates

On the surface, the first quarter of 2014 appears to be decent. The S&P 500 eked out a gain of 1.8% in the first three months of the year, despite heightened geopolitical tensions, a changing of the guard at the Federal Reserve, and frigid weather hampering economic growth. Accounts managed by Oak Associates have topped the S&P 500 year-to-date. That being said, signs of internal weakness are present in US equities.

2014-04-04 Meet "Lowflation": Deflation's Scary Pal by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

In recent years a good part of the monetary debate has become a simple war of words, with much of the conflict focused on the definition for the word "inflation." The latest front in this campaign came this week when Bloomberg News unveiled a brand new word: "lowflation" which it defines as a situation where prices are rising, but not fast enough to offer the economic benefits that are apparently delivered by higher inflation. Although the article was printed on April Fool's Day, sadly I do not believe it was meant as a joke.

2014-04-04 Warning Signs in Leveraged Credit? by Elizabeth (Beth) MacLean of PIMCO

· Though leveraged credit markets are less levered than they were pre-crisis, signs of more lenient, issuer-friendly terms are prompting regulators (including the Fed) and investors to voice concerns. · Regulators have tightened lending guidelines, but strong demand versus supply means the market is able to find ways around such guidance. · Detailed bottom-up credit analysis with an emphasis on long-term fundamentals and loss avoidance remains crucial to investing in leveraged credit today.

2014-04-04 Pakistan—Reputation and Reality by Taizo Ishida of Matthews Asia

I have been spending an increasing amount of time in “frontier” Asian countries, exploring such fascinating locales as Mongolia and Myanmar. But only recently did I make my first trip to Pakistan. It is a country that has long piqued my interest and was a last, unexplored frontier for me. Through the years, we have debated the issues of safety and law and order there. For many in the West, the mention of Pakistan instills some fears, and many governments continue to warn their citizens to defer all non-essential travel to the country.

2014-04-04 Why Chinese Stocks May Still Make Sense Over the Long Run by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Many investors have been concerned about the Chinese market lately and are asking Russ whether they should abandon Chinese stocks. Russ explains why his answer is still no, at least for the long term.

2014-04-04 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.6, unchanged last week (which was revised from 133.5). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 3.0 from last week’s 2.9. Here are some notable developments since ECRI’s public recession call on September 30, 2011: 1) The S&P 500 is up 61.9% at yesterday’s close, fractionally off its record close on April 2nd. 2) the unemployment rate has dropped to 6.7%, and 3) Q4 GDP was revised upward to 2.6%.

2014-04-04 What's Abuzz About Gold? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

If we continue to see these large movements of the physical metal, especially from the West to the East, it would appear to be only a matter of time until these supply-and-demand factors lift the gold price.

2014-04-04 Do You Think You Can Be Effective in Market Forecasting? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

It is important to understand that no one can predict the future with certainty. Investors should take so-called expert forecasts with a grain of salt. Effective portfolio management is not about forecasting the future and then clinging to that forecast. It’s about continuously evaluating information and market conditions and then making adjustments when necessary to pursue the ultimate goal. To paraphrase long time market watcher Steve Leuthold, “Predictions are for show, our decisions within the portfolio are for dough.”

2014-04-04 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

For the European Central Bank, actions will speak louder than words. US hiring is back on track. The debate over unemployment and wage pressure.

2014-04-04 Avoiding Complacency by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

Active managers don’t have a mandate to hold any certain securities, thus they can pick and choose as to what they feel offers the best return level for a given risk profile. The high yield bond market still offers plenty of what we view as very attractive opportunities in credits that we see as solid companies at yields about 300 basis points or more above the yield level on this bond.

2014-04-04 A New Machine: Is a Capital Spending Cycle Imminent? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Activist investors have helped highlight companies’ bias toward stock buybacks/dividends vs. longer-term capital investments. Preconditions for a pickup in capital spending appear to be lining up. The technology and industrial sectors are likely the biggest beneficiaries.

2014-04-04 Income Is Always a Good Idea by Jack Tierney of Invesco Blog

Most of the 2014 forecasts were positive on stocks, albeit at a lower return after such a strong year in 2013, and negative on bonds. However, January was a down month for stocks and a very strong month for bonds, February saw stocks rebound and bonds range-bound, and March thus far has stocks down more than up and bonds still range-bound. With apologies for altering the famous quote attributed to Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, "Paris is always a good idea," I would say that "income is always a good idea."

2014-04-03 Chuck Royce on 1Q14: Despite Minor Pullback, Market Still Shows Strength by Chuck Royce of The Royce Funds

Despite the market's subdued first-quarter performance, annualized total returns for the major indexes remained in double-digit territory for the one-, three-, and five-year periods ended March 31, 2014. President, Director of Investments, and Portfolio Manager Chuck Royce offers his thoughts on the market's behavior during the first quarter and why he thinks investors can expect a major correction within the next twelve months.

2014-04-03 Foolish Investment Ideas by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

With April Fools’ Day behind us, it’s time to get serious about investing. Don’t be fooled by this week’s non-farm payroll report; nor by the assertion that the U.S. may have the cleanest of the dirty shirts. And certainly don’t be fooled into thinking the market has your interests in mind…

2014-04-03 Fiduciary vs. Suitability Standards-Your Need to Know the Difference by H. William Wolfson of American Financial Advisors

Beth Banker, a successful business woman, has been having ongoing neck and back issues. She decided to access web based information as to obtain self treatment options. Upon her reading, she realized that her condition, although appearing musculoskeletal in nature may be more involved with underlying pathologies. Although her intent was to heal herself, in reality she became more concerned and stressed as to the amount of research and data that existed…which she didn’t understand.

2014-04-03 The Stealth Rally: Gold Under the Radar by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

So far, 2014 has been a paradoxical year for gold. Many investors aren't even aware that it has rallied almost 8%. On the rare occasion that the financial media mentions the yellow metal, it is only in the context of comparing the recent rise to last year's decline.

2014-04-03 Plans are Nothing; Planning is Everything by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

U.S. investors are largely convinced that the Fed will raise interest rates in the middle of 2015 but sluggish inflation could push that eventuality back into 2016.

2014-04-03 Q2 fixed income outlook — Hitting for the cycle by Gene Tannuzzo of Columbia Management

By the middle of this year, the economic expansion in the U.S. will officially turn five years old. By comparison, the average of all business cycle expansions tracked by the National Bureau of Economic Research dating back to the mid-1800s is about three and half years. But like many five year olds, this cycle hardly seems mature. In particular, we have taken notice of three key elements of the business cycle that have distinct implications for bond investing today.

2014-04-03 VIX Exchange Traded Products...Growth and Risk Impact by Daniel Kirsch of Macro Risk Advisors

The growth of ETFs has been nothing short of tremendous. What started as a product designed to provide investors with broad equity or sector exposure in the US, the ETF landscape now includes a myriad of geographies (Europe, Asia) and asset classes (FX, rates, credit, commodities). Research consultancy firm EFTGI estimates that there are almost 5,000 ETFs globally with total AUM in excess of $2 trillion.

2014-04-03 Yellen’s Labor Market Dashboard by Scott Brown of Raymond James

In her years as a Federal Reserve official (governor, district bank president, and vice chair), Janet Yellen expressed a greater concern about job conditions than her peers. As expected, that emphasis has continued into her tenure as Fed chair.

2014-04-03 Being There by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Spring has sprung, yet many market pundits are worried about the softening economic reports, causing me to remember the book “Being There” by author Jerzy Kosinski.

2014-04-03 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Last week saw a correction in many of the high-flying groups, but overall another quiet week with investors unsure of the economic outlook.

2014-04-03 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group

During the Great Recession, America laid off two million factory workers and factory output fell 20 percent. Before the Great Recession, of course, manufacturing jobs were headed overseas. As we have slowly emerged from the Great Recession, it’s a little surprising to some that manufacturing has led the way, outpacing overall GDP growth. This year it looks like manufacturing could add 3.5 percent in growth. Is this just a replacement of jobs that were lost during the Great Recession?

2014-04-03 And That's The Quarter That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

After a nightmare than was January, the quarter actually turned out pretty well (except in the Ukraine).

2014-04-02 Gain International Exposure with Small-Caps by David Nadel of The Royce Funds

Portfolio Manager and Director of International Research David Nadel discusses our attraction to international small-caps, how our investment approach translates into the international small-cap universe, how we try to avoid value traps, the effect monetary policy has had on our approach and performance, and more.

2014-04-02 Available at a Low Price in Relation to Intrinsic Value by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

At Smead Capital Management, valuation matters dearly. We believe all the academic studies from Fama-French, Bauman-Conover-Miller and Francis Nicholson, show that cheap stocks as measured by price-to-book value (P/B), price-to-earnings (P/E) or price-to-dividends outperform more expensive stocks. We especially love Nicholson’s 25-year study because it shows that the 100 cheapest stocks that make up the lowest P/E quintile see their outperformance expand the longer you hold them. Cheapness is the gift that keeps on giving.

2014-04-02 Consumer Confidence Up, But Concerns Remain by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The Conference Board reported last week that its Consumer Confidence Index jumped to 82.3 in March (up from 78.3), the highest reading since January 2008, just as the recession was beginning. But the two underlying components of the Index provided two different perspectives, as we will discuss today.

2014-04-02 The Treasury Yield Curve Starts its Tightening Process by Martin Pring of AdvisorShares

Martin is the Investment Strategist to the AdvisorShares Pring Turner Business Cycle ETF (DBIZ)—and since 1984, he has published the “Intermarket Review,” a monthly global market report revered among analysts and market technicians. Here, Martin shares his latest technical analysis.

2014-04-02 Reforming China’s State-Market Balance by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

Many of China’s problems today stem from too much market and too little government. Or, to put it another way, while the government is clearly doing some things that it should not, it is also not doing some things that it should.

2014-04-02 Foolish Investment Ideas by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

With April Fools’ Day behind us, it’s time to get serious about investing. Don’t be fooled by this week’s non-farm payroll report; nor by the assertion that the U.S. may have the cleanest of the dirty shirts. And certainly don’t be fooled into thinking the market has your interests in mind…

2014-04-02 A Fixer-Upper? by Team of GaveKal Capital

As noted yesterday, March was not an exceptionally positive month for European equities.

2014-04-02 4 Areas Revved Up for a Resources Boom by Brian Hicks of U.S. Global Investors

Commodity returns vary wildly, as experienced resource investors can attest and our popular periodic table illustrates. This inherent volatility can spell opportunity for the nimble investor who can look past the mainstream headlines to identify hot spots. Our global resources expert, Brian Hicks, CFA, identified four we believe are revved up for a resources boom.

2014-04-02 Tax Reform: Camp Fires Up the Debate by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Chances for passage of the congressman's overhaul of the U.S. tax code are slim, but provisions of the bill could point the way to future reform.

2014-04-02 A Year of Reversals Amid a Search for Value by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Stocks have traded in a relatively narrow range for the past two weeks, but beneath the surface, some of last year’s winners are shaping up to be this year’s losers. Russ explains the shifts he’s seeing and what they mean for investors.

2014-04-01 First Quarter Review: Choppy Global Markets by Paul O’Connor (Article)

Paul O'Connor, Co-Head of Multi-Asset, comments on the recent global market behavior and notes that so far it has been quite choppy. Paul and his team believe the rest of the year and most notably Q2 will behave similarly with fairly modest returns and higher volatility than in the past few years. However, Paul notes that from a multi-asset perspective, this type of environment also presents opportunities.

2014-04-01 Milliman Managed Risk Strategy-A Closer Look by (Article)

The Milliman Managed Risk Strategy is an intelligent institutional quality risk management strategy that seeks to stabilize volatility around a target level, capture growth in up markets and defend against losses during major market declines. The strategy has been in place since 1998, and is used in a variety of funds and investment products in an attempt to help investors weather market turbulence and improve the overall likelihood of meeting retirement income goals.

2014-04-01 The FlexShares Approach: Flexible Indexing by (Article)

Shundrawn Thomas, Global Head of ETFs, discusses the ideas behind FlexShares' flexible indexing approach, including how it starts not with a benchmark, but with an investment strategy and how this can benefit investors.

2014-04-01 How to Avoid Hidden Costs in Your Bond Allocations by Bob Veres (Article)

The supposedly safe move to shorten bond maturities in anticipation of rate increases has been very costly over the last three years - and there’s no reason to expect the next three will be any different. Here’s a way to quantify those costs and position your portfolios in a way that makes money in a variety of interest-rate scenarios.

2014-04-01 The Alpha Strike Zone by Michael Finke (Article)

Investors have known about mutual-fund style boxes for a long time, but few understand their purpose. Should an advisor identify the best fund in each of the boxes? Should they attempt to capture equal exposure to all styles?

2014-04-01 How to Tell What Your Prospect Is Thinking by Dan Solin (Article)

I am fascinated by the sophisticated technology used in political debates. Consultants pay focus groups to instantaneously record their reactions as the candidates discuss different issues. How valuable would it be if I such an insight into the thinking of someone listening to me? If I knew my audience’s reactions, I could adjust my presentation accordingly. That goal is now within your grasp.

2014-04-01 More on Bullying - Because it is Everywhere! by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I received a response to last week’s column, in which I gave advice to someone who was being bullied, that pointed out some areas in which I missed the mark. The writer said I did not address taking a "direct approach" to dealing with the bully.

2014-04-01 Fighting Financial Advisor Anxiety by Sarah Scorgie (Article)

Here’s how to help prospective clients educate themselves before walking into a meeting with you.

2014-04-01 Why I Sold - Part 5: Overcoming the Psychological Resistance to Merging by Jim Whiddon (Article)

Before I made the difficult decision to merge my RIA with a larger partner, I took one last look at the pros and cons. Despite all the positive aspects my research turned up, I hesitated over some lingering issues that were important to resolve. And while the bottom line was compelling, many of my concerns had to do with the psychological effects of the move, both for me and for my clients.

2014-04-01 More Ticking Time Bombs that Threaten Your Business by Dan Richards (Article)

Last week I discussed four inevitable changes in how Americans invest. This week and next, I’ll focus on four aspects of advisory practices that are unsustainable. These four issues will cause significant changes in the next 10 years - or perhaps sooner.

2014-04-01 Have You Looked at India Lately? by Eric Stein, Patrick Campbell of Eaton Vance

In our judgment, it’s time to remove India from the ranks of the so-called “Fragile Five”* emerging-market countries. We believe the strong investment case to be made for India today underscores the importance of taking a country-by-country approach to emerging-market investing.

2014-04-01 U.S. Growth Offers a Tailwind for the Region by Mohit Mittal, Ed Devlin, Lupin Rahman of PIMCO

PIMCO expects growth in the U.S. to improve due to a reduction in fiscal drag, although the Federal Reserve’s tapering and slowing growth in China are risks. While higher U.S. growth should offer a boost to exporters, Canada will likely face headwinds from a housing correction and drop in consumption. Latin America has fared relatively well amid the recent volatility in emerging markets, but differentiation across credits and markets continues to increase.

2014-04-01 A Look at First Quarter Market Performance by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

As the first quarter draws to a close, equity markets appear poised to finish in positive territory despite a somewhat tumultuous news environment. As noted by Bloomberg, save for a sharply negative Monday period, the S&P 500 will close out a fifth consecutive quarter in positive territory for the first time since 2007.

2014-04-01 Equities Sag as Macro Backdrop Quiets Down by Robert Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Last week U.S. equities struggled for direction as the S&P 500 declined 0.4%. Small cap stocks were hit harder, and macro and geopolitical issues seemed to be on the back burner. Overall, emerging markets rallied, value and contrarian plays outperformed and Japanese stocks bounced.

2014-04-01 The Changing Face of Global Risk by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate

The world’s economic, financial, and geopolitical risks are shifting. But, as in the run-up to the global financial crisis in 2008, investors seem unable to estimate, price, and hedge tail risks properly.

2014-04-01 Signs of Life?? by Adam Bowe, Robert Mead of PIMCO

As mining investment in Australia tapers, improvements in other sectors of the economy recently have allayed some concerns of a collapse in domestic demand. We share the cautious optimism but stop well short of expecting higher policy rates this year. Australian bond yields remain highly correlated to global developed market bond yields, and without a near-term domestic catalyst to cause that correlation to break, Australia’s yields are more likely to gradually rise, particularly in the longer end of the yield curve, which isn’t supported by anchored policy rates. ?

2014-04-01 2016 (Part 1, The Economic Issue) by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In this report, we are tackling the geopolitical impact of the 2016 elections. Given the size of the topic, it will be discussed over a three-part series. As we survey the political landscape for 2016, the next presidential election could be historic. In our opinion, the last three presidents have been unable to create a consistent foreign policy that reflects America’s role as the unipolar superpower. We will begin by examining the economic challenges the next president will face, with a broad analysis of the issues of inequality and economic growth.

2014-04-01 Investing is Hard by David Wismer of Flexible Plan Investments

Or better put, successful investing is hard. So says author, speaker, and CIO Robert Seawright of Madison Avenue Securities in a recent series of “Investment Belief” columns on his award-winning blog, Above the Market.

2014-04-01 Why Key Long-Term Trends Matter to Stock Pickers by Virginie Maisonneuve of PIMCO

The combination of demographic changes, climate change and the ongoing shift in emerging markets over the next 30 years will have long-term consequences for supply and demand factors and business sustainability for many companies. The impact of these long-term trends must not be underestimated. It is crucial for equity investors to not only be attuned to them, but also to understand how companies are adapting to the shifts in the global corporate operating environment. ?

2014-04-01 Fundamental Tango by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

The economy and financial markets are forever sending out mixed, parallel, or confusing messages. Inflation or stagflation? Buy now, or take your profits? Proceed slowly, or go home? At this moment, the signals are hardly synchronized.

2014-03-31 European Rally Has Legs by Nick Kalivas of Invesco Blog

Since hitting a low on June 1, 2012, the MSCI Europe Index has rallied 64.73%. In our view, there’s room for European equity markets to advance further, supported by strong fundamentals, positive flows and a steady uptrend from the June 2012 low.

2014-03-31 Labor Market Clues for Bond Investors by Christopher Molumphy of Franklin Templeton

When the US Federal Reserve (Fed) began tapering early this year, the general assumption was that investors would flee en masse from fixed income investments. Certainly, there has been some volatility in Treasury yields, most recently after Fed Chair Janet Yellen suggested interest rates could start to rise around six months after tapering ends – which would be somewhat sooner than many were expecting.

2014-03-31 Raising the Minimum Wage: Cure or Curse? by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

There’s been a lot of talk lately about raising the minimum wage, both on the federal and local level. Russ and an investment strategist on his team weigh in on what higher minimum wages could mean for the economy and for investors.

2014-03-31 Shifting Policy at the Fed: Good for Long-Term Growth, Bad for Cyclical Bubbles by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The Fed is wisely and palpably moving away from the idea that more QE is automatically better for the economy, and has started to correctly question the effectiveness of QE, as well as its potential to worsen economic risks rather than remove them.

2014-03-31 March Was A Tough Month for MSCI Europe by Team of GaveKal Capital

The only sector in MSCI Europe with positive performance for the month of March is Utilities, while Health Care stocks took quite a beating.

2014-03-31 Will Jobs Benefit From a Spring Thaw? by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The upcoming jobs report, a bellwether for the health of the US economy, could reveal that the harsh winter has created a coiled spring in the labor market, writes Kristina Hooper.

2014-03-29 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Using energy as a pawn may work to Russia’s disadvantage in the long run. China’s 2014 economic outlook is hazy. Lessons from the 2014 stress test.

2014-03-29 Are You Being Advised or Sold To? by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Independent advisors come in all shapes and sizes the ones who ’get it’ treat the client as a teammate, not an opponent, and see their role as being the client’s advocate, representative, and interpreter, within an increasingly complex investment world. Shortcuts and overkill by Wall Street firms increase the chance of the client’s later feeling fooled, and feeling like a fool. Independent firms will continue to be the winners in that battle for the client’s affections because they are far less likely to allow that to happen.

2014-03-29 When Inequality Isn't by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

We’ve discovered so far that income inequality is a fact; however, income mobility has remained roughly the same over the last 40 years. That is, a person’s chances of rising from a lower stratum of wealth distribution to a higher stratum is approximately the same as it was in 1975.

2014-03-28 Johnson Controls: Back To Consistency? by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Johnson Controls (JCI) traces its roots back to an interesting bit of history. One hundred and thirty-one years ago, Warren Johnson was a professor in Whitewater, Wisconsin. It was here that he invented and installed the first electric tele-thermoscope – known today as the thermostat – in his classrooms. The invention served a dual purpose: it kept his students more comfortable and put an end to the hourly interruptions from the janitor checking the rooms’ temperature. Of course we can’t confirm this, but it would be our guess that Professor Warren was a regular student favorite.

2014-03-28 Americas: Regional Economic Review 4Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

The outlook for the developed economies in North America remains healthy while the emerging economies of Latin America continue to face headwinds. Though recent data from the U.S. and Canada have indicated moderation in economic activity, most of the slowdown was likely caused by adverse weather conditions in the region.

2014-03-28 Fed on Target to Raise Interest Rates in the Spring of 2015 by Kevin Mahn of Hennion & Walsh

Last Wednesday, Janet Yellen presided over a press conference as the new Chairman of the Federal Reserve (Fed) following the conclusion of the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC’s) two day meeting and their release of the official FOMC statement. Markets hung on every word and some confusion was created afterwards as Yellen offered a more transparent look at the Fed’s timeline for raising interest rates.

2014-03-28 The End of Chinese Central Planning by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

Since Deng Xiaoping’s reforms of the early 1980’s, senior Chinese policymakers have paid less and less attention to central planners’ numerical growth targets. Now they are close to taking the final step in the long journey to a market-based economy, by adopting a flexible framework in which GDP growth currently does not come first.

2014-03-28 “Mind the Gap”: Adapting to a Post-Crisis World in Transition by Virginie Maisonneuve of PIMCO

??Barring any sharp deterioration in global geopolitical risk, the medium term outlook for equities is quite positive in an environment where we see subdued growth and inflation amid healing economies. From a markets standpoint, valuations are not very expensive – they’re not cheap, but they’re not expensive versus historical standards for the market overall.

2014-03-28 What Investors Should Know About Fed Forward Guidance by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Last week, at Janet Yellen’s first meeting as Fed Chair, the FOMC revised its forward guidance for the funds rate, dropping its reference to 6.5% unemployment and instead stressing the committee’s qualitative assessment of the economy. The change was a symbolically important step, but did not alter the broader outlook for policy rates, in our view.

2014-03-28 Why International Now? by David Garff of AdvisorShares

One of the ongoing challenges that advisors face is determining what percentage of their clients assets should be allocated to international equities. The magnitude of this decision is often amplified when the United States has years of persistent out/under performance. US clients will inherently gauge the success of their portfolio based on the S&P 500, or similar index. The challenge for advisors is explaining why a more diversified exposure to global equities is meaningful in the long-run, despite recent years of outlandish performance.

2014-03-28 Asia's E-Commerce Trends by Jerry Shih of Matthews Asia

On a recent research trip, I went to Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Melbourne and spoke with Internet companies in industries as diverse as automotives, travel and real estate. I also met with several e-commerce companies with varying Internet penetration rates. As growth rates for new Internet users across parts of Asia level off, comparing these firms offered me an interesting glimpse into the potential opportunities and challenges facing the region's newer Internet firms.

2014-03-28 Long-Term Equity Performance Coming Up Short by Kristen Hendrickson of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

With the bull’s fifth birthday upon us, it seems U.S. equity markets are back on track. While recent memory is bright, investors who bought in 10, 15, and even 20 years ago may not be as apt to break out the balloons and bubbly. The Annual Compound Return (ACR) for the past 15 years (4.53%) is in the FIRST decile of a distribution of 15-year returns since 1926. The longer-term ACRs are a reminder that even a five year bull market can’t undo the damage inflicted by a double bear market decade.

2014-03-28 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.5, up from 133.0 last week (a revision from 132.9). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place rose to 2.9 from last week's 2.3.

2014-03-28 Lacking Conviction by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Investors seem to lack conviction, what will potentially push them to one side or the other.

2014-03-28 Hotchkis & Wiley: Frequently Asked Questions by Team of Hotchkis & Wiley

In Hotchkis & Wiley's 2014 1Q Newsletter, Ray Kennedy, Mark Hudoff, and the rest of Hotchkis & Wiley's high yield team examines the high yield market and attempt to answer the questions it they get asked most frequently, or ones they believe to be particularly relevant in the current market environment.

2014-03-28 Four Areas Revved Up for a Resources Boom by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Commodity returns vary wildly, as experienced resource investors can attest and our popular periodic table illustrates. This inherent volatility can spell opportunity for the nimble investor who can look past the mainstream headlines to identify hot spots. Our global resources expert, Brian Hicks, CFA, identified four we believe are revved up for a resources boom.

2014-03-27 What Has Been Fueling the Rise of Gold in 2014? by Kevin Mahn of Hennion & Walsh

Gold declined approximately 28% for the year of 2013, its worst annual performance since 1981 according toUSA Today. At that time, the downturn ended Gold’s own bull market run of 12 consecutive years as investors jumped on the back of this current bull market by piling into stock funds in 2013 and largely exiting bond funds.

2014-03-27 Plant a Tree Today, Sit in the Shade Tomorrow by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The Federal Reserve’s desire to be predictable should lead to an incremental path for the coming tightening cycle and that suggests increasing exposure to floating-rate instruments.

2014-03-27 A Sustainable Recovery?? by Mike Amey of PIMCO

Early signs indicate that the long awaited increase in business investment is underway. In turn, that bodes well for real income growth and the sustainability of the economic recovery. Given the improved economic prospects and the change in rhetoric at the Bank of England, the central bank could well be an early adopter of tighter monetary policy. We expect the BoE to hike rates ahead of the US Federal Reserve. While we beli?eve the British pound has already reflected the BoE’s guidance for official rates to rise by mid-2015, the bond market has yet to fully reflect the new environment. ?

2014-03-27 The Media’s Incomplete Coverage of the Active/Passive Debate by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

Barron’s revisited the debate between active and passive portfolio management with it’s conclusion revealed in the article’s title; Go Active for Bonds, but Index Your Stocks. This is an important issue for market participants to explore and the revisit every so often.

2014-03-27 US Economic Round-Up - Pending Home Sales Decline Again by Team of GaveKal Capital

Quite a bit of US data was released this morning. The major releases were GDP 3rd revision, Corporate Profits, Initial Jobless Claims, & Pending Home Sales. Let's take a quick look at each.

2014-03-27 Real Estate Alpha Hides in Smaller Neighborhoods by Eric Franco of AllianceBernstein

After a spectacular five-year run, global real estate stocks look headed for a period of more normal returns. We think winning in this space will require a more discriminating eye—and venturing into the often neglected nooks and crannies of the smaller-cap real estate world.

2014-03-26 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Well, apparently Janet Yellen has her own style, her own personality, her own mixed message. Just as Fed watchers had to get used to Bernanke in the aftermath of maestro Greenspan (does that name still apply after the financial crisis?), investors will need a few meeting to figure out the new Fed Chair. An early rebound was followed by a selloff which was followed by a rebound which was followed by a late-week selloff. Nicely done, Ms. Yellen (though Russia played a role as well).

2014-03-26 Hangman: The ETF Revolution by Cole Smead of Smead Capital Management

Financial innovation in the investment business is, in our opinion, sometimes just smoke and mirrors. The recent movie The Incredible Burt Wonderstone illuminates what this smoke and mirror façade can produce.

2014-03-26 Looming Retirement Crisis – Boomers In Big Trouble! by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Let’s face it, we all know this country is facing a retirement crisis. The first of the Baby Boomers turned 65 and started retiring in 2011. The number of Boomers retiring each year will rise rapidly over the next decade or more. Before the end of this decade, Boomers will be turning age 65 at the rate of 8,000 per day.

2014-03-26 Striking a Balance: Risks and Opportunities in Emerging Market Debt? by Francesc Balcells, Anton Dombrovsky of PIMCO

?We believe the risk of a full crisis in emerging markets is greatly diminished as the initial conditions of such economies nowadays are quite different. Although there are vulnerable credits out there, the mark-to-market volatility in the financially strong emerging market economies can present advantages as longer-term fundamentals reassert themselves. By monitoring key triggers and employing a differentiated investment approach, investors may be able to take advantage of attractive valuations in emerging market debt. ?

2014-03-26 Understanding Gold Cost of Carry in Various Currencies by Ade Odunsi of AdvisorShares

Under normal market conditions, the term structure for the price of gold for delivery at increasing maturities (the term structure) exhibits an upward sloping curve. In futures market terminology the term structure is said to be in contango and implies that the price of gold for spot delivery is lower than the price of gold for future delivery.

2014-03-26 Europe is a Land of Opportunity in 2014 by Kevin Mahn of Hennion & Walsh

While we are forecasting a high, single-digit gain for the S&P 500 index over the course of 2014 at this time, we do still contend that U.S. stock market returns will likely be outpaced in 2014 by certain International – Developed Country stock market returns (notably Europe) as regions such as the Eurozone continue to emerge from their own recession.

2014-03-26 Yellen Speaks, Do the Financial Markets Listen? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

No surprise, the Federal Open Market Committee tapered the monthly rate of asset purchases by another $10 billion and altered the language in its forward guidance on the federal funds rate. In its policy statement, the FOMC indicated that “it likely will be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends.”

2014-03-26 Picture This by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Picture this: you’re an investor starting out in the 1940s after World War II came to an end. Your own experience in the contemporary history of the stock market would've taught you that bonds were the safer, and superior, asset allocation over the long-term.

2014-03-26 Unleashing Africa’s Potential by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton

Many investors who have never traveled in Africa probably have preconceived ideas about it, perhaps as a land of safaris and political strife, rich in coveted natural resources that have failed to bring widespread wealth and development to the continent. Many also might not realize how diverse the landscape, the economies and the people are on the continent, which boasts more than 1,000 languages spoken in more than 50 countries and climates ranging from hot deserts and tropical rainforests to frozen glaciers.

2014-03-26 Durable Goods Orders: The Disconnect Continues by Team of GaveKal Capital

This morning durable goods orders were released, and while the headline index exhibited a good bounce from January, the rest of the report was more mixed.

2014-03-26 Housing Booming, Busting and Muddling Along by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting

Housing is local again! Our consultants and clients see vastly different housing markets all across the country. I categorize them into three groups (booming, busting, and muddling) in this article and provide anecdotes from our team members---- but it is really more complicated than that.

2014-03-25 Discovering International Opportunities by Stephen Peak (Article)

Stephen Peak discusses recent geopolitical factors impacting markets and notes opportunities still exist in international equities.

2014-03-25 Milliman Managed Risk Strategy by (Article)

With two significant stock market corrections in the past decade and turbulent times facing the world economy, many investment advisors are under a great deal of pressure to bring risk management solutions to their clients. This video focuses on the Milliman Financial Risk Management and its effort in solving the retirement income problem in America.

2014-03-25 The Takeaways from the Latest Fama-French Research by Michael Edesess (Article)

The latest Fama-French research expands their three-factor model with the addition of two new factors: profitability and investment. My question is whether this work provides any information that can be of practical value to advisors or investors. After careful evaluation of their paper, I conclude that the answer is no.

2014-03-25 How to Confront the End of the Bond Bull Market by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

What does the title of Simon Lack’s latest book, Bonds Are Not Forever, mean? It’s a question that Lack clarifies and then answers - by proposing a creative way to construct portfolios that have many of the beneficial characteristics of bonds but without much downside interest-rate exposure.

2014-03-25 Four Inevitable Changes that Threaten Your Business by Dan Richards (Article)

If you step back and look at the status quo in the advisory business and ask yourself what things simply don’t make sense and are unsustainable as a result, you will come up with a surprisingly long list. Today’s article focuses on inevitable changes in the investing environment.

2014-03-25 Why I Sold - Part 4 by Jim Whiddon (Article)

The months I spent considering whether to sell my successful independent RIA were difficult personally and professionally. But once my decision was made, it felt good to focus on the positive aspects of a merger that would benefit my staff and my clients.

2014-03-25 Rethinking your Newsletter by Megan Elliot (Article)

Newsletters, once a cornerstone of advisor marketing, now look a bit old-fashioned. Compared to Facebook, Twitter, videos, blogging and other flashier marketing strategies, many simple newsletters look boring and dated. But newsletters can still have a place in your marketing repertoire, provided you approach them in the right way.

2014-03-25 Yes, Even Advisors Get Bullied! by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I am a financial advisor who is being bullied in my office. I cannot sleep, have constant anxiety and feel like I am working under war-like conditions. I have tried everything to shore up my confidence, but I can’t stop the onslaught of vitriol that comes at me every day.

2014-03-25 Our Most Read Article from Last Week: Gundlach - Rates Will Remain Low in 2014 by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Slowing economic growth, low inflation and a lack of motivated sellers will keep interest rates depressed, at least for the rest of this year, according to Jeffrey Gundlach. But investors should prepare for an eventual rise in rates, he said, because he is skeptical of the Federal Reserve’s ability to successfully exit from QE.

2014-03-25 Low Rates for a Long Time & Preparing for the Eventual Rise by Sponsored Content from OppenheimerFunds (Article)

Interest rates, in a slow growth and only modest inflation world, are likely to remain low for the foreseeable future. Still, the fears of rising rates persist. We believe these fears may be overstated, and this Q&A covers our views on generating income in a low rate world and protecting portfolios in the event of an unexpected rise in rates.

2014-03-25 Janet Yellen Enters the Picture by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

After bursting onto the scene earlier this year, Janet Yellen held her first official FOMC meeting last week. Rather than upset the apple cart, she held a largely status quo stance, but several comments raised more than a few questions.

2014-03-25 Will Putin Stop with the Crimea? by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Now that the Crimean referendum has passed in favor of annexation, what will Putin do next? In other words, will he stop with the Crimea? In this report, we will look at the post-Cold War situation from Putin’s perspective. From this viewpoint, we will examine Putin’s likely next steps and how this will affect the U.S. and the rest of the developed world. As always, we will conclude with market ramifications.

2014-03-25 Int'l Mega Banks Still Ticking Time Bombs by Steve Rumsey of Optimus Advisory Group

During the past five years, following the worst financial crisis since The Great Depression, the financial media has been talking about the deleveraging process happening worldwide. We've all heard the stories of how banks to consumers to corporations have deleveraged and continue to do so. It's as if all the global financial bailouts were all orchestrated just to buy us enough time so that we could get our financial houses in order. Then, miraculously, after someone blows the "all clear" alarm we can all go back to living our normal lives once again.

2014-03-25 A Slip and Fall? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

Despite last week’s vernal equinox, signaling the first day of spring on Thursday, another arctic blast is hitting the Midwest yet again this week, and cabin fever has become an epidemic. So many of my friends and family are singing the same refrain; “When will this winter be over?”

2014-03-25 Stocks: "Aging Bull" Could Still Pack a Punch by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Bearish market observers fret that earnings growth will falter and that current equity valuations are unsustainable. Their worries are misplaced.

2014-03-25 Higher Rates on the Horizon? Three Implications by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Investors were temporarily taken aback last week by the prospect of an earlier-than-expected rate hike. While it’s not yet clear yet whether the market interpreted the Fed correctly, Russ explains that the possibility of higher rates has three implications for investors.

2014-03-25 US Housing Round-Up by Team of GaveKal Capital

We had three US housing related economic releases today: FHFA House Price Index, S&P Case-Shiller, and new home sales. The two price series both slightly beat consensus while new home sales came in exactly at consensus.

2014-03-25 Five Things You Should Know About Housing Reform Legislation by Michael Canter, Matthew Bass of AllianceBernstein

A recent US Senate bill calls for a restructuring of the government’s role in housing finance, including winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Here are five takeaways from the current proposal.

2014-03-24 March Flash Update by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group

At the end of February, the market as measured by the S&P 500 moved slightly above the year-end levels. Subsequently, a brief calming of the tensions surrounding the events in the Ukraine (time will tell) generated a relief rally that extended a bit further resulting in new record highs exactly 5 years after the financial crisis lows of March 2009.

2014-03-24 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

For those of us that have been around for awhile, we have come to recognize that each Federal Reserve Board Chairman has had a unique way of speaking and a unique personality. Remember the "Volcker Rules"? How about "Greenspan-speak"? Well, last week we had a chance to take a measure of the person, and her language, who currently presides over monetary policy, Fed Chair Janet Yellen. And while a snapshot is not necessarily a truism of the embodiment of the whole, there were a few takeaways, not the least of which was the market's (once again) overreaction to what was being said.

2014-03-24 Four Reasons Businesses Could Begin Spending Again Soon by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Despite record profits and exceptionally high corporate cash levels, capital spending by U.S. businesses remains subdued. Russ explains why this could change this year as well as what a pickup in capital spending would mean for investors.

2014-03-24 Michael Cirami on Ukraine: It May Just Be Spring Training for Putin’s Hardball Tactics by Michael Cirami of Eaton Vance

Earlier this month, Michael Cirami, co-director of Eaton Vance’s Global Income Group, offered his views on the immediate crisis surrounding the seizure of Crimea by Russian and pro-Russian troops, having been in Kiev just two weeks prior. In this Viewpoint, he adds some perspective to how events have unfolded since and how they may going forward in the wake of that event.

2014-03-24 Stocks Rise as Economic Backdrop Slowly Improves by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished higher last week, with the S&P 500 increasing 1.4%. Ukraine seemed to be receding in investors’ minds. Despite the volatility and sharp increase in bond yields on Wednesday, the hawkish takeaways from the FOMC meeting were not a lingering overhang.

2014-03-24 Only One Industry Is Green In March by Team of GaveKal Capital

March has been relatively rough month for equities so far. Of the 24 industries that we track, 23 are negative! The only industry that is currently positive MTD is the Semiconductor & Semiconductor Equipment industry.

2014-03-24 Fed-Induced Speculation Does Not Create Wealth by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Fed-induced speculation does not create wealth. It only changes the profile of returns over time. It redistributes wealth away from investors who are enticed to buy at rich valuations and hold the bag, and redistributes wealth toward the handful of investors both fortunate and wise enough to sell at rich valuations and wait for better opportunities.

2014-03-24 Is the Fed Supporting the Equity Markets? by Tom Riegert of Hatteras Funds

The Federal Reserve’s unprecedented increase in reserves purchased through its quantitative easing programs has paralleled the performance of the equity markets to a startling degree. Has the Fed’s program been supporting the equity markets? We examine the strong correlation between the Fed’s balance sheet and the performance of the S&P 500 since end-2008, and ponder the effects the Fed’s long-awaited tapering will have on market volatility. Investors facing the uncertainty ahead could well find alternative investments a welcome addition to their portfolio.

2014-03-24 Market Had Its Way With Yellen’s Words by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Fed Chair Janet Yellen got a taste for how sensitive investors are to her public remarks last week, but the kneejerk response was probably an overreaction, writes Kristina Hooper.

2014-03-24 Market Update by Team of Castleton Partners

Last week’s meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) produced a more hawkish tone than anticipated, driving interest rates higher and flattening the yield curve in the process. Between the Fed’s summary of economic projections and Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s remarks following the meeting, the FOMC suggested a shorter timeframe for rate hikes than the market had expected.

2014-03-22 Debt and Taxes by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

It seems that the majority opinion on Wall Street and Washington is that we have entered an era of good fortune made possible by the benevolent hand of the Federal Reserve. Ben Bernanke and now Janet Yellen have apparently removed all the economic rough edges that would normally draw blood. As a result of this monetary "baby-proofing," a strong economy is no longer considered necessary for rising stock and real estate prices.

2014-03-22 China's Minsky Moment? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In speeches and presentations since the end of last year, I have been saying that I think the biggest macro problem in the world today is China. China has run up a huge debt, and the payments are coming due. They seem to be proactive, but will it be enough? How much risk do they pose for the global system?

2014-03-22 We See Opportunities in Commodities by Bob Greer, Ronit M. Walny, Klaus Thuerbach of PIMCO

Fundamentals and some recent data suggest that challenging trends for commodity investing may be coming to an end. Commodities may increase their role as an important and unique source of returns, diversification and protection from unanticipated inflation. As commodity sectors are each dominated by unique factors, we see even more opportunities to add value through active management.

2014-03-22 The Two-Minute Portfolio Manager by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

It’s a short attention span world, and while we often wax poetic about investment topics we feel passionate about, today we will summarize our world markets view in less than the time it takes to heat up the dinner your family ate two hours ago (a scenario most familiar to this writer).

2014-03-22 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The Federal Reserve’s updated guidance takes a page from its past. Wage trends will guide the timing of tightening. Chinese banking reformers should be careful what they wish for.

2014-03-22 What Makes a Slam-Dunk Portfolio? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

As a native Canadian, hockey is in my blood, but after moving to Texas, the icy arenas changed to basketball courts, as the sole major league sports team in the city is the San Antonio Spurs.

2014-03-21 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.9, down from 133.6 last week (a revision from 133.8). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place rose to 2.3 from last week's 2.1 (a revision from 2.3).

2014-03-21 We See Opportunities in Commodities by Bob Greer, Ronit Walny, Klaus Thuerbach of PIMCO

Fundamentals and some recent data suggest that challenging trends for commodity investing may be coming to an end. Commodities may increase their role as an important and unique source of returns, diversification and protection from unanticipated inflation. As commodity sectors are each dominated by unique factors, we see even more opportunities to add value through active management.

2014-03-21 Emerging Markets: Four Reasons for Caution, Not Abstinence by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

In the space of three years, emerging markets have gone from a key strategic asset class to persona non grata. But while Russ shares investors’ concerns on the near-term outlook for EM assets, he doesn’t agree that EM stocks should be completely shunned.

2014-03-21 Debt and Taxes by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The red flags contained in the national and global headlines that have come out thus far in 2014 should have spooked investors and economic forecasters. Instead the markets have barely noticed. It seems that the majority opinion on Wall Street and Washington is that we have entered an era of good fortune made possible by the benevolent hand of the Federal Reserve. Ben Bernanke and now Janet Yellen have apparently removed all the economic rough edges that would normally draw blood.

2014-03-21 World Industrial Production Finished 2013 At An All-Time High by Team of GaveKal Capital

The CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis publishes a monthly report called "World Trade Monitor". This report tries to quantify the seemingly unquantifiable; world industrial production and world trade volume and prices. Either later today or early next week the CPB should come out with the first statistics for 2014. Today, however, we are going to take a look at world industrial production for 2013.

2014-03-21 Climbing a Wall of Worry? by Norm Boersma of Franklin Templeton

One of the main questions our clients have been asking us lately revolves around worries of how strong equity markets have been over the last five years. During that period, we’ve seen markets bottoming out in February – March 2009 and basically recovering since then.2 Given the performance of the market since the trough, it’s not surprising that people are a bit concerned right now, and the market has been quite volatile in early 2014.

2014-03-21 China's Evolving Health Care Landscape by Hayley Chan of Matthews Asia

China has begun a long-term transformation of its health care industry. Much of this industry is still fragmented and in the early stages of consolidation. China’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies, for example, account for a combined market share of approximately 20% versus more than 60% in the U.S.

2014-03-21 A Second Leg to Our Economic Outlook by Will Nasgovitz of Heartland Advisors

In our heavily consumer?driven economy, it can be easy to overlook the importance of corporate capital spending. We’ve seen a number of data points suggesting such expenditures are due for an uptick.

2014-03-21 When Will it be Time to Get Back to EM? by David Garff of AdvisorShares

Global investors have been experiencing an ongoing drag on returns to the extent they have had exposure to Emerging Market (EM) equities. It is difficult to abandon the asset class given historical performance, relative economic growth, current valuation discounts, and portfolio management tenets regarding diversification. But the fact that the U.S. has been such a strong performer, along with its size and prominence in the press, creates questions about why any non-U.S. stocks should even be in the portfolio.

2014-03-21 Non Agency RMBS: The TCW Advantage by Brian Rosenlund of TCW Asset Management

The Non Agency RMBS asset class is still ripe with alpha generating opportunities and attractive loss adjusted yields. Nonetheless, the return prospects have come down versus what we have witnessed over the last few years. Yields are lower and spreads are tighter. However, the fundamental trends continue to improve, which should lead to stronger cash flows and total returns for the non-agency market overall.

2014-03-21 Michael Kitces on Safe Withdrawal Rates by (Article)

How to make a nest egg last? For clients in or near retirement, advisors need to customize and monitor strategies for safe withdrawal rates, says Michael Kitces of Pinnacle Advisory Group.

2014-03-21 The Global Economy’s Tale Risks by Robert Shiller of Project Syndicate

Fluctuations in the world’s economies are largely due to the stories we hear and tell about them. In Japan, "Abenomics" has created a powerful narrative of positive change, whereas the stories being told in other advanced countries are far scarier.

2014-03-21 Choice Challenge with Michael Kitces by (Article)

Before choosing a closed-end fund for your portfolio, be sure to understand what role it will play, says Michael Kitces of Pinnacle Advisory Group.

2014-03-21 Retirement Savings: How Much Is Enough? Part 2: Good News Not Good Enough by Jon Vogler of Invesco Blog

This second blog in a two-part series about retirement readiness discusses whether 401(k)s and Social Security can adequately meet retirement income needs. Part 1 looked at the rule-of-thumb numbers cited as guidelines for income replacement in retirement.

2014-03-20 Market Update with Mike Taggart by (Article)

Covered call and municipal bond funds may present opportunities in the CEF market, says Mike Taggart of Nuveen Investments.

2014-03-20 Exploration & Production: An Evolving Business Model by Suken Patel of Diamond Hill Investments

The successful development of shale crude oil and gas has led to one of the most rapid and unexpected increases in production in the history of the energy sector. This remarkable turn of events is in complete contrast to the previous popular belief that the country was running out of both resources.

2014-03-20 The Song Remains the Same by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The noisy journey from winter to spring in the United States may mask the underlying strength in the U.S. economy. The risk-on environment should remain intact, despite international tensions.

2014-03-20 Assessing the Liquidity of Futures Backed Gold ETFs by Ade Odunsi of AdvisorShares

Most gold ETFs that use futures to gain gold exposure will use the COMEX 100 ounce gold futures contract which is generally regarded as the most liquid gold futures contract in the world. The Commodity Exchange (COMEX) is a commodity exchange owned by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). As part of its gold exchange the COMEX offers warehousing for its members.

2014-03-20 Foreign Investors Dump Japanese Stocks by Largest Amount on Record by Team of GaveKal Capital

For the week ending March 14th, foreign investors in Japanese stocks were net sellers by the largest single-week amount since weekly records began in 2001.

2014-03-19 A Preference for Discomfort by Chris Brightman of Research Affiliates

Is the stock market inefficient or do investors have varying preferences? How does behavior affect wealth accumulation? Unpopular choices can result in improved outcomes....

2014-03-19 What if Grantham is Right? by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

There were two articles recently both exploring the same possible outcome; that investor returns from capital markets could be much lower in the coming years. No matter what markets end up doing, advisory clients and do-it-yourselfers still have financial plans that likely require some amount of growth over time in order to have a chance of succeeding without something, such as desired lifestyle or working longer than hoped for, having to give.

2014-03-19 Utilities And Health Care: This Year's Odd Couple by Team of GaveKal Capital

Quick name the two best performing sectors YTD in the MSCI World...

2014-03-19 Pockets of Opportunity in Europe, Emerging Markets by Lisa Myers of Franklin Templeton

Maintaining the right mix or balance of assets in a portfolio to achieve a desired goal can be a challenge, particularly when the markets are constantly shifting. As portfolio manager for Templeton Global Balanced Fund, Lisa Myers, executive vice president, Templeton Global Equity Group, regularly faces that task.

2014-03-19 Feelin’ the Fire, Investors are Hot for Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Gold seems to be sparking more attention these days, as investors have seen the precious metal steadily rise from its December low of around $1,200, to a new high of $1,350 just three months later.

2014-03-19 Is the Fed's Monetary Mojo Working at Last? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

It just might be. Data suggest that the central bank’s massive liquidity boost may be starting to flow into the broader economy.

2014-03-19 What Rising Turmoil in Ukraine Would Mean for Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

How vulnerable might stocks be if turmoil in Ukraine escalates? Russ weighs in and notes which two market segments would be particularly vulnerable.

2014-03-19 Retire with Power…Purchasing Power by Richard Davies of AllianceBernstein

Retirement planning isn’t just long-term investing, it’s long-term spending, too. How can retirees help insulate the nest eggs they’ve accumulated from the corrosive long-term effects of inflation?

2014-03-19 The Fed Policy Outlook by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Much of the recent economic data have been distorted by adverse weather, which makes it difficult to gauge the underlying strength. However, while economic activity appears to have slowed in early 2014, the longer-term outlook hasn’t changed. Growth should pick up.

2014-03-19 A Kid’s Market? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

The Great Winfield goes on to say, in Adam Smith’s classic book from 1967, “The strength of my kids is that they’re too young to remember anything bad, and they are making so much money they feel invincible.” He rented kids with the idea that one day the music will stop (it partially did in 1969-1970 and completely did in 1973-1974) and all of them will be broke but one.

2014-03-19 Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are: A Look Back at the 1990s by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Human nature tells us to look back to help divine the future. Today's environment looks strikingly similar to the mid-1990s, which has pros and cons.

2014-03-19 If They Will Lend, Someone Will Spend (on Something) by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

Upon awakening from my winter hibernation way up here in beautiful northeastern Wisconsin, I have noticed that bank asset managers have been anything but hibernating. Rather, they have been quite busy expanding their loans and securities.

2014-03-18 Gundlach - Rates Will Remain Low in 2014 by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Slowing economic growth, low inflation and a lack of motivated sellers will keep interest rates depressed, at least for the rest of this year, according to Jeffrey Gundlach. But investors should prepare for an eventual rise in rates, he said, because he is skeptical of the Federal Reserve’s ability to successfully exit from QE.

2014-03-18 How Reverse Mortgages Improve Sustainable Withdrawal Rates by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Standby reverse mortgages (SRMs) have been viewed as a product only to be utilized late in life, after other retirement funds have been depleted. But new research shows that SRMs are a useful tool during retirement to increase sustainable withdrawal rates. I’ll describe how the SRM works and highlight key findings from the research.

2014-03-18 The Four Questions Every Prospect Wants Answered by Dan Richards (Article)

What’s the best way to introduce yourself when meeting with a prospect for the first time?

2014-03-18 The Misconceptions About Selling that Impede Success by Dan Solin (Article)

RIAs who generate meaningful assets under management can significantly increase their earnings. Every RIA appreciates this. Many believe superior knowledge and expertise is key to capturing more business, but they often overlook other factors. There are also some misconceptions about selling that actually impede success. Here are some examples.

2014-03-18 How to Help Clients Prepare for End-of-Life Decisions by Emir Phillips (Article)

End-of-life decisions should be addressed by all financial planners. People are dying more from chronic illnesses, and deaths are increasingly occurring in institutions, where individuals and their families may incur significant expenses. Those costs could be substantially mitigated with proper advance-directive planning initiated and guided by a caring financial planner.

2014-03-18 Should You Say "No" to a Prospect? by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We are unsure of the best follow-up approach for prospects who don’t seem ready to move their money to our firm after five meetings. Do we give up? Do we keep following up on the assumption that they would not go to that many meetings unless they are interested in eventually working with us?

2014-03-18 What’s Dogging Your Portfolio? by Mariko Gordon (Article)

My recent, unplanned for, doggie adoption got me thinking of the parallels between dogs in our homes and dogs in our portfolios. My article highlights the similarities along with one critical difference.

2014-03-18 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Bob Veres’ article, Crashing Through the Insurance Industry’s Wall of Silence, which appeared last week.

2014-03-18 Active Share. Toward a Stock Picker’s Market? by Sponsored Content from ClearBridge Investments (Article)

Explore five groups of mutual funds-from stock pickers to moderately active to the closet indexers. Which categories produced the best risk-adjusted return 1990-2009? The more different the portfolio from its benchmarks, the greater the range of possible outcomes. Consider a tool like active share.

2014-03-18 Welcome to Human Finance by (Article)

Are you a financial advisor who values relationships as much as returns?
At TD Ameritrade, we work with humans, not just numbers. It’s something we like to call Human Finance. Get to know us and discover what makes us different from other custodians.

2014-03-18 Even Keel Investments by (Article)

We believe a sea-change is taking place in the retirement savings industry. A fresh perspective. One that values a smoother investment experience and a longer portfolio life.

2014-03-18 Emerging Markets: Fertile Ground for Country Picking by Michael Cirami, Eric Stein, John Baur, Matthew Murphy Jr., Bradford Godfrey of Eaton Vance

Given the variations among individual emerging countries in today’s environment, country-by-country differentiation is likely to remain key to successful emerging-market investing. We believe investors may benefit from emerging-market strategies that: 1. have the flexibility to invest both long and short. 2. invest beyond traditional emerging-market benchmarks. 3. access frontier markets outside those benchmarks.

2014-03-18 Japan’s Rising Opportunity by Neil Hennessy, Masakazu Takeda of Hennessy Funds

After WWII, the Japanese economy began what is sometimes referred to as the “Economic Miracle”, a three-decade long period of growth and prosperity. Japanese firms and their management teams were studied around the world as the model of efficiency and an example for all companies and leaders to strive for. In 1989, a bubble in real estate fueled by speculators burst, and the Japanese markets crashed. Since then, the Japanese economy has been in a virtual standstill with more than two decades of stagnant growth and a deflationary environment.

2014-03-18 What's So Great About Private Equity? by Robert Kleinschmidt of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Robert Kleinschmidt, CEO and CIO of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks at how private equity has gained cachet among investors over the last few decades. He discusses the tendency of the investing public to view it as a "new" asset class, but notes many of its limitations can be seen as reasons the public equity markets were created.

2014-03-18 Can the Fed Fend Off the Ides of March? by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Mid-March hasn’t been associated with much good luck in Europe historically. And with Ukraine mired in conflict, this year’s no different. But investors should resist the urge to react to geopolitical uncertainty and expect steady guidance from the Fed.

2014-03-18 Currency Markets Heat Back Up, and Will Likely Remain that Way by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Long dormant after the financial crisis, foreign exchange markets are beginning to heat up, offering ample trading opportunity for asset managers. The U.S. dollar was widely viewed as being the best long trading opportunity for 2014, but so far, that has not played out, with activity in the Euro, Chinese Yuan, and other currencies impeding dollar strength.

2014-03-18 Market Update by Team of Castleton Partners

With military tensions rising over the Ukraine saga and geopolitical posturing dominating the headlines, Treasury rates rallied across the yield curve last week, with 10 year yields falling 13 basis points to 2.66%. Though Cold War-era rhetoric remains high, there are indications that the threat of military action is becoming less likely. As such, we suspect markets will become more comfortable with the situation and expect it to become less of a focus. Nonetheless, we concede that headline risk remains and the primary influence on the Treasury market this week may well be external.

2014-03-18 The Paradox of Self-Determination by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Lost in the discussion surrounding the referendum in the Crimea is the “legal” process. Simply put, how does part of an established nation decide to secede? Are there established protocols? In this report, we will offer a short history of the self-determination issue. With this background, we will discuss President Wilson’s inclusion of self-determination in his peace plan and examine how the U.N. has dealt with this issue. From there, we will analyze how self-determination was used during the Cold War and how those practices have continued after 1990. We conclude with market ramifications.

2014-03-18 Where's the Plane? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

In another example of life duplicating the media, it seems like most people here and abroad have been consumed by watching a real life episode of Lost for the last week. The question of what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has quickly soared to the opening spot on all of the network news shows, much as Lost and its Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 climbed quickly to the top of the ratings. At CNN it appears that the network of late can report on nothing else!

2014-03-18 Fishing for Gold? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

If interest rates are supposed to be on the rise, why has the price of gold gone up so much this year? Is it merely because it is bouncing back after a sharp decline in 2013? We have a closer look at the link between gold and interest rates to gauge how investors may want to approach the bait provided by the Fed.

2014-03-18 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks were buffeted last week on the outcome in Ukraine (well founded), growing concern that the world does not know what happened to that missing Malaysian airliner, and of course, the ever-present worries about the global economy - especially in light of renewed concern over China, both its economy and its banking system.

2014-03-18 Global Economic Overview - February 2014 by Team of Thomas White International

Pessimism over the sustainability of global growth this year has subsided as it is now widely acknowledged that softer data from some of the developed countries in recent months were influenced by the severe winter weather.

2014-03-18 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group

On average, how much taxable income must you have to pay six figures of income taxes? In order to pay exactly $100,000 in federal income taxes, your 2013 taxable income must equal $376,047 on a married filing jointly basis. Twenty years ago, it took $312,363 to pay that much in taxes. In 2011, the top 10% of US taxpayers paid 68.3% of all federal income tax while in 1980 the top 10% paid 49.3%. It is estimated that for the tax year 2013 the government will receive approximately $3 trillion. (Sources: Tax Foundation; White House; Internal Revenue Service)

2014-03-18 Understanding The "Millennial Generation" by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

As the father of two adult children who were born in the early 1990s, I have a particularly keen interest in the “Millennial Generation” – those 80 million or so people born in the US between 1980 and 2002, the largest generation ever – and who will be running the country before too long.

2014-03-17 Restoring the "Virtuous Cycle" of Economic Growth by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The so-called “dual mandate” of the Federal Reserve does not ask the Fed to manage short-run or even cyclical fluctuations in the economy. Instead – whether one believes that the goals of that mandate are achievable or not – it asks the Fed to “maintain long run growth of the monetary and credit aggregates commensurate with the economy's long run potential to increase production, so as to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates.”

2014-03-17 Frontier Markets Find Footing by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Frontier markets remain in focus for the Templeton Emerging Markets Group in 2014, and my team and I have spent the early part of the year exploring potential investment opportunities in a number of them.

2014-03-17 Retirement Savings: How Much Is Enough? Part 1: 70%, More or Less? by Jon Vogler of Invesco Blog

This first blog of a two-part series about retirement readiness looks at the rule-of-thumb numbers cited as guidelines for income replacement in retirement. Part 2 will discuss how adequately 401(k)s and Social Security will meet those target numbers.

2014-03-17 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

What's another 200 point down day (Dow) when you're having fun? The violent and excessive overreactions of the week prior were added to by Asia and Europe on Thursday/Friday past, just for good measure.

2014-03-17 Emerging Markets Equity Commentary - February 2014 by Team of Thomas White International

After a weak start to the year, emerging market equity prices recovered in February as concerns about slower than expected global expansion and a further decline in Chinese economic growth subsided.

2014-03-17 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Remember when tiny Greece was a market mover? Well, now it’s tiny Crimea. With the growing global tensions and concerns about Crimea’s secession from the Ukraine to Russia, investors chose to take a week off (for the most part) and take some equity profits, while moving back into the safe haven of treasuries. With little news on the domestic economic calendar, investors looked abroad and didn’t care much for what they saw in China. (Still, the yuan must be better than the ruble these days.)

2014-03-17 Stocks Weighed Down by Ukraine, China and U.S. Economy by Robert Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities came under pressure last week as the S&P 500 declined almost 2.0%. Blame was primarily placed on the crisis in Ukraine and the growth slowdown and tight credit environment in China. Safe haven investments such as U.S. Treasuries and gold outperformed. Stocks may have already discounted the weather distortions on early 2014 data, and an overhang is expected to linger into first quarter earnings season. Cautiousness surfaced for investments that support the recovery, including banks and homebuilders.

2014-03-17 Recalibrating the Retirement Clock: Should 75 Be the New 65? by Nick Kaiser of Saturna Capital

Retirement sounds pretty sweet, doesn't it? Exotic holidays. Finally writing that novel. Never having to rely on an alarm clock to wake up early. Being your own boss. Retirement goals are as varied as people themselves.

2014-03-17 Frontier Markets: Weighing the Risks by Nathan Rowader of Forward Investing

Why would investors even think about investing in fledgling, so-called frontier economies half a world away? The quick answer is that some of the best-performing stock markets in the world can be found in places like Kenya, Bulgaria and Argentina. Annual equity returns topped 40% in all three countries in 2013 while a number of other frontier markets (FMs), including Romania, Serbia and Nigeria, experienced annual returns ranging from 25% to 35%. Although past performance is not a guarantee of future results, investors in search of portfolio growth and diversification are taking note.

2014-03-16 Inequality and Opportunity by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Today we will continue our thinking about income inequality, and I will respond to some of your letters, as they make good launching points for further discussion of the topic.

2014-03-16 Introduction to Milliman Financial Risk Management by (Article)

Investors nearing or in retirement face a slow-growing economy, low yields, and the looming threat of inflation, making it difficult to meet both income and risk management needs. Investing heavily in equities may expose this group of investors to untimely amounts of risk, while allocating to fixed income assets may not adequately fulfill income needs. Today, the risk management techniques used by many of the world's largest financial institutions to weather global market crises can now be accessed by financial advisors and their clients.

2014-03-15 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

Harold Evensky's quarterly letter to his readers.

2014-03-15 Follow the Money to Asia's Tech Hub by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

China’s slower economic data points and a surplus in copper and iron ore drove many commodities lower this week, while gold rose. In the short term, until the copper and iron ore surplus is liquidated, or absorbed at a slower pace, the base metals market will likely be sloppy. As the second-largest economy in the world and a huge driver of commodities demand, it’s not surprising China provoked such a significant response from world markets. Interestingly, most of the media thought it was geopolitical fears from Ukraine that chopped up the market and lifted gold.

2014-03-15 Heating Up and Thawing Out by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen & Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Concerns over growth and geopolitical issues have largely been set aside by investors in the United States, but complacency can be dangerous and another pullback in the near term could unfold if history holds. Investors should keep longer term goals in mind and remember that trying to time the market is an extremely difficult task. The weather is turning and economic data will be watched to see if recent softness was temporary or something more serious. We lean toward the former, but a retrenchment in bond yields would cause some concern about the potential for something more than weather.

2014-03-15 Like Houdini, the Markets Escape Again and Again by Stephen C. Sexauer of Allianz Global Investors

Like the great escape artist Harry Houdini, the markets have repeatedly escaped a series of potential catastrophes. Central banks around the world have coordinated policy making these escapes possible, but the end result is another trap from which we need to escape - seemingly permanent low interest rates for savers ("financial repression"), slow growth, and high asset prices. Financial repression is better than an outright debt deflation, but it causes its own problems. The outlook is for low returns.

2014-03-14 A Matter of Odds: Not Everything That’s Supposed to Work, Works All the Time by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, explores the worth of quantitative analysis versus fundamental, and examines forecasts, consensus, and valuation as three ways of looking at the market for investment.

2014-03-14 Deflationary Pressure and Tight Credit Facilities Weigh on Eurozone Recovery? by Andrew Balls of PIMCO

The eurozone is enjoying a broadly balanced resurgence in economic output and domestic demand. Deflation risk is real, and the European Central Bank’s asymmetric attitude toward its inflation target could contribute to a decline in inflation expectations. In the current climate, we continue to favour select regional credit exposure and look to generate attractive returns across European credit and asset-backed securities.

2014-03-14 Municipal Time-of-Trade Disclosure & Suitability by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

SEC Approves New Rule Codifying Principle-Based Rule and Interpretive Notices; SEC Approves Incorporation of Requirements in Suitability Determination.

2014-03-14 Assessing the Impact of Financing Currency on Gold Price Performance by Ade Odunsi of AdvisorShares

In our weekly commentary we follow up our discussion from last week with a brief overview of the impact on performance of diversifying the financing currencies used to make gold purchases. We also compare "Gold/Basket" performance versus gold financed with a number of different, single currencies. For the purposes of this analysis we define the Gold Basket as a gold financed with an equally weighted basket of four currencies, the dollar, euro, yen and pound; the portfolio is also assumed to be rebalanced weekly.

2014-03-14 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.8, up fractionally from 133.5 last week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place rose to 2.3 from last week's 1.8.

2014-03-14 An Exhaustive Debate by Colin Dishington of Matthews Asia

Australia, which is among the largest polluters per capita in the developed world, is exploring ways to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and has set a target for reducing emissions at 5% below 2000 levels by 2020. One of its current initiatives, the carbon pricing mechanism often referred to as the carbon tax requires polluters to pay an amount proportional to the carbon dioxide equivalent emitted during a given year.

2014-03-14 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Global trade negotiations have stalled; This is a delicate time for Chinese finance; Where will Europe’s growth come from?

2014-03-14 Dangerous Assumptions for Retirees by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

One of the main difficulties with MPT, is that by focusing on historical data to calculate asset allocation, it completely ignores extreme risk (2007-2008).

2014-03-13 Consider paying a premium for municipal bonds: Focus on yield to worst rather than a municipal bond' by Eaton Vance Municipal Insight Committee of Eaton Vance

The price of a premium municipal bond should not be the sole determinant of value; Yield to worst is a meaningful metric to help determine the value and risk of a premium municipal bond; In rising rate environments, higher cash flows from a premium municipal bond may help to protect purchasing power.

2014-03-13 Investment Portfolios Need Someone to Take Fiduciary Responsibility by William Wolfson of American Financial Advisors

There is a protocol to follow after a new patient enters your office. Staff is expected to meet, greet, welcome and have a patient fill out forms. This allows the Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) to ascertain demographics, responsibility of payment, the patient’s primary complaint and reason for visiting the office. Similar to that of a Doctor of Chiropractic who cares for a patient and follows the oath to do no harm, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), parallels the doctor’s fiduciary responsibility.

2014-03-13 Waiting for Winter’s End by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors

Undoubtedly, the long cold winter season has many yearning for more pleasant weather. Despite a strengthening economy, the economic data over the past few months appears to have been weighed down by the snow and ice. Come springtime, I believe the data will reflect an economy that is in bloom.

2014-03-13 Emerging Markets: Will Ukraine fallout become contagious? by Jeff Hussey of Russell Investments

Jeff Hussey, global CIO, outlines Russell Investments’ views on the conflict in Ukraine and how it might impact the markets.

2014-03-13 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook: A Steady Passage in 2014? by Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

PIMCO's baseline expectation is for 2.5% to 3% real growth in the U.S., thanks to trends toward growth and spending in the consumer, corporate and public sectors. In the eurozone, our baseline expectation of 1% to 1.5% real growth calls for a broad-based cyclical improvement in domestic demand amid steady external demand. We anticipate Japan will be the only major developed economy experiencing a slowdown this year, down to 0.5% to 1%, and we expect China's growth will continue slowing as well, with growth in the range of 6.5% to 7.5%.

2014-03-13 The New Face of Failure by Liam Molloy, Charlie Mas of Galway Investment Strategy

A strong year in the domestic stock market - like we saw in 2013 - can create overconfidence in investors, which, in turn, leads them to make a number of predictable errors in judgment.

2014-03-13 A Closer Look at Japanese Yen Depreciation and its Impact on Growth and Equities by of Manning & Napier

Weakness in the Japanese economy has given investors reason for concern. Recently released data showed that GDP grew just 0.2% quarter-over-quarter (qoq) during the last three months of 2013. This worked out to be a qoq annualized rate of merely 0.7%, and marked the second consecutive quarter of weaker growth relative to the preceding periods. Growth in the country has softened despite significant monetary and fiscal stimulus, and it is especially concerning considering that an impending tax increase (April 2014) has pulled some consumption forward.

2014-03-13 Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Five years into the U.S. bull market this remains a “risk on” environment, but with monetary tightening on the horizon now is a time to become more cautious and start thinking about what comes next.

2014-03-13 Beware of Earnings Gimmicks by Jason Wang of Columbia Management

Since the global financial crisis, economic recovery worldwide has been slow. Over the last three years, annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the U.S. was limited to 2.1%, significantly below its long-term average of 3.3%. In this low growth environment, for a majority of companies, churning out high earnings-per-share (EPS) growth rates, either through top-line growth or margin expansion, has become increasingly more difficult.

2014-03-12 The Bull Market Turns Five by Doug Ramsey of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

The post-2009 stock market upswing now qualifies as only the sixth cyclical bull market since 1900 to last five years or more. Life expectancies at such an advanced age are limited; only three of the previous five-year-old bulls lived to see a sixth birthday. Many media and market pundits seem to believe a rising age somehow leads to rising life expectancy. The consensus opinion that a new secular bull market has begun is much more confident today than at the bull’s first, second, third or fourth birthdays.

2014-03-12 Housing: An Oft Forgotten Pivot Point by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

Today we got the newly released data on the state of the economy in the form of the Fed Flow of Funds. We have often cited it as a way of corroborating certain trends and potential reversal of trends when warranted.

2014-03-12 Reflections on Ukraine by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Over the past five weeks there have been a number of significant events that have occurred in Ukraine. A president has fled, a revolutionary government is forming and Russia has taken de facto control over the Crimea. The events themselves are momentous but the broader effects are significant as well. In this report, we will offer three reflections—Putin’s Gambit, The U.S. Adrift and A Dangerous New World. Although any of these could be a topic in themselves, we will shorten these issues to offer a single journey through the current crisis. As always, we will conclude with market ramifications

2014-03-12 The Importance of Beta Management by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Morningstar recently released “Mind the Gap-2014” which demonstrated that investors are generally very poor beta managers. The Morningstar data showed that investors’ performance lagged that of their funds by about 250 basis points per year for the past ten years because of poor beta management, i.e., investors tend to be very poor allocators of capital.

2014-03-12 High and Sustainable Profitability by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

To understand our third criteria for selecting stocks, you need to imagine athletes who have found the fountain of youth. Consider this: Robinson Cano has been one of the most consistently successful baseball players over the last ten years, and the Seattle Mariners just signed Cano to a 10-year contract for $240 million. Companies, however, don't have ten to twenty-year careers, because the average company in the S&P 500 Index lasts 50 years.

2014-03-12 The Goldilocks Conundrum: A Market Review by Rick Vollaro of Pinnacle Advisory Group

When we decided to ride the central bank liquidity wave in 2013, we knew there was a chance the market could have a pretty good year, but like most investors we were pleasantly surprised with the gains that the U.S. stock market delivered. Including dividends, the S&P 500 Index soared by 32%, well in excess of what even the most optimistic prognosticators envisioned at the start of the year.

2014-03-12 U.S. Household Net Worth Hits New Record High by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The Federal Reserve announced last Thursday that US household net worth reached a new record high by the end of last year – at $80.7 trillion. The Fed said the new record was made possible largely due to vaulting stock prices, increased home values and Americans paying off more of their debts.

2014-03-12 IPOs: Hot Again by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

Last week the Wall Street Journal gave a rundown of what has been a very hot IPO market. The Journal reported that there were 42 listings in the first two months of 2014 compared to 20 from the same timeframe in 2013 and keep in mind 2013 was a very good year for IPOs.

2014-03-11 Global Fixed Income Update by Phil Apel and James McAlevey (Article)

Phil Apel and James McAlevey discuss slower year-to-date economic data, strong credit market performance, volatility in Emerging Markets debt and a general outlook in currency. James McAlevey believes that data from the US has broadly been affected by unusually poor weather across the US and treasury yields have been weak as investors reset their expectations for either Fed easing or QE withdrawal over the course of the year. In general they remain very lightly weighted to US treasuries and interest rate movement sensitive bonds, positive on credit.

2014-03-11 Have Researchers Uncovered Buffett’s Secret? by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Researchers from AQR Capital Management, a Connecticut-based asset manager, claim they have uncovered the source of Warren Buffett’s alpha. They believe Buffett-like performance can be achieved by constructing a portfolio with exposure to certain "factors." But their theory hinges on a crucial assumption, which, as I will show, is highly tenuous.

2014-03-11 Crashing Through the Insurance Industry’s Wall of Silence by Bob Veres (Article)

A cash-value insurance policy is essentially a mutual fund investment account that pays annual term-insurance premiums on behalf of the policyholder each year, so theoretically you should be able to get the same disclosure on the funds and on yearly payment for life insurance protection, the way you do on any of the term insurance websites. Here’s how you can do that for your clients.

2014-03-11 How to Connect with a $3 Million Prospect by Dan Richards (Article)

At some point, most advisors have succeeded in scheduling a meeting with a large prospect, often after a lot of time and effort. When you only have 30 minutes, how do you maximize the chances of a positive outcome?

2014-03-11 Why I Sold - Part 3 by Jim Whiddon (Article)

When I decided to sell my small wealth-advisory practice, my due diligence focused on the internal threats and weaknesses I faced. But I took an equally hard look at external threats - industry-wide issues that all firms, regardless of size or stature, will face in the coming years.

2014-03-11 My Secret to AUM Growth by Dan Solin (Article)

I thought a comprehensive understanding of investing would be enough to grow my advisory practice. I’ve written a number of books on investing, so I considered myself an expert in the profession. But after reflecting on my less than stellar success closing sales leads, I found a deeper - and more scientific - approach to converting prospects into clients that yielded far better results.

2014-03-11 Cutting Caveats from Your Financial Communications by Wendy Cook (Article)

When sharing important but complicated financial concepts such as investment strategy, fiduciary duty and compensation structure, how do you decide what to leave in and what to omit? How much information is too much information when speaking with clients?

2014-03-11 Sales Tips to Increase Close Rates by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

The problem we are having is closing. For every five prospects that come through the door, we only close the deal with one.

2014-03-11 Why You Should Stop Asking For Referrals by Elizabeth Snyder (Article)

I hear it all the time: ’I ask my clients and centers-of-influence (COIs) to think of me if they know anyone who many benefit from my services, yet I never receive any referrals. What am I doing wrong?’ What should you do if you find yourself in this position?

2014-03-11 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to the commentary, The 5-Year Itch, by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Research, which was posted on March 3.

2014-03-11 10 Tax-Management Strategies to Consider in a Rising Tax Environment by of Eaton Vance

When it comes to investing, we believe the most important thing is determining not what you make, but what you keep. The goal of tax management in an investment program is to maximize after-tax returns. We believe this strategy is even more critical, with investors now waking up to the fact that tax rates have risen considerably.

2014-03-11 How Can You Find an Expert Whose Decisions You Can Trust? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

Recently a family member visited the doctor to determine if she needed her gall bladder removed. Since she’d been having some pain, we assumed the answer would be “yes.” But, of course, we wanted an expert opinion, so we went to a surgeon that has done more than 6,000 removals.

2014-03-11 Making Green from Gold, Palladium and Pollution by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Gold is coming back with a vengeance, experiencing a clear recovery and grabbing the attention of market cynics. Analysts from Noruma Securities even upgraded its outlook for gold, expecting bullion to climb over the next three years, according to Barron’s.

2014-03-11 U.S. Economy: The Mild Kingdom by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

"Animal spirits" remain caged as business spending lags. What will it take to unleash them?

2014-03-11 Thirsty for Income? Try Dividend Growth by Frank Caruso of AllianceBernstein

Chasing yield has become a challenging mission for investors in recent years. As yields collapsed in fixed income, investors flocked to bond-like substitutes such as high dividend-yielding stocks. Now that these stocks have become a bit pricey, we think companies with strong dividend-growth potential offer a better way to source equity income.

2014-03-11 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Markets waited all week for the jobs report for February. After its release the data continued to be mixed at best.

2014-03-11 Michael Cirami on the Ukraine Crisis by Michael Cirami of Eaton Vance

Investors tend to ignore events that do not demand immediate attention. Unfortunately, this approach is no longer an option following the recent events taking place in Ukraine. Michael Cirami, co-director of Eaton Vance’s Global Income Group, was in Kiev the week before President Yanukovych was ousted. In the following interview, he shares his views on the crisis in this emerging market and its implications for investors.

2014-03-10 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

The irascible, and sometimes irrational, actions of the major indices this year should confirm for all observers that there's something at work in the financial markets that goes way beyond "traditional" fundamental analysis and good stock picking.

2014-03-10 M&A: A New Rx for Specialty Pharma by Janus Equity Team of Janus Capital Group

Merger and acquisition (M&A) activity is heating up among specialty pharmaceutical companies and potentially creating a once-in-a-generation investment opportunity in an industry that is quickly consolidating.

2014-03-10 Positive Payroll Report Offsets Geopolitical Concerns by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities increased 1.1% last week after somewhat volatile trading due to heightened tension in Ukraine. Although the crisis dominated headlines, the market relegated the major geopolitical issue to the back burner. The broader macro narrative did not change, as concerns about dampened growth momentum continued to be pacified by the distortion from adverse weather.

2014-03-10 Happy Birthday, Bull Market by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock

March 10, 2014, could be considered the fifth birthday of the current equity bull market. Investors looked beyond mixed economic data and turmoil in the Ukraine to push stocks to further gains last week. Stocks still remain a more attractive option relative to traditional bonds and cash.

2014-03-10 Earning Estimates Plunging Around The World by of GaveKal Capital

Earnings estimates (and sales estimates to an extent) have taken a beating over the past three months. On average, EPS growth estimates are down 5.3% for the next fiscal year during this time. Not a single industry group out of the 24 MSCI classifications have seen their earning estimates rise and only four industries have seen their sales growth estimate increase.

2014-03-10 It Is Informed Optimism To Wait For The Rain by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Regardless of very short-term market direction, it is urgent for investors to understand where the equity markets are positioned in the context of the full market cycle.

2014-03-10 Four Reasons to Consider Emerging Markets for the Long Term by Borge Endresen of Invesco Blog

Emerging markets are at that peculiar place where everyone likes them over the long term, but very few like them in the short term. Many well-publicized headwinds from 2013 remain going into 2014, accompanied by election uncertainty in Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey. And political uncertainty keeps surfacing in such places as Thailand, Turkey and the Ukraine.

2014-03-10 With Fed in Charge, 5-Year Bull Run Poised to Continue by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policy and gradual improvement in the economy are two big reasons the stock market can keep moving higher, says Kristina Hooper. Will it be reflected in this week’s consumer sentiment and spending data?

2014-03-10 Tech Bubble 2.0? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook in late February put an exclamation point on several high profile takeovers in the technology space in recent months. Sizeable deals such as Google’s $3 billion acquisition of Nest and Facebook’s $3 billion offer for SnapChat have fueled the idea that an indiscriminate buying spree in the technology space a la 1999 could set up financial markets for another valuation bubble.

2014-03-10 How Much Slack Is in the U.S. Economy? The Inflation Jury Should Decide by Jeremie Banet of PIMCO

The unemployment rate may not be a reliable indicator of output slack in the U.S. economy. We’ll know (with a lag) if the economy has reached the end of the cyclical downturn when inflation picks up. The Fed will have to choose between risking a hawkish mistake or being behind the curve, waiting to see inflation actually increase. We expect it will choose the latter.

2014-03-09 The Innovation Enigma by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

Around the world, there is enormous enthusiasm for the type of technological innovation symbolized by Silicon Valley, with many attempting to replicate the ingenuity that they regard as America’s true comparative advantage. But there is a puzzle: it is difficult to detect the benefits of this innovation in GDP statistics.

2014-03-09 The Problem with Keynesianism by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Keynes himself would appreciate the irony that he has become the defunct economist under whose influence the academic and bureaucratic classes now toil, slaves to what has become as much a religious belief system as it is an economic theory. Men and women who display an appropriate amount of skepticism on all manner of other topics indiscriminately funnel a wide assortment of facts and data through the filter of Keynesianism without ever questioning its basic assumptions. And then some of them go on to prescribe government policies that have profound effects upon the citizens of their nations.

2014-03-07 Cold War: Thoughts on Ukraine Based on a Month Spent in Latvia by Doug MacKay of Broadleaf Partners

I have been intensely more interested in the situation developing in Ukraine over the past few months than those that circled Greece, a country of similar size, or Libya and the Arab Spring a few years ago. For the most part, I've taken geopolitical flare-ups in stride in terms of their potential impact to the stock market and the economy. In general, this approach has been the right one.

2014-03-07 ECB Officials' Inflation Forecasts by of GaveKal Capital

The ECB announced that interest rates would be maintained at current levels earlier today, citing staff macroeconomic projections for the euro area, which foresee annual HICP inflation at 1.0% in 2014, 1.3% in 2015, and 1.5% in 2016. Though few economists predicted a rate cut, there were rumors that Europe's central bank might discontinue the sterlization of bond purchases under its Securities Markets Program (SMP)-- an action consistent with the adoption of a more accomodative and active policy.

2014-03-07 Ukraine at Crossroads by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

In February, the winter Olympic Games brought athletes from around the world together in Russia, but in Ukraine, Russia's neighbor to the southwest, the story has been one of division. Violent clashes between pro-EU (European Union) protesters and government forces in the past few months have focused the eyes of the world on the former-Soviet state after (now former) President Yanukovych had refused to sign an Association Pact forging closer ties to the EU and decided instead to accept funding from Russia.

2014-03-07 Remember that Key Market Fundamental: Stock Prices Follow Earnings by Gene Goldman of Cetera Financial Group

The stock market has enjoyed a very solid run over the past five years. Unfortunately, over the last few weeks, potential market headwinds have made their appearance, shaking investor confidence.

2014-03-07 Do Spring Showers Bring Stock Gains? Don’t Count on it by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Some investors looking for a catalyst to move stocks higher in coming months have pointed to the calendar, expecting that markets tend to do better in the spring. Russ gives three reasons why he cautions investors against putting too much faith in the influence of the seasons.

2014-03-07 Inflation Blues: Is it Time to Start Worrying? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Inflation was revised higher in the latest GDP revision; while an increase in the minimum wage could push it higher still. But we remain sanguine about inflation risk as long as velocity and wage growth remain low. The key to watch near-term is bank lending, which is starting to accelerate sharply; signaling the possible return of "animal spirits."

2014-03-07 Tensions between Russia and Ukraine Worry Investors by Gene Goldman of Cetera Financial Group

Over the weekend, tensions escalated between Russia and Ukraine as Russian forces invaded and took complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula.

2014-03-07 Weather or Not? by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Everyone agrees that the winter just now winding down (hopefully) has been brutal for most Americans. And while it's easy to conclude that the Polar Vortex has been responsible for an excess of school shutdowns and ice related traffic snarls, it's much harder to conclude that the it's responsible for the economic vortex that appears to have swallowed the American economy over the past three months.

2014-03-07 Exchange-Traded Fun! by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

This week, we take a lighthearted look at Exchange-Traded Funds. ETFs are mutual funds that trade on a stock exchange. ETFs are rapidly taking a bite out of the business long dominated by traditional "open end" mutual funds - the investment in a basket of securities with a common characteristic, such as industry, company size, geographic region, etc.

2014-03-07 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The fight over Ukraine is an unwelcome source of uncertainty; Hiring in the U.S. improves in February; American businesses have lots of cash to invest.

2014-03-07 Making Green from Gold, Palladium and Pollution by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Gold is coming back with a vengeance, experiencing a clear recovery and grabbing the attention of market cynics. Analysts from Noruma Securities even upgraded its outlook for gold, expecting bullion to climb over the next three years, according to Barron's.

2014-03-07 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 135.5, up from 131.8 last week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place rose to 1.8 from last week's 1.7.

2014-03-06 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

February ended up being a strong month for stocks despite the growing perception of a slow economic start to the year 2014.

2014-03-06 Volatility Returns as Crisis in Ukraine Creates Uncertainty by Kevin Mahn of Hennion & Walsh

Most investors have most likely never even heard of Ukraine prior to the last two weeks. Now the future of Ukraine and potential repercussions on other countries in the region appear to be at the forefront of investor minds across the globe. Overall, Ukraine is a relatively small country in Eastern Europe with a population of about 46 million people that borders the likes of Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova.

2014-03-06 Looking Forward 2014: Fixed Income Market Outlook by of Managers Investment Group

On January 8, 2014 Managers Investment Group (MIG) hosted a webinar – "Looking Forward 2014: Fixed Income Market Outlook." The discussion included insightful analysis of the 2013/2014 fixed income markets and Q&A sessions with renowned panelists Marty Tourigny of GW&K Investment Management (subadvisor to our suite of GW&K Funds), Dan Fuss of Loomis Sayles subadvisor to the Managers Bond Fund), and Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO (subadvisor to the Managers PIMCO Bond Fund).

2014-03-06 Emerging Markets: Distinguishing Opportunities by of Manning & Napier

The recent sell-off in emerging market currencies and equities is part of a broader move that has seen the asset class heavily underperform developed markets since mid-2012. Part of the underperformance can be attributed to disappointing economic performance, as actual growth in the emerging markets (EMs) has come in much lower than broader consensus expectations.

2014-03-06 Watch and Wait by David Wismer of Flexible Plan Investments

Vladimir Putin’s and Russia’s military action in the Crimea, formally a part of the Ukraine, made it hard to focus on much else Monday. Aside from the obvious and important humanitarian concerns, the military threat carries immense global risk and potentially significant economic consequences.

2014-03-06 The Briefest Flight to Safety by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Tensions in Ukraine and tapering speculation seem unlikely to derail rising U.S. equity markets and the positive outlook for U.S. credit.

2014-03-06 Risk Parity – No Free Lunch by Lisa Goldberg of Aperio Group

2013 was tough for risk parity. Many of the most popular funds such as Bridgewater, Salient and AQR were flat or down even as investors in the S&P 500 enjoyed a return of almost 30%. A brief look at what happened.

2014-03-06 Money Managers Aren't Paid to Forecast; They're Paid to Adapt by Chris Puplava of PFS Group

It seems we can't go a week without someone predicting the end of the world and stirring up everyone's fears of a market meltdown. These apocalyptic warnings are becoming routine and the sad thing is that it does cause the squeamish individual investor to run for the hills and liquidate their investment portfolio.

2014-03-06 Evolution of SRI Leads Investors to a Sustainable Future by Chat Reynders of AdvisorShares

It’s no secret that positive screening as an investment strategy is becoming increasingly popular as advisors seek ways to identify substantive investment opportunities. The practice focuses investors on the elements of a company that can make a positive impact both on the bottom line and on society, pointing to socially progressive companies that generate returns.

2014-03-06 The Dollar's Long Term Decline by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

The cleanest of the dirty shirts doesn’t necessarily preserve your purchasing power. Sure, the U.S. dollar has beaten the Russian Ruble and some others of late, but when it comes to real competition, the U.S. dollar has taken a back seat. The U.S. dollar’s long-term decline may be firmly in place and investors may want to buckle up to get ready for the ride.

2014-03-06 Gold Scams Revisited by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

Before Bear Stearns and Lehman collapsed, the market for physical gold was limited to a relatively small group of investors who understood the havoc inflation was wreaking on our savings and the US markets. As the financial crisis took hold, a flood of new and inexperienced buyers entered the market, creating an opportunity for unscrupulous metals dealers to swindle their way to massive profits. This is what drove me to launch my very own gold dealer, Euro Pacific Precious Metals, to provide a safe alternative for those who were taking my advice to diversify into sound money.

2014-03-06 Pharma and Biotech This Year's Big Winners by of GaveKal Capital

Year-to-date, the pharmaceutical and biotech industry group is leading all other industry groups in the MSCI World index, up 11.21% on average.

2014-03-05 The US Economy - Back To The Slow Lane Again by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Late last year, President Obama predicted that 2014 would see “breakout growth” in the US economy. His optimism was not completely unwarranted since the economy grew by a healthy 4.1% (annual rate) in the 3Q of last year, driven largely by an unexpected surge in inventory rebuilding. Then in late January, the Commerce Department reported that the economy grew by a better than expected 3.2% in the 4Q.

2014-03-05 "Purer" Gold Exposure for the Long Term Investor by Ade Odunsi of AdvisorShares

This week we dive into a discussion on the impact of diversifying the financing currencies used to purchase gold. At a high level the primary objective of wanting to diversify financing currencies is to gain a “purer” form of exposure to gold by using a number of different currencies (rather than a single currency) to make gold purchases. For example an investor could decide to use a combination of euro, yen, pounds and dollars to make a purchase.

2014-03-05 Asset Allocation: The Conundrum of 2014 by Jeffrey Knight of Columbia Management

In 2013, both the S&P 500 Index and the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds finished the year at their highest levels of the calendar year. So ended a year when equity markets dominated the return landscape, while bonds and numerous other assets struggled. The environment apparently changed, though, with the turning of the calendar to 2014. In the New Year, bonds have performed quite well, with yields on 10-year Treasuries, as an example, falling from 3.03% to 2.67% so far this year. Stocks meanwhile, have been volatile, yet stand close to unchanged on a year to date basis.

2014-03-05 2014: A Transition Year - Back to Fundamentals by Lorenzo Pagani of PIMCO

The past several years have seen multiple regime changes in financial markets in Europe, each dominated by different factors and requiring a distinct approach to fixed income investing. As spreads tighten to pre-2008 levels, it is now time to ask whether a shift in investment style is due. Macroeconomic developments and inflation expectations are likely to be key determining factors in whether 2014 will be a good year for European bond investors.

2014-03-05 A Tough Spring Ahead for Stocks? by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Despite last week's disappointing economic data, stocks rallied to record highs. Russ explains what's behind this disconnect and why stocks may be vulnerable come the spring.

2014-03-05 The Perils of Market Timing: In Times Like These, Time’s on Your Side by of Managers Investment Group

We’re all familiar with the investment cliché “Buy Low, Sell High.” But is this truly sound, obtainable advice? If you are like most investors, you began contributing to your nest egg with any number of goals in mind: Retirement savings, sending a child to college, or purchasing a home, to name a few. Is making predictions about the market and then making buy and sell decisions according to that gut feeling really the best way to achieve your financial goals?

2014-03-05 The Renminbi's New Normal by Teresa Kong of Matthews Asia

The gyrations in Chinese money markets in the last few weeks have caused much alarm in the financial press. The moves in these markets are not only inline, but healthy for an economy looking to increase the role of the market in allocating resources. Those who believe these moves indicate financial stress, or draw parallels between the recent volatility and that which preceded the subprime crisis in the U.S., might be looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

2014-03-05 What Is the Fed Thinking? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The central bank's decision to taper, despite its earlier caution on the economy, has puzzled many observers. New research from the Fed's own staff may provide some clues to its current mindset.

2014-03-05 Active or Passive? Multi-asset Investing Can Turn Both Valves by Jeff Hussey of Russell Investments

Investors, whether institutional or individual, face a common challenge: how to get the return they need, at an appropriate risk level, and at a fee they can afford.

2014-03-05 What Areas of the Market Will Remain in the Limelight? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The current bull market has been five years in the making. Since the bottom on March 9, 2009, the S&P 500 Index has grown an incredible 174 percent. With this spectacular performance, investors are asking if U.S. companies will stay in the limelight or if it is time to draw the curtain on equities. While I was in Los Angeles at a leadership event for CEOs from around the world, I asked John Derrick, CFA, director of research, to shed some light on the subject.

2014-03-05 A Tough Spring Ahead for Stocks? by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Despite last week’s disappointing economic data, stocks rallied to record highs. Russ explains what’s behind this disconnect and why stocks may be vulnerable come the spring.

2014-03-05 The Renminbi's New Normal by Teresa Kong of Matthews Asia

The gyrations in Chinese money markets in the last few weeks have caused much alarm in the financial press. The moves in these markets are not only inline, but healthy for an economy looking to increase the role of the market in allocating resources. Those who believe these moves indicate financial stress, or draw parallels between the recent volatility and that which preceded the subprime crisis in the U.S., might be looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

2014-03-04 Equity Discounts with Steve O'Neill by (Article)

Discounts persist for equity-based closed-end funds, providing potential opportunity to "bullish" investors, says Steve O'Neill of RiverNorth Capital Management.

2014-03-04 David Rosenberg: No U.S. Recession in Sight by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Following a lackluster recovery that began in June 2009, many fear the U.S. is due for another recession, given that the average post-war economic expansion lasted five years. But we’re only in the "fourth or fifth inning of the business cycle," according to David Rosenberg, who predicts growth in consumer and capital spending - and positive returns for U.S. equities.

2014-03-04 Does International Diversification Improve Safe Withdrawal Rates? by Wade Pfau (Article)

Safe withdrawal rate (SWR) studies have been based on a few asset classes and rarely incorporated international diversification. This is problematic, as an SWR depends on portfolio return and volatility, and broader diversification can extend the efficient frontier toward better retirement outcomes. To determine the benefits of international diversification, I looked at the relative performance of withdrawal rates in 20 developed-market countries.

2014-03-04 The Hour That Drives Your Day by Dan Richards (Article)

What’s the one hour that defines your productivity for the balance of the day?

2014-03-04 Why I Sold - Part 2 by Jim Whiddon (Article)

When considering whether to sell my firm in 2012, I embarked on a six-month war-game exercise to decide whether to join forces with a similarly positioned ally within our industry. With the help of my team, I performed a detailed analysis of how well-prepared the firm was for the challenges facing it. Several key threats emerged.

2014-03-04 How to Market to Clients’ Kids by Sarah Scorgie (Article)

Building relationships with the next generation can help ensure the long-term success of your practice.

2014-03-04 Overcoming Bad Performance by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Our investment strategy did not fare well last year and we lost ground to competitors. We’re on the defensive with clients, which makes it hard to have any growth discussions. We have corrected our approach and are on track for much better performance for 2014. Any tips to get our clients to believe in us and stay with us until the turnaround?

2014-03-04 The RIA Succession Paradox: It’s About the Brand by Joe Anthony (Article)

RIAs rise to success based on their abilities to attract talent, build referral networks, see emerging trends and cater to a market. In their prime earning years - say 45 to 55 - they are the central force in their own success. And there lies the paradox. A younger, more dynamic generation is better suited for running your firm.

2014-03-04 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Jason Hsu and Vitali Kalesnik’s commentary, Measuring the ’Skill’ of Index Portfolios, which was published on February 28.

2014-03-04 Our Thoughts on Warren Buffett's Thoughts by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

The Berkshire Hathaway 2013 Annual Shareholder Letter came out on Saturday the 1st of March, 2014. Mr. Buffett was in rare form and we'd like to share some of his key thoughts which speak directly to what we do at Smead Capital Management.

2014-03-04 Market Update by of Castleton Partners

With the Ukrainian situation very much in focus, Treasury rates moved mostly lower last week. The yield curve exhibited a flattening bias, as longer dated maturities registered the biggest declines. For the week, 10 year treasury yields closed at 2.65%, a drop of eight basis points from the prior week, while two year yields were unchanged at 0.32%. As Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was revised lower to 2.5% from 3.2%, we also learned last week that the economy expanded at a slower pace in the fourth quarter of 2013 than previously estimated, giving the expansion less momentum heading into 2014.

2014-03-04 Turmoil in Venezuela by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died about a year ago. In the year since his passing, elections were held and Chavez's handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro, won in what turned out to be an unexpectedly tight race. Since the elections, the Venezuelan economy and society have struggled. In this report, we will examine the underlying structure of Venezuela's political system and the divisions that exist. We will compare and contrast how Chavez was able to manage these divisions and how Maduro is struggling to replicate his success. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.

2014-03-04 The Second Coming by William Gross of PIMCO

Almost permanently affixed on the whiteboard of PIMCO's Investment Committee boardroom is a series of concentric circles, resembling the rings of a giant redwood, although in this case exhibiting an expanding continuum of asset classes with the safest in the center and the riskiest on the outer circles. Safest in the core are Treasury bills and overnight repo, which then turn outwards towards riskier notes and bonds, and then again into credit space with corporate, high yield, commodities and equities amongst others on the extremities.

2014-03-04 Malthus, Marx, and Modern Growth by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

The promise that each generation will be better off than the last is a fundamental tenet of modern society. But will future generations, particularly in advanced economies, realize such expectations?

2014-03-04 A Century of Policy Mistakes by Niels Jensen of Absolute Return Partners

A century ago Argentina ranked as one of the wealthiest countries in world. Today it is a shadow of its former self. A long string of policy errors explain the long slide from riches to rags. Europe, like Argentina 100 years ago, is facing enormous challenges - as well as potential pitfalls - and the management of those challenges will define the welfare path for many years to come. Unfortunately, the early signs are not good. Our political leaders, afraid to face public condemnation, have so far chosen to ignore them.

2014-03-04 What the Jobs Report Will Tell Us-And What It Won't by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Kristina Hooper puts the soon-to-be-released February employment report in context, including what it means for Fed policy, consumer confidence and stocks.

2014-03-04 A Consumer Releveraging Renaissance? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

After a long period of deleveraging, there are appearances that consumers are entering a stage of releveraging. The devil is always in the details, though, and this releveraging cycle is likely to play out vastly different than those of previous expansions.

2014-03-04 Time for Nat Gas Stocks to Come in From the Cold? by Bradford Evans of Heartland Advisors

The prices of natural gas stocks haven’t risen in concert with this winter’s higher commodity prices. Here’s a look at why that might change.

2014-03-03 Ukraine: Geopolitical Risk Rising For Global Markets by Francesc Balcells of PIMCO

Following Russia’s military intervention in Crimea, the situation in Ukraine remains extremely fluid. The outcome will determine to a large extent the systemic nature of the crisis and its impact on global markets, not just Europe. Russia stands to lose the most if this conflict should escalate into a full-fledged military confrontation, given the country’s financial, economic and reputational stakes.

2014-03-03 Chinese Banking: “Red Alert” by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

Has China averted a financial crisis? Not according to behavioral evidence.

2014-03-03 Do Foreign Profits Explain Elevated Profit Margins? No. by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Foreign profits as a share of GNP have been contracting since 2007, are only about two-tenths of a percent above the 2009 low, and therefore do not have any material role in the surge in overall profit margins we’ve observed in recent years. The surge can be fully explained by mirror image deficits in household and government saving - a relationship that can be demonstrated across decades of historical evidence.

2014-03-03 Casting a Wide Asset Net in a Volatile Sea by Ed Perks of Franklin Templeton

It’s fair to say that investors will likely never be fully comfortable with market volatility. But actively managing the inevitable bumps that accompany equity investments, even in bull markets, can help make the ride a little less harrowing, according to Ed Perks, executive vice president and director of Portfolio Management, Franklin Equity Group®. He explains how understanding the fundamental dynamics behind market selloffs is key to uncovering potential opportunities in the face of a rough market ride.

2014-03-03 Six Easy Pieces: Fundamentals of Asset Allocation Explained by Patrick Rudden of AllianceBernstein

Figuring out the best split for your assets often seems daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. This template can help you get started.

2014-03-03 Blame it on the Weather? Not so Fast by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

How much is the weather to blame for recent soft U.S. economic data? While the weather is certainly responsible for some, or perhaps even most, of the recent slowdown, it’s not the whole story, writes Russ.

2014-03-03 The Long Road Back by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Five years ago, the economy appeared to be in freefall. Monetary policy and fiscal stimulus helped to halt the downslide, but a full economic recovery was still expected to take years. This wasn’t your father’s recession that we went through; it was your grandfather’s depression. We have made progress, but we still has very long way to go.

2014-03-03 I’m Confused by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

In one of last week’s Morning Tacks I used this email from one of our financial advisors: “Hey Jeff, about a month ago I emailed you asking if the ~1750 low on the S&P 500 was a good buying opportunity. You emailed back saying – ‘No, not yet’ – and ever since in your remarks you claim not yet. So now that we are well above that level, clients are asking why didn’t we get in ... what’s your recommendation?”

2014-03-03 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

Whereas the "micro" details of ascribing corporate valuations are litigated every day through securities' trading on global bourses, there is very little "macro" disagreement that we are at a critical global inflection where recovery and purchasing power either expand or remain less than satisfactory. If it doesn't happen now, after all the intervention, debate, austerity and fiscal changes, it is not likely to take root at all.

2014-03-03 Equities Rise Despite Mixed Fundamental News by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities increased 1.3% last week as the S&P surpassed the key 1850 level and pushed to new record highs. One favorable dynamic of the rally was the upside leadership from retail stocks, as earnings were largely ahead of expectations. Fed Chair Janet Yellen suggested concern about softerthan-expected spending in a number of recent data releases, but the bar for adjusting the tapering process has not been lowered.

2014-03-03 Bond Aid: Positive Outlook for High Yield in 2014 by Darren Hughes, Scott Roberts of Invesco Blog

While most fixed income asset classes tied to interest rates saw negative returns during 2013, high yield bonds returned more than 8%, according to the JP Morgan Domestic High Yield Index. While we anticipate slightly lower returns in 2014, it looks to be a positive year for high yield markets.

2014-03-03 Stanford Wonk Argues In Favor Of Levered Equity Funds by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

A long-time reader sent a link to an article from Forbes titled Leverage Your Way To A Richer Retirement. The article considered research done by Jason Scott at Financial Engines which looked at completely revamping the 4% rule (the 4% rule pertains to the optimal withdrawal rate for a retiree take from their portfolio without exhausting their funds).

2014-03-03 The 5-Year Itch by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

The financial media is filled with historical comparisons to past periods. Despite the fact that all mutual fund companies and financial advisors are obligated to warn that past performance is no guarantee of future results, it is human nature to look for clues as to when history may repeat itself. As the famous quote goes, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. What prompted this week's blog, is the most uncanny, shocking and truly creepy numerical coincidence I have seen in some time...or perhaps ever.

2014-03-01 Wallets Wide Shut by Mohamed El Erian of Project Syndicate

With profitability at or near record levels, cash holdings by the corporate sector in Europe and the US have reached an all-time high - and are earning very little at today’s near-zero interest rates. But, for at least six reasons, firms are not investing in capacity and creating the jobs that these economies need.

2014-03-01 Black Swans and Endogenous Uncertainty by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

John is in Florida and feeling a bit under the weather, so this week we’re bringing back one of his most popular letters, from December 2007. In the letter he discusses the work of Professor Graciela Chichilnisky of Columbia University, one of whose key insights is that the greater the number of connections within an economic network, the more the system is at risk. Given the current macroeconomic environment, it is important to remind ourselves of how complacent we were back in 2007 and how it all fell apart so quickly, just as John outlined in this rather prescient piece.

2014-02-28 Is an Avalanche Waiting to Hit the U.S. Stock Market? (The Slippery Slope of Stupidity) by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

The U.S. economy as we know it is headed for a huge correction. The only questions remaining are when will it start and what will be the trigger that starts the cascade? Financial and economic implosion is always a slow and stealthy process that grows over time behind the scenes.

2014-02-28 Measuring the "Skill" of Index Portfolios by Jason Hsu, Vitali Kalesnik of Research Affiliates

Investors devote huge resources to deciding whether a manager is skillful. When it comes to passive investing, they appear to lose their critical faculties.

2014-02-28 China’s Growth Puzzle by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

Though China’s economy is now slowing, the significance of this is not well understood. The downturn has nothing to do with problems in other emerging economies; in fact, it is a welcome development.

2014-02-28 The Stock Market's Shaky Foundation by Chris Martenson of Whitney Peak

Martenson explains the headwinds that make the long-term case for lower valuations than we've seen in previous decades. But more urgently, he lays out the litany of short-term triggers likely to result in a vicious correction in stock prices this year. In fact, for the first time in years, he believes the time to actively short equities is arriving.

2014-02-28 Emerging-Market Risk and Reward by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate

Industrialization, urbanization, and the rise of a middle-class consumer society were supposed to boost emerging-market countries' long-term economic and sociopolitical stability. But in many countries recently wracked by political unrest, it is the urban middle classes that have been manning the barricades.

2014-02-28 Looking Beyond Politics in Thailand by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Throughout its history, Thailand has been subject to periods of political instability that have at times given cause for concern among investors. In the past few months, investor sentiment has reflected the political uncertainty, putting Thailand in the news.

2014-02-28 Drug Retail On A Roll by of GaveKal Capital

While the MSCI World consumer staples sector is not the source of scorching growth, there are some decent growth opportunities. Let's start by calibrating the drug retail industry within the consumer staples sector.

2014-02-28 Korea's Changing Consumer Patterns by Michael Han of Matthews Asia

Following a recent research trip to Korea, I was able to spend some time there with my family. Three consecutive weeks away afforded me the opportunity to observe changes in spending patterns among Korean consumers as well as the improving competitiveness of the country’s service industries.

2014-02-28 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.8, down from 123.3 last week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place slipped to 1.7 from last week's 2.5 .

2014-02-28 Emerging Markets Equity Commentary: January 2014 by Team of Thomas White International

Emerging market equity prices corrected in January as investors worried about slower growth in China as well as political and economic turbulence in some the frontier economies such as Argentina and the Ukraine. Markets were also unnerved by the unexpectedly large interest rate hike in Turkey, which failed to prop up the currency.

2014-02-28 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The sensitivity of emerging markets complicates the Fed’s exit plans; Raising the minimum wage is not the only way to aid low-income workers; Brazil’s economy is faltering as the World Cup approaches.

2014-02-28 Hide and Seek by Herbert Abramson, Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management

Hide and seek. A game investors played as children but should not forget these days. Currently, investors need to hide safely to protect from some unfavourable developments in an environment that could hurt them.

2014-02-28 What Areas of the Market Will Remain in the Limelight? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The current bull market has been five years in the making. Since the bottom on March 9, 2009, the S&P 500 Index has grown an incredible 174 percent. With this spectacular performance, investors are asking if U.S. companies will stay in the limelight or if it is time to draw the curtain on equities.

2014-02-28 Bounce Back by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen & Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

US stocks have bounced and the market’s still attractive and in the midst of a secular bull market. But there are likely to be bumps along the way; notably given that this is a midterm election year; which are known for first-half pullbacks. A diversified portfolio is important and both European and Chinese stocks appear to have upside, while Japan continues to frustrate with a two-steps forward, two-steps back sort of approach. And a final reminder not to replace fixed income assets with equities in search of higher income without recognizing the risk profile of a portfolio has changed.

2014-02-27 Trading Secrets: The Godot Recovery by Tad Rivelle of TCW Asset Management

With this recovery, prosperity has always been just around the corner. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. True, the massive fiscal and edgy new monetary measures enacted in the wake of the 2008 crisis kept the economy’s heart beating. The Fed deftly executed its role of lender as last resort, and for this we should all be grateful. What has become steadily less clear is why, five years after the crisis, the Fed remains committed to its zero rate policy. Are artificially low rates truly the secret sauce that takes a weak recovery and makes it strong?

2014-02-27 Big Wheel Keep on Turning by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Economic uncertainty from this winter soft patch will linger for months, but strong housing fundamentals should underpin a strengthening U.S. economy while low inflation augers well for stock prices.

2014-02-27 Gut Check: The Outlook on Fixed Income by Colin Lundgren of Columbia Management

With nearly two months of the year behind us, we thought now would be a good time to see how the fixed-income market is faring in 2014 and assess our outlook. We asked our investment team five questions to help capture our view on the market today.

2014-02-27 Meanwhile, Across the Channel... by of GaveKal Capital

As we saw yesterday, Germany's Q4 GDP release was neither surprising nor very exciting. A similar look at today's release of output in the U.K. reveals a more constructive picture.

2014-02-27 Corporate Credit Charting its Own Course by Eric Takaha of Franklin Templeton

At the start of the year, equity investors were fretting about possible emerging-market contagion, while bond investors were fretting about fallout from US Federal Reserve tapering. Meanwhile, the corporate credit market seemed to be charting its own course. Eric Takaha, director of the Corporate & High Yield Group and senior vice president, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group®, takes a look at the corporate credit/high-yield market and explains why he currently sees supportive fundamentals.

2014-02-27 The Important Role of Country Funds in a Diversified Portfolio by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

As most investors know, foreign equity markets have had a rough time of things performance-wise for the last couple of years relative to domestic equity markets. While Quantitative Easing may or may not be to blame, after years of generally outperforming the US in the previous decade the new decade has been a different story.

2014-02-26 Is It Time for the Fed to ‘Level’ With Markets? by Richard Clarida of PIMCO

If unemployment continues to diminish and quantitative easing tapers to its expected conclusion, the Federal Reserve will likely feel compelled – if not by consensus, then by markets – to refine the forward guidance that it provides to the public today. With inflation running below 2%, the Fed may consider a price level target, together with more holistic measures of the state of the labor market, as a replacement for the unemployment threshold in offering guidance on the future pace of policy normalization.

2014-02-26 What Columbus Missed: Royce Rediscovers India by David Nadel of The Royce Funds

In 1492, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus set sail to discover India. He missed his mark, however, landing in America instead. The rest, as they say, is history-with the exception that more than 500 years later India is still worthy of discovery for many Western investors.

2014-02-26 Market Perspective by CCR Wealth Management Investment Committee of CCR Wealth Management

It cost $0.32 to mail a letter, unemployment was 4.9%, O.J. Simpson was found liable in a civil suit, Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule, Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to Death, Green Bay defeated the Patriots in the Super Bowl, Titanic came crashing into movie theatres, and Dolly, the first genetically engineered lamb was unveiled to the public; the year was 1997.

2014-02-26 Supply and Demand in the Balance by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate

We look at the housing demand/supply balance two ways.

2014-02-26 A CAPE Crusader by James Montier of GMO

In a new white paper today, James Montier of GMO's asset allocation team reviews a range of valuation measures to assess current U.S. equity market valuations. He concludes: "We continue to believe that the weight of valuation evidence suggests the S&P 500 is significantly overvalued at its current levels."

2014-02-26 EM and the Fragile Five: Separating the Wheat from the Chaff by Blaise Antin, David Loevinger, Anisha Ambardar of TCW Asset Management

The shift in capital flows triggered by former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s tapering remarks in May 2013 set off a cascade of market events that continues to this day. His comments also birthed a cottage industry of emerging market doomsayers, who now predict regularly: 1) the end of growth in emerging markets (EM), given that it was, in their view, all a mirage fueled by carry and leverage; and 2) a wave of defaults of the kind last seen in the 1990s that threaten to bring down not only emerging but developed markets as well.

2014-02-26 Gaps, Not Growth by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Monetary policy is primarily about "gaps" not growth: the Fed is trying to reduce spare capacity in the economy, not bring about a rapid expansion per se.

2014-02-26 The Differences Between Gold Financed vs Gold Hedged Transaction by Ade Odunsi of AdvisorShares

Following on from our previous discussion piece on commodity fund taxation, this week we discuss the differences between a gold position financed in a (given) currency versus a gold position hedged into a currency. Broadly speaking the objective of a "currency financed" transaction is to give an investor the flexibility to choose the currency with which gold purchases are made.

2014-02-26 U.S. Housing: Investors Reach for Higher-Hanging Fruit by Joshua Anderson, Emmanuel Sharef, Grover Burthey of PIMCO

PIMCO expects house prices to transition to steady secular growth, with nominal price increases of 5%–10% cumulatively over two years. An environment of reduced volatility and steady gradual growth may result in tightening risk premia and spreads as the market begins to price in this new dynamic. Over the coming years, we will focus on whether the underbuilding of single-family homes is ultimately resolved through housing starts, rental growth or continued price appreciation.

2014-02-26 Weather-Beaten by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Harsh winter weather often shows through in the economic data. Large seasonal adjustment can magnify that impact. Snowstorms happen every year, of course – the key is whether they are worse than usual. This year, bad weather has been relatively widespread, affecting many areas of the country and much of the economic data for December, January, and February. None of the bad weather has had a significant impact on the longer-term outlook and investors have begun to take the economic news with an appropriate grain of salt.

2014-02-26 The White Hurricane by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

'Unseasonably mild and clearing' was the weather forecast going into the Ides of March back in the year of 1888. And it was true, as temperatures hovered in the 40s and 50s along the East Coast. However, torrential rains began falling, and on March 12th, the rain changed to heavy snow, temperatures plunged, and sustained winds of more than 50 miles per hour blew.

2014-02-25 Five Technology Trends that are Reshaping the Industry by Bob Veres (Article)

Recently, I spent a couple of days at the annual T3 conference - the financial planning profession’s version of the Consumer Electronics Show. The conference brings together tech vendors offering planning software, CRM, portfolio tracking, rebalancing and trading, outsourcing, hosting and screening. Here are five trends that will help all of us put the new technology into perspective.

2014-02-25 Why I Sold by Jim Whiddon (Article)

In 2012 at age 52, after almost three decades in financial services, I decided to sell my Dallas -based independent registered investment advisor (RIA), JWA Financial. Why would I trade in the peak earning years of my career after I successfully positioned my firm to take it to the next level? In a series of articles, I’ll explore a multi-faceted topic weighing on the minds of many advisors - succession planning.

2014-02-25 Understanding the CAPE Debate: The History of 24 or More by Keith C. Goddard, CFA, Channing S. Smith, CFA, and Monty L. Butts (Article)

At its recent level near 25, the cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio (CAPE) of the U.S. stock market suggests that stocks are very richly priced or that there is something wrong with the CAPE. Debate about these two explanations intensifies each time the ratio ticks higher. This article offers objective data to help readers decide for themselves.

2014-02-25 Why Our Firm Uses DFA Funds by Dougal Williams, CFA (Article)

Research shows that 80% of active fund managers underperform their benchmarks. Index funds virtually eliminate this risk of underperformance. DFA, however, has engineered an even better mutual fund. This article explains key tenets of DFA’s approach and why our firm chose it over both active and index mutual funds.

2014-02-25 The Stereotypes to Avoid When Marketing to Women by Kristen Luke (Article)

Many financial advisors don’t have marketing materials that appropriately address today’s affluent female market. To make a genuine connection with women, choose images for your marketing materials that show you understand who they really are.

2014-02-25 Why Bother with a Target Market? by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

What is the purpose of a target market? I find the concept limiting. We work well with young professionals in their 40s and retirees in their 70s. We have clients that are couples, families and successful singles. I am hesitant to limit our approach to a certain group.

2014-02-25 Henderson launches ‘Henderson Global Dividend Index’ by Alex Crooke (Article)

Alex Crooke, Head of Global Equity Income, discusses the launch of the Henderson Global Dividend Index – a quarterly report analyzing dividend trends from around the world. Alex notes how the first edition shows how corporates have come back to health since the recession and highlights the benefits of global investing and stock selection.

2014-02-25 More on Building a $250 Million Practice by Dan Richards (Article)

In last week’s column, I outlined four steps a rookie advisor needs to take to build a $250 million practice within 10 years. Here are five additional steps to hit that goal.

2014-02-25 Weekly Market Update by of Castleton Partners

Interest rates were relatively range-bound last week, despite a string of disappointing economic releases. With severe weather across the country having an outsized impact on the economy of late, market participants have been treating the weak data with a high degree of skepticism. We suspect there is further room for data to disappoint relative to expectations, believing a clear reading on the state of the economy cannot be determined until the spring.

2014-02-25 Time to Worry About Europe Again? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The European sovereign debt crisis has all but faded from investors’ minds since ECB President Mario Draghi’s famous pronouncement on July 26, 2012 that he would do “whatever it takes” to save the monetary union. Since that time, equity markets in Europe rallied sharply as accumulated risk aversion fell away.

2014-02-25 Mid-Quarter Update: Good Start to 2014 for Many Categories of CEF Marketplace; Still Compelling Valu by Jeff Margolin of First Trust Advisors

Many categories of closed-end funds (CEFs) are off to a good start to the year. Investors took advantage of the big discounts to net asset value (NAV) and attractive yields available in the secondary market which helped push the average CEF up 2.57% the first 6 weeks of the year as measured by the First Trust Closed-End Fund Composite Total Return Price Index (UPCEFT) as of 2/14/14.

2014-02-25 Prepayments and Value in the Non-Agency Market by Harrison Choi, Brian Rosenlund of TCW Asset Management

Non-agency mortgage bond investors look to voluntary prepayment projections as an essential component of assessing future cash flows and returns. Voluntary prepayments are the annualized percentage of the mortgage pool that leaves the pool each month due to refinancing or paying off a mortgage without a loss. Without equity in the home, it is nearly impossible for a non-agency borrower to refinance the mortgage and the sale of a home would generate a loss through a short sale or foreclosure.

2014-02-25 U.S. Economy: Curb Your Enthusiasm by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Amid optimistic projections of an acceleration in growth, the factors that have restrained GDP remain firmly in place.

2014-02-25 The Return of Japan by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Two weeks ago, we discussed Germany’s apparent early steps to return to regional power status. In this week’s report, we will examine Japan’s steady evolution to regional power status.

2014-02-25 How to Profit from the Yellen Fed by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

Janet Yellen might have the most powerful job in the world, as the Federal Reserve (Fed) she now chairs controls what may be the world’s most powerful printing press. We take a closer look at what her reign might mean for investors’ portfolios.

2014-02-25 Alternative Energy Brief by Edward Guinness of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management

This month we provide our Outlook for the Alternative Energy sector in 2014.

2014-02-25 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

A quiet four days for stocks last week. Between the holiday, school vacations and winter weather; there just were not many catalysts for the stock marker.

2014-02-25 Strong Competitive Advantage by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

Rarely has anything been said about business which is more brilliant. Or at least that’s our take on a quip from one of my favorite movies, O Brother Where Art Thou. In the movie, a music producer showed up at the radio station where the The Soggy Bottom Boys recorded their single, “Man of Constant Sorrow,” which had become an overnight smash hit. He announced to the blind man running the station, “We’ve got to find those boys and sign them to a contract before the competition does!” The blind man leans back and says, “O, yes, we got to beat that competition.”

2014-02-25 Flirting With Deflation by Andrew Bosomworth of PIMCO

Over the medium term, we see downside risks to both growth and inflation in the eurozone, unlike the ECB’s more balanced view. However, even if eurozone inflation sinks close to 1% in 2014–2015, as PIMCO forecasts, this in itself probably would not be low enough for the ECB to consider further easing. A lack of further policy action may undermine the ECB’s credibility to anchor longer-term inflation more closely to 2%.

2014-02-25 Smoother Sailing in Washington? by Libby Cantrill of PIMCO

With the debt ceiling increase out of the way, we should expect many fewer fiscal fights – and less policy uncertainty and potential market disruptions – emanating from Washington in 2014. We also expect Washington to do less harm from an economic growth perspective. We estimate that fiscal drag in 2014 will be about 0.4% of GDP. As we enter an election cycle, we expect Congress will do very little that is constructive for the economy in the year ahead – meaning that tax reform and an immigration overhaul will likely have to wait.

2014-02-24 Secular Bull Or Bear? by Doug Ramsey of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

At the January highs, the S&P 500 had gained almost 175% in just 58 months, while secondary stocks and equal-weighted market measures have gained considerably more. If it’s already over (and we don’t think it is), this cyclical bull will go down as a memorable one. But is this move the first leg of a new secular bull market? … We think the next cyclical bear market will drive the market to levels low enough that debate will rage over the true date of the secular bear market low: was it 2009, or 201X?

2014-02-24 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

In the four and one-half year market recovery since the "Great Recession" there has been a remarkable transformation in the construction and analysis of corporate earnings. This is something that gives me pause for concern.

2014-02-24 Another Disappointing US Housing Data Release by of GaveKal Capital

Existing home sales fell by -5.1% month-over-month in January. Existing home sales have now declined five of the past six months are now down on a year-over-year basis (5.13%).

2014-02-24 Corporate Credit Charting its Own Course by Eric Takaha of Franklin Templeton

At the start of the year, equity investors were fretting about possible emerging-market contagion, while bond investors were fretting about fallout from US Federal Reserve tapering. Meanwhile, the corporate credit market seemed to be charting its own course. Eric Takaha, director of the Corporate & High Yield Group and senior vice president, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group®, takes a look at the corporate credit/high-yield market and explains why he currently sees supportive fundamentals.

2014-02-24 Wallflower Value Stocks Are Ready to Dance by Chris Marx of AllianceBernstein

Global equities are notching new highs, valuations are elevated and talk of market bubbles is increasingly common. Yet, by our measure, the potential for outperformance in value stocks has rarely been better. How can that be?

2014-02-24 Three Reasons Frontier & EM Equities Are Not Created Equal by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

With all the turmoil in emerging markets recently, some investors may be especially wary of investing in so-called frontier markets. Russ explains why frontier and emerging markets are separate asset classes, each deserving of a strategic allocation.

2014-02-24 Confusing Crosscurrents Result in Trendless Market by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished mixed after the shortened holiday week.1 The broad market narrative did not change, as additional disappointing economic data was largely attributed to the impact of adverse weather. Comfort that the recovery may be gaining traction was evidenced through Fed discussions and the January FOMC minutes, with consensus expectations for tapering to continue at a measured pace. Some renewed concerns about a growth slowdown in China surfaced but had little impact.

2014-02-24 Leading Indicators Offer a Window into Europe’s Recovery by Matthew Dennis of Invesco Blog

We’re seeing signs that the recovery in Europe is progressing. I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the positives, uncertainties and opportunities that we believe investors should consider about the region.

2014-02-23 The Worst Ten-Letter Word by John Mauldin of Mauldin Economics

A new word is achieving ubiquity. The word has always been with us and at times has been a beacon to attract the friends of liberty and opportunity. But now I’m afraid it is beginning to be used as a justification for social and economic policies that will limit the expansion of both liberty and opportunity. The word? Inequality.

2014-02-22 Sameness by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

The start of each year is full of market predictions from investment strategists. I tend not to get too caught up in that (it is one of the benefits of being an independent firm – no one is compelling us to provide one!). Not wanting to get lost in the sea of 2014 market predictions, we now take a look back at the seven-week mark of the year…when many of these predictions are already out of the news cycle.

2014-02-22 Going for the Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Everyone wants the gold. Around the world, athletes train for years to compete for a gold medal. In Hong Kong and China, the Love Trade seeks gold coins, bars and jewelry.

2014-02-21 This Common Misconception about China May Be Hurting Your Portfolio by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

China is making headlines again, only this time the news attempts to dispel a common myth about the Asian giant.

2014-02-21 Investing in an M&A Boom by James Tierney, Jr. of Alliance Bernstein

Equity markets got off to a rough start in 2014, but a resurgence of corporate dealmaking has given investors reason to cheer. With executives’ confidence increasing, and companies sitting on a mountain of cash, we think that the stage has been set for a sustained recovery of US takeover activity.

2014-02-21 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Retail Sales by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

With yesterday's release of the January Consumer Price Index, we can now calculate Real Retail Sales for the underlying sales data released on February 13th. Nominal Retail Sales had fallen 0.4% month-over-month, the second month of contraction, and are up only 0.3% year-over-year. When we adjust for inflation, January sales were down 0.6% MoM. The YoY change was a fractional 0.1% growth. Real sales are down 0.9% from their all-time high in November.

2014-02-21 Mid-Quarter Update: Good Start to 2014 for Many Categories of CEF Marketplace by Jeff Margolin of First Trust Advisors

Many categories of closed-end funds (CEFs) are off to a good start to the year. Investors took advantage of the big discounts to net asset value (NAV) and attractive yields available in the secondary market which helped push the average CEF up 2.57% the first 6 weeks of the year as measured by the First Trust Closed-End Fund Composite Total Return Price Index (UPCEFT) as of 2/14/14.

2014-02-21 Is the U.S. Economy Under the Weather? by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Is the U.S. economy under the weather?; Japan is faltering a bit as year two of Abenomics begins; Bitcoin has generated a lot of attention, some of it unwanted

2014-02-20 Meeting an Economic Need by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

At heart, Smead Capital Management is a stock picking organization. On top of our bottoms-up stock picking discipline, we are driven by our belief and respect for the laws of economics. One example of this is the subject of demographics. As long-duration investors, we want to understand where the aging process is taking demand in major product categories and how it will shape spending and production in the US. In other words, what economic needs will grow at the margin and who out there among companies that fit our other seven criteria can meet that marginal demand.

2014-02-20 American Industrial Renaissance Revisited by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

We first wrote about The "American Industrial Renaissance" in 2012, and it remains one of our favorite investment themes. We continue to implement this theme through small US-centric industrial companies and small financial institutions that lend to public and private industrial firms. It remains unlikely that the United States will be the manufacturing powerhouse that it was during the 1950s and 1960s, but many factors are suggesting that the US industrial sector will continue to gain market share.

2014-02-20 The Next Phase of Housing's Recovery: Which Five Investments Should You Own Today? by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

PIMCO has significant top-down and bottom-up expertise dedicated to understanding the U.S. housing market cycle. In 2006, we warned U.S. housing prices were significantly overvalued, which led to our defensive positioning heading into the recession. In 2011, we turned bullish on real estate and added investments such as non-agency mortgage-backed securities, banks and homebuilders that we felt would benefit from an eventual recovery in housing prices.

2014-02-20 Bond Investors Need Not Feel Powerless by Jeff Hussey of Russell Investments

Jeff Hussey, global CIO, explains the strategies investors should be pursuing when considering fixed income investments in their portfolios and how additional yield cushion while opening a door to additional security selection returns from active management.

2014-02-20 Value Creation through Share Repurchases: Juniper Networks by Rick Snowdon of Diamond Hill Investments

An activist investor, Elliott Management, recently acquired a 6% stake in Juniper Networks, Inc. (JNPR), one of our holdings, and published a presentation proposing that management take certain actions including the initiation of an accelerated share repurchase program. Management teams, investors, and market observers talk a lot about creating value through share repurchases; the JNPR situation provides a good opportunity to discuss the extent to which, and the mechanism by which, this is the case.

2014-02-20 Peer Group Analytics and Valuation, an Abstraction by David Kleinberg of Universal Orbit

Peer group analytics and valuation are essential components when assessing the optimal risk-return equation. As opposed to an efficient frontier populated with the regressed correlated expected future returns of conventional securities or asset classes perhaps one determined by business segment operations is more advantageous.

2014-02-20 The State of International Small-Cap by Francis Gannon of The Royce Funds

While some argue that domestic small-cap leadership in 2013 was a result of its heavy exposure to companies that tend to generate most of their income domestically, others contest that this greater focus on the U.S. may mean missing out on the benefits of faster-growing foreign economies. We, on the other hand, choose to focus our attentions on individual companies, particularly those in more cyclical areas of the market that are more closely tied to the global economy.

2014-02-20 Lack Of Slack - Why Aggregate Unemployment May Be Masking Wage And Inflation Pressures by Anthony Wile of J.P. Morgan Funds

A historically large number of long-term unemployed, representing 36% of joblessness, have kept the unemployment rate elevated which could be distorting the traditional tradeoff between inflation and unemployment dynamics.

2014-02-20 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

We’re back, baby. (Well, at least, for a week.) Janet Yellen made her case to become the most revered Fed Chair (anyone even remember Maestro Greenspan?) by merely reiterating Dr. B’s prior remarks about the economy and the bond buying program. Investors felt the love this Valentine’s week as they shook off the past negativity and took the Dow to its best daily showing and back above the 16k level. Can Cupid (and Yellen) continue to work his (her) magic after Prez day and beyond?

2014-02-20 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks soared last week as economic reports showed the global economy was weaker than originally estimated in the last quarter of 2013 and has lost further momentum in 2014. This has acted to support bond prices and lower interest rates. Thus, stocks as an asset class continue to do well.

2014-02-20 International Equity Commentary: January 2014 by Team of Thomas White International

International equity markets have started the year on a difficult note, as concerns about the robustness of economic growth in the U.S., Japan and Europe have made investors more cautious. Though the U.S. economy expanded at a faster than expected pace during the last quarter of 2013, recent data reports from the labor market have not been as healthy.

2014-02-20 Stocks for 2014: Fairly Valued Dividend Growth Stocks with an Emphasis on Dividends - Part 4 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

I am a firm believer that common stock portfolios should be custom-designed to meet each unique individual’s goals, objectives and risk tolerances. With that said, I believe it logically follows that in order to create a successful portfolio, the individual investor must first conduct some serious introspection to be sure that they truly "know thyself." Therefore, I believe the first, and perhaps most critical step, towards designing a successful equity portfolio is to ask your-self, and honestly answer several important questions.

2014-02-20 Thanks Washington, But the Recovery Remains Soft by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While two events in Washington last week supported stocks and other risky assets, they overshadowed the release of some relatively disappointing economic numbers providing more evidence of still soft U.S. economic growth.

2014-02-20 Nothing Burns Like the Cold by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The U.S. economy has stalled amid a winter freeze but the Federal Reserve is unlikely to act because warmer weather should bring a rebound, leading to higher U.S. stock prices and tighter credit spreads.

2014-02-20 February Flash Update by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group

It's too early to mean much, but so far out 2014 forecast is falling nicely into place. The market highs on Dec 31st have held, bonds are outperforming stocks, gold is outperforming both stocks and bonds, while gold mining shares are soaring! The anticipated volatility in emerging markets and Japan as well as the wild card of the Chinese economy continue to unfold, while bad weather has postponed the evidence of strong 2014 US growth.

2014-02-20 Stocks for 2014: High Yield and Fairly Valued Dividend Stocks for High Current Income – Part 5 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Retired investors seeking high income to live off of during retirement, face greater challenges today than almost ever before. The days of high yields available from bonds and other fixed income vehicles are long gone. Consequently, generating an adequate level of current income on retirement portfolios is difficult to say the least. This is especially tricky for those investors with a low tolerance for risk.

2014-02-20 The Fed: Yellen's Tapering Tightrope by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

In reducing quantitative easing, the Federal Reserve chairwoman faces a big challenge: preventing asset bubbles at home without pressuring developing economies.

2014-02-20 Emerging Markets Equity Commentary: January 2014 by Team of Thomas White International

Emerging market equity prices corrected in January as investors worried about slower growth in China as well as political and economic turbulence in some the frontier economies such as Argentina and the Ukraine. Markets were also unnerved by the unexpectedly large interest rate hike in Turkey, which failed to prop up the currency.

2014-02-20 Abenomics is Failing on Multiple Fronts by of GaveKal Capital

With each passing month it is becoming more clear that Abenomics is, at least so far, failing to meet one of its critical goals, which is to stimulate exports and bring the country back to a trade surplus. Indeed, the latest trade statistics revealed the largest single month trade deficit ever.

2014-02-20 Preparing for the Unexpected with Commodity Futures ETFs by Ryan Issakainen of First Trust Advisors

Three straight years of negative returns for broad commodity benchmark indices, such as the Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Total Return Index, have led some investment advisors (and their clients) to begin questioning the rationale for including commodity futures ETFs1 in their asset allocation models. Relatively tame inflation expectations seem to support these doubts, as commodities are often thought of as a hedge against inflation.

2014-02-20 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.2, unchanged from last week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place slipped to 2.5 from last week's 3.2 (a downward revision from 3.3).

2014-02-20 WhatsApp With That? by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Two pieces of business news announced this week provide a convenient frame through which to view our dysfunctional and distorted economy. The first (which has attracted tremendous attention), is Facebook's blockbuster $19 billion acquisition of instant messaging provider WhatsApp. The second (which few have noticed) is the horrific earnings report issued by Texas-based retail chain Conn's. While these two developments don't seem to have much in common, together they shed some very unflattering light on where we stand economically.

2014-02-20 Where the Frontier Lies by Robert Harvey of Matthews Asia

My last research trip to Asia included eight flights and nearly 50 grueling hours in the air. During this time, I had the opportunity to ponder a question I am frequently asked, “How do you define a frontier market?”

2014-02-19 Checking in on Earnings by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Earnings season is nearing its finale, and the latest results show plenty of reason to be bullish, but the longer-term trend remains an outstanding question for markets.

2014-02-19 US Savings Rate Falling Again - Here Comes "MyRA" by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Today we weave together several different topics that are all connected in one way or another. We begin with the US savings rate which is trending lower once again. From 1975 to 2007, the savings rate fell to an all-time low of 2.4%. While it jumped up briefly after the 2008 financial crisis, it is now moving lower yet again.

2014-02-19 Help Your Clients Make a Bigger Impact With Their Investments in 2014 by Jorge Newbery of American Homeowner Preservation

Investing with the hope of gaining a good return is a given. But today’s investors are looking for returns that go beyond dollars and cents. Between 2010 and 2012, sustainable and responsible investing (SRI) grew more than 22 percent, reaching $3.74 trillion in total managed assets. To put that number into perspective, think of it this way: more than one dollar of every nine dollars under professional management in the United States is invested according to SRI strategies.

2014-02-19 The U.S. an Oasis in a Global Sea of Problems by Charlie Dreifus of The Royce Funds

Despite the ongoing political and economic uncertainty in the emerging markets and a slow start for stocks in 2014, Portfolio Manager and Principal Charlie Dreifus believes the U.S. economy is in good shape going forward.

2014-02-19 Investors at the Car Wash? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

It’s been a rough winter, but here in Detroit (and I suspect in your town, too, if it’s been hit by the near constant winter storms this year) you can be assured of one thing – when the snow stops and the clouds part and sunshine floods the sparkling, newly fallen snow in the fields, while the streets, in contrast, get grayer, then black as soot as the traffic returns – then, I will bet you, the lines will grow long at your neighborhood carwash.

2014-02-19 Interest Rate Outlook - "Old Normal" by Jerry Paul, Zach Jonson of ICON Advisers, Inc.

Contrary to a popular belief that interest rates are destined to rise significantly, at ICON we believe we may be re-entering the "old normal" where the U.S. Treasury 10-year yield remains between 2%-4% for an extended period of time. As can be seen in the following chart of interest rates since 1871, with a few exceptions this is where interest rates traded prior to the mid-1960s. From this perspective, the late 1970s appear to be unusual and the decline of the last 32 years is simply a return to normal, where rates can remain for many years in a setting of slower growth and low inflation.

2014-02-19 If You Can’t Retire at 30 Then How About 38? by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

A couple of weeks ago we looked at an article from MarketWatch about a couple, now 39, who “retired” when they were 30. They live frugally, one way or another accumulated a pretty decent nest egg in their 20’s and took the time to become financially literate.

2014-02-19 Investor Refresher (An Intersection of Investing and Firefighting) by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time may recall my active involvement with the local volunteer fire department where I live in Northern Arizona. Occasionally my work in the investment industry intersects with some aspect of firefighting and one such intersection just occurred last week.

2014-02-18 Global Equity Income Update by Job Curtis (Article)

Job Curtis discusses recent market turbulence, the positioning of the Global Equity Income Fund and the outlook for dividends. Three main reasons for market turbulence include US tapering, capital outflows from emerging markets and fears of deflation in Europe. That said, European companies and many European economies remain strong. We see value outside the US from a dividend yield perspective so the Global Equity Income Fund is more oriented towards overseas markets, including Europe, Asia Pacific and the UK.

2014-02-18 CAPE Crusaders: The Shiller-Siegel Shootout at the Q Group Corral by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Jeremy Siegel and Robert Shiller are close friends, but they have starkly divergent positions on how the CAPE ratio should be calculated and what that means for equity valuations. This article reports on their differing views and draws some conclusions about the market’s prospects.

2014-02-18 Why Emerging Market Fears are Overblown by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Conditions in the emerging markets bear little resemblance to those in 1997 leading up to the Asian crisis, according to Simon Derrick, a leading market strategist with BNY Mellon. In this interview, he also explains why the euro is overvalued and picks the winners and losers in today’s currency wars.

2014-02-18 Understanding the Controversy over Dividend-Based Investing by Geoff Considine (Article)

Should investors favor dividend-paying stocks over non-payers? A long-held investment tenet contends that they should. But in a controversy that has pitted two highly respected investment firms - New York-based Tweedy Browne and Texas-based Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) - against one another, advisors are being asked to reexamine this issue.

2014-02-18 The Questions to Ask about Unconstrained Bond Funds by Brian Koble (Article)

Unconstrained bond funds have sparked unbridled enthusiasm among investors, with more than $55 billion pouring into these funds in 2013. They are the second most popular type of mutual fund in America. Yet many of these funds are unproven. Investors should proceed cautiously with these funds.

2014-02-18 Five Tips for Telling Your Marketing Story by Megan Elliott (Article)

A great story makes your firm stand out. Many financial advisors struggle with storytelling, which can seem vague or touchy-feely, especially if they’re more comfortable focusing on the technical side of wealth management. But telling great stories is easier than it seems. Here are five tips to you get started.

2014-02-18 Blackjack, Cycling and the Power of the One Percent by Mariko Gordon (Article)

A recent visit to the Las Vegas blackjack tables, together with insights gained from the success of the British National Cycling team, explain the investment-related benefits of small improvements compounded over time.

2014-02-18 Puerto Rico's Double-Downgrade by Michael Taylor of Columbia Management

On February 4, Standard & Poor’s lowered its long-term credit rating on the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s (PR) general obligation (GO) debt making it the first rating agency to downgrade the Commonwealth to below investment-grade levels. Just three days later, Moody’s cut its GO rating by two notches to ’Ba2’; ratings that are capped by or linked to the Commonwealth’s GO rating were also downgraded two notches, with the exception of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) Revenue Bonds.

2014-02-18 Tips for an Effective Study Group by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I have been talking with a couple of advisor friends about developing an informal discussion group. We would share ideas and updates, but not secrets about the inner workings of our firms. Do you have any advice to make our sessions meaningful and practical?

2014-02-18 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Joe Tomlinson’s article, Providing Better Social Security Advice for Clients, which appeared last week, and readers respond to Gary Halbert’s commentary, Why Quantitative Easing Didn’t Work, which appeared on February 12.

2014-02-18 Building a $250 Million Practice from Scratch by Dan Richards (Article)

We can learn from rookie advisors who, despite all the obstacles, are building large practices from scratch. To achieve a peak level of success entering the financial advisory space today, you have to get a lot of things right. I’ll cover four foundational decisions today and wrap up with some others in next week’s column.

2014-02-18 From Micro-Caps to Mid-Caps, a Comprehensive Approach to Smaller Companies by Team of The Royce Funds

As the small-cap asset class has grown in size, those companies just beyond the periphery of small-cap have become somewhat orphaned.

2014-02-18 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

The new thinking amongst market analysts is that one must respond to every news flash, every short-term nuance, any variable that creates a daily ripple in prices or attitude, or risk having your portfolio drift in obscurity and underperformance. The new "keeping up with the Jones’" demands that we stay tuned to business news programming 24/7 to see if we’re conforming to expectations.

2014-02-18 Are US Housing Prices About To Drop? by Team of GaveKal Capital

This morning the NAHB Housing Market Index showed a large 10-point drop in January. This is, in fact, the largest decline on record for the Housing Market Index.

2014-02-18 A Time for Optimism in Europe? by Philippe Brugere-Trelat of Franklin Templeton

Volatile markets and an uneven recovery may appear to justify a cautious outlook for investing in Europe right now, while in the US the specter of higher interest rates might also be signaling a challenging market environment ahead. Philippe Brugere-Trelat believes the investment case for European equities favors a more optimistic outlook and despite a bumpy start to the year for equities globally, he still sees the market as rife with potential opportunities for selective investors, particularly undervalued segments of the market. One place where he thinks caution is likely warranted? Japan.

2014-02-18 Stocks for 2014: Growth and Income For Total Return - Part 3 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

When investing in common stocks, there is no one strategy that fits all investors. Some investors are focused on investing for income, some for capital appreciation and others for various combinations of both. Additionally, there is the issue of risk tolerance. Some investors are willing and capable of assuming greater risk if they believe it will lead to greater returns, while others are more risk adverse. These are just but a few of the many variations that apply to the individual investor’s own unique goals and characteristics.

2014-02-18 Why Confidence Remains Low (Hint: Blame Washington) by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While U.S. economic fundamentals have improved over the past year, U.S. businesses and consumers both continue to exercise caution, holding back on spending and new investment. Russ explains what’s partly behind this puzzling dilemma.

2014-02-18 After a Rocky 2013, What's in Store for Asia This Year? by Brent Bates of Invesco Blog

Overall, 2013 wasn’t the best year for Asian markets, however there are several trends emerging that we believe will be good for the region this year.

2014-02-18 Equity Markets: How Much Energy Does the Bull Have Left? by Kurt Feuerman of AllianceBernstein

After another big year for stocks in 2013, many investors are questioning how much longer the bull market can run before it collapses from exhaustion. This doubt has intensified with the early 2014 selloff. However, based on what we see, it’s not time to worry about the market’s stamina yet.

2014-02-18 Congress Raises the Debt Limit: Is This the End of the Budget Battles? by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

Last week Congress - faced with an impending snow storm and a desire to get home for the Presidents Day holiday - hastily passed legislation permitting the federal government to continue to borrow funds through March 15, 2015. Coupled with the agreement reached last December to fund the government through September 30, 2015, this action eliminates the prospects of additional fiscal showdowns for at least the remainder of 2014.

2014-02-18 Global Growth Expectations Push Stocks Forward Despite Weather by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished sharply higher last week with the S&P 500 increasing 2.3% and all major U.S. averages up more than 2%.1 The rapid market recovery from the January pullback is a bigger surprise than the pullback that preceded it.

2014-02-18 Muni Time of Trade Disclosure - Why a New Rule and Why the Delay? by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

The objective of the rule is simple: protect the retail investor. And, when it comes to the municipal market, the rule already exists. So why is Proposed Rule G-47 pending approval by the SEC, and how will it differ from the existing rule? Why is this well-intentioned and, as some believe, needed Rule the subject of an SEC Order that has delayed its implementation?

2014-02-18 Topping Patterns and the Proper Cause for Optimism by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

We would dismiss classic topping patterns we observe here if the recent market peak did not feature the "full catastrophe" of textbook speculative features, particularly the same syndrome of extreme overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising yield conditions observed (prior to the past year) only at major market peaks in 2007, 2000, 1987, 1972, and 1929. Meanwhile, we remain encouraged. Those who follow a historically informed, value-conscious, and risk-managed investment discipline should be among the most optimistic investors in the financial markets.

2014-02-15 The Economic Singularity by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Today, let’s think about central banks and liquidity traps and see if we agree that central bankers are driving the car from the back seat based upon a fundamentally flawed theory of how the world works. That theory helped produce the wreck that was the Great Recession and will have its fingerprints all over the next one.

2014-02-14 Why Confidence Remains Low (Hint: Blame Washington) by Russ Koesterich of iSharesBlog

Despite some signs that economic fundamentals are improving - including an improving labor market and rising home prices - U.S. businesses and consumers continue to exercise caution, holding back on spending and new investment. What’s behind this puzzling dilemma? As I write in my new Market Perspectives paper, "The Price of Politics," uncertainty over public policy is partly to blame.

2014-02-14 What Harvard Can Teach Us About Portfolio Management by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

The takeaway for advisors is the need to make sure clients truly understand their time horizons and that their portfolios are being navigated toward their time horizon versus responding to short term events like a Green Mountain Coffee (NASDAQ:GMCR) popping 30% on a deal with Coca Cola (NYSE:KO) or a stretch of poor returns for emerging markets.

2014-02-14 Does a Down January Dog the Rest of the Year? Probably by Peter Nielsen of Saturna Capital

The bottom line for investors is that a negative January tends to herald lower (though not necessarily negative) returns for the subsequent 11 months.

2014-02-14 Turkey, Doves, Hawks and Owls by Robert Horrocks of Matthews Asia

The current market sentiment is something of an albatross around Asian economic and market performance. Whilst it is never safe to assume the currency speculators have gone away, the region’s economies have put in enough hard work over the previous decades to earn some goodwill.

2014-02-14 PepsiCo Dividend: Refreshing The Investor World by Team of Fast Graphs

PepsiCo is presently trading in line with its historical valuations and might be offering a reasonable - albeit not necessarily screaming - opportunity moving forward. However, as always, we recommend that the reader conduct his or her own thorough due diligence.

2014-02-14 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.2, unchanged from last week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place slipped to 3.3 from last week’s 4.2. Last weekend, ECRI posted a new publicly available commentary on the company’s website: Failure to Launch. The brief text concludes with this remark: It is now quite clear that the economy is decelerating, not accelerating, with growth in ECRI’s Weekly Coincident Index ... falling rapidly.

2014-02-14 Arresting Disinflation Will Require Taking up the Slack by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Arresting disinflation will require taking up the slack. Estimates of the U.S. output gap remain substantial. The U.S. achieves budget peace but still faces long-term fiscal challenges.

2014-02-14 Many Reasons for Rates to Rise by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

There are a number of scenarios and events that could cause rates to rise in the next several years. Increasing economic growth in the United States would mean that the Federal Reserve no longer needs to keep market interest rates artificially low. Central banks around the world have been buying debt to spur economic activity, with mixed result at best. When there is no longer a need to purchase more debt, the massive, coordinated demand for that debt will fall. And when that happens... uh-oh.

2014-02-14 Weather Related? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen & Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

The recent slowdown in economic data appears to be largely weather related and we believe decent growth will reassert itself. Stocks have bounced after a weak start to the year, but the threat of a further pullback remains, although our longer-term optimism has not been dented. Likewise, we believe Europe offers some attractive investment opportunities but we’re in a wait-and-see mode with Japan. Finally, we don’t see EM turmoil becoming overly contagious, but we are watching that situation closely.

2014-02-14 These Gold Charts Will Make Your Heart Beat Faster by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

So while gold may correct over the next several months as the metal enters its seasonally weak period of the year, this looks promising for gold investors.

2014-02-13 Bad News is Good News Again by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Extremely cold weather in the United States, a sell-off in equities and in emerging markets, and large swings in fund flows combined for a volatile start to the year. But none of this will derail the ongoing U.S. economic expansion, and investors should take advantage of this temporary weakness.

2014-02-13 Admit it: You were wondering, why hold bonds? by Jeff Hussey of Russell Investments

Jeff Hussey, global CIO, highlights the importance of holding fixed income investments within portfolios, even at a time when we are seeing exceptionally low and likely rising interest rates.

2014-02-13 Rich Man, Poor Man! by Jeff Saut of Raymond James

Last week was a pretty wild week starting out with Monday’s 90% Downside Day where 90% of total Up/Down Volume, and total Up/Down Points traded, were recorded on the downside (read: negative), leaving the S&P 500 (SPX/1797.02) down ~41 points. It was the second 90% Downside Day in the past two weeks with the first occurring on January 24th, which broke the SPX below its first support zone of 1808 – 1813, thus now that level becomes an overhead resistance level.

2014-02-13 A Time for Optimism in Europe? by Philippe Brugere-Trelat of Franklin Templeton

Volatile markets and an uneven recovery may appear to justify a cautious outlook for investing in Europe right now, while in the US the specter of higher interest rates might also be signaling a challenging market environment ahead. The investment case for European equities favors a more optimistic outlook and despite a bumpy start to the year for equities globally, he still sees the market as rife with potential opportunities for selective investors, particularly undervalued segments of the market. One place where caution is likely warranted? Japan.

2014-02-13 A Centennial to Celebrate - The Federal Reserve Looks Forward to Its Next 100 Years by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The Fed’s centennial arrives at an interesting juncture. Never in its history has the American central bank been so deeply involved in economic management, and rarely has it attracted such controversy. The recent transition in Fed leadership marks the end of a significant era. In some ways, this makes it a perfect time to contemplate what the Fed was, what it has become and what it should be during its second century. The results of this review will be valuable to central banks the world over.

2014-02-13 Equity Markets: How Much Energy Does the Bull Have Left? by Kurt Feuerman of Alliance Bernstein

After another big year for stocks in 2013, many investors are questioning how much longer the bull market can run before it collapses from exhaustion. This doubt has intensified with the early 2014 selloff. However, based on what we see, it’s not time to worry about the market’s stamina yet.

2014-02-12 Was the labor report positive, or negative, anyone? by Chris Maxey and Ryan Davis  of Fortigent

Stocks were modestly positive last week following three straight weeks of negative performance. Markets crawled back following an ugly Monday in which the S&P 500 suffered its worst loss in more than seven months. For the week, the S&P rose 0.9% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.7%.

2014-02-12 Harvard’s Endowment: Wise or Foolish? by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

Warren Buffett says, "What the wise man does in the beginning, the fool does in the end." In a Barron's feature over the weekend, writer Andrew Bary dug into the portfolio of Harvard's Endowment through an interview with their CIO, Jane Mendillo. After all, who could possibly be wiser than what many would argue is the most respected undergraduate and graduate university in the world? Using a combination of Bary’s article and our perspective, this missive will seek to determine whether the Harvard Endowment is wise or foolish.

2014-02-12 The Expanding Leveraged Loan Market by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

At the end of the day, a loan investor may be left with a security that has a low starting yield, little left in the way of capital gains potential, and with coupon income that is not at all increasing even if rates were to rise. While there are some selective opportunities for value in the loan space, broadly speaking we see high yield bonds as a more attractive market in the current environment.

2014-02-12 Grey Owl Capital’s Third Quarter Letter by of Grey Owl Capital Management

2013 was a banner year for the US stock market. Despite equities’ meager fourteen-year record of accomplishment, investors, broadly speaking, are limited to short-term memory. Last year’s performance was enough to generate significant enthusiasm for stocks. We continue to believe, the current environment warrants a more balanced approach.

2014-02-12 Why Quantitative Easing Didn’t Work by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

IN THIS ISSUE: 1. Why Fed’s Quantitative Easing (QE) Didn’t Work 2. Velocity of Money Plunged During Financial Crisis 3. Should Bernanke & Company Have Done More? 4. QE Was a Huge, Dangerous Experiment That Failed 5. Fed Begins to “Taper” QE Purchases in January 6. Conclusions – What Happens Next?

2014-02-12 Coasting? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

This year in the stock market I feel that most investors (and commentators) are focusing on walking the daily, hourly and, perhaps, even second to second ups and downs of the major market indexes. They’re measuring their progress each day, like using the foot-long ruler to measure a coastline. As with most things in life, with the stock market it is often better to get a broader perspective – see the forest not just the trees. When you do that, it’s apparent that last week was a probable turning point, or at least a notable one.

2014-02-11 Providing Better Social Security Advice for Clients by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Delayed claiming of Social Security benefits makes overwhelming sense, as do strategies that coordinate claiming by couples. But such strategies are unpopular, despite numerous consumer-finance articles highlighting their advantages. Advisors can add significant value for clients by explaining the benefits of these strategies.

2014-02-11 Are Returns of Intermediate Bond Funds Persistent? by Michael Edesess (Article)

In the search for skillful managers, the most valued characteristic is persistence -- the ability of a manager to achieve superior returns consistently over time. Finding such managers is critical for fixed-income allocations, since the theoretical basis for indexing is weaker than it is for equities. Our study found, however, that persistence is elusive among a large sample of taxable bond funds.

2014-02-11 Three Ways to Make Your Message Resonate by Dan Richards (Article)

Except for the most analytical of clients, effective communication does not mean more facts, figures or statistics. Instead, there are three core approaches to make your message resonate.

2014-02-11 Why Are There Timeless Lessons That Do Not Get Arbitraged Away? by John Alberg and Michael Seckler (Article)

Strategies in which an investor buys shares in good companies mired in high pessimism (and therefore offered at low prices) bubble their way to the top in terms of persistent, long-term performance. By adhering to these types of contrarian or value-oriented strategies, investors can perform consistently and remarkably well across long periods. No other strategy even comes close. How could it be that the strong performance of contrarian-style strategies persists over time?

2014-02-11 The 2013 Commentary Scorecard by Jill Mislinski (Article)

Let’s look at what prominent forecasters said in January 2013 about how the markets and economy would perform last year.

2014-02-11 Dealing with Bad PR by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

One of our advisors quit under difficult circumstances. He talked to some local reporters afterward, and now we look like a terrible place to work. His actions have damaged our reputation. We did not do anything wrong. This advisor was a misfit from the start. What can we do to minimize the ongoing problems his departure is causing us?

2014-02-11 Triple Witching Hour Proves Benign by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Markets yawned their way past two big reports and one key deadline last week, but investors are still fleeing stock funds overall. It’s a strange brew that signals continued volatility ahead, says US Investment Strategist Kristina Hooper.

2014-02-11 Equities Markets Start 2014 in Deep Freeze by Douglas Coté of ING Investement Management

By slowly normalizing policy, the Fed is passing the responsibility of pricing risk back to the markets, resulting in higher volatility. The health of the emerging markets is vital to global growth, as developing countries have doubled their contribution to global GDP over the past decade to nearly 40%. S&P 500 corporations derive half their revenue from overseas; support from global consumerism and manufacturing is on track to continue. Broad global diversification across equity and fixed income markets is the best way to protect against volatility.

2014-02-11 Obama Spins Subsidies Both Ways by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

In our current age of spin and counter-spin, there is no contortion too great for a politician to attempt. On occasion, however, the threads of one story become entangled with another in a manner that should deeply embarrass, if the media were sharp enough to catch it. This happened last week in response to the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) bombshell report on how Obamacare incentives could reduce the size of the labor force by more than two million workers by 2017.

2014-02-11 Obama Spins Subsidies Both Ways by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

In our current age of spin and counter-spin, there is no contortion too great for a politician to attempt. On occasion, however, the threads of one story become entangled with another in a manner that should deeply embarrass, if the media were sharp enough to catch it. This happened last week in response to the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) bombshell report on how Obamacare incentives could reduce the size of the labor force by more than two million workers by 2017.

2014-02-11 Leveraged Finance Outlook: Riding the Low Default Wave by Andrew R. Jessop, Elizabeth (Beth) MacLean of PIMCO

Following strong performance in 2013, we expect low (1%-3%) defaults in leveraged finance markets this year. Issuance should remain healthy, and continued slow but steady growth in the U.S. economy should offer further stability to these companies. However, careful credit selection and monitoring of sector trends remain imperative. Investors with low tolerance for volatility and more interest rate sensitivity may emphasize loans, while investors with greater risk tolerance and a more benign outlook for rates may look to high yield.

2014-02-11 Monthly Letter to Our Clients & Friends by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Although the rest of America may need a manufacturing revival, mutual fund manufacturing is not in need of help, as the business has been growing continuously for three decades. Because of the sheer number of funds and the amount of investment dollars they control, there is a very high probability that we are buying new positions and selling existing positions to one or more mutual fund companies.

2014-02-11 Commodity Fund Taxation by Ade Odunsi of AdvisorShares

As markets, investment products and the manner in which clients access information have all evolved, advisors are answering more and more questions about how to invest in commodities which means advisors have to learn about the various taxation structures of the many different types of commodity exchange traded products.

2014-02-11 Focus on Income: The Illiquidity Premium: Opportunities for Investing in Credit Today by Jack Rivkin of Altegris

At a time when many investors are seeking income for their portfolios, traditional sources of fixed income - principally government bonds and high-grade corporate bonds - look less than compelling. Yields are low and there is an increasing risk that interest rates will rise, which would cause the value of existing bonds to fall.

2014-02-11 ‘Hot’ Money’s Fast Exit Cools Emerging Markets by of Knowledge @ Wharton

Capital flight from emerging markets has been accelerating in recent weeks ($6 billion alone in the week ending February 5). Turkey is the poster child, but the exodus is also happening in India, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa and others – mostly from equity markets. This “hot money” is moving out over concerns that asset bubbles have built up, and that emerging market economic growth is now slowing. The slowdown is partly a result of tighter money in the wake of the Fed’s tapering plans and a decelerating economy in China, many believe. To better understand the risks to the global financial

2014-02-10 Bond Investing in a Rising Rate Environment by Kathleen Gaffney of Eaton Vance

After a transitional year like 2013, when a multidecade declining rate environment moved to a rising rate environment, we think it is important for investors to consider a multisector approach to finding value in the bond market. Finding bonds that can appreciate in price regardless of the interest-rate environment is what a multisector strategy generally seeks to accomplish.

2014-02-10 Emerging Markets Equity Commentary - December 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Emerging market equity prices saw a modest correction for the second successive month in December, as investors remained cautious about the outlook for some of the emerging economies. Select countries such as Thailand in Asia and Turkey in Europe continue to face difficult political environments, with large demonstrations against the governments. Their currencies have reacted negatively to the latest developments, making investors fearful of a repeat of the volatile market movements seen during the third quarter of 2013.

2014-02-10 Exciting times in Japanese equity market by Vincent Musumeci (Article)

Vincent Musumeci explains that for Japan and the Japanese equity market, 2013 can be characterized as a year of excitement driven by profound changes in macro policy. As we head into 2014 and beyond we are now seeing the market environment, for the first time in a long time, developing a more robust and sustainable healthy domestic growth. In summary, Vincent notes the encouraging backdrop and the exciting policy changes that took place are essentially starting to deliver results.

2014-02-10 Double Trouble by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

On the basis of a broad range of valuation measures that are tightly (nearly 90%) correlated with actual subsequent S&P 500 total returns over the following decade, we estimate that stock prices are about double the level that would generate historically adequate long-term returns.

2014-02-10 What Would a Stronger Dollar Mean for Global Markets? by Borge Endresen, Brent Bates of Invesco

As the world watches the progress of the US Federal Reserve’s tapering program, and anticipates the strengthening of the US dollar, We’re often asked how this affects our view of international markets and risk. The short answer is that it doesn’t. We’re long-term, bottom-up stock pickers , so we;re primarily concerned with currency impacts on a company-by-company basis. However, there are some broad trends that are worth noting.

2014-02-10 Growth and Policy Uncertainty Cause Choppy Markets by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities closed with modest gains last week, as the S&P 500 overcame Monday’s decline, the largest one-day percentage loss since June 2013. The weaker-than-expected ISM manufacturing and vehicle sales data drive the sell-off on Monday, exacerbating the focus on slowing momentum for the U.S. recovery. The impact of adverse weather complicates the picture. Also, although January non-farm payroll missed expectations, there were more upbeat indications for the household survey.

2014-02-10 Market Outlook by Scotty C. George of Alexander Capital

Despite the inverted gyrations of the stock market during the past three weeks, my market overview continues to be moderately bullish, of course with specific reservations about investors’ unbridled carryover of unrealistic expectations borne out of last year’s performance.

2014-02-10 Two Reasons for Value to Outperform in 2014 by Will Nasgovitz of Heartland Advisors

We’ve seen the longest period of growth outperformance since 1932, but the two catalysts could cause value to return to favor. First, tapering by the Fed should allow interest rates to normalize and thereby benefit the Financials sector. Second, there’s potential for a correction in the Consumer Discretionary sector, which appears overvalued: The group’s P/E is above the historical average and performance has tracked upward despite flat earnings revisions.

2014-02-10 Volatility Should Persist, But Stick With Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iSharesBlog

Volatility rose last week and is now close to its long-term average. Economic data has softened, but we do not believe the Federal Reserve will change course. Investors may want to consider adding to equity positions during periods of weakness

2014-02-10 What Would a Stronger Dollar Mean for Global Markets? by Borge Endresen, Brent Bates of Invesco

As the world watches the progress of the US Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) tapering program, and anticipates the strengthening of the US dollar, we’re often asked how this affects our view of the international market and risk. The short answer is that it doesn’t. We’re long-term, bottom-up stock pickers, so we’re primarily concerned with currency impacts on a company-by-company basis. However, there are some broad trends that are worth noting.

2014-02-09 A Most Dangerous Era by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we were confronted with a rather troubling appendix in the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the Affordable Care Act, which suggests that the act will have a rather profound impact on employment patterns.

2014-02-09 Global Economic Overview - December 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

The global economic outlook has turned brighter as several major economies are improving. Both business and consumer sentiment have become healthier across most regions, as the policy uncertainties that plagued several countries last year have faded. The U.S. economy is expected to accelerate further in 2014, while Europe and Japan are also likely to see faster growth.

2014-02-08 ROC View with John Cole Scott by (Article)

Return of capital (ROC) may be a concern if it’s “destructive.” John Cole Scott of CEF Advisors shares a view on ROC supported by recent research.

2014-02-08 Why Majority of IFAs Struggle to Scale-Up Their Practice by Rajat Dhar of Cogent Advisory

With SEBI, the regulatory body coming up with wealth service guidelines for IFAs, it is evident that only those having larger scale of operations can adapt swiftly to the changing regulations and market conditions. But, large number of IFAs in India are finding it hard to scale up. This commentary outlines the generic reasons as to what stops IFAs to scale up their practices.

2014-02-08 International Equity Commentary - December 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

International equity prices saw marginal gains in December as investors weighed the improved global economic outlook against the reduction in monetary stimulus from the U.S. Federal Reserve. Economic trends have become more positive across most regions, helped by the improving business environment and consumer sentiment in the U.S. as well as in Europe. Japan continues to see stronger export gains as demand revives in its major markets and the cheaper yen remain supportive.

2014-02-07 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Long-term unemployment needs to be addressed more intensively. January’s jobs data was very much a mixed bag. Janet Yellen’s testimony will include thoughts on joblessness.

2014-02-07 What's the Game Changer for Gold? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

What will break gold of its losing streak? Will inflation, which is a lagging indicator, be stronger than expected? In one of my most popular posts last year, I said that based on the jobs market, the limited housing recovery and regulations slowing down the flow of money, the Fed would have no choice but to start tapering and raising rates very gradually to keep stimulating the economy.

2014-02-07 Knockout Punch for the Stock Markets? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Boxers are tough. So are secular bear markets. Whether or not we have been in one since back in 2000 (we say yes) is a subject of constant debate in the investment advisory industry. What is more important to investors today is whether past market behavior tells us anything important about the current environment? We think the answer is yes - human behavior repeats itself over and over again.

2014-02-07 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.2, down from last week’s downward revision from 133.7. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place slipped to 4.2 from last week’s 4.3.

2014-02-07 Over-Stimulated, Over-Priced by Neeraj Chaudhary of Euro Pacific Capital

At the end of 2013 Wall Street appeared to be convinced that the markets were enjoying the best of all possible worlds. In an interview with CNBC on Dec. 31 famed finance professor Jeremy Siegel stated that stocks would build on the great gains of 2013 with an additional 27% increase this year. So far 2014 hasn’t gone according to script. In contrast to the prevailing optimism I maintain a high degree of skepticism regarding the current rally in U.S. stocks. But opinions are cheap. To back up my gut feeling, here are six very diverse indicators that suggest U.S. stocks are overvalued.

2014-02-07 Emerging Europe: Regional Economic Review - 4Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

The club of emerging European economies expanded, as Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) moved Greece from developed to the status of an emerging economy. The majority of the countries covered in this review, including the new entrant, had something to look up to in the New Year.

2014-02-07 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

How do you follow up some 30%-ish annual index gains in 2013...with major losses in January? Sadly, that’s what investors experienced as the Dow plunged over 5% to start the month, the worst January since 2009. Those who say "as January goes, so goes the market" are not among the most popular these days. Earnings have been lackluster at best; emerging markets are in panic mode; Bernanke is moving out to pasture; investors still have quite a few profits they can take from last year. Then again, 11 months is plenty of time to "right the ship."

2014-02-07 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Fears over emerging markets, a tightening Federal Reserve Board and a loss in momentum in the economy have combined to create a sloppy market for stocks, while the bond market continues to confound the pundits and enjoy a solid start to the New Year.

2014-02-07 Two Questions for Japan Inc. by Kara Yoon of Matthews Asia

During my last research trip in November, we visited mostly consumer-facing companies in Japan where we took the opportunity to pose two key questions to the management teams we met. The first was-"Are you planning to increase prices for products or services after Japan’s consumption tax hike (scheduled for April)?" And secondly: "Will you raise employee wages?"

2014-02-07 Investment Principles and Habits: Contrarian Value Investing in a Liquidity-Driven Environment by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks at how recent market performance, having been both driven down by and buoyed by liquidity, should cause asset managers to re-examine their investment principles. Though he cautions that the possibility exists that the recent market drivers might be an aberration, "stubborn aberrations are worth paying attention to."

2014-02-07 Global Inflation: A Mixed Picture by Monty Guild of Guild Investment Management

Many investors and global macro economists have been on vigil for a ramp up in global inflation spurred by immense central bank QE and other forms monetary stimulus. All of the money printing from around the globe has helped keep the financial system functioning, and it continues to help weak developed economies get back on firmer growth footing.

2014-02-07 2013 Year-End Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory

We find ourselves with a more sanguine big-picture view, at least over the nearer term, than we have had in some time. U.S. and global economic fundamentals gradually improved over the past year across a number of dimensions, and seem poised for continued improvement or at least stability in 2014. However, as we look ahead, the longer-term risks related to excessive global debt, subpar growth, and unprecedented government policy that we have worried about since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis still remain largely unresolved.

2014-02-07 Dark Gold: Shedding Light on a Mysterious Market by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

Gold is the simplest of financial assets - you either own it or you don’t. Yet, at the same time, gold is also among the most private of assets. Once an individual locks his or her safe, that gold effectively disappears from the market at large. Unlike bank deposits or stocks, there is no way to tally the total amount of gold held by individual investors.

2014-02-07 American Bandstand by Ben Hunt of Salient Partners

Clark didn’t poll America to determine their taste in music. He told them their taste in music...not directly, but by creating common knowledge - ideas that a crowd believes that the crowd believes. It’s certainly the most potent force in the social world of markets, and every Central Banker today is playing the Common Knowledge Game just as hard as Dick Clark ever did.

2014-02-06 Divesting When Discomfited by Ben Inker of GMO

Ben Inker explains why, "for our asset allocation portfolios we generally try to trade slowly." He notes, "The slightly odd fact is that moving slowly on value-driven decisions has simply made more money historically than moving immediately would have."

2014-02-06 Year-End Odds and Ends by Jeremy Grantham of GMO

In a new quarterly letter to GMO’s institutional clients, chief investment strategist Jeremy Grantham offers "Year-End Odds and Ends": Fossil Fuels: Is Tesla a Tease or a Triumph?, Fracking and Yet More Technical Stuff on Fracking, Update on Metals, Fertilizers, and Food, Problems in Forecasting Short-term Prices for Resources, Another Look at U.S. GDP Growth, Investment Lessons Learned: Mistakes Made Over 47 Years

2014-02-06 How Did the Emerging Markets Get Into This Mess? by Andres Garcia-Amaya of J.P. Morgan Funds

A number of central banks around the world tightened monetary policy during the week of January 27, but the rationale for their policy decisions varied significantly. In the U.S., the Federal Reserve continued its "tapering" of quantitative easing (QE) to reflect the strong economic growth prospects, while Turkey, India and South Africa tightened policy in an attempt to prevent an exodus of foreign capital from their countries.

2014-02-06 Will China Overtake the U.S. as World Leader and Reserve Currency? by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

Will China Overtake the US as World Leader and Reserve Currency? This has not happened yet, but it may not be far down the road if the US does not get its fiscal house in order. The United States has been the biggest national economy since 1871, but more than half of Americans have slapped an expiration date on its global reign.

2014-02-06 Emerging Market Woes abd Fed Tapering Equals Stocks Plunge by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

January saw US stocks record their first losing month since last August. After reaching new record highs at the end of December, the Dow Jones shed almost 1,000 points in the last half of the month and the decline continues. Analysts attributed the sell-off in large part due to troubling news from several emerging nations, in particular to the so-called "Fragile Five" - Turkey, India, Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa.

2014-02-06 So Cruel: Pullback Could Become Correction by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

For now, the EM tail is wagging the dog, but the US remains the world’s big dog and should ultimately get through the latest turmoil. "January Barometer" has sent mixed signals for the remainder of the year historically. More technical and sentiment recovery is likely needed before a market recovery is likely.

2014-02-06 Health Care Holds Promise by Team of Janus Capital Group

Last year was a strong year for health care investing, as the sector was a top performer in a number of indices. Even after such a strong run, we believe the sector will continue to provide a shot in the arm for equity portfolios.

2014-02-06 EM Misery and US Large-Cap Euphoria by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

Many investors are wondering why emerging stock market misery currently equates to weakness in the US stock market as represented by the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 indexes (large-cap). Long time followers of our writing at Smead Capital Management are aware that we have been making the argument this would happen since 2010 and we are happy to review our thesis.

2014-02-06 Beyond the Mall: Why Consumers Matter by Ted Baszler of Heartland Advisors

The bottom line is, more people are working now than were a few years ago, pumping income into the economy. At the same time that employment and real wages have been staging a moderate comeback, the housing market has continued to hold firm, and equity markets have posted impressive returns. Record-high levels of personal net worth have prompted more discretionary spending. Periods of greater spending also are associated with higher levels of equity ownership, which can push P/Es higher.

2014-02-06 Technology Leaders and Laggards by Paul Meeks of Saturna Capital

The technology sector includes several industries, such as semiconductors and semiconductor capital equipment, software and services, and technology hardware and equipment.

2014-02-06 An Opportunity to Buy by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

We will likely look back on the current turbulence in financial markets as a healthy correction, and an encouraging sign that policymakers are allowing markets to self-correct in a way not seen since before 2008.

2014-02-06 Stagnation by Design by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

The difficulties that many rich countries now face are not the result of the inexorable laws of economics, to which people simply must adjust, as they would to a natural disaster. On the contrary, the decline in most households’ income over the past three decades, particularly in the US, is the result of flawed policies.

2014-02-06 How Fragile are Emerging Markets? by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

Emerging-market equities and exchange rates are again under severe downward pressure, but are the underlying economies really as fragile as global traders seem to fear? The short answer, for a few, is probably "yes," but, for most, "not quite yet."

2014-02-05 Emerging Market Turmoil Creates January Decline by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished lower last week, as the S&P 500 ended January with the first monthly loss since August 2013 and the largest monthly decline since May 2012. A global retreat from risk has been sparked by unrest around the world, sell-offs in emerging markets led by a 20% decline in the Argentine peso, weaker than expected economic reports from China, U.S. economic growth concerns in light of frigid temperatures and anxiety over Fed tapering.

2014-02-05 2014 Market Outlook by Kevin Mahn of Hennion & Walsh

Some Bumps along the Road of Global Recovery

2014-02-05 The Fed's Forced Feeding Will End Badly by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

This financial market reminds me of when we were kids sitting at the dinner table and the one thing almost all of us heard back in the 1970s was "that plate better be clean by the time I get back or else." This left us with images of torture that would follow the "or else."

2014-02-05 Chicago Housing Outlook an A Plus after Falling 91% by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting

Watch out for a housing renaissance in the Chicago metro area. The region massively overcorrected in this last downturn and just recently joined the recovery. New home revenue fell 91% from 2005 to 2010, and most private builders went out of business.

2014-02-05 This Just In: The Secular Bear Market May Be About to Resume. by Martin Pring of Pring Turner Capital Group

In our 2012 book, Investing in the Second Lost Decade we laid out the case for the secular bear market in equities lasting at least through the end of the decade. Since then prices of most averages have moved to all-time highs. It’s time to throw in the towel on the secular bear market for stocks...right?

2014-02-05 New Maestro, Seasoned Band by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

The process by which the Fed carries out its duties is institutionalized, firmly rooted and unlikely to change - no matter who is at the helm. The core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index will be one of Janet Yellen’s most important guiding lights for future Fed policy.

2014-02-05 Emerald Economic Commentary by Team of Emerald Allocation Strategies

As Yogi Berra once said, "You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there." As we look back on 2013 and look ahead to 2014,we want to share our thoughts on the road traveled and more importantly, the possible road ahead.

2014-02-05 A Decline in January Draws Attention to Portfolio Protection by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

January was a bumpy month for domestic equities as the S&P 500 declined by 3.5%. Perhaps the decline was influenced by the even larger decline in emerging markets, an earnings season that was viewed by some as disappointing or for no reason at all (markets don’t always have a reason for what they do).

2014-02-05 The Importance of Taking a Long-Term Perspective by Jeffrey Knight of Columbia Management

For asset allocation decisions, we find great value in maintaining a long-term outlook for major asset classes. Twice a year, in fact, we conduct an extensive update of our five-year return forecasts for several asset classes. The purpose of this exercise is two-fold. First, taking a longer term perspective helps us to set strategic asset allocations and design portfolios for diverse investment goals.

2014-02-05 Most 'Medieval' by William Gross of PIMCO

Unlike today, when most believe that animals were put on this Earth for humanity’s pleasure or utility, most people in the Middle Ages believed that God granted free will to Adam, Eve and all of His creatures. Animals were responsible in some strange way for their own actions and therefore should be held accountable for them.

2014-02-05 Will 2013 Trends Continue in 2014? by Team of Managers Investment Group

2014-02-04 Discount Appeal with Mike Taggart by (Article)

Wide discounts in the CEF market may be attractive to current and prospective investors, says Mike Taggart of Nuveen Investments.

2014-02-04 Do-It-Yourself Practice Valuations by Bob Veres (Article)

More firms are looking to grow through acquisition. Indeed, this pathway to growth has been incredibly vibrant in the last 12 months. But the biggest impediment has been unrealistic expectations and valuations. Here is a tool that addresses these valuation challenges - and it comes at exactly the right time for the profession.

2014-02-04 The Albatross of MPT Thinking by Michael Edesess (Article)

The January/February issue of the Financial Analysts Journal includes an article titled "My Top 10 Peeves" by Clifford Asness, who was trained in modern portfolio theory (MPT) and its underlying assumptions. Many of Asness’ peeves are directed at people who depart from the MPT worldview. In discussing his peeves, I will offer counter-arguments and explain why I think the MPT perspective is flawed.

2014-02-04 James Montier - What Worries Me Right Now by Robert Huebscher (Article)

GMO’s investment strategist James Montier discusses why corporate profits will revert to the mean, what investors should know about the controversy over CAPE valuations, and the one issue that is the "preeminent occupation" of his mind right now.

2014-02-04 China’s Problems are America’s Opportunity by Justin Kermond (Article)

Fear not Federal Reserve tapering, lackluster U.S. earnings, oncoming deflation or markets heading into bubble territory, says Francois Trahan. Our economic and market growth will be fueled by structural changes driven by rebalancing in China. Don’t be surprised to see a repeat of 2013’s U.S. equity market performance, according to Trahan, who offered a script for countering clients’ unfounded fears over what might go wrong.

2014-02-04 The Actions that Lead to Top Performance by Dan Richards (Article)

In my 30 years of experience dealing with successful advisors, I’ve seen as many paths to success as there are successful advisors. And for those advisors with a well-established practice, that’s actually a good thing - if there was a simple formula for success, the barriers to entry for new advisors would go way down and the flood of successful competitors would put downward pressure on pricing and compensation. Despite the lack of a universal route to success, I have found that successful advisors engage in nine key activities.

2014-02-04 The Hidden Risks of Bank-Loan Funds by David Schawel (Article)

Bank loans, also referred to as floating-rate funds, are viewed by many investors as providing a modest source of income while generally free of interest-rate risk. Unfortunately, this narrative is wrong, and their surge in popularity has created an extremely poor risk-reward outlook for holders.

2014-02-04 Stocks Will Stop Falling Soon by Keith C. Goddard (Article)

Recent volatility in the stock market will not evolve into a serious decline, because credit spreads in the bond market remain low and stable.

2014-02-04 A New Boss Who Undervalues the Firm’s Story by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

My boss was recently hired. She has been successful on the asset-management side of the business but not in wealth management. Her entire focus is on the investment process and the investment philosophy. Our clients hire us - and stay - because of an overall relationship. I am beginning to think she does not understand wealth management, so she stays away from talking about anything other than investments. Is there a way I can teach her how to value all of what we do?

2014-02-04 Want to Achieve Marketing Success? Assign Responsibility by Kristen Luke (Article)

Develop a marketing strategy that works for you and your business. Once you find a strategy that works, implement it consistently. But with numerous other responsibilities and distractions, many financial advisors stumble when it comes to implementing their marketing plans. As a result, they do not see the results they anticipated.

2014-02-04 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Stephanie Kelton’s article, Code Red or Red Herring? Mauldin and Tepper’s Code Red Reviewed , and a reader responds to Justin Kermond’s article, Harvard’s Post-Crisis Endowment Strategy, both of which appeared last week.

2014-02-04 Volatility Prompts a More Cautious View Toward Emerging Markets by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

The market selloff continued last week, and emerging markets stocks are looking more uncertain in the short term. With U.S. wages under pressure, consumer-related stocks remain an unattractive option. The Federal Reserve’s tapering program is starting to remove a pillar of support for stocks.

2014-02-04 Groundhog Day for Investors by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

As investors, we’re hard-wired to bow to our emotions, which cause us to repeat the same mistakes over and over. But one tough month for stocks shouldn’t scare us away, says Kristina Hooper. Here are four tips for investors following the January selloff.

2014-02-04 Weekly Market Update by James Welch of Castleton Partners

Taking direction from a sharp sell-off in risk assets across the globe-especially in emerging market economies, Treasury yields continued their month long decline last week.

2014-02-04 Investors Should Focus on Wages, Not Jobs by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

This Friday investors receive the first official labor market report of 2014. Following a highly disappointing jobs figure in December, many market participants hope to see a rebound - particularly one that will help justify the Fed’s decision last week to continue tapering its asset purchases.

2014-02-04 Crisis in Ukraine by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Since November, Ukraine has experienced widespread civil unrest. In late November, Ukrainian President Yanukovych decided not to join an EU-sponsored trade pact. This led to protests from Ukrainians who desired closer relations with Europe. In this report, we will begin by discussing the geopolitics of the nations involved, examining how nations have adjusted their policies over time to changing conditions. We will analyze the risks to the region from current unrest, including a look at the impact on emerging markets. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.

2014-02-04 Bear Markets: Different Ingredients, Same Market Behaviors by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

While it is logical that markets are complex, the reality is that the level of complexity changes over time. The level of complexity started to increase last year when now former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke first introduced the idea of what has come to be called tapering.

2014-02-04 It Looks Messy Even From a Distance... by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

I’m traveling outside the country but I am never far from the latest financial market update. I saw today’s market move and with the sluggish start to the New Year in stocks, I thought I’d drop you all a line with my thoughts.

2014-02-04 Short-Term Trends Can Have Long-Term Consequences by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

There are short-term trends that can have implications for the long-term investor’s investment portfolios. The first trend and outcome for 2014 is Americans are earning less and have less money to spend.

2014-02-04 Challenging the Consensus by Niels Jensen of Absolute Return Partners

Investors are overwhelmingly bearish on bonds going into 2014. In this month’s Absolute Return Letter we challenge that view and look at various reasons why the bond market may surprise most people and deliver a positive return this year.

2014-02-03 10 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back! Comments on January Stock Market by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

US stocks as measured by the S&P 500 delivered a phenomenal 32.4% return in 2013. That was the 6th best year for US stocks since 1940. In January, US stocks fell 3.5%. We don’t watch business news anymore, but judging from an increased volume of phone calls from clients, we presume that CNBC, Fox Business, CNN and MSNBC have categorized this modest decline as "an apocalypse." Our "dashboard" shows return numbers for US and International stock markets, commodities, currencies and bond yields. A lot of red YTD 2014, but all green at the end of 2013.

2014-02-03 Gold Momentum Study by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

The Coppock curve is a price momentum indicator designed by Edwin Coppock in the 1960’s to detect major equity bottoms while minimizing the risk of subsequent reversal. I recently applied this indicator to gold bullion, a beaten-up market which has fallen nearly 40% from its peak in August 2011.

2014-02-03 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

Despite the inverted gyrations of the stock market during the past three weeks, my market overview continues to be moderately bullish, of course with specific reservations about investors’ unbridled carryover of unrealistic expectations borne out of last year’s performance.

2014-02-03 A Happier Ending for IMF Reform? by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

Despite an elegant solution that involved no new commitments of resources, the US Congress last month refused to take up a long-delayed funding proposal for the IMF. But there is also a silver lining here, because disappointment can be turned into renewed opportunity.

2014-02-03 NY Fed Models Forecasting Excess Returns Through 2018 by John Bougearel of Structural Logic CTA

The NY Federal Reserve has an equity research department. Their research department determined in 2013 that "stocks are cheap" and that investors should enjoy "excess high returns" in an abnormally low or negative real interest rate environment for the next five years through 2018. Before reviewing potential mean reversions, implications from the Year of the Horse, & George Lindsay’s bearish Three Peaks and Domed House model, let’s attempt to quantify the NY Fed models. How high the Dow Jones might climb if it is to enjoy "excess high returns" through 2018.

2014-02-03 Dr. Copper: Prognosis Negative by Team of GaveKal Capital

Dr. Copper, aptly named for the metal’s ability to gauge the strength of the global economy, is not giving the most upbeat prognosis at the moment. In fact, with today’s weakness the intermediate term trendline is being tested. A decisive breach of this important trendline would likely lead to a testing of the low made last June and would probably be accompanied by rising concerns of deflation and slow global growth.

2014-02-03 A Secular Bull Market? by Juliet Ellis of Invesco Blog

Five years from now, I believe we will look back and see that 2014 was part of the early stages of a multi-year secular bull market for US equities, characterized by rising stock prices with only short, intervening market corrections.

2014-02-03 Pushing Luck by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Speculators have been luckier than they may realize, and are now pushing their luck. Quantitative easing has distorted not only financial markets, but financial memory. The awakening is not likely to be gentle.

2014-02-03 Stocks for 2014: Fairly Valued Dividend Growth Stocks with an Emphasis on Dividends - Part 4 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

I am a firm believer that common stock portfolios should be custom-designed to meet each unique individual’s goals, objectives and risk tolerances. With that said, I believe it logically follows that in order to create a successful portfolio, the individual investor must first conduct some serious introspection to be sure that they truly "know thyself." Therefore, I believe the first, and perhaps most critical step, towards designing a successful equity portfolio is to ask your-self, and honestly answer several important questions.

2014-02-03 Is the Stock Market Cheap? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Here is a new update of a popular market valuation method using the most recent Standard & Poor’s "as reported" earnings and earnings estimates and the index monthly averages of daily closes for the past month, which is 1824.35. The ratios in parentheses use the monthly close of 1782.59. For the earnings, see the table below created from Standard & Poor’s latest earnings spreadsheet.

2014-02-01 Central Banker Throwdown by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The Federal Reserve is signaling that it is going to end quantitative easing at some point in the future; therefore, investors are trying to find the exits before the end actually comes.

2014-01-31 A Surprising Gift for Chinese New Year by Sherwood Zhang of Matthews Asia

Beijing-based China Credit Trust Company, a firm that operates as a non-banking financial institution in China, announced this week it reached an agreement to restructure a risky high-yield product that had earlier ignited worries over the health of China’s trust industry. Just in time for the Lunar New Year, investors in the troubled trust may receive a big (metaphorical) red envelope-a monetary gift traditionally given during Chinese New Year or other special occasions-or at least avoid a financial hit.

2014-01-31 Thrift, Thrift, Burning Bright by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms of ING Investment Management

Does the title sound familiar? Think feral instead of frugal, and William Blake’s "Tyger, Tyger, burning bright" may start to flicker between the synapses of memory and an English lit class you once soldiered through. But even if you haven’t read "The Tyger", its theme is aptly captured in the opening line and its image of a big flaming kitty cat. Essentially, Blake saw reality in duality: To appreciate the ferocious feline in all its glory is to come face to face with the same force that created "The Lamb", another entry in the poet’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience.

2014-01-31 A Toast- To the Decade by Rick Lear of Sloan Wealth Management

This is the most common question the members of the Sloan Wealth Management (SWM) Portfolio Management Team fielded this holiday season. This common quandary is in the context of the (2010, 2011, 2012 and now 2013) bull-run in the stock market, but we can’t help but visualize the numerous parallels to an actual party. If you have read our previous year-end letters you know we were among the first to arrive at the party and have no plans of leaving any time soon - as this decade remains enticing.

2014-01-31 Not All Emerging Markets Are Created Equal by Robert McConnaughey of Columbia Management

Emerging markets (EM) is a term given to a universe of countries that is extremely diverse across a wide number of variables including geography, levels of industrialization and political systems. Despite this diversity, emerging markets are often discussed as if they are a homogenous block, particularly in the context of broad asset allocation decision making. We think that’s a mistake. Instead, we see opportunity from applying a more bottom-up approach to country, industry and security selection amidst growing dispersion in outcomes across the emerging world.

2014-01-31 Do Portfolio Diversifiers Belong in Client Portfolios? by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

The big idea is that the stock market goes up more often than not but when it does go down it scares the hell out of clients. During these large declines some advisors will use tools like gold, hedge fund replicators, absolute return, market neutral, funds that sell short or any other products that tend to not look like the stock market to try to spare clients from the full effect of the decline.

2014-01-31 The Trouble with Emerging Markets by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate

The financial turmoil that hit emerging-market economies in the spring of last year, following the Federal Reserve’s "taper tantrum" over its quantitative-easing policy, has returned with a vengeance. But the immediate trigger for these pressures should not be confused with deeper causes: Many emerging markets are in real trouble.

2014-01-31 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.8, unchanged at one decimal place from last week’s downward revision from 133.9. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place rose to 4.3, up from last week’s 4.2.

2014-01-31 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Personal Income Less Transfer Payments by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The December month-over-month Real Personal Income less Transfer Payments came in at a disappointing -0.21% (-0.2% rounded to one decimal). The year-over-year change is -2.47% (rounded to -2.5%). However, the YoY metric is radically skewed by the December 2012 end-of-year tax-planning strategy whereby income was captured in 2012 to avoided expected tax increases.

2014-01-31 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

China’s shadow banking products are coming under the spotlight. Emerging markets: Be sure to differentiate. The fixed income sector’s surprising strength.

2014-01-31 Buy What You Know? Not So Fast by Russ Koesterich of iSharesBlog

Buy what you know. It’s an old admonition, and on the surface a sensible one. Focusing your investments on those companies that you’re most familiar with should help mitigate the risk of a bad investment choice. Unfortunately, like a lot of conventional wisdom, it’s wrong. Concentrating your portfolio to local investments, while comforting, is a mistake for two reasons.

2014-01-31 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

This month, we sing happy birthday to Apple. It was 30 years ago that Apple introduced its first Mac computer. What was novel then is commonplace today and far less clunky. For those old enough to remember what that boxy looking thing was like, it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come. Carl Icahn bought another $500 million more shares of Apple stock, bringing his total investment to $3.6 billion. As an activist shareholder he is trying to force Apple to buy up to $500 million in a stock buyback program.

2014-01-31 High Yield: The Perfect Storm That Wasn't by Gershon Distenfeld of Alliance Bernstein

Investors should not focus on how rising rates may affect high yield. Instead, they should take a more thoughtful approach. This means they should not expect double-digit returns, nor should they reach for yield by buying triple-C bonds. At this point in the credit cycle, when concerns begin to develop disproportionally in lower-rated credits, investors are not getting compensated for taking this type of risk. Instead, investors should accept that single-digit returns are a realistic expectation in 2014. And in a relatively low-rate environment, we don’t think that’s a bad thing.

2014-01-31 The Super Bowl of Investing by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Here is our list of official National Football League penalties - as applied to investors. Don’t get penalized, think your way through today’s environment, or find a money management specialist who can.

2014-01-31 Value-Hunting in the US by Cindy Sweeting of Franklin Templeton

With key stock indices in the US closing the year near historical highs and many pundits predicting stronger growth rates both in the US and globally going into 2014, one would think bargains would be hard to find this year. January’s volatility, however, proved just how unpredictable markets can be. The recent market gyrations may be somewhat painful for many investors in the short-term, but the silver lining is that corrections can serve up buying opportunities, particularly for long-term, value-oriented investors.

2014-01-31 The New Watchword-Deflation? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Equity markets have been shaky to start the year but we don’t believe it’s time to abandon ship. The fundamentals in the United States continue to look appealing and the recent pullback has helped to correct some sentiment and valuation concerns. We are watching the fight against deflation carefully in Europe and Japan, and believe both countries may need to do more via monetary policy stimulus. Meanwhile, some emerging economies are dealing with inflation, but we don’t believe the recent problems will morph into a widespread crisis at this point.

2014-01-30 Quarterly Review and Outlook - Fourth Quarter 2013 by Van Hoisington, Lacy Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

In The Theory of Interest, Irving Fisher, who Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman called America’s greatest economist, created the Fisher equation, which states the nominal bond yield is equal to the real yield plus expected inflation. It serves as the pillar of macroeconomics and as the foundational relationship of the bond market. It has been reconfirmed many times by scholarly examination and by the sheer force of historical experience. Examining periods of both low and high inflation offers insight into how each variable in the Fisher equation affects the outcome.

2014-01-30 FOMC Sticks With the Tapering Plan by Team of Northern Trust

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) at the conclusion of its meeting today announced a further $10 billion reduction in its monthly rate of asset purchases. The increment was similar in size and composition to the first tapering step taken in December.

2014-01-30 A Healthy Correction in Emerging Markets by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

It has been a hard start to the year, especially for emerging markets, but the latest dislocation is a healthy part of the cycle and the risk-on trade remains intact.

2014-01-30 Breakthrough by Colleen Denzler of Janus Capital Group

The funny thing about crises is that we tend to feel as if they occur suddenly, on one day. For me, that day was when Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection on September 15, 2008. I remember looking at my Bloomberg screen and thinking I was witnessing the end of the financial markets.

2014-01-30 US Pending Home Sales Falls Off A Cliff In December by Team of GaveKal Capital

Pending Home Sales Index fell by 8.7% month-over-month compared to expectations of only a -0.5% decline. Pending home sales have now dropped every month since making a four year high in May.

2014-01-30 High Yield in 2014: Where Can You Look for Upside in a 'Medium Yield' Market? by Andrew Jessop, Hozef Arif of PIMCO

Default rates and credit losses in high yield markets remain below their long-term averages, and we believe default rates will remain low in 2014 and 2015 as well. Investors should consider positioning for better convexity via exposure to sectors with favorable industry dynamics and positive event risk from M&A or equity offerings, potential upside from price recovery in high quality bonds trading below par and exposure to select new supply from former investment grade companies.

2014-01-30 The Equity "Game" by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

We have seen the cracks begin to emerge in the equity story over the past week. Earnings are beginning to come in and so far have been a disappointment. The retail sector is showing signs that Q4 was weaker than originally expected, with store cuts announced by, Sears, J.C. Penney, and Macy’s and job cuts at Target. Emerging markets have been roiled this week, with Argentina shifting policy, likely devaluing their currency, and other currencies plunging.

2014-01-30 Getting Comfortable With Volatility by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen significant volatility in the markets, which has spooked some investors, but is also something we have become accustomed to. Markets generally (not only emerging markets) have become much more volatile during the last 20 years as a result of massive flows of money from not only institutional investors and long-only mutual funds but also hedge funds and high-frequency trading. We see such selloffs as potential opportunities to pick up bargains in select stocks if, in fact, the prices move low enough to draw our interest.

2014-01-30 The Path to Becoming an Emerging Market by Henry D'Auria, Morgan Harting of AllianceBernstein

Why have some equity markets in the developing world flourished more than others? It’s a pivotal question for investors hoping to stake an early claim to the potential emerging-market (EM) success stories of the next decade.

2014-01-29 Watching the Polar Bear by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

With temperatures hovering around zero and wind chills in the negative teens, I can’t think of any better label for Friday’s stock market sell off than a "polar bear". Here in Michigan at the Detroit Zoo, one of the nation’s finest, we have a rather unique polar bear exhibit. Visitors to the zoo can actually walk through tunnels interspersed throughout the polar bear environment created in the exhibit. At one point you are underneath the big furry creatures as they swim about. It is a beautiful sight.

2014-01-29 Do China Insider Transactions Lie? by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

In our business, we like to say that insider transactions never lie. For this reason, one of our eight criteria for selecting common stocks is strong insider ownership, preferably with recent purchases. Additionally, as contrarians, we want to make our original purchases in a business at a time when most investors are scared to buy for one reason or another. When we see officers, directors and substantial existing shareholders of a business buying at prices which are temporarily depressed, we raise our confidence in the long-term future of a business.

2014-01-29 2014 Oil Outlook: How Slick Is the Oil Slope by Greg Sharenow of PIMCO

While the supply outlook tilts the balances toward bearish in 2014, an improving global economy is a positive for oil demand and a support for prices. With roll yields positively contributing to returns, investors ultimately could be paid to hold a security that hedges both global event risk and any resulting shock to inflation. Growth in shale oil has been a powerful moderating force for prices by both filling an important gap in global supply and demand and by anchoring the back end of the futures curve.

2014-01-29 How the Pioneer of Hydraulic Fracturing changed the MLP Landscape by David Chiaro of Eagle Global Advisors

A banner year for MLPs and the future looks bright.

2014-01-29 All Things in Moderation, Including Housing by Ed Devlin of PIMCO

In our view, the cooling housing market and other domestic factors will keep Canadian growth at a modest 1.75%-2.25% in 2014, despite a boost from higher U.S. growth. While we expect a correction in Canada’s housing market to begin this year, the macroeconomic environment and the availability of mortgage credit suggest a housing crash is unlikely. In this environment, we think the Canadian dollar should remain attractive, 10-year bonds should offer the potential for gains, and provincial bonds will likely outperform federal government and corporate bonds.

2014-01-29 How to Retire at 30! by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

MarketWatch had a very thought provoking post about a couple in Colorado who retired when they turned 30 (they are 39 now). In 2011 they took their story to the blogosphere with the very popular blog Mr. Money Moustache.

2014-01-29 Fed Responsible for EM Crisis? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

From the bully pulpits in Sao Paulo to the blogosphere in cyberspace, the Fed is blamed for the turmoil in Emerging Markets (EM). That’s a bit like blaming McDonald’s for obesity. Blaming others won’t fix the problems in EM economies, it won’t fix investors’ portfolios and it is an unlikely way to lose weight. Investors and policy makers need to wake up and realize that they are in charge of their own destiny. Let us explain.

2014-01-29 The Future in Focus: Trade Could Aid an Aging America by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Goods and services sourced from overseas could help the United States alleviate the effects of future labor shortages - if lawmakers can resist protectionist impulses.

2014-01-29 A Few Concerns by Scott Brown of Raymond James

We’ve begun 2014 with widespread expectations that economic growth will pick up. Growth last year was restrained by tighter fiscal policy. With that out of the way and the housing sector recovering, the pace of expansion is poised to improve. However, there are a number of concerns. Weak growth in real wages may limit consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of Gross Domestic Product. Long-term interest rates could rise too rapidly, choking off the recovery in the housing sector. A continued low trend in inflation, a major concern for some Fed officials, could weaken growth.

2014-01-29 Bear Raid? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

I should have guessed that something was wrong when I checked into the Langham Hotel last Thursday only to be told by the valet, "There is a bear on the loose in the neighborhood so watch out." At first I didn’t believe him, but when I turned the TV on there it was, and as the cameras rolled the news anchor said, "Pasadena police and wildlife officials are warning residents to be on alert for a black bear after it was spotted wandering through backyards. The animal appears to be moving from home to home."

2014-01-29 Middle East/Africa: Regional Economic Review - 4Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) anticipates weak growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region mainly due to heightened political instability. What’s more, after years of healthy performance, growth in the oil exporting nations is expected to lose pace due to lower international demand and local oil supply disruptions. Given that these countries are witnessing a population boom, the IMF emphasized the need for economic diversification by the oil exporters and job creation in private non-oil sectors.

2014-01-28 Global fixed income outlook for 2014 by Phil Apel (Article)

Phil Apel, Head of Fixed Income, gives a brief review of the key themes that influenced bond markets in 2013 and an outlook for the environment in 2014. He notes that corporate credit is behaving responsibly to refinance and get into a good position financially. In contrast government bonds have suffered as the economy has recovered the market has begun to price in the fact we may see a normalization in the foreseeable period and have seen forward interest rates move up to the lower level of normal band.

2014-01-28 Code Red or Red Herring? Mauldin and Tepper’s Code Red Reviewed by Stephanie Kelton (Article)

If you aren’t already unnerved by what Bernanke & Co. have been doing for the last five years - things like quantitative easing (QE), a zero-interest policy (ZIRP) and large-scale asset purchases (LSAPs) - then reading John Mauldin and Jonathan Tepper’s latest, Code Red, may leave you seeing red. It’s a maddening tale of the harm that has already befallen savers as well as a warning about the longer-term damage that may be in store for all of us down the road.

2014-01-28 Looking Back at the Advisory Profession 20 Years from Now by Bob Veres (Article)

I’ve powered up my time-travel hardware to take a clear look at the year 2034. I’ve received budgetary approval to make a long-distance phone call into the future, and conduct a real interview with a successful advisor in that time period. Yes, it was expensive. But nothing is too good for our readers.

2014-01-28 The Three Drivers of Exceptional Success by Dan Richards (Article)

Any suggestion that there’s only one path to success is fatally flawed. As I look back at my 30 years working with extremely successful advisors, what strikes me is the variation in the approaches taken by advisors. That said, there are three categories of behavior that extremely successful advisors share.

2014-01-28 Harvard’s Post-Crisis Endowment Strategy by Justin Kermond (Article)

Jane Mendillo took the helm as CEO and president of Harvard Management Company (HMC) in 2008, after the endowment suffered a devastating $10 billion loss, which depleted its worth by more than 27%. Under her leadership, HMC has emerged from the crisis with innovative changes in its policies and processes regarding asset allocation and risk management of alternative assets.

2014-01-28 When the Boss Makes Bad Decisions by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Our founder and current president is a control freak. No decisions can be made without his blessing. The problem is that he is semi-retired. He can be gone for two weeks out of the month sometimes. The business still has to run and we have to make decisions, but the last person who made an executive decision in Joe’s absence was fired. Is there a way we could conduct an intervention?

2014-01-28 How to Identify the Ideal Female Client by Kristan Wojnar (Article)

Advisors are overwhelmed with data demonstrating the opportunity of working with the female market. Most advisors understand the opportunity, but they lack the tools to use the data effectively.

2014-01-28 What Makes a Valid Benchmark? by Christophe Gauthron (Article)

Single-index benchmarks are widely used but seldom appropriate, because they don’t reflect the investment’s nature and purpose. The advisor or his client who uses these benchmarks will incorrectly assess performance. As an alternative, blended benchmarks provide an appropriate reference for manager selection and performance attribution.

2014-01-28 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Marianne Brunet’s article, Are Small Businesses the Engine of Job Growth?, which appeared last week, and a reader responds to Robert Huebscher’s article, The Verdict on Unconstrained Bond Funds, which was published on January 14.

2014-01-28 2013 - A Strong Year for ETFs by Ryan Issakainen of First Trust Advisors

US-listed ETF1 net inflows totaled $185.5 billion in 2013, setting a new record. While the largest percentage of net inflows remained concentrated among a relatively small group of the 1521 US-listed ETFs, investors broadened their horizons more in 2013 than in previous years, as 312 ETFs had net inflows exceeding $100 million.

2014-01-28 Emerging Market Issues Weigh on U.S. Equities by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished lower last week as the S&P 500 declined 2.6% and suffered the largest weekly pullback since June of 2012. U.S. stocks are down approximately 3.0% both year to date and from all-time highs. In 2014, lack of direction in the market has been a focus, and the waning influence of macroeconomic news caused a notable shift late last week.

2014-01-28 Commodities In 2014: Supply Remains A Concern by Doug Ramsey of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

If a reacceleration of EM demand for raw materials were imminent, one would think the MSCI BRIC Index would be the first to sniff it out. Yet that index remains among the poorest performing market composites in the world. Still, commodity demand will eventually right itself. Our worry is supply. Capital spending levels remain elevated, and are far above the levels seen just over a decade ago-on the eve of China’s great commercial and residential construction boom. Commodity producers didn’t anticipate that boom, which is precisely why it was so powerful.

2014-01-28 Financial Resolutions for a New Year by Gary Stroik of WBI Investments

It’s the start of a new year; the traditional time for self-examination, reflection, and a new list of resolutions intended to help us work on those aspects of our lives we feel could use some improvement.

2014-01-28 Bitcoin, QE, and Disintermediated Currency by Chris Richey of Neosho Capital

Though it may be financial sacrilege to link the emergence of Bitcoin, the $10 billion online currency, with the Federal Reserve’s 300x larger $3 trillion QE program, we believe the two have more in common than their 2008 birthdates. In fact, we think each represents a further extension in our human understanding, use, and possibly abuse of "currency", the lifeblood of our modern societies. Both Bitcoin and QE continue a process that began some 3000 years ago with the invention of coinage in the Greek Isles and, later, the invention of paper money in China.

2014-01-28 Expect Higher Volatility to Persist by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

Last week’s 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.

2014-01-28 Surviving Austerity by Andrew Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

With the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index having posted a 30% gain, it’s easy to assume that U.S. stocks easily led the world in 2013. (There is more on what is behind this rally in the latest version of the Euro Pacific Capital Newsletter). But as it turns out, the stimulus-loving U.S. markets had plenty of company. Surprisingly, this includes countries supposedly saddled by the scourge of austerity.

2014-01-28 An Active Management Turning Point? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Active managers faced a difficult road in recent years, leading to many questions about the efficacy of active versus passive investment management. There are signs that the tide is once again changing in favor of active managers and the road ahead could offer happier times.

2014-01-28 The TTIP and the TPP by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a trade and investment treaty being negotiated between the European Union (EU) and the U.S. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a similar pact between the U.S. and various Pacific Rim nations. We will examine overall details of each, focusing on how they’re different from traditional trade agreements. From there, we will present an analysis of the controversy surrounding the proposals, followed by a look at the geopolitical aims and likelihood that these treaties will be enacted. We conclude with potential market ramificatio

2014-01-28 Winter Quarterly Commentary by John Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management

John Kenneth Galbraith was a force in the fields of politics and economics. He wrote into his 90s, with many of his 48 books covering economic history, a subject we find to be the oft forgotten friend of investors. His work made it clear that economics is not a hard science which can be reduced to simple trustworthy mathematical equations. Galbraith constantly challenged the "conventional wisdom", and in fact pioneered the term. Galbraith came to dismiss the then, and still now, common notion that individuals and markets always act rationally...

2014-01-28 Demystifying Gold Prices by Nicholas Johnson of PIMCO

What is it about gold prices? Many people seem to believe they are impossible to predict, or even understand. At her Senate confirmation hearing in November, Janet Yellen said, "I don’t think anybody has a very good model of what makes gold prices go up or down." Ben Bernanke also said last year that "nobody really understands gold prices, and I don’t pretend to understand them either." While many factors influence the price of gold, PIMCO believes there is one that can explain the majority of changes in gold prices over the past several years: changes in real yields.

2014-01-28 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

My caution last week unfolded into a market sell off related to both disappointing earnings and concern over emerging markets affecting the foreign exchange markets.

2014-01-27 Closed End Fund Review - Fourth Quarter 2013 by Jeff Margolin of First Trust Advisors

2013 was a mixed year for the closed-end fund (CEF) structure. While the Morningstar universe of 176 equity CEFs were up on average 12.13% on a share price total return basis and clearly benefited from the global rise in equity prices, the Morningstar universe of 387 fixed-income CEFs was lower by an average of 8.56% on a share price total return basis.

2014-01-27 Broadleaf's 2014 Investment Playbook by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover, Mike Czekaj of Broadleaf Partners

Most sell side firms publish their outlook for the economy and stock market at the end of December and in early January. As a buy side firm, we really aren’t under any expectation to share our outlook for the coming year and, as funny as it might sound, some of our clients don’t even care to know what we think, only that we handle what they hired us to do, which is to outperform the market indices over a full market cycle and help them attain their financial goals over time.

2014-01-27 Increasing Concerns and Systemic Instability by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The potential collapse of a now-complete log-periodic bubble is best considered something of a physics experiment, and it’s not what drives our investment stance. Still, the backdrop of steep overvaluation, extreme bullish sentiment, record margin debt, and international dislocations could hardly provide a more fitting context for a disruptive completion to the present market cycle.

2014-01-27 Hasenstab: Standing One's Ground by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton

When the masses are against you, it’s hard to stand your ground. Going against the crowd is familiar turf for Michael Hasenstab, who manages Templeton Global Bond Fund and co-manages Templeton Global Balanced Fund, and certainly knows the virtue of patience. He has staunchly defended his investment theses over the years, tuning out the naysayers and market noise time and again.

2014-01-27 What Does It Take to Be in the Top 1 Percent? Not As Much As You Think by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

When you think of the top 1 percent of all income earners in American households, how much do you think this group rakes in? Millions? Tens of millions? What about the top 10 percent or even top 20 percent?

2014-01-27 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

Despite projections that interest rates might enter a secular upswing if the economy continues to improve, the inescapable fact is that bonds, and other fixed-income securities, are not the place for investors to generate yield, stocks are. The way to improve upon dwindling dividend and interest investment objectives is to build a portfolio of high yield equities, and to protect against downside market volatility with select stop-loss support.

2014-01-27 Attractiveness of Municipal Bonds Should Not Be Overlooked in 2014 by Municipal Insight Committee of Eaton Vance

After a challenging year for the municipal bond (muni) market in 2013, we believe the underlying strength of munis has improved, making the asset class an attractive proposition heading into 2014. In our view, challenges and headwinds will continue in 2014; however, more palatable yields and the relative attractiveness of munis versus other taxable alternatives may help investors limit the volatility and downside witnessed over the past year.

2014-01-27 America's False Dawn by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

Financial markets and the so-called Davos consensus are in broad agreement that something close to a classic cyclical revival in the US economy may finally be at hand. But, while the celebration may seem warranted at first glance, the champagne should be kept on ice.

2014-01-27 Rummaging for Yield - The Case of the Insurance Investor by Eugene Dimitriou of PIMCO

Since the height of the global financial crisis in 2008, insurance companies have faced three key challenges: First, insurance companies urgently needed to address new critical risk management issues as banking sector and peripheral sovereign credit risks significantly increased in Europe. Second, the prospects of longer-term low yields forced insurers to identify alternative sources of meaningful yield. And third, insurance companies needed to prepare for pan-European insurance regulation Solvency II.

2014-01-27 Commodities: Is the Bear Market Near Its End? by Scott Wolle of Invesco Blog

On the surface, 2014 looks to be a tough year for commodities, as multi-year projects increase the flow of supplies to market even as demand has turned tepid, especially in emerging markets. However, a deeper look at the history of this asset class suggests that the outlook for commodities might turn around sooner than many expect.

2014-01-25 Why the Recent Lift in Junior Miners Will Likely Continue by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Junior venture companies in Canada are finally seeing a significant lift. In early January, the S&P/TSX Venture Composite Index rose above the 200-day moving average for the first time in three years. The index is also very close to experiencing a golden cross, which is when the shorter-term 50-day moving average crosses above the 200-day moving average. Historically, traders see this cross as extremely bullish.

2014-01-25 A Grim Intermediate Outlook for High-Quality Bond Returns by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Rates have been steadily falling since the 1980s. A simple "reversion to the mean" in which rates rise toward their long-term average (the average 10 year U.S. Treasury rate since 1926 according to data sourced from the St. Louis Federal Reserve’s website) would mean that rates would rise to about 5%. That’s almost a 2% increase from where we are right now. We suspect that would be more than enough to spur a dramatic change in investors’ attitudes toward bond investing, and to increase interest in viable alternative strategies for retirement income.

2014-01-25 Five Things To Ponder: Valuations, Triggers & Inequality by Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live

I was thinking about valuations, profits and what could cause a real correction in the markets. That is the premise behind today’s "Things To Ponder" for your weekend homework.

2014-01-25 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

So while the Fed was the first to implement nontraditional monetary strategies, the BoE may be the first to unwind them. And it may be the first to test the power of macroprudential policy. The results might make for an interesting export back across the Atlantic.

2014-01-25 Investing by Duration by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

Lower duration bonds would not eliminate the interest rate impact, just lessen it. We see this as a good strategy broadly speaking if you are talking the high yield asset class versus the investment grade asset class, with the high yield market naturally having a much lower duration. However, we believe this strategy is lacking when it is used to parse out the high yield space itself, investing in only the lower duration names within the high yield category.

2014-01-25 At Davos, Inequality and Africa in Focus by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The focus at Davos has shifted to two new topics: growing income inequality as a risk to economic growth and social stability and the emergence of Africa as an economic force. Neither of these is a big surprise as neither is new. But the fact that these are the primary focus this year tells us that these topics will likely become more prominent in 2014.

2014-01-25 Wealth Services at Banks Come Under Central Bank's Scanner by Rajat Dhar of Cogent Advisory

RBI, the central bank of India, made critical observations of way in which wealth services were being practised at banks. Also, the clear note was made with respect to the rising cases of misselling at banks. This market commentary covers the draft guidelines issued by RBi and tries to uncover the reason for the same and the way forward for the clients. This has been the first time ever that separate guidelines have come for banks and independent financial advisors or advisory firms in India; and this article covers the wealth services being offered by banks in India.

2014-01-25 Forecast 2014: The CAPEs of Hope by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

As we will see in the pages ahead, buy-and-hold investors are clearly sailing in dangerous waters, where the strong, cold current of deleveraging converges with the warm, fast rush of quantitative easing. Not only does this clash of forces create the potential for epic storms and fateful accidents, it dramatically increases the chances for sudden loss as rogue waves crash unwary investment vehicles against the underwater demographic reef!

2014-01-24 Fundamentals Suggest Yen Could Strengthen in 2014 by Team of GaveKal Capital

We’ve noted on several occasions over the past few weeks the fact that trader positioning and sentiment towards the yen is pushing the most extreme negative levels in a decade.

2014-01-24 How the Safe Havens Stack Up by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

For investors who are worried about a correction, Russ provides a look at which traditional safe-haven assets tend to perform best during times of uncertainty.

2014-01-24 Stocks for 2014: Growth and Income For Total Return Part 3 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

When investing in common stocks, there is no one strategy that fits all investors. Some investors are focused on investing for income, some for capital appreciation and others for various combinations of both. Additionally, there is the issue of risk tolerance. Some investors are willing and capable of assuming greater risk if they believe it will lead to greater returns, while others are more risk adverse. These are just but a few of the many variations that apply to the individual investor’s own unique goals and characteristics.

2014-01-24 India's Rising Aspirations by Sudarshan Murthy of Matthews Asia

India’s newly formed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had a spectacular debut in recent state elections. Its leader became the chief minister of the state of Delhi. The election results seemed to indicate a fundamental change-voters now perceive politicians not as "rulers," but as professionals with a limited mandate to serve. The AAP ran on an anti-corruption agenda, and Delhi’s new chief minister seems to "walk the walk." He uses public transport to commute to work, a refreshing change from the typical politician in India who is usually seen riding in a convoy of vehicles.

2014-01-24 United Arab Emirates: An Emerging Market Melting Pot by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

The investable Middle East/North Africa region known as "MENA" encompasses 11 diverse countries, extending from Oman to Morocco, and also includes Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I recently had the pleasure of returning to Dubai, the largest city in the UAE, a truly striking and cosmopolitan city with a diverse population from around the world.

2014-01-24 The Policy View From Washington by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Lawmakers put the finishing touches on the budget bill, which will remove most of the fiscal policy uncertainty for the next two years. That’s helpful for the economy and the financial markets, although the debt ceiling remains a possible trouble spot. Federal Reserve officials seem intent on continuing the tapering of asset purchases, but economic and financial market developments will dictate the pace.

2014-01-24 The Week by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Arguably, the best magazine of recent times has been The Week, a publication that embraces magazine journalism in its most functional style. The Week is written in one-hundred synopses culled, for the most part, from other news organizations from around the world on all topics. If I had but one publication to read in order to stay informed on just about everything, it would be The Week. In this morning’s missive, however, I am referring to "the week" I experienced last week in South Florida.

2014-01-24 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.9, down from last week’s 134.3. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place rose to 4.2, up from last week’s 3.5.

2014-01-23 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

The year 2014 is off to an uncertain start. Earnings reports are not doing that well (see Best Buy, Citigroup & all retailers etc.), and bond prices have rallied so far in 2014 despite the fears of tapering which were expressed as last year ended.

2014-01-23 EPV: Establishing Predictive Value (i.e., Demand Characteristics) by David Kleinberg of Universal Orbit

EPV: Establishing Predictive Value (i.e., Demand Characteristics) is designed as a complement to quantitative portfolio strategies and fundamental research. Continuing the thread from EPV:RO, tested is the premise of structural bias in performance benchmarks as determined by third party data vendors with implied effects on peer group analytics and valuation.

2014-01-23 What's Your 2014 Market View? by Robert Horrocks of Matthews Asia

U.S. monetary policy seems likely to continue occupying center stage as people fret about interest rates. Last year was a somewhat instructive year for monetary policy theory in that it seemed to show that policies can be effective even when interest rates have no further room to be lowered. Can the nominal GDP in the U.S. grow at faster rates in 2014, and what would that mean for Asia? This month Matthews Asia’s Chief Investment Officer, Robert Horrocks, offers his insights into how reforms planned for China could be a key factor to change and what could lie ahead for the region overall

2014-01-23 Economic Growth is Likely to Improve in 2014 by Derek Hamilton of Ivy Funds Investment Management

We believe a global economic upturn is likely in 2014, although the overall growth rate will remain sluggish. We think developed countries will show the largest improvement, which in turn will help support growth rates in emerging markets.

2014-01-23 Dreman and Lorde: We Will Never Be Royals by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

In his 1980 book, Contrarian Investment Strategy, David Dreman opens with an analogy comparing the stock market to a casino with two distinct sides. The "red" room has lots of action and an occasional player striking it rich quickly. In effect, you become royal. Unfortunately, most of the players leave without the money with which they entered, because the house has the odds stacked heavily in its favor.

2014-01-23 Can Equities Continue Their Rise? Equity Investment Outlook: January 2014 by Matt Berler, John Osterweis of Osterweis Capital Management

2013 marked the fifth year of recovery following the near-death experience of the 2008 global financial system meltdown. From a low of 677 in 2009, the S&P 500 Index (S&P 500) finished 2013 at 1,848, delivering a stunning 203% total return from the low. Over the same period, the total return for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 188%. The tech-heavy and arguably more speculative NASDAQ logged a 249% total return. These very large equity returns reflect both a strong recovery in corporate profits and a dramatic clean-up of our financial system.

2014-01-23 Tacking Through the Banking Headwinds by John Loesch of Diamond Hill Investments

Pick up nearly any financial publication these days and it is bound to have one, if not several, stories about the headwinds facing the banking industry.

2014-01-23 Be Selective by Jim Goff, Adam Schor of Janus Capital Group

After broad rally, focus shifts to individual company growth prospects.

2014-01-23 A Problem with the Numbers - Unemployment and the Fed's Timetable by Anthony Wile of J.P. Morgan Funds

Given a potentially inaccurate assessment of labor force participation, the Federal Reserve may be missing the mark on their current economic projections, which increases the potential for policy error going forward. Assuming the natural rate of unemployment is at the low end of Fed projections, the Fed can lower forward guidance thresholds without spurring an acceleration in inflation.

2014-01-23 Ordem e Progresso by Michael Gomez of PIMCO

Amid stagnant growth and high inflation in 2013, Brazil’s equity market was one of the worst performers, the real was a chronic underperformer and the corporate sector struggled. Brazil needs to anchor economic policy around a stringent and credible primary surplus target rather than run the current mix of loose fiscal policy, subsidized public credit and ever tighter monetary policy. Valuations are attractive, but unless an effective policy mix is restored, the outlook for order in Brazil’s financial markets is less certain.

2014-01-23 Market Update with Maury Fertig of Relative Value Partners by (Article)

Fixed income CEFs may be attractive in 2014, especially those with intermediate duration holdings, says Maury Fertig of Relative Value Partners.

2014-01-22 In the Spirit of Martin Luther King: Reflections on Income Inequality by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Last night my wife and I were looking for something to stream on Netflix, and I remembered that The Butler was available on Red Box (which has a vending machine about a 90-second walk from our residence).

2014-01-22 AdvisorShares Active ETF Market Share Update - Week Ending 1/10/14 by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

The active ETF market continued its upward trend with combined net assets exceeding $15 billion. The total number of active ETFs rose to 75 with the launch of the AdvisorShares Sage Core Reserves ETF last week. The High Yield category had the highest weekly increase in net assets - approximately $68 million - with AdvisorShares Peritus High Yield ETF leading the way. Net assets in the Global Bond category gained over $35 million with RiverFront Strategic Income Fund and PIMCO Total Return ETF as the largest contributors.

2014-01-22 Crosscurrents Buffet Markets by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equity performance was mixed last week, as the S&P 500 recovered from Monday’s sell-off that was the largest one-day decline since early November. Economic data was mostly in line or slightly better than expected, following the disappointing December unemployment report. Corporate earnings drove much of the price action. Bank earnings were fairly well received but did not always translate to good performance since the stocks ran up earlier. Negative guidance trends remain an overhang, particularly for retail.

2014-01-22 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

One of the most common themes we hear from political pundits and market observers these days is about either the demise or rise of the middle class, an amorphous, non-homogeneous group of people not quite rich but also not too poor. This class is often cited as the reason either to be for or against legislation, fiscal policy, social norms, or the price of a gallon of gasoline at the pump!

2014-01-22 Digger's Dream by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

Does America still have the audacity to dream big? Why is this so important?

2014-01-22 Commodities Remain a Source of Frustration by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The environment following the global financial crisis has been a challenging one for asset allocators, as long held relationships shifted and traditional idioms were turned on their head. As we detailed last week in "The Diversification Obituary," investors have seen little work in their portfolios other than US stocks, while supposed diversifiers have offered little more than muted beta and unusually high correlations.

2014-01-22 4 Simple Truths About US Consumers by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The December employment report called into question the momentum of the jobs recovery, which has clear implications for consumers. While further clarity on jobs is needed, here are some key observations that help frame the consumer-sentiment discussion.

2014-01-22 Market Share: The Next Secular Investment Theme by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

It is well known that corporate profit margins are at record highs. US margings, developed market margings, and even emerging market margins are generally either at or close to record highs. A myopic focus on profit margins may miss an important investment consideration. Whereas most investors remain fearful of margin compression, we prefer to search for an investment theme that could emerge if margins do indeed compress. Accordingly, our investment focus has shifted toward themes based on companies who might gain market share.

2014-01-22 What to Expect in 2014 (And Beyond) by Jack Rivkin of Altegris

Each year, I take Alfred Lord Tennyson’s advice and "ring out the old, ring in the new" by creating a list of expectations about the markets. My list involves events that the average investor thinks have only a one-in-three-chance of happening, but which I believe have more than a 50% chance of occurring. If this approach sounds familiar, it should. It’s modeled after Byron Wien’s annual list of "surprises." Like his, my expectations are designed to provoke thought and discussion.

2014-01-22 The Virtualization of Everything by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks at the motivations of participants in capital markets, and how with the advent of synthetic investments and complicated derivatives products, he is concerned that "the stock market has lost its close link to the "real" economy and has become more of a gigantic casino."

2014-01-21 Chuck Royce on 4Q13: Abnormally High Returns Reinforce Our Absolute Bias by Sponsored Content from The Royce Funds (Article)

Chuck Royce offers his thoughts on a market that’s behaved far from normally. At Royce, we are sticking with what we believe works best-finding quality small-caps at what we think are attractively inexpensive valuations that have the ability to generate strong long-term returns.

2014-01-21 Gundlach’s Forecast for 2014 by Robert Huebscher (Article)

In his 30-year career as a fixed-income manager, Jeffrey Gundlach has never seen a forecast as solidified across every asset class as is the consensus for 2014. Investors expect stocks to outperform bonds, gold to be a "loser," commodity prices to head lower, domestic markets to outperform non-U.S. markets and the dollar to be strong, according to Gundlach. But many of those views are wrong, he believes.

2014-01-21 Albert Edwards and Dylan Grice: Bearish Forecasts from Two Top Strategists by Robert Huebscher (Article)

It’s been nearly 18 years since Albert Edwards forecast an "ice age" in which bonds would outperform equities. He’s been right until just recently, when cumulative returns on the two classes converged. But Edwards insists that his thesis is still accurate - deflation will be the force to propel bonds over stocks, he says. Dylan Grice, meanwhile, warns that the markets operate on an unstable equilibrium that could devolve into apocalyptic conditions.

2014-01-21 Are Small Businesses the Engine of Job Growth? by Marianne Brunet (Article)

What do George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama have in common (besides a conviction that the camera loves them)? They have all promoted the notion that small businesses are the engine of America’s economic growth. But new research shows that the role of small businesses has been overstated.

2014-01-21 New Research: The Unexpected Variable that Leads to Referrals by Dan Richards (Article)

Few topics get as much attention as the best way to increase referrals. Some of ideas I’ve heard including coaching clients to better understand and communicate your value, becoming the safe choice in a targeted niche and "create raving fans" by delivering an outstanding client experience. Depending on what you read and who you believe, each of these is the key to increased referrals. None of these are what truly drives referrals.

2014-01-21 Venerated Voices by Various (Article)

Advisor Perspectives announced its Venerated Voices awards for articles published in 2013. Rankings were issued in three categories: The Top 25 Venerated Voices by Firm, The Top 25 Venerated Voices by Author and The Top 10 Venerated Voices by Commentary.

2014-01-21 Young Talent That Comes -- And Goes by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We have struggled to find young talent to hire and groom for our firm. It seems everyone under 30 works somewhere for three years and then moves on to the next thing. One guy we hired had four serious jobs on his resume and hadn’t turned 30 yet. If we can’t get someone young to stay with us longer term, I am not going to introduce them to all of my clients.

2014-01-21 Will 2014 Be the Year Canned Content Dies? by Joe Anthony (Article)

Adoption of social media will reach a tipping point in 2014, with the overwhelming majority of your clients and prospects ignoring the newsletters, direct-mail pieces, conference calls and seminars that worked in the past.

2014-01-21 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Howard Mark’s commentary, Getting Lucky, which was published on January 16.

2014-01-21 Upstream Companies Set to Benefit if US Allows Oil Exports by Juan Hartsfield of Invesco Blog

US crude oil production is booming, and controversy over possibly exporting some of this abundance has quickly heated up in early 2014. Most recently, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, spoke out on Jan. 7 in favor of easing US restrictions on oil exports, which were largely enacted in the 1970s when domestic energy was scarce and lines at the gasoline pump were long. The topic of crude exports is polarizing politically and, given the recent lack of collaboration in Washington, it’s poised to be a recurring headline for some time.

2014-01-21 Superstition Ain't the Way by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer.

2014-01-21 Take Me to Your Leader by Kerry Pechter of Retirement Income Journal

The retirement industry resembles a Tower of Babel today. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But when blocs with overlapping interests want to achieve interlocking goals, it’s often best to sing in the same language from the same hymnbook at the same time.

2014-01-21 Stocks 2014: Investing for Growth - The Power and Protection of High Compounding Earnings Growth by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

As I become more mature (translate: gotten older), my investment philosophy has slowly evolved into a more conservative posture. When I was a younger investor I felt I had time on my side, and therefore, was willing to take on greater risk as long as I believed that greater rewards could follow. In other words, if I made a mistake by investing in an aggressive and more risky growth stock that went badly, I felt I had adequate time to overcome or recover my losses. Consequently, as a younger investor I relished a good growth stock.

2014-01-21 Weighing the Week Ahead: More "Experts" Predicting a Market Top by Jeff Miller of New Arc Investments

Most potential stock investors have been bruised by events over the last decade. They are receptive to a message of fear, and many pundits are happy to satisfy their urges. Calling for a major market turn can be very profitable for the pundit. This is true even if the prediction is very early and the pundit never signals when to shift back.

2014-01-21 Turning Asset Allocation Upside Down by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

After the second 50% drawdown of the US equity market in one decade, the investment industry began to reassess the idea of what asset allocation should look like. Unlike the 1980’s and 1990’s, financial professionals can no longer rely on an almost static 60/40 or 70/30, watch the equity portion triple in 15 or 20 years and then flip the whole thing to fixed income for a safe 6%.

2014-01-21 Achieving Escape Velocity by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

While the prospect of faster global GDP growth in 2014 is good news, it is too early to celebrate. Indeed, there is a risk that, by tempting policymakers into complacency, this year’s economic upturn could even end up being counterproductive.

2014-01-21 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

With a few more days to digest the labor data, investors began the week on another sour note, but a sense of normalcy returned on some other better-than-expected releases. Still, the Fed’s stimulus remains atop the headlines as speculation runs amuck about how the tapering will play out. Earnings season pushes ahead and, thus far, the results are lackluster at best. Don’t forget, as January goes...

2014-01-21 Kansas by Jerome Schneider of PIMCO

In the coming year, traditional money market strategies, long viewed as safe havens, will be challenged by new regulations, near 0% returns and a lack of investable assets. Short-term bond strategies could provide the right balance between risk-taking and liquidity management, and offer the potential for positive returns. Active managers have a distinct advantage because they can manage interest rate volatility and potentially source assets by identifying underappreciated sectors.

2014-01-21 The Deflation Menace by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Dedicated readers of The Wall Street Journal have recently been offered many dire warnings about a clear and present danger that is stalking the global economy. They are not referring to a possible looming stock or real estate bubble (the paper sees few threats there). Nor are they talking about other usual suspects such as global warming, peak oil, the Arab Spring, sovereign defaults, the breakup of the euro, Miley Cyrus, a nuclear Iran, or Obamacare.

2014-01-21 Digging for Natural Resource Opportunities in 2014 by Frederick Fromm, Stephen Land, Matthew Adams of Franklin Templeton

The natural resources sector has been through a period of transition in the past year, one which has pushed many companies toward cost reduction and greater capital discipline amid an environment of rather sluggish global economic growth. Franklin Equity Group Analysts Fred Fromm, Stephen Land and Matthew Adams think an improving economic outlook could set the stage for potentially stronger commodity demand going forward, and see healthy potential demand growth for energy in particular. They share their outlook for the natural resources sector in 2014, and where they are finding opportunities.

2014-01-21 Emerging Markets 2014 Outlook: Shaping the Next Decade by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

As we embark upon a new year, the Templeton Emerging Markets Group believes 2014 could be an important year for many emerging markets, possibly establishing trends that could play out through much of the remainder of the decade. In particular, Chinese government reform initiatives announced in late 2013 could have far-reaching significance. And, major elections in a number of countries in 2014 could bring dramatic (or not-so-dramatic) changes. Here are a few themes and countries we’ve got our eye on in the new year.

2014-01-21 Brother, Can You Spare a Bitcoin? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The electronic currency has attracted attention from speculators and financial media, but it’s unlikely to upend the existing monetary order.

2014-01-18 Dialing Down the Drama by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

We remain optimistic on stocks for 2014, but there will likely be bumps in the road. Investor sentiment is elevated, complacency seems to be building, and the valuation story is less compelling. But waiting for a correction can be quite detrimental to portfolio performance, evidenced by last year. QE tapering will likely continue at a very modest pace and U.S. interest rates will likely drift higher throughout the year. We remain positive on Europe and our outlook toward China is improving, while we are in at wait-and-see sort of mode with Japan.

2014-01-18 Forecast 2014: 'Mark Twain!' by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The surface of the market waters looks smooth, but the data above suggest caution as we proceed. Perhaps slowing the engine and taking more frequent soundings (or putting in closer stops!) might be in order. The cry should be "Mark twain!" Let’s steam ahead but take more frequent readings and know that a course correction may soon be necessary.

2014-01-17 Rebalancing the U.S. Economy by Marie Schofield of Columbia Management

It’s happening again-a fourth quarter bounce in economic activity that extends into the first quarter and supports the view that growth really, finally, has started to accelerate. Such bounces have disappointed so far, although it does appear to be more than just hope this time.

2014-01-17 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Retail Sales and Industrial Production by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

With yesterday’s release of December’s CPI, we can now calculate Real Retail Sales for December. Month-over-month real sales came in at -0.07% (-0.1% rounded to one decimal). This indicator is now fractionally off its all-time high set the previous month. Although real December sales were a bit disappointing, this indicator rose 3.57% year-over-year, and it was positive for nine of the 12 months.

2014-01-17 Asia's Evolving Science and Tech Space by Michael Oh of Matthews Asia

The main growth drivers of Asia’s science and technology industries are changing to become more domestically driven and service-oriented. These changes are happening as rising disposable income enables more Asian consumers to embrace new technologies.

2014-01-17 TIPS And Inflation Reality by Team of GaveKal Capital

By decomposing a US Treasury bond, we can get a sense of the market’s expectations for real rates and inflation expectations. The inflation component is easy to flesh out by just subtracting the TIPS yield, for the same maturity, from the nominal bond interest rate. From there, we can compare the implied breakeven inflation rate embedded in long bonds to actual measures of inflation.

2014-01-17 Digging for Natural Resource Opportunities in 2014 by Frederick Fromm, Stephen Land, Matthew Adams of Franklin Templeton

The natural resources sector has been through a period of transition in the past year, one which has pushed many companies toward cost reduction and greater capital discipline amid an environment of rather sluggish global economic growth. Franklin Equity Group Analysts Fred Fromm, Stephen Land and Matthew Adams think an improving economic outlook could set the stage for potentially stronger commodity demand going forward, and see healthy potential demand growth for energy in particular. They share their outlook for the natural resources sector in 2014, and where they are finding opportunities.

2014-01-17 Continuing a Winning Formula for 2014 by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

In any competition, sports or investment management, there are lessons to learn to improve and better results.

2014-01-17 Getting Lucky by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

Sometimes these memos are inspired by a single event or just one thing I read. This one - like my first memo 24 years ago - grew out of the juxtaposition of two observations. I’ll introduce one here and the other later on. Contrary to my wife Nancy’s observation that my memos are "all the same," the subject here is one I’ve rarely touched on.

2014-01-17 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 134.5, up from last week’s 133.4 (an upward revision from 133.0). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place rose to 3.7, up from last week’s 2.5.

2014-01-17 The Profits Bubble by Chris Brightman of Research Affiliates

Profits are dangerously elevated by all reasonable measures. S&P 500 Index real earnings per share are far above their long-term historical trend. Industry profit margins are at or near all-time highs. Corporate profits, both as a percentage of GDP and relative to labor income, are at or near record levels. The dramatic rise in income inequality is a direct consequence of this spectacular reallocation of income to capital and away from labor.

2014-01-17 Quarterly Letter by Ron Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp & Co.

Some of the things we’ve been talking/warning you about in recent years came to fruition in 2013. Specifically, medium- and long-term interest rates rose and commodity prices declined.

2014-01-17 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The U.S. budget deal reduces policy uncertainty. The fiscal state of the states is better, but challenges remain. Meeting the new cast at the Fed.

2014-01-17 Chutes and Bond Ladders by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

At most, a laddered bond approach should be a modest allocation within the total retirement strategy. In our opinion its value is in its emotional comfort to the investor as opposed to the merits of the strategy itself.

2014-01-17 Bonds and Rates by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

Right now the topic de jour in the fixed income space is interest rate risk. The traditional thought is that as interest rates rise, bond prices fall. But looking at history, the high yield market has defied this widely held notion. Let’s examine the four main reasons why high yield bonds have historically performed well during times of rising interest rates.

2014-01-17 What Does It Take to Be in the Top 1 Percent? Not As Much As You Think by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

You might be surprised to learn that the top 20 percent of income earners bring in a household income of just over $100,000. The top 10 percent of earners have a household income of more than $148,687. To be considered in the top 1 percent, household income is at least $521,411.

2014-01-16 A Flight to Quality by Ben Fischer of Allianz Global Investors

CIO NFJ Ben Fischer delivers his 2014 outlook, focusing on the Fed’s tapering of its bond-buying program and how high-quality, dividend-paying stocks should respond.

2014-01-16 Reversal of Fortune - Competitive Advantages Redefining Industrial Investment in the U.S. by Niall O'Malley of Blue Point Investment Management

As an investment manager, I seek investments with sustainable growth. I have the freedom to look anywhere in the world. Quietly, the U.S. has developed a competitive advantage in energy costs that is rewriting the history books. For the first time in generations an abundant energy supply has the potential to improve the air we breathe while creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs. It is creating opportunities where just five years ago energy intensive industrial production was being shuttered in the U.S.

2014-01-16 Keep Optimistic and Carry On by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

This is likely to be another good year for risk-on investing, as an improving economic outlook supports stocks and bonds in an environment marked by less volatility than 2013.

2014-01-16 Let the taper begin! Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

At the December meeting, the Federal Reserve (the Fed) decided to reduce its purchases of Treasury and mortgage securities (a.k.a. quantitative easing/QE) beginning in January 2014. This answered the question of when the taper would begin, and the markets reacted predictably. Two questions remain, however: How long until the Fed completely winds down QE; and when will short rates begin to reflect the improving economy? We feel it may be sooner on the former and could be quite some time on the latter.

2014-01-16 Home (Finance) Repairs by Eric Schaefer of American Independence Financial Services

Five years after the 2008 financial panic, there are still no concrete plans for what to do with the twin mortgage finance giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The only consensus among Congress, the Obama administration, regulators and the banking industry is that no one knows what to do. No clear compelling vision for the federal government’s role in residential mortgage finance has yet to be offered by a party to the debate.

2014-01-16 2014: Once more for '84 by Team of Smead Capital Management

Since our thinking is always dominated by owning businesses which meet our eight investment criteria in a long-duration time frame, we continue to remain vigilant of the circumstances around us. To that end, we thought it would be helpful to review a similar historical situation and glean a feel for what was wise behavior back then and what might be wise behavior as we look forward to the year 2014.

2014-01-16 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Last year ended very well for us! The New Year has started slowly both because of the weather and because of the middle of the week timing of the holidays. Last Friday’s employment report for December was the 1st real piece of economic data which the financial markets could sink their teeth into, and the results have most people (not us) confused.

2014-01-16 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

In late December just before Christmas, the Postal Regulatory Commission delivered an unwanted present in the form of a "temporary" three cent rate hike for first class mail effective January 26th. It seems that the Post Office decided it lost $2.8 billion as a result of the Great Recession and convinced the Commission that it needed to make this loss go away. Well, in reality, the Post Office asked for a permanent hike, but was only given the opportunity to make up the loss and then have the rate go back down. We shall see.

2014-01-16 A Disappointing Jobs Report: 3 Investing Takeaways by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Last Friday’s non-farm payroll report was a huge disappointment. Russ explains what this means for investors.

2014-01-16 Stocks for 2014: Something for Everyone: Part 1 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

My biggest pet peeve regarding common stock investing is how so many people have a tendency to over-generalize this asset class. Commonly held beliefs such as investing in stocks is risky, or that the stock market is overvalued, or that the fed is driving stock prices, etc., are just a few examples illustrating my point. In truth, common stocks are as individually different as people are individually different. When dealing with human beings, most reasonable thinking people would reject prejudicial statements. Personally, I believe we should have the same attitude about common stocks.

2014-01-16 Fiscal Policy: Nothing's Certain with Debt and Taxes by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

After the budget deal, markets will have to contend with two wild cards in Congress: the debt ceiling and tax reform.

2014-01-16 EM Sovereign Debt 2014: Neither Phoenix nor Failure by Paul DeNoon of AllianceBernstein

Emerging-market (EM) sovereign bonds were burned badly in 2013. Will they rise from the ashes in 2014? We believe some will and some won’t. The watchword for 2014 will be selectivity.

2014-01-15 The Haves and the Have Nots by Scott Migliori of Allianz Global Investors

CIO Equity US Scott Migliori’s 2014 outlook calls for moderate growth, an accommodative Fed and a stock-picker’s market, favoring areas of the economy that are insensitive to growth.

2014-01-15 U.S. Inflation Outlook 2014: Signs of Life by Nicholas Johnson, Mihir Worah of PIMCO

We expect headline CPI to rise to around 2.0% year-over-year in 2014, with our base case oil forecast in the $105-$110 per-barrel range and expectations for food prices to be stable. PCE, in our view, will likely remain below the Fed’s 2% target, around 1.5%. Individuals will get some relief at the supermarket, but they will feel a pinch from landlords, who will likely raise rents.

2014-01-15 AdvisorShares Active ETF Market Share Update - Week Ending 1/10/14 by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

The active ETF market experienced a sizable increase, with total net assets exceeding $14.8 billion. The total number of active ETFs rose to 74 with State Street launching three equity products: SPDR MFS Systematic Core Equity ETF, SPDR MFS Systematic Growth Equity ETF and SPDR MFS Systematic Value Equity ETF last week.

2014-01-15 Fed Tapering -- Shades of 1937? by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

In the press conference immediately following the December 17-18, 2013 FOMC meeting, Fed Chairman Bernanke indicated that it was the FOMC’s current plan to have terminated Federal Reserve outright securities purchases by the end of 2014, commencing with a $10 billion reduction in securities purchases immediately after the December 2013 FOMC meeting and then continuing to taper its purchases by about $10 billion after each 2014 FOMC meeting. Of course, this tapering plan is subject to modification in either direction depending on forthcoming economic and financial market developments.

2014-01-15 The Employment Picture: Clear As Mud by Scott Brown of Raymond James

On balance, most of the economic reports in recent weeks have been consistent with a moderate increase in momentum heading into 2014. However, the December Employment Report showed a surprisingly soft gain in nonfarm payrolls. Is this a sign of another false dawn in the recovery?

2014-01-15 The January Barometer by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

It’s that time of year again when the media is abuzz with that old stock market saying, "so goes the first week of the new year, so goes the month and so goes the year." Admittedly the January Barometer has a pretty good track record.

2014-01-15 Positive Economic Surprises Are Back by Team of GaveKal Capital

Recently each day, especially in the US, it has felt as if the economic data has been a bit better than expected. The Citi Economic Surprise Index corroborates that feeling as it has now reached it’s highest level since February 2012.

2014-01-15 Investment Insights from a Road Warrior by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

As part of our investment process, we often take the explicit knowledge learned from our statistical models and overlay them with global travel.

2014-01-14 Income & More with Ken Fincher of First Trust Advisors by (Article)

What may be in a CEF distribution? Possibly income and more. Ken Fincher of First Trust Advisors shares a perspective and comments on “good” and “bad” return of capital.

2014-01-14 Five Opportunities for Advisors to Add Value by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Advisors need to determine where they can add the most value in helping clients achieve their financial goals. Surmounting this challenge is central to a successful business strategy.

2014-01-14 Michael Porter on the Fundamental Problem for Investors by John Heins (Article)

Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter’s seminal work on competitive dynamics and the strategies companies can employ to positively impact their competitive positions revolutionized managerial thinking. In this recent interview in Value Investor Insight, however, he’s even more interested in speaking about investing - not all of which is particularly flattering to investors.

2014-01-14 What Have We Learned from the Financial Crisis? by Michael Edesess (Article)

Why do we need yet another discussion of the 2007-09 financial crisis and its aftermath? That question is asked and answered by Alan S. Blinder in his new book, After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead. Blinder provides new details about this harrowing chapter in our financial history and valuable insights about the effectiveness of potential regulatory policies.

2014-01-14 Three Steps to Effective Client Conversations by Dan Richards (Article)

How should advisors maximize the impact of their "face time" with clients? Here are three steps to effective client conversations.

2014-01-14 Should Advisors Write a Book? by Megan Elliott (Article)

Not every book becomes a best seller, especially those written by financial advisors. Before you sit down to pound out your opus, step back and evaluate whether writing a book makes sense for you and your financial advisory business.

2014-01-14 Clients with Difficult Children by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We have a client who wants us to work with his youngest son. This boy will sometimes tell me when I call him, "You could have just texted me!" How do we help him become more interested in the family’s wealth and planning?

2014-01-14 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Several readers respond to Wade Pfau’s article, How to Use Bond Ladders in Retirement Portfolios, which appeared last week. Readers also respond to two recent market commentaries.

2014-01-14 The Verdict on Unconstrained Bond Funds by Robert Huebscher (Article)

If you are unwilling or unable to forecast rate movements, then delegating fixed-income management - through an "unconstrained" bond fund - offers the hope of strong performance regardless of market environments. But the data show that over the last three years, unconstrained funds on average did not meet that goal.

2014-01-14 Fed Taking a More Holistic View of Data by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Recently released FOMC minutes and jobs numbers show why the Fed wants to add a qualitative dimension to its forward guidance, writes Kristina Hooper: The unemployment rate can fall significantly, but it may be for the wrong reasons.

2014-01-14 The Diversification Obituary by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

According to some major media outlets, 2013 was the year diversification died. With the S&P 500 racing to a more than 30% gain (the largest since the late ’90s), it seemed as though no other asset class truly mattered last year. While it is true domestic equities had a banner year, one-asset class portfolios will never be robust, and there is reason to believe 2013 is a prime example of why diversification is incredibly important.

2014-01-14 Income Market Insight by Payson Swaffield of Eaton Vance

In 2013, the markets got their first taste of what I referred to in my last report as the post-post-crisis era. It was a year in which talk of "tapering" dominated the financial headlines - a reference to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s plans to scale back its purchases of long-term bonds, as a first step toward reducing its accommodative monetary policy.

2014-01-14 The Great Man or the Great Wave by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

One of the seminal debates among historians is how the process of history develops, characterized as the "great man versus the great wave" debate. In this report, we will begin by developing this debate with relation to America’s superpower role; specifically, we will examine whether the U.S. is struggling with the superpower role because of a lack of leadership (a great man position) or because the wave of history is aligned against the U.S. keeping that role. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.

2014-01-14 Merk 2014 Dollar, Currency & Gold Outlook by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

Rarely has the future been so clear. Really?? A lot of money has been lost jumping on the bandwagon. Let’s do a common sense check on the greenback to gauge where risks might be lurking and where there might be profit opportunities for investors.

2014-01-14 Are Stocks On Thin Ice? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

I love the weather! Just as it is a reliable conversation starter (everyone has an opinion on it), it provides seemingly unlimited analogies to the financial markets for me to write about. That’s because while many attempt to forecast both, the weather and the markets are moved by an endless stream of random events.

2014-01-14 The Financial Fire Next Time by Robert Shiller of Project Syndicate

Just as most people are more interested in stories about fires than they are in the chemistry of fire retardants, they are more interested in stories about financial crashes than they are in the measures needed to prevent them. That is not exactly a recipe for a happy ending.

2014-01-14 Investing Today with Long-Term Trends in Mind by Team of Manning & Napier

Short-term news may drive day-to-day market volatility, but over time the long-term trends ultimately matter. In this post, we examine the long-term trends that most investors are not focusing on today, and the potential risks and opportunities that lie ahead for those most affected - the Boomers (those commonly born between 1946 and 1964, and the Millennials (oftentimes those born between 1980 and 1999).

2014-01-14 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

The stock market’s valuation expansion has left a bittersweet taste in the mouths of some who believe that this historic sequence of "new highs" is simply smoke and mirrors and accelerated expectations. Indeed, while the wealth effect is improving the lot of many, it is also exacerbating the gap between "reality" and "perceived-reality".

2014-01-13 Money Matters Part 2: China's Bitcoin Ban by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog

This second of a two-part series about bitcoin looks at the impact of China’s recent ban on the virtual currency. Part 1 examined the viability of bitcoins as a potential global currency.

2014-01-13 Hovering With an Anvil by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

In my view, the stock market is hovering in what has a good chance of being seen in hindsight as the complacent lull before a period of steep losses. Meanwhile, we would require a certain amount of deterioration in stock prices, credit spreads, and employment growth to amplify our economic concerns, but even here we can say that there is little evidence of economic acceleration. Broad economic activity continues to hover at levels that have historically delineated the border of expansions and recessions.

2014-01-13 Weighing the Week Ahead: Can Earnings Growth Propel Stocks Higher? by Jeff Miller of New Arc Investments

If you could know one thing about stocks in the coming year, it would be what to expect from corporate earnings. The Q4 2013 reports will provide a preview, with attention starting this week.

2014-01-13 Chuck Royce on 4Q13: Abnormally High Returns Reinforce Our Absolute Bias by Chuck Royce of The Royce Funds

In a market that’s behaved far from normally, we are sticking with what we believe works best for our shareholders-finding quality small-caps at what we think are attractively inexpensive valuations that have the ability to generate strong long-term returns. President, Director of Investments, and Portfolio Manager Chuck Royce offers his thoughts on last year’s small-cap performance and the prospects for high-quality small-caps.

2014-01-13 Tocqueville Gold Strategy Investor Letter Year End 2013 by John Hathaway of Tocqueville Asset Management

John Hathaway, manager of the Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX), remarks in his latest quarterly letter that "Despite the painful decline in gold and gold shares that persisted throughout the entire year, we believe that the fundamental case for both remains strong." Hathaway writes that "the bullion market has been pressured all year by an artificial supply of paper gold with little or no connection to the underlying physical.

2014-01-13 Demographic Trends in the 50-and-Older Work Force by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

In my earlier update on demographic trends in employment, I included a chart illustrating the growth (or shrinkage) in six age cohorts since the turn of the century. In this commentary we’ll zoom in on the age 50 and older Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR).

2014-01-13 "New Bubble" Talk, Premature by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

That was fast. A little over two years ago, we declared that housing had not only bottomed, but was about to start its first real growth spurt since the bubble (Housing At An Inflection Point 11/2/2011). While some agreed, others expressed polite disagreement or, in some cases, incredulity.

2014-01-13 Stocks Rise Modestly in First Full Week of Trading by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished mostly higher for the first full week of the year, with the S&P 500 gaining approximately 0.6%. There were no meaningful directional drivers behind the price action, which is a dynamic that has been prevalent so far in 2014.

2014-01-13 Equity Bubble? No. by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

The US stock market performed very well during 2013. The S&P 500’s total return of nearly 33% far outpaced the returns of most asset classes. A growing contingent of market observers is fearful that the US equity market is in some sort of a bubble. We disagree completely with this notion. A strong market rally that many investors have missed is hardly sufficient grounds for a financial bubble.

2014-01-13 3 Reasons the Dollar Should Strengthen This Year by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains why the U.S. dollar is likely to strengthen in 2014, and what this means for various asset classes.

2014-01-12 Forecast 2014: The Killer Ds by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

We’ll continue our three-part 2014 forecast series this week by looking at the significant economic macrotrends that have to be understood, as always, as the context for any short-term forecast. These are the forces that are going to inexorably shift and shape our portfolios and businesses. Each of the nine macrotrends I’ll mention deserves its own book (and I’ve written books about two of them and numerous letters on most of them), but we’ll pause to gaze briefly at each as we scan the horizon.

2014-01-10 5 Investor Tips for 2014 by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

While the winding down of QE signals better times ahead, investors need to be selective and focused in taking smart risks, says US Investment Strategist Kristina Hooper.

2014-01-10 Automation and Lean Manufacturing: Boost Profits, Squeeze Employment by Tyler Howard of Saturna Capital

Despite industrial production reaching all-time highs in August of this year, employment in the manufacturing sector remains substantially below levels witnessed before the 2008-2009 recession. When looking at longer term employment trends in manufacturing, it becomes clear that companies increasingly boost production without adding incremental labor. Profit margins, while not yet recovered to pre-recession peaks, endure at historically high levels. Several long-term changes in the manufacturing economy contribute to this divergence: outsourcing, automation, and lean manufacturing.

2014-01-10 High Yield and Bank Loan Outlook- January 2014 by Team of Guggenheim Partners

Improving U.S. macroeconomic conditions should spur additional investor demand for high-yield bonds and bank loans, particularly with defaults exceptionally low. Still, investors should monitor trends pointing to an erosion of safety in leveraged credit.

2014-01-10 2014 Economic and Investment Outlook by Team of Ivy Funds Investment Management

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 nation’s borrowing limit - the "debt ceiling."

2014-01-10 Macro Strategy Review by Jim Welsh of Forward Investing

Heavy emphasis on the fundamentals factors driving the U.S., European Union, China, and Emerging economies, and how the fundamentals are likely to impact markets.

2014-01-10 Risk Management: The Ability to Say No by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

Heather Rupp, Director of Research for Peritus Asset Management, the sub-advisor to the AdvisorShares Peritus High Yield ETF (HYLD), discusses the advantages of active management when it comes to credit risk.

2014-01-10 Spanish Banks Start the New Year on a Positive Note by Team of GaveKal Capital

Government bond yields in Europe have declined rather rapidly in the new year-- and Spain is no exception.

2014-01-10 Hasenstab: Fed Tapering Was Inevitable by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton

The US Federal Reserve (Fed) announced its decision to reduce its $85 billion monthly asset purchase program by $10 billion starting in January 2014. What might the eventual end of the Fed’s policy of aggressive money printing mean for fixed-income investors? Michael Hasenstab, Ph.D, executive vice president, chief investment officer, Global Bonds, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group, believes there’s no reason for investors to panic. He outlines why he thinks that’s the case, and where on the map he’s spotting fixed income opportunities.

2014-01-10 Yellen's Inheritance: Monetary Policy in Flux by Joseph Carson, Darren Williams of AllianceBernstein

Evolving economic challenges are transforming central banking around the world. The new monetary-policy doctrine is likely to put greater emphasis on asset-price developments. But, without a true monetary anchor, central banks could still risk a repeat of the recent boom/bust cycle.

2014-01-10 Exploring Ceylon Tea Country by Jodi Morris of Matthews Asia

Riding by train through the Sri Lankan highlands recently, I found it difficult not to be mesmerized by the views of mountains blanketed in tea plantings and cool mist. My days spent exploring Sri Lanka’s mountainous interior were among my favorite as a first-time visitor to the country.

2014-01-10 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.0, up from last week’s 133.0. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place came in at 2.5, up from last week’s 1.9.

2014-01-10 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Today's Strange Nonfarm Payrolls in Context by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The January Employment Report gives us a look at the December Nonfarm Employment along with extensive revisions back to January 2009. The big stunner today was the meager 74K new jobs in December against expectations of around 196K. This sucker punch from the Establishment Data was accompanied by the equally stunning news that the unemployment rate declined from 7.0-6.7%. The two numbers, of course, are from two completely different surveys - the jobs number from the Establishment Survey of business and government and the unemployment rate from the Household Survey of the general population.

2014-01-10 Weekly Economic Commentary: December U.S. Employment Report by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

December U.S. employment report clouded by weather-related factors. A review of the two U.S. employment surveys. The ECB reaches a critical stage.

2014-01-10 A Preview of the Sungarden Study by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Next week, my team and I will release Sungarden’s first major whitepaper. It assesses the retirement income problem, reviews existing solutions and presents a framework for how investors and financial advisors can pursue a solution with confidence.

2014-01-10 The Leverage Buyout Overhang by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

While we are not opposed to leveraged buyouts, as they can often produce very supportive private equity partners, what does concern us is when the capital structure is levered up to a potentially unsustainable level due to these buyouts or large dividends to equity sponsors.

2014-01-10 Continuing a Winning Formula for 2014 by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

We believe there’s a way that increases the odds of winning. It’s by combining a bottom-up approach with a top-down strategy: Find great, fast-growing and shareholder-focused companies and focus on the best stocks in the sectors experiencing positive momentum.

2014-01-09 The U.S. Begins an (Un)employment Experiment by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Extended unemployment benefits stopped for 1.3 million people at year-end. This doesn’t change their employment status...they just stop getting unemployment compensation. Extended benefits (of up to 99 weeks) was part of the recession-fighting fiscal stimulus package. A question was: did this create a dis-incentive to find a job (aka "funemployment").

2014-01-09 The Year Ahead - 2014 by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

In the spirit of year-end prognostication, here’s my annual review of secular trends and historic behaviors that are likely to influence key markets in 2014.

2014-01-09 AdvisorShares Active ETF Market Share Update by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

The active ETF market experienced a slight downtick during the shortened New Year’s week, with total net assets exceeding $14.7 billion. The Global Bond category, led by the PIMCO’s Total Return ETF and Global Advantage Inflation-Linked Bond Strategy, had the highest weekly decrease in net assets by about $62 million. Net assets in the Alternative category decreased by almost $28 million, which included the AdvisorShares Ranger Equity Bear ETF.

2014-01-09 A Great Time for Investors by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Last January, the global economy faced myriad headwinds, choppiness lay ahead, and we expected plenty of volatility. Nevertheless, I said then that risk assets were the best choice for investors. Now, the headwinds of 2013 have largely dissipated, and the outlook is benign for risk assets for the first three to six months of 2014, if not longer.

2014-01-09 Seesaw Rider by William Gross of PIMCO

There’s 50 ways to leave your lover and maybe more than that to lose your money or "break the buck," as some label it in the money markets. You can buy the Brooklyn Bridge, bet on the Cubs to win the World Series or have owned 30 year Treasury bonds in 2013, to name just a few. But bridges and baseball aside, what you’re probably interested in hearing from me is how to avoid breaking your investment buck in 2014.

2014-01-09 The Price Action of Stocks Trumps Fundamentals by Robert Mark of Castle Investment Management

Perhaps the best argument that one can make for stocks is that many hold doubts about the continuing bull market. The reasons for these doubts are understandable, as the economic recovery has been anemic and growth has slowed significantly - likely leading to lower profits in the future. As a result, corporations have aggressively cut costs, increased productivity and preserved cash - pushing profit margins to historically high levels.

2014-01-08 Accessing Fundamentals: A Differentiated Approach or Just Another Weighting Game? by Ryan Ballantyne of Reality Shares

Stocks give investors an ownership stake in corporate America, but they can also introduce high levels of volatility and uneven growth to a portfolio.

2014-01-08 David (Active Management) vs. Goliath (Passive Indexes) by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Malcolm Gladwell is a fantastic writer and his new book, David and Goliath, got us thinking about his current thesis: David as a poster child for underdogs is a mistake. Gladwell contends that David had significant advantages over Goliath. In true Gladwellian form, he incorporates a myriad of disciplines to defend his thesis. And in true Smeadwellian fashion, we would like to add stock picking to the list of disciplines that strengthen Gladwell’s argument.

2014-01-08 Consumer Confidence Jumped in December, But Why? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Today we’ll look at several economic reports, including a big jump in consumer confidence last month. That seems a little odd given that over 63% of Americans still believe the country is headed in the wrong direction as I reported last week.

2014-01-08 AdvisorShares Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

In this new year, the magnitude of 2013 comes full circle. The S&P 500 and the Dow finished the year with 29.6% and 26.5% gains, respectively. For the Dow, that was the biggest annual gain since 1995, and the fifth consecutive positive year. Most impressive in the developed markets was Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average, which surged 57%.

2014-01-08 Rehab World by Niall Ferguson of Project Syndicate

The late English chanteuse Amy Winehouse sang, "They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said ’No, no, no.’" Perhaps 2013 should be known as the year of Winehouse economics, with the singers being the world’s most important central banks, led by the Federal Reserve.

2014-01-08 When the QE Tide Recedes, Focus on What is Revealed by Robert McConnaughey of Columbia Management

While there is fierce debate on the ultimate effectiveness of monetary stimulus surging from the central banks, one cannot dispute the boost that it has given to asset prices. While we may be seeing some "green shoots" of overall growth pick-up in the developed world, the post-crisis recovery in asset values has not been primarily driven by economic or earnings growth. Instead, we have been in a high correlation environment where the rising tide lifted most diversified investor boats as repressed "risk-free" rates pushed money out into riskier asset classes.

2014-01-08 Ready For Lift-Off? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

While some had expected a quick recovery from the recession, that was never likely to be the case. Recessions that are caused by financial crises are different from the usual downturns - they are more severe, they last longer, and the recoveries take a long time. The economy has been in recovery mode for the last four and a half years, but finally appears to be poised for an acceleration in 2014.

2014-01-08 I'm Back by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Well, I’m back after roughly a two-week hiatus where I didn’t do very many strategy calls, or strategy reports. I did, however, pen a letter regarding my forecast for 2014 dated 12/30/13. And for those who, like me, kicked back over the past two weeks to spend time with family and rejoice in the holidays, and did not read anything, I urge you to peruse my "2014" report.

2014-01-07 Ten Predictions for Advisors in 2014 by Bob Veres (Article)

Nobody can predict the markets. But it is possible to forecast the challenges that financial advisors and planners will face in the next 12 months, or at least provide a warning system for impending threats. Here are my top 10 issues to think about as we enter 2014 - offered with humility and respect for the world’s ability to surprise us.

2014-01-07 How to Use Bond Ladders in Retirement Portfolios by Wade Pfau (Article)

Should bonds be kept in mutual funds or purchased as individual securities and held to their maturity dates? The former option receives much far more attention, as managers compete in a performance-driven marketplace. But investing, especially for retirement, shouldn’t be driven by maximizing risk-adjusted returns. Advisors must focus on securing a client’s future spending needs. I will investigate the role of bond ladders in retirement and which ladder length is best for clients.

2014-01-07 The Risk Forecast for 2014 by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

It’s the time of year when market pundits take to the notoriously difficult task of forecasting returns. Volatility is equally important, however, and it can be predicted much more reliably than asset-class performance. My forecast shows that the options market is underestimating risk in 2014, giving investors an opportunity to purchase portfolio protection at attractive prices.

2014-01-07 How to Triple Client Meetings in 2014 by Dan Richards (Article)

When it comes to getting a return on your time, nothing beats sitting down with existing and prospective clients. Yet when I talk to advisors, most struggle to arrange one meeting per day. Recently I spoke to an advisor who more than tripled client meetings over the last two years. Not only did his number of meetings go up, but the quality and productivity improved as well. Here are five key lessons on how you can achieve the same results.

2014-01-07 Eight Tips to Manage Your Time Effectively in 2014 by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

In honor of the New Year, this week’s column is devoted to addressing a question I get asked often: How do I manage my time most effectively? Most financial advisors are busier than ever but feeling as though they get less and less done. Before you set those New Year’s resolutions for your practice, review this list of what to do - and not do - for success in 2014.

2014-01-07 Where are Margins Headed? by Mark Oelschlager of Oak Associates

The fourth quarter was another good one for stocks, with the S&P 500 returning 10.5%, and 32.4% for the year. This was the best calendar-year performance by the index since 1997. All four quarters of 2013 produced positive returns, with the first and fourth quarters, typically the strongest seasonally, both hitting double-digits. For the year Consumer Discretionary and Healthcare were the standout sectors, while Utilities and Telecom lagged. The laggards are not surprising, as they are income-oriented - an area of the market that was hurt by the backup in bond yields.

2014-01-07 More Jobs to Turn Up the Taper Dial - But Not Yet by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The job market is a focal point for the Fed and early signs point toward further progress in reducing unemployment. But don’t expect central bankers to speed up the tapering process until there’s more evidence of a turnaround, writes Kristina Hooper.

2014-01-07 Dow 19,500, S&P 500 2,150 by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Last year was the best for equities since 1997. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 26.5%, the S&P 500 was up 29.6% and the Nasdaq was up 38.3%. Despite these outsized gains, and in spite of all the talk of a bubble, we still think stocks are cheap.

2014-01-07 The World of Thinking Machines by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

The New York Times recently published an article that discussed a new version of a computer chip that will be released later this year that is expected to automate tasks that currently require direct programming. In this report, we will open with an examination of the philosophy of learning. We will then discuss the potential dangers of such machines, including the ability to perform humanlike actions without a moral sense. We will also examine the potential economic and social side effects. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.

2014-01-07 A Healing Economy by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

The quarter continued the theme of the year, with U.S. equities continuing their dramatic performance. For the quarter, the Dow was up 9.6%, the S&P 9.9%, and the NASDAQ 10.7%. The year’s returns substantially exceeded last year"s "expert predictions" and much of this year’s punditry with the Dow up 26.5%, S&P up 29.6%, and NASDAQ up 38.3%.

2014-01-07 Is 2014 the Year That Alternatives Matter Again? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, investors piled into alternative investments en masse to help insulate their portfolios from another dramatic market decline. For those who had not yet bought into the idea of improving portfolio risk-adjusted returns, the 50% drawdown in the S&P 500 provided all the convincing needed.

2014-01-07 Waiting for the Great Pumpkin by James Moore of PIMCO

Shortly before Thanksgiving, I had the privilege of being on an investor panel at Bank of America’s Debt Capital Markets and Derivatives Conference. On the panel before me was a trio of BofA’s chief strategists, among them Michael Hartnett, their chief investment strategist. Mr. Hartnett reminded the audience that he was the man who coined the phrase "The Great Rotation" and after much anticipation, at long last, it was here.

2014-01-07 European Sector Overview by Team of GaveKal Capital

Though we primarily use our point-and-figure methodology when assessing attributes of individual stocks, we are also able to look at broader sets of data (such as sectors) to get a quick sense of price performance.

2014-01-07 Emerging Markets 2014 Outlook: Shaping the Next Decade by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

As we embark upon a new year, the Templeton Emerging Markets Group believes 2014 could be an important year for many emerging markets, possibly establishing trends that could play out through much of the remainder of the decade. In particular, Chinese government reform initiatives announced in late 2013 could have far-reaching significance. And, major elections in a number of countries in 2014 could bring dramatic (or not-so-dramatic) changes. Here are a few themes and countries we’ve got our eye on in the new year.

2014-01-07 The Big Transition: A Letter to an Entrepreneur Friend by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, presents a letter he has written to friend, a senior executive at a successful public company in the internet sphere. The friend has realized that 90% of his personal worth is tied up in his company. He is considering diversifying. Mr. Sicart’s letter posits that for his entrepreneur friend, the decision to diversify is not "primarily an investment question" but rather "a patrimonial question, which must be considered in a much longer time frame."

2014-01-07 Turn the Page: Outlook for Economy/Stocks in 2014 by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

In this comprehensive (read: long...sorry!) 2014 outlook report, we assess the likelihood a correction is in the offing given the strong gains since 2009.

2014-01-06 Confidence Abounds by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

It’s the very nature of a peak that it can’t be produced except by unusual optimism.

2014-01-06 Market Valuation Overview: Yet More Expensive by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Here is a summary of the four market valuation indicators I update during the first days of the month.

2014-01-06 2014 Housing Predictions by Logan Mohtasham of AMC Lending Group

A tale of 2 halves with lingering questions characterizes what we can say was the story for housing for 2013. In the first half of the year, rates were low as the 10 year note was well under 2%. People were still refinancing, as home prices rocketed. Multiple bids were common, and pundits like Ivy Zelman cheered the improving market with praise like "Housing is in Nirvana".

2014-01-06 Reflections on 2013: What's Important, What's Not, and What's Ahead by Mike Shedlock of Sitka Pacific Capital Management

A tale of 2 halves with lingering questions characterizes what we can say was the story for housing for 2013. In the first half of the year, rates were low as the 10 year note was well under 2%. People were still refinancing, as home prices rocketed. Multiple bids were common, and pundits like Ivy Zelman cheered the improving market with praise like "Housing is in Nirvana".

2014-01-06 Weighing the Week Ahead: Will "Good News" be Good for Markets? by Jeff Miller of New Arc Investments

Suppose you knew -- right now, at the start of the week -- that the payroll employment report would show an extreme number. With 200K jobs expected, suppose it were to be 350K? Or 50K? If you had advance information from Mr. Beeks would you even know what to do?

2014-01-06 The Great Malaise Drags On by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

Maybe the global economy will perform a little better in 2014 than it did in 2013, or maybe not. Seen in the broader context of the continuing Great Malaise, both years will come to be regarded as a time of wasted opportunities.

2014-01-06 Too Big to Pop by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Most economic observers are predicting that 2014 will be the year in which the United States finally shrugs off the persistent malaise of the Great Recession. As we embark on this sunny new chapter, we may ask what wisdom the five-year trauma has delivered.

2014-01-06 Value Stocks Beckon in Emerging Markets by Henry D'uria, Morgan Harting of AllianceBernstein

Years of playing defense have left many emerging-market (EM) equity portfolios laden with pricey safe-haven stocks. We think they risk missing the big opportunity that’s brewing in value stocks, especially as EM economies begin to stabilize.

2014-01-06 How High Can US Stocks Go this Year? by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains why last year’s combination of significant multiple expansion and higher interest rates suggests more muted gains for U.S. equities in 2014.

2014-01-06 Foreign-Aid Follies by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

The huge gap between the world’s richest and poorest countries remains one of the great moral dilemmas for the West. It also poses one of the toughest questions for development economics: Do we really know how to help countries overcome poverty?

2014-01-06 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

To say that 2013 was an interesting year would be a bit of an understatement. We learned a long time ago not to make predictions about the stock market because no matter what is predicted, it is likely to be wrong. Even if we get lucky one year, we are not likely to even get close the following year. We do try to give guidance, however. Last year we suggested that, given the late run in the market in 2012 and its 15% return, investors should be happy with a return of 8 to 10% in 2013. Obviously, investors enjoyed much better returns.

2014-01-06 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

To say that 2013 was an interesting year would be a bit of an understatement. We learned a long time ago not to make predictions about the stock market because no matter what is predicted, it is likely to be wrong. Even if we get lucky one year, we are not likely to even get close the following year. We do try to give guidance, however. Last year we suggested that, given the late run in the market in 2012 and its 15% return, investors should be happy with a return of 8 to 10% in 2013. Obviously, investors enjoyed much better returns.

2014-01-06 Money Matters Part 1: Bitcoin as Global Currency? by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog

In 2009, bitcoin became the first cryptocurrency, or digital medium of exchange, to begin trading. Is it currency or a commodity? Is it a potential peer or a threat to existing currencies? Let’s take a closer look.

2014-01-06 2013: A Review of the Past, the Present and the Future by Ron Surz of PPCA Inc

This commentary is divided into three sections. I begin with a review of current U.S. and foreign stock markets, examining the year 2013 and the past six years, including the crash of 2008. This perspective serves as a launch point into the future, specifically 2014 and the remainder of this decade. I conclude with a review of the past 88 years of U.S. stock and bond markets.

2014-01-04 Forecast 2014: The Human Transformation Revolution by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

It is that time of the year when we peer into our darkened crystal balls in hopes of seeing portents of the future in the shadowy mists. This year I see three distinct wisps of vapor coalescing in the coming years. Each deserves its own treatment, so this year the annual forecast issue will in fact be three separate weekly pieces.

2014-01-03 Is it Lift off Time for Commodity Prices? by Martin Pring of AdvisorShares

Martin is the Investment Strategist to the AdvisorShares Pring Turner Business Cycle ETF (DBIZ) - and since 1984, he has published the "Intermarket Review," a monthly global market report revered among analysts and market technicians. Martin shares his technical analysis on short and long term market momentum and the potential effect for commodity prices.

2014-01-03 Fiat's Stock Rises 16% Today, After Closing a $4.35B Deal For Chrysler by Team of GaveKal Capital

While none of the European automakers manage to pass our knowledge leaders screen, today’s news prompted us to take a closer look at the group.

2014-01-03 Municipal Bonds: Back to Basics in 2014 by Rafael Costas, Sheila Amoroso of Franklin Templeton

Municipal bonds faced some ups and downs in 2013, falling victim to Fed taper speculation and negative press that dogged Detroit and Puerto Rico and understandably scared off some investors. Sheila Amoroso and Rafael Costas, co-directors of our Municipal Bond Department, note that while there are still some issues to work through and even despite the sometimes-shocking headlines, not all news in the world of munis is bad news. They say investors need to get back to the basics and re-examine the reasons for investing in municipal bonds.

2014-01-03 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.9, up from last week’s 131.9. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place came in at 1.8, unchanged from last week.

2014-01-03 A More Market-Friendly China by Henry Zhang of Matthews Asia

My last visit to Beijing happened to coincide with the Communist Party’s Third Plenum Meeting. General business sentiment was just as upbeat as it had been earlier last autumn. But through my discussions with different businesspeople, I came away with a distinct new optimism over the leadership’s more market-oriented stance on policies.

2014-01-03 Gold Stocks: What to Expect in the New Year by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

After three years of pain, can gold stocks break their losing streak and see a gain in 2014? History says chances are good.

2014-01-03 Six Questions for 2014 - January 3, 2014 by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Our economic outlook for this year will be available next week. To provide a taste of what’s ahead, here are six of the key questions we’ll focus on during the coming months.

2014-01-03 Hedged-Dividend Investing: The Debate Starts by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Lively debate is common in our business and it existence promotes exactly what investors are looking for - flesh and blood people who can do the research for them, the planning with them and be willing to stand by their beliefs and act in their client’s best interests.

2014-01-03 2014 Outlook: The Emergence of a Global Expansion by Team of Loomis Sayles

After years of a global recovery characterized by fits and starts, we expect more synchronized global growth in 2014. Global GDP growth will accelerate modestly from 2.7% in 2013 to approximately 3.4% in 2014, primarily driven by larger advanced economies. In particular, we are optimistic that US growth will be sustainable. The fading economic drag from government policy and the ongoing housing recovery should help boost US GDP growth toward 3% as the year progresses. The UK is poised for a similar rate of expansion in 2014, and Europe will likely post positive growth in the coming year.

2014-01-02 Slow Growth and Short Tails by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate

The global economy will grow faster in 2014 than it did in 2013, while tail risks will be lower. But, with the possible exception of the US, growth will remain anemic in advanced economies, and emerging-market fragility - including China’s uncertain efforts at economic rebalancing - could become a drag on global growth.

2014-01-02 The Enduring Nature of Saving Mr. Banks by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Warren Buffett has admitted that selling Disney in 1966 was the biggest mistake of his entire career.

2014-01-02 2013 - Good Year Or Good Riddance? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

It’s New Year’s Eve, so I thought it might be interesting to look at some recent polls to get a sense of how Americans feel about how things went in 2013 and what they considered to be the most important news stories of the year.

2014-01-02 2013 in Review: Best of the "Silver Bullet" Awards by Jeff Miller of New Arc Investments

Regular readers of my "Weighing the Week Ahead" series know that I occasionally give the Silver Bullet Award. This recognizes writers who take it upon themselves to debunk dangerously misleading financial analysis. Their often thankless work reminds me of the Lone Ranger, whose adventures often upheld the notion that "...that all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever."

2014-01-02 The Long and The Short of Gold Investing by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

There are two types of gold investors: those trying to make money on short-term market timing and those looking for long-term asset preservation. It was the fear-driven trading of the former that helped gold break $1900 in 2011, and for good reason - stormy markets steer investors to safe havens.

2014-01-02 The World Economy's Shifting Challenges by George Soros of Project Syndicate

As 2013 comes to a close, efforts to revive growth in the world’s most influential economies are exerting competing pressures on the global economy. Perhaps not surprisingly, while Europe and the US will continue to play an important global role, developments in Asia will determine the worldwide outlook in 2014 and beyond.

2014-01-02 Is the Stock Market Cheap? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Here is a new update of a popular market valuation method using the most recent Standard & Poor’s "as reported" earnings and earnings estimates and the index monthly averages of daily closes for the past month, which is 1807.78. The ratios in parentheses use the monthly close of 1848.36.

2013-12-31 The 10 Most-Read Articles of 2013 by Various (Article)

As is our custom, we conclude the year by reflecting on the 10 most-read articles over the past 12 months. In decreasing order, based on the number of unique readers, those are...

2013-12-31 The Ten Best Articles You Probably Missed by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Great articles don’t always get the readership they deserve. We’ve posted the 10 most-widely read articles for the past year. Below are another 10 that you might have missed, but I believe merit reading.

2013-12-31 Making Your Research Pay Off in 2014 by Dan Richards (Article)

For all the time that advisors invest in conducting due diligence on managers and markets, most do a miserable job of leveraging the hours they spend in communicating with clients. Here’s how to change that in 2014.

2013-12-31 Organizing Principles for Disorganized Advisors by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

How do I deal with the people on my staff who are disorganized? I have a couple of people who get three days’ worth of work done in one day, but most of the team gets little accomplished each day and keeps screaming for resources.

2013-12-31 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Michael Edesess’ article, How Much Should We Pay to Emit Carbon?, which appeared last week.

2013-12-31 Why Resolutions Are Easy to Make...and Hard to Keep by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

It’s that time of year again when resolutions are supposed to be made. Typically this is a January 1st task as we face a new year and everything starts over again.

2013-12-31 Tech Bubble Circa 1999, or Something Different? by J.P. Scandalios of Franklin Templeton

Technology sector stocks have been investor favorites in 2013, pushing the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index to its highest level since 1999 and drawing comparisons to the "dot com" bubble which burst soon thereafter. Will we see a redux of the tech bust in 2014? John P. Scandalios doesn’t think so. Investor fever for anything "dot com" in the late 1990s was built more on promise than actual results.

2013-12-31 A Look Ahead at 2014 by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Last week, Russ shared his annual look back at his 2013 economic and investment calls. Now, it’s time for his annual look forward.

2013-12-31 Who Won and Loss The Holiday Week by Team of GaveKal Capital

Let’s take a quick tour of who had the best and worst performance in the light trading week last week. We will start bottom-up and work our way up to the aggregates (and as usual all aggregate data is equal-weighted).

2013-12-31 2014? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Year-end letters are difficult to write because there is always a tendency to discuss the year gone by or, worse, attempt to forecast the coming year. Typically, when the media asks where the S&P 500 (SPX/1841.40) will be at the end of the new year, I tell them you might as well flip a lucky penny.

2013-12-31 China's Policy Disharmony by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

China was hardly lacking in policy pronouncements in the final months of 2013. Given the likely tradeoffs between strategy and tactics - that is, between long-term reforms and short-term growth - can Chinese policymakers really accomplish all of their objectives?

2013-12-30 Weighing the Week Ahead: How Should Investors Judge the Prospects for 2014? by Jeff Miller of New Arc Investments

Sometimes the calendar of news and events makes it easy to predict what will grab our attention in the week ahead. In the last few weeks leading up to the Fed tapering announcement, I highlighted the following.

2013-12-30 NYSE Margin Debt Is Fractionally Off Its Real All-Time High by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The New York Stock Exchange publishes end-of-month data for margin debt on the NYXdata website, where we can also find historical data back to 1959. Let’s examine the numbers and study the relationship between margin debt and the market, using the S&P 500 as the surrogate for the latter.

2013-12-30 Predictions for the 2014 U.S. Financial Markets by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

I’ve had so many phenomenal and diverse guests on my syndicated radio show, Financial Myth Busting, this year: Steve Forbes, Mort Zuckerman, David Stockman, Michael Belkin, David Walker, Dr. Ben Carson, Marc Faber, and even Ted Nugent. This is a very eclectic group, but they all have certain opinions in common. They all share the same concerns that the U.S. economic growth remains anemic and the continued economic instability and political deadlock along with business community’s mistrust of the U.S. government will continue to destroy America’s bottom line in the future.

2013-12-30 Bitcoin Takes on Gold by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Ever since President Nixon broke the US dollar’s last link to gold, the world has been set adrift on a sea of fiat currencies that have been increasingly debased, serving the interests of governments and financial elites. For the last five years, central banks have imposed near-zero rates of interest that have helped push up stock, bond, and real estate prices, but have made it nearly impossible for savers to receive meaningful returns on bank deposits.

2013-12-30 Estimating the Risk of a Market Crash by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

A defensive outlook here does not presume, require, or rely on a market crash. Our ongoing discipline is to align our investment outlook with the market return/risk profile that we estimate on the basis of a broad ensemble of evidence that we can test historically and validate in out-of-sample data. That outlook will shift as that evidence shifts, period.

2013-12-30 Plow Horse, Trotting by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

What a year 2013 has been. Remember how it started, with the media hyperventilating over the "fiscal cliff" deal and spending sequester? The vast majority of economists, pundits and politicians believe in Keynesian economics. So, it’s not surprising that higher tax rates and spending cuts sent them into an intellectual and theoretical funk.

2013-12-30 What Does US Tapering Mean for Asia? by Paul Chan of Invesco Blog

The US Federal Reserve (Fed) took its first step toward unwinding its unprecedented monetary stimulus. Beginning in January 2014, the Fed will reduce monthly asset purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion. The scale of the tapering was very much in line with market expectation. While timing may have surprised some investors, the market had already priced in the Fed’s imminent move.

2013-12-27 A Look Back at 2013 Calls by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

It’s time again for Russ K’s annual look back at his economic and investment calls. Find out what he got right - and what he got wrong.

2013-12-27 Global Equity Outlook: Clouded by Uncertainty by Norman Boersma of Franklin Templeton

Global equity investors generally had reason to cheer in 2013, and seemed more willing to embrace risk as the year progressed. Will the bullish mood persist in 2014? Norm Boersma, Chief Investment Officer, Templeton Global Equity Group, says that while it’s clear global investors have been allocating more dollars toward equities in recent days (particularly US equities), there are still a number of unknowns that make it hard to be overly exuberant.

2013-12-27 Year of Turmoil for China's Health Care by Hardy Zhu of Matthews Asia

2013 has been an eventful year for China’s health care industry. There were several investigations into allegations of corruption and bribe-taking by doctors.

2013-12-27 The Risk Tolerance Paradox....And What You Can Do About It by Ken Mungan, Matt Kaufman of Milliman Financial Risk Management

The risk tolerance level many investors expect to achieve over the long-term rarely equals the same tolerance investors actually experience over shorter periods. This paper provides a brief introduction to this paradox, explores the main reason we think it exists, and introduces a risk management strategy that seeks to solve the problem.

2013-12-27 Gary Shilling: Review and Forecast by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

It’s that time of year again, when we begin to think of what the next one will bring. I will be doing my annual forecast issue next week, but my friend Gary Shilling has already done his and has graciously allowed me to use a shortened version of his letter as this week’s Thoughts from the Frontline. So without any further ado, let’s jump right to Gary’s look at where we are and where we’re going.

2013-12-27 Gold in the Toilet? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

I am not debating that gold can be a very good investment over some periods of time. But perhaps these events bear watching to see if gold regains its luster or fades down to a level that would plunge it further into the investment market’s version of the toilet. Gold is now about a break-even from four years ago and its price is sitting near a long-term "support level" price last reached over the summer of 2013. The next few months should be interesting ones.

2013-12-27 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.9, up from last week’s 130.9. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, slipped to 1.9, down from 2.1 last week.

2013-12-27 2013: Looking Back at the Year of the Bull by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Will stocks continue to climb in 2014? Odds are "very good," finds BCA Research. According to historical data going back to 1870, there were 30 times when annual returns in domestic stocks climbed more than 25 percent. Of these, 23 experienced an additional increase, resulting in a mean of 12 percent, says BCA. Thinking back to January 2013, investors had a very different frame of mind. While we recently talked about the year’s biggest stories in U.S. energy and gold, today, we recap our popular commentaries focused on the domestic market.

2013-12-26 Creating a Reliable Lifetime Income by Ken Mungan of Milliman Financial Risk Management

With the baby boomer generation rolling into retirement, financial advisors have been faced with increased demand to assist with retirement income planning. As the financial advisory community struggles to address this demand, advisors are realizing that their traditional planning techniques must improve. In this white paper, we analyze the problem of providing a reliable lifetime income. We compare several approaches and demonstrate that risk management is a key element to a successful investor outcome.

2013-12-26 A Strong Finish for 2013 by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

For our weekly subscribers, we wanted to take an opportunity to look back on the year. We began 2013 with an outlook for the prospect of improvement for the global economy and risk assets. We thought global policymaker’s unprecedented attempts to reflate global growth would show some signs of bearing fruit, especially in the United States and China. In our forecast, equity markets would continue to be choppy in light of the fiscal cliff issues, but an inevitable political compromise would reduce the economic drag.

2013-12-26 Does the CAPE Still Work? by William Hester of Hussman Funds

We feel no particular obligation defend the CAPE ratio. It has a strong long-term relationship to subsequent 10-year market returns. And it’s only one of numerous valuation indicators that we use in our work - many which are considerably more reliable.

2013-12-26 Economy Surprises On The Upside, But Is It Real? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

In today’s abbreviated holiday E-Letter, we’ll look at last Friday’s surprising report on 3Q GDP. In its third estimate of 3Q GDP, the Commerce Department reported that the economy surged by more than anyone expected. Given the surprisingly strong numbers, more than a few are questioning the report’s accuracy and wondering if it will be revised lower in January.

2013-12-26 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

I admit it, I do occasionally pick on Money Magazine and other consumer financial publications, but as I’ve written in the past, for the most part, Money does a great job of educating consumers. Its story on Lessons from the Crash "Lehman Brothers’ collapse in September 2008 sent stocks on a terrifying ride. A year-by-year look back reveals five key takeaways you need to heed today" is an excellent example. Here are Money’s "Lessons."

2013-12-24 European Markets Positioning by Tim Stevenson (Article)

Tim Stevenson, Director of Pan European Equities, reviews recent European market activity and notes positive economic news including a more settled German economy and the expectation of more sanguine political ‘noise’ heading into 2014. He believes now is a good time to start rebuilding European weightings and is optimistic about the outlook for 2014.

2013-12-24 The Price America Pays for Global Leadership by Bob Veres (Article)

America’s political debates inevitably default to finding ways to contain our federal deficits, and our investment debates focus on whether we’re facing a secular bear or bull market - and how to maneuver within that environment. I had never imagined that these two debates could be related until I heard a presentation by Bill O’Grady, of Confluence Investment Management in St. Louis, MO at the Insider’s Forum conference in Dallas.

2013-12-24 How Much Should We Pay to Emit Carbon? by Michael Edesess (Article)

Many consider emissions of greenhouse gases to be what economists call a ’negative externality,’ meaning that they are likely to impose a cost on society through climate change and ocean acidification. The cost of that externality should, in principle, be borne by the emitters, who should pay a price to emit. But what should that price be?

2013-12-24 The Three Key Words in Client Conversations by Dan Richards (Article)

Here are four suggestions to help read between the lines in conversations with both existing and prospective clients, including the three key words that you should always be ready to say.

2013-12-24 Calming an Uptight Partner by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

My partner is always anxious and upset about something and everything is urgent. He is a good friend and I respect his intelligence, but he gives me heartburn. Are there strategies I could employ to get him to calm down?

2013-12-24 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Joe Tomlinson’s article, Optimizing Asset Location: Is It Worth the Effort?, which appeared last week.

2013-12-24 The Key to Creating Better Marketing Materials by Elizabeth Snyder (Article)

For your New Year’s resolution this year, consider updating or creating new marketing materials for your firm. Do you know how to communicate your preferences to your creative team?

2013-12-24 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

vestors thanked Bernanke this week for what they perceived as an early holiday present. While no one knew how they would react once the Fed began to taper its bond purchases, many surprised analysts by lifting stocks to one of the best showings of the year (and a new record on the Dow). And now that that uncertainty is out of the way, let the vacations begin.

2013-12-24 Will Santa Claus Come to Town in 2013? by Kevin Mahn of Hennion & Walsh

The technical anomaly popularly called the "Santa Claus Rally" describes the abnormal positive returns the market experiences in the last month of the calendar year. Logic would suggest that the optimistic behavior of market participants due to the holidays, combined with higher sales during the busiest shopping season of the year, justify the movement in stock prices, but shouldn’t this seasonality be priced into the market already?

2013-12-24 A Spoonful of Sugar by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The press has framed Ben Bernanke’s valedictory press conference last week in heroic terms. It’s as if a veteran quarterback engineered a stunning come-from-behind drive in his final game, and graciously bowed out of the game with the ball sitting on the opponent’s one-yard line. In reality, Bernanke has merely completed a five-yard pass from his own end zone, and has left Janet Yellen to come off the bench down by three touchdowns, with no credible deep threats, and very little time left on the clock.

2013-12-24 Fed Taper Brings Us Back to the Future by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

A return to normal economic conditions is now more palpable following the Fed’s decision to start unwinding QE and early signs of a revival in consumer spending, growth and jobs, writes Kristina Hooper.

2013-12-24 Bernanke's Santa Claus Cheer by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

What will Santa bring for Christmas...does he exist at all? Yes he does, his name is Bernanke and he has a stock market rally to share and good holiday cheer for all!

2013-12-24 Is 2% Growth The New Normal For Consumption? by Team of GaveKal Capital

From 1960 to November 2007 (the 2007-2009 recession started December 2007 according to NBER), real personal consumption expenditures grew at just about 3.5% trend growth. In this recovery, consumption as only mustered a growth rate just above 2%. Is this another permanent downshift in consumption growth or will consumption ratchet back up? Something we will be keeping an eye on.

2013-12-24 A Surprising Way to Participate in Today's Tech Boom by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

If I asked you to name the biggest online shopping day of the year, what would you guess?

2013-12-23 Risk Assets Take Fed Taper Announcement in Stride by Roger Bayston of Franklin Templeton

The US Federal Reserve (Fed) delivered an early holiday surprise to some market participants, announcing at its December 18 policy meeting it would start slowing its asset purchase program known as quantitative easing in January. For some thoughts on what this may mean for the markets in the new year, we turned just after the announcement to Roger Bayston. He believes the markets should be able to take the Fed’s tapering in 2014 in stride, although investors should prepare for the proposition of higher Treasury yields.

2013-12-23 Welcome, Taper by Dianne Lob of AllianceBernstein

The Federal Open Market Committee’s statement that it will begin to taper its bond purchases in January is a good sign that the US economy continues to heal, in our view.

2013-12-23 The Diva is Already Singing by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The bell has already rung. The diva is already singing. The only question is precisely how long they hold the note.

2013-12-23 China's Consumer Stocks: Opportunities Despite Slower Growth by Richard Flax of PIMCO

A weaker macro environment and curbs on spending by government bureaucrats have hit a range of consumer businesses and, in some cases, forced a reassessment of expansion plans. While Chinese consumption may be challenged in the near term, we think the impact will be felt most in the retail sector where slowing demand is compounded by oversupply. We see opportunity in other sectors that benefit from secular demand growth and constrained supply or strong brands, notably casinos and luxury sectors.

2013-12-23 2013 Festivus Airing of Grievances - I've Got a Lot of Problems with You People! by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

I often hear this from some of the cable news hosts and their guests. You see, according to these "economic theorists", when the unemployed and/or lower-income populace receive various types of funds from the government, they spend these funds, thus increasing nominal aggregate spending in the economy. What could be wrong with that in an economy that is operating below its potential?

2013-12-23 401(k) Makeover: Future Trends by Jon Vogler of Invesco Blog

Retirement experts believe your 401(k) plan will take on a new look and focus over the next few years as the industry introduces changes aimed at getting participants to save more money and do more planning for retirement.

2013-12-21 Start Me Up: Fed Announces a Much-Anticipated Taper by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The Fed decided to begin tapering its QE-related bond purchases with a reduction of $10 billion; split evenly between Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities. In a sign that tapering was already priced in, the stock market surged on the announcement; while bond yields remained quite tame. The Fed announced slightly sunnier economic forecasts, suggesting quantitative easing could wind down within a year.

2013-12-21 What Has QE Wrought? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Now that we have begun tapering, we will soon see lots of analysis about whether QE has been effective. What will the stock market do? The US economy seems to be moving in the right direction, but the Fed has forecast Nirvana (seriously) - do we dare hope they can finally get a forecast right? Or have they jinxed us?

2013-12-20 Let's Get Physical: Gold Bullion and Bitcoin by John Hathaway of Tocqueville Asset Management

John Hathaway, manager of the Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX), discusses in his latest insights piece the disparity in price direction between gold bullion and Bitcoin, in spite of the strikingly similar rationale for holding the two. He notes that the "Bitcoin-Gold incongruity is explained by the fact that financial engineers have not yet discovered a way to collateralize bitcoins for leveraged trades."

2013-12-20 Celebrating Asia's Growth Past and Present by Taizo Ishida, Mark Headley of Matthews Asia

Today, Matthews Asia celebrates 10 remarkable years that have passed since we launched our Asia Growth strategy to U.S. investors. During this time, the region has evolved in many significant ways. In the early 2000s, only the "Asian Tiger" economies had managed to reach GDP per capita levels considered the tipping point for consumption growth. More recently, consumption has been on the rise in many of the region’s economies, laying the foundation for Asia’s ongoing prosperity.

2013-12-20 Staying Power by Kapish Bhutani of Diamond Hill Investments

In addition to reducing the risk of a permanent loss of capital, the staying power of a company allows for capital to compound over long periods of time. While the defensive and less cyclical nature of many consumer staples companies indicates an ability to survive, most are able to invest only a portion of earnings at historical rates of return.

2013-12-20 The Challenges of Year-End Forecasting by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates

Many investors piled on the equity bandwagon this year, pushing prices up to dizzying heights. With current yields for U.S. equities at record lows, is it time to get off the bandwagon?

2013-12-20 Five Resolutions for 2014 by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

Entering 2014, the global investment environment is as challenging as ever. After a super 2013 in returns, U.S. equities can no longer be considered inexpensive and yet still look attractive relative to the prospective returns on savings accounts and long-term bonds. Long-term bond yields are higher than a year ago but could still rise further as the Federal Reserve begins to reduce quantitative easing.

2013-12-20 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook for the Americas: Riding the Cross-Currents of Higher U.S. Growth and the Fed by Mohit Mittal, Lupin Rahman, Ed Devlin of PIMCO

In the U.S., lower fiscal drag and the possibility of higher consumer and corporate spending should drive growth higher in 2014. Supported by higher U.S. growth and stabilization in Europe and China, Latin America is set to grow 3%-4% on average, but with a large dispersion across countries. Canada should benefit from the U.S. recovery but will likely lag U.S. growth due to lower consumption and residential investment.

2013-12-20 A Surprising Way to Participate in Today's Tech Boom by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

China has become one of the best consumption stories out there, and looking over the next few years, local technology companies are almost certain to benefit. So while many U.S. investors are getting excited about the growing number of initial public offerings in the tech sector, they would be remiss if they didn’t look beyond Silicon Valley.

2013-12-20 Looking Beyond the Initial Fed Taper by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Can the Fed be believed or trusted? Pioneer’s Sam Wardwell analyzes the tension between data dependency and forward guidance in Fed policy.

2013-12-20 The Mundane Truth Behind Margins by Doug Ramsey of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

The margin expansion story of the last 20 years is a financial one, not an operating one. Investors routinely attribute today’s near-record margins to operating efficiencies like factory automation and the outsourcing of labor to lower-wage foreign locales. This is certainly an attractive story, but the reality is that competition demands these actions, and many more, to merely maintain margins. We don’t understand why economists who seem to be perfectly good capitalists in every other way think these innovations should result in a permanent jump in profitability.

2013-12-20 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

As this will be our last weekly of the year, we thought we would offer some parting reflections on the year just past.

2013-12-20 Strategies for a Runaway Market (year-end edition) by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

It seems to me that the best advice for the upcoming year as an investor is "don’t anticipate what will happen, just balance reward potential and risk potential for each client situation and be ready for anything." This is very similar to the feeling the surrounded markets in 1999 just before the dot-com bubble burst, and again in late 2007 when the credit crisis started to become more widespread. So, here is my advice for those investors and financial advisors who wish to start getting mentally ready for surviving 2014.

2013-12-20 A Picture: More Misleading than a Thousand Words by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting

If you believe mortgage rates will return to 8.3%, backend debt to income ratios will fall to 38%, and that significant down payments and savings will be required going forward, then you should be concluding that housing appears overvalued today. I am not ready to make those assumptions.

2013-12-19 The Great Experiment by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

After 100 years of the US central bank, does it deserve another try...?

2013-12-19 Coal in the Fed's Stock-ing by Tony Crescenzi, Lupin Rahman, Ben Emons of PIMCO

Forward guidance has become an increasingly common practice among global central banks. Communicating a possible change in the policy rate could have a large effect on long-term interest rates. Capital has moved literally around the globe as a result of central bank activism in developed countries. Looking ahead, we expect 2014 to be a year of increased differentiation across emerging markets in terms of economic fundamentals, policy reactions and market outcomes.

2013-12-19 A Dovish-Bullish Taper by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

They finally did it. At Chairman Bernanke’s next to last meeting, the Federal Reserve announced a modest tapering of quantitative easing, reducing its monthly purchases of Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities by $5 billion each ($10 billion total) to $75 billion starting in January. As a result, the size of the Fed’s balance sheet will continue to rise, but slightly more slowly than before.

2013-12-19 Introducing Our Annual Global Outlook for 2014 by Jeff Hussey of Russell Investments

Jeff Hussey, global CIO, introduces Russell Investments’ 2014 Annual Global Outlook and explains why it will be important for investors to focus on risk premiums and precise exposures in 2014.

2013-12-19 Market's Fed Frenzy Can Finally End by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The Fed surprised many investors by announcing it will taper in January, but made clear that interest rates will remain near the zero-bound as forward guidance becomes its primary policy tool.

2013-12-19 Is Your Inflation Protection Really Protecting You? by Thomas Luster, Stewart Taylor, Kevin Dachille of Eaton Vance

Many investors who own Treasury Inflation-Protection Securities (TIPS) and TIPS mutual funds don’t realize that they may be taking a significant amount of interest-rate risk in exchange for their inflation protection, which may result in losses when rates begin to rise rapidly. Shorter-maturity TIPS carry the same inflation adjustment as longer-term TIPS, but have less sensitivity to interest rates, which may be helpful in times of rising interest rates like what investors experienced in spring 2013.

2013-12-19 Georgia on My Mind by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

My team and I recently traveled to Georgia, a small country in the Caucasus Mountains straddling the border between Europe and Asia. Why are we interested in Georgia? One word: reform. Georgia, which can be considered a frontier market, is on the cusp of burgeoning change.

2013-12-19 One of the Most Notable Stories of the Year: Energy Renaissance in the U.S.A. by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

As we come to the end of 2013, it’s a good time to reflect on some of the biggest resources stories of the year. One that immediately comes to mind is the U.S. energy resurgence and its tremendous effect on oil and gas.

2013-12-19 What the Fed's Taper Means for Investors by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Kristina Hooper breaks down the Federal Reserve’s surprise move to begin unwinding its bond-buying program and its implications for markets and monetary policy.

2013-12-18 Identifying Opportunities in 2014 by Bill McQuaker (Article)

Bill McQuaker, Head of Multi-Asset, provides a brief overview of 2013 market behavior and notes his expectations for global markets in 2014. He identifies Japan as an exciting opportunity and believes there may be a buying opportunity in Emerging Markets at some point within the year. Bill also touches on activity in the UK, US and bond markets.

2013-12-18 Fed May Have An Unexpected Surprise In Mind by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

My readers know that the global financial world is waiting with bated breath for tomorrow’s Fed decision on whether to start to "taper" QE purchases now or wait until next year. The Fed’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) is holding its last policy meeting of the year today and tomorrow, and Chairman Bernanke will hold a press conference afterward.

2013-12-18 The Milken Rule and Wide/Sustainable Moats by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

This is my 34th year in the investment business. You might not be aware that I trained and worked at Drexel Burnham my first nine years in the business. Michael Milken was the driving force behind the success and profitability of my original firm. What happened to Drexel and Mike Milken in the late 1980s is a study in how to have a brilliant vision and how to handle a business with a very wide moat. Its demise has created what I call the Michael Milken rule and we believe it should be used in present day analysis, in particular when it comes to evaluating moats.

2013-12-18 Australia Inc. by Adam Bowe, Robert Mead of PIMCO

In 2013, real growth in business investment in Australia outside the mining sector slowed to almost zero, in part due to the high exchange rate. While some sectors of the economy such as housing appear to be improving, we continue to expect sub-trend growth in 2014 due to the subdued outlook for business investment. The RBA will most likely have to keep interest rates low for an extended period to ease the transition away from mining-assisted growth and encourage a weaker exchange rate.

2013-12-18 PIMCO's Cyclical Outlook for Asia: Growth Is Stabilizing but Not Stellar by Ramin Toloui, Tomoya Masanao, Robert Mead of PIMCO

In China, near-term economic performance will be dominated by the dialing back and forth of credit conditions by policymakers, while long-term reform progresses incrementally. Japan’s GDP growth will slow in 2014 due to a consumption tax hike but will still be above the country’s potential growth as it is assisted by reflationary policies. The pace of Australia’s growth will slow due to weakness in manufacturing and mining, reflecting tempered growth in China.

2013-12-18 Three Investments that Could Return to Favor in 2014 by Jeffrey Knight of Columbia Management

When investors lose confidence in an asset class, especially one that had been popular enough to attract outsized allocations, subsequent rebalancing generally leads to prolonged periods of underperformance. Technology stocks after 1999, for example, underperformed the S&P 500 in eight of the next 10 years and by a cumulative total of more than 40 percentage points. Today, many believe that interest rate sensitive bonds might have just begun a similar era of waning investor confidence, portfolio reallocation and underperformance.

2013-12-18 Beware the Haunting of Stock Market Corrections Past! by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

I do think the ghosts of stock market corrections past are haunting us. Those who forget the lessons that history teaches us are predestined to repeat them. As an apprentice of U.S. stock market history, I’ve seen this maxim made true, time and time again. I believe I have seen the ghosts of the 1929, 1987, 2000 and 2008 U.S. Stock market crashes because they have materialized in 2013 and are appearing in front of everyone.

2013-12-17 Risks You Could Actually Do Something About by Lori Heinel (Article)

Lori Heinel, Head of Investment Products, discusses the role of protection* against certain risks in a portfolio. * Protection is positioned as an investment goal. Investing in certain securities may help to hedge against certain risks, but does not imply any guarantee from loss. Mutual funds are subject to risk. Shares may gain or lose value.

2013-12-17 Gundlach - Don’t Plan on Tapering by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Investors face many concerns as the new year approaches, but a recurrence of May’s "taper tantrum" should not be high on their lists, according to DoubleLine’s Jeffrey Gundlach. With the majority of Fed governors staking a dovish position, "quantitative stimulus is likely to remain with us longer than people think," Gundlach said.

2013-12-17 Optimizing Asset Location: Is It Worth the Effort? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Asset location - the choice of whether to hold stocks and bonds in taxable or sheltered accounts - is receiving increased attention as advisors seek more ways to add value. New research has challenged long-held beliefs. I’ll examine that research and answer a question that should concern every advisor and client: Does the value provided by asset-location advice justify the fees for the work involved?

2013-12-17 How a Simple Sandwich Got a Top Prospect’s Attention by Dan Richards (Article)

Many advisors generously support charities and good causes in their communities and around the world. Here’s how to communicate that support to clients.

2013-12-17 Making Brand Communication Work for Your Firm by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I have sat in on meetings with my staff while they talk to prospects and clients and they say things I would never say. Everyone has their own style but it is important that we say the same things. Is there a way to accomplish this through training?

2013-12-17 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Dan Richards’ article, How Service Screw-ups Can Create Happier Clients, and a reader responds to Patrick McVeigh’s article, Low Demand Will Depress Oil Prices, both of which appeared last week.

2013-12-17 Five Strategies for a Rising-Rate Environment Revisited by Kane Cotton, CFA and Jonathan Scheid, CFA (Article)

In June 2010, we recommended five strategies for a rising-rate environment, acknowledging that we had no idea when or how abruptly rates would rise. Indeed, rates fell since we wrote that article. But they are on the rise again. After reviewing how our original five strategies performed, we’ll now present our revised recommendations for investing as rates increase.

2013-12-17 Will 2014 Bring an End to Central Bank Intervention? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Nearing the final two weeks of the year, it is customary to look forward to the trends and events that will shape the coming year. A theme that may come to the fore in 2014 revolves around central bankers, specifically the diverging fates in various economies of the world.

2013-12-17 The Monster That Is Europe by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week, Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen of the Front National (FN) of France held a press conference in The Hague to announce that they will be cooperating in the elections for the European Parliament next spring and hope to form a new eurosceptic bloc.

2013-12-17 2013 A Pretty Good Year by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

This time last year we were bullish about equities and positive on the slow but steady strengthening of the economy. The market did not disappoint. The economy was almost heroic, you might say, with its performance enduring government sequestrations and higher taxes almost a 2% drag on GDP but comporting with our expectations of 2 - 2.5% growth. 2013 is ending with GDP and the markets coming fairly close to what we thought they’d achieve. Now the year is almost out, so let’s take stock of 2013 but look ahead to 2014.

2013-12-17 5 Takeaways from the Mini-Budget Deal by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The bi-partisan budget agreement inked last week has real implications for investors, including its impact on consumers, the stock market and the Fed, writes Kristina Hooper.

2013-12-17 The 2014 Geopolitical Outlook by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

As is our custom, we close out the current year with our outlook for the next one. This report is less a series of predictions as it is a list of potential geopolitical issues that we believe will dominate the international situation in the upcoming year. It is not designed to be exhaustive; instead, it focuses on the "big picture" conditions that we believe will affect policy and markets going forward. They are listed in order of importance.

2013-12-17 Gaining Perspective by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

This weekend we were honored to have Steve Finn, the owner of our largest custodian, Trust Company of America, and his lovely wife, Kelly, join us for our annual Holiday Party (see more about the party in the "What’s Happening" section). On Sunday, at a post-party brunch, Kelly (who studied art at the International Academy of Art in Nice, France, and at the Brera Art Academy in Milan, Italy and has many years of patient craftsmanship with oil paint and easel) was telling us about how she goes about creating her exquisite paintings.

2013-12-17 Rare Washington Compromise Plus Rising Consumer Debt Equals Modestly Higher 2014 GDP by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains the two reasons why the U.S. economic growth picture looks a little rosier in 2014.

2013-12-17 The One Percent by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

I read the Pope’s words about inequality following a meeting of our newly formed Consumer Analysts Panel. The panel consists of our consumer analysts, our lodging/housing analysts, our economist, senior management of our institutional sales team, and me. Interestingly, the recurring theme over the course of said meeting was that the top 20% of wage earners are doing fine, but the bottom 20% are not.

2013-12-17 Taper Time? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

There are many arguments for and against an initial reduction in the Fed’s monthly rate of asset purchases, but the balance has shifted toward a December taper. It appears to be a very close call, but even if the Fed decides to delay again, we all know (or should know) that QE3 is going to wind down in 2014.

2013-12-17 Housing Market Index Is Up, Should Help Buoy CPI by Team of GaveKal Capital

The NAHB Housing Market Index increased to 58 to post the highest number since August, which is also the highest level of the recovery. The HMI correlates pretty well with house prices.

2013-12-17 2013 Review with Ken Fincher of First Trust Advisors by (Article)

2013 has been a dramatic year for closed-end funds, according to Ken Fincher of First Trust Advisors and other industry professionals.

2013-12-16 The Coming Retreat in Corporate Earnings by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The problem is not simply that earnings are likely to retreat deeply over the next few years. Rather, the problem is that investors have embedded the assumption of permanently elevated profit margins into stock prices, leaving the market about 80-100% above levels that would provide investors with historically adequate long-term returns. An equivalent way to say this is that stocks are currently at levels that we estimate will provide roughly zero nominal total returns over the next 7-10 years, with historically adequate long-term returns thereafter.

2013-12-16 A Much Better Dilemma by Mike Amey of PIMCO

While the UK economy is likely to avoid reverting to growth levels of recent years, it must transition into a more durable recovery involving business investment, higher productivity and stronger real wages. However, headwinds for domestic demand look significant and the banking system appears to favour secured lending to consumers over businesses. We believe that much of the rise in bond yields is already behind us. With clearer value in shorter bonds, our preference lies in short and intermediate gilts.

2013-12-16 The World We Live In by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

For me, the final month of the year has always been a time to reflect upon the past as well as plan for the future. Analyzing the year soon to pass provides a valuable perspective with which to evaluate the important issues that will impact our country and economy going forward. In this context, 2013 sure has been a memorable year highlighted by horrific natural disasters, the deaths of Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela, and on the lighter side, the unforgettable ending to perhaps the greatest Iron Bowl ever played.

2013-12-16 Debt Crisis Recovery: Bell Curves and Balance Sheets by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog

This three-part series examines the life cycle of a debt crisis and looks at where the US, UK and eurozone are in the recovery process. This second post looks at where the US stands in the deleveraging process. Part 1 explained the phases of a debt crisis, while Part 3 will focus on why the UK and eurozone lag the US in balance-sheet repair.

2013-12-16 Absolute Return Letter: Squeaky Bum Time by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees, Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

QE has led to asset price inflation. That much we established in the November Absolute Return Letter. In this month’s letter we go one step further and look at whether we are now in bubble territory. Considering the strong bull-run we have experienced in 2012-13 it is perhaps surprising to learn that, in a historical context, it is not an outsized rally, nor are equity markets - with the possible exception of the United States - particularly expensive.

2013-12-16 The Power of the Platform: The Promise and Peril of Technology Investing by Ryan Jacob of Jacob Asset Management

Without question, technology’s rapid development during the past 20 years has played an incredibly powerful and largely positive role in furthering the progress and productivity of modern economies throughout the world. Technology’s track record as a profitable investment theme, however, is a bit cloudier.

2013-12-16 A Budget Deal Wimpy Would Like, Saturday Night Debate & A Word on Pensions by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Saturday evening, I was asked by a reader (I was surprised to learn she was a regular reader) why I am always pointing out the potential pitfalls associated with data we capture and why so harsh on the good folks in our nation’s capital. "Things are actually pretty (darn) good - a deficit reducing budget is about to be passed, unemployment is the lowest it has been in years and the housing market is abuzz. Not to mention, the stock market has been pretty good to those that have invested." I responded that I respected her view but was truly bothered by the data, as evidenced by this weekl

2013-12-16 2014 Investment Outlook: Economic Growth Should Broaden by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

For the first time in several years, we approach the new year without big clouds on the horizon. In the United States, accommodative monetary policy has healed many of the wounds from the 2008-2009 crisis.

2013-12-16 Settling In by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

An improving outlook for U.S. housing will be constructive for consumer spending, confidence and jobs. There are many ways to invest directly and indirectly in companies that should benefit from higher housing prices, a pickup in home repairs and remodeling, and residential investment spending. We continue to favor select investments in homebuilders, building materials, appliance manufacturers, lumber, home improvement, banks, title insurance, mortgage origination and servicing, and non-Agency mortgage-backed securities.

2013-12-15 Lessons Learned in 2013 by Seth Masters of Alliance Bernstein

In 2013, interest rates rose, bonds fell, equities soared, and US income-tax rates climbed higher. Before starting to place bets for 2014, investors would be wise to think about some important lessons from 2013.

2013-12-13 The Impact of the Great Recession and Federal Reserve Accommodation on Households by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

The latest release of macro data came out today from the Fed Flow of Funds report generated by the Federal Reserve. We monitor this with great anticipation so as to measure possible direction changes or momentum of a current direction. There are a myriad of data points, however, a few select charts should continue to raise confidence in the direction of the economy and, at worst, a liquidity-driven backstop to maintain consumption at minimum agreeable levels.

2013-12-13 Will Apple Follow the Microsoft Script? by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

Back in July, we used technical analysis to anticipate a "head & shoulders" bottom in AAPL. Now that the minimum price objective of $550 has been achieved, we ask a deeper question: What does market behavior have to say about AAPL’s longer-term prospects?

2013-12-13 The Year of the Horse: 3 Reasons Chinese Stocks Could Gallop Ahead in 2014 by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While Chinese stocks have massively underperformed their U.S. and developed market counterparts year to date, Russ explains the three reasons why he’s still bullish on China.

2013-12-13 They Bravely Chickened Out by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Earlier this week Congress tried to show that it is capable of tackling our chronic and dangerous debt problems. Despite the great fanfare I believe they have accomplished almost nothing. Supporters say that the budget truce created by Republican Representative Paul Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray will provide the economy with badly needed certainty.

2013-12-13 Small (Cap) but Mighty by Michael McCarthy of Franklin Templeton

Despite a number of economic and political headwinds in 2013, US stocks have powered ahead, and not just the large-cap names that equity investors tend to gravitate toward during times of uncertainty. Small-cap stocks have also been looking pretty mighty overall this year. Michael McCarthy, portfolio manager for Franklin Small Cap Growth Fund, believes there are still reasons to be bullish in 2014, although careful stock selection could be even more important after 2013’s small-cap run.

2013-12-13 Saying Goodbye to a Great Peacemaker by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Last week, the world lost a hero. There are so few people in this world who have fought for freedom in such a benevolent way as Nelson Mandela.

2013-12-13 Where Have All the Savings Gone? by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments

The last six years have witnessed the most severe financial crisis since the end of World War II, with household earning capacity and saving ability experiencing significant changes due to the downturn in the real economies. This challenging economic situation definitely affected household saving behavior, although the impact has been different in various countries - for some, the impact on household earning capacity was more intense than others.

2013-12-13 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

No one deserved a break more than investment guys/gals (except maybe politicos). Unfortunately, Thanksgiving holiday was too "short and sweet" for many and the economic week that followed was crazy. Number after number depicted an economy on solid ground with strong confirmation from the late-week labor releases. Investors took profits throughout much of the week as the final month of the year began, but the Bulls were back in force to conclude the week.

2013-12-13 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Because so many things are subject to interpretation and subjective analysis, it is comforting to stumble across some data which might inexorably lead to only one conclusion, like gravity for example.

2013-12-13 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

The past two weeks were pretty quiet as the Thanksgiving holiday combined with conflicting economic data produced a stalemate on Wall Street.

2013-12-13 The Future in Focus: Relieving Labor Strains by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Demographic trends point to an expanding population of retirees and a relative shortage of working-age people. Here’s how the U.S. economy can adapt.

2013-12-13 Stanley Black & Decker: Powering Its Way Toward Fair Value by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Stanley Black & Decker (SWK) is a machine tools company built on namesakes of - you guessed it - three individuals with the last names: Stanley, Black and Decker. Frederick Stanley started a hardware manufacturing company in 1843. Duncan Black and Alonzo Decker started a similar shop in 1910, becoming known for the world’s first patent for a portable power tool. In 2010 the two companies merged to form what is today Stanley Black & Decker.

2013-12-13 Disruptive Innovations in Indian Politics by Sunil Asnani of Matthews Asia

The sweeping victories for India’s pro-business opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in recent state elections were largely expected. But more stunning, to say the least, were unexpectedly strong gains in Delhi by a nascent, novice and underfunded political party known as the Aam Aadmi Party, or Common Man’s Party.

2013-12-13 Float Research Bubble Watchers Should Set Their Sights on Corporate Bond Market by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

Insatiable Appetite for Corporate Debt Despite Poor Performance. Corporate Bond ETFs Issue Staggering $21.6 Billion (27.5% of Assets) Year-to-Date.

2013-12-13 Viewpoints from AAM - Navigating the New High Landscape by Mike Boyle of Advisors Asset Management

December, historically the best month to own equities, has begun with a whimper with the S&P 500 closing at a loss each of the first four days of the month. If you include the last trading day of November, that makes five days in a row of red-filled screens for a total loss of 1.23% for the S&P 500. In the grand scheme of things that is a pretty small loss but it already has pundits dismissing the chances of a "Santa Claus Rally" and others saying the recent new market high of 1807.23 for the S&P 500 reached on November 27 might be its last.

2013-12-13 A New Blueprint for China's Development by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

China’s government set out its plans for the rest of the decade in a document called "The Decision on Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening Reforms." Known as "The Decision," it emerged from the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee, which took place in early November. The document set out a series of planned reforms that assigned a more central role to markets as President Xi Jinping’s administration seeks to maintain China’s enviable record of long-term growth.

2013-12-13 Investors Are Happy About Adobe's Subscription Adoption by Team of GaveKal Capital

Adobe is up over 10% today after releasing their financials for the fiscal 4Q after the bell yesterday. Adobe has made a strategic shift from a licensing model to a subscription model.

2013-12-13 Glance Back...Focus Forward by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

A great market year for stocks is about to be capped off...can the run continue into 2014?

2013-12-13 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The Federal Reserve should find a way out of quantitative easing (QE) soon. And I think the Fed will take the first step in that direction at its December 17 - 18 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. Here are the arguments for and against reducing quantitative easing that the discussions will feature.

2013-12-13 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.4, down from last week’s 132.7 (adjusted from 132.8). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, slipped to 2.8, down from 2.9 last week.

2013-12-13 Hedged Dividend Investing: The Best Strategy You've Never Heard Of? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Our industry’s challenge: How to deal with that via creation of intelligent investment strategies that allow advisors and their clients to follow through on their desire to skirt both the bond and stock bubbles of the future, while still striving for a competitive yield for their retirement portfolios.

2013-12-13 One of the Most Notable Stories of the Year: Energy Renaissance in the U.S.A. by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Only a few years ago, we were contemplating the supply constraints facing the petroleum industry, as many major oil fields around the world were facing a decline in production. Now, with the disruptive technology in shale oil and gas, we may be looking forward to decades of drilling.

2013-12-12 The Fed, Inflation, and the Perfect Storm in Gold Miners by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group

Neither hopes of job creation nor fears of inflation (based on the massive expansion of the monetary base since late 2008) have thus far materialized. Total credit creation (i.e. money supply) during most of the last five years either shrank or barely grew despite massive growth in the monetary base. Nominal GDP (growth plus inflation) grows in response to total expansion of credit (both from the Fed and the banking system), not just the monetary base.

2013-12-12 All News is Good News by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Financial markets have been discounting the end of tapering for months, and whether it happens in December or March is less important than the reality that the U.S. economy is recovering amid a global synchronous expansion.

2013-12-12 Stay the Course or Take an Unconstrained Approach to Bonds by Matthew Pasts of BTS Asset Management

BTS Asset Management contends that today’s bond market environment calls for an unconstrained approach to bonds with the ability to move between bond asset classes based on economic indicators and market opportunities. The potential discrepancy in results among bond asset classes may be more pronounced than we have seen in the past 30 years which creates opportunity for a more tactical approach. Now may be the time for an unconstrained approach to the bond market.

2013-12-12 AdvisorShares Active ETF Market Share Update by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Activity for the active ETF market was fairly mild for the previous week with net assets increasing slightly higher, reaching about $14.7 billion. No active ETF products launched last week, but there was growth in the short term bond category, as well as downward movement among the global bond and foreign bond categories, which included PIMCO’s Total Return ETF as a notable decliner.

2013-12-12 The Wisdom of Looking Like An Idiot Today by Adam Taggart of PeakProsperity.com

Here’s a recently-released report on the stark choice that bubble markets force investors to make: to look like an idiot now, or look like one later. Those that have sought to position themselves prudently and defensively since 2008 currently look foolish as liquidity-inflated stocks and real estate prices have passed them by over the past 2 years-- while ’safe havens’ like precious metals have suffered mightily. But it’s critical to remember that the nefarious nature of a bubble is to suck in as many participants as possible before bursting and causing maximum damage.

2013-12-12 Payment Industry - Follow the Money by Team of Baird Investment Management

The substantial growth in credit and debit card usage is a multi-decade trend driven by increased global consumer activity and a shift in behavior to less transactions completed by cash or check. As the buzz of the holiday season takes hold, consumers wouldn’t think twice about leaving home with just a debit or credit card in hand. The simple act of a purchase followed by swiping a plastic card occurs a staggering several hundred million times each day, with a step up in activity during the holiday season.

2013-12-12 Looking Back 40 Years, What Can We Learn About This Current Corporate Debt Market? by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

I recently wrote a blog post detailing the potential opportunity in municipals as it has historically rebounded after a negative total return. Accordingly, I have been asked if this pattern was representative in the investment grade corporate arena.

2013-12-12 A Budget Compromise is Reached, But Unresolved Issues Remain by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

The agreement reached last October to raise the nation’s debt ceiling established a bipartisan committee to negotiate a budget to run the federal government in 2014 and 2015. The committee’s primary focus was to replace the next round of across-the-board "sequestration" cuts, which otherwise would significantly reduce spending on defense and domestic programs during those years.

2013-12-12 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook: Synchronized Optimism by Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

In the U.S., the abatement of fiscal policy tightening combined with steady improvements in labor market demand and higher asset valuations is likely to drive an increase in real growth. The eurozone should finally emerge from recession in 2014, and Japan is likely to continue to grow with the continued assistance of extraordinarily expansive policies. In China, external demand will likely improve, but domestic demand will likely slow somewhat.

2013-12-11 What Will 2014 Bring for The Equity Markets? by Marco Pirondini of Pioneer Investments

As the year draws to a close, investors are searching for clues as to what may be in store for the economy and markets in 2014. What have we learned from the markets in the month of November? Honestly, not very much. The scenario has not changed much in the last 30 days.

2013-12-11 AdvisorShares Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

In our last commentary, we noted the slow holiday week that did not provide us with much economic fodder. This week, the unemployment rate dropped to 7% and payrolls jumped more than expected. Third quarter GDP rose more than expected, and hit its highest mark since Q1 2012. Although the status of the U.S. budget remains up in the air, many expect Janet Yellen to maintain Chairman Bernanke’s accommodative policies. With the hectic holiday schedules nearing, it is difficult to predict what we will see this month.

2013-12-11 Year in Review: A Note from Robert Kleinschmidt by Robert Kleinschmidt of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Robert Kleinschmidt, President, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks back at the last year and the "remarkable" lack of impact that many economic and political events had on the markets, despite the "dire rhetoric" surrounding many of them.

2013-12-11 The Fed is Playing Hamlet to the Markets by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

To taper or not to taper-that is the question the Fed is asking itself. What’s moving the market is (it appears) the odds of Fed action. For the first half of last week, "good news was bad news" as stock and bond markets apparently interpreted better economic data as suggesting an earlier QE (Quantitative Easing) Taper. On Friday, the market apparently decided the jobs report was good enough to further reduce downside risks to the economy but not strong enough to spur the Fed to action.

2013-12-11 Fed: No More Excuses Not To Taper - Just Do It! by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

We had some terrific economic news late last week. The 3Q GDP report and the November unemployment report were so strong that some are wondering if the data are credible, and are likely to be revised lower next month. The government reported that 3Q Gross Domestic Product jumped from 2.8% as reported last month to a whopping 3.6% in its second estimate last Thursday, well above the consensus estimate of 3.1%.

2013-12-11 Muddling Through: The 'Realpolitik' of the Eurozone Crisis by Andrew Bosomworth of PIMCO

The long-term cost of Europe’s economic recovery is likely to challenge social tolerance and political will to achieve a fully integrated fiscal and political union. Although able to exploit the untapped potential of European treaties, the soon-to-be-elected 8th European Parliament looks more likely to continue to muddle through. We see low medium-term risk for government and corporate bonds with maturities of up to three years, but caution may be required for securities with longer maturities and lower down in the capital structure.

2013-12-11 A Week To Remember in Muni Land! Detroit and Illinois and Must Read Employment Data by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

What a week! Illinois passed pension legislation (I would have lost that bet) and Detroit can proceed with its bankruptcy. On the former, let’s see if the long-overdue pension fix survives legal challenges from unions and helps Chicago address its pension issue. Perhaps those contemplating the legal challenge will look to Judge Steven Rhodes’ opinion in the Detroit bankruptcy case to find that he believes pension obligations are no different than any other contractual obligation.

2013-12-11 Q3:2013 Flow-of-Funds Report - 'Tis the Season to Be Jolly by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

I know that being a Debbie Downer gets more face time on cable news, but after looking at the Fed’s latest Financial Accounts of the U.S. report, formerly known as the Flow-of-Funds report, I cannot contain my optimism about the economy’s prospects in the New Year.

2013-12-11 Municipal Bond Outlook - Institutional Fixed-Income Sector Report by Team of Guggenheim Partners

Volatility induced by headline events has created attractive price dislocations in the municipal bond market, which may now present the best buying opportunity for investors since late 2010.

2013-12-11 CEF Duration with Mariana Bush of Wells Fargo Advisors by (Article)

Understanding a fund's duration can be helpful, but finding the right data may be tricky, says Mariana Bush of Wells Fargo Advisors.

2013-12-11 ETF Popularity with Rick Ferri of Portfolio Solutions by (Article)

Being an advisor hasn't changed significantly in recent years, except for the rise of popular new products like ETFs, says Rick Ferri of Portfolio Solutions.

2013-12-11 This Bull Market Is Narrowings As It Advances...Market Breadth Continues Deteriorating by Team of GaveKal Capital

The advance-decline ratio is a market breadth indicator that compares the number of stocks that closed higher with the number of stocks that closed lower than their previous day’s closing prices. It’s a useful tool to understand whether there is broad participation in a market move or if a few very large cap stocks are driving indices one way or another.

2013-12-10 How Much Can Clients Spend in Retirement? A Test of the Two Most Prominent Approaches by Wade Pfau (Article)

In my last article, I described research-based innovations for variable withdrawal strategies from retirement portfolios. In this article, I put Guyton’s and Blanchett’s strategies to the test. My results provide planners with a better understanding about the potential spending paths generated by these different approaches.

2013-12-10 A Framework for Understanding Bond Portfolio Performance by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Investors are legitimately concerned that interest rates, after falling reliably for decades, are on their way up and that bond portfolio values are on their way down. Investors now seek interest-rate protection. I provide a framework for analyzing and, hopefully, predicting the returns on actively managed portfolios of bonds - a task different from analyzing the bond market itself.

2013-12-10 How Service Screw-ups Can Create Happier Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Companies mess up and let us down. And chances are at some point you’ve dropped the ball with your clients, where an unintended mistake caused frustration and inconvenience. But a recent conversation highlighted a four-step plan to turn service problems into client satisfaction success stories.

2013-12-10 Six Things Every Advisor Must Have on Their LinkedIn Profile by Megan Elliott (Article)

An optimized LinkedIn profile is an essential part of any financial advisor’s marketing efforts. But putting together a great LinkedIn profile involves more than just copying and pasting information from your resume. To get the most out of this professional social networking site, here are six things you need in your LinkedIn profile.

2013-12-10 Best Practices for an Effective Teambuilding Exercise by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I want to hold a teambuilding session. I don’t like to take everyone away from client calls for the day. Should we have this on a weekend? Or stay late one night? Do I include everyone, from our receptionist to senior advisors?

2013-12-10 2 Unconventional Options in a Low Rate Environment by Sponsored Content from OppenheimerFunds (Article)

This paper discusses how: Global interest rates could remain low for a long time, says Krishna Memani, CIO, Fixed Income; GDP growth and interest rates tend to track each other over time, and the expectation is for slow growth; Compelling opportunities for fixed income investors willing to look beyond Treasuries.

2013-12-10 Low Demand Will Depress Oil Prices by Patrick McVeigh (Article)

The U.S. - and indeed, the world as a whole - is approaching the threshold of peak oil demand, rather than peak supply. Prices will fall in the coming years, regardless of fluctuations in supply.

2013-12-10 Fiscal Policy and Monetary Policy - Update by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Market participants expected the November Employment Report to be the deciding factor on whether the Federal Reserve would begin to slow its rate of asset purchases this month. However, officials aren’t going to react to any one piece of data. The best argument for tapering is that it has to start sometime. However, the key factors that delayed the tapering in September and October are still with us to some extent.

2013-12-10 Christmas by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Well it is official, Christmas has begun. For me it began with the private wine and dinner party at Morrell, arguably the finest wine store I have ever seen, and anyone that knows me knows I have seen a lot of wine stores! Morrell is located at 1 Rockefeller Center between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue overlooking the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. I had done a gig on Bloomberg radio at Morrell last Tuesday with my friends Carol Massar and Pimm Fox and got invited to the party the next evening to watch the lighting of the Christmas tree.

2013-12-10 Best Consumed Below Zero? by Bill O'Grady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

In this report, we will turn our attention to Denmark to study its decision to undertake the below-zero rate, the specifics of the situation that prompted it and the effects of the negative rate on financial conditions and the broader economy. We will then briefly look at the possibility of a below-zero rate policy for the ECB and, most importantly, the geopolitical ramifications of the decision by the world’s second largest currency block to ease into unknown consequences of negative rates to stimulate the economy.

2013-12-10 Seven Reasons Why Industrial Commodity Prices are Headed Higher by Martin Pring of Pring Turner Capital Group

Between December 2008 and April 2011 commodity prices, as reflected by the CRB Spot Raw Industrials, doubled. In the ensuing 2-years they have retraced 20% of that rally but are now showing signs of wanting to head higher. In the interest of fair disclosure our commodity model went bullish just under a year ago but prices remained range bound instead of experiencing their normal strength. So what’s so different now that makes us bullish on commodities? Here are seven reasons.

2013-12-10 The Myth of the Most Efficient Market by Patrick O'Shaughnessy of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management

Perception of the U.S. large cap value market is that it’s the most efficient in the world, and therefore the hardest category for managers to outperform the benchmark. As a result, index funds and ETFs have been gaining dramatic market share. Our latest whitepaper debunks conventional thinking with empirically-proven factors that have significantly outperformed in the U.S. large cap space.

2013-12-10 Is Good News Really Good Again? by David Wismer of Flexible Plan Investments

It would be hard to attribute that statement to any one media source or Wall Street analyst, since the sentiment was rampant on Friday after the release of the better-than-expected Nonfarm Payrolls Report. The seasonally adjusted gain of 203,000 jobs in November versus an expectation of around 185,000, and the resultant dip in the unemployment rate to 7.0%, generated a Friday market rally few observers anticipated.

2013-12-10 Macro Factors Distract Wealth Creation by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

What do Obamacare, Federal Government debt/budget deals, Quantitative Easing and jobs data have in common? To us they are all types of macroeconomic factors on which most investors focus. We believe the reason most investors focus on these types of news stories is because they can influence the US stock market over the next six to twelve months instead of the next 10 to 20 years. In this missive, we would like to challenge everyone’s thinking about their ultimate goal for investing in the stock market and the behaviors which lead to wealth creation.

2013-12-09 Fed Creating More Financial Market Uncertainty by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Although the U.S. stock market continues to hit new nominal highs on a nearly daily basis, the U.S. economy bumps along at a lackluster pace. This disconnect has been achieved by a massive Fed experiment in monetary stimulation.

2013-12-09 America's Partisan Peril by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

Many Americans started 2013 with high hopes that congressional leaders would overcome, even if only partly, the polarization and political dysfunction that had slowed recovery. But optimism foundered over the course of 2013, while frustration soared.

2013-12-09 The Truth Does Not Change According To Our Ability To Stomach It by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The stock market is presently at valuations where not only cyclical but secular bear markets have started. A secular bear period comprises a series of cyclical bull-bear periods where valuations gradually work their way lower at each successive cyclical trough. The past 13 years of paltry overall total returns for the S&P 500 have unfortunately corrected very little of the excess in 2000, largely thanks to yet another round of Fed-enabled speculation. We should have learned how these episodes end.

2013-12-09 Improving Economic Data Imply Further Global Recovery by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished last week in barely negative territory, ending the positive streak for the market. Economic data concerning the post-government shutdown climate has improved. Employment data beat estimates and increased by 203,000 jobs in November, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.0%, also surpassing expectations.

2013-12-09 Debt Crisis Recovery: Bell Curves and Balance Sheets by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog

This three-part series examines the life cycle of a debt crisis and looks at where the US, UK and eurozone are in the recovery process. This first post explains the phases of a debt crisis. Part 2 will look at where the US stands in the deleveraging process, while Part 3 will focus on why the UK and eurozone lag the US in balance-sheet repair.

2013-12-09 Debt Crisis Recovery: Bell Curves and Balance Sheets by Team of GaveKal Capital

The purchasing power parity (PPP) theory basically states that the exchange rate between two countries should adjust so that a basket of goods in Country X costs the same as it does in Country Y when priced in the same currency. It is a useful theory in understanding the relative strength of a currency, especially for a reserve currency such as the USD. It is important to keep in mind that over/under valuation based on PPP can remain in place for years and that this is not at all a timing tool.

2013-12-09 Pessimists Get Desperate by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Payrolls keep growing. Economic data stays positive. The stock market makes new highs. It’s been consistent for nearly five years. And so has the pessimism. In fact, the pouting pundits of pessimism get more determined each month, trying to prove that things are really bad out there.

2013-12-09 Gauging Tapering Post November Jobs Report by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

With another month down in 2013, last week came time to dissect the latest report on employment. If the market reaction was indicative, the highly anticipated November labor report did not disappoint, sending stocks up more than 1% on Friday.

2013-12-07 Interview with Steve Forbes by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

For whatever reason, Steve Forbes seems to bring out the passion in me. When I think about what central bank policies are doing to savers and investors, how we are screwing around with the pension system, circumventing rational market expectations because of an untested economic theory held by a relatively small number of academics, I get a little exercised. And Steve gives me the freedom to do it.

2013-12-06 Like a Shakespearean Script by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Shakespearean plays follow a pattern. The underlying plots and storylines change from play to play, but the five-act construction is a common overlap. Market cycles tend to follow a similar pattern cycle after cycle. Like the different plots in various Shakespearean plays, the catalysts that begin and end each cycle, and the events during the cycle are always different. However, market cycles seem to follow a script and, so far, this cycle seems to be following the script almost perfectly.

2013-12-06 Vibrant Vietnam by Lydia So of Matthews Asia

I recently made my first visit to Vietnam and spent several days in Ho Chi Minh City. Considered by the investment community to be a frontier market, Vietnam has a low per capita income (approximately US$1,600), a relatively young population and less mature capital markets.

2013-12-06 Bubble Watch: The Valuation & Sentiment Signs to Look For by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Worried that the U.S. market is about to tilt into bubble territory? Though Russ doesn’t believe that U.S. equities are in a bubble yet, he highlights two sets of data investors can watch to gauge a bubble’s arrival.

2013-12-06 Resource Investors Who Use this Strategy Have Seen Significant Gains by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

When playing Blackjack, the house has the edge in winning...unless you know how to count cards, a strategy proven to increase a player’s chances. But did you know you can apply this concept to the market as well?

2013-12-06 To Taper Or Not To Taper? Digging In To Today's Employment Report by Team of GaveKal Capital

Today’s employment and personal income and outlays reports may be strong enough for the Fed to begin tapering later this month. November employment came in at 203k jobs and the unemployment report dipped to a 5-year low (7%). The net revisions for September and October were also 8k higher.

2013-12-06 Gold: Currency or Commodity? by Anthony Wile of J.P. Morgan Funds

Despite gold traditionally serving as a safe haven asset, investors should be wary of fear-inflated investments given the potential for improving global growth.

2013-12-06 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

The U.S. employment report puts taper onto the table. Don’t expect further rate cuts from the ECB or the Fed. Auto sales have been a bright spot amid sluggish consumer spending.

2013-12-06 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.8, up from last week’s 132.3. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, rose to 2.9, up from 2.6 last week.

2013-12-06 Did the Government Shutdown Help the Economy? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Take the government shutdown in October, when the House and Senate fought over the debt ceiling. Economic data wasn’t released, services were halted, national parks were closed, and "non-essential government workers were told to stay home. As a result, GDP was expected to collapse. Yet, data released this week reveal a different, stronger image of the U.S. economy. I think Shakespeare would deem the media’s fear mongering tactics as Much Ado About Nothing.

2013-12-06 Going Against the Grain, Again by Cindy Sweeting of Franklin Templeton

Going against the grain is never easy, particularly when it comes to investing. But if you don’t take the risk of moving out of the crowd and taking a different path, you can’t really stand out. Templeton has focused on bottom-up value investing, which often puts it at odds with the broader market consensus. We go back in history to describe how the strategy has persevered through different market cycles, and why the Templeton team has been going against the grain by investing in Europe at a time when other investors had lost faith.

2013-12-06 Red Shoots? Amid the Holiday Cheer, is a Market Peak Brewing? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

I don’t see imminent signs of a rough market, but it does appear that some "red shoots" are not forming. FYI, a red shoot is a term I just made up. Whereas a "green shoot" is a piece of good news in an otherwise difficult economic environment, I define a red shoot as a piece of potentially bad news among a sea of green stock market profits.

2013-12-05 A Synchronous Expansion by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Major developed economies are all contributing to global economic growth, and this improving fundamental picture, coupled with ongoing monetary accommodation, bode well for risk assets.

2013-12-05 10 for '14 by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Each December we publish a list of investment themes that we feel are critical for the coming year. We continue to believe the US stock market will continue its run through one of the largest bull markets of our careers. Our positive outlook extends to the following areas: US Equities, Japanese Equities, European small cap stocks, high yield municipals.

2013-12-05 Another Step Forward for US DC Plans: Managing Volatility by Daniel Loewy of AllianceBernstein

We’re seeing more US defined contribution (DC) plan sponsors looking at a variety of ways to help their participants manage volatility-and the accompanying anxiety and doubts that can often push participants to abandon their long-term investing goals.

2013-12-05 Running Out of Time by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Well, so far the Federal Reserve is winning out over my timing models that continue to suggest caution should be the preferred strategy in the short-term; and last week that strategy was wrong footed as the D-J Industrial Average notched another new all-time high.

2013-12-05 Gimme Three Steps...on the Path of Deleveraging by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Debt (and Fed policy) continue to be my biggest longer-term concerns; even with the progress made over the past few years by the household sector. The budget deficit is plunging; and that’s great news, but more is needed to bring overall debt growth down to more reasonable levels. The solutions stool is three-legged: spending, revenues...and growth!

2013-12-05 Response to Gulliver Travails' Comment on "Unless the Fed Goes Cold Turkey..." by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

Notice that my definition of TOTAL thin-air credit is the SUM of Fed credit and depository institution (bank) credit. This is important when analyzing the effect of a Fed purchase of securities FROM the banking system. So, let’s start with that scenario -- the Fed purchases $X of securities from the banking system.

2013-12-05 No Silver Bullets in Investing by James Montier of GMO

In a new white paper today, James Montier of GMO’s 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."

2013-12-05 US Corporate Profit Margins Increase Again In The 3Q by Team of GaveKal Capital

US corporate profit margins are at their second highest level ever at 10.14%. The highest level was reached in the 4Q11 when profit margins spiked to 10.27%.

2013-12-04 Why Investing in High Quality Companies is More Important Today than Ever by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

One of the first rules a new financial advisor learns is that success in the business has nothing to do with how well your clients do in creating or maintaining wealth. Success is measured by how much wealth the advisor creates for him or herself. The same rule extends beyond the local advisor to the great halls of institutional management.

2013-12-04 ACA: The Importance of Being Transparent by Harlan Sonderling of Columbia Management

President James A. Garfield survived an assassin’s bullet in 1881, only to die several months later of complications from the infection that developed from his doctors’ probing his healing wound with their unclean hands and instruments, contrary to the developing understanding of the need for sanitary medical treatment. In effect, the President was a victim of his doctors’ inattention to or ignorance of medical best practices. As well, one can’t help inferring that the President’s doctors were among the best paid in the nation, regardless of their disastrous outco

2013-12-04 What's the Problem With Advanced Economies? by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

Is today’s slow growth in advanced economies a continuation of long-term secular decline, or does it reflect the normal aftermath of a deep systemic financial crisis? Fortunately, we do not need to answer that question definitively in order to boost the pace of economic recovery.

2013-12-04 Gold, What Is It Good for? by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

Absolutely nothing! Well, except 5,000 years of value exchange, non-correlation, and preserving wealth...The current market environment has led many in the press to question gold’s value as an investment or an asset class, writes Miguel Perez-Santalla at BullionVault.

2013-12-04 The Eastern Lust for Gold by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

Having replaced savings with debt on both the national and individual levels, I think it’s well past time for Westerners to take a few lessons from our creditors in the East. Many Americans consider gold a "barbarous relic," but in Asia, the yellow metal remains the bedrock of individual savings plans. This means that either greater than half of the world’s population are barbarians, or they’ve held onto an important tradition that our culture has forgotten.

2013-12-04 Patience in Asia by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Investing in a multitude of markets and companies as we do within the Templeton Emerging Markets Group means that at any given point in time it may appear to some that they are underperforming or outperforming any particular benchmark index or market. Such is the nature of global financial markets. Of course, we’d like all of our investments to go straight up, but at the same time continually like to find new bargains for investors.

2013-12-04 An Agenda to Save the Euro by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

It has been three years since the outbreak of the euro crisis, and only an inveterate optimist would say that the worst is definitely over. It is not, and it won’t be unless and until the eurozone’s structure is fundamentally reformed.

2013-12-04 Emerging Asia Pacific: Regional Economic Review - Q3 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

The second half of 2013 has posed significant challenges to growth in major Emerging Asia Pacific economies. Almost all emerging Asia Pacific economies showed signs of strain arising from stubborn inflation, higher interest rates, slower consumer spending and lukewarm exports.

2013-12-04 US Economic Data Round-Up by Team of GaveKal Capital

ADP payroll data surprised to the upside today (215k vs 185k expected). It was the highest reading so far this year. Perhaps most encouragingly the gain was lead by small businesses.

2013-12-04 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

For the 7th year in a row, the US Postal Service lost money. After setting a record loss last year of $15.9 billion, it pared the losses to $5 billion in the current year. The USPS showed its first growth in revenue since 2008, rising 1.2% to $66 billion. In no surprise, the USPS asked Congress for help. Wonder how that is going to work out for them?

2013-12-04 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

And stocks just keep rolling along. November ended with another bang as the Blue Chips climbed 3.5% for the month and The Dow Jones extended its weekly winning streak to eight. But did anyone even notice? Happy Thanksgivukkah.

2013-12-04 Dramatically Dropping Deficits? Keep Dreaming by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

A smaller U.S. budget shortfall for fiscal 2013 will be largely due to transitory factors.

2013-12-03 Tax-loss Selling with Ken Fincher of First Trust by (Article)

Fourth quarter tax-loss selling may put a damper on fixed income CEF prices, according to Ken Fincher of First Trust.

2013-12-03 Jeremy Siegel - The Market is 10% to 15% Undervalued by Robert Huebscher (Article)

According to Wharton’s Jeremy Siegel, ’the fair market value for the stocks today is 10% to 15% higher, and that might even be on the conservative side.’

2013-12-03 Why You Should Be Thinking About Quality Small-Caps by Sponsored Content from The Royce Funds (Article)

The Fed’s stimulus programs have had unintended consequences. Lower-quality businesses have performed well, and more conservatively capitalized companies have been relatively disadvantaged. We think tapering talk has begun to change this and that high quality small-caps should be able to benefit.

2013-12-03 Why Does the U.S. Have High-Cost Low-Quality Healthcare? by Michael Edesess and Kwok L. Tsui (Article)

The U.S. has worse mortality rates than virtually all other developed nations, and yet it spends twice as much per capita on health care. How on earth has the U.S. racked up such an appallingly bad health-care record, and what is the solution? A recent edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association identified many of the problems but was not persuasive in prescribing a cure.

2013-12-03 Active Share. Toward a Stock Picker’s Market? by Sponsored Content from ClearBridge Investments (Article)

Explore five groups of mutual funds-from stock pickers to moderately active to the closet indexers. Which categories produced the best risk-adjusted return 1990-2009? The more different the portfolio from its benchmarks, the greater the range of possible outcomes. Consider a tool like active share.

2013-12-03 How to Keep Prospects from Stealing Your Ideas by Dan Richards (Article)

After multiple meetings with prospective clients during which you provided recommendations on their situation, at some point every advisor has walked away feeling that someone took their advice and implemented it on their own. How do you prevent this from happening?

2013-12-03 What Matters More When Investing: A Good Company or Good Price? by John Alberg and Michael Seckler (Article)

Which approach will serve you best in the uncertain periods ahead - investing in the best companies, or finding the lowest priced opportunities? How did value-oriented investment approaches, such as Joel Greenblatt’s "magic formula," perform when price-to-earnings multiples compressed in the past? A recent study we completed yields some perspective on those two questions.

2013-12-03 Coping with Sudden Power Syndrome by Justin Locke (Article)

Wealth managers are no doubt familiar with the phrase ’sudden wealth syndrome.’ Its symptoms include isolation from former friends, guilt over one’s good fortune and an extreme fear of losing one’s money. Money and power are closely related concepts, and so I would like to introduce the related condition - sudden power syndrome - which is what one experiences when thrust into a new position with significantly greater authority and responsibilities.

2013-12-03 How to Communicate Your Year-End Bonus Decisions by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

My staff is angling for strong bonuses this year. But I would like to invest some of the money into the firm. I don’t think I owe my staff an explanation about what I am doing with the money, but I know they think I am taking it for myself and being unfair to them. Is there a proper way to communicate bonuses and profit for an advisory firm?

2013-12-03 Looking Out on the Horizon for Equities by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished higher for an eighth consecutive week as the S&P 500 increased 0.1%, representing the longest positive streak since 2004. Inertia may have carried markets forward in a relatively quiet trading week without major headlines. Retail news appeared fairly positive in anticipation of a strong start to the Thanksgiving shopping weekend. Economic data was mixed.

2013-12-03 Philly Fed, the Geo Score and A Housing Stat Making Some Blue by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Following a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday that involved way too much food, I found myself doing all I could to avoid the Black Friday masses and succeeded until I took to the highway for a journey to Albany, NY - they were leaving the malls and, perhaps it was exhaustion from their day of shopping, but the traffic and driving skills left something to be desired. Those weary shoppers amassed along I-87 brought to mind the question of how healthy (or not so healthy) is the economy?

2013-12-03 Turning Over Rocks by Herbert Abramson, Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management

The S&P 500 is at a record high and we believe the markets generally are fully valued. Corporate revenue growth is anemic, profit margins are stretched, and the prospect of earnings rising meaningfully is not high. And, the outlook for the U.S. and global economy is still uncertain. Market psychology is at a level suggesting the market is overbought. Margin debt is at record levels and the current popularity of stocks by retail investors at market highs is in itself a red flag.

2013-12-03 Fixed Income Markets Slog Forward by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The past five years have seen a dramatic influx of investor capital into corporate credit markets. As investors jumped into the market, there is growing concern that credit markets are nearing stretched valuations. Those concerns are likely premature, particularly with central bank intervention in place.

2013-12-03 Secular Bull or Secular Bear? by Leo Cesna of Relevant Investments

Applying statistical control limits to Dr. Shiller’s CAPE Index reveals where the S&P 500 is likely headed.

2013-12-03 Is the Fed Increasingly Monetizing Government Debt? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

Fed Chair Bernanke vehemently denies Fed "monetizes the debt," but our research shows the Fed may be increasingly doing so. We explain why and what the implications may be for the dollar, gold and currencies.

2013-12-03 On the Wings of an Eagle by William Gross of PIMCO

I’ve always liked Jack Bogle, although I’ve never met him. He’s got heart, but as he’s probably joked a thousand times by now, it’s someone else’s; a 1996 transplant being the LOL explanation. He’s also got a lot of investment common sense, recognizing decades ago that investment managers in composite couldn’t outperform the market; in fact, their alpha would be negative after fees and transaction costs were factored in.

2013-12-03 U.S. Economy Slowly Gaining Traction - What's Ahead for Year-End? by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

As we enter the final month of 2013, my themes of the last several weeks continue - the capital markets, in general, remain quiet and U.S. economic data, while mixed, shows signs of steady improvement. This week, I’ll start by looking forward to some news we’ll be watching as the year closes out...

2013-12-03 Nasdaq 4000: Stocks are Not Behaving Like It's 1999 by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

The Nasdaq Composite made news last week, moving past the 4,000 mark for the first time in 13 years. But, according to Russ, the current trip above the 4,000 level looks quite different from what was happening in 1999 and 2000.

2013-12-03 From the Taj Mahal to Westminster Abbey: Notes from a Global Investor by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

I recently returned from India, a nation where an incredible 600 million people are under the age of 25. That’s nearly double the entire population of the U.S.!

2013-12-03 Supersize EM: Obesity Matters for Emerging-Market Investors by Sammy Suzuki of AllianceBernstein

Modern lifestyles are closely linked to rising obesity. As emerging markets follow the lead of the US, expanding waistlines could provide a guide to consumption-related investment trends in emerging markets.

2013-12-03 High Quality and Time-Horizon Arbitrage by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

At Smead Capital Management, we love to acknowledge financial journalists who really demonstrate an understanding of the underlying truths associated with high-quality and long-duration common stock investing.

2013-12-02 Japanese Equities: Room to Run by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

From a behavioral perspective, Japanese equities are showing some very positive signs.

2013-12-02 Is the Stock Market Cheap? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Here is a new update of a popular market valuation method using the most recent Standard & Poor’s "as reported" earnings and earnings estimates and the index monthly averages of daily closes for the past month, which is 1783.54. The ratios in parentheses use the monthly close of 1805.81. For the earnings, see the table created from Standard & Poor’s latest earnings spreadsheet.

2013-12-02 The Elephant in the Room by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Investors will do themselves terrible harm if they ignore the objective warnings of history based on our subjective experience in this unfinished half-cycle. That subjective experience is far more closely related to my 2009 stress-testing decision than many investors recognize.

2013-12-02 Economic Cycle Update: Evidence Suggesting Slow Growth Reigns by Team of Manning & Napier

Since the start of the current recovery, we have made the case that the economy would grow at a slower pace compared to most other expansions in recent memory. The consumer factored prominently in this outlook as they embarked on a long overdue period of balance sheet repair. Corporations would have little reason to invest if consumer growth was weak and large fiscal deficits would limit the ability of the federal government to contribute to growth.

2013-12-02 Investing in China? What You Should Know About Gaining Access to the Markets by Ted Samulowitz, Graham Day of Invesco Blog

Investors with exposure to China and those interested in gaining a foot into the country received some good news last month when it was announced that China’s GDP grew by 7.8% in the third quarter. The news was a sigh of relief for investors as China’s economy appears to have avoided the hard landing economists and investors had feared.

2013-12-02 China's Great Leap by Equity Investment Team of Janus Capital Group

China’s government just announced it would take a big step back...and let its economy take a giant leap forward. We believe China’s proposed economic reforms will transform the economy and should allay investors’ main concerns about Chinese markets. In Janus’ latest Equity Monthly, our equity team offers its perspective on China’s Great Leap.

2013-12-02 Consumers Doing Fine by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

According to the National Retail Federation, Thursday to Sunday holiday sales dropped 3% versus last year. No doubt, this will wake up some dozing bears. And, we are sure that when we say it’s not as bad as you think, many will argue we are perma-bulls, naive, or downright stubborn. You can think what you want, but we don’t believe sales are falling.

2013-11-30 Arsonists Running the Fire Brigade by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In the old days, central banks raised or lowered interest rates if they wanted to tighten or loosen monetary policy. In a Code Red world everything is more difficult. Policies like ZIRP, QE, LSAPs, and currency wars are immensely more complicated. Knowing how much money to print and when to undo Code Red policies will require wisdom and foresight. Putting such policies into practice is easy, almost like squeezing toothpaste. But unwinding them will be like putting the toothpaste back in the tube.

2013-11-29 Back to Housing Bubbles by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate

What we are witnessing in many countries looks like a slow-motion replay of the last housing-market train wreck. And, like last time, the bigger the bubbles become, the nastier the collision with reality will be.

2013-11-29 ING Fixed Income Perspectives - November 2013 by Christine Hurtsellers and Matt Toms of ING Investement Management

Given rich valuations globally, we remain broadly neutral on interest rate risk with the exception of Japan.

2013-11-29 From the Taj Mahal to Westminster Abbey: Notes from a Global Investor by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

I recently returned from India, a nation where an incredible 600 million people are under the age of 25. That’s nearly double the entire population of the U.S.

2013-11-29 "Fixed" Income Investing is Broken by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Back in June of this year, the Fixed Income (a.k.a. bond) market may have experienced the defining moment of this generation of investors. The yield on the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond moved above 3.50% for the first time since the summer of 2011. It stands at about 3.80% now. After many fake-outs, this could be the start of a long-term trajectory higher.

2013-11-28 The Race is On by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

There’s a race to the bottom going on, reflecting a widespread reduction in the level of prudence on the part of investors and capital providers. No one can prove at this point that those who participate will be punished, or that their long-run performance won’t exceed that of the naysayers. But that is the usual pattern.

2013-11-28 U.S. Housing Sector - Losing Ground? by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The powerful momentum that drove the American housing sector forward in the past three years may be dissipating. And it is clear that higher mortgage rates have a pronounced impact on demand. The Federal Reserve will therefore have to proceed with caution as it considers when and how to reduce its asset purchases.

2013-11-28 Five Reasons Inflation Is Still Missing by Chun Wang of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

Apart from a couple of market-oriented drivers that could reverse course on a short-term basis, we are not seeing convincing evidence of an imminent pick-up in inflation. Let us be clear. There is most definitely inflation in the financial markets, but that does not seem to benefit the average person in the U.S. The liquidity injected by various central banks went mostly into the financial markets first and foremost; only a small fraction of it trickled down to the average person. That is why all this money printing has not been reflected in various inflation measures.

2013-11-28 Bringing the Chinese Consumer to Life by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

There is good reason to believe that China’s recently completed Third Plenum will come to be regarded as a pivotal point in the country’s development. At long last, China’s senior leadership has endorsed a raft of reforms that could impel the economy’s shift from reliance on exports to consumption-led growth.

2013-11-27 Passing the Wall of Worry by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

As this bull market climbs its "wall of worry," we can see its underlying strength. Valuation concerns and the risk of a major correction appear overblown, as we should see a continued rebound in economic fundamentals over the coming months.

2013-11-27 Housing Outlook 2014: Holding Our Breath by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting

As a kid, I remember the Apollo lunar module losing all communication for about one hour as it orbited around the back of the moon. We all held our breath for that hour, waiting to hear that all was okay.

2013-11-27 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

This particular time of year is often a time of contemplation and reflection. As families and friends gather for the holidays, many pause to consider the year almost past, and perhaps the year to come. Whether it’s tax-lot accounting for securities bought and sold, or healthcare issues left unattended, or simply holding ourselves accountable for goals unmet, we tackle these issues as an annual right of passage each year.

2013-11-27 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

This has been another quiet week for stocks which closed at their highs for the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average even closed above 16,000 for the 1st time.

2013-11-27 Emerging Markets Equity Commentary - October 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Equities Gain as Currencies Remain Stable and Data Trends Show Positive Signs.

2013-11-27 Global Economic Overview - October 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Global economic trends continue to see gradual improvement, though the progress has become less steady. The developed economies remain the major drivers of global growth, but data from some of the regions have not met expectations.

2013-11-27 International Equity Commentary - October 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Equities Advance as Global Manufacturing and Services Activity Gains Momentum

2013-11-27 The Market Hits All-Time High. So What? by Dianne Lob, Ding Liu of AllianceBernstein

With the US stock market repeatedly reaching all-time highs in recent weeks, many investors are becoming leery of investing in stocks. Focusing on the market’s level is a mistake, in our view. It’s market valuation, not level, that matters.

2013-11-27 The Future in Focus: Our Demographic Destiny by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

In the first of a series on population trends that will shape the U.S. economy, Milton Ezrati looks at the policy challenges posed by an aging America.

2013-11-26 Second-Level Thinking: John Hussman Responds to Howard Marks by John Hussman (Article)

While I am a very great admirer of Howard Marks, his fairly sanguine view of equities here seems inconsistent with what he calls "second-level thinking" about how securities are valued, and is almost certainly inconsistent with his observation that "Rule number one, most things will prove to be cyclical. Rule number two, some of the greatest opportunities for gain and loss come when people forget rule number one."

2013-11-26 Why a Shrinking Deficit Means Lower Earnings by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Proponents of tax increases or government spending cutbacks will have to reckon with something they never anticipated: depressed corporate earnings that will reduce equity prices. As our government deficit shrinks - whether through sequestration or by any other means - so will corporate profits, the primary driver of equity prices.

2013-11-26 How to Leverage LinkedIn with 10 Minutes a Day by Dan Richards (Article)

Failing to have a competitive presence on LinkedIn is a disadvantage when it comes to attracting clients.

2013-11-26 How to Develop a Fee Schedule by Teresa Riccobuono (Article)

Too many advisors share a reluctance to charge what they are worth. That fear is both a philosophical and a business issue. To overcome it, here are several factors to consider when designing your fee schedule.

2013-11-26 Making Vendor Relationships Work Effectively by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We hired an outside contractor to do some marketing work for us. It has been a nightmare. She is difficult to deal with and criticizes every idea we have. Is there something we can do differently to avoid this situation in the future?

2013-11-26 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Bob Veres’ article, Why Deficits Don’t Matter, which appeared on October 29, and a reader responds to Robert Huebscher’s article, Reflections on a Week in Cuba, which appeared on November 12.

2013-11-26 QE: Not That Big of a Deal by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

The most frequent question we get lately is "what happens to long-term interest rates when quantitative easing ends?" Many analysts argue that the Federal Reserve is buying and holding a huge share of Treasury debt and once QE ends other buyers will suddenly have to absorb more. This will cause interest rates to soar, bust the housing market, undermine stocks, and possibly cause a recession.

2013-11-26 Elections in Chile by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

On November 17, Chileans went to the polls to vote on a new president and parliament. In this report, we offer short biographies of the two Chilean presidential candidates, focusing mostly on Michelle Bachelet. From there, we will provide a short history of Chile, primarily to highlight the tensions between the forces of liberalization and reaction. An examination of the Allende-Pinochet period will detail the factors that have affected Chile’s political structure over the past five decades. As always, we will conclude with market ramifications.

2013-11-26 While You Were Sleeping: Asian Developments Loom for Financial Markets by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Amid all the Fed talk dominating airwaves and headlines, a few key developments occurred overseas last week that could shape financial markets significantly in the quarters ahead.

2013-11-26 Dig Deep - Then Dig Some More - to Uncover Risks in EM Corporate Debt by Shamaila Khan of AllianceBernstein

Emerging-market (EM) corporate debt returned big numbers for investors in recent years, as the sector rode a general wave of optimism about the future. But those days are gone. In 2013, successful investors have had to take a more painstaking path.

2013-11-26 Wal-Mart: Fairly Valued Retail Powerhouse by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

This Bentonville, AR based mega-retailer perennially ranks amongst the top of the Fortune 500 list and likely needs no introduction. In lieu of a business summary, we thought it might be interesting to highlight some prominent statistics. For instance, every week more than 245 million customers visit Wal-Mart’s (WMT) 11,000 stores under 69 banners in 27 different countries. Last year alone the company had sales of about $466 billion while employing 2.2 million associates.

2013-11-26 For Whom the Nobel Tolls: Efficient Market or Irrational Exuberance? by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest essay, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks at the work of two of the recent recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economic Science. While the work of Eugene Fama and Robert Shiller might at first seem to be in direct conflict, Sicart explores how simultaneously recognizing Fama’s "efficient market hypothesis" and Shiller’s work on investor psychology may be "less of a contradiction than meets the eye."

2013-11-26 Muni CEFs with Cara Esser of Morningstar by (Article)

Municipal bond CEFs have experienced volatility in 2013, but may be worth considering, says a Morningstar analyst.

2013-11-25 Recent Economic Trends Help Make Korea a Hidden Gem in Asia by Paul Chan and Simon Jeong of Invesco Blog

After more than two decades of financial setbacks, recent macroeconomic data is helping Korea overcome the negative economic stigma associated with its economy and equity markets.

2013-11-25 Talkin' Baseball and the Game (Data Really) of the Week by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

A lot to cover as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday. Last week saw some very interesting data - some of which I will get to and the balance of which I encourage you to explore (see the last page for "Data Updates"). Before I get to the data of the week, I take a look at baseball - well, not really. I offer some perspective around the Braves picking up and moving from Atlanta to nearby Cobb County.

2013-11-25 Solving the Income Puzzle by Christopher Remington, Michael Cirami, Kathleen Gaffney, Scott Page of Eaton Vance

Income needs may be as high as they’ve ever been, while the yield potential from many traditional investment classes has dwindled to generational lows. Investors who remain in high-priced, low-yielding core bond strategies could experience loss of principal (and mounting retirement shortfalls) if interest rates revert toward their mean. We advocate creating an integrated, multi-pronged income plan that may offer yield potential that meets investor needs, while managing key risks found in the typical core fixed-income allocation.

2013-11-25 An Open Letter to the FOMC: Recognizing the Valuation Bubble in Equities by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The Fed has done enough, and perhaps dangerously more than enough. The prospect of dismal investment returns in equities is an outcome that is largely baked-in-the-cake. The only question is how much worse the outcomes will be as a result of Fed policy that has few economic mechanisms other than to encourage speculative behavior.

2013-11-25 Ben's Rocket to Nowhere by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Herd mentality can be as frustrating as it is inexplicable. Once a crowd starts moving, momentum can be all that matters and clear signs and warnings are often totally ignored. Financial markets are currently following this pattern with respect to the unshakable belief that the Federal Reserve is ready, willing, and most importantly, able, to immediately execute a wind down of its quantitative easing program. How this notion became so deeply entrenched is a mystery, but the stampede it has sparked is getting more violent, and irrational, by the day.

2013-11-25 Equities Extend Gains for the Seventh Consecutive Week by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished higher again last week as the S&P 500 increased 0.4%. The Fed continued to dominate headlines, with heightened emphasis on the distinction between tapering and tightening. Bubble speculation continued to receive attention in the press, while many articles refuted such concerns. The financial sector performed well, led by banks.

2013-11-25 Permanently Depressed? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

One of the main economic debates of the last few years has been whether weakness is cyclical or structural. If the downturn is due to a temporary (albeit, severe) shortfall in domestic demand, then growth should pick up sharply at some point as the economy returns to its potential. If it’s structural, fiscal and monetary policy can do little to help. Opinions differ, but while the consensus may see the sluggish economy as reflecting mostly cyclical forces, cyclical weakness is more likely to become structural the longer it lasts.

2013-11-25 Sir Isaac Newton by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

In 1711 the Earl of Oxford formed the South Sea Company, which was approved as a joint-stock company via an act by the British government. The company was designed to improve the British government’s finances. The earl granted the merchants associated with the company the sole rights to trade in the South Seas (the east coast of Latin America). From the start the new company was expected to achieve huge profits given the believed inexhaustible gold and silver mines of the region.

2013-11-25 Unless the Fed Goes Cold Turkey on Us, Expect a Bountiful Economic Harvest for Thanksgiving 2014 by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

If your Thanksgiving family dinner conversation is anything like mine this Thursday, it will be dominated by a discussion of how the U.S. economy and its financial markets will be behaving after nearly a year of Dr. Janet Yellen at the helm of the Fed. Well, I am going to give my family an advance copy of what I plan to say so that we can just concentrate on willing a Packers victory over the Lions. As a preview, I am bullish about what things will look like by Turkey Day 2014 even if Chairwoman Yellen becomes a little hawkish. (Perhaps too cute with the animal references?)

2013-11-25 Why It's (a Little) Too Quiet on the Market Front by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Stock market volatility remains unusually low. While this is partially justified by loose credit conditions and strong market momentum, the drop in volatility looks exaggerated and suggests investors are becoming too complacent.

2013-11-24 Game of Thrones - European Style by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The Eurozone crisis is not over, and it will not end quickly or soon. Even if it seems to unfold in slow motion - like the slow build-up in a Game of Thrones storyline to violent internecine clashes followed by more slow plot developments but never any resolution, the Eurozone debacle has never really gone away. The structural imbalances have still not been fixed; politicians and central bankers have still not agreed to solve major fiscal problems; the overall economy still disintegrates; unemployment is staggeringly high in some countries and still rising; and the people are growing restless.

2013-11-22 Guidance Counselors by Richard Clarida, Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

Forward guidance is an explicit communication by a central bank that provides information today about the timing for specific policy tools in the future. There are at least three types of forward guidance: calendar-based, outcome-based and optimal control. Since 2011 the Fed has deployed both calendar-based and outcome-based guidance. We expect the Yellen Fed to enhance the current outcome-based guidance to convey more information about the timing and pace of policy moves.

2013-11-22 What is the Current Market Reality? by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments

At this year’s Global Investment Forum, the discussion among Pioneer investment professionals was generally positive. Of course, everyone was conscious of the current market reality: that the major force behind recent positive, though benign, market trends is the unprecedented creation of liquidity and extremely loose stance of monetary policies around the world. Monetary policy alone cannot be the only conduit to a new economic model of income growth and job creation.

2013-11-22 Dividend Season Scorecard by Don Taylor of Franklin Templeton

As consumers gear up for the upcoming holiday shopping season, many investors in individual equities are eagerly anticipating another season that, instead of draining their wallets, might actually fatten them-dividend season. Don Taylor, portfolio manager of Franklin Rising Dividends Fund, is on the lookout for companies which not only have a track record of paying regular dividends, but increasing them. Here are some of Taylor’s thoughts on the early dividend season scorecard.

2013-11-22 Shifting Global Fortunes by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Most investors, particularly those who live in developed markets, probably aren’t aware of the influence emerging markets have on the global economy. I’m not just talking about China or just about governments. More and more large corporations are headquartered in emerging markets, a trend that I expect to continue. In addition, more of those companies that are located in emerging markets are also joining the ranks of the top companies in the world. In fact, some might be surprised to hear that some of the world’s largest initial public offerings (IPOs) have been in emerging m

2013-11-22 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Retail Sales by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The underlying sales data were stronger than expected, and the disinflationary October headline CPI boosted the number higher. in light of the general pessimism over the government shutdown and congressional face-off on debt ceiling, the October numbers are indeed surprising.

2013-11-22 Float Research: Demand Indicators Point to Jolly Holiday Season for U.S. Equity Investors by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

Demand Indicators Point to Jolly Holiday Season for U.S. Equity Investors. ETF Flows Turn More Encouraging for Short Term.

2013-11-22 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum, Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

The world needs to do more to stimulate spending. Moderate gains are seen for U.S. holiday sales. The Federal Reserve may change its policy mix.

2013-11-22 Understanding the Rise of China by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

If the sweeping economic reforms planned by Chinese leaders during the Third Plenum can be our guide, it looks to be a promising decade for global investors. Details released this week confirmed President Xi Jinping’s concerted efforts to move China toward a market-based economy that mirrors the West.

2013-11-22 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.2, up from last week’s 131.0 (revised from 131.1). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, rose to 2.4, up from 2.2 last week.

2013-11-22 50 Years Later: JFK and the Misery of Rising Interest Rates by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

On the 50th anniversary of one of the most tragic events in U.S. history, I took a quick look back at investment market history around that time. As it turns out, the stock and bond markets had done quite well in recent years and by mid 1963, the 10-year Treasury was a bit under 4% (around the lowest rate in about a half-decade) and the stock market was near its all-time high. Whether it was a direct result of the calamity of Kennedy’s death or other factors, late 1963 was a turning point for the U.S. stock and bond markets.

2013-11-22 The Market Hits All-Time High. So What? by Dianne Lob and Ding Liu of Alliance Bernstein

With the US stock market repeatedly reaching all-time highs in recent weeks, many investors are becoming leery of investing in stocks. Focusing on the market’s level is a mistake, in our view. It’s market valuation, not level, that matters.

2013-11-21 Time to Be Bullish on Europe by Raul Elizalde of Path Financial

For the last four years US stocks outperformed European equities (and much of the world outside the US) by a large margin. Investors may conclude that investing abroad, even in the name of diversification, is nothing but a waste. But this may be a mistake. The very wide gap between US and European stocks seems overdone. US stocks have climbed to unprecedented and precarious levels while Europe has improved on many fronts without much effect on equity prices. This could be the time to diversify away from US stocks, and Europe seems to be the appropriate choice.

2013-11-21 When the Stimulus Stops, Cash Flow Matters by U.S. Equity Management team of Mesirow Financial

Several rounds of massive stimulus by the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates well below where they would otherwise be, buoying both stock and bond markets. As stock prices have reached new peaks, many professional investors consider current valuations to be stretched. When the stimulus finally stops, a new era of rising interest rates will likely take hold. And experienced investors know that rising interest rates and high valuations and can be a dangerous combination. Read more.

2013-11-21 Looking Beyond Inventories by Team of Northern Trust

Inventories have the habit of offering surprises in reports of real gross domestic product (GDP). The third quarter GDP report was one such occurrence, with inventories making an unexpectedly hefty contribution. A reversal of this event is most likely to influence the headline GDP number in the final three months of the year.

2013-11-21 The Fed and the Economy: “Don't Shoot Until You See the Whites of Their Eyes” by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The Federal Reserve has started to highlight “forward guidance” as a way to keep interest rates lower for longer and get the exhausted hamster off the treadmill of quantitative easing. We still think tapering remains farther off than most investors expect.

2013-11-21 An Update on the Affordable Care Act by Harlan Sonderling of Columbia Management

Regardless of one’s political views, recall that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in early 2010 was a draft House bill approved in late 2009 as a basis for reconciliation with an expected Senate bill. The law was amended only slightly in 2010, and its regulatory and operating deficiencies have become apparent with the troubled launch last month of the federal and state health insurance exchanges, a topic we will address next week.

2013-11-21 The Missing Ingredient of the Economic Recovery (Hint: It's Not Jobs) by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Despite an improving labor market, household spending isn’t picking up enough to fuel a faster U.S. recovery. This missing ingredient of the economic recovery is to blame, says Russ.

2013-11-21 Are Bank-Loan Investors Getting What They Bargained For? by Ashish Shah, Ivan Rudolph-Shabinsky of AllianceBernstein

Investors who chose high-yield bank loans over high-yield bonds earlier this year, expecting to be insulated against rising rates, might be surprised to find that bonds might have worked out better.

2013-11-21 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Some weekly commentaries are chock full of information, editorial content, market swings, economic data, and the like. Others, like today, reveal nothing magical about the preceding week or the outlook ahead.

2013-11-21 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Up, up, and away. Stocks surged for the sixth straight week, the S&P 500’s longest such streak since February 2013, as institutional investors welcomed remarked from the future Fed Chair (?) and "mom and pops" finally decided to join in the fun (better late than never). Suddenly Dow 16k, Nasdaq 4k, and, heck, even S&P 2k are well within reach. What financial debacle?

2013-11-21 Developed Asia Pacific: Regional Economic Review Q3 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Developed Asia Pacific economies were back on their feet during the second quarter of 2013 as economic growth gained momentum, inflation fell mildly and exports climbed strongly. Most developed countries in the region such as Japan, Australia, and New Zealand reported a sharp positive swing in consumer and business confidence. Predominantly expansionary monetary and fiscal policies also helped keep the pace of economic recovery.

2013-11-21 Some Small-Caps Are More Global Than Others by Francis Gannon of The Royce Funds

How much of a contribution have overseas revenues made to this year’s dynamic domestic small-cap rally? Part of the answer lies in where portfolios invest and where they do not. Portfolio Manager and Principal Francis Gannon notes the emerging strength shown by those more economically sensitive sectors that are closely tied to global economic activity.

2013-11-21 Two Nobel Laureates...Two Tales of Value by Vitali Kalesnik of Research Affiliates

How can you build a better value stock portfolio? The key is discerning whether the value premium stems from mispricing or risk.

2013-11-21 US Stocks for a Baby Boom by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

As contrarians, we at Smead Capital Management frequently get questions about stocks like Gannett (GCI), Bank of America (BAC) and eBay (EBAY). To understand how excited we are to own these common stocks you need to understand how a long-duration common stock portfolio would benefit from the coming baby boom in the developed world. Thanks to wonderful research from The Bank Credit Analyst (BCA), we can understand the demographics of developed nations like the US. BCA concluded that a "baby boom" is coming in the US and in other developed nations.

2013-11-20 Entrepreneurship in Asia by Jerry Shih of Matthews Asia

Using Silicon Valley as a yardstick to measure the success of Asia’s entrepreneurs is an interesting exercise. But it offers little insight into the development of more creative processes in Asia. Many policymakers in the region have declared innovation to be a national, strategic prioritycreating policies aimed at spurring growth to increase R&D expenditure, attract knowledge-intensive foreign direct investment and building more skilled labor pools. This month, Jerry Shih, CFA, takes a look at what changes are occurring around Asia to build more robust start-up ecosystems.

2013-11-20 Setting Sail on the QE Express by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

I’ve been managing money for over 25 years and rarely have I seen the level of craziness and insanity in both our politics and financial markets in the U.S. I’m frightened of this deepening manmade disaster that’s unfolding in front of us right now in both the financial markets and the economy. Too much faith is being placed in untested theories and that quantitative easing is going to cure all of our ills.

2013-11-20 Yellen's Testimony Not Surprising: Fed Has More Work to Do by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Janet Yellen’s Senate testimony in last week’s confirmation hearings was very dovish and offered no real surprises. She did not signal or hint at any change in Fed policy (it was a confirmation hearing), but suggested that the best way to achieve an exit from unconventional policy is to deliver a stronger recovery . . . and the Fed has "more work to do" to support that recovery. The risk that she will not be confirmed is considered negligible.

2013-11-20 Nuclear Deal With Iran - Don't Give Away The Store by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Obama administration representatives are quietly negotiating with Iran in an effort to stop its nuclear program. Under the proposed agreement, the US would relax or eliminate some of the tough sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy. This is happening at the same time Congress is threatening to impose even tougher new sanctions on Iran.

2013-11-20 Valuing Quality by Bhavik Kothari of Diamond Hill Investments

As industry specialists, our analysts make key assumptions when we value a company, which are based on our in-depth research of a company’s future prospects. One of the most important assumptions we make is the multiple applied to future earnings to derive the terminal value of a company at the end of our explicit forecast period. The terminal multiple is a critical assumption because it typically accounts for a significant portion of our overall value and it captures a host of assumptions about the quality of the firm such as return on capital and future growth prospects.

2013-11-20 Follow the Leaders: Gold Opinions from New Orleans by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Bring together some of the brightest, most engaging minds in investing and politics inside the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel along with hundreds of investors eager for market knowledge and insight, and you get the 39th Annual New Orleans Investment Conference.

2013-11-20 The Disinflationary Developed World: 2 Investment Implications by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Inflation remains close to historic lows, not just in the United States but also in other large developed markets. Russ explains why this is the case and what it means for investors (hint: low-for-longer rates and another reason to consider underweighting Treasury-Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS)).

2013-11-20 Yellen: “Farther To Go” by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Janet Yellen gave a balanced assessment of how monetary policy will be conducted during her tenure as Fed chair. However, the financial markets perceived a “dovish” tilt. She stressed that conditions in the labor market are still far from normal and noted that inflation has been running below the Fed’s goal of 2% “and is expected to do so for some time.” However, Yellen noted that there were risks of removing support too late as well as too soon. QE3 can’t go on forever.

2013-11-20 Who is Right on the Stock Market? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Efficient, or inefficient, that is the key question. I would argue that at major inflection points the stock market is ANYTHING but efficient. That’s because, as my dear, departed father used to say, “The stock market is fear, hope, and greed only loosely connected to the business cycle!” Plainly, I agree and would note that when on March 2, 2009 I stated the stock market was going to bottom that week, I was greeted with cat-calls of disbelief. The same was true with the Dow Theory “sell signal” calls of September 1999 and November 2007.

2013-11-20 No Madness and No Crowds by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors

Charles Mackay’s book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, chronicles some of history’s greatest financial manias, including the South Sea bubble and the Dutch tulip mania, among many others. As the stock market continues to make new highs, discussion of a market bubble has been capturing many of the recent headlines. For those that suggest this is the case, they may need to refresh themselves with Mackay’s book, which highlights the “mania” phase a phase that we have yet to encounter.

2013-11-19 Multitaskers in a Portfolio by Brian Levitt (Article)

This video touched on how dividend stocks, senior floating rate loans and MLPs provide multiple income benefits.

2013-11-19 Discovering Dividend Yield by Job Curtis (Article)

Job Curtis, Director of Global Equity Income, reviews recent interesting economic developments including interest rate cuts in Europe and positive employment data and talk of tapering in the US. From an income perspective, Job and team feel that equities outside the US are more attractive than those in the US. Job also points out sectors where they currently see opportunity such as telecoms and utilities.

2013-11-19 Some New Ideas for Holiday Gifts by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Holidays are coming. What can we do to stand out from our competition in terms of gifts or events?

2013-11-19 Thoughts from Top Advisors on Building a Physician Niche by Greg Stokes (Article)

Since most doctors are smart and wealthy, they are ideal candidates for a lifetime client-advisor relationship. Three prominent advisors told me how they built and grew a successful practice that catered to physicians.

2013-11-19 Asset Class Allocation and Portfolios: Critique and Complication by Adam Jared Apt (Article)

In Part 1 of this essay, I explained that for asset class allocation to become an investment practice, it required a foundation of theory. And Modern Portfolio Theory was that foundation. But today, most financial journalists and investment advisors who proffer advice centered on asset class allocation are—if I may judge from their writings—oblivious of this. And why shouldn’t they be? Theory is abstract and difficult to apprehend.

2013-11-19 New Research on How Much Clients can Spend in Retirement by Wade Pfau (Article)

A major problem remains unsolved in the discipline of financial planning: How should clients adjust their spending patterns in response to changes in the value of their retirement portfolios? The original research on this topic was based on a fixed percentage of assets, adjusted for inflation. Numerous refinements to that model have been proposed, and I will look at how the updated models can help clients maintain their desired standard of living without depleting their assets.

2013-11-19 Research from Yale on Commodities by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Many would consider the practice of placing assets in a commodity fund to be speculation rather than investing. That perception was amplified by a recent Bloomberg article, which reported the dismal performance of many managed-futures funds and commodity-trading advisors (CTAs). Contrary to that image, Geert Rouwenhorst, a Yale University professor, claims he has found a way to construct a commodity-based fund that earns a significant premium over inflation.

2013-11-19 The Quality that Predicts Success by Dan Richards (Article)

What predicts the chances that a new member of your team will succeed?

2013-11-19 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Robert Huebscher’s article, Reflections on a Week in Cuba, which appeared last week, and a reader responds, to Bob Veres’ article, Why Deficits Don’t Matter, which appeared on October 29.

2013-11-19 Howard Marks: Equities are Under-owned and Un-loved by Robert Huebscher (Article)

According to Oaktree’s Howard Marks, U.S. equities are ’under-owned and un-loved, and I like to buy assets like that.’

2013-11-19 Where Will the Holiday Shopping Season Lead Us This Year? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The unofficial start to the holiday shopping season kicks off in a few short days. Economic uncertainty abounds, raising fears that consumers will pull back from spending, but some positive developments suggest consumers will be just fine.

2013-11-19 A Glimpse of a Yellen-Led Fed by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Kristina Hooper highlights some key takeaways from incoming Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s testimony before the Senate last week, including when the Fed is likely to taper its bond-buying program.

2013-11-19 Confronting the Tax Drag by Tom Metzold, Jim Evans, Lew Piantedosi, Peter Crowley of Eaton Vance

The impact of the “tax drag” on investor portfolios can be significant over long time frames, potentially consuming a quarter or more of every dollar earned by the average investor. As federal tax rates have risen for many investors, so too has the risk of losing a larger portion of one’s returns to taxes highlighting the need for a tax-aware investment approach. Municipal and tax-advantaged bond strategies, tax-efficient equities and solutions for high-net-worth investors can all help improve investors’ after-tax portfolio performance.

2013-11-19 Breaking News! U.S. Equity Market Overvalued! by Ben Inker of GMO

In GMO’s quarterly letter to institutional clients today, co-head of asset allocation Ben Inker outlines the reasoning behind GMO implementing a new forecast methodology for the U.S. stock market. While the new methodology has slightly increased GMO’s seven-year forecast for U.S. equity returns, Ben notes, "The basic point for us remains the same -- the U.S. stock market is trading at levels that do not seem capable of supporting the type of returns that investors have gotten used to receiving from equities."

2013-11-19 Ignoble Prizes and Appointments by Jeremy Grantham of GMO

Chief investment strategist Jeremy Grantham comments on this year’s Nobel Prize in economics and "the most laughable of all assumption-based theories, the Efficient Market Hypothesis"; candidates to succeed Chairman Bernanke at the Fed; the impact of commodity price rises and the housing bubble in the crash of 2008; and prospects for the U.S. equity market.

2013-11-19 France and the Iranian Negotiations by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Earlier this month, negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 failed to reach an agreement despite great hopes that one was near. In this report, we will examine the reasons behind French objections to a nuclear deal with Iran. We will begin with an examination of France’s relations with the Middle East, focusing on its relations with Israel. Using this history as a guide, we will analyze why the French scotched the potential agreement. A short discussion will follow of the impact of France’s objection on the evolution of U.S. policy with Iran. As always, we conclude with market ramif

2013-11-19 October 2013 Market Commentary by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management

The Fed’s decision in September to maintain it’s policy of asset purchases, better known as Quantitative Easing (QE), caught the broader market by surprise. Fed “tapering” of QE was broadly expected to begin in September. The Fed’s decision to delay the reduction of QE pushed back the date upon which anticipated tapering would begin. This resulted in a meaningful rally in Treasury bond prices in September. To the surprise of many media pundits calling for ever higher interest rates, US Treasury yields ended October at 2.55%, virtually unc

2013-11-19 Levitate: Dismiss Bubble Talk for Now by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

It’s premature to be calling this market a bubble. Rolling 10 year returns haven’t even reached a long-term mean. Valuation still well below prior bull market peaks.

2013-11-18 Under the Spotlight, Pensions and “Damn it Janet” by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Recently, I spoke on a panel regarding the State of Illinois (our panel literally “Under the Spotlight”). Our panel touched on many topics affecting the State but, when all was said and done, it seemed that the panel uniformly recognized that Illinois needed to do something about their pension problem (we had an interesting discussion about one party rule and speculated as to why they can’t seem to get anything done on pension reform can you say re-election).

2013-11-18 Two Investments to Consider when You're Coming off the Sidelines by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

For investors on the sidelines of the equity market, Russ offers his take on which market segments to consider now and which to remain cautious of.

2013-11-18 The ECB Rate Cut - Too Little and Too Late by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog

The decision of the European Central Bank (ECB) last week to cut its main refinancing rate from 0.5% to 0.25% and the marginal lending facility from 1.00% to 0.75% is too little and too late -- and virtually irrelevant to financial markets. The decision came after published data showed the eurozone headline consumer price index slowing to 0.7% year-on-year in October. Of course the equity markets rallied temporarily in a knee-jerk reaction to the ECB’s move, but by the end of the day most of the gains were lost.

2013-11-18 Chumps, Champs, and Bamboo by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

At bull market peaks, it often seems that the market is simply headed higher with no end in sight, and “buy-and-hold” appears superior to every alternative. Meanwhile, the reputation of value-conscious investors and risk-managers goes from “champ” to “chump.” Then, the bamboo tree suddenly sprouts, and the entire lag is often replaced by outperformance in less than a year. Only after the fact does the reputation of risk-managed strategies surge from “chump” to “champ.”

2013-11-18 Willing a Fiscal Win by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms of ING Investment Management

Why can’t we just will our desired political outcomes the way the most fervent seemingly can impact ballgames? After watching Fenway Park packed to the rafters with Red Sox faithful exercising their sovereign and ethereal right to psychically encourage baseballs out of the yard and knowing that millions of others in Red Sox nation were doing the same in front of their televisions we’re left wondering if the fans of Team U.S.A. can apply a little of that classic Carlton Fisk mojo a few hundred miles down I-95.

2013-11-18 Doing Well by Doing Good by Tara Thompson Popernik, Paul Robertson of AllianceBernstein

Charitable giving remains one of the few ways that US taxpayers can avoid taxes outright. If you’re philanthropically inclined, giving can be a win-win that benefits you and society at the same time.

2013-11-18 The Muddle-Through Economy and Grind-Higher Equity Market Continue by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished higher last week as the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at record highs, marking the sixth straight week of advances.1 Several macroeconomic themes are important as third quarter earnings season comes to an end. Fed Chairman nominee Janet Yellen spoke before the Senate in support of current monetary policy and suggested a similar path under her leadership. Economic data was mixed for the week, and any economic weakness continues to be perceived as supporting a delay in tapering. In turn, this can be seen as positive for equities.

2013-11-18 Schwab Impact Conference 2013 - Finally! Some Good News from D.C. by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Earlier this week my wife (who doubles as Sungarden’s Director of Operations) joined me for three days in Washington D.C. at the Schwab IMPACT conference for investment advisors. To me, this is the biggest show of the year in our industry and the Capital edition continued the traditional mix of new ideas, networking and a feeling at the end once described by David Letterman as “I’m tiredbut it’s a nice kind of tired.” Here are some brief highlights and what I think the implications are (if any) for what we are doing for our clients now and in the times ahead.

2013-11-18 Are You Managing Volatility or Is It Managing You? by Timothy Atwill, Richard Bernstein, Eric Stein, Bradford Godfrey, Chris Sunderland of Eaton Vance

Market volatility has caused investors to make emotional decisions, resulting in performance that may have hindered their ability to reach investment goals. Eaton Vance believes that sound investment strategy should provide investors with tools for managing volatility, so the market’s inevitable fluctuations may work on their behalf. We discuss four approaches to managing volatility: reducing, navigating, harnessing and monetizing.

2013-11-17 The Unintended Consequences of ZIRP by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Two recently released papers make an intellectual and theoretical case for an extended period of very low interest rates and, in combination with other papers from both inside and outside the Fed from heavyweight economists, make a strong case for beginning to taper sooner rather than later, but for accompanying that tapering with a commitment to an even more protracted period of ZIRP. We are going analyze these papers, as they are critical to understanding the future direction of Federal Reserve policy. Secondly, we’ll look at some of the unintended consequences of long-term ZIRP.

2013-11-16 Gliding to Year End? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Although we remain optimistic, the path to year-end may have some potholes. US stocks are among the more attractive investment options available, but there is the risk of a pullback in the near term should sentiment conditions continue to be elevated. There is also a risk of a melt-up in stocks given recent momentum. Europe is dealing with falling inflation and weak growth, although expectations are low, leaving investment opportunities somewhat attractive. Both Japan and China appear to be at a crossroads and we are watching political and monetary developments carefully.

2013-11-15 In the Wake of Disaster by Robert Horrocks of Matthews Asia

As humanitarian organizations scrambled to send relief to the Philippines this week following the country’s battering by Typhoon Haiyan, foreign governments prepared to support the rebuilding and economists looked to assess the tragedy’s near-term impact.

2013-11-15 Has Washington Drama Taken Its Toll On MLPs? by David Chiaro of Eagle Global Advisors

“They did it! They blew it up!” shouts Charlton Heston in the iconic ending scene of the film Planet of the Apes when he finds out he has been living on a post-nuclear war planet Earth. Americans are probably having some of the same feelings about our current world resulting from the ongoing political “nuclear war” raging in our nation’s capital.

2013-11-15 Taper or Not, Stocks and Bonds Could Gain by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Both bond and equity markets are well-positioned, regardless of whether the U.S. Federal Reserve tapers its asset purchase program.

2013-11-15 “Great Rotation?” How About “Selective Rotation?” by Eric Takaha of Franklin Templeton

A few months ago there was a lot of buzz about a so-called “Great Rotation,” used to describe an investor exodus from fixed income and into equities, conjuring up images of a massive herd of wildebeest on the African plain racing for greener pastures. Oftentimes, when investors react to the market with a herd mentality, they can wind up losing sight of where they are going, and why. Eric Takaha, senior vice president and portfolio manager for Franklin Strategic Income Fund, says what he’s seen is more of a “selective rotation.”

2013-11-15 Passive Management ≠ Passive Investing by Ashwin Alankar, Michael DePalma, Guoan Du of AllianceBernstein

Passive investments are often misunderstood. Instead of providing static positioning as implied by the label, they can be very capricious because of market and sector turbulence. To tame a passive asset, we think investors need to exert more active control over the dynamics of volatility.

2013-11-15 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Industrial Production by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Official recession calls are the responsibility of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which is understandably vague about the specific indicators on which they base their decisions. This committee statement is about as close as they get to identifying their method.

2013-11-15 Keep Your Eyes on Bonds by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Last month, Americans were transfixed by the amateur theatrics undertaken by the Washington political establishment in connection with the debt ceiling crisis. The bad faith, poor tactics and wholesale avoidance of reality were offered by all players in very large doses. When the Republican leadership finally capitulated (thereby bringing down the curtain on the tawdry production), it soon became apparent that sound and fury had signified nothing except another exercise in can kicking.

2013-11-15 Dressed to the Nines with Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

While paper gold is getting the cold shoulder in the West, the Love Trade buyers in the East are wrapping their arms around all the physical gold they can get their hands on.

2013-11-15 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The Federal Reserve’s policies may remain easier for longer than previously thought. What’s the best way to arrest falling labor force participation? Look for the Fed to adopt a lower unemployment target.

2013-11-15 DC Plan Design for the Bumpy Road Ahead by Mohamed El Erian of PIMCO

In late October, PIMCO’s CEO and Co-CIO Mohamed A. El-Erian presented the keynote speech at Pensions & Investments’ West Coast Defined Contribution Conference. He also spoke with P&I about top-of-mind concerns for retirement plan providers and sponsors. The Q&A below is based on that conversation.

2013-11-15 Are You Prepared for Economic Recovery? by Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson of Hartford Funds

Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson discusses how many portfolios are out of balance today and explains why investors should consider increasing their equity exposure.

2013-11-15 The Future of the Indian Rupee Is Tied to Oil Imports by Ignatius Chithelen of Knowledge @ Wharton

The weakness or strength of the Indian rupee will continue to be largely determined by the level and costs of the country’s crude oil imports, according to Ignatius Chithelen, managing partner of Banyan Tree Capital Management.

2013-11-14 In a Real (But Uneven) Recovery: Where to Remain Cautious by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Last week brought evidence that while the U.S. recovery is uneven, it’s happening. For investors, the big takeaway is to remain cautious on interest-rate sensitive assets. Russ explains.

2013-11-14 In 20 Years, What Country Will Produce the Most Gold? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

A question like that is impossible to answer, of course, due to mining difficulties, diminishing resources, and changing government policies and regulations that help or hinder a country’s ability to mine, farm or drill efficiently.

2013-11-14 No Man is an Island by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

When your territory spans hundreds of countries on just about every continent and time zone, the importance of teamwork cannot be underestimated. I am extremely fortunate to have the support of a tremendous team of currently 90 professionals in the Templeton Emerging Markets Group, including 52 analysts and portfolio managers, spanning 26 countries and speaking 24 languages. I couldn’t do what I do without them! For the past 25 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Tom Wu, whose research responsibilities include companies in Hong Kong and the Philippines, as well as the bank

2013-11-14 Taming the New Medicare Surtax by Daniel Notto of AllianceBernstein

The wealthy will likely see higher 2013 income taxes. One of the newest additions to the tax bill is the 3.8% Medicare surtax. By planning ahead, you may be able to reduce the tax biteor possibly avoid being bitten altogether.

2013-11-14 This May Sting Just a Bit: Global Diversification by Jeff Hussey of Russell Investments

Russell Investments’ global chief investment officer argues that times when global diversification falls out of favor might provide opportunities for investors.

2013-11-14 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Data keeps coming fast and furious and (for the most part) it has been favorable. Investors remain torn between being ecstatic about the solid recovery or worried about the implications for another Fed move. Stocks were mixed throughout the week with the Dow Jones staying in record territory. Is that worth a Tweet (now that it’s public)?

2013-11-14 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Here in the United States, we had local and regional elections last Tuesday. Several of the ballot initiatives, and many of the candidates, addressed what has commonly been phrased as “the inequality gap”. To be sure, in an ideal world, everyone has access to, and participation in, the bounty that this country has to offer. From “sea to shining sea” we do have a plentitude of idea-makers and resources available.

2013-11-14 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

There were several news surprises to trade around last week, but when the music ended stocks were mixed as the charts above illustrate. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained nearly 1 percent while the NASDAQ Composite was virtually flat.

2013-11-14 The Secret of the Euro's Survival by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Despite fiscal strains and political controversy, the common currency still enjoys broad support among member nations. Here’s why.

2013-11-13 Why I Sell the Dollar: From Dollar Strength to Dollar Weakness by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

To those that say the U.S. has the cleanest of the dirty shirts, we would like to point out that it hasn’t helped the greenback, as evidenced by the euro outperforming the dollar both so far this year, as well as last year. Yes, we have a mess in the Eurozone that won’t be resolved anytime soon. But we also have a mess in the U.S., Japan, and many other places around the globe.

2013-11-13 Accenture: Continuing To Deliver A Growth Story by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Accenture (ACN) is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company with approximately 275,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. As of the end of fiscal year 2013, the company had revenues just shy of $29 billion and a market capitalization that was roughly double that amount. Additionally, Accenture provides services to a wide spectrum of industries ranging from Automotive and Aerospace to Energy and Travel. Effectively, Accenture wants to deliver a high performance solution to whatever problem you have on hand.

2013-11-13 When Flexibility Meets Opportunity in the European Commercial Real Estate Market by Laurent Luccioni of PIMCO

The pace of asset sales by European banks has been slower than many anticipated due to the fragile economic, political and regulatory environment across the continent. A complex CRE landscape and the pervasive effects of cognitive bias, capital rigidity and the unintended consequences of regulation mean mispricing can occur frequently. Unlocking value in this environment requires a flexible approach to investing across the capital structure and the resources to source, underwrite, structure, service and operate commercial real estate assets.

2013-11-13 Fed Research on Policy Rules by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

In a paper for last week’s IMF annual research conference, William English (head of the Federal Reserve Board’s Monetary Affairs division) discussed current monetary policy strategy, with a focus on threshold rules and forward guidance. The paper caused a stir in markets but we do not think it signals a fundamental change in Fed communication. Small changes to the so-called “Evans Rule” are possible, but the basic framework will probably remain in place even as QE tapering begins.

2013-11-13 Markets On Cruise Control And Why There Will Be No Dectaper by John Rothe of Riverbend Investment Management

We are now post shutdown, post debt ceiling and post election, and equity markets are now on cruise control.

2013-11-13 Twenty Five by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover, Mike Czekaj of Broadleaf Partners

I am not a particularly good salesman. From the time I first meet a prospect to when they become a full-fledged client, it can often take two years even when they initiate the first meeting. Fortunately, growing the firm isn’t one of my primary roles, a responsibility that does fall to Bill Hoover, my business partner. The beauty of our relationship is that while Bill devotes his time to our firm’s “outside” efforts, I am able to spend almost all of my attention tending to the portfolios of those who have already hired us. (View a printable version of this Economic

2013-11-13 GameStop and Our Long-Term, Contrarian Investment Approach by Jay Kaplan of The Royce Funds

Because our contrarian approach emphasizes a long-term time horizon, we tend to invest in companies that we believe have the financial wherewithal to withstand out of favor periods. GameStop used trying times to build conviction and expand its core business rather than abandoning its discipline to meet outside expectations.

2013-11-12 Investor Trust “Breakdown” with George Wilbanks by (Article)

All advisors must wrestle with a “breakdown” in trust with investors, according to financial services executive recruiter George Wilbanks.

2013-11-12 Beware of Financial Planning’s Misguided Rules-of-Thumb by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Lacking better insights, financial planners cling to rules of thumb, such as allocating a percentage of assets to fixed income based on a client’s age. More recently, those rules have been institutionalized through products like target-date funds, which maintain a fixed glide path for all investors. But new research has led to the development of software products that allow advisors to easily improve on the suboptimal outcomes to which clients were previously destined.

2013-11-12 The Bomb Shelter Portfolio: Maximum Income with the Least Risk by Geoff Considine (Article)

Conservative investors are faced with unappealing choices. They can reduce risk and accept low yields and high exposure to rising rates, or they can push the bounds of their risk tolerance to increase yield. My analysis shows a way out of this predicament: a “bomb shelter” portfolio of ETFs, which offers attractive yield with minimal volatility and exposure to rising rates.

2013-11-12 Investing Megatrends: New Technology by Sponsored Content from OppenheimerFunds (Article)

This whitepaper discusses how: The ’Data Deluge’ we are experiencing is one of the world’s durable investment themes; Significant capital investments in data infrastructure provide structural support for this trend; Many companies can benefit from the collection, analysis, transmission and storage of data

2013-11-12 Three Ways to Turn Casual Contacts into Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Most advisors routinely cross paths with people who are attractive prospects, whether at their golf club, get-togethers with neighbors or through charitable activity in their community. The challenge is how to raise the possibility of working together without appearing to be one of those stereotyped hustlers who give salespeople everywhere a bad name.

2013-11-12 Reflections on a Week in Cuba by Robert Huebscher (Article)

My recent one-week visit to Cuba revealed why our relationship with this island country – less than 100 miles off the coast of Florida – has been problematic for the U.S. for the last half-century. Once the Castro brothers are gone, the government of Cuba may change in dramatic ways. But such a transition would have to be accompanied by a change in U.S. policy to Cuba. Pictures from my trip are also provided.

2013-11-12 What Twitter’s New Millionaires Can Learn From Google by Dougal Williams (Article)

In what was one of the biggest launches this year for a technology company, social media giant Twitter had its IPO last week. The deal raised approximately $2.1 billion for Twitter, minting the biggest wave of Bay Area millionaires since 2012, when Facebook went public. Those whose bank accounts swelled as a result of Twitter’s IPO should heed the lessons learned by Google’s millionaires.

2013-11-12 Finding - and Keeping - Top Talent by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We just hired the fourth person to fill a junior role. The previous employee gave us notice after eight weeks! It is expensive, frustrating and moreover, we lose inertia every time we have to stop and train someone new. One of my senior advisors is convinced it is the newer generation; they just don’t care. I don’t believe that’s true. Are we doing something wrong or is there really a dearth of good talent?

2013-11-12 Markets Vacillate Between Stronger Economy and Fed Accommodation by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished mostly higher last week as the S&P 500 increased 0.6%, ending higher for the fifth straight week. The return of central bank action was a primary concern. The European Central Bank (ECB) surprised investors with a 0.25% rate cut, while the debate over the Federal Reserve’s impending tapering decision continued in earnest.

2013-11-12 Taper Talk by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Taperingplease bring it on. We wanted it yesterday, or last month, or even years ago. We never thought QE helped the economy and certainly don’t think keeping it around is a good idea. It’s created uncertainty at an unprecedented level.

2013-11-12 Currency Markets Show Signs of Reversal by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

A mixture of surprising economic data and changing central bank policy led to sharp moves in currency markets last week. This came after several gyrations in FX markets earlier this year. Looking forward, volatility is likely to remain, but many signs point towards a strengthening U.S. dollar.

2013-11-12 New Fed Papers Foreshadow a Dovish Fed Policy Under Yellen by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

New Fed Papers Foreshadow a Dovish Fed Policy Under Yellen Two new Fed papers presented at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) argue for prompt lobbying for continued aggressive monetary policy, but suggest prompt tapering of quantitative easing (QE) and more emphasis on forward guidance. The assumption is that these papers would not have been released if Janet Yellen intended to push policy in a different direction . . . and they reinforce the message of papers released at Jackson Hole this summer, suggesting that QE wasn’t acting as effective economic stimulus.

2013-11-12 Let's Party Like it's 1978 by Bill OGrady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

A twice yearly meeting of the Chinese government officials, formally known as the third plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, started on Saturday and will end tomorrow. Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping has indicated that this session could be as consequential as the plenary session in 1978 which introduced policies that set in motion the Chinese growth engine. We are going to take a closer look at the changes from the plenary session 35 years ago, the circumstances leading up to the session and how China changed following the meeting.

2013-11-12 Janet Yellen's Mission Impossible by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Most market watchers expect that Janet Yellen will grapple with two major tasks once she takes the helm at the Federal Reserve in 2014: deciding on the appropriate timing and intensity of the Fed’s quantitative easing taper strategy, and unwinding the Fed’s enormous $4 trillion balance sheet (without creating huge losses in the value of its portfolio). In reality both assignments are far more difficult than just about anyone understands or admits.

2013-11-12 Big Ideas on Gold and Resources in the Big Easy by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

For nearly four decades, curious investors have made their way to the Big Easy for a taste of New Orleans and several helpings of advice and perspective at the New Orleans Investment Conference.

2013-11-12 EPV: Establishing Predictive Value (i.e., Relative Outperformance) by David Kleinberg of Universal Orbit

EPV: Establishing Predictive Value (i.e., Relative Outperformance) is a linear narrative outlining general limitations in third party data provider presentations and implied effects on peer group analytics. Reconciling the modulation of data with nomenclature is one facet of the qualitative assessments associated with quantitative analysis.

2013-11-12 Dream to Outperform the Market by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

If you dream about investment market outcomes which are already popular in the marketplace, your dreams can turn into nightmares. The Everly Brothers 1958 hit song, “All I have to do is Dream” tells us a great deal about the long-term posture of investors in late 2013 and how dreams can turn to nightmares. On the other hand, if you dream about an outcome which most experts aren’t expecting, the rewards can be explosive.

2013-11-12 Will 39% Hike in Minimum Wage Tank The Economy? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

President Obama called for a whopping 39% increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour last Thursday. There is already a bill working its way through in the Senate to do the same thing. If this legislation passes, the minimum wage will be increased 95 cents each year for the next three years starting this year, to bring it to $10.10 by 2015.

2013-11-11 The Uncertain Future of Central Bank Supremacy by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

Advanced countries’ central banks were among the first to warn that their ability to compensate for other policymakers’ inaction is neither endless nor risk-free. The trouble is that few outsiders seem to be listening, much less preparing to confront the limits of monetary policy’s effectiveness.

2013-11-11 Confounding Friday Report, Pesky Housing Details, Stamps and Election Results by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

The markets rallied on Friday ostensibly because of the First Friday employment data was it good news (job creation) or bad news (rate is up and the Fed will keep juicing the market). Read on. Next, it is on to a look at housing data that seems to have been under the radar screen of the media. I conclude this week with a look at my election predictions. While I hit a touch over 50% (worthy of baseball hall of fame induction) the folks at the major networks won’t be inviting me to work the election map anytime soon.

2013-11-11 Tech in the Time of Twitter: From Growth to Value Play by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Despite the hype surrounding Twitter’s IPO, technology is a very different industry today than it was fifteen years ago. While a few high profile companies are making headlines, the sector is no longer a growth story. Nevertheless, tech still looks attractive as a value play.

2013-11-11 A Textbook Pre-Crash Bubble by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Despite the unusually extended period of speculation as a result of faith in quantitative easing, I continue to believe that normal historical regularities will exert themselves with a vengeance over the completion of this market cycle. Importantly, the market has now re-established the most hostile overvalued, overbought, overbullish syndrome we identify.

2013-11-11 Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The economic data were mostly stronger than anticipated last week. GDP growth exceeded expectations, although the details were a bit troublesome. With everyone anticipating some impact from the partial government shutdown, nonfarm payrolls accelerated in October. Moreover, revisions to August and September, painted a much stronger picture of job growth. What does this mean for the Fed and its decision to taper?

2013-11-11 That Was the Week That Was?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

That Was the Week That Was, informally TWTWTW or TW3, was a satirical comedy program on BBC television in 1962 and 1963. It was devised, produced, and directed by Ned Sherrin and presented by David Frost. An American version by the same name aired on NBC from 1964 to 1965, also featuring David Frost. And last week was just such a week for me.

2013-11-11 Health Care: Rx for Growth and Defense by Ted Samulowitz of Invesco Blog

The Capital Asset Pricing Model, used to price risky securities, suggests growth and defensive investments are mutually exclusive because the more an asset can return, the higher its risk must be. But growth itself can provide defensive benefits when a secular growth story occurs regardless of the business cycle.

2013-11-10 What Would Yellen Do? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In advance of this week’s confirmation hearings for Federal Reserve Board Chairperson-nominee Janet Yellen, let’s pretend we are prepping our favorite Banking Committee senator for his or her few questions. What would you like to know? In this week’s letter I offer a few questions of my own.

2013-11-09 TIPS Post Modest Returns in Third Quarter by Steve Percoco of Lark Research, Inc.

After a very rough second quarter, TIPS posted modest returns in the 2013 third quarter. By our calculations, TIPS gained 0.97% in the quarter, better than the 0.19% gain on comparable maturity straight Treasury securities. After the sharp second quarter sell-off, bargain hunters found value in the intermediate maturities for both TIPS and straight Treasurys.

2013-11-08 U.S. Shale Oil: A Central Banker's Best Friend by Charles Wilson of Thornburg Investment Management

After nearly a decade of sustained high energy prices , U.S. oil and natural gas producers responded to the market’s call for supply with newly exploitable shale resources. The fresh supply helped reduce concerns about global spare production capacity and limited upward pressure on energy prices. Central bankers around the world were able to maintain highly accommodative monetary policies for prolonged periods as a result.

2013-11-08 Who Needs Gold Really? by Miguel Perez-Santalla, Adrian Ash of BullionVault

Four reasons to waste your time with the deeply historic, deeply human value ascribed to gold...

2013-11-08 Manager Q&A: Tocqueville Gold Fund by John Hathaway, Doug Groh of Tocqueville Asset Management

In a new Q&A, John Hathaway and Doug Groh, the co-portfolio managers of the Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX), answer questions about the price of gold, the relationship between the price of the commodity and gold miner stock prices, and industry consolidation amongst gold miners.

2013-11-08 China at a Crossroads by Anthony Chan of AllianceBernstein

Expectations are high that President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, nearly one year into their likely 10-year reign, will unveil reform policies that will define China’s social and economic development over the next decade and beyond. After the proposals are made public, the new leaders must prove that they can implement substantial change without derailing the growth of the world’s second-largest economy.

2013-11-08 Penske Automotive Group: Fast Cars, Fast Growth by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

If we told you about a company that saw earnings per share drop by nearly half from $1.49 a share to $0.86 during the recession, what would you think? Before you answer, it’s important to also point out that the company suspended its dividend from late 2008 until early 2011 as well. At first blush this might seem like a worst case scenario. Usually we go about our research time looking for the best companies that have held up even in the worst of times this type of company does not fit the bill. Yet what is not readily obvious is the fact this would have been the best time to buy.

2013-11-08 Bubbles Without Borders? by Vivek Tanneeru of Matthews Asia

If you are a wealthy person living in Asia, you might be tempted, with good economic reason, to look overseas to diversify your asset base. Overseas markets often offer good diversification as they are typically exposed to different economic cycles and also give exposure to different currencies. But while overseas stocks, bonds and other financial instruments all offer diversification, few asset classes seem to have the same allure as overseas propertythat is, overseas property in the right cities.

2013-11-08 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.0, down from last week’s 131.4 (revised from 131.5). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, rose to 1.8, up from 1.7 last week.

2013-11-08 Asset Allocation: Pie in the Face? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

The typical approach to spreading one’s assets in order to diversify and conquer, is to have the client complete a risk tolerance questionnaire. That survey is important not only to establish guidelines for how the assets will be managed, but also because some form of it is required by securities regulators to make sure advisors know who their clients are. The magical conclusion usually includes a color pie chart, representing a variety of asset classes that are assumed to be a path toward asset growth and preservation of capital.

2013-11-08 Government Shutdown Doesn't Shut Down Markets in October by Karen Cavanaugh of ING Investment Management

The stage was set for an October selloff, but markets treated investors to another round of across-the-board gains. Headlines comparing today’s equity market with 1999 are way off; the current rally has been driven by solid corporate fundamentals, and the market remains compellingly valued. Global economic growth remains sluggish, and eventual Fed tapering is likely to introduce volatility into markets worldwide.

2013-11-08 Taking Stock in the Economy by Ken Taubes of Pioneer Investments

Now is a good time to take stock in the current macro environment from a market perspective. Here’s what we think could happen at the end of this year and next year.

2013-11-08 Equality of Opportunity by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

Countless statistics show that the gap between the rich and poor has widened considerably and continues to widen. To an extreme, an economics professor at George Mason recently published a book in which he predicts the population will be divided into two groups: those who are good at working with intelligent machines, and those who can be replaced by them. This is obviously a scary outcome, but are we focusing on the wrong thing?

2013-11-08 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

The ECB’s rate cut signals concerns about deflation. The U.S. job numbers provide an upside surprise. How reliable are the U.S. employment data?

2013-11-08 Janet Yellen's Mission Impossible by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Most market watchers expect that Janet Yellen will grapple with two major tasks once she takes the helm at the Federal Reserve in 2014: deciding on the appropriate timing and intensity of the Fed’s quantitative easing taper strategy, and unwinding the Fed’s enormous $4 trillion balance sheet (without creating huge losses in the value of its portfolio). In reality both assignments are far more difficult than just about anyone understands or admits.

2013-11-08 Should You Walk Away from a Fed that Prints Money? by Tad Rivelle of TCW Asset Management

Either the markets or the Fed itself will come to accept that financial repression is a “box canyon” whose only escape is by climbing out through higher rates and wider spreads on risk assets. Staying “risk on” requires the investor to underwrite the exacerbating risks inherent in an economy that is being given bad signals and is accumulating a menagerie of mispriced assets and bad loans. Yes, you should walk away from a Fed that prints money.

2013-11-08 Big Ideas in the Big Easy by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

This is likely a contrarian view to the folks in the White House, but I think investors benefit from being contrarian and thinking differently. In preparation for my presentations in New Orleans as well as for the Metals & Minerals Investment Conference in San Francisco and the Mines and Money in London in a few weeks, I’ve been pulling together this kind of research that we can all put to use now.

2013-11-07 Float Research: Investors Pour $54.2 Billion into All Equity MFs and ETFs in October by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

ETF flows suggest stocks will have a tough time moving much higher. Inflows into leveraged short ETFs stopped in the past week, which is a cautionary sign from a contrarian perspective. Even more worrisome, investors are pouring money into equities. All equity mutual funds and ETFs received $54.2 billion in October, the third-largest inflow on record.

2013-11-07 Gold: Hold It or Fold It? by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

It’s starting to feel like we are part of a giant poker game against the US government, whose hand is the true condition of the American economy. The government has become so good at bluffing that most people feel compelled to watch how the biggest players in the game react to determine their own investment strategy.

2013-11-07 EM: The Growth Story That Isn't by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

We remain very concerned about emerging market stocks and bonds. The recent outperformance of EM stocks is again luring investors to once again touch the hot stove. Emerging markets seem to have some significant structural and cyclical issues about which investors seem unaware or seem to be ignoring.

2013-11-07 Selective Value = Price plus Quality by Chris Richey of Neosho Capital

A paper on backtesting results using many of the metrics that Neosho Capital utilizes when screening for equities.

2013-11-07 Party Like it's 1999 by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

There remains significant upside for risk assets, but in this liquidity-driven market there is also an increasing risk of a “melt-up” such as the one that preceded the bursting of the tech bubble in early 2000.

2013-11-07 Global Forecast: Synchronized Growth - So Long as Governments Behave by Andrew Pease of Russell Investments

Russell Investments released its Q4 Strategists’ Outlook and Barometer report, a quarterly update to its Annual Global Outlook which helps inform the short to medium term asset allocations in Russell’s multi-asset strategies and portfolios.

2013-11-07 Upgrading Non-U.S. Equities by Jeffrey Knight of Columbia Management

Two performance trends have stood out across world markets during 2013. The first is the strong outperformance by equities over bonds. The second is the strong returns of the U.S. stock market relative to other stock markets around the world. The Table breaks down year to date performance for the S&P 500, Eurostoxx 50, FTSE 100, Topix and MSCI Emerging Market indices. Notice that as of the end of July, equity returns in the Unites States were handily outpacing all other regions except Japan.

2013-11-07 Welcome to the Two-Speed Economy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains why the U.S. economy is starting to look like a two-speed economy and what this means for investors.

2013-11-07 Absolute Return Letter: Euthanasia of the economy? by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees, Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

QE has had two noticeable and positive effects. It has saved the world from a financial meltdown not once, but twice, and it has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on asset prices, so in that respect QE has been a success. However, there are growing signs that QE may be beginning to impair economic growth and it may even cause dis-inflation, precisely the opposite of what was widely expected. For these reasons we believe it is time to call it quits and begin to tackle the root problem a banking industry still suffocating from bad loans.

2013-11-07 Putting Macro Trends in Context: What do They Mean to a Bottom-Up Investor? by Will Nasgovitz of Heartland Advisors

For some time now, we’ve had a generally positive economic outlook. The occasional setback is assured, but on the whole we believe that the U.S. economy is still in the early stages of a multi-year recovery.

2013-11-07 Global Inflation: A Mixed Picture by Monty Guild, Anthony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Many investors and global macro economists have been on vigil for a ramp up in global inflation spurred by immense central bank QE and other forms monetary stimulus. All of the money printing from around the globe has helped keep the financial system functioning, and it continues to help weak developed economies get back on firmer growth footing. However, it has not translated to rapidly rising prices for goods and services that many expected.

2013-11-06 The Underperformance Culprit by Tony Scherrer of Smead Capital Management

Each year we are reminded of the fact that active management systemically underperforms the benchmark. The scorecards come in, and the tally is drilled back into our consciousness. But has the now long-tenured debate of active versus passive offered us much in the way of new perspective over the last several decades?

2013-11-06 Thank The Fed For Big Stock Market Gains by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

My guess is that just about everyone reading my E-Letters would agree that the Fed’s massive “quantitative easing” (QE) program has had a bullish effect on the stock markets over the last few years. Several new reports conclude that the Fed’s unprecedented QE bond buying program is responsible for ALL of the stock market advance since the bottom in early 2009.

2013-11-06 Why Worry About a Melt-Up? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The risk of a melt-up in stocks is garnering more attention; and is something we’ve been discussing recently, too. Sentiment does appear stretched in the near-term and warns of a possible pullback. But there are few, if any, bubble-like conditions present and fundamentals ex-sentiment appear healthy.

2013-11-06 Welcome to the Two-Speed Economy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains why the U.S. economy is starting to look like a two-speed economy and what this means for investors.

2013-11-06 Tighter Fiscal Policy Not Helping by Scott Brown of Raymond James

We are now more than five years into the economic expansion, but to many Americans, it still feels like a recession. Many of the headwinds that restrained the recovery early on, such as housing and state and local government, have turned to modest tailwinds, and monetary policy remains highly accommodative. The biggest restraint on growth this year has been fiscal policy. There is a near-term focus on a long-term budget deal, but an agreement seems rather unlikely. Sequester spending cuts set for mid-January should be a more important consideration for lawmakers.

2013-11-06 Permabull? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

A permabull is defined as somebody who is always upbeat about the future direction of the stock market and the economy. Recently I have been called a permabull by certain members of the media, which may be true since March of 2009, but certainly not true over the past 14 years.

2013-11-06 Sergeant Friday Questions a Treasury Spokeswoman -- Just the Facts, Ma'am by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

Sergeant Friday: What has been the behavior of total federal outlays in the past five fiscal years? Treasury Spokeswoman: As shown in Chart 1, the year-over-year change in federal outlays ballooned to 17.9% in FY 2009 because of the sharp increase in income security expenditures (e.g., unemployment insurance benefits, food stamps) due to the most severe recession since the early 1930s, TARP expenditures to recapitalize our financial system and a fiscal stimulus program.

2013-11-06 The Top 10 Investor Worries Right Now by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

In the first of a regular series in my Informed Investing blog, let’s count down the top 10 things that give investors the willies in today’s investment environment. These are situations known to even casual investors, but may or may not be communicated to them effectively by their financial advisors.

2013-11-06 Is Economics a Science? by Robert Shiller of Project Syndicate

Though economics presents its own methodological problems, the basic challenges facing researchers are not fundamentally different from those faced by researchers in other fields. As economics develops, it will broaden its methods and sources of evidence, the science will become stronger, and the charlatans will be exposed.

2013-11-05 Restoring Market Trust by (Article)

The new board chair of IMCA says getting clients to be confident and fully allocated in the capital markets is a key challenge for financial advisors today.

2013-11-05 The Advisory Profession’s Best Web Sites by Bob Veres (Article)

His firm has created more than 2,000 websites for financial advisors. Bart Wisniowski, founder and CEO of Advisor Websites, has the best seat in the house to watch the rapidly evolving state-of-the-art in website design and feature sets in this age of social media, video blogs and smartphones. In a recent interview, Wisniowski not only talked about the latest developments and trends that he’s seeing; he also identified some of the advisory profession’s most interesting and creative websites.

2013-11-05 The Key Issues in Today’s Muni Bond Market by Hildy Richelson and Stan Richelson (Article)

Investing in high quality municipal bonds paying a predictable cash flow and returning your principal at the end of the investment is a well-trodden system for lifetime economic success. In this article we discuss some key issues in purchasing municipal bonds to help you make wise choices for your investing system.

2013-11-05 Three Trends That Will Change the Game for Advisors by Steve Lockshin (Article)

This article is excerpted from Steve Lockshin’s new book, Get Wise to Your Advisor. This book makes an impassioned argument as to why clients should choose independent advisors who adhere to a fiduciary standard.

2013-11-05 Combating Climate Change - And Responding to Skeptics by Michael Edesess (Article)

The climate-change threat is real, even if it is only a matter of probabilities. What action we should take, and how action should be brought about, are knotty problems. Harvard Business School’s Business and Environment Initiative (BEI) says they can be attacked with a business approach.

2013-11-05 Three Articles to Help Clients to Happy Retirements by Dan Richards (Article)

For many clients in their 50s and early 60s, the challenges to achieving happy and secure retirements have never been greater. Three recent articles will help you when talking to clients about retirement.

2013-11-05 How to Help Clients Who Hate the Holidays by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I deal with a number of clients who are very wealthy but are miserable around the holidays. Some are older and don’t have family members who see them, others are miserly and don’t feel they should use their money for gifts for people they don’t like. The conversation actually comes up with many of them every year, and I want to be prepared this year. Any ideas or tips?

2013-11-05 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Several readers respond to Bob Veres’ article, Why Deficits Don’t Matter, which was published last week. A reader responds to Adam Apt’s article, Is Gold Overpriced?, which was published Oct. 15, and a reader responds to the commentary, Scrooge McDucks, by Bill Gross of PIMCO, which appeared Oct. 31.

2013-11-05 Longevity Landscape with Joseph Coughlin of MIT by (Article)

As Baby Boomers age, their portfolio needs may require more than just income generation, says an MIT retirement expert.

2013-11-05 Geo Scores and Election Predictions by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

“It’s the economy, stupid.” I’m sure many of us remember that statement from a few years back. With a couple of gubernatorial and many mayoral elections at hand, I thought it might be fun to provide our call on these races by looking at how the economies of those States and cities have fared over the past year. If it is indeed “the economy, stupid,” the below may provide some insight into where incumbents are safe and where change may come. This report will print longer due to the inclusion of more tables than usual.

2013-11-05 Skepticism Still Abounds by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities were mixed last week as the markets were broadly unchanged. The October FOMC statement was a bit more hawkish than expected, causing concern that the recent delay in tapering may have been too aggressive. Other worries appear to be tail risks surrounding a possible Fed liquidity trap and accompanying asset bubbles. Economic data were mixed as markets struggle with the trade-offs between recovery and policy normalization.

2013-11-05 Ex-US Property Bubble Peaking? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

For several years now, a common storyline on China was the immense overcapacity in the country’s housing market. A mixture of easy credit policies and officials’ explicit economic growth plans based on capital investment yielded construction on a massive scale across the countryside. So-called ghost towns emerged as the pace of building and the migration of rural citizens into these cities fell out of sync.

2013-11-05 U.S. Financial Market Red Flags by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

The latest American Association of Individual Investors survey showed the lowest amount of pessimism about the U.S. financial markets in the past 21 months, while optimism in the survey is the highest it’s been in the past 10 months. This is a red flag because historically it’s typically a sign that investors are becoming too complacent. Call me a contrarian if you like, but when "Joe (or Jane) Donut" is excited about the economy, watch out for falling equities.

2013-11-05 The Saudi Tribulation by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

In this report, we will discuss the basic history of U.S. and Saudi relations, focusing on the historical commonality of goals between the two nations. We will detail how the aims of the two nations have diverged since the Cold War ended and use this to examine America’s evolving plans for the Middle East. We will discuss how the evolution of U.S. policy is affecting Saudi Arabia and the pressures these changes are bringing to the kingdom. As always, we will conclude with market ramifications.

2013-11-05 Stormy Weather by David Wismer of Flexible Plan Investments

Young and old alike celebrated Halloween last week, albeit in soggy fashion in much of the nation.

2013-11-05 Even Economists Get Stuck Looking in the Rearview Mirror by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Will the US economy grow in an above-average way in the next ten to twenty years or do we need to resign ourselves to an era of anemic economic growth? Two pieces of information came out this week, adding to existing information on the subject and speak to this core debate in the US stock market. The first piece was called “Slowing to a Crawl” by Jonathan Laing from Barron’s.

2013-11-05 Don't Miss This Golden Cross in Resources by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

While investors have been focusing on the strengthening U.S. market, we’ve also kept our eyes on other improving indicators happening in resources, Europe, and emerging markets. These places may not be as widely popular, but we believe investors can benefit greatly from taking a view that’s different from the ones observed by the majority.

2013-11-05 Fed in Holding Pattern, but for How Long? by Christopher Molumphy of Franklin Templeton

At its October 29-30 policy meeting, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) again put off the so-called “tapering” of its $85 billion-a-month asset purchase plan, now over a year old, until some future date. In an official statement released at the conclusion of the meeting, the Fed cited fiscal policy issues as restraining growth and said it will continue its quantitative easing program (known as “QE”) until the job market improves “substantially.”

2013-11-04 Bubbles in the Broth by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate

As below-trend GDP growth and high unemployment continue to afflict most advanced economies, their central banks have served up an alphabet soup of unconventional monetary policy measures. But, with asset prices continuing to rise, many countries may have more helpings than they can stand.

2013-11-04 Steve Jobs Didn't Give a *!@% About the Debt Ceiling by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital

A quick nod to Bloomberg columnist Caroline Baum from whom we lifted our title. Anything else you might have been (or will be) subjected to on the subject of how the government operates pales in materiality to the headline. And as miserable as our predicament seems to anyone over the age of 13, it really and truly is old and increasingly dull news. To wit, I present the following, highly curated list of quotes-please note the timeline.

2013-11-04 Sovereign Ambitions to Develop Infrastructure Benefit Emerging Asia's Utilities Sector by Raja Mukherji, Emily Au-Yeung of PIMCO

The scope for infrastructure development in emerging Asia is tremendous, and the utilities sector has potential to contribute to and benefit from that growth. In general, we have found that state-owned utilities benefit from a range of operational advantages, partly as a result of the government’s vested interest. PIMCO’s bottom-up research allows us to analyze evolving company- and sector-specific factors within the greater macroeconomic picture to identify the best investment ideas in Asia’s utilities sector.

2013-11-04 Mortgage REITs: Last Chance to Exit? by Keith Jurow of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

An online advertisement raises the following question often asked by your clients: Can you find me more income? In a nutshell, that is the dilemma facing high net worth investors.

2013-11-04 Leash the Dogma by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

It’s fascinating to hear central bankers talk about the economy, because in the span of a few seconds they can say so many things that simply aren’t supported by the evidence. For anyone planning to watch the confirmation hearings for the next Fed Chair, the evidence below is provided as something of a leash to restrain the attacking dogma.

2013-11-04 Why Wealth Taxes Are Not Enough by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

The IMF is right on grounds of both fairness and efficiency to raise the idea of temporary wealth taxes in many countries. But, as appealing as such taxes may seem at first sight, a closer look reveals that the revenues are lower, and the costs higher, than calculations used to promote them would imply.

2013-11-04 How I Explain Amazon's Stock Performance by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Amazon (AMZN) is a stock that seems to defy conventional wisdom about how a stock is, or should be, valued. Fundamental investors, like yours truly, recognize and respect the importance of the earnings and price relationship. Moreover, I will be so bold as to emphatically state that in the long run profitability (earnings) will be the primary determinant of a businesses’ fair value, any business. However, my bold statement is predicated on the longer run. In the short run it is often a truth that all bets are off.

2013-11-04 What Price for Growth? by Equity Investment Team of Janus Capital Group

Cloud computing and social media are bringing a level of disruption and innovation not seen in the technology sector since the dot-com era. The troubling aspect is that valuations for many of these companies seem just as stretched as Internet stocks were back then. We think investors may be paying too much for the growth inherent in these companies.

2013-11-04 More #PlowHorse in Q3 by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Despite the shutdown, the sequester, talk of tapering, and meteors in the night sky, the US economy just keeps plowing along. Reported later this week, we expect Q3 real GDP grew right on trend at a 1.9% rate another, #PlowHorse report.

2013-11-04 The Great Stall of China by Steve Cao, Mark Jason of Invesco Blog

While China is without question the growth driver and the outperformer among Asian emerging markets, it’s clear the country is transitioning toward slower growth because of demographic factors and domestic rebalancing. In our view, China is entering a multiyear period of slower growth, but we consider its future growth robust and sustainable when compared with overall global gross domestic product (GDP) growth -- albeit below the annualized pace of more than 10% China experienced from 2001 to 2010.

2013-11-02 Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere by John Mauldin of Mauldin Economics

The froth and foam on markets of all shapes and sizes all over the world. It is an exhilarating feeling, and the pundits who populate the media outlets are bubbling over with it. There is nothing like a rising market to help lift our mood. Unless of course, as Prof. Kindleberger famously cautioned, we are not participating in that rising market. Then we feel like losers. But what if the rising market is a bubble? Are we smart enough to ride and then step aside before it bursts? Research says we all think that we are, yet we rarely demonstrate the actual ability.

2013-11-01 Bank Reform: Europe's Slow and Steady Progress Continues by Monty Guild, Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

When Spain’s real estate bubble burst in 2008, the country went into a recession. The country was returning to growth in 2010, just in time to be taken down by the continent’s emerging banking and sovereign debt crisis.

2013-11-01 4 Reasons Japan Could Continue to be the Land of the Rising Stock Market by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Japan has been the land of rising stocks this year -- Japanese equities are up nearly 40% year-to-date. Russ explains why he believes the market offers more upside potential and a near-term opportunity for tactical investors able to hedge the currency exposure.

2013-11-01 Is the Stock Market Cheap? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

ere is a new update of a popular market valuation method using the most recent Standard & Poor’s "as reported" earnings and earnings estimates and the index monthly averages of daily closes for the past month, which is 1720.03.

2013-11-01 Where Do Profits Go from Here? Up. Here's Why. by Joseph Tanious, Anthony Wile of J.P. Morgan Funds

After record-setting earnings in the first two quarters of 2013, the S&P 500 is on track to hit another historic high in profits for 3Q13. If this occurs, the first three quarters of this year will have been the most profitable ever in the 56-year history of the S&P 500. Future earnings growth through margin expansion seems unlikely, as an improving labor market and higher interest rates will most likely squeeze margins. However, stable revenue growth, share buybacks and the additional use of debt financing should support modest earnings gains in the year ahead.

2013-11-01 What the End of a Greek Tragedy Means for Investors by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

After six long years, Greece’s economy is finally expected to grow in 2014. GDP expectations of 0.6 percent next year is a remarkable improvement compared to a loss of 4 percent this year. In addition to rising GDP, here are a few other significant changes from Greece lately:

2013-11-01 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.5, up from last week’s 131.1. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, dropped to 1.7, down from 2.0 last week.

2013-11-01 Risk Management: An Ounce of Prevention by Seth Masters, Daniel Loewy, Martin Atkin of AllianceBernstein

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But if the sickness is excessive portfolio volatility, “prevention” can entail more than one step.

2013-11-01 When Small is Big by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

There’s a popular saying in the US, “good things come in small packages,” which is generally a statement about gifts of jewelry. My team and I find this saying can apply to the investment world, too, as we often find companies that are small in size, but which may have big long-term potential.

2013-11-01 Emerging Markets Equity Commentary by Team of Thomas White International

Emerging market equity prices saw a robust recovery in September as investor concerns about slower capital inflows to these markets faded after the U.S. Federal Reserve unexpectedly decided to delay the tapering of bond purchases.

2013-11-01 Korea Raises Voice for Shareholders by Soo Chang Lee of Matthews Asia

Corporate governance practices in South Korea’s family-controlled conglomerates, known as chaebol, find their roots in a social contract that was implicit in the process of the country’s economic development under military dictatorship, which began in the early 1960s. Korea’s previously autocratic government initiated economic plans and wielded power in the private sector by assigning different areas of development to each of several chosen corporate families.

2013-11-01 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

The public needs to move beyond its bad feelings toward financial institutions. Should we modify the price stability mandate of central banks? The Fed offers no surprises.

2013-10-31 Third Quarter Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital

Despite the recent shenanigans in Washington concerning funding the government and raising the debt ceiling, as well as the constant news coverage of the quantitative easing “taper” that the Federal Reserve may or may not begin, we are going to spare (at least for this quarter) both you and us another long discussion of these very real issues.

2013-10-31 Global Economic Outlook by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The United States avoided a fiscal accident after Congress struck a deal to end the partial government shutdown and bought time to resolve differences over the federal budget. Assuming political discord will not result in another standoff, the U.S. economy is projected to show steady and stronger growth in 2014 compared with 2013.

2013-10-31 A Bit More Hawkish, All Things Considered by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Today’s statement from the Federal Reserve was almost a carbon copy of the last one in September. No changes to the pace of quantitative easing or interest rates, which is exactly as the consensus expected. The Fed made only minor changes to the text of the statement, making it slightly more hawkish in one spot and slightly more dovish in another.

2013-10-31 Fund Flows Shift Dramatically This Year as Investors Embrace Risk by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

The Federal Reserve has been trying for almost five years to coax savers and investors into stocks by printing money to inflate the prices of assets in general and U.S. stocks in particular. The Fed finally seems to be succeeding. We are witnessing the biggest shift in fund flows since the crash of 2008.

2013-10-31 A Rebound in Global Equities by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

With the U.S. economic expansion entering its fifth year and the global economic picture improving, it appears equities in Europe and Asia can still rise.

2013-10-31 Fed Outlook for the Short and Longer Run by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

One of the ironies of Ben Bernanke’s tenure is that he set out with a goal to improve Fed communication while in office. Immediately after his first meeting as chairman in March 2006, Bernanke set up a subcommittee tasked with facilitating debate around communication issuesincluding inflation targeting, post-meeting statements and minutes and public speeches by individual Fed officials.

2013-10-31 The Age of Experimentation (Global Economic Outlook for Fourth Quarter 2013) by Robert Scherfke of Hartford Funds

Macroanalyst Robert Scherfke, PhD discusses the progress global economies have made since 2008 and the challenges officials face as they normalize fiscal policies.

2013-10-31 What's Your Plan for Getting Punched in the Mouth? by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

Planning to win is where you should start. But what if your opponent hits back...?

2013-10-31 Scrooge McDucks by William Gross of PIMCO

With the budget and debt ceiling crises temporarily averted, perhaps a future economic priority will be to promote economic growth; one way to do that may be via tax reform. How to proceed depends as always on the view of the observer and whether the glasses are worn by capital, labor or government interests.

2013-10-31 The Pillars of Commodities Investing - Part Two by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

The world has become a smaller place and in no small part because of the internet. The internet has improved access to information and services to the individual as never before. But of course it I like a two-edged sword, while it has produced many benefits for society, at the same time it has increased some risks.

2013-10-31 International Equity Commentary by Team of Thomas White International

International equity prices saw robust gains in September as the U.S. Federal Reserve unexpectedly refrained from reducing its bond purchase programs. In addition, the lowering of the U.S. growth forecast by the Fed lifted investor optimism that the quantitative easing is likely to be wound down at a very gradual pace.

2013-10-30 The Thermometer of the Stock Market by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

As long-duration owners of common stock, we believe it is the wealth created by the businesses which causes the owners to prosper. We have also been participants in the US stock market since 1980 and are very aware of big swings in enthusiasm for owning common stocks. So we thought it would be helpful to share our opinion on the current temperature of the market. To take the temperature of the market we need to examine the thermometer readings.

2013-10-30 The S&P 500 Has Not Been Particularly Difficult to Beat by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

I know this statement is in direct conflict with the teachings of modern finance. Modern finance provides us with multiple studies that, if taken at face value, offer a pretty convincing case that the ability to earn better than average returns is a fool’s game. Yet, our human nature cannot accept being average.

2013-10-30 US Economy Mired in a Sea of Contradictions by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Consumer confidence has plunged over the last month, due in large part to the government shutdown and fear that the US might default on its debt because of the ineptitude of our leaders in Washington. Normally, when consumer confidence plunges, we would expect a significant slowdown in consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of GDP.

2013-10-30 Bernanke vs. Yellen: A Spooky Outlook? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

Fed Chair nominee Janet Yellen will take over where her predecessor Ben Bernanke leaves off. Not just operationally, but also philosophically. To understand where the Fed and the U.S. dollar may be heading, we take a closer look at where Bernanke and Yellen are coming from.

2013-10-30 Fed Tapering Could Be Off The Table Until 2014 by Michael Materasso of Franklin Templeton

Sometimes, hindsight is insight. The mystery of why the Federal Reserve didn’t start pulling back or “tapering” its prolonged quantitative easing program at its September policy meeting seems more clear now that we’ve experienced the fallout from the fraying of US fiscal policy soon thereafter, including a 16-day government shutdown in October. Given that the Congressional agreement reached in October only funds the government through January 15 and extends the debt ceiling through February 7, more political grandstandingand economic consequencescould lie ahead.

2013-10-30 Getting Back into Value Equities by Kevin Simms of AllianceBernstein

It finally feels like a great time to be a value investor again. After several challenging years, market conditions have become much more conducive to finding undervalued, controversial stocks with long-term payoff potential. Even after this year’s equity-market rally, we think the value rebound is just beginning.

2013-10-30 Why Stocks Advance Despite Mediocre Economic Data by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

The basic takeaway from last week’s economic data seems to be that we’re still in a world of 2% US economic growth with little evidence of a pickup. Yet stock markets have advanced and can move higher over the next six to 12 months? Russ explains why.

2013-10-29 Career Opportunities by Advisor Perspectives (Article)

We are posting career opportunities for firms that seek to add financial advisors and planners to their staff. Read more to find out how to post opportunities at your firm.

2013-10-29 Seeking Dividend Growth by Alex Crooke (Article)

Alex Crooke, co-manager of the Global Equity Income Fund, provides a 3rd quarter update on the Fund and its sector and geographic allocations. Overall, Alex still sees potential for operational leverage in a number of companies where topline growth can start picking up if economic growth improves. He feels they can still find attractive stocks with decent dividends and a potential for dividend growth.

2013-10-29 Defining the EM Corporate Bond Opportunity by Sponsored Content from Loomis Sayles (Article)

Finance is a numbers business. Investors study prices, yields, rates of return. However, when it comes to sizing up emerging markets, we think they should also pay attention to semantics. In the past, terming a country “emerging” made it synonymous with low credit quality and higher risk. But today, many emerging markets boast strong credit profiles while parts of the developed world buckle under heavy debt loads.

2013-10-29 Why Deficits Don’t Matter by Bob Veres (Article)

Stephanie Kelton, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri/Kansas City, believes that the root of our deficit problems can be found in a fundamental misunderstanding – shared by Democrats, Republicans and mainstream voters alike – about the government’s balance sheet. She argues, plausibly, that the whole idea that we should control the deficit at all is costing our nation trillions of dollars in lost output. The result is lost income, savings, wealth and prosperity.

2013-10-29 Can Financial Engineering Cure Cancer? by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Securitization and the collateralized obligations it produced led to the financial crisis and the near-collapse of the financial markets. But financial engineering’s bad reputation could turn around. Andrew Lo, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and director of its Laboratory for Financial Engineering, thinks financial engineering can cure cancer.

2013-10-29 Puerto Rico: “Always the money owing” by Hildy and Stan Richelson (Article)

We have not recommended or purchased Puerto Rico bonds for 12 years. This is not because we thought that Puerto Rico would imminently default. Rather, we did not like the low ratings and the Commonwealth’s ubiquitous and growing debt. We view an investment in bonds as a way to control risk, not to make outsized returns.

2013-10-29 How One Advisor Boosted His Team’s Performance by Dan Richards (Article)

Every advisor wants his or her support staff to operate to its full potential. A conversation last week with a senior manager at a leading bank provided insight into what advisors can learn from financial institutions on using variable compensation to drive performance.

2013-10-29 Seven Resources to Make You a Better Writer by Megan Elliott (Article)

Whether you’re crafting client emails, blog posts or market commentaries, you want your writing to be read, understood and (if you’re lucky) enjoyed by your intended audience. If you’re looking for inspiration, encouragement or just some basic writing tips, check out these resources.

2013-10-29 Six Tips for Better Communication by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

As an industry, we lack communication and people skills. Here are six tips to complement your technical and financial abilities with communication skills.

2013-10-29 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Readers respond to Michael Edesess and Kwok Tsui’s article, How Many Monkeys Does it Take to Find a Successful Strategy?, which appeared last week.

2013-10-29 India's Maoist Problem by Bill OGrady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

India has fought numerous wars with outside forces in its history and has also had several internal conflicts.The most notorious civil struggle has been the conflict with Kashmir insurgents, a border conflict between India and Pakistan that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.So it generally came as a surprise when the Indian Prime Minister Manmohn Singh declared the Maoist movement in the eastern part of the country to be the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by India.

2013-10-29 We Must Avoid Seeing the New Arctic through an Old World Lens by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

It would be easy to think those with a thirst for exploration were born too late - to assume that humanity has already reached every corner of the earth there is to discover. But one region - the Arctic - still contains uncharted mysteries.

2013-10-29 Only RED That You Have Seen in October... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

The markets felt a bit different this week. While equities finished with another weekly gain, it was lead to new highs by a new and interesting cast of characters: the Dow Industrials, Dividend Stocks (like Utilities & Industrials), Germany, the United Kingdom, Gold & Silver, and Long Maturity Treasuries. While everyone under invested in risk is hoping for a pullback, the rest who are equal or overweight seem to be looking to buy on any pullback.

2013-10-29 Is This the New Normal'? by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Markets Settle into a New “Normal” All sorts of economic data were released last week, but volatility has dropped: rightly or wrongly, market forecasts about the pace of quantitative easing (QE) and earnings growth in the U.S. appear to have coalesced around an outlook for “slow growth with ongoing QE”.

2013-10-29 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Nice to have a week free of politico rhetoric and distractions for a change (don’t get used to it). With little in the way of budget battles, investors focused on earnings and generally liked what they saw. Add in some positive economic news from China and a labor picture that should prompt the Fed to stay put (for now) and you have another record for the S&P.

2013-10-29 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

With most of the political wrangling and debate nearly over, one hopes, we are left to deal with the residue of their cacophony. Politically, I’m not astute enough to try and unravel the truths and un-truths spoken during the government budget debate and shutdown. But as an economic scientist, the numbers reveal an extraordinary landscape of congruent trendlines, missed opportunities, and plausible strategies for safely navigating the next 3 months.

2013-10-29 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

A very quiet week for stocks as earnings season kicked into high gear at last.

2013-10-29 Equities Reach All-Time HighsYet Again! by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities marked another all-time high last week as the S&P 500 increased 0.9%. (1) Global equities reached new cycle highs for the second week in a row. Many investors have concerns that the gains will not last since the world economy remains lackluster and the liquidity driving the current rally will eventually stop.

2013-10-28 Low-Volatility Strategies Challenge Conventional Ideas of Risk and Return by Joseph Becker of Invesco Blog

If asked to sum up in a single word their investing experience over the last 15 years, many investors would likely say, “volatile.”

2013-10-28 How Real Estate Impacts the US Economy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Despite appreciating more than 10% over the past year, home prices still look reasonable and housing affordable. However, while there is little risk of another housing bubble, a significant pickup in interest rates could dampen housing activity and by extension, the recovery.

2013-10-28 The Grand Superstition by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

One thing that separates humans from animals is the ability to evaluate whether there is really any actual mechanistic link between cause and effect. When we stop looking for those links, and believe that one thing causes another because “it just does” we give up the benefits of human intelligence and exchange them for the reflexive impulses of lemmings, sheep, and pigeons.

2013-10-28 For Maximum Total Return Go for Growth by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Not all investors are the same. Therefore, not all investors share the same goals and objectives. Consequently, there are numerous strategies and investing methods available to choose from. Moreover, it also goes without saying that the investment strategy that’s right for me may not be right for you. For that reason, it’s imperative that each individual looks for the strategy that is right for their own individual goals, objectives, risk tolerances and status. By status, I’m referring to how many years you have left before retirement.

2013-10-28 Beyond the Noise, More of the Same? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Delayed economic data reports have begun to arrive. The figures point to a disappointing 3Q13 (relative to expectations) and the partial government shutdown is unlikely to help in 4Q13. The recovery had been poised for improvement this year, but fiscal policy has been a major headwind. Economic figures will be distorted in October (due to the government shutdown) and in November (due to the rebound from the shutdown). Yet, beyond the noise, the underlying pace of growth is likely to remain disappointing in the near term. Is there hope for 2014?

2013-10-28 A Different Perspective by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

In last Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal there was a story titled “No Rocket? Venture to Sell Balloon Trip Into Space.” The article began, “Space tourism may not be rocket science after all. An Arizona company wants to develop high-altitude balloons to send thrill seekers to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere. The trips would cost less than other proposed space jaunts, but passengers wouldn’t experience the same intensity of weightlessness.”

2013-10-28 Crawling, Economic Impact of Stubbing Your Toe and Employment by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

I have to admit, I had a lot of trouble figuring out where to start this week -- unemployment from last week, post-shutdown observations, exports or sobering observations around expected growth of the US economy and expected implications. It was a Barron’s article, “Slowing to a Crawl” that pushed me to address the latter first. Why? Much of what the article focuses on hit very close to home the impact of demographics and economic data on our economies.

2013-10-28 The Markets in a Tug of War in the Short Run by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

As the damage to sentiment that was brought about by the Washington “Drama Club,” a somewhat cautious number has come about. On October 21, 2013, the Wall Street Journal had an article detailing margin debt hitting new highs which counteracts some of the investor sentiment numbers that are detailed by several sources. To get a better understanding, we ran the margin debt as a percentage of corporate equities over the last 25 years.

2013-10-28 Fear of Debt Spiral Misplaced by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Now that things have settled down in Washington DC, politicians are focusing on a “grand compromise” to fix the budget. Without reform, growth in entitlements will eventually push federal spending back to levels last seen in World War II.

2013-10-28 Jobs, Jobs, Jobs by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Following an extended delay, investors were disappointed (sort of) to learn that the September payroll report was another dud. The headline figure was below expectations, but investors were largely comforted by knowing this likely extended QE3 further into the future.

2013-10-28 Healthcare Costs: Relief at Last? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Some observers believe medical cost increases have begun to abate amid the onset of the Affordable Care Act. The evidence isn’t there yet.

2013-10-28 The Website is Fixable, Obamacare Isn't by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Since Obamacare made its debut, discussions have focused on Ted Cruz’ efforts to defund the law and the shockingly bad functionality of the Website itself. Fortunately for Obama, polling indicates that Senator Cruz has lost, at least for now, the battle for hearts and minds. The President has not been nearly so lucky on the technological front.

2013-10-28 Why Growth is Deep in the Heart of Texas by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

A recent TIME Magazine cover features an engaging collage of the 50 states reassembled to fit within the boundaries of Texas. With a growing number of solid-paying jobs, affordable housing, and low taxes, “the Lone Star State is America’s Future,” declares economist and writer Tyler Cowen.

2013-10-26 Housing Bargains Harder to Find by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting

While mortgage rates remain near historical lows, home prices have come back strong.Thanks to strong price appreciation, the ratio of Median Home Price / Median Household Income now exceeds historical averages (since 1981) in 20 of the top 21 housing markets.

2013-10-26 Portfolio Turnover: What Industry “Experts'' Are Missing by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Drawing conclusions about tax efficiency of a money manager or other investment vehicle based solely on trading turnover is shortsighted and can cause you to bypass some very good potential investments and investment strategies. Keep that in mind as year-end portfolio tax planning rolls around.

2013-10-26 Inflation Update by Team of North Peak Asset Management

Historically the larger the increase in monthly inflation, the worse mainstream stocks and nominal bonds perform.

2013-10-26 A Code Red World by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The heart of this week’s letter is the introduction of my just-released new book, Code Red. It is my own take (along with co-author Jonathan Tepper) on the problems that have grown out of an unrelenting assault on monetary norms by central banks around the world.

2013-10-26 Why U.S. Dollar Will Remain World\'s Reserve Currency, Despite Political Brinkmanship by Tatjana Michel of Charles Schwab

The U.S. dollar is not likely to lose its premier world reserve-currency status anytime soon. But continuing U.S. political brinkmanship could drive foreign countries into other currencies faster. With the market focus shifting to monetary policy and growth, we expect a Fed taper delay to give foreign currencies some time to recover.

2013-10-25 The Deserted Island Portfolio by John West of Research Affiliates

What would a Deserted Island investment portfolio look like, managed without the distractions of cable news and short-term benchmark comparisons?

2013-10-25 Environmental Awareness in Asia by In-Bok Song of Matthews Asia

I traveled to China in September, quite possibly one of the best times of the year to visit in terms of weather. The air quality in both Beijing and Shanghai was actually pleasant and was very different from how it seemed during my previous visits as well as from the typical accounts one usually hears of the notorious smog in China’s major cities. It made me think about growing up during the industrialization of my home country, South Korea.

2013-10-25 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.1, up from last week’s 130.3 (revised from 130.4). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, dropped to 2.0, down from 2.7 (a downward revision from 2.8).

2013-10-25 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

The upcoming check-up of eurozone banks is long overdue. Quantitative easing is having little impact on U.S. bank lending. China needs to do more to stress consumption.

2013-10-25 Why Growth is Deep in the Heart of Texas by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

TIME Magazine’s cover this week features an engaging collage of the 50 states reassembled to fit within the boundaries of Texas. With a growing number of solid-paying jobs, affordable housing, and low taxes, “the Lone Star State is America’s Future,” declares economist and writer Tyler Cowen.

2013-10-25 Quarterly Review and Outlook by Van Hoisington, Lacy Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

When an economy is excessively over-indebted and disinflationary factors have forced central banks to make overnight interest rates as close to zero as possible, central bank policy has repeatedly proved powerless to further move inflation or growth metrics. Four considerations suggest the Fed will continue to be unsuccessful in engineering stronger growth and higher inflation with their continuation of the current program of Large Scale Asset Purchases.

2013-10-24 Risk-On Returns by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Ultra loose U.S. monetary policy continues pushing asset values higher at home and abroad. Seasonal factors should also provide a tailwind and lift asset prices across nearly every investment class.

2013-10-24 The Pillars of Commodities Investing by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

As an advisor your job is to know the most secure places to invest one’s money. This difficult task only becomes more difficult when confronted with demands for an alternative investment.

2013-10-24 Trying to Stop a Bull Market Has Risks by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

U.S. stocks have been on a tear. The S&P 500 Index has climbed a surprising 20 percent so far this year, as a global synchronized recovery takes shape and funds flow back to equities. As I often say, investors take risks when they try to stop a bull run, and plenty of data suggest you might regret taking that action this year.

2013-10-24 Africa's “Glass With Attitude” by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Africa has been an area of interest to our team, for many reasons. One might say Africa’s biggest asset is its youthful population. With a median age of under 20 in many countries today, that means a very high portion of Africa’s population is dependent on the adult workforce. Tomorrow, however, it means that the workforce will be massive, and the ratio of dependents to workers (the dependency ratio) could be among the lowest in the world. This huge and youthful population is a key rationale for our interest there.

2013-10-24 Putting Tax-Deferred Accounts to Best Use by Kathleen Fisher, Tara Thompson Popernik of AllianceBernstein

The common wisdom about retirement planning is to fund tax-deferred vehicles such as 401(k) plans and IRAs to the maxand we agree. But how to put these accounts to best use is more complicated.

2013-10-24 Going Defensive? 3 Things to Consider First by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

With the threat of a default merely pushed out a few months, many investors continue to allocate to so-called “defensive” investments. However, because going defensive is not a free lunch, Russ says it’s important for investors to consider three aspects of their potential defensive postures.

2013-10-24 Glory Days: Could They Come Back for US Equities? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

A "great rotation" may not be underway by individual investors; even amid record-breaking outflows from bond funds this summer. But fund flow data do show some shift in preferences and highlight the sensitivity of investors to any rise in longer-term interest rates. A more interesting place to look is at the fiduciary community; that has decidedly shifted its attention away from traditional equities (and fixed income) over the past decade.

2013-10-23 Singaporean Consumer Consumption and Confidence is Weak - Should Investors Worry? by Team of Manning & Napier

Singapore is the world’s 35th largest economy by nominal GDP, yet ranks 6th in the world by GDP per capita, signifying its position as an advanced and highly-productive economy. With an efficient regulatory framework, low tax rates, and a flexible labor market, Singapore has a reputation for being one of the most business-friendly countries in the world.

2013-10-23 At 40 I'm Half Dead by Liam Molloy, Bethany Carlson of Galway Investment Strategy

So goes comedian Louis CK’s bit about hitting middle age. “Not old enough for anyone to care that you’re old. Not young enough for anyone to be proud of you or impressed.” And as we head into the backstretch of this economic cycle, that same cynicism and resignation seems to be settling right in. The glory days of riding the upward slope when almost everything was screamingly cheap in 2009 are behind us.

2013-10-23 The Right Investment Vehicle by Craig French of WBI Investments

Remember your first car? You probably had some good times in it passing your driver’s license exam, going to the prom, driving to your first job. You most likely have a different car now that you’re older one more suited to your current lifestyle and needs. I’ll bet your current car is a lot safer and more reliable than that first one. A car is a motor vehicle you use to reach your destination. Like a car, an investment portfolio is a vehicle you use to reach your clients investment goals.

2013-10-23 Lack of Earnings of U.S. companies Scarier Than Washington Grid-lock by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

I think U.S. investors believe whatever happens in Congress, there will always be a last minute deal, which is the main reason for the recent major stock market surge on nothing more than hope. The markets, of late, have not been trading on fundamentals; they have been trading on news. This is a dangerous phenomenon, when news is bad; there is no backstop to the market. It causes volatility to surge and institutional confidence to falter.

2013-10-23 Shifting Gears: The Fed Turns from Tapering to Tempering Expectations by Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson of Hartford Funds

Federal Reserve (Fed) Chairman Ben Bernanke surprised markets on September 18 by announcing a continuation of the Fed’s $85 billion-per-month bond purchases and more muted expectations for economic growth and inflation. With this proverbial monkey wrench thrown into the gears of financial markets, investors are now asking how the Fed’s new course changes the investment outlook.

2013-10-23 Lackluster Employment Report Leaves Fed on Hold by Team of Northern Trust

The sluggish hiring pace visible in the September employment report justifies the Federal Reserve’s decision to postpone tapering of asset purchases. Data for the September report were gathered prior to the government shutdown, but October employment numbers will contain distortions arising from not collecting data during the typical survey period, rendering comparisons difficult.

2013-10-23 Is Your Stock Portfolio Up Over 30% This Year? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

This is the question I get most from nervous investors who are trying to decide where to put their money in these troubled and unprecedented times. And why not? After all, we’ve got government shutdowns, debt default risk, $17 trillion in national debt, the Fed printing trillions of dollars in new money, healthcare uncertainty, threats of war abroad, etc., etc.

2013-10-23 What a Yellen Fed Could Mean for Interest Rates by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

A major question among investors after Janet Yellen’s nomination for Fed Chair is whether she will be too soft on inflation. Part of Yellen’s dovish reputation stems from a debate among the FOMC in July 1996, in which she warned the committee about the risks of pushing inflation too low. With the passage of time, however, the views Yellen expressed at that meeting now come across as very sensible. Indeed, today they would be considered uncontroversial among most economists. In reality Yellen is closer to the Fed consensus on inflation than her reputation in markets would suggest.

2013-10-23 Investment Bulletin: Global Equity Strategy by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

The portfolio enjoyed another index-beating month with a gain of 0.9% versus 0.6%, so improving further the long term numbers. As noted in previous Bulletins, correlations between growth and equity market returns are low. Investors remain fixated otherwise, but some confusion is reasonable given that growth in earnings per share is also slowing. Yet strong equity markets can be justified by the Free Lunch Theory.

2013-10-23 Can Kicked Down the Road Once Again... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Donkeys 1, Elephants 0, Congress -535. The can was kicked down the road once again. We would all like to think that Congress will avoid another last minute battle in early 2014, but unfortunately we can’t put it past the current list of non-negotiators. The only thing that is certain in the future is that it will be many election cycles before a member of Congress makes it into the World Series of U.S. Presidential ballots.

2013-10-23 Positioning for Municipal Market Volatility by Joseph Deane, David Hammer, Sean McCarthy of PIMCO

We do not anticipate a significant increase in the frequency of municipal defaults, but there are pockets of credit stress in U.S. municipalities and territories, particularly those with unfunded pension obligations and unsustainable budget imbalances. Large concentrations of exposure to Puerto Rico within subsets of the municipal market will likely lead to an increase in spread volatility across other municipal sectors in the coming quarters.

2013-10-23 Economic & Capital Market Summary by Gregory Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management

It has been five years since the Financial Crisis wreaked havoc on the economy and capital markets. With equity markets trading near record highs and new issue corporate bonds coming to market regularly, the capital markets have largely recovered. However, we are concerned that the economic recovery is just an illusion that exists in spite of the efforts in Washington D.C. to kill it.

2013-10-23 I Thought The Safety Was On by Liam Molloy, Bethany Carlson, Charlie Mas of Galway Investment Strategy

For the past thirty years investors could allocate a portion of their portfolio to investment grade bonds and regard that money as “safe”. Wealth preservation was easy buy a ladder of Treasuries or triple-A rated corporates and go back to bed. That perceived safety was a direct result of a continuing, if not steady, decline in interest rates.

2013-10-23 Cirque du Ben by Liam Molloy, Charlie Mas of Galway Investment Strategy

The Cirque du Ben will soon be leaving town for good. Some have cheered while others have watched in horror waiting for the disaster, but all were treated to a high wire act unlike any other Fed chairman has ever performed. Fed chairmen are often defined by the consequences of the previous performer. Bernanke had a couple of tough acts to follow in Volcker and Greenspan. Volcker had to guide an economy out of stagflation while Greenspan presided over 9/11, two recessions, and a full market crash in 1987. By the end of his his show, Greenspan had an oversized influence on policy.

2013-10-23 Emerging Europe: Regional Economic Review - 3Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

In its latest World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) further trimmed its forecast for global growth. The Washington-based lender said expansion will be driven more by developed economies as emerging markets grapple with slowing growth and a tighter global financial scenario as interest rates hint of trending higher in advanced economies such as the United States. However, a reading of economic tea leaves for the Euro-zone and economies such as Russia, Turkey, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic offers room for optimism.

2013-10-23 Engaging Female Clients by (Article)

Advisors seeking to engage female clients need to focus on building credibility and winning their trust, according to a special report from Marie Dzanis of FlexShares ETFs.

2013-10-22 What does Human Finance Mean to You by TDAI Advisors (Article)

At TD Ameritrade Institutional, we always ask ourselves what's behind the numbers. We know that finance is really about managing the hopes and dreams of people, not pie charts.

2013-10-22 Go Where the Growth Is by George Evans (Article)

This video touches on global investment opportunities that OppenheimerFunds offers.

2013-10-22 Recession-Proof Your Marketing by Kristen Luke (Article)

The choices you make and actions you take today will influence how your business fares following the next market crash. Here are two marketing strategies you can implement now to prepare for the future.

2013-10-22 Is Your Website Sending the Wrong Message? by Dan Richards (Article)

Presenting yourself in a credible and professional manner is always critical, but never more than in the early stages of interacting with prospects, when they are forming their initial impressions. That’s why your website is so important – after all, it’s the first contact many prospects will have with you.

2013-10-22 Bond Legend Dan Fuss on Rising Rates by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Having just celebrated his 80th birthday, Dan Fuss can claim a unique achievement – his tenure in the fixed income markets has spanned a full market cycle, from the great bear market that began in the early 1950s through the equally great bull market that commenced in 1981. Fuss said today’s environment most closely resembles what he confronted in the late 1950s, when long-term rates were 3% and beginning their march upwards.

2013-10-22 Managing Old-School Advisors by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

One of our top advisors is still putting client notes into paper-based folders. He’s a senior guy who has an old-school work style. How can I make him understand he can’t be singled out and treated differently?

2013-10-22 How Many Monkeys Does it Take to Find a Successful Strategy? by Michael Edesess and Kwok L. Tsui (Article)

Give a monkey enough darts and she will eventually hit the bulls-eye on a dartboard. We wouldn’t dare consider that monkey an expert dart thrower, but investment professionals have been using essentially that same logic to assert that their strategies – often called “smart betas” – will outperform the market. New research exposes the faulty mathematics upon which such claims are based.

2013-10-22 Revisiting the Debate Over the DFA Research by Scott MacKillop (Article)

DFA’s supporters have elevated that firm’s investment philosophy to the level of religious doctrine. The pitch and fervor expressed in the recent debate over its research suggest that Michael Edesess sinned mightily by questioning the faith. However, an examination of DFA’s approach to investing suggests a more measured reaction: The firm’s approach is sound, but it falls short of the magic that its disciples impart to it.

2013-10-22 Venerated Voices™ by Various (Article)

Advisor Perspectives, a leading publisher serving financial advisors and the financial advisory community, has announced its Venerated Voices™ awards for articles published in Q3 2013.

2013-10-22 Inching Closer by Sponsored Content from Janus Capital Group (Article)

How is the recent flooding in Colorado related to global economies and the financial crisis of 2008? Get a unique perspective from Colleen Denzler, CFA, Janus’ Global Head of Fixed Income Strategy, on how global economies are grappling to wean themselves off government support and grow their economies from within.

2013-10-22 Rolling Returns: A Better Way to Measure Performance by Sponsored Content from The Royce Funds (Article)

Though calendar-year returns are among the more common measurements of a portfolio’s performance, rolling returns arguably offer a more compelling story. They provide a particularly robust analytical tool for evaluating manager performance, especially during volatile periods.

2013-10-22 Washington Strikes a No-Surprise Deal - Now What? by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Congress called a time-out in the budget/debt fight last week, striking a deal to avoid default and fund the U.S. government through January 15, 2014 and raise the debt limit through February 7, 2014. While the parties agreed to budget talks, they did not commit to reaching an agreement (technically, Paul Ryan and Patty Murray, the House and Senate budget committee chairs will begin a process of fiscal negotiations, due to wrap up by mid-December).

2013-10-22 China's Wake-Up Call from Washington by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

With 90 days left to bridge the ideological and partisan divide before another crisis erupts, the fuse on America’s debt bomb is getting shorter and shorter. As a dysfunctional US government peers into the abyss, China America’s largest foreign creditor has much at stake.

2013-10-22 Earnings Season Hides in the Government Shadow by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Lost in all the discussion about Washington is the fact earnings season is in full swing.It is shaping up to be another interesting reporting season, on account of volatility in the markets and economy.So far, companies are beating expectations, but the broader trend is lower.

2013-10-22 A Green Light for Gold? by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

It is rare that investors are given a road map. It is rarer still that the vast majority of those who get it are unable to understand the clear signs and directions it contains. When this happens the few who can actually read the map find themselves in an enviable position. Such is currently the case with gold and gold-related investments.

2013-10-22 Fixing Economy As Easy As 1-2-3 by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

With the economy stuck in first gear, a couple of common sense steps that wouldn’t cost taxpayers an arm and a leg could help the economy shift into a higher gear.

2013-10-22 Could US Issues Lead Investors to Emerging Markets? by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

The US government had been shuttered for more than two weeks, and investors around the world, including those in emerging markets, have been watching the impasse and beginning to plan in the event of a default of US government debt. Late Wednesday, the US Congress agreed to a short-term extension of the debt ceiling until February and set the stage for the government to reopen. However, a definitive, long-term solution to the nation’s debt issues was still not reached and we could see a repeat of the political dysfunction.

2013-10-22 After the Minimalist Debt Ceiling Deal: The Good & Bad News by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Last week, investors cheered that Washington finally reached a last-minute debt ceiling deal. But despite their big sigh of relief, the debt ceiling deal wasn’t all good news. Russ provides a quick look at the good, the bad and the investing implications of the compromise.

2013-10-22 A by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

State and local government revenues have finally started growing again. The resultant boost to spending and hiring should aid the economy.

2013-10-22 The Fiscal Follies, the Economy, and the Fed by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The deal reached last week does not remove uncertainty about the budget and debt ceiling. We could go through a similar crisis in three months. The hope is that lawmakers will learn from the recent experience and work together.

2013-10-22 The Boys Are Back in Town by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

The boys are indeed back in town as Washington D.C. opened its doors for business as usual last week following a contentious debt ceiling debate and a 16-day shutdown of the government. This outcome had been anticipated in these letters for often-stated reasons, and just like when the ”fiscal cliff” was averted, I now expect the media to turn its focus to the next Armageddon.

2013-10-22 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Last month, a Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of non-retired investors showed just how lingering the hangover is from the financial crisis five years ago. Much like the Great Depression financially scared their great grandparents and grandparents, the Great Recession is impacting investors’ expectations about the future.

2013-10-22 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

The gov is back in biz (so get back to work). Investors were pleased (for now).

2013-10-22 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

If you’re like most of us, the continuum of political discourse is, by now, becoming (a) boring (b) laughable (c) shameful (d) disgusting. Let Washington worry about Washington, the markets are churning based upon rumor, innuendo, and hyperbole. It doesn’t matter from which “side” of the circle one enters this maze, all that matters is finding an exit door.

2013-10-22 Middle East/Africa: Regional Economic Review - 3Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Economic activity in the Middle-East and North Africa (MENA) has been hindered by prolonged political unrest and civil strife. The region’s vulnerability has increased over the last two years due to mounting structural challenges. What’s more, widening fiscal deficits due to the economic slowdown and dwindling foreign currency reserves remain sources of concern, as noted by a World Bank report.

2013-10-21 A Last Minute Deal Averts Default - For Awhile by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

With the deadline for the United States to avoid defaulting on its debt fast approaching, Congress reached another late night compromise to reopen the government and raise the nation’s debt limit. The deal also called for yet another bipartisan committee to try to set a budget for future government spending. Before discussing what that committee is likely to do, let’s compare the predictions I’ve been making since early this year against the reality of what ultimately occurred.

2013-10-21 Closed-End Fund Review by Jeff Margolin of First Trust Advisors

The third quarter was a challenging one for many categories of the closed-end fund marketplace.

2013-10-21 Winners and Losers - Pensions and Food Stamps by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

To the brink they went and a “deal” was had. I don’t know if I call it much of a deal I kind of feel like I’ve seen this B movie before. I could go on but that would put me in the same stature as the talking heads on the left and right news channels that prophesize to their viewers without regard for the rest of us. That said, one quick digression.

2013-10-21 Puerto Rico - What do you think of? by David Lieberman (Article)

The name should conjure up images of beautiful beaches, warm weather, and Old San Juan. But, for U.S. investors, it is increasingly conjuring up images of debt run amuck. Make no mistake, Puerto Rico has massive amounts of debt; nearly $70 billion, and that excludes their unfunded pension liabilities.

2013-10-21 Smaller Government Won! by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Well, New York City is not underwater, China did not sell bonds, oil did not stop flowing in the Bakken or Eagle Ford, the Cloud is still wherever it is, or was, the US stock market did not collapse, and the earth is still rotating on its axis. Democrats are still mad at Republicans, who are still mad at the Tea Party, who still fret about the path of fiscal policy.

2013-10-21 Did Monetary Policy Cause the Recovery? by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Much of the present faith in monetary policy derives from the belief that it was the central factor in ending the banking crisis during what is often called the Great Recession. On careful analysis, however, the clearest and most immediate event that ended the banking crisis was not monetary policy, but the abandonment of mark-to-market accounting by the Financial Accounting Standards Board on March 16, 2009, in response to Congressional pressure by the House Committee on Financial Services on March 12, 2009.

2013-10-21 Looking Past the Politics: What Does the Market Need to Grow? by Ron Sloan of Invesco Blog

As the tone of the debt ceiling negotiations in Washington wavered over the past several days, equity markets rose and fell in kind. While lawmakers were able to come to a last-minute agreement to raise the debt ceiling and end the 16-day federal government shutdown, the key to putting the markets on a solid foundation for the longer term is for corporations to generate earnings growth through increased revenues.

2013-10-21 Fourth Quarter Investment Outlook by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

The macro theme of the fourth quarter and early 2014 is monetary reflation and global growth resynchronization. The Fed’s surprising decision to postpone tapering its QE program will likely encourage further risk-taking. In the meantime, we observe increasing signs of a synchronized improvement among the four important economies - the United States, Europe, Japan and China.

2013-10-21 CEF Market Update by (Article)

Is your seat belt fastened? A closed-end fund analyst at Morningstar says we could be in for a “roller coaster” ride in the months ahead. Cara Esser anticipates volatility across the CEF marketplace.

2013-10-21 Europe Turning a Corner? by Brandon Odenath of J.P. Morgan Funds

Since late last year, investors have seen periods of strong outperformance by assets from the most impacted parts of Europe, leaving many observers wondering if Europe is turning a corner. Intervention by the ECB and the ability of those liquidity injections to stop the bleeding in the economy has helped. The reduction of austerity and drag coming from fiscal policy should be the key to faster economic growth.

2013-10-20 The Damage to the US Brand by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

There is no doubt that the image what I will refer to in this letter as the "brand" of the United States has been damaged in the past month. But what are the actual costs? And what does it matter to the average citizen? Can the US recover its tarnished image and go on about business as usual? Is the recent dysfunction in Washington DC now behind us, or is it destined to become part of a bleaker landscape?

2013-10-18 United States Debt Default Averted - For Now by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

The US Senate passed H.R. 2775 Continuing Appropriation Act, 2014 Wednesday afternoon 81 votes to 18. The House of Representatives passed the bill around 10PM Wednesday night 285 to 144, and the bill was signed into law by President Obama at 12:30 AM Thursday morning. 100% of Democratic Representatives voted for the bill, but only 37% of Republican Representatives in what is widely regarded as a disastrous outcome for the Republican strategy of shutting down the government in order to “defund ObamaCare.”

2013-10-18 Headwinds Give Way to Bullishness by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

With the partial government shutdown and Washington gridlock behind us for now, interest rates should continue declining and conditions are pointing to a period of renewed strength across asset classes.

2013-10-18 Just Like Yesterday by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest essay, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, with help from Chetan Parikh, of India’s Capital Ideas Online, provides excerpts from and commentary on a 1971 speech by iconic investor David L. Babson. He begins by noting: "It is eerie how timely this speech, delivered 42 years ago, remains today."

2013-10-18 Connecting the DOTs: The Role of North America's Emerging Markets' in Achieving Energy Independence by John Devir of PIMCO

The midstream energy sector is likely to grow more quickly than the overall U.S. economy over the next several years, creating the potential for attractive investment opportunities. North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas, or the “DOTs” for short, stand to disproportionally benefit from strong growth in onshore U.S. oil and gas shale development. PIMCO’s approach is to identify and invest in the companies, including pipeline operating companies, favorably positioned to benefit from prolific oil production.

2013-10-18 Despite Uncertainty, the Market Still Looks Strong by Charlie Dreifus of The Royce Funds

Although it was an ugly battle, on Thursday morning October 17 President Obama signed a bill that reopened the government into January 2014 and raised the debt ceiling until early February of next year.

2013-10-18 Consumer Confidence Plunging Recession Ahead? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The stalemate in Washington continues, the government remains in partial shutdown and the debt ceiling looms on Thursday. A bipartisan deal to fund the government until January 15 and raise the debt limit until early February is working its way through the Senate and could be voted on later today or tomorrow. It is unlikely that the Senate bill will pass in the House, which is reportedly working on yet another bill (see link below) that is unlikely to pass in the Senate.

2013-10-18 Formosa: Back to Beautiful by Patricia Huang of Matthews Asia

When the Portuguese first landed on Taiwan, they called it Ilha Formosa or “Beautiful Island.” However, Taiwan’s route to success has been far more prosaicit rapidly industrialized by mass producing a wide range of consumer goods, including textiles and footwear, toys, bicycles, appliances and computer chips. It famously grew its economy via an export-driven model, making the “Made in Taiwan” label ubiquitous.

2013-10-18 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 130.4, down from last week’s 130.3 (revised from 130.4). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, dropped to 2.8, down from 3.6 (a downward revision from 3.9).

2013-10-18 Fall is in the Air by Christopher Singleton of Kanawha Capital Management

Autumn has arrived, and many creatures have been making dutiful preparations to survive the winter months. But not all are so inclined, particularly our political leaders. Indeed, along with crisper air temperatures and more vibrant colors, it would just not feel like fall without the annual Washington squabbles to fund the federal government and increase its borrowing authority.

2013-10-18 High Yield Bond Outlook: A Time for Unconstrained Management by Vilis Pasts, Matthew Pasts, Isaac Braley of BTS Asset Management

Using our unconstrained approach, BTS indicators signaled a move back into High Yield bonds near the end of September.BTS Asset Management views the High Yield bond sector as exhibiting solid fundamentals. Based on historical comparisons, High Yields have strong cash flow coverage for interest payments, due to conservative use of leverage. Post 2008, companies hired less people and have kept other fixed costs down.

2013-10-18 Debt Limit Extended, Fed Policy in the Wings - What to Expect from the Markets by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments

Last night Congress reached an agreement to raise the debt limit and end the 16-day shutdown. After all the acrimony and tense negotiations, the deal passed by a comfortable margin with 81-18 vote in the Senate and 285-144 in the House.

2013-10-18 Trying To Beat The Market Is A Fool's Errand by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Proponents of indexing as the best investment strategy seemed to take great delight in reporting how the vast majority of professionally managed portfolios (mutual funds, separately managed accounts, hedge funds, ETFs, etc.) fail to outperform the S&P 500. Therefore, they argue, it is best not to even try. Investors should simply invest in index funds and forget about it.

2013-10-18 Trying to Stop a Bull Market Has Risks by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

U.S. stocks have been on a tear. The S&P 500 Index has climbed a surprising 20 percent so far this year, as a global synchronized recovery takes shape and funds flow back to equities. As I often say, investors take risks when they try to stop a bull run, and plenty of data suggest you might regret taking that action this year.

2013-10-18 Watch for the Signals on Policy Direction Out of Washington by Libby Cantrill of PIMCO

As expected, the deal that passed Congress on October 16 is another short-term, kick-the-can package. The big question is whether we will have to endure yet another saga next year, when Congress is once again forced to address the debt ceiling and fund the government. We are skeptical on the outlook for the bipartisan budget conference committee: The main obstacles to a grand bargain that have existed for the past two years continue today.

2013-10-18 Weekly Economic Commentary by Christopher Molumphy of Northern Trust

Closing the books on the U.S. budget... for now; Do we need a debt ceiling?; Study of financial market function earns the Nobel Prize.

2013-10-18 Is Your Portfolio a Five-Tool Player? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

In baseball a “5-Tool Player” is one who has high-level abilities in these areas: hitting for power, hitting for average, running, fielding and throwing. 5-Tool Players are a special breed, and teams covet them. I have identified 5 tools a premier investment approach should have in order to be successful in our arena, the achievement of client goals and growth of advisory practices.

2013-10-18 In Other News by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

It will take some time to gauge the full impact of the government shutdown and data is likely to be somewhat skewed over the next couple of months. However, sitting on the sidelines isn\’t a great option and stocks still appear to us to be the best place to invest money for the longer term. International growth, although not robust, appears to be more supportive as we head into 2014 than it has since the financial crisis, and we favor developed over emerging markets for the time being.

2013-10-17 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

Last quarter we wrote about the confusion that can be created by the Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) two official mandates: keeping inflation in check and ensuring full employment. We also pointed out that given the rather fragile economic backdrop, talk of letting the economy stand on its own two feet by reducing their bond buying might be premature. During the third quarter, it appeared most economists felt comfortable that the Fed would indeed begin “tapering” its purchase of Treasuries and mortgage securities after the September Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetin

2013-10-17 Yellen to the Rescue? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

While Democrats and Republicans fight with water pistols, the President may be readying a bazooka by nominating Janet Yellen to succeed Ben Bernanke as Fed Chair. You may want to hold on to your wallet; let me explain.

2013-10-17 Scare Tactics by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

I thought that we still had two and a half weeks until Halloween. You’d never know it from the frightening tales from Washington, D.C. Just as the government shutdown was to have been a near world-ending event, the impending debt ceiling should be named Armageddon II.

2013-10-17 Global Brand Companies: Well Positioned to Deploy Incremental Capital at High Rates of Return by Jenny Hubbard of Diamond Hill Investments

Achieving an optimal balance between growth and return on invested capital is critically important to value creation. Many discretionary product companies attain this equilibrium for a short period of time, but fickle and geographically divergent consumer preferences make it challenging to sustain over the long-term.

2013-10-17 The Short & Long-Term Implications of A Minimalist Debt Ceiling Deal by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

A deal to extend the debt ceiling and reopen the government is emerging. If it passes by tomorrow or shortly thereafter, the economy and markets will be spared the worst case scenario of a technical default. However, Washington’s inability to strike a more substantial bargain will have negative repercussions, over both the short and long term.

2013-10-17 Investing in Retirement: Bonds Aren't Enough by Kathleen Fisher, Tara Thompson Popernik of AllianceBernstein

What should you invest in after the spigot of earned income is turned off? It’s a vexing question, especially since we expect lower stock and bond returns going forward.

2013-10-17 Politics Secondary to US Equity Fundamentals by Grant Bowers of Franklin Templeton

It’s easy to get caught up in the tense drama surrounding the government shutdown and the debt ceiling squabble between Congressional Republicans and Democrats, but Grant Bowers, portfolio manager of Franklin Growth Opportunities Fund, maintains that looking beyond the political posturing and focusing instead on US corporate fundamentals is his preferred approach. Read on for more from Bowers on how he views the issues at hand, and why, even in the face of another political showdown in the Capitol, he thinks the US still presents a strong investment case.

2013-10-17 Some Encouraging News, but Further Uncertainties by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Financial market participants welcomed signs that leaders in Washington were at least willing to talk to each other. However, it remains unclear what sort of agreement will be reached. A temporary extension of the debt ceiling sidesteps a near-term financial catastrophe, but does not remove uncertainty completely.

2013-10-17 Huey Lewis and the News! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Thirty years ago Huey Lewis and the News released their smash hit album titled Sports. It was an instant hit with every song on the album a winner. And last week Huey was playing on the Street of Dreams as participants danced to his hit tune “This Is It.” Of course, the “It” in question is a potential deal between the House of Representatives and the President on the debt ceiling and the government shutdown.

2013-10-17 The U.S. Budget Deal: Peace, for a Time by Team of Northern Trust

Less than 24 hours before the U.S. Treasury Department ran out of room to borrow, Congress arrived at an agreement to reopen the government and steer away from debt default. This news came as a great relief, but that feeling may only last a few months. Following are some highlights and an initial analysis of the accord.

2013-10-17 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

The gov is closed for business. Nuff said. (But help may be on the wayor not?)

2013-10-17 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

October 17th looms large as a critical inflection point in our economic/political discourse. On that date the U.S. Congress is supposed to “raise the debt limit”, which simply means allocating the funds to cover debts already incurred by the Federal government. The date is being held hostage by both political parties in order to relegitimize the previous election (2012) and to dial-up the rhetoric of disparate political ideology.

2013-10-17 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Last month, a Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of non-retired investors showed just how lingering the hangover is from the financial crisis five years ago. Much like the Great Depression financially scared their great grandparents and grandparents, the Great Recession is impacting investors’ expectations about the future. 41% indicated they were concerned about another global crisis during their retirement years, and 28% were convinced they would have a lower standard of living during retirement.

2013-10-16 Pacific Basin Market Overview - September 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

North Asian markets ended higher during the quarter after comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke appeared to infer that the Fed’s asset purchase program would be extended for a while longer. On the other hand, India and the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region underperformed along with weakening currencies and continued fund outflows. In China, Premier Li Keqiang’s statement that China would meet its gross domestic product (GDP) growth target this year, coupled with better-than-expected economic data, brought some relief to the equity markets.

2013-10-16 The Role of Gold in an Investment Portfolio by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

As stock markets gyrate with each new economic crisis in the U.S. and abroad, advisors are scrambling to find ways to protect against a precipitous market slide. Can you assure your clients that their portfolios have effective insurance against a severe jolt to the capital markets?

2013-10-16 Economic Assessment Without Government Reports by Team of Northern Trust

The very near-term economic outlook is unclear and will remain so until the political impasse in Washington over the government shutdown and debt ceiling is settled. If differences are resolved in a day or two, the damage could be about 0.2 percentage points to fourth quarter real gross domestic product (GDP). A failure to raise the debt ceiling would more of a calamity, which we hope not to encounter.

2013-10-16 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Since the end of September, total AUM in all active ETFs increased by almost $443 million. Assets in the two largest categories “Short Term Bond” and “Global Bond” fell by $61 million and $12.77 respectively. The “Foreign Bond” category also fell, by $19.38 million. The largest gain was in “Currency” active ETFs, which added an impressive $499.5 million in value due to flows into one fund.

2013-10-16 Looking Past Default, Be An Investor, Not a Trader by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Many investors are focused on whether a budget agreement will be reached before the U.S. defaults on its debt and worry that they should sell out some equity holdings beforehand. In our judgment, this seems to be a far riskier approach than ignoring the entire matter and waiting for some sort of settlement to be reached. Day traders move the markets in reaction to every bit of news, no matter how fleeting, while investors actually have the advantage here. Investors can ignore the noise and volatility and invest for the longer term.

2013-10-16 Equity Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

As we write this outlook, our political leaders once again have succeeded in holding the U.S. government budget, and by extension the financial markets and the broader economy, hostage to their respective political agendas. We believe it is important to avoid getting caught up in the drama on Capitol Hill and remain focused on the slow but continued healing taking place in the U.S. economy.

2013-10-16 Two More Reasons to Like Equities: Growth & Inflation by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ offers more evidence supporting his preference for equities over bonds: Historically equities have tended to outperform bonds on a monthly basis in a growth and inflation scenario like the one we’re in today.

2013-10-16 Being Contrarian Could Lead to Lucrative Energy Plays by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Sometimes the most attractive energy assets aren’t found in the ground. Rather, at times like today, they are listed on the stock exchange.

2013-10-15 Is Gold Overpriced? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)

New research, based on an econometric model of gold prices, has attempted to answer the question, “Is gold overpriced?”

2013-10-15 A Better Way to Measure Risk Tolerance by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

In building financial plans, asset-allocation recommendations must recognize the client’s ability to absorb risk. To aid in this assessment, advisors often use risk-tolerance questionnaires, but these tools have shortcomings. The evolving field of brain science can help to design better questionnaires.

2013-10-15 A Q3 client letter: Mike Tyson on Sticking to Your Plan by Dan Richards (Article)

Each quarter I post a template for a client letter, as a starting point for advisors who want to send clients an overview of the three months that just ended and the outlook for the period ahead.

2013-10-15 Five Ways Robo-advisors Will Change the Way Advisors Work by Raef Lee (Article)

Even the name robo-advisor is derisive. It evokes an image that is uncaring, lacks humanity and is inflexible. But it is the term being used by advisors to describe a new breed of startups that directly connect tech-savvy investors with suites of analytic tools to create financial plans or investment portfolios. A name this disparaging makes us ask why advisors fear this new model of financial advice.

2013-10-15 Why Customized Content Beats Canned Content by Neil Rhein (Article)

If you’re communicating syndicated (“canned”) content that is similar (or identical) to what every other advisor is saying, you’re just adding to the noise.

2013-10-15 Why You Need Video on Your Web Site by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We are upgrading our website, which is used mostly for clients now. We want to attract more prospects. I’ve been told that video is important, but the cost of adding this could be several thousand dollars per video. Will adding video give me an increased ROI? I don’t believe in this busy world that anyone watches this stuff.

2013-10-15 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Readers respond to Robert Huebscher’s article, The Futility of the Endowment Model, which appeared last week.

2013-10-15 Investing in the U.S. Energy Revolution by Sponsored Content from OppenheimerFunds (Article)

This whitepaper discusses how: Technological advances have made immense reserves of U.S. oil and natural gas economically recoverable; Consumers and industry may see cost reductions, and U.S. productivity and trade balance stand to improve; A wide range of companies may encounter transformational growth opportunities.

2013-10-15 Bond Market Review & Outlook by Thomas Fahey of Loomis Sayles

Flip-flopping Federal Reserve (Fed) policy defined the third quarter. Last quarter, the Fed threw the markets a curve ball by announcing possible tapering of its large-scale asset purchases beginning this year. That “taper talk” set off a mini-riot in global bond markets. Many emerging market (EM) countries, like Brazil, India, Indonesia and South Africa, were the biggest victims, as their bond yields rose and their currencies crashed.

2013-10-15 The Science of Forensic Accounting by Sudarshan Murthy of Matthews Asia

The financial reporting of corporations in Asia is complex, and having a solid grasp of all the nuances involved in these accounting practices is critical when making investment decisions. This month Research Analyst Sudarshan Murthy, CFA, kicks off the first in a series of commentaries on the science of forensic accounting. This first issue focuses on “the numbers,” and examines what is considered in order to understand a company’s accounting decisions and the implications they can have on financial reports.

2013-10-15 6 Truths About D.C.'s Debt Debacle by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Kristina Hooper highlights what every investor should know about the ongoing fiscal crisis in Washington and what to expect from Congress and the Fed.

2013-10-15 US Default: How Bad Would It Be? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has publicly declared October 17 this Thursday as the date when the US government would no longer be able to pay its bills, should Congress not reach a budget resolution.A once unthinkable outcome is becoming all too close to reality due to brinksmanship in Washington.For the second time in two years, investors have had to contemplate just how such a situation would shake out for financial markets.

2013-10-15 The Turmoil in Washington by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

At the time of this publication the budget situation has not been resolved, although it appears that both parties are backing away from the default abyss. However, given that these crises seem to come once or twice a year, it seemed appropriate to weigh in on the geopolitical impact of the intractable problems of American government.

2013-10-15 A Degree in Debt: Student Loans and the Economy by Team of Manning & Napier

Recent times have drawn concerns about student loan debt and rising delinquencies. Anecdotes of unfortunate individuals struggling financially to cope with massive student loans raise fears of broader risks to the US economy and financial markets.

2013-10-15 Equity Markets to Congress: “What, me worry?” by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

President Obama said he was willing to have discussions, though he said he wouldn’t engage in negotiations. (Comment: I guess it depends of what the meaning of "is" is.) So far, those discussions haven’t produced a deal, but at least they’ve started talking.

2013-10-14 Equity Market Review & Outlook by Richard Skaggs of Loomis Sayles

Equities generally performed well across the board in the third quarter. The S&P 500 Index’s solid 5.24% return built on strong gains from earlier in the year. The Index has returned more than 19% through September, surpassing expectations at the start of the year. Slow but steady economic growth in the US, support from the Federal Reserve (the Fed), and more recently, signs of potentially better growth in Europe and Asia have been important positive catalysts.

2013-10-14 House Republicans Determined to Burn Country to the Ground (In Order to Save It!) by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

Whenever our financial markets commentary strays into the realm of politics, we’re guaranteed to offend at least half of our clients and readers. So let us state up front that our job is NOT to choose sides but to evaluate how politics will affect the US economy and by extension corporate earnings, which are the bedrock of stock market performance. By that measure, the current tactics of House Republicans to shutdown the “non-essential” parts of the federal government and block raising the debt ceiling is an unmitigated disaster. Businesses crave predictability and reliabi

2013-10-14 Civilizing the Marketplace of Ideas by Niall Ferguson of Project Syndicate

Like any market, the marketplace of ideas needs regulation: in particular, its participants should be bound by norms of honesty, humility, and civility. Unfortunately, even our most influential intellectuals refuse to adhere to these principles.

2013-10-14 Waiting for the Fed by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The Fed is waiting for evidence of stronger economic growth before it tapers monetary policy, which requires new data that won’t be available until the budget and political impasse is settled. Measured GDP, when it becomes available, will be weakened by the shutdown, but workers will be paid and underlying trends remain fairly positive. The negotiations may be protracted and highly distracting while underway, but equities should rally as soon as the budget issue is either resolved or reduced in severity, as hinted by last week’s sharp rally in reaction to progress in the talks.

2013-10-14 Short Horizon, Long Horizon by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

On all evidence, we’re far more inclined to view the position of stock prices as a temporary overextension of already extreme conditions than some durable change in the workings of the financial markets.

2013-10-14 A Look at “Stale Data” (Not Due to Gov't Shutdown) and Housing by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

I am confident that some type of deal will be reached to avert a default. And, let’s keep in mind that, according to the CBO, the 10/17 deadline is really just a deadline to start making decisions about what to pay with the remaining $30 or so billion as they project another one or two weeks before the “day of reckoning” when there is only enough money to pay about 70% of the government’s bills which bills to pay.

2013-10-14 Accidental Speculation by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

When markets get tied in a knot over an issue like the debt ceiling, it’s helpful to break down investor’s decisions about how to handle it in their portfolios. Whether it is an investment in foreign currencies, shorting the stock market, selling everything or some other investment strategy that comes complete with a perceived safety net, it’s tough for investors to manage their emotions and the mixed messages they get from the media.

2013-10-14 What Uncle Sam Taketh Away, You Can Give Back (and Get a Tax Deduction) by Kathleen Fisher, Tara Thompson Popernik of AllianceBernstein

The government shutdown, now in its second week, has temporarily stopped the flow of government funding for many worthy organizations and may strain the resources of others. Federal grant administration is being delayed. For example, the grant administration staff at the National Institutes of Health has been furloughed; that may stop or slow grants for medical research.

2013-10-14 Me and My Horse by Jim Goff of Janus Capital Group

This is not a story about getting back on the horse that throws you. It is about just staying on the horse. It is also a market story.

2013-10-14 Move Along, Market: It's Only a Gaper's Delay by Rick Golod of Invesco Blog

After several days of stalemate between the White House and Congress, House Republicans have offered a six-week debt ceiling extension conditional on negotiating a package of fiscal concessions. The debt ceiling offer is straightforward, but the shutdown would continue until the fiscal concessions are agreed on. While this may dampen the economy and equity market, at least in the short run, I believe long-term investors should stay put and be patient.

2013-10-14 Can Markets Remain Resilient in Light of Political Dysfunction? by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Equities were mixed again last week, and the markets remain focused on the budget impasse in Washington, D.C., after the second week of the partial government shutdown. The S&P 500 closed the week in positive territory, increasing 0.8%.1 It is hard to ignore headlines and market volatility, but the real issues for markets are the debt ceiling debate and third quarter corporate earnings announcements.

2013-10-14 No Sign of Economic Problems by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

With the federal government partially shut for the past couple of weeks, the normal steady stream of economic indicators has slowed to a trickle. We’ve missed reports on employment, construction, retail sales, international trade, and inventories.

2013-10-12 A Special Note on Potential Government Debt Default by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

We find it incredible that the government is, once again, on the verge of a default on US debt. Although we doubt that the US will actually default, it is unfathomable that elected officials would even consider such an event. Worse yet, some officials apparently believe that a default might benefit the US.

2013-10-12 Debt Ceiling Delusions by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The popular take on the current debt ceiling stand-off is that the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party has a delusional belief that it can hit the brakes on new debt creation without bringing on an economic catastrophe. While Republicans are indeed kidding themselves if they believe that their actions will not unleash deep economic turmoil, there are much deeper and more significant delusions on the other side of the aisle.

2013-10-12 These Could be the Most Lucrative Energy Plays by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Sometimes the most attractive energy assets aren’t found in the ground. Rather, at times like today, they are listed on the stock exchange.

2013-10-12 Sometimes They Ring a Bell by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Three items have come across my screen in the past month that, taken together, truly do signal a major turning point in how energy is discovered, transported, and transformed. And while we’ll start with a story that most of us are somewhat aware of, there is an even larger transformation happening that I think argues against the negative research that has come out in the last few years about the reduced potential for growth in the world economy.

2013-10-11 Now Showing in Macau by Taizo Ishida of Matthews Asia

What is most impressive about Macau today is the strong sense of collaboration and commitment from all involved parties: both Macau and mainland Chinese government officials and casino operators. While Asia’s other gambling centers (Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and the Philippines) have also seen waves of notable development in recent years, Macau, in my opinion, should be recognized as the gold standard of the gaming space in Asia.

2013-10-11 The Fed's Surprise and Yellen's Challenge by Mohamed A. El-Erian of Project Syndicate

To ask what Janet L. Yellen, the nominee to succeed Ben Bernanke as Chair of the Federal Reserve, has in store for US monetary policy is to pose the wrong question. The real issue is the decline of the Fed’s policy effectiveness.

2013-10-11 Flying Blind: Forecasting with No Data or Endgame by Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial

Everything from the government shutdown to posturing regarding the lifting of the debt ceiling has heightened uncertainty about the economic outlook. Consumer and business confidence have fallen since the threat of a shutdown emerged, while the reality has taken a toll on communities where a large number of federal workers have been furloughed. Everyone, from cab drivers to restaurant owners, small retailers and (largely) defense manufacturers, were affected in the early days of the partial shutdown of government agencies.

2013-10-11 Default is unlikely, but there is more at stake by David Kelly and Andrew Goldberg of J.P. Morgan Funds

In a recent publication, (Investing through the Washington Mess) we outlined some of the dynamics at play regarding the ongoing debt limit debate in Washington. Latest developments notwithstanding, it is important to understand two key points: A default is very unlikely, and if the debt ceiling is not raised, simple prioritization to avoid default by continuing to pay interest would still inflict severe damage on the economy and markets, and could result in a credit rating action.

2013-10-10 Frustrating the Most People by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

A venerable sage once said, "The markets do whatever they have to do to frustrate the most people." For the long-duration investor, this means that you need to look at what people are invested in to determine where the frustration will come from. Thanks to the Associated Press, we know what the masses have done with their investments in the last five years.

2013-10-10 Tipping the Scale Toward High Yield Bonds by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision in September to delay at least for now any reduction in its asset purchases drove U.S. Treasury rates down materially from the highs seen over the summer, easing concerns about the impact of higher rates on economic growth. Now as we start the fourth quarter, the below-investment grade investment outlook appears positive, and more positive for high yield bonds than bank loans.

2013-10-10 Can You Hear Me Now? by Marie Schofield of Columbia Management

Under normal circumstances, I provide insight and analysis on the monthly jobs report at the beginning of each month. This month Washington politics has interrupted my routine with the partial government shutdown postponing several important data releases this week and pessimistically next week as well. Not only that but several agencies have completely shut down their websites denying access to already released data and historical databases, which is completely unnecessary.

2013-10-10 What Is Due Diligence? Here's How I Do It by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

The lexicon of the financial world is full of phrases and jargon that are often tossed about without considering that there may be those who are not exactly familiar with the true meaning of the terms. It recently came to my attention that due diligence may be one of those idioms. In my own writings, I routinely recommend that readers conduct their own due diligence and/or comprehensive research. However, I recently had a reader ask me exactly what due diligence was and how to do it?

2013-10-10 The Fire Fueling Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Gold took quite a beating in September, bucking its seasonal average monthly return of 2.3 percent. The political battle between President Barack Obama and Congress, China’s Golden Week, and India’s gold import restrictions likely weighed on the metal.

2013-10-10 Better Beta Is No Monkey Business by Patrick Rudden of AllianceBernstein

The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. This makes perfect sense to me, but says more about infinity than it does about monkeys.

2013-10-10 Economic and Market Overview: Third Quarter 2013 by Team of Envestnet

The economic environment in the third quarter was one of growth, albeit at a slower pace than most economists, and the Federal Reserve (“Fed”), believe can be self-‐sustaining. The slow but steady gains the economy made were enough to buoy the stock market, but likely only because the Fed has seen it necessary to maintain its aggressive monetary policy. While employment gains were anemic during the quarter, the unemployment rate actually declined to 7.3%, largely due to a contraction in the labor force.

2013-10-09 Little Visible Progress on the Budget Shutdown, but Some Inside Baseball In Play by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

President Obama canceled his planned visit to Asia and participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summitciting the inconvenience caused by the government shutdown (“the difficulty in moving forward with foreign travel in the face of a shutdown), sending John Kerry in his place, and reiterating his unwillingness to negotiate with Republicans.

2013-10-09 Equity ETF Flows Send Bullish Signals by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

U.S. Equity ETFs gave up $4.3 billion in the week ended October 1, reversing a $3.4 billion inflow in the previous week. This week’s outflows signal low demand for stocks, a bullish short-term indicator from a contrarian perspective.

2013-10-09 The U.S. Can't Default On Its Debt. Right? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The Treasury Secretary has warned that his agency will exhaust the “extraordinary measures” it has used to fund the government on October 17. On the Sunday talk shows, he warned of “catastrophic consequences” if Congress doesn’t raise the statutory debt ceiling by then. So, over the next nine days, you’ll be hearing ominous forecasts of what will happen if the US defaults on its nearly $17 trillion national debt, or even some of it. Sound familiar?

2013-10-09 Five Years in Limbo by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

The US financial system may be more stable than it was five years ago, but that is a low bar it was teetering on the edge of a precipice. Those in government and the financial sector who congratulate themselves on banks’ return to profitability and mild regulatory improvements should focus on what still needs to be done.

2013-10-09 The Squeeze Play by Jerome Schneider of PIMCO

Reductions in Treasury bill and commercial paper issuance compounded by developments on the demand side mean the “squeeze play” is on for many short-term portfolios. Investors should consider the potential for substantive changes to liquidity conditions as banks contend with increases in capital requirements due to updated Basel III regulations. Active management of short-term investments is important: Don’t rely on static regulatory frameworks or traditional indexes to determine a portfolio’s unique liquidity needs.

2013-10-09 Taper Time - Mining, That Is by Adam Bowe, Robert Mead of PIMCO

Recent data suggest that mining investment is tapering, with the sector detracting from real growth in the first half of 2013. We see three possible growth scenarios: a handoff to the corporate sector; no handoff, with demand continuing to slow; or a handoff to the highly levered household sector, which would create long-term risks. Until we see meaningful signs of a growth handoff from the mining sector to a new balance sheet that has the capacity to expand, our base case calls for sub-trend growth and low interest rates, supporting bond prices over the cyclical horizon.

2013-10-09 Gold Strategy Investor Letter, Q3 2013 by John Hathaway of Tocqueville Asset Management

We believe the gold market is set up for a major advance, but recognize that the timing of a turn has been elusive and frustrating. The longer current Fed policies remain in force, the greater the potential disruption to financial markets when it changes, most likely due to events yet unforeseen. Still, conventional economic commentary remains confident of Fed competence to unwind its balance sheet. When this confidence dissipates, as we expect, investment demand for gold will resurface in the most forceful manner.

2013-10-09 Fixed-Income Sector Report - High Yield and Bank Loan Outlook by Team of Guggenheim Partners

Fundamental factors underlying the corporate sector continue to underscore our constructive stance on leveraged credit, however, investors should prepare for heightened Q4 volatility amid shifting technical dynamics in the bank loan market.

2013-10-09 Getting Serious About Investing Responsibly by Luke Spajic, Josh Olazabal of PIMCO

To date, much of ESG-related investing has focused on negative screening, but we believe there is a better approach. This approach rests on three pillars: identifying and analyzing key ESG issues facing a given investment sector, engaging with the issuers of securities, and supporting the development of markets for ESG investments.

2013-10-09 An Unnecessary Crisis by Scott Brown of Raymond James

With the lapse in appropriations, the federal government slipped into a partial shutdown last week. The economic impact will depend on how long the standoff lasts, which could be a couple of weeks or more. Recent economic data suggest that third quarter growth was a lot lower than anticipated. So, the crisis in Washington arrives at a particularly bad time. Lawmakers appear to be taking the debt ceiling more seriously, and we could see action on that before the budget authorization is settled but it’s unclear how the situation will be resolved.

2013-10-09 Ashes to Ashes by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

The phrase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” is derived from the Biblical text of Genesis 3:19 and was adapted to its present form at an old English burial service. Last week I repeated those words as I scattered my father’s ashes next to my mother’s in the memorial garden of the church they loved so much in Richmond, Virginia. Indeed, my week was spent in Richmond, Washington D.C., and Baltimore seeing institutional accounts, consulting with political types, and speaking at various events for our financial advisors and their clients.

2013-10-09 Emerging Values by Cliff Stanton of Envestnet

The current valuations and fundamentals in Emerging Markets make for an attractive entry point, if you can stomach the increased volatility and risk associated with the asset class.

2013-10-08 Welcome to Human Finance by TDAI Advisors (Article)

At TD Ameritrade, we work with humans, not just numbers. We prefer to think of it as the business of understanding the people behind the portfolios. The business of Human Finance.

2013-10-08 European markets and political news by Tim Stevenson (Article)

Tim Stevenson, Director of Pan European Equities, provides an update on European markets and the optimistic tone of conversations with European companies in recent weeks. He notes, “In many respects, it looks like the economic perspectives from Europe have stopped getting worse and indeed have started getting better – and that’s obviously a trend that we all hope will continue and won’t be upset by this sort of short-term political uncertainties.”

2013-10-08 The Futility of the Endowment Model by Robert Huebscher (Article)

In the past two decades, the so-called endowment model has been adopted by hundreds of endowments, foundations and advisors – particularly those serving ultra-high-net-worth clients. By aggressively allocating to illiquid alternative asset classes, those investors hoped to duplicate the results of Yale and other top-tier institutions. New research exposes the futility of those efforts.

2013-10-08 Forecasting Bond Returns and Evaluating Bond Funds by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

While past performance is not a guarantee of future alpha, it sure is a hint – the skills needed to generate alpha in a given market are likely to be as valuable in one period as in another. This principle is the basis of selecting active managers. How can we adapt it to bond funds, given the larger market forces at work?

2013-10-08 Four Lessons from Sport’s #1 Overachiever by Dan Richards (Article)

A New York Times article pointed out that this year’s baseball playoffs have more teams from the bottom 10 in payroll than from among the top 10 spenders. Here are four ways you can do more with less, drawing lessons from a baseball team that has outperformed despite being consistently outspent.

2013-10-08 Is Your Website Like a Toothbrush? by Wendy Cook (Article)

Like your website, a toothbrush is essential and comes in a range of sizes and options. Just as you should regularly replace your toothbrush well before its bristles have frayed, you should treat your website to a regular refresh to keep it relevant in the face of ever-advancing technology.

2013-10-08 When Your Succession Plan Is Derailed by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I hired a young guy in three years ago with the expectation I would give him ownership and have him eventually take over the business. I want to wind down and have been giving him a large percentage of my clients to manage. Lately he has been talking about moving back to where his wife’s parents live. He said he isn’t sure if this business is right for him. How do I get him to make a decision?

2013-10-08 What Happens if the Government Shuts Down and Nobody Notices? by Michael Temple of Pioneer Investments

Yes, this is a facetiously philosophical title (what is the sound of one hand clapping?) that pokes fun at the current situation in Washington. And we’re well aware that if Republicans and Democrats can’t reach a compromise in a couple of weeks to deal with the debt ceiling “time-bomb”, none of us will be joking around.

2013-10-08 Government Shutdown Masks Pending Debt Ceiling and Third Quarter Earnings by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Equities were mixed last week as the markets were focused on the budget impasse in Washington, D.C., that forced the federal government into a partial shutdown. As with the 17 prior shutdowns, we do not anticipate a lasting impact on the economy or markets. While the shutdown makes headlines, the issues that will likely have the most impact are the debt ceiling debate and third quarter corporate earnings announcements, which could mean a bumpy ride for investors.

2013-10-08 The Only Story in Town by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

It’s strange times in the United States. The government is partially shut down and isn’t releasing any statistics. Even John Muir wouldn’t be allowed to hike in a national park. All the while, the President and the Treasury Secretary are predicting an economic calamity for the US (and maybe the globe) if the debt ceiling isn’t raised. Yet, they refuse to negotiate to prevent that from happen.

2013-10-08 New Fed Alarm Over Shadow Banking by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

It comes to something when every story you read in the papers makes you ask: What’s the agenda? says Miguel Perez-Santalla at BullionVault.

2013-10-08 The Market May Be Signaling a Return to a More Typical Recovery by Whitney George of The Royce Funds

Despite the Fed’s indecision about whether or not to taper, we see evidence that business activity is normalizing and the global economy is getting healthier. Co-CIO, Managing Director, and Portfolio Manager Whitney George talks about how economically sensitive sectors have begun to benefit from rising rates in the small-cap rally, how recent news coming out of China has affected certain portfolio investments, where he is currently seeing long-term opportunities, and stocks in which he has high confidence.

2013-10-08 Detente with Iran? by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

On September 28th, President Obama reportedly called Iranian President Rouhani to confer over American and Iranian relations. In addition, Iran’s nuclear program was discussed. This was a historic eventthe first documented call between a U.S. president and his counterpart in Iran in 35 years. The last time such a conversation occurred was when the Shah was in power.

2013-10-08 Listen to the 10th Man by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

There’s no shortage of short-term risks in today’s market or conventional wisdom on how they will play out. But prepping for the unexpected could limit the number of surprises and better insulate investors’ portfolios, writes Kristina Hooper.

2013-10-08 The Death of Fixed Income? Not so Fast . . . by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments

Recent market movements have reminded investors that the fixed income market is facing a secular change, after a 30-year-long bull market driven by a continuous decline in interest rates. I believe the announcements of the death of fixed income as an asset class are greatly exaggerated, and in order to face the new reality, fixed income investors and asset allocators need to adopt a significant change of approach.

2013-10-08 Maybe Mark Twain Said It Best... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

President Barack Obama and his top economic officials appear to be pushing for some market unrest to exert pressure on the GOP to throw in the towel. Asked in his CNBC interview Wednesday whether Wall Street is right to remain calm over the standoff, Mr. Obama replied: “No.”

2013-10-08 Q3 Brings Plot Twists; Volatility to Continue in Q4 by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ reviews how the third quarter shaped up vs. his expectations, noting which calls he got right and which he got wrong, and he updates his outlook for this quarter.

2013-10-08 And That's The Qaurter That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

An obsession with Fed policy; troubles in Syria; new concerns in DCand yet the market kept rolling (for a while).

2013-10-08 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

The gov is closed for business. Nuff said. Coming up in the week ahead: ISM Fed Minutes (Wednesday) Retail Sales (Friday), PPI (Friday)or maybe not.

2013-10-08 Absolute Return Letter: Heads or tails? by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees, Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

Demographics captivate me. There are around 7.1 billion of us occupying planet earth today, going to 10 billion by 2050. I often think about how good old mother earth will cope with the additional 3 billion people we are projected to produce between now and 2050. More people translate into increased pressure on already scarce resources, but that is only part of the story and a story well covered by now.

2013-10-07 Auto Focus: Voluntary Plans Morphing to Mandatory? by Jon Vogler of Invesco

The American private retirement system has historically been voluntary. Employers first decide whether they’re going to sponsor a plan and then select the plan’s features. But over the last several years, focus has intensified on two criticisms of the voluntary system.

2013-10-07 What Should Investors Know about the U.S. Government Shutdown? by Ken Taubes of Pioneer Investments

Yesterday was the start of a new fiscal year for the U.S. federal government, but failure to agree on a spending plan in time for that deadline left federal coffers short. As a result, a partial government shutdown took effect. It’s important to emphasize that this was a partial government shutdown. Many services remain operational, such as our active military, Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security and airline travel.

2013-10-07 Goose Bump Stuff... by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

Scientific research and discovery has always been an important aspect of American life. This, in itself, should make us hopeful.

2013-10-07 A Decade of Low Volatility with High Dividends by Ryan Issakainen of First Trust Advisors

Over the past few years, both “low volatility” and “dividend” strategies have resonated with ETF investors, many of whom were seeking more conservative approaches by which to increase exposure to stocks. Adding further demand for these strategies is a growing body of evidence that suggests an association between both factors and improved risk-adjusted returns.

2013-10-07 The Real Cause of Bank Failures by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

My favorite section money and investment is a shell compared to what it was like 20 years. Still, many times there are gems to be read. In February 2013 under the section Heard On The Street was a piece written by David Reilly entitled Too Big to Fail Casts a Very Long Shadow and it put real fear in me.

2013-10-07 Defining the EM Corporate Bond Opportunity by Elisabeth Colleran, Peter Frick, Peter Marber, David Rolley, Edgardo Sternberg of Loomis Sayles

Finance is a numbers business. Investors study prices, yields, rates of return. However, when it comes to sizing up emerging markets, we think they should also pay attention to semantics. In the past, terming a country “emerging” made it synonymous with low credit quality and higher risk. But today, many emerging markets boast strong credit profiles while parts of the developed world buckle under heavy debt loads.

2013-10-07 Angela Merkel's Pyrrhic Victory by George Soros of Project Syndicate

As far as Germany is concerned, the euro crisis is over a sentiment reflected in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s overwhelming election victory in September. In fact, the crisis has become a nightmare, inflicting tremendous suffering that could be easily avoided if the taboos that sustain it mainly Merkel’s were dispelled.

2013-10-07 Earnings Preview by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

There’s an old saying on Wall Street: “The market never discounts the same thing twice.” With government-shutdown and debt-ceiling theatrics becoming an annual ritual, perhaps there’s something else behind the recent loss of market momentum.

2013-10-07 Ted Williams, Ford F-150's, and Market Valuations by Robert Mark of Castle Investment Management

In late 2008 Lehman Brothers had just collapsed, AIG needed help from the US government and markets around the world were in a tailspin. Today, five short years later, we find it strange how the strength of the stock market defies a climate of declining earnings. With another quarter of corporate results behind us, equities continue to rally despite corporate earnings offering no material support, with many companies actually talking down their future growth prospects.

2013-10-07 Shutdown, Debt Ceiling - Who Cares? by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Driving home last week, the plight of furloughed Federal employees was on my mind. How could our elected officials in DC accept their pay for not doing their jobs while hurting folks that want to work but are told not to because the men and woman not doing their job (and still getting paid) shutdown part of the government? I was heartened to learn that Congress was going to take action but quickly realized that the “fix” paralleled the stupidity that got us into this mess. The legislation ensures that all furloughed employees will be paid for the furlough period.

2013-10-07 When Economic Data is Worse Than Useless by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Investors and analysts fall over themselves daily to analyze and interpret the latest data from regional Fed surveys (e.g. Philly Fed, Empire Manufacturing), purchasing managers indices (e.g. national manufacturing, national services, regional PMIs), and other economic measures (e.g. new unemployment claims, average weekly hours). The problem is that virtually all of these measures have become not only uncorrelated with subsequent economic outcomes, but negatively correlated with subsequent outcomes.

2013-10-07 Charles Wheelan’s Tips for Separating Economic Truth from Fiction by Jeff Briskin (Article)

The world of numerical obfuscation is a topic covered in an informative and surprisingly entertaining ‘statistics primer’ by economist Charles Wheelan. In a recent conversation with Wheelan, we discussed his book and the lessons it offers to financial advisors, whose decision-making processes are influenced by the seemingly endless stream of economic and market data posted every day.

2013-10-05 Pinch Yourself. U.S. Stock Markets Have Grown 145% in Four-Plus Years by Ron Surz of PPCA

Thankfully, 2008 has become a distant memory. We’ve made back its 37% loss and a lot more. Things are good, but are they going to stay that way? We still face anemic economic growth, burgeoning debt, global social unrest and more. The S&P 500 has returned 145% in the past 55 months (4.5 years).

2013-10-05 The Road to a New Medical Order by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I will aim to dwell simply on the economic ramifications of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, as it exists today. We are changing the plumbing on 17.9% of the US GDP in profound ways. Many, if not most, of the changes are absolutely necessary.

2013-10-04 Nowhere to Hide: Navigating Rising Rate Risk in High-Yield Markets by Gibson Smith, Colleen Denzler of Janus Capital Group

Over the past few years, investors have flocked to high-yield credit, many believing it a good way to mitigate their interest rate risk as well as capture additional yield. However, they may not realize the level of rate risk that has followed them. High-yield indices, negatively correlated to five-year Treasury bond yields over the past 15 years, have been positively correlated for the past year.

2013-10-04 After Detroit: Rigorous Research and Credit Selection Is the Key to Investing in Municipal Bonds by David Hammer, Sean McCarthy of PIMCO

Detroit recently declared bankruptcy, setting off the largest municipal Chapter 9 proceeding in history. There has been and will continue to be a lot of noise in the media, underscoring challenges but also presenting opportunity for experienced investors. PIMCO has long favored special revenue essential service bonds over GO bonds. Detroit Water and Sewer bonds are payable by a pledge of and statutory lien on net revenues of the water or sewer system, and as such benefit from provisions in the federal bankruptcy code ensuring that the pledge is not affected by the petition.

2013-10-04 The New Normalization of Fed Policy by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

The Fed is sending a message that the unwinding of its extraordinary accommodation will be done with great care and patience, and will take time - a long time. In delaying a taper, not only did the Fed show markets it has little tolerance for any tightening of financial conditions, it also strengthened its forward guidance considerably. The Fed’s decision to delay a taper will likely relieve some of the upward pressure on longer-term interest rates.

2013-10-04 Are Investors Paying More Attention to Quality Small-Caps? by Francis Gannon of The Royce Funds

Although it covers only a brief time period, recent research by Furey Research Partners showed that since the beginning of May 2013 through September 30 the lowest leveraged companies outperformed the highest leveraged companies within the Russell 2000to us a long-anticipated reversal and an encouraging signal that suggests investors have not abandoned quality despite an environment of easy money and near-zero interest rates.

2013-10-04 The Economy, the Fed, and Politics by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

It was a good quarter to invest in equities, and despite a down second quarter, overall a good year as well. The Dow was up 1.5%, the S&P 4.7% and the NASDAQ 10.8%. Year-to-date returns were very positive with the Dow up 15.5%, S&P up 17.9%, and NASDAQ up 24.9%. International equities were also positive for the quarter and year with the MSCI ACWI ex US up 9.4% and up 7.5% year-to-date. While emerging market equity indices were up 5% for the quarter they remained negative -6.4% for the year.

2013-10-04 New Experiment in Shanghai by Sherwood Zhang of Matthews Asia

In an attempt to further liberalize China’s economy, central government officials have created an experimental new free trade zone, which officially opened for business this week. The zone combines four existing but smaller development areas within Shanghai that are already exempt from import and export tariffs.

2013-10-04 The Banking Sector: Better, with Room for Improvement by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ K. explains the good news behind his recent upgrade of the global financial sectors as well as the bad news keeping his sector outlook somewhat subdued.

2013-10-04 How Markets May Deal with D.C. Dysfunction by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

A brief government shutdown would likely have only a modest impact on markets and the economy, and may even create buying opportunities in risk assets. A longer-term stalemate could be a far different story.

2013-10-04 The Debt Ceiling Drama is Heating Up by Team of Northern Trust

The debt ceiling drama is heating up. Threatening default is reckless, but long-term budget issues require attention. Measures of policy uncertainty show a link to economic performance

2013-10-04 Much Ado About Fed Tapering by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton

In the past few months, the global markets seem to have been fixated on the US Federal Reserve’s words and actions (or lack thereof). Will the Fed wind down its longstanding quantitative easing (QE) program, and when? Will the money tap dry up, and, with it, global liquidity? In more recent days, US markets in particular have been focused on a looming government shutdown, adding a dose of uncertaintyand volatility.

2013-10-04 Is the Pump Primed for Emerging Markets Investors? by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

The vulnerabilitiesor rather, perceived vulnerabilitiesof emerging markets have been the focus of heightened discussions over the past few months. Concerns about the health of emerging markets came on the heels of political upheavals in Egypt, economic deceleration in China and protest demonstrations in Brazil and Turkey this summer.

2013-10-04 What Is The Correct Discount Rate To Use? Part 2B by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

One of the most widely-accepted and utilized methods of valuing a business in today’s world of modern finance is discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis. Obviously, in order to calculate valuation, practitioners must rely on mathematical formulas. However, the challenge with utilizing mathematical formulas to determine the net present value (NPV) of a future stream of income is in determining the proper inputs. Consequently, the accuracy of our result is subject to the principle “garbage in garbage out.”

2013-10-04 Washington's Prolonged Saga and the Market's Reaction by Josh Timmons and Libby Cantrill of PIMCO

The federal government shutdown represents yet another self-inflicted wound to already modest growth. While the market seems to be mostly sanguine about the government shutdown, a breach of the debt ceiling which we feel is highly unlikely would be incredibly negative for financial markets.

2013-10-04 Don\'t Fret the Shutdown by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

The shutdown allows money that would have been diverted to the government to be kept in the private sector. This may actually lift growth and profits in the quarters ahead. Don’t fret the shutdown.

2013-10-04 The Fed and Its Big Thumb by Ron Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp & Co.

We’ve seen what happens when prices get ahead of the economy reality. The bubbles in the dot-com’s in 2000 and the housing market in 2007 were such effects. We fear that the apparent Fed desire to continue to manipulate interest rates may engender more bubbles.

2013-10-04 Ten Other Things that Should be Shut Down by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

In order to avoid getting too P.O.’d (that’s either a slang term for angry or a pun on the Post Office, take your pick), I asked the Sungarden investment, operations and marketing teams to provide me with their opinions on what else to shut down. I combined their thoughtful work with my own thinking on the topic and here is our top 10 list.

2013-10-04 The Malfunctioning United States Government by Gene Goldman of Cetera Financial Group

Overall, we are entering a potentially volatile period for the financial markets. Increased uncertainty combined with below-trend economic growth will likely lead to sharp market fluctuations. To mitigate the risk of volatility, we remain committed to increased diversification. Within equities, we would begin reducing exposure to U.S. stocks and instead focus on better areas of opportunity international developed markets. Within fixed income, we would maintain a bias toward spread product, such as corporate bonds, which generally pay a higher yield compared to similar Treasuries.

2013-10-04 Introducing the Tortoise Economy by Sam Stewart of Wasatch Funds

All things considered, large U.S. companies that operate globally appear to be particularly attractive right now. Because many of these companies are generating significant portions of their sales outside the U.S., investors are effectively getting some international exposure with what I consider to be more-quantifiable risks.

2013-10-04 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.1, down from last week’s 132.9. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, remains unchanged at 4.8% (with last week’s number revised downward from 4.9).

2013-10-04 The Fire Fueling Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

For patient, long-term investors looking for a great portfolio diversifier, a moderate weighting in gold and gold stocks may be just the answer. And, today, when looking across the gold mining industry, you’ll find plenty of companies that have paid attractive dividends, many higher than the 5-year government yield.

2013-10-04 Debt Ceiling Debate Takes Center Stage as Government Shutdown Continues by Michael Townsend, Liz Ann Sonders & Kathy A. Jones of Charles Schwab

It appears likely the first government shutdown since 1996 will not be resolved quickly. We believe Congress will seek to package reopening the government with a debt ceiling increase. Despite the brinksmanship, we don’t expect to see a downgrade of U.S. government debt by the major ratings agencies.

2013-10-04 Government Shutdown and Beyond by Team of Neuberger Berman

After months of eerie quiet in Washington, DC, fiscal conflicts have taken center stage, most prominently with the October 1 "shutdown" of U.S. government services. Markets are nervously watching if Congress can move past current wrangling to create a workable budget while navigating both the debt ceiling and shutdown-related fallout. In this issue of Strategic Spotlight, we consider how the budget debates could play out and the implications for investors.

2013-10-03 United States GDP (Gross Domestic Product), a Sign of Things to Come or of Things past? by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

Today’s United States GDP (Gross Domestic Product) report of 2.5% was nearly as expected so lower. The actual expectation was 2.6% that puts our average for the year now at 1.8%. This is not a good GDP. The United States GDP indicates what direction the country is going. It tells us whether we are growing and getting stronger or just stumbling by. Quarter to quarter it is much better but the number for the year so far tells us we have a long way to go.

2013-10-03 Third Quarter Market Commentary: Let's Reminisce by Robert Stimpson of Oak Associates

US stocks have risen each quarter of 2013, outperforming most other asset classes and emerging markets along the way. In the third quarter, the S&P 500 Index rose 5.24% and pushed the year-to-date gain to 19.79%. All sectors within the S&P 500 have produced positive returns this year, although the pro-cyclical groups have outperformed the defensive ones.

2013-10-03 Buying the Shutdown by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Volatility from the government shutdown and other political developments in Washington D.C. will likely continue to rise. Despite this, the reduction in output from this will be short-term, and investors still have several attractive options for deploying capital across asset classes in the United States and globally.

2013-10-03 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Last week, total AUM in all active ETFs fell by almost $40.9 million. Assets in the two largest categories “Short Term Bond” and “Global Bond” fell by $7.74 million and $10.156 respectively. In addition, the “Foreign Bond” category decreased by $36.33 million, while AUM in “Currency” active ETFs fell by almost $5.2 million.

2013-10-03 More Heat Than Light by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Following their surprising decision to maintain the current pace of quantitative easing (QE), Fed officials provided more detailed reasoning last week in public remarks and interviews with media outlets. Unfortunately, the latest comments added more heat than light to the QE debate in our view. Much like Chairman Bernanke’s post-meeting press conference, officials expressed contradictory views on several major policy questions.

2013-10-03 Survival of the Fittest? by William Gross of PIMCO

I hate crows and my wife Sue hates bugs, but like most married couples we have learned to live with our differences. Crows eat bugs though, and bugs eat bugs, and that scientific observation sets the context for the next few paragraphs of this month’s Investment Outlook.

2013-10-03 The Taper Fakeout by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

Anyone who bought the media buzz about a September reduction of QE - called the "taper" - was very surprised when the Federal Reserve announced that stimulus would continue unabated. According the the official narrative, inflation is under control and the labor market is steadily improving. Why wouldn’t a modest taper be announced?

2013-10-03 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook for the Americas: A Slow-Moving Fed Benefits Economies on Both Continents by Mohit Mittal, Lupin Rahman, Ed Devlin of PIMCO

PIMCO expects the U.S. economy to grow 2.0%2.5% over the next year. However, a continued government shutdown would be a drag on growth. In Latin America, we see growth picking up to 3.0%3.5%, but the outlook varies by country. Mexico should fare well, but Brazil’s story is more mixed. In Canada, we believe the housing correction will be less severe than many are predicting, and we expect GDP to grow 1.5%2.0% over the cyclical horizon.

2013-10-02 The Math is Pretty Straightforward... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Congress and the White House must be pretty fired up that D&D2 started filming last week. The new movie might be the only thing more stupid than our elected leaders failing to negotiate and reach a deal. Most everyone either wants to spend our tax dollars like drunken professional athletes or hold our economy and financial markets hostage via a government shutdown and failure to raise the debt ceiling.

2013-10-02 Countdown to a Government Shutdown (Sept. 30) by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Unless an 11th hour deal is struck, the government will shut down at midnight tonight. Memories are fresh from similar "fiscal follies" in the summer of 2011 and we’ll compare and contrast. The last shutdown was 17 years ago and a look at that history may also be instructive.

2013-10-02 Chuck Royce on 3Q13: Quality Small-Caps Can Continue to Bear Fruit by Chuck Royce of The Royce Funds

Co-CIO, President, and Portfolio Manager Chuck Royce discusses his outlook on the current state of the small-cap market, his continued confidence in quality despite the Fed’s announcement in September to prolong its ongoing stimulus efforts, and the current case for active small-cap management.

2013-10-02 The Death Knell of Global Synchronized Trade by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

At Smead Capital Management, we believe the interest on September 18th in emerging markets, oil and gold are the last gasps of a dying trend. Our discipline demands that you must avoid popular investments and completely avoid investments attached to a perceived “new era.” We argue that the international investment markets reaction to Bernanke’s reprieve on September 18th is proof of a vision we have of the future.

2013-10-02 Handing Down Your Legacy - A Special Gift For Readers by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

No one likes to talk about death. Many people put off planning for this contingency because it’s just not pleasant to think about. Additionally, most young people think that death is a long way off, so they have plenty of time to plan for it. But as we all know, accidents happen and no one knows exactly when their time will come.

2013-10-02 Odd, Another Opposite Reaction, Gold and Silver Trade Lower... by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

Today’s government shutdown and the looming threat of negotiating over the debt ceiling should drive gold and silver higher. However, not unlike what we saw during the first week of the Sequestration in March, gold and silver have been sold off. Silver is holding better than gold against the onslaught having dropped only 2.56% while gold is down nearly 3%.

2013-10-02 What's easy about Quantitative Easing? by Gene Goldman of Cetera Financial Group

Recently you may have read or heard in the news about the possibility of the Federal Reserve (Fed) “tapering” its Quantitative Easing (QE) program. The topic can be so ingrained in the news cycle that few newscasters take the time to cover the details. So we thought we’d spend a few minutes discussing the background and recent developments on the QE program, and why it matters to investors.

2013-10-02 Weak Credit Growth Main Reason for Lackluster Economic Recovery by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

The U.S. economy is a credit-based economy. Economic expansion is fueled mostly by borrowing and consuming rather than saving and investing. A continuous expansion of credit is needed for the economy to grow. The main reason the economic recovery has been so lackluster is that credit growth has remained weak despite the Federal Reserve’s continuing liquidity injections.

2013-10-02 And That's The Week That Was by Rob Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Move over Ben BernankeTed Cruz has the floor. (Somehow investors seem more interested when Dr. B speaks.) With politicos facing debates on debt ceilings and budget funding, few have confidence that they can act reasonably and with compromise (and the Cruz debacle did not help matters). Stocks fell over five consecutive days as portfolio managers set up positions for the next quarter. Labor and manufacturing releases highlight a hectic week on the economic calendar, but shenanigans from DC may steal the headlines.

2013-10-02 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Financial markets have now become a function of how investors are guessing the drama in Washington DC will play out.

2013-10-02 Quarterly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Many of us bear emotional scars from the excesses of a debt-driven, casino-like mid-2000 decade. The last recession was punctuated by lost jobs, lowering wages, diminishing portfolio valuations, putrid returns on cash savings, and a total decimation of confidence in the so-called “Titans” who drove the Wall Street bus during that period.

2013-10-02 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Effective October 1st, the health exchanges are open for business and enrollment can occur over the next 90 days. It will be interesting to see just how many people feel compelled to sign up under the individual mandate. While the premiums are not inexpensive for most of the eligible people, many will receive tax credits to help offset the cost. Nonetheless, others will find it a significant burden to the budget, and there is great debate over just how this will affect the economy long-term.

2013-10-01 Bracing for a Beltway Bombshell by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

With Washington mired in a fiscal gridlock, investors need to be prepared for short-term volatility. But buying on the dip and boosting exposure to risk assets can keep their long-term goals from getting jammed up, says Kristina Hooper.

2013-10-01 Money Can Buy Happiness by Justin Kermond (Article)

Extensive research has shown that the act of buying life experiences and giving money away can make people happier than buying material items does.

2013-10-01 The Ultimate Income Portfolio Revisited by Geoff Considine (Article)

Rising interest rates will be unkind to income-generating assets and the investors who depend on them in retirement. My ultimate-income portfolio (UIP) provides a solution to this problem. It has reliably produced high income and low volatility with respect to the stock market, and its performance is likely to continue, even if rates rise further.

2013-10-01 The Looming Threat to China’s Economy by Marianne Brunet (Article)

The debate over China’s economic prospects centers on its real-estate bubble, excessive leverage and rising labor costs. But regardless of its short-term fate, China’s economic growth will ultimately be limited by the availability of a key resource. China ranks second lowest in the world for water availability per capita. Water-scarcity poses a threat to its future growth. The challenge is determining how severe this will be.

2013-10-01 The Key Succession Issues for an Advisory Practice by Bob Veres (Article)

Succession planning has moved to the top of the practice management priority list for tens of thousands of advisory firms. As the average age of founder/advisors creeps ever closer to traditional retirement age, the profession is asking itself a lot of hard questions about how to keep these businesses alive – and take care of clients – after the founder retires.

2013-10-01 The Eight Principles of Value Investing by Scott Clemons and Michael Kim (Article)

In any environment, but especially one characterized by uncertainty, eight principles of investing are critical. These bedrock beliefs help guide our thinking at the levels of asset allocation, security selection and identification of the third-party managers we engage to help manage our clients’ assets.

2013-10-01 Is Your Marketing Message Putting Prospects to Sleep? by Dan Richards (Article)

To be effective, your marketing message has to be differentiating and memorable – and motivate potential clients to want to learn more. By that standard, most advisor communication fails.

2013-10-01 When Employees Can’t Get Along by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We have two employees who do not like one another. I have talked with them to let them know how disruptive their behavior is. Should I fire one? Should I take sides? I’m a mother at home, but don’t feel like I need to be one in the office.

2013-10-01 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Raul Elizalde’s article, Why Bond Funds are Toxic for Your Portfolio, which appeared last week. In addition, a reader responds to Michael Edesess’ article, William Bernstein – “Stocks for the Long Run,” which appeared last week.

2013-10-01 Corporate Bond ETFs Attract Steady Inflows Amid Bond Market Sell-Off by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

Corporate bonds remained popular with investors amid the bond sell-off in recent months, while Foreign and Municipal bond funds experienced the steadiest and heaviest redemptions.

2013-10-01 Europe Pokes Its Head Out From the Shadows by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

With all the focus on affairs in the US, China and developing nations, Europe has largely been given a free pass in recent months. The lack of attention gave Europe the opportunity to fix some of its troubles, but challenges remain and are likely to surface in the weeks ahead.

2013-10-01 Putin's Gambit by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

Earlier this month, President Obama found himself in a very difficult position regarding Syria. An ill-advised comment about making the use of chemical weapons a “red line” forced a response when the weapons were clearly used in Syria. The administration began moving toward a military response. However, support for military operations was lacking both domestically and internationally. The clearest signal of this opposition was the British Parliament’s vote to prevent P.M. Cameron from authorizing military action in support of the expected U.S. military strike.

2013-10-01 America's Endless Budget Battle by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

Perhaps investors are becoming inured to America’s annual debt-ceiling debacle, now playing out for the third year in a row. But, as the short-term antics become more routine, the risks of long-term dysfunction become more apparent.

2013-10-01 Breaking Bad? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

For most of the summer, the speculation was out there. How would it end? (BTW DVR users no spoiler alert necessary for this article.) Which main characters, if any, would survive? TV chat boards were filled with nervousness and lots of guesses.

2013-10-01 The Federal Government Shuts Down: Now What Happens? by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

Washington insanity reached new heights yesterday as Congress failed to agree on an appropriations bill to keep the federal government running, even though it had known the September 30 deadline for over six months. This inaction brings Washington dysfunction to a new high (or low). Up until now, Congress had arrived at each fiscal precipice and averted catastrophe with a compromise. Now, finally, Congress has gone over the edge.

2013-10-01 The Most Predictable Economic Crisis? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

Forget about a government shutdown. The quibbling over concessions to keep the government funded distracts from what might be the most predictable economic crisis. We have problems that may affect everything from the value of the U.S. dollar to investors’ savings, but also to national security.

2013-10-01 Is the Stock Market Cheap? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Click to viewHere is a new update of a popular market valuation method using the most recent Standard & Poor’s "as reported" earnings and earnings estimates and the index monthly averages of daily closes for the past month, which is 1687.17. The ratios in parentheses use the monthly close of 1681.55. For the earnings, see the table below created from Standard & Poor’s latest earnings spreadsheet.

2013-09-30 Teenage Melodrama and the Market's Infatuation with QE by Michael Temple of Pioneer Investments

Like a teenager caught between the decision of going to college and leaving friends behind or living in the comfort of home and going nowhere, debt markets have been reeling between taper angst and infinite quantitative easing euphoria.

2013-09-30 October Plus Shutdowns And The Debt Ceiling Equals More Volatility by John Rothe of Riverbend Investment Management

Upcoming Congressional debates on the U.S. budget and debt ceiling may cause an increase in volatility in global markets over the next few weeks.

2013-09-30 Long/Short Equity in Rising Rate Environments by Kurt Voldeng of AdvisorShares

The party in fixed income has been a good one. Spanning approximately 30 years and touching four different decades dating back to the Volker Era in the early 1980’s, it has been a fairly smooth ride with few, short lived, painful periods. It now appears that possibly, and the market pundits are still debating, that the party may be over. Most agree that if not over yet, the end is near.

2013-09-30 More Artificial Turmoil by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Washington is in political turmoil, again. A shutdown over spending may be imminent this week only to be followed by a debt default as Treasury approaches the debt ceiling in mid-October. It would be better to take the shutdown now and hope the fallout forces politicians to work out an omnibus deal that resolves all budget issues (for now) rather than stretch out the battles over the next few weeks, leaves investors in limbo, and threatens a default soon enough.

2013-09-30 The Eurozone's Calm Before the Storm by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate

A little more than a year ago, in the summer of 2012, the eurozone, faced with growing fears of a Greek exit and unsustainably high borrowing costs for Italy and Spain, appeared to be on the brink of collapse. Today, that risk has diminished significantly but the factors that fueled it remain largely unaddressed.

2013-09-30 The House at Main and Wall by Justin Speer of Invesco Blog

This four-part series tracks the recent US housing recovery and explains why investors should be both encouraged and cautious. Part 4 looks at pockets of investment opportunity on Main Street. Part 1 traced the recovery’s trajectory against the backdrop of the overall US economy. Part 2 examined affordability and interest rates, while Part 3 discussed why homebuilders’ stocks may potentially be overvalued.

2013-09-30 The Global Sea Change Continues by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Most investors will readily admit the global credit bubble is deflating, yet continue to favor credit-based asset classes within their portfolios. Whereas many investors still believe that the emerging markets are a growth story, the data tell us that U.S. investors can find growth in their own backyard.

2013-09-30 Investing In Corporate Bonds: The Compelling Case For Active Management by Ed Devlin, Michael Kim of PIMCO

Passive investment returns in the Canadian corporate bond market have been unimpressive because of the way corporate bond indices are constructed and factors unique to the Canadian market. Unconstrained by these limitations, active managers with global reach may provide superior returns. The current environment presents an attractive opportunity for Canadian investors to implement a wide discretion, active approach to managing corporate bonds.

2013-09-30 Shutdown: A Good Thing? by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

It looks like House and Senate won’t come to a budget agreement by midnight and, as a result, the federal government is going to partially shut down starting Tuesday morning.

2013-09-30 Sitting Ducks by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Stocks are a claim on a very long-term stream of future cash flows that will be distributed to shareholders over time, and P/E ratios are simply a shorthand. P/E ratios are useful only to the extent that the earnings measure being used is reasonably representative and informative about the long-term stream of cash flows what might be called a “sufficient statistic.”

2013-09-30 Investing in a Fairly Valued World by Herb Abramson, RJ Steinhoff, Randall Abramson, Anthony Visano, Jeff Sayer of Trapeze Asset Management

For several years we have been arguing that global equity markets are undervalued and represent the best investment alternative given growing corporate profits (S&P 500 Index earnings have nearly doubled in the last five years), a favorable monetary backdrop and a recovering economy.

2013-09-30 DC Follies, Puerto Rico and A Report on Defaults and Bankruptcy by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

I start this week with some observations on the follies taking place in our nation’s capital, then provide some data around Puerto Rico and, finally, a look at a recently released report around municipal defaults. One might argue a common thread just might run thru this commentary. Be on the lookout for a special release later this week as the Geo Score is updated for States, Counties and over 330 Cities.

2013-09-30 Congress Holds Equities Hostage by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equity advances ended last week and the S&P 500 declined -1.0%.1 Markets appeared concerned about overbought conditions from a strong run up over the past three weeks and uneasy about Federal Reserve (Fed) monetary policy normalization as well as the credibility of its communication strategy. Other widespread reasons for the downturn included increased focus on the fiscal battles in Washington, D.C., heightened worries about a possible near-term government shutdown and the contentious debt ceiling debate.

2013-09-30 Fourth Quarter Outlook: A Turning Point? by Gene Goldman of Cetera Financial Group

It seems sometimes that the outlook for the global economy and the markets has been unchanged for years. Since the end of the recession, each year has commenced with forecasts that the United States economy would break out of its below-trend growth mode, only to see expectations dashed. Meanwhile, Europe has been mired in its own recession as it struggles with heavy post-crisis debt burdens. Growth has slowed in the emerging markets, ending the commodity boom of the first decade of this century.

2013-09-30 Government Shutdown Could Lead to a Buying Opportunity by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

As we approach yet another self-induced “the sky is falling and the other guy is to blame” environment, recall that this situation is not uncommon. We have had 17 of these budget debt ceiling deadlines and yet we have unbelievably (said with extreme rolling of the eyes) been able to overcome our elected officials’ calls for the end of the world. The most recent time when the U.S. government shutdown was in November 1995 concluding in January 1996,when arguably the animosity and polarization was as pronounced as it is today.

2013-09-28 The Renminbi: Soon to Be a Reserve Currency? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Contrary to the thinking of fretful dollar skeptics, my firm belief is that the US dollar is going to become even stronger and will at some point actually deserve to be the reserve currency of choice rather than merely the prettiest girl in the ugly contest the last currency standing, so to speak. But whether the Chinese RMB will become a reserve currency is an entirely different question.

2013-09-27 Achievement Awards Announced at the 2013 Insider’s Forum Conference and Leadership Forum by Bob Veres (Article)

The first annual Insider’s Forum conference attracted more than its share of industry leaders. But two of its more prominent attendees received special recognition for their contributions to the financial planning/investment advisory profession.

2013-09-27 Read My Lips... by Dimitri Balatsos of Tesseract Partners

Chairman Ben Bernanke’s press conference this week, commenting on the decision by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) not to “taper,” reminded us of the famous slogan of Presidential hopeful George H.W. Bush at the 1988 Republican National Convention “Read my lips: no new taxes.” Yet, after he won the election, he raised taxes in an effort to reduce the public deficit.

2013-09-27 Party like it's 1999? Not with your investments by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

“Party over, oops out of time?” I wasn’t dreamin’ when I wrote this, but these financial markets in the U.S. are beginning to feel like 1999. Back in the 1980s musician Prince, in all his purple majesty, urged people to party like it was 1999. Strangely when that year came, people did just that, but a year later they got clobbered by a horrific hangover by way of their investment portfolios. Investors need to prepare yet again for those times because these parties weren’t meant to last.

2013-09-27 What Makes Alternative Beta Smart? by Chris Brightman of Research Affiliates

A Smart Beta strategy should be “low cost, transparent and systematic,” according to Towers Watson. Our research suggests many alternative beta strategies fall short.

2013-09-27 Inflow into Equity Funds in September Fourth-Highest Ever by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

Although the S&P 500 sits just below a record closing high, we think the path of least resistance for stock prices is higher. The Federal Reserve seems as determined as ever to inflate asset bubbles by funneling $85 billion per month in newly printed money to the primary dealers, and our demand indicators continue to turn more favorable for the intermediate term.

2013-09-27 Witch-Hunt Fails in Silver Futures Trading; CFTC by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

In 2008 the CFTC received a series of complaints about the silver market. According to their release today the most widely asserted complaint was that because silver product prices such as coins and bullion were higher that the price of silver futures should have also experienced an increase. The other complaint was that large shorts in the silver market were responsible for lower future prices.

2013-09-27 Global Destinations for Yield by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

While U.S. stocks are increasingly due for a consolidation, the outlook for global equities is improving. Now appears to be a good time for investors to increase allocations toward Asia and Europe.

2013-09-27 Decomposing Today's Record Profit Margins by Doug Ramsey of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

Again, the popular perception is that this cycle’s record margins stem from dramatic strides in corporate efficiency, driven in good part by the outsourcing of manufacturing/assembly operations to lower labor cost countries. But most margin expansion since the 1990s is attributable to a couple of other players -- specifically, the “Bond Bulls and the Bookkeepers” (we know, it sounds like a cheap romance novel).

2013-09-27 Like a Five-Year Game of Duck, Duck, Goose' by Will Nasgovitz of Heartland Advisors

As summer is trailing off here in Milwaukee, WI, my wife and I have been revisiting some classic children’s games with our young son and daughter. Most recently, the biggest hit has been “Duck, Duck, Goose.” And, it’s a real treat to watch the extreme anticipation in their faces as they wait for the goose to be called and the running to begin.

2013-09-27 GDP, a Sign of Things to Come or of Things past? by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

Today’s GDP report of 2.5% was nearly as expected so lower. The actual expectation was 2.6% that puts our average for the year now at 1.8%. This is not a good GDP.

2013-09-27 How to Strengthen Your Portfolio Core by David Fabian of Fabian Capital Management

In strength training and investing, your core is everything. It’s 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 don’t 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.

2013-09-27 Give Me Tapering... Just Not Yet by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Last week Federal Reserve (the Fed) officials surprised investors by choosing not to begin slowing the pace of quantitative easing (QE) despite months of setup in their public comments. Instead, the latest iteration of the Fed’s bond buying strategy will continue at $85 billion per month. At this point our best guess is that the decision was a path of least resistance among a divided committee: there seemed to be a number of officials who were concerned about downside risks to growth from fiscal policy uncertainty and higher interest rates.

2013-09-27 Don't Cry for Me, Ben Bernanke by Simon Johnson of Project Syndicate

The Federal Reserve will decide on monetary policy for the US based primarily on US conditions. Economic policymakers elsewhere who are pleading for a postponement of US monetary tightening should understand this hard reality and prepare accordingly.

2013-09-27 Bridging the Gap: Global Listed Infrastructure by Wilson Magee of Franklin Templeton

Simply spreading your investments across a smattering of asset classes with the idea that diversification should automatically produce a positive result is an approach that’s maybe a little too similar to a roll of the dice. For investors hunting for classes to diversify into, Wilson Magee, Director of Global Real Estate and Infrastructure Securities, Franklin Templeton Real Asset Advisors, and co-manager of Franklin Global Listed Infrastructure Fund, has one word: infrastructure.

2013-09-27 Invest to Your Full Potential Even Under Pressure by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

In times of extreme pressure, athletes, students and investors have one thing in common: they occasionally choke. Whether it’s Rick Perry forgetting the third item on his list during the Republican debate or a favorite basketball player missing the basket in the playoffs, when stakes are high, people can fail to perform to their full potential.

2013-09-27 Celebrate with Tokyo by Kenichi Amaki of Matthews Asia

Many in Tokyo erupted with delight and excitement following the recent news of the city’s selection as host to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Following a failed bid in 2016, Tokyo edged out rivals Istanbul and Madrid on its way to becoming the first Asian city to host the Games for a second time.

2013-09-27 Illinois and California: Similar Challenges, Different Approaches by Joseph Rosenblum, Neene Jenkins, John Ceffalio of AllianceBernstein

Every state faces challenges when it comes to balancing the books, but not every state is equally effective at tackling them. The responses of California and Illinois to post-2008 difficulties show how different the approaches can beand how much is at stake.

2013-09-27 Calculating A Stock's Fair Value Based On Future Growth Expectations: Part 2A by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

In part one of this two-part series I focused primarily on calculating the intrinsic value of a common stock based on an analysis and review of historical information and data. Although I strongly believe that there is much that investors can learn by studying the past, I even more strongly believe that since we can only invest in the future, that it is also implicit that we embrace a rational method of forecasting.

2013-09-27 3 Reasons the Labor Market Will Continue to Frustrate the Fed by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

The Fed’s decision to delay tapering is an implicit acknowledgment that the labor market is far from healed. Russ explains why the labor market is likely to continue to frustrate the Fed and gives two implications for investors.

2013-09-27 The Weekly Speculator by Michael Shaoul, Ranita Ragunathan, Timothy Brackett, Brendan Moynihan of Marketfield Asset Management

We wrote last week on the eve of the FOMC meeting which resulted in the surprising decision not to reduce the current program of treasury and mortgage security purchases. What was to our eyes equally surprising was the volume and strident tone of the commentary that was issued following this release, ranging from the arrogant to the outraged as if anything really meaningful had changed.

2013-09-27 How to Profit from a Changing China by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

We believe China’s rebalancing is positive for investors who selectively invest in its stocks. As Jim O’Neill puts it, “When a country is embarking on a significant compositional change to its economy, stock-pickers rather than index-trackers have the upper hand.”

2013-09-27 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.9, up from last week’s 132.3 (revised down from 132.4). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 4.9% from last week’s 4.5%.

2013-09-27 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Merkel’s win is unlikely to lead to any changes in the Eurozone. Extra lift from exports is not guaranteed. Robust growth is a challenge in India, Brazil and Indonesia.

2013-09-27 A Sensible Way to Evaluate Your Investment Performance by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

I recommend using at least two benchmarks for each portfolio or portfolio strategy: One based on the portion of the S&P 500’s volatility that the client is prepared to endure over time. The other is the S&P 500 Total Return Index as this has become, over time, a very common and recognizable indicator of performance of “the market.”

2013-09-27 You Never Know by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Surprises come at any moment in the investing world, reinforcing the need to have both a long-term view and a balanced/diversified portfolio. We believe signs are pointing to better US and European growth, a near-term rebound in China, and some possible positive momentum building in Japan. But near-term fiscal policy risks abound. Investors that need to add to equity positions should use pullbacks to do so.

2013-09-26 One Trick Pony: Whipping the GDP Donkey into a Stallion by Cliff Draughn of Excelsia

The difficulty since 2012 has been that if you are not significantly overweight US equities, then your returns are less than stellar. Employing a diversified, risk-averse investment strategy in 2013 has in hindsight been the wrong thing to do, given that every other asset class is negative year-to-date, while US stocks are up double digits. The combination of the Fed’s Zero Interest Rate Policy and the artificial bubble in Treasury bonds has forced conservative investors into riskier positions in order to find risk-adjusted returns.

2013-09-26 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook for Europe: Near-Term Recovery, Long-Term Risks by Andrew Balls of PIMCO

While Europe has emerged out of recession, the relative tightness of monetary policy means the eurozone is still struggling to get back to potential pre-Lehman growth rates. The European Central Bank should be able to maintain stability over the cyclical horizon while policymakers continue to address outstanding issues as they look to build a less vulnerable monetary union. We are selective in our approach to regional credit and remain neutral on the euro, balancing our cyclical outlook with longer-term secular concerns on the eurozone outlook and valuations.

2013-09-25 Bernanke's Temporary Reprieve by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

There is no nice way to state this opinion: the end of Quantitative Easing and the ultimate allowance of the open market to set interest rates will create a grueling multi-decade bear market in US bond investments. Higher rates mean the re-pricing of existing bond instruments to lower prices and the principle risk of longer-dated maturities getting exposed. In 1983, I remember people losing approximately 15% of their market value in one year as Treasury interest rates rose from 11% to 14%, temporarily crushing owners of 25-year tax-free unit trusts.

2013-09-25 Surprise... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Clearly, the numbers didn’t meet the Fed’s preconditions for tapering. And while the jobless rate has fallen to 7.3% (from 8.1% when QE3, the current round of quantitative easing began), Bernanke had to acknowledge what’s been obvious to all. The decline in the jobless rate hasn’t occurred just because more folks are getting jobs; it’s because many are dropping out of the workforce, which means they’re not counted as unemployed by the government.

2013-09-25 Surprise! No Tapering and More Budget Progress than Meets the Eye by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

On Monday, Larry Summers exited the pool of candidates for the next Federal Reserve (Fed) chairman. (Only the timing was really a surprise.) On Wednesday, the Fed didn’t taper and de-emphasized several of the targets they’d set earlier. (Big surprise versus consensus - not central bank best practices). Municipal bond offerings by Puerto Rico, California, and Illinois were met with strong investor demand.

2013-09-25 Another Budget & Debt Ceiling Fiasco Starts Now by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Last Wednesday, after the Fed surprisingly voted not to “taper,” stocks soared to new record highs, but then lost ground for the next two days. It may be that some investors decided to lock in some gains, reduce exposure and brace for the next few weeks as the budget and debt ceiling circuses play out in Washington.

2013-09-25 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Last week, total AUM in all active ETFs increased by almost $80.2 million. Assets in the two largest categories “Short Term Bond” and “Global Bond” fell by $20.65 million and $38.585 respectively. As the dollar weakened on the Federal Reserve’s decision to delay tapering, the “Foreign Bond” category increased by $65.725 million and “Currency” active ETFs added $7.43 in value. Just like the previous week, the second largest increase in AUM came in the “High Yield” ETF category, which this time rose by over $44.35 million, main

2013-09-25 Muni Market Resurgent by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management

In light of the recent recovery in fixed income markets and the outperformance of the municipal bond market in particular, I thought I would send a note to provide a brief update since we last sent our market observations in July and August. As you may recall, we stated in the clearest terms that we felt the recent rise in interest rates provided an attractive entry point for municipal bond investors.

2013-09-25 Japanese Equities: Is the Bear Market Over? by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

Japanese equities have spent the last twenty-four years in a secular bear market defined by lower lows and lower highs in market price. There is now hope that a new Prime Minister, and a new brand of economics, will reverse this multi-decade trend.

2013-09-25 Staff Toilets Not Working (A Gold Market Commentary) by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

Picture of me 7For BullionVault I am the only employee outside of head office. But I am still on the all staff email. For which I am very grateful. I get to hear all the comings and goings of the employees as they often bring back treats from the different destinations where they have been on their vacations. I plan myself to bring something special to them when I go to London in December.

2013-09-25 Secular Trends in Asian Credit Markets Shape Long-Term Investment Themes by Robert Mead, Raja Mukherji of PIMCO

The next several years will likely see many Asian corporate issuers to come to the market for financing, whether to pursue long-term business plans or to employ traditional corporate finance and leverage strategies. Rigorous credit research, flexible resources, experienced local portfolio management and strong relationships with local stakeholders are all crucial to uncovering attractive opportunities while monitoring volatility in Asia’s credit markets.

2013-09-25 Occupy QE by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

The Occupy Wall Street movement began two years ago this month, galvanizing attention to income and wealth inequality in the US and around the world. But, if anything, economic inequality has deepened since then and, lost in the angst over inequality, is the critical role that central banks have played in exacerbating the problem.

2013-09-25 Fiscal Policy: Once More, with Ceiling by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Will the upcoming congressional debate on interim financing and raising the debt limit lead to a government shutdownand market turmoil? Not likely.

2013-09-25 How To Calculate The Intrinsic Value Of Your Common Stocks: Part 1 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Every investor in common stocks is faced with the challenge of knowing when to buy, sell or hold. Additionally, this challenge will be approached differently by the true investor than it would by a speculator. But since I know very little about speculation (trading or market timing), this article will be focused on assisting true investors desirous of a sound and reliable method that they can trust and implement when attempting to make these important buy, sell or hold investing decisions.

2013-09-25 After the Fed's Surprise: 4 Asset Allocation Implications by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

The Fed’s surprise no-taper announcement confirmed Russ’ expectation that the global recovery remains soft and that interest rates are likely to remain contained this year. What does this mean for investors? There are four implications for asset allocations, says Russ.

2013-09-25 Thank You! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Thank you Franklin Templeton for allowing me to speak at your world headquarters in San Mateo, California last week. I had the privilege of meeting John Templeton on a number of occasions and it is heartwarming to see your organization carrying on with Sir John’s impeccable traditions. Thanks to all the portfolio managers (PMs) that met with me in the San Francisco Bay area, as we swapped ideas and renewed friendships.

2013-09-25 Misplaced Budget Priorities by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The Federal Open Market Committee delayed the initial reduction in the pace of its asset purchases, citing concern about the recent tightening of financial conditions (higher long-term interest rates). However, Bernanke also noted uncertainty in fiscal policy. He recognized the improvement in economic activity and labor market conditions since the Fed began QE3, which was achieved in spite of a federal fiscal retrenchment. He also suggested that the debates on the government’s spending and borrowing authorities may create downside risks.

2013-09-25 More Than a “Sugar High” by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors

The recent decision by the Fed to delay any tapering may be a preview of what to expect by a “Yellen Fed”. As the Fed appeared to remove “virtually every yardstick or goal post” that they have provided recently, one thing is certain, “they seem determined to keep the accelerator nailed to the floor as they drive the economy at full speed.” According to Cornerstone Macro, based on the Fed’s move, it appears increasingly likely that “growth is more likely to reaccelerate.”

2013-09-24 William Bernstein – “Stocks for the Long Run” by Michael Edesess (Article)

William Bernstein’s reading of history is that if you want to build a nest egg and protect against the “four horsemen” that threaten it over the long term, the best thing to do is invest in a globally diversified stock portfolio.

2013-09-24 ENERGY MLPs: A Suitable and Sustainable Asset Class by Sponsored Content from ClearBridge Investments (Article)

Key Takeaways: MLPs have provided income with little correlation to other asset classes and little sensitivity to interest rates, commodity prices or economic cycles. The market for MLP stocks has expanded greatly and offers liquidity which appeals to long-term institutional investors. The renaissance in U.S. energy production is driving sustainable growth in the infrastructure that MLPs own and operate

2013-09-24 Why Retirees Should Choose DIAs over SPIAs by Wade Pfau (Article)

Retirement portfolios can be constructed from a mix of asset classes, including stocks, bonds and annuities. In the past, I’ve shown that retirees achieve some of the best outcomes by allocating a portion of those assets to SPIAs. In this column, I extend my analysis to show that DIAs work even better than SPIAs, by providing more liquidity and better longevity protection at a lower cost.

2013-09-24 Michael Aronstein’s Warning to Fund Investors by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Fixed-income investors may think rising interest rates are their biggest worry. But bond funds face a new risk, driven by their need for liquidity to service investors’ daily redemptions, according to Michael Aronstein.

2013-09-24 Four Ways to Attract Affluent Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Attracting HNW clients is all about credibility – as a result, it’s typically lower key, takes longer and requires an upfront investment of time and effort to position yourself to interact with HNW prospects.

2013-09-24 How the Roll-Down Effect Now Helps Bond Investors by David Schawel, CFA (Article)

Retail investors have been rapidly selling out of bond funds. That may be either wise or unwise with the benefit of hindsight, but one often-overlooked fact remains: New and existing bond investors now have the benefit of a much steeper yield curve. In fact, the “roll down” portion of a bond’s return is one of the most important and least understood aspects of a bond’s total return.

2013-09-24 Why Bond Funds are Toxic for Your Portfolio by Raul Elizalde (Article)

Thirty years of rate declines have convinced many that bonds are safe. Indeed, a conservative portfolio has come to be synonymous with one that is heavy on bonds. But a rising interest-rate cycle is taking hold, and bond investors are now exposed to unfamiliar risks in their conservative portfolios. Bond funds will not provide the safety that investors seek. Holders of individual bonds will fare much better.

2013-09-24 The Elements of a Successful Succession Plan by Mary Ann Buchanan (Article)

While the idea of “yielding to maturity” and dying in your boots feels right, you need to think about contingency and succession planning for the continuity of care for your clients, family and staff. It’s a challenge that hangs over you like Damocles’ sword.

2013-09-24 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Two readers respond to Michael Edesess’ article, Why DFA’s New Research is Flawed, which appeared September 10.

2013-09-24 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Hail the Almighty Fed. Despite a rather hectic week on the economic calendar, investors instead focused primarily on news from the Federal Reserve. They rejoiced the end of Summer’s campaign for Chair and further rejoiced another Fed meeting with far more words than action. The week ended with profit-taking and plenty of uncertainty heading into the homestretch of the year.

2013-09-24 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

The Federal Reserve kept its word last week: until they see an improvement in jobs growth and wages they simply won’t budge on their mission to keep interest rates low to stimulate borrowing and economic expansion. What this means to the markets, however, is more ambiguous.

2013-09-24 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Financial markets have found out the answer to important questions in the last week. While there have alternatively been both positive and negative reactions, the net result is lower interest rates and higher stock prices.

2013-09-24 The U.S. Deficit Shrank, but Will It Come Back Bigger Than Ever? by Team of Knowledge@Wharton

The U.S. deficit has fallen to its lowest level since 2008. Experts weigh in on how this will affect upcoming budget negotiations.

2013-09-24 The Brazil Conundrum by Bill OGrady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

The last decade has been exceptionally good for emerging markets. Never before have so many countries grown so rapidly, and at the same time. The average growth rate from 2003 to 2012 was 13.1% for emerging markets, while the long-term average stands at 5.0%. This growth rate was partly due to mean reversion after sluggish growth periods in the 80s and 90s, when the average growth rate for the group stood at 3.5%.

2013-09-24 Is The Dividend Mania Ending? by Doug Ramsey of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

In the last couple of months, there’s been an unusually high number of stocks making new 52-week lows even though the S&P 500 remains 24% above its own 52-week low set last November. This disjointed type of internal market action is usually not healthy, but it can persist for awhile before the warning flag turns from yellow to red.

2013-09-24 Has the Fed Lost Its Credibility? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Any economics student will tell you central banks must achieve three things to effectively implement monetary policy: (1) independence; (2) credibility; and (3) transparency.For most of the Fed’s history, the first two characteristics were arguably well attained.However, the group was never well known for clarity into its thinking.

2013-09-24 The U.S. Economy: Poised for Growth? by Jeremy Boynton of Laureate Wealth Management

The Federal Reserve decided to delay the beginning of the end of quantitative easing (QE). The markets were very surprised by this as nearly all Fed watchers were expecting at least a small reduction in QE. In explaining its course of action, the Fed cited economic conditions that are currently too weak and/or fragile to begin removing QE. Ironically, the bond and stock markets rallied on this news.

2013-09-24 Lehman Five Years LaterLessons and Threats by Dean Curnutt of Macro Risk Advisors

The five-year anniversary of the Lehman bankruptcy and onset of financial crisis is here and so too is the raft of opinion pieces around what caused the meltdown and how it is different this time.In a recent interview with Charlie Rose, when asked about the risk of another 2008 event, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said, “The probability of it happening again in our lifetime is as close to zero as I could imagine.”

2013-09-23 America's Labor Market by the Numbers by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

Net monthly job creation in the US was up in August, while unemployment was down. But, to get a real sense of the American labor market’s health, we need to look at other indicators, and what these numbers have to tell us about both the present and the future is far from reassuring.

2013-09-23 A Gross Failure of Communications by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Everyone was totally caught by surprise when the Fed announced it would maintain the $85 billion monthly rate of bond buying after Fed officials had carefully signaled for months that it would soon start tapering purchases. Moreover, the Fed’s justification was not compelling and the decision wrecked havoc with the Fed’s efforts to improve transparency. Investors are right to be confused. Still, bonds remain at risk, while stocks should continue to do well.

2013-09-23 Seeking Global Growth: Our Outlook for Credit by James Balfour of Loomis Sayles

Global business and credit cycles are nothing new to investors. The familiar sequence of recession, recovery, expansion and slowdown plays out over time, influencing interest rates, credit availability, business climate and capital markets. It’s a time-honored process, but in practice, no two business and credit cycle pairings are exactly alike. Business and credit cycles tend to be driven by specific but varying factors that accumulate until an economic “tipping point” is reached, after which the business and credit climates deteriorate.

2013-09-23 The Euro Tug-of-War by Thomas Kressin of PIMCO

Faced with lingering economic stagnation, record unemployment and continued political strife in the region, the common consensus for a depreciation of the euro seems only natural and very much required to counter the weak cyclical position of the eurozone. The rising current account surplus in combination with net long-term capital inflows point to a stronger euro that could stay with us for an extended period; such a development could potentially undermine the fragile social consensus to continue with the necessary structural and fiscal reforms.

2013-09-23 Enhanced Dividend for Income by Jim O'Shaugnessy of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management

It is axiomatic in the financial planning canon that investors searching for a steady source of income should rely heavily on bonds. Stocks are for capital appreciation and bonds for income. The practice is so ingrained, that I have not heard of many investors who would make the case for using an equity portfolio to generate income. Bonds also appeal to advisors because of their inherent principal protection advantage. As a bond owner, you are a creditor, not an owner.

2013-09-23 Credit Rating Agencies: Can They Get It Right? Part 3: Five Years After the Fall by Michelle Shwarzman of Invesco Blog

This three-part series takes a critical look at the growing role of credit rating agencies (CRAs) in the global financial system. This post reports on the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) debate about the role of CRAs in the international financial system. Part 1 focused on the involvement of CRAs in recent financial and economic crises in the US and Europe, while Part 2 described post-crises attempts to reform CRAs.

2013-09-23 Shake & Bake and Pension Woes, One Man's “Thoughts From the Frontline” by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week I take a departure from form. After a few brief words around the Fed’s Shake and Bake maneuver and a very quick look at Food Stamp data, I return you to the capable hands of John Mauldin to dive into the Pension woes. We are honored that Mr. Mauldin based his work on DIVER’s data and some of our tools. If you decide to follow John’s advice around your city, let us know if we can help. Be sure to check out the “Data Released this Week” as our data team was hard at work.

2013-09-23 Loose and Looser by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Larry Summers took his name out of the hat and won’t be considered for the top spot at the Federal Reserve. And while nothing is a slam dunk, it looks very much like current Vice Chair Janet Yellen is going to get the call from President Obama to step up and replace Bernanke.

2013-09-23 Happy Anniversary? Perspectives on the Financial Crisis Five Years Later by Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson of Hartford Funds

Since 2008, there’s been slow but steady improvement in the global economypolicy makers’ unconventional tools have helped stabilize financial markets and bought time for economies to rebalance. Expectations are too low for developed-market growth and inflation, in our view. As such, we think this environment will be positive for developed-equity marketsparticularly in Europe and Japan.

2013-09-23 Fed Inaction Lengthens Reflationary Economy by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities advanced last week as the S&P 500 increased 1.32%.1 The Federal Reserve (Fed) delivered a big surprise by leaving intact the current $85 billion monthly purchase program. The Committee appears nervous about the resiliency of the economy. Chairman Bernanke pointed to three factors for postponing tapering: 1) the need for more labor market data to be confident in the outlook, 2) a desire to assess the degree to which tighter financial conditions, particularly mortgage rates, are affecting the real economy and 3) an interest in gaining clarity on “upcoming fiscal debates.̶

2013-09-23 Post Fed, Expect More Surprises by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Kristina Hooper says investors should brace for more big market swingsand some fiscal curveballsin the wake of the FOMC’s decision not to taper in September. But the economy is throwing some good surprises our way too.

2013-09-23 Psychological Ether by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

In my view, the problem with quantitative easing is that its entire effect relies on provoking risk-taking by those who would otherwise choose not to do so; that the FOMC has extended and amplified financial market distortions without regard to the rich valuations and dismal prospective returns that financial assets are most likely priced to achieve; and that this distortion of financial asset prices has precious little to do with the presumptive goal of Fed policy, which is greater job creation and economic activity.

2013-09-23 Aberdeen Global Investment Outlook: September 2013 by Mike Turner of Aberdeen Asset Management

The point of maximum policy accommodation may now be in sight: Markets volatile as investors forced to contemplate U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) exit strategy. Slowing growth in China is putting pressure on Asian and emerging markets to develop domestic led demand. This time really could be different for Japan - however reflating the economy was never going to be easy.

2013-09-21 Rich City, Poor City by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we will conclude our look at pension plans for the nonce with a 30,000-foot overview of the states and then take a deeper dive into one city: mine. This will give you at least one version of how to do your own homework about your own hometown. But fair warning, depending on your locale, you may need medical help or significant quantities of an adult beverage after you finish your research.

2013-09-21 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Global deleveraging has a long way to go. Fiscal drama and the economy. Funding for economic statistics needs to be enhanced

2013-09-21 This Will Not End Well by Robert Mark of Castle Investment Management

How do you justify higher equity valuations if profit margins are more likely to contract than expand and revenue growth is stalling? Why naturally you discount those future cash flows by a lower cost of capital! But to my eye, the Federal Reserve appears to be slowly losing control of the bond market interest rates are separating from the raw pressure of central bank interventions. We know why this will end badly, we just don’t know when.

2013-09-21 The 3Ls That Matter by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

This week’s message is simply to group together three L-words that remind us of what spikes and crashes markets, and keeps us in the appropriate frame of mind, lest we forget the crisis that gripped our minds and money 5 short years ago.

2013-09-21 Stock Buyback Announcements Slow to $2.3 Billion Daily in Third Quarter by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

Due to the acceleration in buyback volume in previous quarters, we are not reducing our $2.0 billion daily estimate of actual stock buybacks. Actual stock buybacks tend to track new stock buybacks closely with a lag. If the volume keeps falling in Q4 2013, however, we will likely reduce our estimate.

2013-09-21 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.4, to one decimal place unchanged from last week’s 132.4 (revised down from 132.3). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 4.5% from last week’s 4.3%.

2013-09-21 India's Need for Labor Reform by Siddharth Bhargava of Matthews Asia

India has long been recognized as a country of vast potential. With over 1.2 billion people, it boasts nearly one-fifth of the world’s working age population. However, the country’s laws hark back to a period when India’s political philosophy was still rooted in socialisma time when the government ran its own factories. Such laws have failed to keep pace with the economic liberalization program that began in 1991.

2013-09-21 How Did The Fed Catch Markets Off Guard? What Does it Mean for Investors? by Ken Taubes of Pioneer Investments

We think this decision prolongs the positive market environment we have seen in both equities and fixed income. With the Fed seemingly a distance away from tapering and raising rates, this could bode well for the risk sectors, where we could see further tightening in credit spreads on both high yield and investment-grade corporate bonds.

2013-09-21 The Best, Brightest, and Least Productive? by Robert Shiller of Project Syndicate

In the US, 7.4% of total compensation of employees in 2012 went to people working in the finance and insurance industries. Whether or not that percentage is too high, the real issue is that the share is even higher among the most educated and accomplished people, whose activities may be economically useless, if not harmful.

2013-09-21 Fifty Shades of Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Unlike many commodities, there are many shades to gold, such as the Love Trade’s buying gold for loved ones and the Fear Trade’s purchasing gold as a store of value. An additional “shade” investors need to be aware of is how the Fed interprets the recovery of the U.S. economy.

2013-09-20 Rising Interest Rates Must End Soon by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury bond has risen by more than 84 percent from May to early September, one of the most violent and rapid increases on record. This spike has caused severe convulsions in the bond market, leading many investors to wonder how long the torment can last.

2013-09-20 Will Europe's Improving Economy Push Interest Rates Higher by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased in the second quarter after six straight declines. Data expectations were on the optimistic side, but investors appeared to become more confident before the release, thanks to encouraging evidence from supposedly reliable forward-looking indicators.

2013-09-20 U.S. Commercial Real Estate: Will the Good Times Last? by Devin Chen of PIMCO

The CRE market has experienced a gradual recovery in asset pricing since the 2008 financial crisis. Despite the duration of the recovery, there continues to be dislocation in the CRE market that astute investors can capitalize on. We believe certain properties in non-major markets look attractive for acquisition, and have been acquiring residential land on an opportunistic basis.

2013-09-20 The Fed's About-Face by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The Federal Reserve’s decision not to taper quantitative easing telegraphed a mixed signal to markets about policy guidance while tempering forward economic growth expectations. Dramatically lower interest rates can be expected.

2013-09-20 Q&A: Emerging Markets Powerhouses China and India by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Given their heft in the emerging markets world, China and India are among the countries I get asked most often about, particularly when they show market distress signals like economic slowing.This past week, the Templeton emerging markets team and I have been in China as part of a large research trip, doing further analysis on the market and key company prospects. I thought it would present a good opportunity to share a few of my answers to recent questions on both China and India.

2013-09-20 Companies Can Do More to Unlock Shareholder Value by Kurt Feuerman of AllianceBernstein

As the global recession and financial crisis move further back in the rearview mirror, companies have been more proactive about using their balance sheets in ways that enhance shareholder value. But we think they can do a lot more.

2013-09-20 5 Years Later: The Crisis We Haven't Tackled Yet by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Five years after the Lehman bankruptcy, the proximate causes of the 2008 crash are no longer threats. But while the risk of another imminent financial system crisis has abated, there are two major issues that foretell a coming retirement funding crisis.

2013-09-20 Growth and Rising Stars by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

While developed market growth in several regions is picking up cyclically from low levels, overall global economic growth should remain subdued over the next several years. We believe credit spread tightening and rating upgrades are most likely for specific companies in industries and areas with strong growth. We see these "rising star" companies in the U.S. and European auto sector, the gaming, energy and chemical industries and in sectors tied to the U.S. housing market.

2013-09-20 Investment Bulletin: Emerging Markets Equity by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

Since the start of the year to date, the portfolio has whupped the index by over 1,100 basis points, with a real gain against an index loss. Overall, the developed market (DM) index easily outperformed that for emerging markets (EM). This is expected to continue at the index level, partially because of weaker earnings growth and for political/social reasons. Analysts crank out studies on their companies, yet few look up from their spreadsheets to take a wider view encompassing politics and real people.

2013-09-20 Investment Bulletin: Global Income Strategy by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

The Global Income equity strategy is unconstrained by geography, sector or stock, and is committed to achieving the target yield based on the opening NAV at the beginning of each financial year of 4.5%, payable in equal quarterly dividends with any excess paid out at the end of the year. It may only invest in companies with an historic dividend yield of at least 2.5% based on the price at the date of purchase. There is a bar on using derivatives or options to achieve the target yield and it must invest in a company on its merits rather than rotational dividend stripping.

2013-09-19 Intermodal Transportation: Finding Value in a Growing Segment of the Transportation Industry by Jason Downey of Diamond Hill Investments

As intrinsic value based investors, we view growth as a potential source of value for shareholders; however, we are careful not to overpay for it. Intermodal shipping is one of the fastest growing modes of domestic freight transportation, and also an area where we have found two companies trading below our estimates of their respective intrinsic values.

2013-09-19 A Closer Look at Earnings by Ted Baszler of Heartland Advisors

To get a sense of whether forward estimates currently in place for the S&P 500 may be excessiveparticularly in light of an economic recovery that has at times moved in fits and startswe took a look at how earnings have historically related to weekly jobless claims figures.

2013-09-19 The Curse of the Magazine Cover Indicator by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

It’s fitting that last week former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson came out to speak about debt issues during a month when Time published a bull on the cover of its magazine. The bull is a symbol of a strong and positive stock market, but it seems whenever a U.S. company makes the cover of a publication, the company is in trouble and that it’s run is at an end.

2013-09-19 The Taper That Wasn't by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The Fed’s failure today to announce some sort of tapering of its QE program, despite the consensus of an overwhelming percentage of economists who expected action, once again reveals the degree to which mainstream analysts have overestimated the strength of our current economy. The Fed understands, as the market seems not to, that the current "recovery" could not survive without continuation of massive monetary stimulus.

2013-09-19 Time to Taper? by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

The Fed debate this year has largely revolved around a single question: When will the FOMC begin to slow the pace of quantitative easing (QE)? At the start of the year, most analysts thought that the committee would continue its bond buying program at full speed all year, and only taper its purchases in early 2014. However, we began to hear hints from Fed officials as earlier as January that they may stop short of consensus expectations.

2013-09-19 Will Healthcare Reform Raise the Economy's Pulse? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The prognosis is by no means clear. Ambiguity surrounding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act will create further uncertainty for the economy in the years ahead.

2013-09-19 Expect Business as Usual After the German Election by Darren Williams of AllianceBernstein

Many pundits believe the German federal election on September 22 will prove a turning point in the sovereign debt-crisis. We are less convinced. Barring a massive shock, Angela Merkel is set to be endorsed as Chancellor for another four years. If this is the case, Germany is unlikely to depart much from the playbook that has served it well in recent years and which may now be delivering positive results.

2013-09-19 When Doves Cry, "Not Yet" by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The Fed surprised markets and the consensus by maintaining its full QE bond buying program; while both stocks and bonds soared on the news.

2013-09-19 A Fine Balance in the Global Profits Cycle by Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

In the U.S., we expect growth to accelerate over the cyclical horizon, but to disappoint elevated consensus expectations. In Europe, we also expect growth to accelerate, but just barely, and also below consensus. In Japan, we expect growth to remain heavily reliant on aggressive fiscal and monetary policies. And in emerging markets, we expect a stabilization in growth assisted by central banks regaining control of currency and financial market conditions. The outlook for global corporate profits is a key measure of success in determining the handoff to self-sustaining growth going forward.

2013-09-18 White Noise by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Most recently, I have been in a cautious mode, believing we were involved in a short-term pullback that would carry the S&P 500 (SPX/1687.99) down about 10%. That strategy was working until the Syrian compromise wrecked the rhythm of the decline. Bear in mind, however, the anticipated decline was always couched within the context of a longer-term secular bull market.

2013-09-18 Bernanke Gets Another Chance to Communicate by Scott Brown of Raymond James

It seems clear that most Fed policymakers have not decided whether to begin reducing the pace of asset purchases. Officials will review a wide range of data and anecdotal information this week. It’s generally (but not universally) expected that this will lead the Federal Open Market Committee to begin tapering, but modestly, while signaling a wait-and-see attitude on further action. The Fed should continue to stress that short-term interest rates will remain low for some time. The economy is still far from being fully recovered, but we’re well on our way.

2013-09-18 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks rallied last week as military options in Syria no longer look likely given the disapproval of the American people and Congress. Additionally, this embarrassing agreement reached with Russia is an admission that the USA will not intervene.

2013-09-18 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Depending upon where you reside, or on which side of the issues you fall, it was a good week last week. We averted a military strike on Syria by the U.S., at least temporarily; we had reasonable adjustments to economic growth statistics; and most made some money in their portfolios. While cyclical dynamics are relatively benign, the broader secular outlook continues to build a solid foundation for recovery.

2013-09-18 Smart Beta and the Pendulum of Mispricing by Vitali Kalesnik of Research Affiliates

The Research Affiliates approach to equity investment management is based upon the insight that stock prices are “noisy” and “mean-reverting.”

2013-09-18 Larry Summers Helps Clarify the Future Path of Fed Policy by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Last Monday, at a London press conference, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry responded to a reporter’s question about what might avoid a military move against Syria by ad-libbing that Assad could give up his chemical weapons. As you probably know, Russia promptly endorsed the idea and Assad promptly agreed. The long-term implications of this development are unknowable; what matters now is that the risk of a U.S strike declined sharply last Monday. Over the most recent weekend, the U.S. and Russia have apparently agreed on key details, further reducing the probability of an attack.

2013-09-18 The End Times for Strategic Ambiguity by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Strategic ambiguity is defined as a condition where various parties say something similar but believe something entirely different. A good example of this is U.S. and Chinese policy toward Taiwan. Both nations say Taiwan is part of China. The U.S. believes that Taiwan’s democratic government should become the model for the mainland, whereas China believes Taiwan should be part of its nation as it is currently structured. Because both nations say the same thing, the policy difference is not publicly obvious and thus not a problem, at least as long as the ambiguity lasts.

2013-09-18 Is the Commodity Supercycle Dead? by Nicholas Johnson, Greg Sharenow of PIMCO

While commodity price appreciation won’t likely mirror the supercycle, this shouldn’t necessarily imply a negative view on commodity returns going forward. We believe commodity prices are at reasonable levels from a long-term valuation perspective. In addition, the roll yield from investing in commodities is the highest it’s been since 2005. The outlook for commodity returns today seems broadly consistent with historical returns, and commodities remain an important tool for hedging inflation risk.

2013-09-18 Dow Changes as a Contrary Indicator by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

The folks who select the companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) came out with their latest changes on Monday, September 9, 2013. They removed Bank of America (BAC), Hewlett Packard (HPQ) and Alcoa (AA) from the DJIA. Added to the index were Visa (V), Nike (NKE) and Goldman Sachs (GS). At Smead Capital Management, we are always looking for important psychological clues to human behavior as it pertains to the popularity of common stocks.

2013-09-18 You have crossed into The Twilight Zone... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

In this month’s episode of The Twilight Zone, Congressional Democrats and U.S. public opinion will organize to thwart a White House attack on Syria and their #1 choice for the next Fed Chairman. To conclude the show, Vladimir Putin will be the front runner for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize and the Financial Markets will soar. You have just crossed over into The Twilight Zone!

2013-09-18 Stock Funds' 5-Year Track Records Set to Double by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Many investors focus on the previous five years annualized return when analyzing which mutual funds to buy. We also pay a good deal of attention to the 5-year performance number when analyzing mutual fund and ETF returns at Halbert Wealth Management. And currently the 5-year average returns for most equity mutual funds are not all that attractive.

2013-09-18 Newsletter September 2013 by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

SAY IT ISN’T SO... Investment News headline “Ex-J.P. Morgan broker: Firm pushed house funds.” The story went on to report: “Claims reps didn’t get commission on trades of outside funds. A former J.P. Morgan broker has filed an arbitration claim alleging that the bank’s securities unit encouraged sales of proprietary funds by withholding commissions from brokers on trades of outside funds.

2013-09-18 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Last week, total AUM in all active ETFs increased by over $68.76 million. Assets in “Short Term Bond” active ETFs increased by nearly $140 million. The second largest increase in AUM came in the “High Yield” ETF category, which rose by about $20.366 million, largely due to creation units. “US Equity” active ETFs also saw a significant increase in AUM of over $8.68 million. The biggest decreases in AUM came in the “Global Bond” and “Foreign Bond” categories, which fell by $58.85 million and $44.3 million respectively.

2013-09-17 The Fiduciary Pyramid: Demystifying the Fiduciary Landscape by Seaborn Hall (Article)

The term ’fiduciary’ is at once accessible, familiar and confusing. We hear it often and think that we know what it means. But do we? Consider this assertion: A fee-only registered investment adviser (RIA) is at the top of the fiduciary pyramid. Is this a valid, provable statement?

2013-09-17 Where, Oh Where, is Ferdinand Pecora? by Martin Weil (Article)

Five years later, one would like to think that the fundamental conditions that led us to the precipice in 2008 have been corrected. One might presume that the individuals and companies who gamed a largely unsupervised bazaar of counterparty debt and derivatives for their own benefits have been charged and convicted. One would be wrong on both counts.

2013-09-17 Dealing with Unmotivated Advisors by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

What do you do with unmotivated advisors? Most of the senior partners in my firm are wealthy and set for life. They are not inclined to go out of their comfort zone to find new business. How do I light a fire underneath them and get them motivated?

2013-09-17 How One Advisor Attracts HNW Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Recently, a California-based advisor explained how she shifted her practice to focus on affluent clients. Her success was the result of a simple but thoughtful five-step plan.

2013-09-17 Charles de Vaulx: “We Have Never Been as Cautiously Positioned” by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Charles de Vaulx is the chief investment officer and a portfolio manager at International Value Advisers. In this interview, he discusses his outlook for the market and the economy, and why his fund has never been as cautiously positioned as it is today.

2013-09-17 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Joe Tomlinson’s article, A New Tool to Calculate Long-Term Care Needs, which appeared last week.

2013-09-17 Gundlach – Where to Expect the Next Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Unless there is a crisis, don’t expect a major decline in interest rates, according to Jeffrey Gundlach. And if such a crisis occurs, Gundlach warned, it will most likely take place in this emerging market.

2013-09-17 Investing for Real People by Sponsored content by Oppenheimer Funds (Article)

Investor goals are the same, but solutions have changed. Today, aiming to meet basic needs requires new solutions. Laser focus on investor goals will help uncover appropriate investment opportunities. Expanding the opportunity set beyond the usual suspects will be critical to long-term success.

2013-09-17 The Debate on DFA’s Research by Various (Article)

We received many responses to Michael Edesess’ article, Why DFA’s New Research is Flawed, which appeared last week. We provide the responses from individuals who disagreed with Edesess’ findings, followed by Edesess’ response and then by responses in agreement with his findings.

2013-09-17 Tidbits Foreclosure, BK Signs and John Mauldin's “Unrealistic Expectations” by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Some tidbits to start and then on to an outstanding guest commentary from the renowned John Mauldin. Our tidbits focus on Foreclosures and some insights around our review of some bankruptcy warning signs published by S&P Capital IQ. Our guest commentary, “Unrealistic Expectations” (I might have called it “Unrealistic Assumptions”), focuses on the daunting reality of underfunded pension plans.

2013-09-17 Emerging Markets: Time to Buy? by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

Emerging markets have performed dismally over the past three years. The bellwether MSCI index has moved essentially sideways over that period while losing a whopping 40% of its value relative to the S&P 500. After such a severe underperformance, the sector is now beginning to show signs of improvement.

2013-09-17 High Yield Market Overview August 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

The high yield market, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Master II Constrained Index, was down 0.62% for the month of August. Political uncertainties continue to weigh on investor sentiment, including a potential military response to Syria and the U.S. approaching the debt ceiling limit in mid-October. Uncertainty about Fed policy and who will be the next Chairman are also in the background.

2013-09-17 “Risk-On” Resumes as Uncertainty Subsides by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Equity markets rallied last week with the hope of a diplomatic solution to the crisis between Syria and the United States. The S&P 500 advanced 2.03% for the week.1 Broadly, the S&P 500 is in a churning phase after witnessing an all-time high of 1709 on August 2 and then stalling.1 We believe the market has been on hold while waiting for lower oil prices, progress on Syria, further global growth and successful Federal Reserve tapering.

2013-09-17 Doesn't Government Lie? by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Like a Plow Horse, the US economy keeps plodding along GDP and payrolls keep growing. This confounds many pessimistic, debt-focused, perma-bear investors, who fall back on the belief that anything good must simply be a lie.

2013-09-17 The Upside of Low Expectations by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The stock market has benefited from a pessimistic outlook recentlyand so could the consumer, writes Kristina Hooper.

2013-09-17 Consumers Face An Economy at a Crossroads by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

As the Federal Reserve prepares to debate the merits of tapering its asset purchase program this week, a key area of the economy that will be closely analyzed by Bernanke and Co. is the health of the American consumer. There are tenuous signs that consumers are spending more, but attitudes towards the economic recovery are hardly encouraging. Consumers will find it difficult to stay the key cog of economic growth in the U.S., but at the very least, their participation in the recovery is imperative, and leaves much to be desired.

2013-09-16 U.S. Equity ETF Flows Send Bullish Signals Despite Recent Inflows by Minyi Chen, TrimTabs of AdvisorShares

Minyi Chen, CFA, Chief Operating Officer of TrimTabs Investment Research and Portfolio Manager of AdvisorShares TrimTabs Float Shrink ETF (NYSE Arca: TTFS) shares recent fund flow trends.

2013-09-16 FOMC Preview: Taper Likely To Be Deferred or Minimal by Team of Northern Trust

Market participants have been working overtime to refine their expectations of what the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) might do at its meeting next week. Many are calling for a cut in the Fed’s pace of asset purchases from the current level of $85 billion per month.

2013-09-16 Russia is Tough to Love, Easier to Hate, Hard for Investors to Ignore. Here's Why by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Russian President Vladimir Putin created a stir recently when he shared his thoughts with Americans in an op-ed printed in The New York Times. According to The Times, very few pieces written by heads of state have been published by the paper and very few received the attention Putin attracted.

2013-09-16 Syria: Foreign Policy Turmoil is a Distraction for Investors by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The equity and bond markets have been buffeted by the turn of events in Syria, although incoming economic data is vastly more important than political developments. Syria remains a mess on many levels. But it is essentially irrelevant in affecting labor scarcity, inflation or possible changes in monetary policy. Many politicians and analysts consider the pace of growth unsatisfactory, but the moderate growth rate has been sufficient to bring down the unemployment rate, while corporate profits have increased.

2013-09-16 The Next Big Challenge to Investors: Rising Rates by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

Many investors were conditioned to accept that the economy would be in the rehabilitation ward for the foreseeable future, rates would remain low, and monetary stimulus would continue unabated. It was an increasingly dangerous mindset. Now that’s changing with the slow but steady recovery of the economy and the Federal Reserve’s announcement in August that it may begin “tapering” its billions in monthly bond purchases designed to keep rates low and boost asset prices.

2013-09-16 Baby Steps by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Our view is that the Federal Reserve will taper its program of quantitative easing this week, in the range of a $10-15 billion reduction in the pace of monthly debt purchases. The Fed really has no “communication problem” about this the economic impact of further quantitative easing has had diminishing returns, and the economic drag from fiscal reductions has thus far been smaller than the Fed feared when it justified QEternity on the basis of those concerns last year.

2013-09-16 Europe's Fragile Recovery by Tucker Scott of Franklin Templeton Investments

Investors have tentatively begun to buy into the European recovery story, but remain fearful of the region’s fragility. A few bits of upbeat economic data recently have provided grounds for optimism, and the European Central Bank’s continued commitment to holding the Eurozone together has boosted confidence. Tucker Scott, portfolio manager forTempleton Foreign Fund, still sees a few economic roadblocks in Europe but also plenty of progress. He shares where he’s finding signs of strength and investment opportunities.

2013-09-16 Time to Bench the Equity Benchmark Too? by Patrick Rudden of AllianceBernstein

While fixed-income investors are growing increasingly aware of the risks of benchmark-oriented bond portfolios in a period of rising rates, equity investors have recently also started to question the wisdom of cap-weighted indices. We would go even further and argue that the performance of a cap-weighted benchmark may be irrelevant for the long-term goals of many institutional investors.

2013-09-16 From the Fed to Congress: 4 Washington Issues to Watch by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

After the Fed announcement next week, market attention is likely to shift toward Congress for the remainder of the fall. According to Russ, four key issues up for debate have the potential to add to near-term volatility.

2013-09-16 Investing in Puerto Rico: What Investors Should Know by Stephanie Larosiliere of Invesco Blog

In recent quarters, investors have been on high alert about Puerto Rico’s ailing financial situation. The concern was sparked by the US territory’s ongoing recession, which has been characterized by high unemployment, $70 billion of total debt and a consecutive streak of annual budget deficits. Compounding investors’ fears were Detroit’s recent bankruptcy filing and June’s massive sell-off in the municipal bond market, which may have caused some weakness in Puerto Rico’s debt.

2013-09-16 Investment Reality as Told Through the Most Interesting Man in Baseball by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

You probably haven’t heard of Greg Dobbs. If you have, you are either a big Major League baseball fan, a casual fan of the Miami Marlins baseball team, or you know Greg Dobbs personally. He is a solid Major League player, but will not be mentioned alongside Ruth, Mays and Ripken. He is a great team player, a great media interview and was briefly featured on a national TV program last year as “the most interesting man in baseball,” a moniker given to him by one of his teammates.

2013-09-16 Opportunities in Uncertainty by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Uncertainty and volatility are elevated, which we believe provides opportunities for investors.

2013-09-14 Nothing But Bad Choices by John Mauldin of Mauldin Economics

Crises in government funding don’t simply arrive on the doorstep unannounced. Their progress toward the eventual Bang! moment is there for all the world to see. The root cause is almost always the same: debt. And whether that debt is actually borrowed or is merely promised to the populace, when the market becomes worried that the ability of the government to fund its promises is suspect, then the end is near. Last week we began a series on what I think is an impending crisis in the unfunded pension liabilities of state and local governments in the United States.

2013-09-13 Trumping Cheap Labor by Teresa Kong of Matthews Asia

Wages in China have surely risen, and some pundits argue that this growth will eventually make the country less competitive. But more nuanced and recent theories suggest that manufacturing centers can cluster around pools of more skilled labor, transportation networks and economies of scale. This month, Teresa Kong, CFA, examines the reasons why China is about more than just low-cost workers.

2013-09-13 Pacific Basin Market Overview August 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Asian equity markets ended lower in August, chiefly due to concerns about currency weakness in India and Indonesia, while improved macroeconomic data from China contributed to this market’s outperformance. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index including Japan fell by 1.3% while the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Free Index closed 0.71% lower during the month. (All performance figures are based on MSCI indices in U.S. dollar terms with dividends included unless otherwise stated.)

2013-09-13 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Last week, total AUM in all active ETFs increased by around $38.2 million.As in previous weeks, assets in “Short Term Bond” active ETFs increased, this time by almost $61.7 million, while AUM in the “Global Bond” category fell by about $39 million.The “Global Bond” category had another bad week, ending over $18.3 million below where it began.The “Alternative Income” category increased again but by less than in previous weeks; AUM increased by nearly $4.26 million. The “Alternative” active ETF category’s AUM rose by approximately

2013-09-13 What's Developing in Emerging Markets by Gene Goldman of Cetera Financial Group

Despite strong returns in United States equity markets, a different story has played out in the emerging markets. The MSCI Emerging Market Index, a proxy for emerging market equity returns, has fallen 9.94 percent year-to-date through Aug. 31, 2013. In contrast, the S&P 500, a proxy for U.S. equity markets, has risen 16.15 percent over that same span.

2013-09-13 Waiting for Clarity From the Fed and Congress by Team of Northern Trust

U.S. economic growth averaged roughly 2.0% in the first half of the year and the average gain of real gross domestic product (GDP) during the entire 16-quarter economic recovery is 2.2%. Real GDP is projected to grow close to this trend in the second half of the year.

2013-09-13 Start Bargain Hunting in Asian Stocks Again? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

If you compare the Asian stock market these days to prior years, it’s looking like “dj vu” all over again, says Credit Suisse.

2013-09-13 Invest In Stocks With A Margin of Safety To Reduce Risk And Enhance Returns by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Of all of the many sound investing principles that legendary teacher and investor Ben Graham put forward, he believed that his concept of “margin of safety” was the most important of all. This investment lesson was so deeply ingrained into the mind of Ben Graham’s most famous student, Warren Buffett, that he created his two most important rules of sound investing. Rule number one: Never lose money. Rule number two: Never forget rule number one. Clearly, both of these renowned sages understood the importance of minimizing risk, especially when investing in equities.

2013-09-13 What's Happening to Bonds and Why? by Mohamed El-Erian of PIMCO

To say that bonds are under pressure would be an understatement. Over the last few months, sentiment about fixed income has flipped dramatically: from a favored investment destination that is deemed to benefit from exceptional support from central banks, to an asset class experiencing large outflows, negative returns and reduced standing as an anchor of a well-diversified asset allocation.

2013-09-13 September Investment Bulletin: Global Equity Strategy by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

Year-to-date end-August the strategy performed well with a gain of 22.2% vs. 14.6% for the benchmark. During the month, the index “tumbled” 3.9%, partly out of fear of foreign military action in Syria and partly that central banks would cease printing money to hold down interest rates commonly known as tapering. Even so, the portfolio held up in August, with a much lesser 2.4% fall, thereby further widening outperformance over the index to 760 basis points so far in 2013.

2013-09-13 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.3, an increase from last week’s 131.5. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 4.1% from last week’s 3.9%.... At this point the company is still featuring a commentary posted at the end of July, Becoming Japan, which highlights the decline in GDP growth for Japan and seven other major economies, including the US.

2013-09-13 The View from Here - September 13, 2013: Five Years After by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

How much have we recovered from the global financial crisis?

2013-09-13 Open for Business Down Under by Kenneth Lowe of Matthews Asia

Swiftly after fighting off what most observers deemed to be a fairly weak incumbent Labor opposition in the recent Australian election, the leader of the Conservative coalition and the country’s newly crowned Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, firmly declared Australia to be “once more open for business."

2013-09-12 Cold Hard Facts About Syria and Investment Portfolios by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

What does the Syria situation mean to the financial markets and client portfolios? Will actions (or inactions) by the U.S. be a catalyst to send the stock market plummeting? Everyone around the world is watching Syria as well as Washington as it determines what the response will be to the tragic use of chemical weapons.

2013-09-12 The Best Time to Own Cash: No Return is Better than a Negative Return by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest essay, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, writes about "the best time for an investor to own cash," which somewhat counter-intuitively, he believes is when that cash pays nothing.

2013-09-12 Rates Update: Rationale for the Continuing Sell-off and Distinctions between 1994 & 2003 by Brian Smith of TCW Asset Management

The bond market continues to struggle to find support, with 10-year Treasury yields touching 3%, a sell-off of roughly 140 bps in the last 4 months! While reduced dealer risk capacity and impaired investor loss tolerances are two underlying factors contributing to recent rates volatility, this violent move to higher yields has been primarily led by expectations that the Fed will begin to taper asset purchases in their upcoming meeting on September 18th.

2013-09-12 Approaching a Turning Point by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Higher interest rates continue to negatively affect the real economy, increasing the susceptibility of risk assets to downside risk.

2013-09-12 Brave New World by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms of ING Investment Management

If the monotony of high school lulled you into a catatonic state the semester you were supposed to read Brave New World, here’s the CliffsNotes summary of what you missed. Aldous Huxley imagined a futuristic utopia in which the government promotes economic and emotional stability through the plentiful use of a soporific opiate called “soma”. Soma allows the mind to take a holiday from worldly problems via a gram, or two or three. Imagine the chaos into which this fictional world would descend were the government to abandon its role as pharmacist to the masses.

2013-09-12 Unemployment, Participation and the Fed by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Despite a mediocre August jobs report, we still expect the Federal Reserve to announce a slowing of the pace of bond purchases when it meets next week. One reason for this view is that Fed officials care more about the level of the unemployment rate than the pace of job creation. We often write that monetary policy is about “gaps” not growth: the Fed is trying to reduce spare capacity in the economy, not bring about a rapid expansion per se.

2013-09-12 Opportunity Out of Uncertainty: Finding Investment Ideas in a Rising Market by Jay Kaplan of The Royce Funds

Portfolio Manager and Principal Jay Kaplan talks about investing in a slow-growth, high-price environment and discusses where we are in the current retail cycle, companies in which he has high confidence, and his experience with a long-term holding.

2013-09-12 2 Unresolved Issues Challenging the Case for European Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains the two key unresolved issues that are keeping his view of European stocks somewhat cautious, and he gives the next signposts to watch to gauge whether any near-term resolutions are likely.

2013-09-11 Demand and Supply Fundamentals Point to Continued Price Growth by Adam Artunian of John Burns Real Estate Consulting

Will home price appreciation remain strong in the face of modest job growth and the recent uptick in mortgage rates?

2013-09-11 Underwriters Lose No Time Pumping Out New Shares after Labor Day by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

The monthly flows of Mutual Fund and ETF volatility continued as a roller coaster trend was apparent in the last three months. Read this investor insight by Minyi Chen, CFA, Chief Operating Officer of TrimTabs Investment Research and Portfolio Manager of AdvisorShares TrimTabs Float Shrink ETF (NYSE Arca: TTFS) to learn about the variable trend flows.

2013-09-11 Absolute Return Letter: A Case of Broken BRICS? by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees, Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

EM currencies, stocks and bonds have struggled since the Fed signalled its intent to change course in late May. This has seemingly triggered an exodus of speculative capital from emerging markets but, as is always the case, there is more to the story than that. EM countries (ex. China) no longer run a current account surplus with the rest of the world, and this hurts global liquidity. It is not yet a re-run of the 1997-98 Asian crisis, but it has the potential to become one with all sorts of consequences for bond yields in developed markets, currency wars, etc.

2013-09-10 Why DFA’s New Research is Flawed by Michael Edesess (Article)

DFA is a company with a laudable history, founded on solid principles and a valuable product concept. From its launch, the investment firm identified and filled a need at low cost to the client, based on elementary but sound theory and simple, compelling, transparent empirical research. It later increased its value to clients by pioneering passive trading strategies. I admire its founders and their accomplishments. But I am afraid the company has succumbed to a dreadful descent into scientism.

2013-09-10 A New Tool to Calculate Long-Term Care Needs by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Health-care crises can destroy retirement plans, yet advisors and clients often avoid discussing long-term care (LTC) insurance. Part of the reason – aside from a natural reluctance to contemplate such tragedies – is the lack of data needed to evaluate the LTC risk. That data deficiency can now be overcome, thanks to a pioneering product that provides customized projections for clients.

2013-09-10 Should You Ditch Your Elevator Pitch? by Dan Richards (Article)

When someone asks what you do, should you focus on the benefits you provide and describe how your clients are better off? Contrary to what you may have read about crafting a persuasive “elevator pitch,” I say the answer is “no.”

2013-09-10 Three Traps to Avoid When Advising Couples by Kathleen Burns Kingsbury (Article)

Advising couples is an art, not a science. As a couples-friendly advisor, you are required to mediate, facilitate and objectively observe your clients. Every couple has a unique dynamic regarding money and working with an advisor. You need to be aware of common emotional traps, often unconsciously set by partners, and how best to avoid them.

2013-09-10 Why Isn’t Our Practice Growing? by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Our advisory firm has not grown much over the last five years. Except for death and divorces, we haven’t lost clients. But we haven’t obtained new assets. We have been to conferences and heard other advisors speak about their explosive growth, but I am dubious. Are advisory firms really growing so significantly or are we experiencing what most advisors have been over the last few years?

2013-09-10 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Several readers responded to Michael Edesess’ article, Did Steve Jobs Really Build That?, which appeared last week. A reader responded to Stephen Roach’s commentary, The Global QE Exit Crisis, which appeared on August 26.

2013-09-10 Did Steve Jobs Really Build That? by Michael Edesess (Article)

The conventional wisdom is that only the private sector can marshal the entrepreneurial energy to create innovation and growth, while government can do little more than shift around the wealth that the private sector creates. But is that really true?

2013-09-10 The Party's Over. Why Own Commodities? by Jon Ruff, Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein

Commodity prices soared during the first decade of this century. But now the party’s over: new sources of supply are coming on line just as demand from China is slowing, leading to expectations of price declines. So should investors shun commodity-related investments?

2013-09-10 Capital Spending: A Double-Edged Sword by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Rising business outlays on equipment and technology will likely contribute to a subpar pace of hiringand help boost corporate profit margins.

2013-09-10 Notable Lines by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

One of President Obama’s most notable lines, "you didn’t build that," sent chills up my spine when I first heard it. As an entrepreneurial-minded business owner, I found that statement shocking, to be honest. But maybe there is some truth to it...

2013-09-10 QE Tapering: Why Whether' or When' Doesn't Really Matter by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

We didn’t go to war last week what will happen is highly uncertain but the perceived probability of an imminent U.S. attack on Syria seemed to drop as the week proceeded.

2013-09-10 Investor Anxiety + Uncertainty = More Volatility Ahead by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

As Russ expected, both equity and bond market volatility have risen in recent weeks. Russ explains why this rocky road is likely to continue, and he provides two ideas for potentially insulating portfolios amid volatility.

2013-09-10 The Suit? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Bernie Cornfeld, of IOS Fund fame, coined the phrase, “Do you really want to be rich?” At the time I was working as a stock broker, and writing investment strategy for E.F.Hutton, having penned in December 1974 that, “I recommend a gradual return to significant common stock accumulation” (I still have that report). I also learned that you have to evaluate the risks, because sometimes when you go after the “big bucks” you lose. Then you end up with small change!

2013-09-10 The August Employment Report Enough to Taper? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The August Employment Report was not as strong as expected, but it wasn’t terribly weak either, making the Fed’s decision to taper a bit more difficult. Still, QE can’t last forever.

2013-09-10 Raising the Bar on Target Date Due Diligence by Manning & Napier/Strategic Insight of Manning & Napier

Deeming whether target date fund investments are appropriate for a specific participant population is an arduous and imperfect task, made more complicated by a lack of full transparency. Fiduciaries should question whether the underlying securities of target date funds are appropriate to meet the retirement saving needs of plan participants. However, the question itself raises concern about what it would take to examine the funds in such detail.

2013-09-10 Municipal Bond Market: Tune out the Noise by Jonathan Chirunga of Pioneer Investments

Since Ben Bernanke’s misinterpreted comments on tapering, Detroit’s bankruptcy filing and the even more recent, well-publicized concerns regarding Puerto Rico, the municipal bond market has struggled mightily. Year-to-date as of September 5, the Barclay’s Municipal Investment-Grade Index is down 5.3%, and the Barclay’s Municipal High Yield Index is down 8.3%.

2013-09-10 Oil Has Too Many Plumbers by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

We’ve never quite understood why most sensible people don’t apply the same economic logic to investing that they do to any other business. Take plumbing for example. If your town has 10 main plumbing companies and 10 more move into town, your economic mind tells you that the added competition will drive down profits. On the other hand, if five of the plumbing companies go out of business, profits should rise over time.

2013-09-10 Some Scary Bumps in the Road Just Ahead by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The major stock indexes moved lower after setting new record highs in early August, although prices have recovered somewhat in the last few days. So was the weakness in August just an overdue correction before moving even higher? Maybe, but there are a number of things coming up in the next month or so that could rattle the markets even more, including whether or not we go to war with Syria. We’ll talk about those today.

2013-09-10 Check or Checkmate... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

The White House’s goal is to persuade Congress to authorize a limited military strike against Syria to punish it for a deadly chemical weapons attack. But after a frenetic week of wall-to-wall intelligence briefings, dozens of phone calls, and hours of hearings with senior members of Mr. Obama’s war council, more and more lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, are lining up to vote against the president.

2013-09-10 Taper Vs. No Taper - Let's Meet Somewhere In The Middle by John Rothe of Riverbend Investment Management

Volatility in the US equity and bond markets has risen since Ben Bernanke and the rest of the Federal Reserve Board mentioned the possibility of tapering its bond purchase program - in other words, a potential end to the "free ride" the Fed has been giving investors. However, economic data is still weak and a reduction in economic stimulus by the Fed may harm the US economy.

2013-09-09 Get Ready for “Taper Lite”: 3 Signs the Labor Market Isn't Picking Up by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While the overall US economy is healing, the labor market’s recovery continues to be frustratingly slow. Friday’s payroll report suggests investors should prepare for a less aggressive Fed, a more muted backup in interest rates and a bond market that can go up as well as down.

2013-09-09 The Lesson of the Coming Decade by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Even if the S&P 500 Index goes nowhere over the coming decade - as historically reliable measures of valuation suggest - it will probably go nowhere in an interesting and volatile way, providing better value and opportunities that are well-supported by historical evidence. The challenge will be to maintain discipline even when frustration begs investors to abandon it.

2013-09-09 Moving On - Five Years After Lehman by John Petrides (Article)

This month marks the fifth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers failure and the start of worst financial crisis in American history since the Great Depression, and yet to some investors, it seems like only yesterday. Investors still hold onto that period of volatility as if it will happen again tomorrow, paralyzing and confusing their investment decisions. Consequently, many investors have watched from the sidelines as the stock market has recovered solidly year after year.

2013-09-09 First Friday Review, Opportunity Knocks, Pensions and Geo Score Bottom 10 by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week I go far and wide.Initially, we take a look at the relatively poor First Friday Employment Report (you know the one the media loves to harp on).We then turn to a quick look at what some view as a buying opportunity and wonder if it is really so.Hint: if you know the answer with certainty, please let all of our readers know.We then move on to revisit the latest Pension data and ask the question: what would these figures look like if some of our factors were normalized?

2013-09-09 Reasons for Optimism in a Sloppy Third Quarter by Ron Sloan of Invesco Blog

Investors are anticipating the day that we transition from a market dominated by monetary stimulus to an earnings-driven market. The problem is that earnings aren’t cooperating yet. In my view, we’ve still got a sloppy third and maybe fourth quarter to get through, but I think 2014 will likely be a much better earnings market.

2013-09-09 The Shape of Things to Come by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

With a week to go before the September FOMC meeting, there’s little that stands in the way of Fed tapering. Friday’s jobs report didn’t impress but it probably wasn’t bad enough to stop central bankers from pulling some punch, writes Kristina Hooper.

2013-09-09 Equities Advance Despite Concerns Over Weak Employment and Growth by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities moved higher last week, with the S&P 500 advancing 1.40%.1 In the face of another disappointing employment report, positive recovery expectations provided tailwinds. Key manufacturing and service sector data surprised to the upside, and improved corporate confidence was highlighted by merger and acquisition activity. Developments outside the U.S. supported recovery and reform, and emerging market fears lessened. A potential U.S. military strike on Syria was an overhang as President Obama’s decision to seek congressional approval raised concerns about other looming battles.

2013-09-09 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

A couple of holidays during the week prompted some light volume and volatility as investors were forced to digest a slew of key economic releases and some potentially concerning geopolitical developments on a limited work schedule. In the end, investors took advantage of bargains leftover from a poor August, but many still maintain the same uncertainties that caused the pullback in the first place. Syria and the Fedthe headlines should be around for the foreseeable future.

2013-09-09 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

The Syrian war crisis has prompted another “moment in time” for the markets to reflect and digest both the near-term and long term consequences of our response from a political and economic perspective. What’s most worrisome is the precedent of previous actions the U.S. has taken in global conflicts, and the potential catalysts for negative consequences for the markets.

2013-09-09 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks finished higher last week, but August was a down month as worries about monetary policy including who will lead the Federal Reserve next year, along with the confusion surrounding the Obama administration’s Syria decisions have put a damper on things for now.

2013-09-09 Market Technicals Signal Trouble Ahead by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Bear market enthusiasts have so far been disappointed in September after the sudden market rally last week. With equities up more than 1% on the month, many bears pointed to the historically poor performance of equity markets during this month as a reason to remain cautious. Bear enthusiasts need not fear, as markets appear to be converging toward an inflection point right around the Fed meeting in the middle of the month.

2013-09-09 Possible Shutdown, No Default by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Sometime in the next few weeks, Washington is going to turn its attention from Syria back to the budget.

2013-09-07 Unrealistic Expectations by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Two well-respected analysts of pension funds have produced reports this summer suggesting that pensions are now underfunded by more than $4 trillion and possibly more than $5 trillion. I would like to tell you that the underfunding is all the bad news, but when you probe deeper into the problems facing pension funds, it just gets worse.

2013-09-06 The Emerging Markets Debt Evolution by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments

My colleagues Mauro Ratto, Head of Emerging Markets, and Yerlan Syzdykov, Head of Emerging Markets Bond & High Yield, offered these thoughts on emerging markets.

2013-09-06 Four Interest Rate Scenarios We Could Face by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

I’ve written a lot lately on the subject of “duration” and its potential impact on investor portfolios, now that the initial goals of the Federal Reserve’s “Great Monetary Experiment” appear largely accomplished and tapering of its monthly purchase of Treasuries to keep rates low is on the table. The era of lowering interest rates and rising bond prices looks finally at an end, with no place for rates to go but up. It’s vital, then, that investors think about the impact that rising bond yields could have on their portfolios. Here are a few scenarios w

2013-09-06 Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

The major US stock indexes fell once again last week, capping off the worst monthly performance of the S&P 500 in over a year. However, the index is only 4.69% below its all-time intraday high reached on August 2nd. While fear that the Fed would vote to start ending extraordinary stimulus measures at the next meeting late in September was the main reason cited for the decline, thin trading volume in August and especially the week before Labor day may have made led to increased volatility and price declines.

2013-09-06 The Growth Mirage by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Despite disappointing economic data, there continues to be widespread expectations of a period of stronger economic growth just ahead. This growth mirage draws thirsty investors and increases the likelihood that interest rates will continue rising over the near-term.

2013-09-06 Markets Focused on the Wrong Target by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

In recent months economic commentators and financial markets have focused almost excessively on the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing ("QE") policy as the market’s main driver. However, last month two senior economists at the Federal Reserve published a report entitled ’How Stimulating Are Large-Scale Asset Purchases’ which calls this devotion into question.

2013-09-06 GSE Reform Lumbers Up to the Starting Gate by Michael Canter of AllianceBernstein

Momentum is finally building to do something with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bipartisan Corker-Warner proposal, now making the rounds on Capitol Hill, aims to dissolve the GSEs and start fresh. Meanwhile, Fannie and Freddie are testing innovative mortgage-security structures that transfer the risk of borrower defaults to the private sector.

2013-09-06 Float Research: Fund Flows Swing Wildly for Third Consecutive Month by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

The monthly flows of Mutual Fund and ETF volatility continued as a roller coaster trend was apparent in the last three months. Read this investor insight by Minyi Chen, CFA, Chief Operating Officer of TrimTabs Investment Research and Portfolio Manager of AdvisorShares TrimTabs Float Shrink ETF (NYSE Arca: TTFS) to learn about the variable trend flows.

2013-09-06 India - A World of Contrasts by William Hackett of Matthews Asia

Recently, I had the opportunity to join one of our Matthews Asia portfolio managers during a research trip to India, and was reminded of both the importance of such on-the-ground visits as well as the rigor required to conduct them.

2013-09-06 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Last year ECRI switched focus to their version of the Big Four Economic Indicators that I routinely track. But when those failed last summer to "roll over" collectively (as ECRI claimed was happening), the company published