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

Follow us on
 Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn  RSS Feed

    Last 14 days

Most Popular Articles


Most Popular Commentaries

    Last 12 Months

Most Popular Articles


Most Popular Commentaries

More on Related Themes


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.

2014-04-12 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?

2014-04-11 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.

2014-04-09 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.

2014-04-08 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

2014-04-04 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.

2014-04-01 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.

2014-03-29 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.

2014-03-27 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 BoEs guidance for official rates to rise by mid-2015, the bond market has yet to fully reflect the new environment. ?

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.

2014-03-22 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.

2014-03-21 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.

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

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

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

Retirement planning isnt just long-term investing, its long-term spending, too. How can retirees help insulate the nest eggs theyve accumulated from the corrosive long-term effects of inflation?

2014-03-18 Japans 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.

2014-03-14 A Matter of Odds: Not Everything Thats 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 Banks 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 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 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?

2014-03-13 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 patients 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 doctors fiduciary responsibility.

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%.

2014-03-06 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.

2014-03-03 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 weve 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.

2014-02-26 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.

2014-02-25 The Return of Japan by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Two weeks ago, we discussed Germanys apparent early steps to return to regional power status. In this weeks report, we will examine Japans steady evolution to regional power status.

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 ECBs more balanced view. However, even if eurozone inflation sinks close to 1% in 20142015, 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 ECBs credibility to anchor longer-term inflation more closely to 2%.

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.

2014-02-18 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 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?

2014-02-15 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.

2014-02-11 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.

2014-02-03 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 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.

2014-01-28 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 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.

2014-01-27 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 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.

2014-01-23 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 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.

2014-01-21 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.

2014-01-17 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 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.

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 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.

2013-12-21 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.

2013-12-20 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.

2013-12-19 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 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.

2013-12-18 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.

2013-12-16 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 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.

2013-12-13 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.

2013-12-10 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.

2013-12-05 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.

2013-12-03 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.

2013-11-21 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 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 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 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.

2013-11-20 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.

2013-11-19 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 areif I may judge from their writingsoblivious 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.

2013-11-18 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.

2013-11-14 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.

2013-11-12 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.

2013-11-08 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.

2013-11-07 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.

2013-11-06 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.

2013-11-05 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.

2013-11-04 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.

2013-11-01 Risk Management: An Ounce of Prevention by Seth Masters, Daniel Loewy, Martin Atkin of AllianceBernstein

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But if the sickness is excessive portfolio volatility, “prevention” can entail more than one step.

2013-10-29 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.

2013-10-25 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.

2013-10-24 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.

2013-10-18 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 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.

2013-10-14 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.

2013-10-11 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.

2013-10-09 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?

2013-10-04 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.

2013-09-27 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 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 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 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 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.

2013-09-24 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 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 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.

2013-09-10 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.

2013-09-07 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.

2013-09-03 Where's the Job Growth? Puerto Rico & Illinois and the ACA by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Welcome back from your Labor Day weekend. This week we take a look at the employment data (pre-First Friday Employment Report) and try and find where there is Job Growth of any kind. We then take a closer look at Puerto Rico against the backdrop of some recent changes and comparative data, and close out with a look at the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

2013-08-29 Don't Lose Your Balance by Jeffrey Knight of Columbia Management

Last year in a white paper called “Engineering a better retirement portfolio”1, we demonstrated the long term benefits of investing with a balanced risk profile. Exhibit 1 shows the trailing Sharpe ratios reported in that paper for the S&P 500, a “traditional balanced” domestic 60/40 portfolio, and a “risk balanced” strategy invested to equalize the risk contribution from stocks, bonds and commodities. The message from that chart is clear: Better balance leads to more efficient portfolio performance over time.

2013-08-27 Lehman's Morbid Legacy by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

As the fifth anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ collapse approaches, we need analyses of the previously unthinkable outcomes that have become reality with profound implications for current and future generations and that our systems of governance have yet to address properly. Four such outcomes come to mind.

2013-08-27 Emerging Markets Feel the Ripples of Fed Tapering by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Many Emerging Market currencies (notably those of India, Brazil and Indonesia) have been weak since the beginning of May. The declines accelerated sharply in recent weeks, leading to something approaching panic in several markets last week.

2013-08-24 Hong Kong: A Gateway to Chinese Companies by Dilip Badlani of The Royce Funds

While many investors and businesses in Hong Kong are struggling with China’s slowed-growth policy, increased rates on commercial rentals, and government intervention to cool the residential property market, we at Royce are looking for opportunities in Hong Kong-listed companiesour primary entrance to gain access to Chinese companieswhose valuations are reflective of the macro challenges facing their economy.

2013-08-23 Why We Still Like China by Philippe Brugere-Trelat, Andrew Sleeman of Franklin Templeton Investments

When China, the world’s second-largest economy and an engine of global growth, sneezes many other markets catch colds. A spike in the country’s short-term lending rate in June gave some investors the sniffles at least temporarily, while others have turned bearish on China amid concerns growth rates this year could be under the weather. However, many investors may be overlooking some powerful macro-economic long-term shifts taking place in the economy that could ultimately improve China’s bill of health.

2013-08-23 Utilities - Today's Best Bond Alternative by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

To refer to any stock or equity as an alternative to bonds or fixed income is sure to stir up the ire and consternation of many professional and individual investors alike who deem themselves prudent. Frankly, under normal circumstances I would tend to agree.

2013-08-23 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

India: Broken promise or temporary hiccup? Bond markets appear unmoved by central bank guidance. Rising mortgage rates are taking some of the steam out of housing.

2013-08-23 The Next Big Challenge to Investors: Duration by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

Many investors have been conditioned to accept that the economy will be in the rehabilitation ward for the foreseeable future, rates will remain low, and monetary stimulus unending. We believe this is an increasingly dangerous mindset and the next great risk for bond investors is coming into view: the return of higher interest rates. We look at the “refuge” subsectors those areas of the fixed income market that investors may believe provide “safe haven” from the gathering storm.

2013-08-16 Using Equities to Hedge Inflation? Tread With Care by Bob Greer, Raji Manasseh of PIMCO

Historically, broad equity returns have not intrinsically provided a good hedge against inflation. Three key attributes may help companies withstand inflationary environments - pricing power, supply side advantages and a willingness and ability to sustain dividend hikes at a rate faster than inflation. To realize equities’ long-term potential as a key source of portfolio returns, investors should consider enlisting active managers who select stocks with a view on inflation and its effect on specific companies.

2013-08-16 Attention Investors: Don't Fear Rising Rates; Fear Perpetually Low Rates by J.J. Abodeely of Sitka Pacific Capital Management

This month’s Insight will take a look at the performance of bonds during two previous inflationary periods, the 1940s and the 1970s, and illustrate two very different total return experiences. Through these examples, we will show that bond investors-- and by extension, any investor with a traditional balanced portfolio, should not fear rising rates as much as they should fear perpetually low rates.

2013-08-09 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The global productivity "bust" is largely cyclical. The Bank of England tries forward guidance. Will low labor force participation keep the Fed from tapering?

2013-08-08 Is The Financial Crisis Over For Financial Stocks? by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

The cause of the financial crisis of 2007 -2008, also known as the Great Recession of 2008, is attributed to many different theories. However, one of the most common theories is an easy money regulatory environment that led to an abundance of subprime loans, which in turn inflated real estate prices to bubble levels. Additionally, many blame the Financial sector, predominantly the money center banks, for exploiting the lax lending requirements with reckless and greedy behavior.

2013-08-07 Japan The Land of the Rising Stock Market by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

We have been ardent bulls on the Japanese stock market since last Fall. Our thesis has been a simple one: For the first time in the history of our data, Japan began running consecutive monthly current account deficits.

2013-08-06 What Doesn\'t Kill Gold Makes it Stronger by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

I’ve been emphasizing for months that the current correction in the gold price is a result of speculative money fleeing the market and not any reflection of gold’s long-term fundamentals. Unfortunately, there is so much money to be made (and lost) by day trading that my cautions have once again fallen on deaf ears.

2013-08-02 Avoiding Pricey Low Volatility Investing by Feifei Li of Research Affiliates

Low volatility investing reduces a portfolio’s exposure to the market factor in favor of other historically reliable sources of equity risk premium.But the alluring risk-adjusted performance characteristics of low volatility strategies have lately attracted serious investors, and many managers have developed products to meet the growing demand.Is it possible to preserve the benefits of low volatility investing when prices rise?Feifei Li, Head of Research, suggests implementation refinements that might make a difference.

2013-07-26 Investing In Bonds When Rates Are Rising by Tom Dalpiaz of Advisors Asset Management

How can investors “stay in the bond game” during these difficult rising rate environments? Here are some suggestions.

2013-07-19 European Equities: Beyond the Headlines by Philippe Brugere-Trelat of Franklin Templeton Investments

It’s fairly easy for investors to find reasons to shun European equities. While struggles in some Eurozone “periphery” countries continue to make eye-catching headlines, the broader story of Europe is far less fatalistic, according to Mutual Series Executive Vice President Philippe Brugere-Trelat, who manages the Mutual European Fund, Mutual Global Discovery Fund and Mutual International Fund. When it comes to Europe, he says one shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak.

2013-07-16 Nassim Nicholas Taleb: To Prevail in an Uncertain World, Get Convex by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Investment professionals know the value of a convex bond it gains more from falling rates than it loses from rising ones. According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, people and institutions can and should position themselves to be convex. Indeed, they should be antifragile ready to gain from disorder or uncertainty.

2013-07-12 Hasenstab: Emerging Out of the Consensus Trade by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton Investments

Just when is a potential long-term reward worth the short-term risk? Investors are often most focused on the short-term pain of a particular event (hard to blame them), losing sight of possible outcomes farther out into the future. That could partially explain what’s going on in the emerging markets right now, at least according to Michael Hasenstab, co-director of the International Bond Department, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group.

2013-07-11 Pacific Basin Market Overview June 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Equity markets in Asia ended generally lower in the second quarter of 2013 due to concerns over the U.S. Federal Reserve’s apparent shift towards a more balanced monetary policy stance following Chairman Bernanke’s statements suggesting a “tapering” of its asset purchase program.

2013-07-08 Absolute Return Letter: Much Ado about Nothing by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

A 300 bps rise in bond yields across the term structure would, according to their calculations, do substantial damage to financial institutions’ balance sheets. Holders of U.S. Treasuries alone would lose in excess of $1 trillion on such a move in rates, equal to 8% of U.S. GDP. Other countries would fare even worse. Losses on JGBs would equal 35% of the Japanese GDP, effectively wiping out its banking industry in the process. Holders of U.K. bonds wouldn’t do much better, losing the equivalent of 25% of U.K. GDP.

2013-07-04 The Free-Trade Charade by Joseph E. Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

The negotiations to create a free-trade area between the US and Europe, and another between the US and much of the Pacific (except for China), are not about establishing a true free-trade system. Instead, the goal is a managed trade regime managed, that is, to serve the special interests that have long dominated trade policy in the West.

2013-07-03 Investment Bulletin: Emerging Markets Equity by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

The portfolio performed very well in May, taking the year to date net gain to 15.0%, vs. 3.5% for the index. There were two causes for the good numbers: stock selection i.e. ignoring index weightings - and the avoidance of countries with deteriorating balance of payments and budget deficits, and with high government debt to GDP ratios, such as Hungary, Poland, India, Turkey and South Africa.

2013-07-02 Do Dividend-Paying Stocks Have Staying Power? by Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson of Hartford Funds

The role of dividend-paying stocks in a diversified portfolio and the environment in which they are likely to outperform the broader equity market are often topics of debate among investors. I believe there are a number of reasons why a strategic allocation to dividend-paying stocks makes sense.

2013-06-28 Riding Out Recent Volatility by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton

Major central bank policy turns are naturally going to cause some market dislocations. Hasenstab says it’s pretty clear the Fed couldn’t continue printing money forever, and while some investors are panicking about what the end of the Fed’s easy money policy will mean, Fed tapering doesn’t equate to Fed tightening.

2013-06-27 How Bonds Will Suffer Before the Fed Raises Rates by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

The Federal Reserve’s years-long zero-interest rate policy has flattened Treasury yields to where rising interest rates and inflation are almost assured manifestations. Investors may have to face the threat of rising bond yields. Damage to high quality, long-duration debt instruments would likely happen far in advance of a rise in interest rates with periods of significant volatility. What are the risks to portfolios? The first in a series of three papers that examines this questions is now available.

2013-06-25 The Price Your Clients Pay for Using Safe Withdrawal Rates by David B. Loeper (Article)

Safe-withdrawal rates (SWRs) are perhaps the most extensively studied topic in financial planning literature. But applying a single SWR-driven methodology to all clients neglects their unique and individual needs. A better approach is for advisors to assist clients in defining their ideal and acceptable goals and the relative priorities among them. Then they can demonstrate through Monte Carlo simulation the likelihood of the recommended plan becoming over- or under-funded relative to those goals.

2013-06-25 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Adam Apt responds in the latest exchange of letters on the topic of socially responsible investing. A reader responds to Geoff Considine’s article, A Better Alternative to Cap-Weighted Bond Indices, which appeared June 11. A reader responds to Wade Pfau’s article, Retirement Income Designations Which Should You Choose?, which appeared last week.

2013-06-21 Asia Brief: China's Energy Demand by Edmund Harriss, James Weir of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management

China has the world’s largest unconventional gas reserves, but these so far remain untapped despite its growing demand for energy. China is now trying to follow the example of the US, and the government has set aggressive targets for unconventional gas production. As the demand for transportation fuels grow over the next decade, this gas could be a major contributor to meeting that need.

2013-06-21 Outlook for the Global Bond Market by Nic Pifer of Columbia Management

The global economy continues to expand, but seems stuck on a moderate, below-trend trajectory. Lately, the story seems to be more about a growth rotation across regions than a clear-cut acceleration or deceleration at the global level. Looking to 2014, however, we still expect the global economy to accelerate to a more trend-like pace.

2013-06-19 Efficient Pension Investing by Jared Gross of PIMCO

Adapting the Sharpe ratio to pension portfolios can help plan sponsors choose among a multitude of investment options designed to achieve the same goal. In our experience, the most significant efficiency gains have come from shifting from intermediate bonds to long-term bonds and introducing lower-volatility substitutes to equities.

2013-06-18 Unconstrained Bond Funds Fail to Deliver by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

There have been an incessant number of articles in the past year addressing a “Great Rotation” by investors the seismic shift in asset allocation predicted to result from a transition to a rising rate environment. Individual investors “spoiled” by a 30-year secular decline in interest rates, it is thought, will run to new alternatives in the face of this structural headwind for a significant chunk of their portfolios.

2013-06-17 The Price of Distortion by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Corporate profits have benefited in recent years from enormous fiscal distortions that have bloated margins 70% above their historical norms. Stock prices have benefited in recent years from enormous monetary distortions that have suppressed interest rates and encouraged investors to “reach for yield.” Combining those effects, investors have been encouraged to chase stocks, placing elevated price/earnings multiples on already elevated earnings. Investors who value stocks on the basis of these distortions are likely to discover in hindsight that they have paid a very dear price.

2013-06-17 On the Radar: Bernanke\'s Balancing Act by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

A recent analysis in this space made the case for equities. Pointing to the continued flood of liquidity from the Federal Reserve and still-attractive stock valuations, I argued that the rally would continue, despite the subpar economic recovery and continued policy muddles in Washington and Europe. In this column, I will take up one of those fundamental, longer-term considerations: Fed policy. The columns that follow will discuss two other major issues: fiscal policy and energy.

2013-06-14 Global Small Cap Investing: Unconstrained Opportunities by Blake Pontius of William Blair

Equity asset allocations have become more global in recent years as investors have sought to reduce the long standing home country bias in their portfolios. Further propelling this trend has been the growing aversion to traditional asset class structures and indeed, conventional asset class definitions, in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 global fi nancial crisis. Against this backdrop, global equity strategies have continued to garner asset fl ows in Europe and have slowly begun to gain traction in the U.S. after years of tepid demand.

2013-06-13 China\'s Services Revolution by Sherry Zhang of Matthews Asia

Historically, China has focused on infrastructure and heavy industries at the expense of the service sector. Two years ago, service industries in China, such as hospitality, advertising, insurance and tourism, contributed a mere 43% of the country’s GDPwell below that of more developed economies like the U.S. and U.K, which saw nearly 80%. This month Sherry Zhang takes a look at the more balanced growth China will need in order to continue its economic trajectory over the next decade.

2013-06-10 Emerging Markets Mid-Year Pulse Check by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Global economic growth hasn’t been terribly inspiring so far in the first half of the year, but many investors have nevertheless been inspired to pour more assets into the equity markets, some of which have surged to record highs. As we hit the mid-year point, now seems like a good time to take a pulse check of emerging markets and assess our prognosis.

2013-06-03 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Recent history has shown us that when investors feel “prosperous” their spending habits become more robust. Sometimes they even throw caution to the wind and splurge on discretionary purchases they previously sought to avoid or postpone. Such is the nature of a rapidly changing landscape that what previously had been a vulnerability now becomes a necessity. The impact of financial decision-making can have a manic effect upon virtually any part of the world. This is why crises become epidemics, and cures become panacea.

2013-05-31 The Week in Fiscal and Monetary Policy by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The financial markets were more than a bit confused by the minutes of the April 30 May 1 Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Some Fed officials wanted to begin tapering the rate of asset purchases as early as June. However, that wasn’t a majority opinion. Fed Chairman Bernanke’s testimony to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress was balanced, but strongly suggested that monetary policy is unlikely to be tightened anytime soon. In his testimony, Bernanke also lectured congress on fiscal policy, which has been completely wrong-footed this year.

2013-05-22 Waiting for the Great Rotation: Why Interest Rates Could Stay Low Even Longer by Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson of Hartford Funds

The number-one question I get from investors is, “When will rates go up?” While this concern has been top of mind for the last few years, investors’ anxiety and sense of risk has intensified amid the threat of the “Great Rotation”the anticipated en masse reallocation out of bonds into equities. But so far, rates have yet to rise, leaving many people to wonder where we stand now and what may happen next. To answer these questions, I’d like to make three points.

2013-05-22 A Whiff of Confidence by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

The single biggest on-going survey of consumer confidence in the United States is conducted by Rasmussen, who survey 500 consumers every night on their views of the U.S. economy and their personal finances. Since October 2007, there has not been a single month in which the index produced by this survey has exceeded 100. However, since the start of May it has averaged well above this level.

2013-05-21 Capitalism and Democracy by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In the Italian elections, the party that showed the strongest results was the Five Star Movement, led by the comedian Beppe Grillo. Despite this strong showing, the party failed to form a government and refused to participate in any coalitions. This decision not to participate in the political process has been exhibited by other protest groups, such as Occupy Wall Street, the Israeli Tent Movement, and the Spanish “Indignant” movement.

2013-05-21 General Electric Looks Like It's Becoming The Shareholder-Friendly Company It Once Was by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

General Electric (GE) was once revered as one of the bluest of all blue-chip companies in the world. During its glory days, GE was respected as an industrial conglomerate that manufactured some of the world’s best jet engines, locomotives, appliances and even the highly regarded General Electric light bulb. However, as best I can determine, the roots of General Electric’s ultimate demise were established in 1930 when the company, responding to the great depression, formed GE Finance in order to help their customers finance GE appliances over time.

2013-05-11 Three Reasons to Buy Gold Equities Today by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

A strong stomach and a tremendous amount of patience are required for gold stock investors these days, as miners have been exhibiting their typical volatility pattern. That’s why I often say to anticipate before you participate, because gold stocks are historically twice as volatile as U.S. stocks. As of March 31, 2013, using 10-year data, the NYSE Arca Gold BUGS Index (HUI) had a rolling one-year standard deviation of nearly 35 percent. The S&P 500’s was just under 15 percent.

2013-05-07 How to Construct a Low-Cost Conservative Portfolio by Geoff Considine (Article)

One of the greatest challenges for investors today is constructing low-risk portfolios that provide the best returns using low-cost funds or ETFs. Doing so requires advisors to define risk as the potential for retirees to fail to achieve their financial goals, instead of as volatility, as it is traditionally measured. I will show how to construct a low-cost portfolio that minimizes this definition of risk while generating a reasonable real return.

2013-04-30 Stockman to America: Sinners, Repent! by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

In a massive volume that melds economic history and social criticism, the former Reagan administration budget director David Stockman has documented countless ways in which America went astray over the last century. Most notably, he decried the corruption of free-market capitalism by those seeking effortless profits at the public’s expense. This is the source of his book’s title, The Great Deformation.

2013-04-29 Long Live China's Slowdown by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

China doubters around the world have been quick to pounce on slower-than-expected GDP growth in the first quarter of this year. But slower growth is actually good for China provided that it reflects the long-awaited shift to an economic structure that draws greater support from domestic private consumption.

2013-04-25 Closed-End Fund Review by Jeff Margolin of First Trust Advisors

The first quarter of 2013 was a solid quarter for many closed-end funds, with the average fund up 4.31% on a share price total return basis, according to Morningstar. As you would expect, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rocketing 11.25% in the quarter, which represented the best first quarter for the index since 1998, and with the Standard and Poor’s 500 up 10.03%, domestic equity funds were up on average 11.80% during the quarter on a share price total return basis.

2013-04-22 Strategy for a Second Gear Economy by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

American investors could be forgiven for feeling just a little confused. One week after the stock market posted its strongest first-quarter gains since 1998, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the weakest monthly job growth in nine months. Real GDP growth was just 0.4% in the fourth quarter but appears to have been much stronger in the first. So is the economy getting stronger or weaker, how is the Federal Reserve likely to react to it and what, if anything, should investors do about it?

2013-04-19 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

Based on the nearly 2,500-point rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average since last June, it appears that Mr. Bernanke has been successful in increasing demand for risk assets and creating some exuberance in the stock market. Short-term volatility in the markets may be driven by questions about the Fed’s eventual exit strategy and how effectively the politicians will deal with U.S. fiscal issues. The good news is that that the U.S. economy is growing, albeit slowly, unemployment is falling, again slowly, and consumer confidence is improving.

2013-04-19 Fed to End QE, Obama's Tax & Spend Budget by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Today I tackle several topics, each of which could take up an entire E-Letter. But these topics are very important, and I want to address them today. The first is the minutes from the March 19-20 Fed Open Market Committee meeting that were released last Wednesday. Those minutes definitively confirm that the Fed is ready to chart an end to quantitative easing.

2013-04-19 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The world’s public debt is much larger than it may appear. The lines have been drawn in the U.S. budget debate. Rates of disability are affecting labor force participation.

2013-04-18 Fortune's Formula by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

I reflected on mathematics, probabilities, and odds over the weekend after again reading the book “Fortune’s Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street,” by William Poundstone. The book centers on Claude Shannon, who in the late 1940s had the idea computers should compute using the now familiar binary digits 0s and 1s such that 1 means “on” and 0 means “off.”

2013-04-17 S&P 500 Index Is It Really a Broad Market Index? by Stephen Hammers, Daniel Banaszak of Compass EMP Funds

The S&P 500 is one of the most widely-followed market indexes across the globe with over 1 trillion U.S. dollars in assets tracking its performance. Despite its widespread acceptance, it contains some inefficiencies One of the chief inefficiencies, and the main focus of this commentary, is in how weights are assigned to members in the index as a market capitalization-weighted index.

2013-04-17 Hyperactive Monetary Policy: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Lupin Rahman, Mohit Mittal, Josh Thimons of PIMCO

Hyperactive monetary policy (HMP) is in full force as fiscal policy retreats. The benefits of HMP outweigh the costs for now. Despite cyclical growth, we will likely not achieve escape velocity and eventually the costs will likely overtake the benefits.

2013-04-16 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Robert Huebscher’s article, The Downside to Socially Responsible Investing, which appeared on November 13, 2012.

2013-04-16 What the Bull Giveth, the Bear Taketh Away by Adam Butler, Mike Philbrick, Rodrigo Gordillo of Butler|Philbrick|Gordillo & Associates

The question of whether to commit new funds to stocks here is nuanced and complex, not least because it isn’t obvious that traditional alternatives - bonds or cash - offer any better value. We are very near all-time low interest rates across most developed government bond markets, credit spreads are near all-time tights, and rates are negative out to 5 or more years in real terms.

2013-04-15 Valuation Based Equity Market Forecasts - Q1 2013 Update by Doug Adam Butler, Mike Philbrick, Rodrigo Gordillo of Butler|Philbrick|Gordillo & Associates

Click to viewWe endorse the decisive evidence that markets and economies are complex, dynamic systems which are not reducible to normal cause-effect analysis. However, we are willing to acknowledge the likelihood that the future is likely to rhyme with the past. Thus, we believe there is substantial value in applying simple statistical models to discover average estimates of what the future may hold over meaningful investment horizons (10+ years), while acknowledging the wide range of possibilities that exist around these averages.

2013-04-15 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

There may still be people rushing to the Post Office this afternoon or evening to get tax returns in the mailbox. Of course, many others will file for an extension. The first extension is for six months and is automatic. However, when you file your extension, you have to send in the money you think you will owe and file form 4868. If you don’t file an extension, there is a 5% per month late filing fee. An underpayment could also be charged interest, and if the amount is significantly under what is owed there could be penalties as well.

2013-04-09 Four Bold Innovations that will Revolutionize Financial Planning by Bob Veres (Article)

What it would be like for an advisor in the 1980s to be magically transported to our 21st century? The changes would be dazzling: the Internet and social media, exchange-traded funds and Morningstar data, Skype conferences and the virtual cloud, plus a few million mobile device apps that do everything but vacuum your house.

2013-04-08 A Continuing Case for Dividends by Richard Skaggs of Loomis Sayles

The investment case for dividend-paying stocks is as strong as ever. Many dividend-paying stocks continue to boast yields comparable to or higher than US Treasurys, and the case for dividend growth in the years ahead remains favorable. Dividends have a long history as a significant component of total return, and investors will likely continue to press for rising payouts since corporate balance sheets are flush with cash. What should investors consider as they survey the universe of dividend-paying companies?

2013-04-08 Repealing Tax Exemption and Illinois Settlement Guest Commentaries by Gregg Bienstock, Ron Bernardi of Lumesis

This week we are pleased to present two guest commentaries both from Ron Bernardi, President and CEO of Bernardi Securities, Inc. The first is an excellent white paper entitled “Repealing Tax Exemption Impact on Small and Medium Sized Communities” and highlights the impact of a repeal of tax exemption. The second covers three topics, Ron’s home turf, Illinois, a bit about Stockton and a bit on the Ways and Means hearing regarding tax-exemption.

2013-04-03 Spring Economic Commentary by Larry Maddox of Horizon Advisors

The Fiscal Cliff We loudly went over the cliff and received a largely quiet and unexpected market reaction? Risk of rising interest rates After a 30 year period of declining interest rates, caution is in order. Our thoughts on portfolio fixed income positioning. The heightened awareness of uncertainty Despite lingering uncertainty investors should be committed to long term well diversified porftolios.

2013-04-03 F.I.R.S.T.: Made in the U.S.A. by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

Not just the preamble for the “machine-wash-in-cold-water-and-eat-celery-only” instructions on the inside of your skinny jeans, “Made in the U.S.A.” is a brand in vogue these days as the Stars and Stripes looks to dawn a manufacturing renaissance to go with that snazzy new housing recovery everyone’s been talking about.

2013-04-02 Finally by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

With a headline like that, I could be talking about my Law School Alma Mater, the University of Michigan, making it back into the Final Four for the first time since 1993 by beating the University of Florida in the NCAA South Regional basketball Finals yesterday. Or it could be the exclamation of most Michiganders with the first sunshine-filled days this weekend since spring had sprung earlier in March (yes, the ice also finished melting on our lake this weekfinally).

2013-03-29 China on the Move by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

After six years of weighing the options, China is now firmly committed to implementing a new growth strategy. But it will take courage and sheer determination to tackle the biggest obstacle of all deeply entrenched local and provincial power blocs.

2013-03-29 Learnings From the Cyprus Saga by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

There are important differences between the situation in Cyprus and the challenges other southern European nations face that should limit the transfer of financial trauma. The hope remains that the ECB’s promise to do whatever it takes to solve the sovereign debt crisis will ultimately settle markets. But access to certain types of ECB support requires reaching agreement on restructuring with the same European officials who have handled the situation in Cyprus so maladroitly.

2013-03-28 Whatever It Takes in Japan? It Takes an 'Audacious' Monetary Policy! by Richard Clarida and Tomoya Masanao of PIMCO

The BOJ will have to make some key monetary policy decisions soon, given Kuroda’s sincere but ambitious desire to achieve 2% inflation within two years. The BOJ has lagged far behind other major central banks in the deployment of its balance sheet since the onset of the financial crisis. Expect Japan’s monetary policy to be more aggressive and experimental as it shifts toward reflating the economy. For global investors, this may mean a modest economic growth contribution from Japan, at least over a cyclical horizon, as well as additional central bank liquidity pouring into global m

2013-03-26 North Korea's Problem by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In December, North Korea launched a satellite into orbit, which was a violation of U.N. resolutions against ballistic missile tests. Last month, it carried out its third nuclear test, which was apparently more successful than the previous two attempts. The U.N., with Chinese approval, approved additional sanctions on the regime.

2013-03-22 Power of Positive Screening: Pursuing Strength of Social and Financial Returns by Chat Reynders, Patrick McVeigh of Reynders, McVeigh Capital Management

Market volatility and sweeping changes to mainstream views of investing are catalyzing acceptance of tactics that combine fundamentals with a progressive outlook on social issues. Positive screening brings balanced companies to the fore of the investment landscape: this practice isolates sound equities that demonstrate strength of balance sheet, dependability of management, and a commitment to act as part of a global community focused on positive change.

2013-03-21 Debt-Friendly Stimulus by Robert Shiller of Project Syndicate

With much of the global economy apparently trapped in a long and painful austerity-induced slump, it is time to admit that the trap is entirely of our own making. We have constructed it from unfortunate habits of thought about how to handle spiraling public debt.

2013-03-19 Understanding the Role of SPIAs in a Retirement Portfolio by David B. Loeper (Article)

Wade Pfau’s recent article, Breaking Free from the Safe Withdrawal Paradigm, was well researched. Its goal was to accurately calculate the benefits of using SPIAs based on certain assumptions. I fear, however, that many readers may have not fully grasped the impact of a few key assumptions that drive his results.

2013-03-19 The Eurozone Crisis: Time for a Reset by Giles Conway-Gordon of Cogo Wolf Asset Management

The crisis in the Eurozone (EZ) has reached a dangerously unstable condition, politically, socially, financially and economically. Without a return to growth in the peripheral economies a disorderly outcome is becoming probable as the debtor countries approach the 100% debt-to-GDP default horizon. They will not return to growth while they share a currency with Germany. It is time for a reset.

2013-03-19 How Strong? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The recent economic reports have been mixed. The stock market seems to have embraced the strength and ignored the weakness. The bond market typically approaches the information in a more balanced way. How might the differences between the two markets be resolved?

2013-03-18 Finding the Sweet Spot by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

Where is the investment “sweet spot” in today’s global financial markets? The uneven global growth outlook means there are opportunities and risks for both credit and equity investors.

2013-03-15 Emerging Markets Equity Commentary by Team of Thomas White International

Emerging market equities saw a moderate correction in February, broadly similar to the rest of the world. Prices reacted negatively to renewed concerns of a worsening European fiscal crisis as the results of the recent Italian elections turned out to be inconclusive.

2013-03-12 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Two readers respond to Joe Tomlinson's article, Can Advisors Add Value Through Fund Selection?, which appeared on February 26, and a reader responds to Wade Pfau's article, Breaking Free from the Safe Withdrawal Rate Paradigm: Extending the Efficient Frontier for Retirement Income, which appeared last week.

2013-03-12 The Retirement Income Problem by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

The most vital and pervasive issue investors will face in the next decade is how to wring out enough income from the savings they have amassed to maintain or enhance their lifestyle. To do so, they will need to be far more flexible in their investment approach. They also must adapt to an environment for "high quality bonds" (Treasuries, Municipals and Corporates) that does not at all resemble that which they are accustomed to.

2013-03-11 Two Myths and a Legend by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The present market euphoria appears to be driven by two myths and a legend. Make no mistake. When investors cannot possibly think of any reason why stocks could decline, and are convinced that universally recognized factors are sufficient to drive prices perpetually higher, euphoria is the proper term.

2013-03-08 Ride Over Bump in Gas Prices with These Investment Themes by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

U.S. oil independence is picking up steam. In December, the country lost its position as the world's largest importer of oil, with shale production climbing faster than expected. Net imports fell below 6 million barrels per day, domestic production increased more than 1 million barrels per day and demand declined by about 700,000 barrels per day.

2013-03-06 Combining the Best of Passive and Active Investing by Patrick O'Shaughnessy of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management

Should investors pay higher fees to active managers in an attempt to beat the market? Or should they instead buy cheap passive index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) thereby surrendering to the compelling long-term evidence that successful money managers are few and far between and very difficult to identify. It is an important and ongoing debate because the choice between the passive or active approach to investing can have a huge impact on long-term results.

2013-03-06 Liquidity Tiering for Higher Yields in the Tax-Free Market by Duane McAllister, John Bortizke of BMO Global Asset Management

In today's low-yield environment, investors need a fresh approach to managing their portfolios for higher income. Liquidity tiering provides a framework that can help you achieve both principal stability and yields sufficient to meet your goals.

2013-03-05 Reflections on Sequester by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Over the past several weeks, the notion of sequester, a plan of across the board spending cuts, has been dominating the news. The sequester was a program designed to never go into effect. In the dark days of 2011, when the debt ceiling debate threatened to cause the U.S. to default on its debt, the administration and the House GOP made a deal. In return for a higher debt ceiling, one high enough to ensure that it would not be hit before the 2012 presidential elections, a commission was tasked to make significant cuts to fiscal spending.

2013-03-04 The Sequester Cuts Take Effect: Now What Happens? by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

On March 1, the government spending cuts known as the "sequester" took effect without any action from Congress. Below I discuss what those cuts mean and what is likely to follow as Congress wrestles with additional deadlines. But before we get to the sequester, a number of you have asked for a understandable summary of the elements of the fiscal cliff compromise reached on New Year's Eve.

2013-03-04 Health Care Reform: A Q&A With Our Municipal Bond Experts by Shari Sikes, Art Schloss of Invesco

Health care reform took center stage in the last year as the Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), affirming the constitutionality of portions of the law. The decision made it possible for major health care reform to proceed. This January, health care spending again was at the forefront during the fiscal cliff debate as a means to reduce government spending. Health care is poised to remain at the center of this discussion until a federal budget deal is reached.

2013-03-01 What Are The FOMC Minutes Telling Us? by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

The release of the minutes of the January Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve (Fed) caused a tremor in the bedrock of investor euphoria last week. The minutes confirmed that the cost/benefit analysis of quantitative easing (QE) is at center of policy debate right now. However, the minutes did not provide a definitive signal that the program may be cut short. In particular, it is not clear where Chairman Bernanke and Vice Chair Yellen stand. I believe the level of debate slightly raises the odds that QE will end this year.

2013-03-01 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

With the battle over sequestration going on in Washington, the President has made it clear he wants to raise more revenue. Just what does he have in mind? First, he would like to limit itemized deductions beginning at the 28% tax bracket. This means that taxpayers in the top three brackets would lose some of the benefit of their itemized deductions. Of course, these deductions have a phase out, so the effect may not be as great as is perceived.

2013-02-27 The Healthcare Blues by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

It has been some time since we peeked into my worry closet. A few questions this weekend prompted me to think about things I am paying attention to but have not written about, and one thing that I am not worried about at all, despite the apparent media hysteria.

2013-02-19 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Gary Halbert's commentary, The Economy: Worst Five Years Since the Depression, which appeared on February 13.

2013-02-19 The Pound Gets Pounded by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

As the global currency war intensifies, the majority of attention has been paid to the 17% fall of the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar over the past few months. The implosion has given cover to the sad performance of another once mighty currency: the British pound sterling. But in many ways the travails of the pound is far more instructive to those pondering the fate of the U.S. currency.

2013-02-19 All is Not Well Down Under by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Though Russ continues to like Australian equities for the longer term, he explains why he may downgrade his near-term view of the Australian market soon.

2013-02-15 All is Not Well Down Under by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Though Russ continues to like Australian equities for the longer term, he explains why he may downgrade his near-term view of the Australian market soon.

2013-02-14 How Not to Run a Pension by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

For all the focus on the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare, there is another unfunded crisis brewing, and this one is in your own back yard. It's coming to you even if you live outside of the US; it just might take a little longer to get there. I wrote ten years ago that state and local pension funds might be underfunded by as much as $2 trillion. It turns out that I was being overly optimistic. New government research suggests that the figure might be as high as $3 trillion. But what if you take into account that retirees are living longer?

2013-02-13 Our Job: Whether; Market's Job: When by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Warren Buffett describes the stock market's purpose as being "a wonderfully efficient mechanism for transferring wealth from the impatient to the patient". We are reminded of this by a series of news reports and commentaries on subjects greatly influenced by basic economics. In today's missive, we consider what the law of supply and demand says about China, oil, and housing in the USA.

2013-02-05 The 2030 Outlook by Bill O'Grady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

Over the next several weeks we will look into the more distant future, to the year 2030. We will explore the long-term strategic alternative world development scenarios as laid out by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) and present our views regarding the developments. The NIC forecasts the likely paths that are either currently underway or are forecast to occur in the future. The NIC projects four possible global political and economic states based on these expected trends.

2013-02-04 A Gross Underestimate by Jonathan Coleman, Soonyong Park of Janus Capital Group

As we enter 2013, we felt it would be an appropriate time to revisit one of last years most controversial predictions of future equity performance. We acknowledge that equities in general may not continue to deliver the same real rate of return they have over the last century; however, we believe the glum outlook for the asset class forecasted by Bill Gross last year misses the mark. Our estimates of future equity returnsbased on three different approachesall point to a meaningfully higher forecast than Gross' pessimistic prediction.

2013-02-01 Fiscal Cliff: Making Decisions in Crisis Part III by Brian Singer of William Blair

The December 31 fiscal cliff was averted, but by the narrowest of conceivable margins. The resolution is consistent with our November analysis, but the narrowness leaves much to be resolved and prolongs uncertainty through March.

2013-02-01 The Biggest Loser by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

For the past few generations Switzerland has enjoyed some of the strongest economic fundamentals in the world. The country boasts a high savings rate, low taxes, strong exports, low debt-to-GDP, balanced government budgets, and prior to a few years ago one of the most responsible monetary policies in the world. These attributes made the Swiss franc one of the world's "safe haven" currencies. But in today's global economy, no good deed goes unpunished.

2013-02-01 A Gross Underestimate by Jonathan Coleman and Soonyong Park of Janus Capital Group

The glum outlook for the asset class forecasted by Bill Gross last year misses the mark. Our estimates of future equity returnsbased on three different approachesall point to a meaningfully higher forecast than Gross pessimistic prediction.

2013-01-24 Quick Takes on the Investing Year Ahead by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

We covered a lot of market and investment topics at Pioneer's National Sales and Marketing Meeting last week. Here are some notes on a few that were popular: GDP Growth for the U.S.. Expectations for rates: Fed Funds Rate and the 10-year Treasury, EM equities favored over U.S. Equities?, Things that keep us up at night (outside of the debt ceiling, Europe, and Middle East tension.

2013-01-23 Dissipating Gloom by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Investor confidence seems to be returning, as the economic outlook improves and policy concerns are addressed. The tone of media coverage and strategy commentaries has improved considerably. Nonetheless, investors are not positioned for a more optimistic view. Hedge funds and other professional money managers remain underexposed to equities and retail investors are dreadfully light in equities and badly overweight bonds. Stocks will enjoy a very nice tailwind as these portfolios are rebalanced to reflect the more positive view.

2013-01-23 Developed Asia Pacific: Regional Economic Review - 4Q 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

Developed Asia Pacific economies witnessed mixed economic fortunes during the fourth quarter of 2012. While the group's largest economy, Japan, suffered from stubborn deflation and slumping trade due to a bitter territorial dispute with China, Singapore and Hong Kong managed to fare better.

2013-01-22 Year-End Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory

Stocks shrugged off numerous worries to log a very good year in 2012, but can markets continue to climb? Certainly the worries remain. The most immediate has to do with the spending side of the fiscal cliff. The cliff deal made permanent the Bush tax cuts for all but high-income taxpayers but it did not address spending. So while the worst case of the cliff was avoided, the work is not nearly done. In this commentary we discuss our current assessment of the investment environment including a detailed look at what could go right, and tie it all back to our portfolio positioning.

2013-01-15 Template for a Year-End Client Letter 2012 in Review: Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future by Dan Richards (Article)

Client concerns about whether you're on top of things can be reduced by sending regular overviews of what's happened in the immediate past and the outlook for the period ahead. That's why each year since 2008, I have posted templates to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients an overview of the year that just ended and the outlook for the period ahead.

2013-01-15 Japan: Tip of the Spear by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

On Sunday, December 16, 2012, Shinzo Abe, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), led his coalition to a decisive electoral victory in Japan. The LDP won 294 out of 480 seats and, with the additional 29 seats captured by its coalition partner, the New Komeito Party, will control the lower house in the Japanese Diet. Abe was named the new prime minister ten days later.

2013-01-15 From Cliff to Ceiling! by Jim Tillar, Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup

When it was all said and done not much happened in the final quarter of 2012. Anxiety picked up immediately after the election as the bickering over the fiscal cliff escalated. In the end, the worst-case scenario was avoided at least for a couple of months and stocks ended about where they began the quarter.

2013-01-09 Stock Market Rocket by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

I know that if you spent any time during the holidays around children eight or older, you probably saw some pretty amazing electronic toys, communication, and entertainment devices. But 50-some years ago one of the best toys in the world was...a rubber band. Today the snap of the rubber band holds a different meaning to me. It symbolizes what I believe has been happening in our stock market.

2013-01-03 Fiscal Cliff Compromise by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

Happy New Year. We begin this year as we ended the last approaching another cliff. To start the year off right, I appeared yesterday on CNBC to discuss the ramifications of the fiscal cliff compromise.

2013-01-03 Another Look at Small-Cap Myths by Francis Gannon of The Royce Funds

A few years ago we wrote about several small-cap myths. As we begin the New Year, we thought it might be helpful to revisit some of the more prominent misconceptions about our chosen asset class and to examine how they have factored into recent performance.

2013-01-02 Where Munis and Government Budgets Meet by Rafael Costas of Franklin Templeton Investments

In the realm of municipal bonds, if you had been focusing on the bankruptcy filings or threats facing a few California cities that dominated the news headlines earlier this year, you couldn't have been blamed for concluding that the sector was a minefield. But then, as year-end approached, the state and local government story became more upbeat, and investors were flocking to the municipal market. Rafael Costas, co-director of the Franklin Municipal Bond Department, has ridden this kind of headline carousel before and he's used to seeing these types of stories cycle through.

2012-12-26 Looking on the Bright Side by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

It is Christmas Eve and not the time for long letters just a brief note on why the fiscal cliff is not the End of All Things, and to point out a worthy cause led by some good friends of mine who are helping people who truly have no options in life. And we'll start things off with a movie review of sorts to launch us into a positive take on the year behind and the year ahead.

2012-12-24 Data Observations, A Free Spin with Ambr & Holiday Wishes by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week's commentary will provide some observations and insight on data recently released and try and stoke your thinking as the folks in DC play with us.We will conclude with our annual holiday wish and a reminder regarding Ambr.

2012-12-19 ING Fixed Income Perspectives December 2012 by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

While all the good little boys and Cindy Lou Whos dream of sugar plums and new iPhone 5s in blue, the adults in our modern-day Christmas story can't sleep but a wink, as visions of getting Scrooge'd by the fiscal cliff are making hearts sink. No matter if this political humbug cease or persist, down the chimneys of a recuperating housing market Ol' Saint Bernanke-olas will continue to gift $85 billion of Treasury and MBS purchases per month or more until the labor market can finally get over the hump and deliver 6.5% unemployment and inflation of 2.5% and no more.

2012-12-18 The 2013 Geopolitical Outlook by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

As is our custom, in mid-December, we publish our geopolitical outlook for the coming year. This list is not designed to be exhaustive. As is often the case, a myriad of potential problems in the world could become issues in the coming year. The lineup listed below details, in our opinion, the issues most likely to have the greatest impact on the world. However, we do recognize the potential for surprises which we will discuss throughout the year in the weekly reports.

2012-12-18 Energy Face-Off: North American Energy Independence vs. Canada's Export Plans by John Devir of PIMCO

President Obama's November 2011 postponement of a decision on whether to permit an oil pipeline from Canada's oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast caused a barrage of protests and negative press in Canada. Canada's new focus on building capacity to sell to Asia-Pacific could hinder U.S. ambitions of energy independence from overseas oil, since the U.S. imports roughly 30% of its crude oil from Canada. We see investor opportunities in rail transportation and pipeline systems that possess excess capacity.

2012-12-14 The Death of the Dollar? by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

Rob Arnott, Chairman and CEO of Research Affiliates, has released an "Insights" paper in which he discusses the possible "Death of the Dollar" in the decade ahead. He points out that: "If we're spending $1 trillion a year more than we produce as a nation (the national deficit) and are financing it by printing $1 trillion a year of crisp newly printed bills (actually, bits in a computer), we're on a dangerous path. Printing our own money to buy our own debt works fine until it doesn't."

2012-12-13 Conditional: Fed Drops 2015 in Favor of 6.5% and 2.5%185 by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The Fed announced it's adding $45 billion in US Treasury purchases to QE3s $40 billion in MBS purchases and moving to economic versus calendar targets.

2012-12-11 Peak Oil or Peak Energy? A Happy Solution by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

A consistent theme in this letter has been the connections between items that may seem to be far removed from each other but are actually linked at the very core. If you push on one end you get a reaction in what would seem to be the most unlikely spots. Today we explore the connection between the fiscal deficit and energy policy.

2012-12-11 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook: At Policy Crossroads by Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

The maturation of the global cyclical growth phase suggests we look to a handoff to more secular drivers of growth. But strong secular drivers remain elusive due to the continuation of New Normal headwinds.Policies are at important crossroads in every major economy. 2013 will be the year of policy change, with policymakers in major economies challenged to enact structural changes that spur private sector growth before government-balance-sheet-led growth is exhausted.

2012-12-06 Meet the New Boss by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

On November 14th, the new Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) was unveiled. The composition of this new group had been anxiously awaited for months. Although most of the members (all men, by the way) had been anticipated, there were some surprises. This committee is the most powerful group in China; it is essentially the legislative and executive branch of the country. And, given that the judiciary is not really independent, the PSC effectively rules China.

2012-11-30 Active Management: Don't Drop the Pilot by Patrick Rudden of AllianceBernstein

For years, we've advised clients to hold diversified portfolios with balanced allocations to stocks, bonds and other assets. Lately, it's been a hard sell, especially after years of underperformance by active equity managers. But the tide may be turning.

2012-11-27 Seasonal Rallies and Fiscal Cliffs by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

Black Fridaythat term used to be reserved for days that major crashes began in the stock market. Fortunately, we saw anything but last week as stocks soared to their best week in months. The market followed through once again on the pre- and post-Thanksgiving positive seasonality pattern that we reported on last week.

2012-11-26 To Invest or Not To Invest? That is NOT the Question! by Matt Scales of Columbia Management

The question that many investors continue to ask is, "Should I be buying stocks now or not?" This is the question investors trying to time the market ask themselves every day. If they choose not to be in the market, they may idle in cash as their neutral position until they figure out when to get back in. However timing the market is a very difficult game, even for the most accomplished investors.

2012-11-19 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Fortunately, no one is compelled to invest money. They do so in a climate of tranquility, or turmoil, in an attempt to utilize their specific discipline, their risk/reward tolerances, and their expectations in order to achieve capital gains. There is no "one size fits all" system, nor is everyone suited for an all-in, win or lose, paradigm.

2012-11-16 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

With the elections behind us, we must now look ahead to the next six weeks of a Lame Duck Congress. Given the fact that the President was re-elected, the Republicans maintained control of the House, and the Democrats gained in the Senate, we know there will either be collaboration or chaos in Washington. The positioning has already started. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

2012-11-15 Pacific Basin Market Overview - October 2012 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Equity markets derived support this month from improved U.S. economic data and an impression that China's economy might be bottoming out. In addition, the Euro Area Industrial Production numbers came in above consensus. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index including Japan declined by 0.39% while the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Free Index gained 0.44% in October 2012.

2012-11-13 The Downside to Socially Responsible Investing by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Who wouldn't want a cleaner environment or a more just society? We can all agree these are worthy goals. But it's an established fact that pursuing them through one's investing is costly; environmental-, social- and governance-based investing (ESG) does fine on a gross basis, but loses money net of fees. Now, a recently published paper argues that that ESG is basically a waste of time.

2012-11-12 After the Election, Fiscal Cliff Outcome May Surprise by Libby Cantrill, Josh Thimons of PIMCO

Our base case for a fiscal cliff resolution continues to be a lame-duck mini-deal that would reflect about 1.5% of GDP in fiscal contraction in 2013 (vs. nearly 5% without a deal). But the dynamics of polarization and partisanship that played a role in past dysfunctional negotiations may have gotten worse. On a more optimistic note, it is widely known that second-term presidents are largely interested in their legacies spearheading noteworthy, bipartisan and lasting accomplishments for the history books.

2012-11-08 A Delicate Balance by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who argues that balance is a bad thing, but in this time of austerity versus growth and political us-versus-them, you'd be equally hard-pressed to find agreement on how to achieve balance. Right now the U.S. economy is teetering on the edge of the much-publicized so-called "fiscal cliff," a one-two punch of automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to go into effect in 2013, and which threaten to tip the nation into recession.

2012-11-07 October 2012 Monthly Commentary by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

A light flashed on in my car this morning, telling me that it was due for service. When I take it in, the mechanics will presumably check both the engine and the brakes before deciding on exactly what it is that I need to repair, replace or adjust. For investors, after nine months of ups and downs in markets, an investment strategy checkup is in order.

2012-11-06 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Gary Halbert's commentary, What Really Happened in Benghazi on Sept. 11, which appeared on October 31, and a reader responds to David Schawel's article, Will Bonds Be 'Burnt to a Crisp?', which appeared on October 16.

2012-10-29 5 Ways for Incumbent Advisors to Get -- And Keep -- Their Clients' Vote of Confidence by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Obama and Romney are asking for four years to deliver results -- ask your clients for three. First, a brief disclaimer: Nothing in this article is intended to be politically motivated. OK, with that out of the way, let's talk about a most critical issue in our industry that is easily forgotten in today's madcap, have-it-now, sensationalized world: investment evaluation horizon.

2012-10-22 The Little Country That Could by Bill O'Grady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

In this geopolitical report we will take a brief look at Estonia's history, its economy after the break-up of the Soviet Union, its remarkable economic growth in the 1990s and early 2000s, and the ensuing downturn in 2008. The country stands out for choosing a different path to deal with the recession than many other European countries.

2012-10-19 Fall Quarterly Commentary by John Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management

It was a busy quarter for central bankers. A surprise statement during July by European Central Bank President, Mario Draghi, moved markets: "Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the Euro... and believe me, it will be enough." These words sparked an immediate and sharp turnaround in European bond yields (down) and world equities. Not to be outdone, Fed Chairman Bernanke announced QE3 on September 13th, promising to continue purchasing bonds, thereby increasing the money supply, until employment conditions improve.

2012-10-16 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Active investors like to think that it's alright to take risk as long as commensurate reward is a possibility. Further, they base this analysis upon whatever methodology they employ as long as the data, the systems and the game are fair for all who play. Thus, it is no surprise that last year more money was withdrawn from global equity markets than committed, and that more investors operate upon a short-term trading mentality than a longer macro-themed expression.

2012-10-16 The Romney Tax Plan by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

The US federal budget is a mess. Spending has soared, which has hurt economic growth and undermined tax revenues. The result is four consecutive years of trillion dollar deficits. Politicians are always tempted to hike taxes to fix deficits, but the US has reached the point where this is not possible.

2012-10-16 The ABCs of China's Share Markets by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

A shares, B shares, H shares. Chinese equity listings can be confusing to global investors. I'm often asked what I think about a particular share market in China, why one is outperforming others, and which to invest in. I can't tell you what to invest in, but I can give you some information which I hope will help you discern what choices make sense for you.

2012-10-15 High Yield and Bank Loan Outlook by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The leveraged credit market turned in an impressive Q3 with high yield bonds and bank loans returning 4.3 and 3.1 percent, respectively. Unprecedented accommodation from central bankers across the globe has alleviated much of the macroeconomic tail risk that we highlighted in last quarters publication. Presented with a seemingly insatiable demand for new issue bonds, issuers returned to the torrid pace of issuance that characterized the start of 2012 by raising a record $99 billion during the third quarter.

2012-10-09 Dividend Income: Music to Our Ears by ClearBridge Advisors (Article)

The hunger for income among investors is helping put dividends in the spotlight, say Hersh Cohen and Mike Clarfeld of ClearBridge.

2012-10-09 A Q3 Letter to Clients - Insights from a Wall Street Legend by Dan Richards (Article)

Here is a template for a letter to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients an overview of the past 90 days and the outlook for the period ahead. In it, I draw upon investing principles articulated by the legendary Barton Biggs, who passed away earlier this year.

2012-10-09 High-Dividend Yield Strategy under the Microscope by Michael Nairne (Article)

High-dividend yield stocks have become the favorite recommendation of a host of advisors, but an undue focus on income alone obscures the irreducible fact that long-term investment success is based on the total return of a portfolio including both income and capital growth. This raises two questions. How has the total return of a high-dividend yield strategy fared relative to the market? How does its total-return performance compare to the returns of other possible stock-selection strategies?

2012-10-09 This Fortress built by Nature for Herself by Dennis Gibb of Sweetwater Investments

It has been some time since I have taken keyboard in hand in any attempt to inform anyone of my thoughts on the world of investing. I am taking the time to write now because we are embarked on some events that are, in my humble opinion, truly historic. As these events play out the United States may not be a fortress built by nature for herself. So hang on this could get rough and as usual it will be opinionated with a different perspective.

2012-10-04 Nothing's Perfect by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

On September 21, the Apple iPhone 5 made its debut simultaneously on four continents. Its first weekend saw over five million in sales! And the current inventory was sold out within a week a perfect product introduction. Wellnot quite. Soon articles like iPhone 5′s Biggest Problems started showing up, talking about scratching, chipped exteriors, lens flares and others. Then there were complaints about its faulty Maps application that even drew a rare corporate apology last week. It just proves the point of this weeks Hotline: Nothings Perfect.

2012-10-02 Confronting the Unemployment Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Policymakers seeking a path to economic recovery must first answer one crucial question: Is our persistently high unemployment structural or cyclical? If it's cyclical, then monetary and fiscal measures designed to boost consumer spending will restore the US to full employment in due course. But if we face a structural problem, then quick fixes won't work until we correct deeper imbalances that have left 12.5 million Americans without jobs.

2012-10-02 The Risk in Safety by Greg Nejmeh of HS Management Partners

The "risk on/risk off" sound bite is routinely applied by financial commentators when attempting to explain inexplicable market fluctuations. As the pendulum oscillates between greed (risk on) and fear (risk off), the fulcrum the pivot point where the scale rests in perfect balance can best be characterized as safety. It is from that state of equilibrium that the market begins each trading day...

2012-09-28 Falling Off the Fiscal Cliff? by Libby Cantrill, Josh Thimons of PIMCO

When we look at how the fiscal debate is likely to play out, rather than how it should play out, our base case is the fiscal cliff will likely be resolved in a short-term deal before the end of the year, making what was a cliff more like fiscal black diamond still dangerous, but not likely to land the economy in a body cast.

2012-09-27 Reconnaissance: Strategy Notes by Douglas Clark Johnson of Codexa Capital

The investment outlook for large swaths of the Islamic world may actually strengthen, because of or in spite of, events of recent weeks. Stock-price buoyancy on the Egyptian and Karachi exchanges, amid continuing public outrage, may presage coming improvements. Also this week, we take a look at Turkey, given the exceptional gains seen on the Istanbul Stock Exchange.

2012-09-27 How Can Balanced Investors Mitigate Their Equity Risk? by Daniel Loewy of AllianceBernstein

Over the past three decades, bonds have provided balanced investors with the best of both worlds. As 10-year Treasury yields fell from a high of 13.7% in 1980 to less than 2% today, bonds provided both strong returns and a great cushion in times when equities were weak. Bonds are still important, but investors shouldn't expect more of the same.

2012-09-25 The Beginning of Fall Blues by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

I only have time for a short note today. It's probably a reflection of the shorter days that fall ushers in or maybe the increased pace of business that the end of summer vacations seems to ignite. Speaking of seasons, the market weakness we saw last week is just what our Political Seasonality Index has been suggesting that the stock market might have in store for us in this period.

2012-09-25 The Glidepath Illusion by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

Young adults should buy stocks; mature adults should favor bonds. Or so we're taught. In this month's Fundamentals, Rob Arnott takes a serious look at Glidepath strategies used within target-date funds and comes up with some surprising findings.

2012-09-18 The Trend is Your Friend by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)

John Hussman's recent market commentary, The Trend is Your Fickle Friend, highlighted the limitations of trend-following investment strategies that rely on moving-average crossover rules as a primary filter. But an extensive study conducted by our firm demonstrated that a simple moving-average crossover system outperforms buy-and-hold, while reducing drawdown risk and volatility.

2012-09-18 Your Clients' Toughest Retirement Decision by Wade Pfau (Article)

Want to trigger an impassioned debate? Ask a group of advisors about the choice between systematic withdrawal plans and single-premium immediate annuities. Fee-only advisors are loath to cede control of client assets to an insurance company that might someday default, while annuity advocates fire back that only their strategies provide a lifetime income guarantee.

2012-09-17 Ben Wants You To Spend Cash by John Petrides (Article)

This week the Federal Reserve launched its third round of monetary policy easing in as many years. Under QE3 (quantitative easing), the Fed will purchase $40 billion of mortgage backed securities on a monthly basis with the purpose of continuing to fuel the housing market. Under QE3, the Fed said it will keep its zero interest rate policy until mid-2015, with the goal of removing market assumptions of a rising rate environment. The Fed is and always will be data dependent, so all of these actions are subject to change.

2012-09-14 The Cure for Baldness by Neel Kashkari of PIMCO

Rarely does one find market commentators offering moderate, balanced investment advice these days. More likely one will find extreme headlines designed to capture maximum attention. We believe it is worthwhile to take time to craft an investment strategy that can withstand a range of market outcomes. In a lower-return world, we look to buy companies that are attractively priced and that can grow faster than the market as a whole, and we actively manage downside risks.

2012-09-14 All In by Bob Rodriguez of First Pacific Advisors

2013 is a critical moment in time. If a material and timely fiscal restructuring does not take place by next September, I fear and believe that it will not occur before 2017. Unfortunately, if this were to occur, my 2009 warning of a crisis of equal or greater magnitude than the Great Recession by 2017 would be a more likely outcome. My worst fear is that fiscal gridlock continues, coupled with the policies of this activist Fed Chairman. Todays Fed actions add to my anxieties. ALL IN may be a good strategy for poker but not for this economy.

2012-09-12 On Uncertain Ground by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

I'm going to devote this memo to the uncertainty in the world and the investment environment and then offer my take on the appropriate strategy response. This will require me to touch on a large number of topics, but I will try to dwell less than usual on each of them.

2012-09-07 Recent Speech Given by Lacy Hunt, Ph.D. by Lacy H. Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

The most sensible recognition of budget policy came from David Hume, one of the greatest minds of mankind. In his 1752 paper Of Public Finance, Hume advocated running budget surpluses in good times so that they could be used in time of war or other emergencies. Such a recommendation would, of course, prevent policies that would send countries barreling toward the bang point. Countries would have to live inside their means most of the time, but in emergency situations would have the resources to respond.

2012-09-06 Laboring a Point by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

Right before Labor Day each year we are treated to a major policy speech at the Federal Reserve Board's meeting of the Fed's Open Market Committee. In 2010, we were treated to suggestions from Chairman Bernanke that a new period of Quantitative Easing was near. And sure enough, the Federal Reserve announced QE2 on October 22nd of that year.

2012-09-05 September Economic Update by Justin Anderson of Cambridge Advisors

August was characterized by relatively low volatility as stocks continued to grind higher and bond yields traded in a fairly narrow range. The economy saw little change as the slow growth theme continued. European officials mostly took the month off so the sovereign debt crisis fell off the radar for the month. Politics have dominated the headlines, but a close race hasn't provided an impetus for investors to make significant portfolio changes.

2012-08-30 The Calm Before the Storm? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

I know these are the dog days of summer, a time that Jack London captured perfectly in the quote here. Nothing much is happening in the financial world as summer draws to a close. There was little news from Europe. The last of earnings reporting season is behind us, and while the results were the worst since the rally began in March of 2009, they were not terrible.

2012-08-30 The ESM: Saviour, Super SIV or End of the Road? by Andrew Bosomworth of PIMCO

So long as the fundamental issues about the future of the eurozone remain unsolved, the extra supply of ESM bonds will likely drive up the borrowing costs of its weaker stakeholders. Without a cap on or exit clause from additional capital calls, the ESM could lead northern eurozone countries down a difficult and unsustainable path.

2012-08-29 China is Okay by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

Concern is growing that China's economy could be headed for a hard landing. The Chinese stock market has fallen 20% over the past year, to levels last seen in 2009. Continued softness in recent data from purchasing managers sentiment and industrial output to retail sales and exports has heightened the anxiety. Long the global economy's most powerful engine, China, many now fear, is running out of fuel.

2012-08-28 Tomatoes and the Low Vol Effect by Ryan Larson of Research Affiliates

For the past 40 years, investors have focused on how much their returns varied from both a benchmark and their peers. Given the volatility of recent years, some investors are thinking about returning to a different approach to riskthe risk of losing money. This shift in thinking requires a very different approach to equity investing.

2012-08-28 Permanent Portfolio Shakedown Part 2 by Adam Butler and Mike Philbrick of Butler|Philbrick|Gordillo & Associates

In our Permanent Portfolio Shakedown Part 1 we investigated the history of the approach, tracing it back to Harry Browne in 1982. The company he helped to found, The Permanent Portfolio Family of Funds, has been running their version of the strategy in a mutual fund for almost 30 years, with fairly impressive results. Harry's thoughts about the portfolio are worth repeating in this second installment.

2012-08-21 Permanent Portfolio Shakedown Part 1 by Adam Butler, Mike Philbrick of Butler|Philbrick|Gordillo & Associates

The Permanent Portfolio is an asset allocation concept first introduced by Harry Browne in 1982. The Permanent Portfolio Family of Funds website has this to say about the strategy, which they have been running in mutual fund format for about 20 years.

2012-08-14 This Is What Bull Markets Are All About by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Investors have the impression that bull markets are days of wines and roses. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. Bull markets are periods of fear. This becomes quite obvious when one examines the valuation and sentiment data associated with the 1982, 1990, 1995, and 2003 bull markets.

2012-08-10 Schwab Sector Views: Cautiously Cautious by Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab

We remain slightly defensive with our sector recommendations but admit that we're a bit concerned over doing so. While we certainly believe this is the appropriate positioning given the continued elevated uncertainty in the market, combined with sluggish economic data, we also acknowledge that some defensive areas appear extended and the possibility of a near-term cyclically-based rally exists.

2012-08-07 A Plane on the Tarmac by David Kelly of JP Morgan Funds

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a plane on the tarmac at La Guardia. We had pulled away from the gate, but the pilot had just come over in the intercom to let us know that we were number 35 in line for takeoff. Since we were going nowhere fast, I took out my laptop and tried to think of an analogy to describe the current state of the American economy. Then I realized that I was sitting in one.

2012-08-03 Is Buy-and-Hold Dead? by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

If one searches in Google for Does buy-and-hold work?, more than 191 million results will appear.If one searches for Is buy-and-hold dead?, more than 81 million results will appear.However, if one searches for Successful buy-and-hold strategies, only about 9 million results will appear.Its pretty clear that the investing world believes that buy-and-hold strategies are basically dead and gone.

2012-08-03 Time to Row, or Sail? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Earnings are a topic of great debate. At any given time, you can hear someone on TV talking about how "cheap" the market is, while the person on the next channel goes on about how expensive the market is. Today we look at the cycle of earnings, rather than a specific point in time. Let me give you a little preview. In terms of time, this earnings cycle is already longer than average, and in terms of magnitude it is projected to go to all-time highs.

2012-07-30 The Longest Yard by Tony Crescenzi, Ben Emons, Andrew Bosomworth, Isaac Meng of PIMCO

As the global slowdown progresses, we can expect central banks to deploy more policy tools without limits to stem the pace of deleveraging. In Europe, quantitative easing using ESM bonds could prove to be another bridge that buys politicians more time, but does not solve the root problem. We expect real economic growth in China to be muted. While some stabilization is possible later this year, it is hard to foresee a sustained recovery.

2012-07-26 Escalation in the Middle East by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Last week, the fighting in Syria escalated, with the Free Syrian Army, the rebel umbrella group, announcing an attack on Syrias capital, Damascus. Reports indicate that Alawites are starting to flee Damascus for sectarian strongholds on the coast. This information follows the news that the rebels successfully bombed a Syrian intelligence and security facility, killing at least four major figures within the Assad regimes security apparatus.

2012-07-25 Global Bonds - Where To Now? by Nic Pifer of Columbia Management

Economic data over the past four months show a clear softening trend in global economic activity. From our perspective, the muddle-along, sluggish global growth scenario remains very much intact. Highly accommodative monetary policies by the major central banks are helping support activity and contain downside risk.

2012-07-24 Why We Don't Rebalance by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates

Research makes a compelling case that investors should rebalance their portfolios, yet most investors do not do so. Why not? The answer is less about behavioral mistakes and more about the fact that rational individuals care more about other things than simply maximizing investment returns.

2012-07-23 Spain's Molasses Jeopardizing Eurozone? by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

Spanish 10-year government bond yields are trading near 7.5% as Spain's central government is expected to bail out its regions and in return may ask for a bailout itself. Guarantees don't make a system safer, quite the opposite: everything is safe until the guarantor itself is deemed unsafe.

2012-07-21 The Lion in the Grass by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave

Today we'll explore a few things we can see and then try to foresee a few things that are not so obvious. This is a condensation of a speech I gave earlier this afternoon in Singapore for OCBC Bank, called "The Lion in the Grass." The simple premise is that it is not the lions we can see that are the problem; but rather, in trying to avoid them, it is often the lions hidden in the grass that we stumble upon that become the unwelcome surprise.

2012-07-18 Peaks and Valleys by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Second quarter economic activity disappointed on many fronts. The drama in Europe has taken its toll on exports, markets, and confidence. The 2012 election is starting to take shape, amid the approach of a huge fiscal "cliff" at the national and local level. The negativity and uncertainty which often surround Presidential campaigns may hinder economic and market performance. This months special focus is on the Fed's recent Survey of Consumer Finances, and what it means for our economy.

2012-07-18 Taking Short Cuts to Higher Returns with AQRs Capital Antti Ilmanen by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

On November 2-3 of 2011 the CFA Institute and CFA France sponsored the Fourth Annual European Investment Conference in Paris, France. Antti Ilmanen, Ph.D. was one of the presenters. The title of his Presentation was Understanding Expected Returns. This months letter is based on this presentation as it appeared in the June 2012 publication CFA Institute Conference Proceedings Quarterly.

2012-07-17 Bull Market Has Been Buffeted, but Remains Intact by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

During a relatively modest week in terms of trading activity, stocks managed to stage a rally on Friday that helped erase the declines of the previous four days. The stock market gains over the past month can be largely attributed to the perception that policymakers in Europe have been making some progress combatting the ongoing debt crisis. There is a sense of uncertainty over the state of the US economy, and that uncertainty is making investors, companies and consumers wary about the future.

2012-07-10 Recession is Not Imminent by Dwaine van Vuuren (Article)

Perma-bears are bombarding us with alarm bells, sounding the doom of the US economy. We find ourselves in yet another 'summer slowdown scare,' for the third year running. In 2010 and 2011, the purported slowdowns turned out to be soft landings. Investors who ran to the sidelines stared in disbelief as the stock market roared ahead, leaving them behind. We are likely in the same position now.

2012-07-10 The Plight of the Conservative Retiree by Michael Nairne (Article)

Today's extraordinarily low rates on top of a lower equity premium leave conservative retirees with the risk of heightened capital depletion as poorer portfolio returns may be inadequate to offset the combined impact of withdrawals and inflation.

2012-07-10 Investing and the Euro Crisis by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

In the summer of 2012, the Euro Zone crisis continues to dominate financial markets as it has done over each of the past two summers. While the solution to the problem remains relatively straightforward, it requires a level of economic understanding, political courage and communication among policymakers that has been absent thus far. Without this, the crisis is likely to lurch forward with only a very slow and painful resolution.

2012-07-09 The 4 Biggest Investment Performance Myths - and How They Can Torpedo Advisor-Client Trust by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

In 26 years in the investment industry, I have seen investor and advisor behavior from many different angles: as an advisor, portfolio manager, strategist, author and proprietor. Two things have been quite consistent during that quarter-century: 1) That clients and advisors both care deeply about investment performance and 2) that investment performance is rarely evaluated with proper perspective.

2012-07-06 Eurozone Slowly Inching Forward by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman

The European Union (EU) summit last week in Brussels surprisingly yielded some promising outcomes. EU leaders agreed to important short-term measures that can ease the recapitalization of banks but structural issues, such as increasing banking and fiscal integration in the euro area, remain unresolved. Without longer-term measures, the volatile nature of the debt crisis, as evidenced by the Greek elections on June 17, will continue to impact confidence.

2012-07-04 What Next For The Euro-Zone? by Victoria Marklew of Northern Trust

The European Union has just completed its 20th make or break Summit in a little over two years, and actually managed to beat expectations. Two key agreements were reached on June 28-29: expanding the remit of the two bailout funds to include sovereign debt purchases and eventually direct banking sector support; and creating a unified banking regulator for the Euro-zone under the auspices of the European Central Bank (ECB).

2012-07-03 What's In A Name? by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Not only banks and insurance companies but sovereign nations as well cannot all be counted on to guarantee a return of principal, let alone a return on investment. An authentic debt crisis which the world is now experiencing can only be ultimately cured in two ways: 1) default on it, or 2) print more money in order to inflate it away. There are very few clean dirty shirts in this world. Timing in investment markets is critical and at the moment the U.S. is considered to be the cleanest.

2012-07-02 U.S. Economic Outlook: Potential for Growth, Vulnerability to Policy Mistakes by Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

There are very early signs of improvement in the housing market. Another plus is the shift in U.S. energy supply from imported oil to domestic oil and natural gas. The U.S. economy still faces significant headwinds from over-indebtedness, large imbalances, growing inequality and policy incrementalism. In our view, investors need to consider the implications of rising forward tax rates and that price inflation will play a greater role in generating nominal GDP growth than in the past.

2012-06-27 United States of Europe has Arrived! by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

A fiscal union, a banking union, a United States of Europe has arrived! Dont believe it? Just like many newborns, this one has its shares of wrinkles, but what you see is what you get. We discuss a tough love approach to move forward in Europe, as well as implications for currencies.

2012-06-20 Growth Versus Austerity: A U.S. Dollar Perspective by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

Austerity versus Growth? Which economic model is sustainable? If it werent for those pesky bond vigilantes, it may be only politics. Lets not get too excited that either path will work. Lets look at the implications for investors with a focus on the U.S. dollar.

2012-06-19 Syria: Descent into Civil War by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

In March of last year, small scale protests began in Syria. As protests spread, the response escalated to the point where now it appears Syria may be on the brink of a civil conflict. In this report we will begin with a geopolitical history of the country. Following this analysis, we will describe current conditions and our concerns about the breakdown of social order in Syria, concluding with a summary of how outside powers are trying to manage the direction of any changes in Syria.

2012-06-19 Is China Running Out of Steam? by Matthew Rubin, Ing-Chea Ang, Justin Gaines of Neuberger Berman

The Chinese growth story is especially impressive. At a time when many economies have struggled, China has continued to expand rapidly, helped by its dominant position in manufacturing, growing middle class and, after the 2008 credit crisis, its successful injections of capital and stimulus to ward off recession. Nevertheless, recent data have suggested that the Chinese expansion is now slowing more quickly than most investors expected.

2012-06-19 The Known Unknowns by Ronald Roge of R. W. Roge & Company

On Friday, June 1, 2012 we had an all day investment strategy meeting. The purpose of this semi-annual meeting is to review our current portfolio strategy and evaluate it against the current state of the global economy...Easier said than done.

2012-06-19 Cohen & Steers Emerging Markets Real Estate Securities Strategy by Team of Cohen & Steers

We would like to share with you our review and outlook for emerging markets real estate securities as of May 31, 2012. For the month, the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Emerging Real Estate Index had a total return of 9.7% in U.S. dollars (net of dividend withholding taxes), compared with 6.4% for the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Real Estate Index (net), a broad measure of the global real estate securities market. Year to date, the indexes returned +9.8% and +7.9%, respectively.

2012-06-18 Secrets to Brand Building in China by Sherwood Zhang of Matthews Asia

The topic of Chinas consumer market tends to conjure up the catchphrase 1 billion customers and companies from around the world have flocked to cater to this market. As consumers in many developed countries have increasingly become overleveraged from years of easy credit, Chinas consumers have remained mostly underleveraged. Even as Chinas consumption growth has slowed recently, it is still expected to remain on a positive trajectory.

2012-06-12 Investing for Retirement: SPIAs, TIPS, Stocks and the 4% Rule by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Relying only on stocks and bonds to fund a decumulation strategy may no longer be feasible, given today's low interest rate environment and the prospect of muted returns from the equities market. Investors should instead consider using single-premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) to fund at least a portion of retirement needs.

2012-06-12 Asia's Role in Global Economic and Portfolio Rebalancing by Tomoya Masanao, Robert Mead, Ramin Toloui of PIMCO

We expect that the reallocation of global investor portfolios toward more balanced allocations to emerging market bonds the Great Migration to support Asia in the coming years. To pivot to a growth model that emphasizes domestic demand, China must alter government policy on taxes, profits of state-owned enterprises as well as make other structural changes. Japans growth will continue to be challenged by secular dynamics, and by the countrys inability to respond to them.

2012-06-12 Pacific Basin Market Overview - May 2012 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Depressed market sentiment, high volatility, and low trading volume together resulted in another difficult month for the Pacific Basin regions equity markets. Following a great start to the year, Asian markets gave most of these gains back during May, as worries about the health of the Spanish banking system stoked deeper concerns about the progress of the eurozone debt crisis, with Greek elections looming on June 17th as well. U.S. data continued to disappoint, raising fears that the economic recovery could be stalling.

2012-06-09 A Dysfunctional Nation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

European leaders launched the euro project in the last century as an experiment to see whether political hope could become economic reality. What they have done is create one of the most dysfunctional economic systems in history. And the distortions inherent in that system are now playing out in an increasingly dysfunctional social order. Today we look at some rather disturbing recent events and wonder about the actual costs of that experiment. What type of "therapy" will be needed to treat the dysfunctional family that Europe has become?

2012-06-08 The Global Debt Crisis by Greg Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management

The Financial Crisis of 2008 represented a turning point for the capital markets, financial regulation and global central bank policies. For the twenty years leading up to the Financial Crisis, accommodative monetary policies of the developed countries resulted in prosperity, higher wages, increased asset prices and an overall higher standard of living. However, this false sense of perpetual prosperity resulted in unbalanced social service and pension benefits that are now more difficult to rationalize in the economic environment following the Financial Crisis.

2012-06-05 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A number of readers respond to our article, Can Krugman Fix Our Economy?, which appeared last week.

2012-05-30 CBO Warns of Recession in 2013 by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has calculated the expected negative effects on the US economy if the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of this year. Their numbers just released last week are eye-opening! To give us some perspective, US Gross Domestic Product rose by 2.2% (annual rate) in the 1Q of this year.

2012-05-29 The Bargains in Europe's Great Oversell by Bob Veres (Article)

When was the last time we saw negative headlines drive valuations as low as they have in Europe? Evermore's David Marcus, who succeeded Michael Price as manager of the Mutual European Fund, says this period of obsession with Greek debt, bank restructuring and single-digit P/Es may be known as The Great Oversell.

2012-05-29 The Spending versus the Austerity Debate by Jim Tillar of Tillar-Wenstrup Advisors

There is a very important debate taking place on the best way to fix our economy between those who favor more spending versus those who favor austerity. Recently the spending camp has been very vocal in promoting their theory, including recent papers by Larry Summers, Brad DeLong and Paul McCulley, Zoltan Pozsar and a new book by Paul Krugman. What is not in dispute in the debate is that the private sector is deleveraging as an aftermath of the financial crisis, negatively impacting growth. What is in dispute is the appropriate response.

2012-05-26 Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

We need to tear our gaze away from Europe and look around at what is happening in the rest of the world. There is about to be an eerily near-simultaneous ending to the quantitative easing by the four major central banks while global growth is slowing down. And so, while the future of Europe is up for grabs, the true danger to global markets and growth may be elsewhere.

2012-05-22 Investing Through a Bumpy Ride by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

Its been a tough quarter so far. The U.S. economy is still growing, but not at a sufficient pace to excite anyone. Meanwhile, investors have had plenty to worry about including a fiscal cliff in the United States, a slowdown in China and, right now most ominously, further turmoil in Europe. Despite plenty to worry about, the realities of a U.S. economic recovery, very conservative allocations and relatively attractive valuations suggest that investors should still consider adding stocks and other risky assets to their portfolios.

2012-05-21 Liquidation Syndrome by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Presently, the market remains richly valued on normalized earnings, and is coming off of a speculative peak with an abrupt and persistent initial decline. All of this reflects what might be called a "liquidation syndrome" that is selective for awful drops that began in 1969, 1972, 1987, 2000, 2007, and the more moderate but still steep losses in 1998, 2010, and 2011.

2012-05-19 Dr. Frankensteins Europe by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

We explore the options that the eurozone faces in order to stay together, and what it all means for some of the countries involved. While I have written for a very long time about the probability of Greece exiting the eurozone, the actuality is fraught with risk, not just for Europe but for the world economy. What happens in the next few months will impact us all for a very long time. Indeed, this is one of those years, as Lenin noted, when decades happen.

2012-05-18 U.S. Large Cap Value Investment Commentary As of April 30, 2012 by Team of Cohen & Steers

The economic expansion is likely to continue, but at a pace that is modest both in absolute terms and relative to previous recoveries. Many stocks are still attractively valued, in our view, and they have the potential to advance in the coming months. At the same time we are watchful of global economic developments, particularly in Europe and the Middle East. A winding down of monetary stimulus (such as the Federal Reserves Operation Twist program) could create headwinds.

2012-05-15 Balance, Grasshopper by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

The stock market has been consolidating its huge gains from the October 4 undercut low for roughly three months in a ~75 point range (1350-1420). That consolidation has allowed the markets internal energy to be rebuilt and the oversold condition to be worked off. Because of that process, I continue to think the odds that we will see a move below the 1320-1340 zone remain pretty dim. Accordingly, I suspect the stock market is going to put in an intermediate bottom probably this week.

2012-05-14 Adaptive Asset Allocation: A True Revolution in Portfolio Management by Adam Butler and Mike Philbrick of Butler, Philbrick, Gordillo & Associates

Modern Portfolio Theory has been derided by practitioners, academics, and the media over the past ten years because the dominant application of the theory, Strategic Asset Allocation, has delivered poor performance and high volatility since the millennial technology crash. Strategic Asset Allocation probably deserves the negative press it receives, but the mathematical identity described by Markowitz in his 1967 paper is axiomatic in the same way Pythagoras' equations describe the properties of right triangles, or Schrodinger's equations describe the positional probabilities of electrons.

2012-05-12 Waving the White Flag by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Europe has embarked on a program that will require multiple trillions of euros of freshly minted money in order to maintain the eurozone. But the alternative, European leaders agree, is even worse. Today we will look at the recent German shift in policy, why it was so predictable, and what it means. This is a Ponzi scheme that makes Madoff look like a small-time street hustler.

2012-05-11 Spring Quarterly Commentary by John G. Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management

U.S. GDP rose at a disappointing 2.2% annual rate during the first quarter of 2012; so far this recovery has been too weak to reduce relative government debt levels through growth. A step toward austerity is next years fiscal cliff which features automatic spending cuts and tax increases. We have been told one-third of the entire tax code is expiring at the end of this year, with payroll, income, capital gain and dividend tax burdens all set to increase. Simultaneously, automatic cuts to defense and other discretionary areas of the Federal budget are set to take effect.

2012-05-10 Diversification 301: Tailored Solutions for Your Portfolio by Team of American Century Investments

We continue our discussion of diversification and its application to investor portfolios. We explain how there is no single universal diversified portfolio suited to all investors and occasions. Instead, diversification is a highly customizable framework that can and should be uniquely tailored to suit each individual investors goals and risk tolerances. Earlier articles in the series discussed the basic benefits and rationale for diversification and a discussion of alternative investments that can be used to diversify a traditional balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds.

2012-05-10 The Easy Money Has Been Made by Rich Rosen of Columbia Management

As investment professionals, we chafe whenever we hear that expression. Why? Because in this business, there is no such thing as easy money. All our investment decisions are the end result of a great deal of research. Rarely are our greatest expectations realized, but neither are our greatest fears. In either case, it is never easy. Having said that, we feel confident in forecasting that an investment in natural gas (once it bottoms this spring/early summer) will perform substantially better going forward than it has for the last several years and with less risk.

2012-05-08 Why Be Scared Of A Hat by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Markets tend to overreact and the last few weeks in France were no exception. Equities fell around 9% on the expectation of a change in government. On close look, the Hollande manifesto is modest...a change in retirement age here, a year difference to a balanced budget, a non-descript growth pledge, tax banks more, reduce immigration. Markets also have notoriously short memories: socialist (i.e. left of center) governments are good for markets. Stocks rose vigorously in the years after leftist governments took control of France in 1981, Sweden in 1998, the UK in 1997, the US in 1992.

2012-05-08 European Election Round Up: Longer-Term Consensus? by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Four countries, four sets of elections, same result: anyone but the incumbents. Over the last few days, voters in Germany, France, Greece and Italy have delivered a clear message to politicians: austerity has taken its toll. While the results certainly imply more near-term uncertainty, particularly in Greece, they also offer the possibility of a more balanced approach to the European quagmire.

2012-05-07 Q1 2012 Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital Management

The overall equity markets strong first quarter rally was narrowly focused and, from our perspective, fragile. Cutting to the chase, we think both stocks and bonds are expensive. During the quarter, we used opportunities presented by Mr. Market to trim some of our lower quality positions and to add starter positions in a few high quality businesses. We also added to our short-term, high-yield fixed income holdings, sources of return that we expect to show less volatility but results equal to or better than the broad equity market indices.

2012-05-07 After Austerity by Joseph E. Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

So many economies are vulnerable to natural disasters earthquakes, floods, typhoons, hurricanes, tsunamis that adding a man-made disaster is all the more tragic. The pain that Europe, especially its poor and young, is suffering as a result of its leaders willful ignorance of the lessons of the past is entirely unnecessary.

2012-05-07 Unbalanced Risk by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Maybe our present concerns won't amount to as much downside as we expect. But if investors were to choose a point to test the hypothesis that this time will be different and risk will be well-rewarded, I hardly think a worse moment could be found.

2012-05-03 ECB Warns Easy Money No Solution by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

Austerity is the easy part, structural reform is the tough part. With regard to monetary policy, Draghi was notably light. He shed cold water on the notion of re-activating the peripheral bond purchase program. He also dampened expectations of a rate cut by emphasizing balanced inflation risks, as well as a gradual economic recovery, albeit with downside risks. He suggested the European banking sector is improving, not only visible in reduced intra-bank refinancing (repo) rates, but also apparent in an increase of the deposit base in peripheral Eurozone countries.

2012-05-01 Making the Right Wager on Client Longevity by Manish Malhotra (Article)

Using annuities to fund retirement is anathema to most advisors, who view the loss of control over one's capital and impossibility of a bequest as nonstarters for their clients. But as clients reach the later stages of their retirement, those arguments no longer apply. A single-premium immediate annuity is superior to a TIPS ladder or a systematic-withdrawal portfolio for funding the last phase of retirement.

2012-04-26 The Global Fiscal & Monetary Policy Shift Moves Markets by George Bijak of GB Capital

The powerful macro forces that drive global economy and move stock markets have changed direction post the peak of the Global Financial Crisis. Governments are tightening their Fiscal Policies and Central Banks are expending their Balance Sheets (also known as quantitative easing or money printing) as part of globally synchronized deleveraging process. The two opposing forces pull the global economy in different directions. The fiscal cuts are slowing economic growth but are counter-balanced by a stimulative nature of the Central Banks easing.

2012-04-26 The Shrinking Social Security Trust Fund: Are We Really Surprised? by James Moore of PIMCO

If trends continue, it is quite possible that the OASI trust fund could run out of money in little more than a decade. Over the past five years the exhaustion date of the OASI trust has been brought forward by eight years. We are heading in the wrong direction. What is causing the shortfall? Setting aside the actuarial ps and qs, the core of the problem comes down to mortality, demographics and growth. The most likely solution will be lower indexation of wage growth for benefit determination, delayed retirement for those set to retire in 10 or more years and higher taxes for everyone.

2012-04-25 Developed Europe: Economic Review 1st Quarter 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

The first quarter of 2012 witnessed several comforting developments in Europe. Greece fulfilled the pre-condition for securing its second bailout by convincing its private creditors to accept a 53.5 percent write-off on its debt. The deal eased concerns about a disorderly default by Greece on its sovereign debt. Following up on the liquidity-infusing program it introduced late last year, the ECB carried out another round of its Long-Term Refinancing Operation (LTRO), this time handing out to about 800 banks a total of 529.5 billion in 3-year loans at a very low interest rate of 1 percent.

2012-04-24 Why a 60/40 Portfolio isnt Diversified by Alex Shahidi (Article)

Maintaining a balanced portfolio is critical, especially when predictions of growth and inflation vary as widely as they do today. Investors are always better off spreading risk than aggressively betting on one economic outcome, and that's especially true when the range of possible economic outcomes is so wide.

2012-04-20 Emerging Markets Real Estate Securities Investment Review & Outlook First Quarter 2012 by Team of Cohen & Steers

A general moderation in inflation pressures is giving emerging market authorities more liberty to pursue policy stimulus, auguring well for domestic growth. We believe this will create opportunities for residential developers in various markets and we have increased our allocation to these companies.

2012-04-18 Balancing Perception, Reality, Equities and Fixed Income by Team of Franklin Templeton

Never underestimate the power of perception to influence peoples fiscal behavior. Perception is such a significant influence, in fact, that economic tea-leaf readers have developed a myriad of surveys and indicators to monitor individuals perceptions of the investing environment because perceptions canand domove markets. When sentiment is negative, investors tend to shift out of assets they perceive as risky and into assets they perceive as safe. Ed Perks, portfolio manager of Franklin Balanced Fund and Franklin Income Fund, is well aware of the role perception plays in the markets.

2012-04-17 The Real Reason to Worry about Oil by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Few question the prevailing wisdom that tensions with Iran have caused the recent rise in oil prices. But another possibility exists - and it's a much greater long-term threat to economic growth.

2012-04-17 The Rebalancing Problem by Michael Nairne (Article)

Selling winning asset classes to buy losers runs counter to human nature. But doing so with discipline can increase the potential return of a portfolio while critically maintaining its risk profile. The rebalancing premium is an important and often overlooked addition to returns of properly managed portfolios.

2012-04-16 The Time Between Too Early and Too Late: Monthly Commentary by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

After three years of market gains, a record year for corporate profits, and in the midst of solid monthly job gains, it is difficult to argue that it is still too early to get back to a more balanced approach to long-term investing. But some may now argue that it is too late and that perhaps the market has run too far. However, while there is always the risk of a correction, it is hard to see why March 2012 should represent a market peak.

2012-04-16 No... Stop... Dont by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

In the classic version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder watches one child after another ignoring every cautionary warning, with predictably bad consequences. His deadpan appeals become increasingly halfhearted and emotionless because he knows they won't listen anyway.

2012-04-16 What the Return of Market Volatility Tells Us by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

Signals of a challenging outlook are much louder in European bond markets. Last week, yields on peripheral government securities went from flashing orange to again flashing red, with Spanish risk spreads near or at record levels. All this speaks to the unsettling situation of markets that remain highly dependent on policymakers who, themselves, are stuck in the muddled middle: unable to deliver sustainable outcomes or to exit from their market interventions. This is the unfortunate reality of an "unusually uncertain" outlook, blunt policy tools, and a rather dysfunctional political context.

2012-04-13 Dutch Disease Lite in Australias Economy by Robert Mead of PIMCO

Australia is probably more likely to feel the effects of an extended structural change in the economy as resources continue to be reallocated, rather than the effects of a full-fledged, but transitory, case of Dutch disease. China is Australias largest trading partner, and Chinas historical focus on infrastructure building has amplified the divergence in Australias two-speed economy. We believe Australias strong initial conditions should help ensure that Commonwealth Government Bonds remain one of the worlds cleanest dirty shirts for risk-averse investors.

2012-04-12 Diversification 201: Implications of Diversification for Investor Behavior by Team of American Century Investments

Here we look at diversification as a tool to address many classic failings identified by the science of behavioral finance. Earlier we explained the rationale behind diversification and how it can be used for structuring a portfolio to help manage risk and maximize risk-adjusted performance. We also provided an Intro to Alternatives meant to highlight the types of strategies that can be used to diversify a traditional portfolio. In future months well address such topics as diversification in a post-Financial Crisis world, and what types of diversification strategies make the most sense.

2012-04-10 Super Macro - A Fundamental Timing Model by Theodore Wong (Article)

Rather than endure losses in bear markets - as passive investors must - I have shown that a simple trend-following model dramatically improves results, most recently in an Advisor Perspectives article last month. Now it's time to extend my approach by showing how this methodology can be applied to fundamental indicators to further improve performance.

2012-04-07 It's All About Jobs by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Friday's employment numbers were decidedly soft, but the unemployment rate went down anyway, and that is about the best you can say. And this being a holiday weekend, it provides us an opportunity to look deep into the employment numbers, while we put off thinking about Spain for at least a week. And who knew that being an unmarried Asian-American in the US was a risk for unemployment? Plus a few other interesting items will make for an interesting letter.

2012-04-03 Christine Lagarde: Emerging Market Nations Will Get More Power in the IMF by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, sees no alternative to the strict austerity policies being imposed on many peripheral European countries, says the double dip recessions in Italy and Ireland just announced come as no surprise, and notes that IMF reforms will shift 6% of current quotas to dynamic emerging and developing countries. Lagarde's comments came in an exclusive interview with Knowledge@Wharton and media partner ParisTech Review late last week, as BRIC countries demanded more voting power in return for the larger financial contributions being requested by the IMF.

2012-03-27 GMO: Two Questions We Can't Answer by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Its reputation was built on stellar returns achieved with long-term bets on undervalued asset classes. Current market conditions, however, pose two unanswerable questions for GMO leaving the firm with an uncertain strategy for its equities and fixed-income allocations.

2012-03-27 Questions of Character by Michael Lewitt (Article)

As a long-time investor in leveraged companies, the character of management has long informed my decisions of where to direct capital. There is no margin of safety when you invest in a company managed by dishonest or reckless managers, or a management team that has a history of placing its own interests before those of its shareholders or creditors. The same is true of choosing an investment manager.

2012-03-27 Caviar for the General by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital

The stock market as measured by the S&P 500 is up almost 30% over the last 6 months, and has doubled from the March 2009 lows and yet most investors remain underinvested. Despite this temporary risk aversion, we remain convinced that stocks remain a unique species: the higher the price and less compelling the value, the more they seem to be desired by investors. In addition to the number of reasonably valued assets that can be found in financial markets, this represents an anecdotally strong underpinning for a reasonable intermediate future in our opinion.

2012-03-26 Postcards from the Edge: Central Banking in the Age of Policy Extremes by David Kelly, David M. Lebovitz and Brandon D. Odenath of J.P. Morgan Funds

Major developed world central banks have taken extraordinary action over the last few years, leaving us in uncharted territory, close to the edge with little experience or history to rely on. The move to todays extremes was forced by the impotence of conventional monetary policy tools, as well as the breadth and depth of the crisis-causing issues. Uncertainty about the probabilities and range of possible outcomes resulting from current extremes has, and will, impact both capital markets and decision making in the real economy.

2012-03-23 Emerging Markets Real Estate Securities - Investment Review & Outlook February 2012 by Team of Cohen & Steers

As emerging economies work through the late stages of a mid-cycle slowdown, policy markets are attempting to engineer soft landings as inflation pressures continue to moderate. Given the potential for better domestic growth in such an environment, we expect to take advantage of buying opportunities among residential developers. Our favored markets include Brazil, based on its natural resources, growing consumption trends and shareholder-friendly business environment. We particularly like the retail market, which continues to exhibit strong fundamentals.

2012-03-21 Reflections: Expect the Unexpected by John Gilbert of GR-NEAM

The tides of financial returns ebb and flow, and for the moment, they are flowing. Since the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the deflationary forces of excessive indebtedness prevail for a while, and then are beaten back by the determination of popularly elected governments to reflate. The financial markets no longer reward skill, so much as they react to the relative strength of governments will to offset contraction.

2012-03-20 Bob Rodriguez on the Dangers in Today's Markets by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Bob Rodriguez is the managing partner and chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based First Pacific Advisors. In this interview, he discusses how the challenges faced by the US economy will impact the capital markets.

2012-03-16 Peroni Report February: On The Edge of Something Big? by Gene Peroni of Advisors Asset Management

The Wall Street adage, Never sell a dull market short, might be particularly applicable at this juncture. The volatility index has been in a steady downtrend since last October and is now trading at an eight month low. Reviewing the charts of the 30 DJIA components reveals surprisingly similar horizontal compressed trends since January. Referring to on-balance volume characteristics, however, these flat-line patterns may be masking significant accumulation trends that could unleash considerable upside price pressure by the second quarter.

2012-03-14 Why U.S. Investors Should Look Beyond Dividend Yield by Patrick O'Shaughnessey of O'Shaughnessey Asset management

Many investors are fed up with yields on fixed income securities and are in search of higher yield. As a result, U.S. stocks with high yields have become very popular with individual and professional investorsbut we believe that investors are looking at the wrong kind of yield. Though dividend yield works very well internationally, investors in U.S. stocks should instead focus on shareholder yield, a factor we have long advocated that has provided considerably stronger returns for U.S. stocks for more than 80 years.

2012-03-08 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

What constitutes a recovery? Is it simply the absence of negative news, or must it also imply a robustness of capital, capital gains, and euphoria. It seems to me that we are currently in rejoice only because the steady drumbeat of negative noise has abated somewhat. While it may foretell the redirection of a bear market/economy, we cannot yet proclaim the regeneration of a secular bull cycle.

2012-03-06 Why Invest? - Part 2 by Adam Jared Apt (Article)

Risk tolerance is a quality inherent in an individual or an institution. Whether quantified or not, risk tolerance is the amount of return the investor requires as compensation for the extra risk that comes with investing. It's a concept that is essential for making investment decisions, yet it is elusive and maddeningly difficult to specify. Even so, many investment advisors like to give the public the impression that they're proficient at determining it.

2012-02-18 A Surer Footing by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

While the footing appears surer, the economic and market outlook remains very foggy suggesting that it is best to stick to the middle of the path and cautiously put one foot in front of the other.

2012-02-18 The Cancer of Debt and Deficits by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

We will explore some options to actually resolve the deficit and debt crisis. Cutting spending or raising taxes have consequences, but not all cuts and not all taxes are the same. For those who have been wanting more specific solutions from me, I am going to address the issues surrounding taxation and offer my thoughts as to what we should do.

2012-02-16 Weekly Market Update: Introduction to Alternative Investments by Team of American Century Investments

Alternative investments (or alts as they are commonly known) have exploded in popularity in recent years. What began as specialty investment strategies utilized by only the most sophisticated institutional investorssuch as pension plans and university endowmentsare now readily available to retail investors through a number of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. Here we try to explain alts appeal in broad terms, discussing how these strategies are used and what role alts may play in an individual investors portfolio.

2012-02-14 The Greatest Anomaly in Finance' by Geoff Considine (Article)

If I told you that there is an easy-to-exploit market anomaly that has enabled investors to consistently and substantially outperform the market with less risk for more than four decades, your first instinct might be to roll your eyes. After all, the unending quest to improve returns while lowering risk has yielded countless methods with initial promise that subsequently collapse under further scrutiny.

2012-02-14 The Safety-first, Goals-based Approach to Financial Planning by Wade Pfau (Article)

Little of what is taught in traditional investment textbooks is of value in personal financial planning. Risk is not standard deviation; it is the probability and consequences of not meeting one's goals. That real-world perspective animates a new book by Zvi Bodie and Rachelle Taqqu that implores advisors and their clients to lock in the funding of their essential expenses before worrying about their discretionary goals.

2012-02-09 Our Budget Deficit and the Coming Elections by Team of American Century Investments

One week ago, the CBO released its latest federal budget and economic outlook for the U.S. In the associated report, they explain that their ten year baseline budget projection is not a forecast of future events. Instead, it is provided as a policy benchmark that reflects what will occur to the federal budget and deficits if the existing taxation and spending laws are kept intact without additional legislative actions. Of course, we are now within nine months of a major election where a key issue will be what changes are needed to address our present fiscal woes.

2012-02-07 Compelling Valuation, or Value Trap? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

Remember all those Negative Nabobs that caused you to panic and sell-out at the August lows? Or, the Bear Boos who told you the undercut low of October 4, 2011 was the start of a whole new leg to the downside? Then there was the Cowering Crowd that insisted the first half of 2012 was going to be terrible. Such rants have left the world profoundly underinvested in U.S. equities. Revenues and earnings are at all-time highs, yet the SPX is ~13.5% below its October 2007 high; indeed, Strange brew trying to get through to you (Cream 1967; Eric Clapton at his finest).

2012-02-07 Fed Policies Pay Off by Christian W. Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

The forces of disillusion have glowed recently. We have had unsubtle debates on the Fed debasing money, the ECB providing unwarranted support and threats that the economy was going to lurch into a double dip (a reasonable but narrow view) or accelerate into hyperinflation (yes, really). So this was a week of unequivocal good news.

2012-02-04 Who Took My Easy Button? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

There is no way enough money can be found to fund our entitlement programs, given the current system, even under the best of assumptions. Things must change. Either we will make the difficult choices or those changes will be forced by the market. The longer we put off the difficult choices, the more painful the consequences. This week we begin a series on the choices facing the US. We need to understand the consequences of the choices we make. Cut spending, say some. Tax the rich, say others. Cut out waste and corruption is always a popular choice. Do all of the above, intone others.

2012-02-03 Sentinel's Top 10 Predictions For 2012 by Christian W. Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

i) the US is emerging stronger from this recovery than any other major economy ii) Europes woes are temporarily eased and iii) China is past the worst of its inflation scares. If that sounds muted, it is. The damage done to the economies through irresponsible lending and uncontrolled asset price inflation (the US) or unencumbered vendor financing and overvalued exchange rates (EU) was immense. Both meant huge banking messes. And households are the only ones who clean up banking messes. In time. Slowly. And thats where the world stands.

2012-01-31 Why Target-Date Funds Fail by Robert Huebscher (Article)

New research explains why target-date funds have failed to meet investors' objectives. While most of the criticism has been directed to overly aggressive glide paths, that is merely a symptom of the underlying problem - the misalignment of incentives between investors and fund companies.

2012-01-31 Letters to the Editor Reinhart and Rogoff by Various (Article)

Several readers respond to Robert Huebscher's article, Beyond Reinhart and Rogoff, which appeared last week.

2012-01-31 The Fed: Dual Targets Or Dueling Targets? by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

The Fed has adopted an inflation target, as many other central banks have done long ago. However, the Fed retained its dual mandate, with a soft employment target. How will the two goals be achieved and what happens when they conflict? The Fed says is will use a balanced approach. The Fed lengthened the period for which it expects to keep short-term interest rates at exceptionally low levels. However, the five Fed governors and 12 district bank presidents have differing opinions on when the Fed should start raising short-term interest rates and what the rate target will be at the end of 2014.

2012-01-27 Beware of Strategists Bearing Gifts by Jamie Cornehlsen of Dunn Warren Investment Advisors

This time of year Investment Strategists are rampant with projections for the year ahead return. Typically the strategists process is to estimate earnings a year in advance and then apply a multiple on those earnings. Whether an optimistic bias or an eagerness to have investors buy into the market, the strategists assume a continuation of the trend. Vitaliy Katsenelson has provided research that earnings seldom follow a steady course. Rather earnings fall victim to regression to the mean because as a good thing becomes known, competition erodes profit margins over time.

2012-01-25 2011 Review and Outlook by Ronald W. Roge and Steven M. Roge of R. W. Roge

While there is plenty to worry about globally, particularly the European financial crisis, Iran, and domestic policy decisions, we can take some comfort that corporate earnings continued to grow and our economy is muddling through with positive GDP numbers. Traditionally, election years are positive for equities. Since 1928 there have been 21 Presidential elections with only three of those years producing negative returns for the S&P 500. Until we have more clarity on the U.S. election, domestic policy decisions and the European financial crisis we will remain cautious and flexible.

2012-01-24 Must Bond Investors Fear Rising Interest Rates? by Andrew D. Martin (Article)

Thirty-one years ago, in 1981, the one-year Treasury reached its all time high of 14%. Today it hovers around 0.10%. Never before have interest rates fallen so far. Many economists and investment advisors, seeing nowhere to go but up, expect interest rates to climb from these historic lows. But that would not be the catastrophe that many bond investors fear.

2012-01-24 New Tools to Help Clients with Retirement Decisions by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Our clients face a range of financial planning issues, and the arrival of retirement typically involves making numerous decisions. Here is a set of tools that provide useful information to professionals who work with clients on the verge of retirement - especially financial advisors, accountants and lawyers.

2012-01-23 Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Sovereign Debt Wolf? by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Last Friday, the sovereign debt of nine European nations was downgraded by S&P. Now, there are only four European nations whose sovereign bonds carry the highest AAA rating: Finland, Germany, Luxemburg and the Netherlands. Since the sovereign debt refinancing and potential default problem still goes unsolved, we foresee the markets having to keep digesting more waves of bad news. Yet the fear created by such news is diminishingnot because of a shortage of negative news headlinesbut because European banks are more protected by the many lifelines that central banks keep throwing them.

2012-01-21 Staring into the Abyss by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Europe's leaders are committed to keeping both the euro and the eurozone as it is. But for it to do so, everything must change, as the wonderful quote from the 1958 Italian novel suggests. This is no easy task, as no one wants a change that will impact them negatively; and there is no change that will allow things to stay the same that does not impact all severely, as we will see. In the third part of a continuing series, we look at the actual options that are available on the menu of choices, or as one group called it, the menu of pain.

2012-01-20 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

So will Frances borrowing costs start tumbling now that the S&P has cut its rating below AAA? Illogically, thats what happened in the US. Now that the news is finally out in the open, investors can go back to monitoring Greece as it hopes to finally make a debt restructuring deal with private creditors. What say you, Germany? Earnings season moves forward and the banks look to reverse the pessimism initiated from JP Morgans disappointing report. Intel pushes some of the earnings attention over to the tech world and GE provides profit news from one of the nations key economic bellwethers.

2012-01-20 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

So will Frances borrowing costs start tumbling now that the S&P has cut its rating below AAA? Illogically, thats what happened in the US. Now that the news is finally out in the open, investors can go back to monitoring Greece as it hopes to finally make a debt restructuring deal with private creditors. What say you, Germany? Earnings season moves forward and the banks look to reverse the pessimism initiated from JP Morgans disappointing report. Intel pushes some of the earnings attention over to the tech world and GE provides profit news from one of the nations key economic bellwethers.

2012-01-19 Inflation: Wheres the Beef? by Team of American Century Investments

With inflation seemingly in check, we reevaluate the near- and longer-term inflation environment, and discuss implications for investor portfolios. It is easy to understand why this topic intrigues so many. Depending on your perspective, inflation can be said to be rising fairly rapidly from low levels seen just a few years ago; or it could be said to be quite restrained, given the calls in recent years for runaway inflation as a result of unprecedented U.S. monetary and fiscal policies and a number of pronounced global economic imbalances.

2012-01-13 Investing in 2012: Same Issues, More Extreme Valuations by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

When all was said and done, 2011 turned out to be the metaphorical equivalent of a roller coaster ride.There were quiet positives: The addition of 1.6 million jobs with the unemployment rate falling from 9.4% to 8.5%, a gradual improvement in light vehicle sales, the demise of Bin Laden and gathering economic momentum as the year drew to a close. There were scary negatives: soaring oil prices in reaction to the Arab Spring the human and economic toll of the Japanese tsunami the inability of Europe to deal with its complicated debt issue and the inability of Washington to deal with simpler one.

2012-01-10 Bad Medicine, Bad Policies by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

We can see the results of sensible monetary policy and not so sensible fiscal policy: slow recovery of manufacturing and service jobs, decline in all government jobs and gradually lower participation rates. Expect these trends to continue. We find 30-year bonds with a near 20 duration very tradable. The YTD price swing is already over 4% and with a 3.0% yield; we must be careful that price changes not wipe our coupon returns. Stocks offer attractive entry points but we look at individual companies, balance sheets and management more than the overall asset class.

2012-01-06 ChindopiaA Utopia of Sorts by Vivek Tanneeru of Matthews Asia

China, India and Indonesia have a lot in common. They represent three of the four biggest countries in the world by population and have fast-growing economies. All three were relatively unscathed by the global financial crisis and resumed rapid economic growth soon after. But they are also diametrically different in numerous ways. China has a demand deficit and India and Indonesia have supply shortfalls. China, with its low cost of capital and surplus savings, has the exact opposite problem of India and Indonesia, with their high cost of capital and a capital import dependency.

2012-01-06 A Balanced Asia Strategy for 2012: Income, Quality & Growth by Carl Delfeld of Chartwell Partners

When investors think of Asia, they usually think of growth investing. When I was making my three-week swings through Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney to visit clients the issue of dividends and income rarely came up at all. Since then, the region has matured - representing more than a third of world GDP and world stock market value. Asia is a big deal and is at the sweet spot of dividend yield, growth and quality. But the challenge of volatility still lurks.

2012-01-06 What Will 2012 Bring? by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

In 2011, financial news was dominated by the turmoil in Europe. Looking ahead, the ongoing crisis will be addressed by a global money printing jamboree and coordinated funding from central banks in the developed world, including the Fed. When the money starts rolling off the presses, the liquidity infusion will create some genuine buying opportunities for American, European, and Asian stocks, as well as selected commodities. Liquidity infusions are like a rising tide of money available to buy assets. Buy stocks, commodities, and primarily gold to protect the buying power of their assets.

2012-01-06 All The Emperors Are Naked by Brian S. Wesbury of First Trust Advisors

Governments seem unwilling to deal with issues that are relatively straight-forward. Its not hard to understand. Spending needs to be paid for by taxes, but taxes undermine the incentives to produce and invest and push business to other countries. Eventually government spends so much that the economy cannot support it (no matter how much tax rates rise) and bond buyers go on strike. Many European countries have reached that point.

2012-01-03 The Right Kind of Hope by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

We enter the year with great hope. But our hope is not for continued speculation and the maintenance of rich valuations (that only look reasonable because long-term cyclical profit margins are at a short-term peak about 50% above their historical norms). Our hope this year is for a return to a proper investment opportunity set - where saving is encouraged and rewarded by sufficiently high prospective returns, and the cost of capital is high enough to discourage high-risk, low-return investments and unsustainable fiscal deficits.

2011-12-28 PIMCOs Scott Mather Discusses the Global Implications of the Eurozone Crisis by Scott A. Mather of PIMCO

The ECB does not want to be a bridge to an unsustainable and adverse economic destination. They would rather force politicians to address the critical problems of the currency union now. Greece will continue to have an unsustainable debt load until policymakers can come up with a credible plan to generate economic growth. Ultimately, the eurozone countries and many other developed economies have very similar problems: unsustainably rising debt loads coupled with structurally weak and imbalanced growth.

2011-12-23 Rebalancing Resurrected, Part 3 by Adam Butler and Mike Philbrick of Butler Philbrick & Associates

This is a 'Canadian-ized' version of anarticlewe published on Monday, December 19, 2011, which featured a study of US equity and fixed-income markets. As we are located in Canada, we were motivated to see how well the same techniques work in our home market using the S&P/TSX Composite. As expected, it turns out that they work quite well.

2011-12-23 Closed End Funds Investment Commentary by Team of Cohen & Steers

With interest rates likely to remain near historical lows for an extended period, we believe that attractive spreads should continue to benefit the income-generating potential of leveraged closed-end funds. As for new closed-end fund issuances, we believe the IPO window will remain open, but not to the degree that could pressure pricing in the secondary market or impede discount narrowing as investors bid for above-average income.

2011-12-21 Seeking Absolute Return: Finding Opportunity in Overly Hyped Alternatives by Team of Litman Gregory

This commentary references and updates views originally shared in our 2003 whitepaper on hedge-fund strategies. Today, we have similar concerns about a low-return environment for stocks in the years ahead. As we concluded eight years ago, hedge-fund strategies do have the potential to add value to a portfolio. However, finding funds that are skillfully managed and offered at a reasonable cost remains a difficult challenge.

2011-12-21 Rebalancing Resurrected, Part 2 by Adam Butler and Mike Philbrick of Butler Philbrick & Associates

This is a 'Japan-amized' version of an article we published on 12/19, which featured a study of US equity and fixed-income markets. The Japanese experience since 1993 was dramatically different than the U.S. Japanese investors endured a seemingly endless series of intermediate term extremes of hope and despair as markets oscillated wildly above and below their long-term negative trend. Japans multi-decade crash and stagnation is unique among modern market economies (so far), so we wanted to see how well our volatility adjusted rebalancing framework worked in this difficult environment.

2011-12-19 Emerging Markets: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Almost every market move these days seems to be tied to the latest headline coming from Europe. And the U.S. political deadlock on deficit reduction, high unemployment and fear of a recession hiding under the bed are certainly not helping investor morale. But dont throw in the towel just yet. While the ongoing turbulence in the markets has investors feeling more than a little edgy, the story of robust and resilient growth in emerging markets seems cause for optimism.

2011-12-19 Rebalancing Resurrected by Adam Butler and Mike Philbrick of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

This is part 1 of a 3 part series that explores optimal methods of dynamic rebalancing between stocks and bonds. This study examines these methods in the context of a US equity / Treasury basket. The next 2 posts will explore the impact of our proposed techniques on Japanese and Canadian equity / bond baskets. The investment community is in the midst of an identity crisis, though admittedly many in the industry don't know it yet. At the heart of the matter is the following misconception: Investors perceive that investment professionals add value via security selection and market timing.

2011-12-19 Americas Best Companies are Cheap - So Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year! by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Investors have been fleeing US equities at unprecedented levels. Yet, I believe there is compelling evidence that suggests that this may be the best opportunity to invest in high-quality U.S. common stocks that we have seen in many years. The list of 100 stocks presented in this article represents only a sampling of the many companies that are selling at valuations which are lower than their fundamentals justify. The only logical reason that I can come up with for this, is extreme pessimism.

2011-12-16 De-stressing Balanced Fund Investing by John West of Research Affiliates

Balanced fund management has largely become a benchmark-hugging exercise, with asset allocations confined within a tight band. This month's Fundamentals examines what can be done to improve the added value investors can obtain from balanced fund investments.

2011-12-16 Growth and Value: Esterline Technologies - a Leading Defense Contractor by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

With the amount of volatility seen in the equity markets today, many people seem to believe that the old proven practices of investing in solid businesses for the long run no longer apply. But its important to remember that there is a significant distinction between true investing and speculating. And its even more important to recognize that the level of risk taken by speculators is significantly greater than the amount of risk assumed by investors.

2011-12-15 Fragile and Unbalanced in 2012 by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate

The outlook for the global economy in 2012 is clear, but it isnt pretty: recession in Europe, anemic growth at best in the US, and a sharp slowdown in China and in most emerging-market economies. Restoring robust growth is difficult enough without the ever-present specter of deleveraging and a severe shortage of policy ammunition.

2011-12-14 Idaho Municipal Bonds: The Gem State Shines by Phelps McIlvaine and Shannon Skinner of Saturna Capital

Here we examine the health of Idaho and its municipal bonds in the context of the U.S. market as a whole, in order to separate the facts from the hype. What we find is that Idahos staunch fiscal conservatism is serving its economy well in trying times, and that for Idaho resident investors, the tax-exempt returns from high-quality Idaho bond issues offer a relatively low-volatility way to take advantage of a bright spot in the muni market.

2011-12-13 GLWBs: Retiree Protection or Money Illusion? by Wade Pfau (Article)

One of the most popular variable annuity riders is the guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit (GLWB), which offers downside protection through lifetime income, upside potential with step-ups based on market performance, and minimal surrender penalties. But, examining historical data, I have found that those riders carry a cost that will not be readily apparent to retirees: their cash flows rapidly decrease on an inflation-adjusted basis.

2011-12-10 A Player to Be Named Later by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

There are two main points to be taken away from this week's European summit. First, the Germans really took control. This has been coming for a long time, and it's not like we haven't discussed it in these letters. Second, Britain either opted out or was shown the door, depending on your point of view. That is the real game-changer, long-term, for more than the obvious reasons.

2011-12-09 Wont Get Fooled Again by David Baccile of Sextant Investment Advisors

We sit today on the eve of the Great European Summit. The Summit to end all summits with Germany and France promising to deliver a magical array of policies and elixirs sure to cure the ills facing the 17-member currency union. Despite the potential peril that would accompany any less than a successful summit, stock market investors seem content to demonstrate a willing suspension of disbelief. Even some bond investors seem to be taken in by the recent news out of Europe.

2011-12-06 The Unspoken Truth about Hedge Funds by Michael Edesess (Article)

The popularity of the endowment model among advisors has been driven by the belief that hedge funds have produced positive risk-adjusted returns. But the basis for that notion has been statistics gleaned from hedge fund databases, and new research shows returns from those databases are even more upwardly biased than previously thought; the supposed alpha never really existed.

2011-12-01 Betting on Macau by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Macaus lifeblood is the casinos. Its quite astounding to consider that Macaus 2010 gaming revenue was four times that of Las Vegas, making it the worlds top casino market. Macau casinos are expecting 2011 gaming revenues of $34 billion whereas Las Vegas anticipating revenues of $6 billion. The potential for Macau looks good to us, however, casinos in Singaporeare providing stiff competition, now represent the worlds second-largest gaming market. In addition, Singapore casinos enjoy a lower tax on gaming revenues. However, we still think Macauis a solid prospect for good investment.

2011-11-22 Morningstars Attempt to Predict Performance by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Few question that skillful mutual fund managers exist, but virtually all attempts to identify them ex ante have failed. Last week, Morningstar took up the challenge with its Analyst Ratings, which aim to identify funds with the 'long-term potential for superior risk-adjusted performance.' Given the futility of such efforts over the last several decades, advisors should approach this new effort with skepticism.

2011-11-18 Getting Granular with Emerging Markets by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Given todays volatile world, it may be time for investors to adopt a more nuanced approach to investing in emerging markets. Rather than using the traditional frameworks such as emerging markets versus developed markets Im advocating that investors consider creating their international allocation on a country or regional basis. Here are two reasons why.

2011-11-17 Its All Very Taxing by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

But what is the fair share? How is it to be determined, and by whom? When Senator Reid says, its time for millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share, he implies they havent been doing so thus far. How does he know? Whats the standard? If theres an objective standard for ones fair share, why does it only seem to be those from the left side of the political spectrum who say its not being paid? And if there isnt an objective standard, how can the fair share be determined? The truth is, fairness is almost entirely in the eye of the beholder.

2011-11-15 Are TIPS Really Safe and Worry-Free? by Wade Pfau (Article)

The Fed's aggressive monetary easing has many investors considering TIPS as a cornerstone of their retirement strategy. While TIPS' unique ability to protect against CPI-based inflation is undeniable, many investors neglect to consider the risks they pose, particularly for those who have not yet reached retirement.

2011-11-15 An Endgame for Japans Debt? by Bryce Fegley of Saturna Capital

The Japanese government's ability to extract itself from two decades of runaway debt has become all the more challenging in the face of its shrinking tax base, rising interest payments, and social security obligations, not to mention the aftermath of its earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters. The recent precedent of the country's dysfunctional political system does not bode well for making tough choices necessary to stabilize the debt. Of the possible consequences of the runaway debt, eventual monetization, high inflation, and currency devaluation are the most likely outcomes.

2011-11-10 Alternative Investments in Focus by Team of American Century Investments

We recently conducted a survey of financial professionals to better understand their view and use of alternative investments. Alternative investments are defined as those outside the traditional big three of cash, bonds, and stocks. These alternatives include commodities, real estate, and inflation-linked securities, among many others. Alternatives have surged in popularity in recent years, as investors and their advisors seek out new and potentially more effective ways to diversify and reduce risk in traditional balanced stock, bond, and cash portfolios.

2011-11-08 Politics, Taxes and the Markets by Robert Huebscher (Article)

One of the most engaging speakers at last week's Schwab IMPACT conference was Andy Friedman, who offered some provocative predictions about next year's elections and what we can expect from the deficit super committee.

2011-11-08 Is One Better than Three? by Dave Loeper, CIMA, CIMC (Article)

One way to 'juice' a portfolio is by increasing allocations to small- and mid-caps, as one recently published paper contends. But a careful analysis - properly adjusting for risk - shows how that seemingly appealing approach can destroy client wealth.

2011-10-31 Tiedemann Wealth Management 3 Qtr Market Commentary by Team of Tiedemann Wealth Management

Despite the ongoing debt crisis in Europe the news is not as grim for investors as it may seem. We believe that markets have more than discounted the risk of European recession as fallout from this crisis, which an inept political system has exacerbated. It marks the first time in many years that markets are questioning political leadership in developed world nations something they normally only consider when investing in emerging markets. We do not believe that the G-20 leaders will allow a major counterparty bank to fail, despite their apparent lack of coordination over the past few months.

2011-10-27 Whither the Deficit Super Committee? by Andy Friedman of Washington Update

Although tax increases are never welcome, there is a silver lining. Expiration of the Bush tax cuts is calculated to raise $3.5 trillion, virtually eliminating budget deficit concerns. A reduction in future deficits likely will prompt S&P to reinstate the countrys AAA rating and China to cease its sword-rattling over the United States fiscal condition. The markets, too, likely will react favorably to the prospect of lower deficits. Thus, while investors may face higher taxes, they also may find the values of their investment holdings enhanced substantially.

2011-10-27 Salami Tactics by Andrew Bosomworth of PIMCO

Repeated attempts to solve the eurozone's sovereign crisis have failed, reflecting a coordination problem among its fiscal authorities and between the ECB and governments. Markets will not return to supporting the eurozone as it stands, signaling the EMU's leaders to choose one of two solutions: downsize to a smaller, stronger group of countries or adopt a federation with political and fiscal union. A comprehensive solution not only needs the right tools in place, but also requires a credible commitment with regard to sequencing and executing the long-term plan.

2011-10-25 On Market Timing and Whiskey by J.J. Abodeely (Article)

Noah S. 'Soggy' Sweat, Jr. a Mississippi legislator, gave a famous speech addressing the controversial subject of prohibition. The consummate politician, Soggy tried to appeal to advocates on both sides of the issue, illustrating a lesson that advisors today will surely appreciate: In order to get at the substance of a contentious issue, sometimes you have reframe the question.

2011-10-24 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

The Fed, and a majority of global state treasuries, have made the decision that keeping money inexpensive is at least one of the tools they can use both to sustain economic growth. This policy has been a boon to those with money, and a severe hindrance to those without. A vexing conundrum exists when monetary policy is designed to promote the flow of money into dynamic expansion but the spigot gets blocked because psychology and momentum are running in the opposite direction. In the meantime savings rates have nearly disappeared, along with whatever savings the losers in this game had.

2011-10-20 Absolute Strategies Fund Q311 Portfolio Commentary by Jay Compson of Absolute Investment Advisors

Looking out over the next several weeks and months, we have no idea what to expect or where the markets will go. We feel fairly certain that there will be continued attempts to bailout XYZ country, to recapitalize the European banks, or to engage in money-printing. There will be many that will hold up the "all clear" sign and this may prompt the crowd to speculate short term, resulting in powerful market rallies. In the end, there is no money. Only the true action needed to solve the crises will result in a sustainable recovery: broad debt and asset write-downs. We remain skeptical.

2011-10-19 Is the Debt Super Committee Doomed to Fail? by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The Super Committee has been meeting behind closed doors for over a month, but the members have thus far said very little about any progress being made. The Committee is back in the news now because last Friday was the deadline for submitting ideas or plans for trimming at least $1.2 trillion from federal spending over the next 10 years. In other words, its now time for the Super Committee to get down to some real work.

2011-10-19 Welcome to the Machine: High-Frequency Trading Domination by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Market volatility has spiked, starting with 2010's flash crash and culminating in this year's wild August, bringing asset-class correlations up with it. High-frequency trading and the use of leveraged exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are the primary culprits, but the impact isn't all bad. What are regulators doing and saying about the phenomenon?

2011-10-19 U.S. Dollar and Euro - Review and Outlook by Axel Merk and Kieran Osborne of Merk Funds

With so many global dynamics playing out, and the worlds financial markets fixated on the political process (or lack thereof) in the Eurozone, driving market sentiment around the world, it may be a good time to take a deep breath, take a look back at where weve come from, and assess the likely implications going forward. Specifically, what are the implications for the U.S. dollar and currencies globally? With continued expansionary monetary policy here in the States, and lack of such policies elsewhere, the divergence in monetary policy is likely to further erode the U.S. dollar.

2011-10-19 Emerging Europe: Economic Review September 2011 by Team of Thomas White International

A leading economic sentiment indicator for the Central and Eastern European region recorded its lowest reading in more than two and a half years amid an uncertain outlook for the region and the continuing debt crisis in the Euro-zone, according to a news report published in Bloomberg. Europes failure to find a way out of the debt crisis amid a slowing global economy has clouded the outlook for the whole Eastern European region, which is dependent on exports for much of its growth. Hungary recorded the biggest fall in economic expectations, then Poland, according to the Bloomberg report.

2011-10-12 Investing in an Environment of Extremes by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

The volatility of the last few months along with very negative headlines have caused a stream of assets to leave equity funds and move into cash and high-quality fixed income assets. However, this has left assets at extreme valuations. Indeed, by the end of the Q3, U.S. stocks were selling at lower prices than at the end of any quarter in 21 years. 10-year Treasury yields were running below the core year-over-year inflation rate for the first time in 31 years. Long-term investors may want to be somewhat over-weight in equities and under-weight in fixed income relative to a normal portfolio.

2011-10-11 A Q3 Client Letter Drawing on Buffetts Optimism 'The U.S. is coming back now' - and why three inves by Dan Richards (Article)

Since 2008, each quarter I have posted a template for a letter to clients; these are consistently among my most popular articles. This quarter's letter provides clients with perspective on the recent market turmoil.

2011-09-30 Are You Properly Positioned for the Return of the Economic Vitality of America by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

It has been my observation over my last four decades of studying the stock market that investors have a penchant for projecting into the future what is currently happening. In other words, when the market is behaving badly, they tend to believe it is going to continue to behave badly far into the future. And as I reflect on this, it occurs to me that every bull market has ended with a bear market, and conversely, every bear market has ended with a bull market. The most important attribute to remember about free-markets is that they self adjust. Most know this as the law of supply and demand.

2011-09-30 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

As the Congressional Committee of 12 meets to figure out what to do about spending and taxes, we thought you might find the following of interest: Again, some people think it would be a good idea to distribute purchasing power by taking more millions of citizens off the federal income tax rolls entirely. While everybody wants relief from high taxes, there are at least two things wrong with this proposal.

2011-09-28 Fair -- or Unbalanced? Decoding the Buffett Rule Debate by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

Underlying the fairness debate over taxes is a practical issue: Can the federal government get its fiscal house in order without raising taxes on someone? While many Republicans prefer spending cuts and oppose any tax increases, many economists think tax hikes must play some role. "It's clear to me that both spending and taxes have to be adjusted as part of a grand compromise," notes Wharton finance professor Richard Marston. "Bush's tax cuts created too large a hole in revenues," he adds, referring to the cuts in 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush.

2011-09-27 Do Low Correlations Favor Active Managers? by FundQuest Investment Management & Research Group (Article)

There has been much debate regarding the challenges for active managers in market environments with persistently high correlations. Some argue that high correlations hinder active managers seeking to generate alpha through security selection. Indeed, in a recent study, we found that active managers were more likely to succeed in low-correlation environments.

2011-09-23 All Eyes on Europe by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

The longer policymakers wait, the more likely Europes financial crisis will deteriorate. The risk of a global liquidity trap has also increased as many healthy balance sheets around the world are also refusing to engage. Germany and other strong sovereign nations in Europe have to make a choice: continue to provide financial assistance to countries with more debt and assist in helping to restructure the debt of some European peripheral countries, or potentially move forward with a smaller, stronger group of countries-or at the extreme walk away from the Euro and the EU all together.

2011-09-20 Europe!? by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

Investors might wonder why global markets care so much about European debt. After all, relative to the size of their economies, both the U.S. and Japan run bigger annual budget deficits and have accumulated more government debt than the Euro Zone as a whole. The answer lies in the fact that Europe is now too integrated to be immune to the problems in any one nation, but still too divided to do anything effective to deal with them. Because of this, a very serious budget problem in one nation can undermine confidence in government debt and the banking system across the entire continent.

2011-09-13 The Handicap of Experienced Investors by J.J. Abodeely, CFA, CAIA (Article)

In the investment business, assets under management are concentrated with the largest and most established firms. Understandably, investors tend to allocate capital to managers after they've established a good track record. Unfortunately, for many, the analysis stops there. By failing to separate good results from identification of what makes a great investment manager, investors are primed for disappointment.

2011-09-12 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

September has been a wild ride for global markets, and October is expected to bring more of the same. On the horizon is a key inflection point at which portfolio allocation might either protect or bury any portfolios. As global economic recovery sputters there is a new urgency about either continuing on a portfolio path of growth, or reverting altogether to a default cash position. Within each scenario, however, is a psychological uneasiness that borders on shock and awe. It is much more difficult to manage clients downside risk appropriately, than to pick winners when all stocks are rising.

2011-08-30 What to Tell Clients Today - Ten Tips for Effective Client Communication by Dan Richards (Article)

Given the recent market tumult, many advisors know they should be communicating with clients, but hesitate because of uncertainty about what to say and apprehension about making things worse rather than better. Here are five general guidelines for client communication in turbulent markets and five tips for crafting the message that you send today.

2011-08-19 Paris Accord: Much Ado About Nothing by Komal Sri-Kumar of TCW Asset Management

As I have emphasized repeatedly in the past, none of these band-aid measures is likely to end the European debt crisis. Several countries of the region are excessively in debt, pure and simple. When that is the case, the solution ought to be a reduction in the level of debt through the exchange of existing debt for discount bonds, reduced-interest rate bonds, or equity. Unless the European powers recognize and act on this reality, European debt will continue to be a millstone around the global economys neck.

2011-08-16 A Commentary on the Correction by Michael Nairne (Article)

Market corrections are always painful and this one particularly so because of the lingering anxiety from memories of the 2008-2009 market crash. I explore the history of stock market corrections and examines the dynamics of the recent downturn as well as actions that may be warranted, depending on individual circumstances.

2011-08-15 Panic Is Not a Strategy - Nor Is Greed by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Originally published in 2008, it's time for a refresher about the perils of panic. Asset allocation, diversification and rebalancing are as close to a "free lunch" as you can get as an investor. ThIn world where time horizons have shrunk precipitously, think longer-term.

2011-08-12 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

So what will be the effects of the debt deal on the economy and markets? For now, investors are quite pessimistic (to say the least). Even Bernanke has warned that severe spending cuts would prove detrimental and cause a drag on the economy. And any threats (real or perceived) of a ratings cut would prove disastrous. (Thats where we are today.) Retailers join the earnings fun as Macys, Kohls, Nordstrom, and JP Penney lead the way. The Fed meets and issues a statement to help folks make heads or tails over the future direction of the economy.

2011-08-12 Got Volatility? by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

The world markets have clearly stated that they want growth, and through growth, balanced budgets. Unfortunately, growth is not in the economic cards for Europe or the U.S. over the next few months. Rather, both regions will have stagnation, inflation, fear, turmoil, and two deeply opposed world views will be bandied about in political pronouncements. It does not matter what political view you have. If one wishes to survive and prosper, one must be very alert.

2011-08-12 Another Look at China's Property Market and Financial System by Robert J. Horrocks of Matthews Asia

There continues to be much debate over whether Chinas growth is balanced and sustainable, and many observers will demand you side with one camp or the other: extremely bullish or bearish. This month, Chief Investment Officer Robert Horrocks, PhD, takes a more nuanced view in examining the drivers behind Chinas real estate market and evolving financial system.

2011-08-12 Implications of United States Downgrade for Tax-Exempt Market by Chad Farrington of Columbia Management

If negotiations stall or fail to meet intended goals, forced budgetary cuts could have greater impacts on certain credits in the market than under a more thoughtful plan. We continue to believe that broad generalizations of implications in the tax-exempt market are misguided and fundamental credit analysis of each security is crucial. Our credit analysts will continue assessing the credit strength of securities on an individual basis, which has always incorporated the reliance on federal government transfers.

2011-08-09 US Credit Rating Downgrade Q&A by Team of Loomis Sayles

Will foreign investors, who own almost half of US Treasurys, suddenly lose confidence in the US? We think not. The US is not the only nation struggling with a debt burden. But the US Treasury market is the largest, deepest, most liquid bond market in the world, by far. Investors may talk about diversifying their holdings away from the US dollar, but it is tough to execute. This is particularly true for countries who wish to maintain a fixed exchange rate or manipulate their currencies.

2011-08-09 Inevitabilities - One Down, More to Come by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

With government sponsored post-retirement safety nets increasingly looking not so safe, the implications for U.S. retirement assets are vast. According to the Investment Company Institute, the U.S. retirement market stood at $18 trillion at the end of the first quarter 2011, or 37% of household net worth. This pool of assets will soon be asked to do much, much more. Unfortunately, this greater load sharing comes at a time when capital markets are priced to deliver shockingly anemic returns. But we can start planning for the burden now.

2011-08-04 The Five Horsemen of the Economic Malaise by Craig Hester of Hester Capital Management

The unwinding of the economic malaise will take years, and it will be a painful - but necessary-process. There is much fear and anxiety reflected in the financial markets. Many of the world economies are in a state of disequilibrium, with too much debt, facing high unemployment and sluggish growth. Policy options are limited, and politicians lack the courage to act. But out of such times come opportunities. We live in a world of instant news and an acute short-term focus. One of the keys to investment prosperity is to manage money with a long-term perspective while balancing risk and return.

2011-08-02 Russ K.s Market Calls | Developed & Emerging Markets by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

I started the year with a bias for developed market equities over emerging market equities. Year-to-date, developed equity markets have outperformed emerging markets by roughly 4%. I had two main reasons for favoring developed market equities. Emerging market equities looked expensive relative to their developed market counterparts and I felt that emerging market inflation would be a more persistent problem than the market was discounting. Now, however, these major rationales for broadly favoring developed markets no longer hold.

2011-07-28 Debt Ceiling Got You Concerned? by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

Even though it feels uncomfortable, earnings growth is very healthy. The actions going on in Washington will likely result in a more balanced spending and debt management approach, in our opinion. Our advicepress on! We see this as a buying opportunity, as it is likely this cloud may soon dissipate. Remember, that buying low and selling high often requires you to make decisions that dont always feel great when you make them.

2011-07-27 A Goal in Search of Leadership by Ronald W. Roge of R.W. Roge

Our elected leaders in Washington, D.C. are playing a dangerous game of chicken. They are making everyone nervous about the deadline (August 2, 2011) for extending the debt ceiling. While every expert on the subject, including Congress, knows that the only solution is to raise the debt ceiling, they are using this to score points for the 2012 election year. Therefore, we should expect another week of this political circus to continue before there is any agreement. My guess is as good as yours and your congressmen's as to what the details will be.

2011-07-25 Down to the Wire by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

The problem isnt the ceiling, its our behavior. The debt ceiling merely imposes a discipline that our national leaders should provide but generally havent. On this note, in his press conference on July 15, when asked about conservatives insistence on a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, President Obama replied, We dont need a constitutional amendment to do that [balance the budget]; what we need to do is to do our jobs. But clearly we do need some enforced discipline, because the years in which we havent run a deficit have been by far the exception of late, not the rule.

2011-07-25 Name That Tune?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

Last week saw the U.S. Dollar Index decline by ~2.6% and gold tag a new all-time high of $1610.70. The real star of the week, however, was Sugars Surge of 7.87%. I cant imagine the President would want to go down in history as the Captain whose watch saw America lose its AAA status. Accordingly, I would continue to cautiously favor the upside, on a risk-adjusted basis, for if the debt ceiling is not raised we see another downside "hit." And this morning it looks like another hit, at least on a short-term basis, as our elected leaders continue to talk to the wind.

2011-07-23 Kicking the Can Down the Road One More Time by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I hope Europe pulls it off. I really do. They have done the US a huge favor by adopting this latest plan, as it keeps their banking system from imploding; because their banks are essentially insolvent with all the sovereign debt on their books. Such a banking crisis, which would be worse than 2008, in my opinion, would no doubt plunge a world already slowing down back into recession and pull our own slow-growth economy down into recession with them. How long can they kick the can down the road? My guess is that it will be longer than we suspect.

2011-07-22 Political Calculations Distort US Government Debt by Peter Nielsen of Saturna Capital

The debate over whether to raise the debt ceiling has focused attention on the countrys poor financial health. With myriad press reports speaking to the issues surrounding our debt and deficit, it is important to keep in mind that the amount of debt reported by any given source will vary according to the political agenda served, and should therefore be consumed with a healthy dose of skepticism. A prime example is the official U.S. government calculation of the deficit, which brazenly ignores intergovernmental transfers and supplemental appropriations as well as a host of other expenses.

2011-07-19 Retirement Planning and Worst-Case Scenarios by Wade Pfau (Article)

New research suggests that skepticism in a 4% safe withdrawal rate (SWR) is well justified. It is perhaps due to good luck that American retirees have not yet experienced a withdrawal rate below 4%. But a better approach than worrying about SWRs is to focus on the savings rate needed to meet your retirement spending goals, not on what the safe withdrawal rate is.

2011-07-19 Do We Have a Medicare Budgetary Problem or an Aging Population Problem? by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust

If it makes sense for corporations to borrow to fund capital expenditures, why does it not make sense for the federal government to do so as well? By the gov making investments in physical capital (infrastructure) and human capital (education), the economy's future growth rate would be expected to be enhanced. This would imply higher future tax revenues (without higher tax rates) to pay the interest and principal on the debt issued to fund capital expenditures. So, rather than trying to balance the overall budget, would it not make more sense to bring into balance the operating expenses?

2011-07-19 Staring at the Ceiling by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Everyone's focused on the debt-ceiling negotiations, impacting everything from market action to consumer confidence. Default remains unlikely, but investors are wondering about portfolio positioning in the event the unthinkable occurs. Behind the scenes, the news isn't all bad, as some economic readings and most corporate earnings releases have been pleasant surprises.

2011-07-16 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Just what happens when politics moves over into the investment spectrum? For this week, at least, the results were not so good. With partisan bickering dominating the debt negotiations (and virtually all non-politicians worrying about a default and ratings downgrade), investors ran for the hills (or into treasuries). At least, the Fed looks prepared to add more stimulus (hey I thought that was done?).

2011-07-15 Should Dividend Growth Investors Forgive General Electric? by Chuck Carnevale of EDMP

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when General Electric Co. (GE) was the darling of Wall Street and everybody's favorite stock to own. This was especially true during the Jack Welch Era, which spanned the years 1981 to 2000. In truth, I agree that Jack Welch should have been given a great deal of credit for the job he did in profitably running this large conglomerate. However, as I will soon demonstrate, I feel that Jack was given undue credit for General Electrics stock price action during the last five years of his tenure.

2011-07-15 What a Multi-Speed World May Mean for Equities by Anne Gudefin and Masha Gordon of PIMCO

Equity investors may look in unfamiliar places as they navigate potential shifts in the global economy. An apparent rebound in risk tolerance since the financial crisis has supported higher equity valuations. Emerging market economies appear to be undergoing a mid-cycle rebalancing. We view this as a welcomed cyclical adjustment rather than the end of their growth cycle; long-term fundamentals remain intact. We believe advanced economies should continue to see headwinds to growth, and that potentially means investors may be generally willing to pay lower multiples to earnings.

2011-07-12 Harold Evensky on the New Rules for Wealth Management by Robert Huebscher (Article)

If you don't have a copy of The New Wealth Management on your bookshelf, you should. From gauging the risk tolerance of your clients to measuring the performance of their portfolios, this book provides comprehensive guidance for virtually every aspect of a financial advisory practice. Harold Evensky, the lead author, spoke with me last week and highlighted some key themes in the newly released second edition.

2011-07-12 Emerging Europe: Economic Review June 2011 by Team of Thomas White International

In an update to its Global Economic Outlook published in April, the IMF sounded a cautionary note on the global economic recovery due to the slowing growth in the U.S. and the Euro-zone debt crisis. The Washington-based lender said it sees global activity slowing in the second quarter of 2011, though a rebound is expected in the second half of the year. Despite this forecast, the IMF exuded confidence that the strong growth in Germany, Italy, and France would offset the economic slackening in the U.S. and Japan.

2011-07-08 What Happens Next? by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners

If Portugal and Ireland, and eventually also Spain and Italy, increasingly get dragged into this crisis and everything I see on the horizon suggest they will the 400 billion the ECB has pumped into the banking sector in those countries so far will be pocket money compared to what will be required going forward. At some point the creditor countries will say enough is enough. And if the politicians dont know when to say no, the electorate will do the job for them. The ECBs strategy for now seems to be one of buying time.

2011-07-07 Lessons from Investor Behavior Studies: Better to Have Patience and a Plan by Team of American Century Investments

Recent studies raise important questions about investor behavior and the likelihood that investors will successfully reach their financial targets. It seems that the best way to increase the odds of investing success is to take a balanced approach, providing exposure to the broad asset classes without leaving investors overexposed to any single area. Risk and financial reward exist in relation to one another. But diversification works on the principle that the relationship is not linearyou have the potential to get more return for each unit of risk you take by spreading out your investments.

2011-06-29 ​Attractive Yield Opportunities Remain in Floating Rate Loan Markets by Elizabeth MacLean of PIMCO

We believe the general trend toward more diversified capital structures may be positive for investors in the loan market. Recent changes in loan market investor mix have had and will likely continue to have a positive impact on loan spreads. In addition to price, leverage and other quality measures in new issues also generally remain attractive.

2011-06-25 The Contagion Risk of Europe by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Europe would be better off just taking the money they are giving to Greece and using it to recapitalize their banks. Let Greece go. Give it up. Let them enter a 12-step program or whatever it is that insolvent nations do. That is harsh, but it is also the truth.

2011-06-21 School Daze, School Daze Good Old Golden Rule Days by Bill Gross of PIMCO

The past several decades have witnessed an erosion of our manufacturing base in exchange for a reliance on wealth creation via financial assets. Fiscal balance alone will not likely produce 20 million jobs over the next decade. Government must take a leading role in job creation. A growing number of skeptics wonder whether college is worth the time or the cost.

2011-06-14 A Cautionary Tale from the World's Most Influential Economist by Dan Richards (Article)

Raghuram Rajan was recently cited by The Economist as having the most important ideas for the post-crisis world. In this interview, he identifies key policy issues the Obama administration must confront. This is a transcript of the interview.

2011-06-07 Low Volatility Equity Solutions Is Now The Time? by K.Sean Clark of Clark Capital Management Group

Correlations converging amid the market declines of 2008 called attention to the limits of relying on diversification between assets for portfolio protection. The desire for non-correlated returns among assets had led to a significant reduction in U.S. equity exposures and accelerated flows into non-U.S. equities and alternative strategies. But the correlations of these uncorrelated assets spiked under the extreme market stress of 2007 and 2008. This shows that for downside protection, buying assets with many different risk profiles is not a substitute for buying volatility to manage risk.

2011-06-01 An Investment in Infrastructure by Team of Columbia Management

Neglecting infrastructure can have tragic consequences. Think about the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis, levees breaking in Missouri or the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion. These and many other examples illustrate the type of destruction that can occur if the countrys aging infrastructure is not addressed. At the same time, demand for new infrastructure is growing exponentially in emerging markets. Data highlighting the scale of construction, transport, logistics and communications development are so large they render relevant context difficult to comprehend.

2011-05-31 Fantasy-world Returns for Equity Indexed Annuities by Robert Huebscher (Article)

When research fails to meet the basic standards of academic rigor, its conclusions should be questioned. One such case is a recent paper, Real-World Index Annuity Returns, whose conclusions you should trust at your own risk.

2011-05-28 Schwab Market Perspective: Shifting Sentiment by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Economic headwinds are causing growth expectations to be reevaluated, resulting in choppier action in a majority of asset classes. The Fed is moving steadily closer to ending its purchases of Treasuries but we dont believe its a major event. Normalization of monetary policy still seems slow in coming, although we believe QE2 ending on schedule is nearly certain. Europe's debt crisis continues to plague the eurozone. Solutions appear to be limited and agreement is still anything but assured. Meanwhile, China's slowdown is also weighing on investors.

2011-05-26 Protecting Bond Portfolios From Rising Rates by Team of Neuberger Berman

As the U.S. economy continues to strengthen and the prospect of inflation rises, investors are concerned the U.S. may potentially face a sustained period of rising interest rates. This matters to bond owners because changes in interest rates directly impact the market value of bonds and bond portfolios. With todays fixed income markets now implying an increase in interest rates and higher volatility in credit spreads, a traditional buy-and-hold bond portfolio or a more traditional fixed income mutual fund strategy may not be as attractive to investors.

2011-05-25 Sector Weights: On Average Wrong, but Dynamically Right by John West of Research Affiliates

The markets have been through an extraordinarily volatile period the past five years, beginning with strong equity returns in 20062007, followed by the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008, and the subsequent Mother of All Recovery rallies in 20092010. Talk about a full market cycle! During this period, energy and financial stocks have experienced dichotomous lives. Energy stocks jumped 10% per year and led all sectors of the market. Meanwhile, the GFC pounded financial stocks. To be fair, some financial institutions caused the GFC. The other nine sectors all outperformed the broad market.

2011-05-25 Setting the Scene by Eric S. Ende of First Pacific Advisors

As it stands today, without a combination of reducing the growth of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and/or increasing taxes, the Congressional Budget Office projects that by 2022 these three programs and interest payments alone will consume all the governments yearly revenue. That means running a single program in any of the other federal departments would immediately create a deficit for the year. And 2022 is only eleven years away!

2011-05-24 Risks Are Rising, but the Long-Term View Remains Positive by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

The recently weaker tone in equity markets can be attributed to a broad slowdown in economic data. A longer-term retrospective view shows that the pace of economic growth has been gradually fading over the past several months. Some of the decline can be explained by seasonal factors or factors that may prove to be temporary. In any case, however, at this juncture it appears that the recovery or acceleration phase of the business cycle may be ending. We believe the economy is now shifting into an expansion mode, and the question will become how long that expansion will last.

2011-05-23 Is Deflation in the US Housing Sector Accelerating? by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst

This week in The Institutional Risk Analyst, we offer our view on the housing sector as we travel to Philadelphia on Tuesday to participate in the 29th Annual Monetary and Trade Conference sponsored by the Global Interdependence Center and Drexel University. John Burns walked the participants through the current situation in the US housing sector and the outlook for a recovery in prices. The bottom line: Even though affordability has returned, new home sales are likely to remain depressed for years due to massive inventories of unsold homes, dwindling finance and weak employment markets.

2011-05-18 Floating rate: Hedging the interest rate risk in your fixed-income portfolio by Team of Columbia Management

Following the Great Recession of 2008, many investors aggressively moved to cash and fixed-income securities in a classic flight to safety. In early 2009, we could point to a historic opportunity to capture significant total return. Much of that correction has already occurred and valuations across the fixed-income market have largely recovered. At this juncture in the business cycle, credit risk has declined dramatically, as evidenced by defaults that are running below long-term averages, robust new issuance and demand for bonds, and healthy corporate balance sheets and earnings.

2011-05-17 Raising the Roof on Debt by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Today the U.S. government officially borrowed beyond its $14.29 trillion statutory debt limit. And even though the Obama administration has assured us that accounting gimmickry will allow the government to borrow for another few months, the breach has given seeming urgency to Congressional negotiations to raise the debt ceiling. Republicans are making a great show of linking their yes votes with promises for future budget cuts. But as we go through the process, many wonder why we have a debt ceiling at all when our government has never shown any inclination to respect its prior limits.

2011-05-10 Something's Fishy in the Russell Rebalancing by Mariko Gordon (Article)

We humanoids think in words; it's just the way we're wired. As a result, the labels we assign to things affect our view of the world. I look at two frequently used investment labels: 'growth' and 'value.' I'll explain why both are high on my list of jargon pet peeves.

2011-05-10 Global Overview: May 2011 by Team of Thomas White International

Global economic growth now appears more sustainable, as the developed economies continue to recover and the emerging economies maintain their rapid pace of growth. The Euro-zone economy is expanding faster than expected while the U.S. growth slowdown in the first quarter is widely believed to be due to seasonal factors. The IMF acknowledged that global economic activity is set to accelerate again, and maintained the global growth forecasts for both this year and 2012 at 4.5 percent. However, the IMF warned that growth remained unbalanced and that inflationary risks have increased.

2011-05-03 The Case for Human Ingenuity by Niels C. Jensen, Nick Rees and Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

This month we take a closer look at oil and reach what many of our readers will probabaly find a surprising conclusion: We believe that we are approaching the end of the oil era and that oil prices will undergo a substantial correction over the next several years. But we cannot be very precise on timing, as there are too many variables at this stage. Our conclusion is based on 3 observations.

2011-05-02 Schwab Market Perspective: Making Sense of a Mixed Bag by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Earnings season is winding down and is largely positive and CEO confidence is high. This points toward a continued improving labor outlook but could mean more grinding in the stock market. Housing remains moribund but the market seems to be largely dismissive. A ratings warning on US debt rattled the stock market but bond markets were relatively unmoved. Issues need to be addressed, but they are more likely to affect money flowing into the economy and highly unlikely to result in failure to pay obligations. Meanwhile, the Fed is striving to communicate more effectively-but about what?

2011-04-27 The Impact of Interest Rates on Real Estate Securities by Team of Forward Management

How interest rate movements impact real estate securities is a complex but topical matter. After studying the historical performance of these securities, our findings indicate that: Not all interest rates move together. Real estate securities have had surprisingly low correlations to interest rates. More often than not, real estate securities have generated positive performance during periods of rising interest rates. These observations indicate that credit quality, yield spreads and underlying fundamentals play an equal or more important role in investment returns than interest rates alone.

2011-04-26 Are You Watching Your Brokered Deposits? Bob Eisenbeis: What's a Central Bank to Do? by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst

In this issue of The Institutional Risk Analyst, we feature a comment from Bob Eisenbeis, Chief Monetary Economist of Cumberland Advisors. Bob clearly states the obvious in his excellent analysis of the choices facing the Federal Open Market Committee, namely that the Fed continues to steer monetary policy based upon largely domestic factors, this even as the global role of the dollar creates dangers for the US and other nations as they flee the perils of deflation.

2011-04-12 Ten Trends that will Reshape the Fund Industry by Robert Huebscher (Article)

For advisors scouring among thousands of mutual funds, bargains and inefficiencies will be harder to find in coming years. Intense competition among funds for shelf space will not translate to lower fees, and the new class of broad asset allocation funds is unlikely to live up to its marketing promises. Those were among the surprising forecasts from Geoff Bobroff, with whom I met last week.

2011-04-07 Inflation and the U.S. Bond and Stock Markets by Jim O'Shaughnessy of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management

With the Federal Reserve well into QE2 in its response to the recent economic crisis and recession, we thought it would be an ideal time to review the effects of inflation and deflation on the returns of US bonds and stocks. The adjusted monetary base for the United States has exploded over the last several years. As a result many economists and investors expect inflation to increase in the coming years. Lets review the history of US inflation and the returns for U.S. stocks and bonds and see what it can teach us about the returns of stocks and bonds during a variety of inflationary periods.

2011-04-05 Two Critical Lessons from Japan An End-of-Quarter Letter to Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Given recent events in Japan and North Africa, many clients are looking to their advisors for direction on what they should do. This template for an end-of-quarter letter is intended to be a starting point for your letter to clients.

2011-03-22 What Investors Should Fear in the Permanent Portfolio by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

Over the last decade, the assets of the fund PRPFX have swelled from $50 million to more than $10 billion. The concept underlying that fund, Harry Browne's Permanent Portfolio (PP), has rewarded PRPFX investors with attractive risk-adjusted returns. Those investors, however, may want to rethink their exposure - especially if PRPFX is the core of a retirement-oriented strategy.

2011-03-22 Emerging from Developed Profit Pools by Gregory A. Nejmeh of HS Management Partners

Much has been debated about the anticipated growth of the emerging markets and the tectonic shifts in political, economic and military force that such changes may yield. While the implications are significant, we are also mindful that economic activity in developed markets not only make them worthy of investor attention, but provide the stability of cash flows that will facilitate multinationals ability to invest in developing markets. We take a holistic perspective and appreciate the size and scope of developed market profit pools as a means of self funding developing economic participation

2011-03-22 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

No one disputes the necessity to trade the markets or to engineer boardroom-level merger and acquisition conversations. These activities are the foundation of the capital markets. But there has been an unusual amount of focus upon deal-making almost to the exclusion of efficiency, to give the impression that someones at the helm and using capital to acquire stuff. To that end, clients do suffer, finding their equities violently fluctuating based not upon long term fundamentals, but short news cycles and speculation. Such activity numbs the average investor into submission.

2011-03-21 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group

Republican lawmakers may have gotten a PR boost for their attempt to cut $60 billion out of the budget. The Treasury Department announced last week that the largest monthly deficit in history was created in February, at $222.5 billion, surpassing the previous record set last February at $220.9 billion. As bad as it seems, the news wasn't all bad, as revenues were up 8.6% and spending was only up 4%. That's a move in the right direction. The biggest concern we have, and the one lawmakers have the least control over is rising interest rates.

2011-03-21 Equity Market Bounce-Back -- Don't get Too Excited by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Between the put-to-call ratio and the 40% share of stocks trading below their 50-day moving average, the U.S. stock market became hugely oversold. Plus we had the skew from the quadruple-witching session. And the cease-fire announced in Libya and the FX intervention to reverse the yens strength provided some fodder for the shorts to cover. But trend lines have been broken, portfolio managers have little cash to work, and according to a ML-BAC survey, we had a net 67% of global portfolio managers overweight equities against their position. Plus, the world is still a very uncertain place.

2011-03-17 Forgetful by Doug MacKay and Bill Hoover of Broadleaf Partners

The S&P 500 fell by roughly 16% from April to July last summer, and then moved sideways until people started to discount the prospects of the Fed engaging in QE2. As the markets picked back up following the recognition that the Fed would stay easy given high unemployment and very little inflation and the elections afforded a more balanced political agenda, leading economic indicators began to follow suit, the economy firmed once again, and the stock market finished up 15% for the year. Today, the situation, while different, nevertheless rhymes.

2011-03-14 An Uneven Global Recovery - Lingering Effects of the Credit Crisis by Bill Hester of Hussman Funds

The health of the global recovery depends on which country it is viewed from. When compared to the decade ending in 2007, a majority of developed countries are growing more slowly, have higher rates of unemployment, and have higher levels of inflation. There are exceptions. Notably, Germany is growing at twice its long-term average, with very low relative levels of unemployment. Stock market investors are showing growing sensitivity to differences in macro-economic risks. These may soon be further aggravated by monetary policies from the major central banks that are about to diverge noticeably

2011-03-14 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Despite last weeks contraction in global equity prices, the activity seemed mainly focused upon energy stocks and the turmoil in Libya and the Middle East. Of course, the world is also shocked by the earthquake tragedy in Japan. More significantly, there seems to be no cohesion of thought about whether these disruptions are ultimately (1) good for shareholders (2) bad for economic recovery. Instead, the debate rages on as to the sustainability of any short market rallies or the viability of real economic recovery in the face of pricing pressure upon commodities, particularly energy.

2011-03-04 The Job Market, Oil Prices, and the Fed by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

Higher oil prices have raised new concerns about the strength of the economic recovery. If sustained, the rise in gasoline prices will restrain the pace of economic growth noticeably, but does not appear to be large enough (so far) to derail the expansion. Meanwhile, a federal government shutdown looms as lawmakers bicker over the future path of expenditures. Austerity at all levels of government is well-intentioned, but is not advisable at this point in the economic recovery.

2011-03-04 On Regulation by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

You can tell businesspeople precisely what to do, but you cant make the economy or companies comply with policies and social aims. Regulations are limited in their scope and effect, and like a balloon, when you push in one place, self-interested behavior pops out in another. Those who enact regulation are rarely able to anticipate and control the response of those being regulated or the second-order consequences of the rules. Bubbles will lead to crashes, and the willingness to dispense with regulation and rely on free markets will never be complete, regardless of regulations limitations.

2011-03-03 Multi-Asset Real Return: Assessing & Exploiting Price Pressures in their Many Forms by Kevin Kearns, Laura Sarlo and James Balfour of Loomis Sayles

An asset managers challenge is to preserve and grow the purchasing power of investors portfolios under a variety of economic conditions. Understanding the breadth of global inflationary or deflationary trends that can occur, and the ways different assets might perform in these environments, is critical to this objective. Based on our research, we have determined that no single asset class can protect investors from inflation. On the contrary, we believe the flexibility and diversification offered by a multi-asset-class strategy is necessary to help weather changing inflation regimes.

2011-02-25 Oil And Vinegar by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

Higher oil prices have raised new concerns about the strength of the economic recovery. If sustained, the rise in gasoline prices will restrain the pace of economic growth noticeably, but does not appear to be large enough (so far) to derail the expansion. Meanwhile, a federal government shutdown looms as lawmakers bicker over the future path of expenditures. Austerity at all levels of government is well-intentioned, but is not advisable at this point in the economic recovery.

2011-02-24 The Secular Case for Convertible Securities by David King of Columbia Management

The most common question from potential investors in convertible mutual funds goes something like this: Is now a good time to get into convertibles? The question is sincere and seems very relevant. The usual answer is: Its a pretty good time. In the end, the usual result of this usual exchange is that most investors think about convertibles for a moment, and take no action. Behind any timing question about convertibles is the assumption that equities and traditional fixed income instruments are the core of a good portfolio and everything else is alternative.

2011-02-23 Coping with Volatility by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The decline in equity prices in reaction to the fighting in Libya is a typical example of how equity markets are vulnerable to stocks at almost any time. We handle such volatility by balancing stocks with less volatile securities, like bonds and preferred stocks, to varying degrees in different types of portfolios. If investors are matched up correctly with the portfolio that provides the correct blend of potential return, stability, and income, they need not flee the market at exactly the wrong time and they can stick with their longer term investment strategy to achieve their objectives.

2011-02-23 Asian Emerging Markets Will Grow on You by Peter Nielsen and Bryce Fegley of Saturna Capital

A year has passed since Saturna put staff on the ground in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the offices of our subsidiary, Saturna Sdn. Bhd. As expected, we have gained valuable insight into the emerging markets of Asia. We find the key to unlocking the opportunities these markets have to offer is an understanding of the intersection of market structure, demographics, economic growth, and asset allocation. Our analysis of trends in these four areas reveals an economic environment with favorable prospects for long-term growth.

2011-02-22 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

I believe the markets are extended and at risk of consolidation. If one is compelled to invest, I would urge caution, patience, and dollar-cost-averaging rather than an all-in philosophy at this time. The big picture for financial securities is long-term positive but short-term precarious.

2011-02-22 Debt Limit Brinksmanship by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors

Dont get us wrong. The budget is a total mess. The equivalent of a financial root canal is necessary. We fully support newly elected lawmakers who want to maximize the political leverage created by the debt limit issue to move in this direction. In fact, wed like to see only short-term increases so the issue can be revisited time and time again, to hold the spenders feet to the political fire. But ripping all the teeth out at once is not the answer.

2011-02-15 The Stuxnet Paradigm by Michael Lewitt (Article)

Michael Lewitt discusses the situation in Egypt, the economy, rising risk appetites in the market, sovereign debt and municipal bonds. 'It might be very easy,' he writes, 'to be impressed by the 'two years and thousands of man hours' that Ms. Whitney spent researching the fiscal condition of the 15 largest states. What in the world required so much time and effort? It shouldn't have taken nearly so long to determine that these states are in severe financial trouble and that their options for dealing with it are limited.

2011-02-11 Yelling Fire in a Crowded Muni Theatre by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management

Municipalities have the unique power to raise taxes and service fees, while cutting non-essential services, in order to create revenues sufficient to pay debt holders. There are over 50,000 individual municipalities across the country. Over the course of decades, there have been very few instances of default. The economy's improvement should bolster state and local finances now and in the future. I firmly believe investors seeking safety of principle and attractive tax-free cash flow should look to capitalize on the current market uncertainty as they are being well compensated to do so.

2011-02-08 Optimizing Your Fixed Income Allocation by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

Here's a little-known fact: The traditional 60/40 portfolio, when using the aggregate-bond index for its fixed-income allocation, has a 99% correlation to the returns of the S&P 500. One way to overcome the limited diversification value offered by the aggregate index is to use a risk-parity approach. In this article, I explore the concept of risk parity in asset allocation and how it provides value for portfolio management.

2011-02-08 The Key Ingredient to Effective Communication by Dan Richards (Article)

When it comes to communicating with clients, too often we revert to the habit of using words alone. To maximize the impact of your communication, you need to help others visualize your message.

2011-02-08 Give Em Credit; Looking at Sales, Not Just Earnings by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Across many indicators, this goes down as a horrible recovery, especially in view of all the stimulus. Of course things look much better than they did in the double dip risk days of last summer but absent the impact of the GDP deflators collapse and the decline in the savings rate, Q4 real GDP would have actually come in closer to +0.5% SAAR than the posted +3.2% print. We are hearing how great S&P 500 sales are doing so far for Q4 up 7.7% and beating estimates by the highest margin in 5 years. We scoured the data and found almost all the growth in sales is coming from outside the US.

2011-02-08 Muni Market Bargains? A Closer Look at Municipal Debt, Deficits and Pensions by Christian Stracke and Joseph A. Narens of PIMCO

Although real, pension problems will not lead to an immediate debt crisis this year or the next five years. A default by Detroit, for example, would not precipitate bankruptcy filings by large cities across the nation. The municipal market will continue to migrate from being a low-risk asset class to a credit asset class.

2011-01-30 Mapping the Molecular Pathway of Autism by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

In recent years, much of the Hussman foundation's research has been centered on autism. Meanwhile, the finance research has been centered on "ensemble methods" to integrate the information from multiple data sets, and to better measure both risk and uncertainty*. As it happens, statistical methods can be adapted to approach difficult problems in both genetics and finance. So as we developed various approaches to integrate multiple data sets in our finance research, it was natural to extend those methods to deal with genetics data.

2011-01-28 The RAFI Five-year Scorecard by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

When the Fundamental Index concept was introduced, it was met with fierce attacks. Critics decried its backtested results as data-mining or said the approach was just a repackaged value investment process. Five years after the first RAFI indices went live, the proof is in: The methodology has generated superior performance during a period when value has lagged growth all over the world.

2011-01-27 Herbert Obama by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Obamas State of the Union: Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again. Herbert Hoover, 1930:While the crash only took place six months ago, I am convinced we have now passed the worst and with continued unity of effort we shall rapidly recover.

2011-01-26 Strategic Redux by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

The key questions are whether the US and the global economic recovery will continue and whether it is now time for sidelined investors to return to investing in risky assets. How much return can be left of the nearly two year bull market as reflected in an 86% rise in the S&P since early March 09? Can improving market sentiment and consensus for a sustained though fragile economic recovery point to a limited opportunity? Some positive signs include a normal short and long term risk-return relationship for NFAs six risk profile funds that is consistent with normal functioning capital markets.

2011-01-25 Should Advisors Care about Short-Term Volatility? by James Colon, John Gambla and Rob Guttschow (Article)

How can advisors construct portfolios that meet their clients' risk preferences across economic environments? You may be surprised to learn that tactical asset allocation has an important role to play.

2011-01-24 A Malicious Mix of Economics and Politics by Charles Lieberman (Article)

I suspect 2011 will continue to produce its ups and downs (much like the past few years). The European debt crisis is still a big issue. The US Municipal debt (particularly in Illinois) issue is lingering. Congress is still Congress. When and if these issues present themselves and the markets react, we could view those situations as continued buying opportunities since the underlying fundamentals of stocks improve. However, long term investors should not wait for dips to begin investing, but rather start a systematic plan of redistributing cash back into the market.

2011-01-24 Currency Wars: View From Beijing by Douglas Clark Johnson of Codexa Capital

Any belief in Washington that the Chinese will allow the yuan to appreciate meaningfully beyond their pre-determined framework belies a certain naivete, in our view. First, of course, is the ancient Chinese stance that any such directives constitute meddling in internal affairs. We see two overriding themes that provide more contemporary context for Chinese economic decision-making: civil stability and social security.

2011-01-22 Together at Last! by Stephen J. Taddie of Stellar Capital Management

Many people get lost when economists start talking about monetary and fiscal policy. By definition, fiscal policy is the use of government expenditure and revenue collection to influence the economy through borrowing, spending and taxation. Monetary policy is the process by which the monetary authority of a country (the Federal Reserve, or Fed, in the U.S.) controls the money supply in that economy through targeting interest rates or buying and selling securities from its portfolio. In the end, the two policies are just two different tools used to manage an economy.

2011-01-21 What Will Turn Me More Bullish On Tthe U.S.A. by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Here's a list of ideas: An energy policy that truly removes U.S. dependence on foreign oil (shale case, coal, nuclear). A complete rewrite of the tax code that promotes savings, investment, and a revamp of the capital stock. A credible plan that reverses the runup in the debt to GDP ratio. A massive mortgage write-down by the banks. A creative strategy to put people to work instead of paying them to be idle ... and more

2011-01-19 China's Inflation Problem Looms Large by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The global economy has become so unbalanced that government ministers recognize that something has to give. To a very large extent the distortions are caused by Chinas long-standing policy of pegging its currency, the yuan, to the U.S. dollar. But as Chinas economy gains strength, and the American economy weakens, the cost and difficulty of maintaining the peg become ever greater, and eventually outweigh the benefits that the policy supposedly delivers to China. In the first few weeks of 2011 fresh evidence has arisen that shows just how difficult it has become for Beijing.

2011-01-19 Market and Performance Summary by Jonathan A. Shapiro of Kovitz Investment Group

The broad market, as represented by the Standard & Poors 500 (S&P 500), rose 10.8% for the quarter and 15.1% for the full year. We remain optimistic regarding forward returns, not because the market has been strong, but because we believe we still hold a basket full of undervalued securities even after these robust gains.

2011-01-18 Refuting Meredith Whitney by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Wealthy investors, seeking safe tax-free income, have historically centered their portfolios on municipal bonds. The fiscal problems faced by many states and local governments, however, are leading many to question that strategy, none more vocally than the analyst Meredith Whitney, who predicted 'hundreds of billions' in municipal bond defaults in a recent 60 Minutes interview. We present the rebuttal to Whitney.

2011-01-18 Jeffrey Gundlach: The Greatest Investment Opportunity of 2011 and 2012 by Robert Huebscher (Article)

In June of 2007, against a backdrop of strong equity and corporate bond performance, Doubleline's Jeffrey Gundlach was one of the first to warn investors that sub-prime mortgages were 'a total unmitigated disaster, and they are going to get worse.' In an equally bold statement, last week he identified the asset class he considers the greatest investment opportunity for the next two years. Again, it was one for investors to avoid.

2011-01-17 Adding Up the Inflation Carnage; US Consumer Hitting an Air Pocket by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

This is just the fifth time in modern history that BOTH food and energy prices have risen at a double-digit annual rate for any length of time ― 1979, 1980, 1996, and 2008. At this rate, the energy bill is going to create a drag U.S. household spending power by $60 billion this year. Beneath the veneer of all the enthusiasm is the reality that real organic incomes are under pressure.

2011-01-11 Tactical Asset Allocation and Market Timing: What's the Difference? by Nancy Opiela (Article)

Why is it that the industry dismisses significant changes to portfolio allocations as "market timing" transactions but embraces the subtler "tactical shifts" many advisors are making in the current, transitional market? As advisors debate the nuances of that question, the more relevant question may be: How would you respond if a client asked you to explain the difference between market timing and tactical asset allocation?

2011-01-11 The Two Elephants Facing the US Economy by Michael Lewitt (Article)

The consensus has reached the conclusion that financial markets will enjoy a strong start to 2011. This is reason enough to approach the markets with caution as the year begins. When everybody is leaning to one side of the boat, the vessel is far more likely to tip over, particularly if it hits an unexpected wave.

2011-01-04 Building a Better Income Portfolio by Geoff Considine, PhD (Article)

One of the greatest concerns for income-oriented investors is the possibility that dividends will be cut. The financial crisis showed that traditional metrics, such as a stock's dividend history and its payout ratio, failed to warn investors of impending dividend cuts. By evaluating stocks based on volatility, however, investors can select securities that are more likely to maintain or improve their dividend rates.

2010-12-31 The Enigma Decoder by Ronald W. Roge of R.W. Roge

Our outlook for 2011 remains cautious, as we were last year. We will continue with most of our 2010 strategies for 2011, with the exception of bonds and municipal bonds which may present problems. We have already lowered our allocation to bonds in the third quarter, lowered our bond duration, and may lower it further, especially in the municipal bond area. We are still formulating our strategy as we gather more information.

2010-12-31 Pessimism was not the Winning Bet in 2010 by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

The easy money has been made, particularly in certain economically sensitive sectors. Returns in bonds could be flat or even negative over the next several years. Weve substantially increased our exposure to boring old consumer staples, utilities, REITs and telecomm stocks, which offer dividend yields starting at 4% and ranging up to 12%. We expect US GDP growth to range between 2-3% over the next 4 quarters. In that environment, we would forecast gains in the S&P 500 of 8-10%, but now we wonder whether Decembers 6.9% gain has already accounted for most of 2011s stock market returns.

2010-12-23 A Smoother Ride for Target-date Funds by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

Asset allocation is a critical step in the asset management process. No matter how diversified the portfolio, risk and reward arent linear. But target-date funds tacitly assume they are! Just because you are willing to take more risk doesnt preordain higher returns, even over decades-long stretches. Rather, managing risk should be done either explicitly with active asset allocation of the glide path or implicitly through the natural contra-trading embedded in the Fundamental Index approach.

2010-12-22 Understanding Risk Parity by Brian Hurst, Bryan W. Johnson, and Yao Hua Ooi of AQR Capital Management

The outperformance of Risk Parity strategies during the recent credit crisis has confirmed the benefits of a truly diversified portfolio. Traditional diversification focuses on dollar allocation; but because equities have disproportionate risk, a traditional portfolios overall risk is often dominated by its equity portion. Risk Parity diversification focuses on risk allocation. We find that by making significant investments in non-equity asset classes, investors can achieve true diversification and expect more consistent performance across the spectrum of potential economic environments.

2010-12-20 Things I Believe by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

1) Investors dangerously underestimate the risk of an abrupt and possibly severe equity market plunge. 2) Agreement among "experts" is not your friend. 3) Downside risk tends to be elevated precisely when risk premiums and volatility indices reflect the most complacency. 4) We did not avoid a second Great Depression because we bailed out financial institutions...

2010-12-17 Staying the Course No Longer Works! by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

'Staying The Course No Longer Works,' and 'Modern Portfolio Theory is Dead,' have been popular headlines with the financial media. It sure sounds good; after all, why would any investor willingly subject their portfolio to the massive losses of 2008 and early 2009? So does that mean that long term strategic investing is out the window? One of our core beliefs is that to earn market returns an investor needs to be in the market.

2010-12-17 Whole Foods vs. Twinkies: 2011 Outlook by Jeffrey Bronchick of Reed, Conner & Birdwell

Our Outlook usually falls back on a normalized sense of equity returns in the mid- to high-single digits for the long run, from which we add to or subtract from factoring in current valuations in the portfolio and the market as a whole. We think between reasonable economic activity, operational competence and generally solid capital allocation strategies, we can expect the value of our holdings to appreciate at least in line with a normalized forecast, and then we get our boost from purchasing this value and/or growth at 20% to 50% of our estimate of intrinsic value.

2010-12-13 It's a Good Deal by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors

Some analysts are trying to tie rising Treasury bond yields to fears about a bigger deficit and the cost of the tax deal. This is a misreading of the markets. Treasury bond yields are rising because a tax hike has been avoided and economic growth is likely to be robust. The bottom line is that stocks remain cheap, while bonds are certainly not.

2010-12-06 A Most Important Rule by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

A decline in bond prices has modestly improved expected returns in bonds, but not yet sufficiently to warrant an extension of our durations. Precious metals have become more overbought, and while we are sympathetic to the long-term thesis for gold, intermediate term risks are now elevated. Finally, we have observed a further deterioration in market conditions for stocks.

2010-12-06 The Dangers of Rebalancing by Michael Edesess (Article)

Every portfolio should be rebalanced to its targeted asset allocation, we are taught. Indeed, there may be no other precept as routinely and studiously practiced among financial advisors. But does rebalancing either increase expected return or reduce risk? If so, why? The answers to those questions reveal that it may be prudent to rebalance, but not for the reasons you think.

2010-12-04 Rebalancing the World by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

We are currently witnessing a largely one-way flow of capital, as money moves from countries of disinflation or deflation to countries with inflation, possibly perpetuating the situation for both. We need to see a rebalancing of the world economy. In recent history, financial authorities in the developed world have encouraged a period of easy credit and loose monetary policy, driving a debt-fuelled rise in consumption. There needs to be more balance in the world economy, so high-savings countries should spend more and develop their own vibrant domestic market as we see in the U.S.

2010-12-04 Decoupling, Further Defined by Andrew Foster of Matthews Asia

Emerging market equities particularly those sectors most associated with decoupling themesare now subject to elevated valuations. It appears that some investors have grown overly convinced that decoupling is a one-way, short-term bet. Dont bet on it. Instead, take your time, and set any expectations for decoupling over the longest horizons.

2010-11-24 US Q3 GDP and Profits Analyzed by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The Q3 real GDP is better, but momentum has clearly waned. Based on the hits that the household sector will likely face in the early part of 2011, Q1 growth is likely to be disappointing. On a sequential basis, corporate profits are still clearly rising, but at a more moderate rate than before. Not only did housing starts get clobbered in October, but existing home sales fell unexpectedly as well. Retailers are anticipating a solid holiday shopping season, and yet, they are aggressively marking down their prices well in advance.

2010-11-23 Stop Front-Running the Fed by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)

A change of mindset is in order for bond investors, who must recognize that it is no longer wise to 'front-run' monetary policy by purchasing the same bonds the Federal Reserve is targeting with its latest round of quantitative easing.

2010-11-16 Skin in The Game, Part II by Mariko Gordon (Article)

In my previous column, I examined the validity of using the 'skin in the game' metric when evaluating a money manager. Today, we see how well it applies when used to assess corporate management. (Hint: Not so well.)

2010-11-16 Income Theme Still Intact by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Spasms don't throw secular trends away. The bond market is going through a corrective phase right now. The sharp selloff in the municipal bond market is an over-reaction to default risks - there is a lot of supply coming onto the market and the end to Build America Bonds is looming. We have been advocating relatively low weightings in the equity market, but certainly not a zero exposure despite our cautious outlook. Our exposure is running between 20-25 percent with a barbell approach - income equity on one side, balanced by raw materials on the other.

2010-11-13 First, Let's Lower the Bar by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Mauldin responds to criticisms of a recent email he sent regarding healthcare reform. Next, he notes that for the last 18 months the trade-weighted yuan has dropped well over 10%, which he calls extraordinary. On the recently announced unemployment results, he says government "fiddling" with seasonal adjustments distorted the numbers. Last, he comments on the Irish sovereign debt issue.

2010-11-12 And That\'s the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Investors surveyed the landscape in the aftermath of two major market moving events (Fed stimulus and midterm election), retreated from their recent optimism, and booked profits heading into the homestretch of the year. Despite the overall success of another earnings season, investors fretted over the global progress (or lack thereof) from the G20 meeting of world finance ministers and news that China may have inflationary problems on its hands.

2010-11-09 A Reading List for 2010 by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

Updated for 2010 and in time for the holidays, here is the latest installment of my recommended books. I originally wrote this list in 2008 and again last year. I intend to keep adding to and revising it every year. It contains seven sections: Selling, Think Like an Investor, Behavioral Investing, Economics, Stock Market History, Risk and Books for the Soul. The first three sections are presented below and the remaining four will be presented next week.

2010-11-04 Thanksgiving Pie by Doug MacKay and Bill Hoover of Broadleaf Partners

Where might the unexpected upside come for investors? Two areas. Dividends may attract some money away from the bond market as a source of yield, providing some relative capital appreciation potential for stocks. On a longer term secular basis, the emerging market consumer may also be worth paying attention to. As the wealth of overseas economies grows and makes its way into the hands of its citizens, a growing middle class should emerge with the same needs and wants that many of those in the United States have enjoyed for years.

2010-10-29 Cliff Asness: Understanding Managed Futures by Robert Huebscher (Article)

In a portfolio with equities and fixed income, managed futures offer strong diversification value and high returns, according to Cliff Asness. Asness is the founder and Managing Principal of AQR Capital Management, a provider of managed futures products.

2010-10-29 Be Careful What You Wish For by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Q3 GDP numbers were unimpressive, and it would not surprise Mauldin to see GDP growth be closer to 1% in the 4th quarter, unless we start to see evidence of more inventory building. That is not good for jobs, personal income, tax collections needed to cover deficits at all levels, or consumer confidence. A further threat is posed by large numbers of people whose 99 weeks of unemployment will soon expire. Republicans face big challenges once they gain power, and Mauldin says a VAT is the only way to reduce budget deficits.

2010-10-26 An Exceptional Resource for Asset Allocation by Michael Edesess (Article)

Roger C. Gibson's fine and exemplary book, Asset Allocation: Balancing Financial Risk, Fourth Edition, shows that character and conscience-based counseling still exist, even in the financial profession. It is still possible for advisors to look out for their clients' long-term interests.

2010-10-18 Mexico - Problems and Prospects by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Mexico's drug-related violence is a tragedy for the country and a conundrum for all those who invest there. However, as long as the U.S. economy can continue its advance, slow as it will likely be, Mexicos economy, equity market, and currency should find support. Once the recovery in the United States begins to create jobs, as it should later this year and into 2011, remittances from Mexican nationals working north of the border will begin to add marginal momentum to Mexicos economic growth, and hence to its market prospects.

2010-10-12 Why Warren Buffett is Optimistic: A Quarterly Letter to Send Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Dan Richard's quarterly letter is designed to balance some of the extreme pessimism among many investors. Negative sentiment is understandable given the real challenges facing the U.S. and European economies, but is also a function of the overwhelmingly negative media coverage to which clients are exposed. To balance today's disproportionately negative views, you need hard facts.

2010-10-12 The Great Depression, the Great Recession and Lessons from 1937-1938 by Team of American Century Investments

While much shorter and less severe than the Great Depression, the recession of 1937-1938 added approximately three years to the recovery period. It is extremely unlikely that we will see a repeat of this type of recession. However, depending on the outcome of elections in November, there could be substantial shift in the fiscal and taxation policies of the federal government away from Keynesianism and toward fiscal discipline and supply side economics.

2010-10-07 You Can't Make This Stuff Up! by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

In the October 6 New York Times, op-ed contributor Daniel Gross called on the American consumer to 'get back into the game.' 'The renewed willingness and confidence to spend money we don't have,' Gross wrote, 'is vital to the continuing recovery.' There was no mention in the article of the fact that with a 70 percent share of GDP, U.S. consumer expenditures never exactly went into hibernation, even if spending decisions have changed. And haven't employment and income always been the vital components to sustainable growth?

2010-10-05 The Information Risk Premium: A New Danger to Client Portfolios by Bob Veres (Article)

Michael Aronstein, who manages the Marketfield Fund, connected two dots that most of us are aware of intuitively, but may not have consciously considered. As Bob Veres writes, Aronstein says that the primary challenge for investment advisors, financial planners and money managers today, which is different from the challenges you faced in the past, is the sheer amount of attention that investors are now able to pay to the ups and downs in their portfolios.

2010-10-01 Insolvency Too by Niels C. Jensen, Nick Rees and Patricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

On 1st January 2013, Solvency II, a new directive governing capital adequacy rules in the European insurance and life insurance industry, will come into effect. Going forward, European insurers will have to be able to pass a 1-in-200 years' event stress test, which has been designed to give the industry enough of a cushion to withstand even the most severe of bear markets without being forced to sell. Risky asset classes such as equities, commodities and other alternative investments will be assigned much higher reserve requirements than less risky asset classes such as bonds.

2010-09-23 Was it really a Lost Decade? by Kevin D. Mahn of Hennion & Walsh

Many have claimed that the decade of the 2000s was a lost decade for stock investors. When you look at the returns of the S&P 500 index over the decade, it is hard to challenge the validity of this claim. For the period of December 31, 1999 through December 31, 2009, the S&P 500 index had an annualized simple price return of -2.72 percent. A look at returns in categories beyond U.S. large-caps, however, including emerging markets, bonds, and U.S. mid-caps and small-caps, reveals that other types of investments actually had positive returns.

2010-09-21 The One-Sided Fallacy by Richard E. Cripps, CFA (Article)

The current tenor of political debate has amplified one-sided arguments as each party attempts to sell their view to voters. The same polarization has become evident in approaches to investment, and market bears are exhibiting all the classic symptoms of confirmation bias. But we know better than to let these slanted arguments sway our market convictions. As Richard Cripps explains in this guest contribution, there are plenty of reasons to remain invested in equities.

2010-09-21 American Century Investments by Team of American Century Investments

Among the first items the U.S. Congress is likely to deal with after the midterm election are the federal budget deficit and taxes. The accepted wisdom is that markets prefer the more incremental change based on political compromise brought by divided governments. However, median returns data looking back 60 years do not provide any strong support for this. Indeed, if a divided government leads to intransigence and gridlock, then it will take another two years and the next general election before key issues can be addressed.

2010-09-21 U.S. Government Debt by Tony and Rob Boeckh of Boeckh Investment Letter

That the U.S. is in a dangerous debt situation is hardly a secret. Yet nothing will be done about it any time soon. Politicians, now back from their holidays, are focused on securing reelection. Republicans are moving further to the populist right. Cutting deficits has once again taken a back seat to spending and minimizing taxation. There is a rapidly escalating Greek-style debt-to-GDP scenario unfolding, along with all the consequences that go with it.

2010-09-15 Are High-Quality Firms Also High-Quality Investments? by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

The Standard and Poor's Earnings and Dividend rankings (also known as 'quality rankings') score the financial quality of several thousand U.S. stocks from A+ through D, with data going back to 1956. The better the growth and stability of earnings and dividends, the higher the ranking. A recent study found that low quality dominated high quality in 2009. This has continued into the current year with low-quality continuing to dominate. If this study is accurate, however, then the 'quality cycle' will begin to favor high-quality holdings within a short period of time.

2010-09-14 Identifying Opportunities in the Municipal Bond Market by RidgeWorth Investments (Article)

Ridgeworth Investments shares its perspective on the muni bond market in a recent white paper entitled "Identifying Opportunities in the Municipal Bond Market" which outlines the historical benefits of municipal bonds, the changing market dynamics in 2009 as well as RidgeWorth's outlook for municipal bonds in 2010 and potentially beyond. RidgeWorth concludes that despite a challenging market environment, munis still offer attractive investment opportunities. We thank them for their sponsorship.

2010-08-27 Perception Versus Reality by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Market volume continues its traditional August swoon, making it difficult to gauge much from stock market action. Economic data continues to tell a mixed story, as growth slows and risks rise. Confidence is key to consumer spending, business investment and stock market performance. The Federal Reserve and the government are attempting to instill that confidence in the American public, but so far have had little success. Emerging markets continue to show signs of growth and China's market has been performing well. Germany also has posted some nice numbers lately, but Japan remains a concern.

2010-08-25 Housing, State Spending and Jobs Bogeymen for Rest of 2010 by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

The time to buy stocks is when the economic forecast is grim. If you wait until the forecast looks good, stock prices have already moved higher. Fears of a double-dip recession have kept a lid on stock prices since April. The stock market, however, now feels like a pressure cooker on the boil, with earnings growth as the heat source. Short-covering rallies, meanwhile, are usually explosive to the upside. Heron therefore continues moving cash into stocks, as there are plenty of companies with great prospects and reasonable valuations.

2010-08-17 A New Framework for Retirement Income Planning by Manish Malhotra (Article)

In this guest contribution, Manish Malhorta proposes a new framework to solve many problems associated with retirement income planning, one that answers questions investors often ask, such as: "How much retirement income can I have with only a 10% chance of failure?" and "How much do I need to have now to draw $50,000 for 30 years with full certainty?"

2010-08-17 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Yields on 10-year Treasury bonds are hovering under 3 percent, which basically means that buyers anticipate inflation will only be 3 percent over the next 10 years. In spite of all the talk about deflation, however, can anyone really believe that inflation won't exceed 3 percent over the next decade given all the money the government has made available? That is why for the most part, ProVise is avoiding long-term bonds in their portfolios - remaining on the short to intermediate side of the yield curve.

2010-08-17 When Unconventional Become Conventional by Paul McCulley of PIMCO

Conventional monetary policy is undergirded by the doctrine of central bank independence, founded on the proposition that fiscal authorities, hostage to the political process, inherently are prone to an inflationary bias. When the economy suffers from private sector deleveraging and a fat-tail risk of deflation, however, conventional monetary policy is not enough. In such circumstances, the central bank has a profound duty to act unconventionally, ballooning its balance sheet by monetizing assets, either government or private, or both.

2010-08-17 'Promised Land?' by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

Last week investors gave up on stocks, worried that Wednesday's 90 percent downside day marked the end of the summer rally, and fearing that another big decline was in the offing as we enter the dreaded months of September and October. While statistically those months tend to be the worst of the year, that wasn't the way it played last year, and it is doubtful that it will play out again that way this year. While the equity markets may pull back, none of the characteristics that mark a major 'top' are currently in place.

2010-08-11 Why Jobs Have Gone AWOL by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

There are three primary reasons why the U.S. is suffering from structurally high unemployment: a pervasively irresponsible monetary policy, the continued attenuation of our manufacturing base, and an overleveraged consumer who must now reconcile his balance sheet. In reality, the latter two conditions are a direct result of the first. They are the result of a government that seeks to micromanage the cost of money and the rate of economic growth.

2010-08-10 When Active Management Matters by Kenneth R. Solow, CFP and Michael E. Kitces, MSFS, MTAX, CFP (Article)

Financial planners have eagerly awaited any research that could finally, definitively prove - or disprove - the pesky notion that active management is effective. Though no one has yet risen to that challenge, past academic studies have been improperly interpreted to show that portfolio policy, or asset allocation affects portfolio returns far more than active management. As Ken Solow and Michael Kitces write in this guest contribution, the most recent study to tackle the active management debate, by Yale professor Roger Ibbotson, shares two weaknesses with previous research.

2010-08-10 Public Pension Showdown: Actuaries vs. Economists by Charlie Curnow (Article)

Public pensions are severely underfunded, at least according to the economists. Actuaries disagree, and at stake is nearly $2 trillion. We look at why these groups arrive at such different valuations, and which one is likely to be correct.

2010-08-06 Pandemic Uncertainty by Ronald W. Roge of R.W. Roge

We are headed into a global economy that can be best described as one of deleveraging, reregulation, de-globalization, and temporary mistakes in government policy responses. U.S. consumers now believe in spending less and saving more for the future. The current saving rate in the U.S. is about 6 percent. That's up from 0 percent a few years ago. All of this evidence points to a slow-growth economic recovery that will eventually improve as government policies fail and more logical policy responses prevail.

2010-08-03 Rebuilding Confidence in Stocks by Dan Richards (Article)

These days, there's a cloud of uncertainty over markets, with questions about economic growth, government deficits, the timing and impact of interest rates increases, unemployment levels and the housing market. As Dan Richards writes, this environment is when advisors can bring value, by providing perspective on both sides of the debate about the value that stocks provide at today's levels.

2010-07-28 Market Thoughts and the Long-Term Outlook for Inflation by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The bull market in bonds will end reasonably close to the point in time that inflation (or deflation) bottoms. This is because the major economic factor that correlates consistently with the direction of market-determined interest rates, at least for long term Treasury Bonds, is CPI Inflation. Core inflation should recede from around 1 percent now to near 0 percent in the next 12-to-24 months, which would imply an ultimate bottom in the long bond yield of 2.5 percent and 2 percent for the 10-year T-note.

2010-07-26 The Style Roulette and RAFI Strategy by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

The style merry-go-round (where value and growth are alternatively in favor) provides ample opportunity for investors to be their own worst enemy, even within the supposedly balanced broad market indexes. Make no mistake - cap-weighted index funds are stealthy returns chasers loading up on past winners. A simple periodic realignment back to financial size remarkably captures over 100 percent of a perfect style timing strategy in three major non-U.S. equity asset classes.

2010-07-24 The Artificial Economic Recovery by Tony and Rob Boeckh of Boeckh Investment Letter

Economic recovery in the U.S. and elsewhere has slowed rapidly and forecasts are being downgraded accordingly. The massive stimulus packages stopped a self-feeding downward spiral, but they have given us only an artificial recovery. Government tax revenues will be disappointing and expenditures will remain elevated. A fragile economy, however, should not push investors away entirely from risk assets. High levels of risk and uncertainty argue for continued focus on wealth preservation and sound diversification.

2010-07-23 So What Else are the Bulls Looking at Right Now? by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

This is still a meat-grinder of a market. The bulls have the upper hand, but only until the next shoe drops in this modern-day depression and post-bubble credit collapse. The best we can say is that we do have a tradable rally on our hands and that we are at a critical technical juncture at the 50-day moving average on the S&P 500 - but remember, in a secular bear market, these rallies are to be rented, not owned. To be sure, 140 companies have reported so far and the news overall is good but earnings are a coincident, not a leading indicator.

2010-07-22 California Municipal Markets - Confusion, Misconceptions and Reality by Jon Davis of HighMark Capital Management

There have been dramatic changes to the California municipal bond market over the last several years, creating new challenges for today's investor. Current state budgetary stress in California and across the U.S. may lead to a greater likelihood of possible ratings downgrades or defaults. Meanwhile, pension and entitlement obligation shortfalls will add additional pressure to future budgets. These trends have made fundamental credit analysis, valuation analysis, and a diversified portfolio vital.

2010-07-20 Don't Bet the Farm! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

Following the 90 percent downside days of June 22nd, 24th, and 29th quickly came a 90 percent upside day. On July 13th another 90 percent upside day was registered. Such sequences often mark the beginning of a rally. If so, the bulls' case would be dramatically bolstered with a decisive move above the SPX's 200-DMA at ~1112, with a subsequent confirming upside breakout above the June 21st intra-day reaction high of 1131.23. Until this occurs, Jeffrey Saut is content to remain flat in trading accounts, yet continue to position favorable stocks for investment accounts.

2010-07-15 Facts on the Ground by Paul McCulley of PIMCO

What the developed world faces is a cyclical deficiency of aggregate demand, the product of a liquidity trap and the paradox of thrift, in the context of headwinds borne of ongoing structural realignments. Front-loaded fiscal austerity would only add to that deflationary cocktail. And that's what the market vigilantes are wrapped around the axle about: They are not fleeing the sovereign debt of fiat currency countries but rather fleeing risk assets, which depend on growth for valuation support.

2010-07-13 Our Muni Market Perspective: The Sky is Not Falling by Team of American Century Investments

The muni market sky is not falling. Municipal credit downgrades and defaults are indeed likely to increase in the months ahead, even as the U.S. economy regroups and moves forward. It may seem odd that muni credit quality faces continued challenges at a time when businesses and other sectors of the economy are going ahead, but that's just an unfortunate feature of a lagging market, one that municipalities share with the labor market. In the long run, municipal bonds as an asset class still have credit quality second only to U.S. Treasury bonds.

2010-07-12 In Search of Your Sleeping Point by Cliff W. Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors

Asset allocation is an art involving quantitative analysis of financial markets combined with common sense. A buy-and-hold strategy is a dead decision during markets such as these. We have had the worst May in stocks since 1940. No credit still equals no jobs, China is destined for turmoil as its real estate market unwinds, and the Consumer Confidence Index is down to 52.9 in June from 62.7 in May. Fair value on the S&P is 950, which would indicate another 7 percent decline in stock prices from here.

2010-07-07 Paper Gold vs the Dollar? Interview with James Rickards by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

This commentary features an interview with James Rickards, senior managing director for market intelligence at Omnis, Inc., about the dollar and the outlook for the U.S. currency in the global economy. Mr. Rickards' career spans the period since 1976. He was a first-hand participant in the formation and growth of globalized capital markets and complex derivative trading strategies.

2010-07-02 Contemplating Capital Controls by Robert J. Horrocks of Matthews Asia

Some Asian countries have imposed capital controls as a measure to prevent asset bubbles. Policymakers are clearly wary of imposing further controls on capital. However, they cannot prevent the bubbles they fear by using monetary policy aloneuntil they allow their currencies to appreciate. Otherwise, they are simply allowing international investors to enjoy the high interest rates that tighter policy brings at the existing cheap exchange rate and capital will flow in.

2010-06-30 ECRI Data, Our Themes in the Morning Press, and Radically Restructuring Entitlements by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

David Rosenberg sets the ECRIs record straight, arguing that the Lex column should ask about the recent equity market drop rather than the unpredictable rally. Rosenberg comments on the themes of inflation and deflation in the press and how society is becoming familiar with Bob Farrells rule, Exponentially rapidly rising or falling markets usually go further than you think, but they do not correct by going sideways.

2010-06-29 Winning Clients...By Being Dumb by Justin Locke (Article)

In this guest contribution, Justin Locke says "looking dumb" is a better strategy than trying to be smarter than your clients and prospects. Locke is a professional musician and author of a book we previously reviewed, The Principles of Applied Stupidity, and he outlines a key tactic to persuade prospects.

2010-06-29 Market Insights by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Christian W. Thwaites takes a deeper look at some of todays big issues. He answers the question Inflation or Deflation, investigates the Eurozone collapse and explains the plight of the U.S. consumer. As the summer begins, Thwaites gives his outlook on the market and some simple rules to follow for a strong financial future.

2010-06-28 Not Much Out of G20 by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

David A. Rosenberg summarizes the current conditions and calls for restraint. Fiscal restraint was the overarching message of the G20, which established a goal 'to shave fiscal deficits in half by 2013.' Debates continue as to whether current trends predict 'the third depression' and as to what measures might be taken to prevent that outcome. Rosenberg cites this weekends outpouring of articles on deficits, crises, and deflation. There seems to be no 'bottoming out' for the housing market.

2010-06-22 Market Changes Affect the Role Fixed Income May Play in Client Portfolios by Janus (Article)

Investment consistency, sector allocation and credit analysis are three of the critical ingredients of successful fixed income management. Janus shares their views on these important topics and how to use this information in your discussions with clients. We thank them for their sponsorship.

2010-06-22 Risk Assets Regain Favor But Risk Looms on the Horizon by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

The resurgence in risk appetite continued apace this past week, allowing the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average to return to positive territory for the year. By the end of the week, the S&P was up 2.4 percent and the DJIA finished up 2.3 percent. The recession of 2008-2009 seems to have left a mark on many individuals, however, especially those in the baby boomer generation who are inching ever closer to retirement. This is fueling a reallocation away from equities in favor of bonds and income-producing securities.

2010-06-21 China's Currency Shift Not a Game-Changer by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The big news over the weekend was the move by China to end the yuan peg to the U.S. dollar. This delink will allow the Peoples Bank of China to pursue its own independent monetary policy. In turn, this will help to ease global trade imbalances, ward off the threat of trade protectionism, alleviate domestic credit strains and inflation pressures and accelerate the Chinese shift from export-led to consumer-led growth. It also suggests that the Chinese authorities have confidence in the sustainability of the global recovery.

2010-06-21 Excessive Fiscal Tightening A Major Worry by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

Studies of past recessions show that downturns associated with financial crises tend to be more severe and longer-lasting, and have gradual recoveries. Studies also point to a common error made in these recoveries - that is, policy is often tightened too soon. Chairman Bernanke is a student of the Great Depression, so the Federal Reserve seems unlikely to make that mistake. However, there is a growing public mood to do 'something' about the federal budget deficit. While well-intentioned, excessive fiscal tightening is bad economics.

2010-06-21 Talking the Economy: Alex Pollock, Bruce Bartlett and Josh Rosner by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

This commentary features snippets from interviews by IRA co-founder Chris Whalen for his upcoming book, Inflated: How Money and Debt Built the American Dream, which is scheduled for release in November. Alex Pollock of the American Enterprise Institute, Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan and Treasury official under President George H.W. Bush, and Josh Rosner, principal of Graham-Fisher, all discuss the economic outlook.

2010-06-17 Getting a Grip on Reality by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Double-dip risks in the U.S. have risen substantially in the past two months. While the economy's 'back end' of industrial production is still performing well, this lags the cycle. The 'front end' of consumer sales and housing leads the cycle. We have already endured two soft retail sales reports in a row and now the weekly chain-store data for June is pointing to subpar activity. The housing sector is going back into the tank - there is no question about it. The recovery in consumer sentiment leaves it at levels that in the past were consistent with outright recessions.

2010-06-17 Assessing Investment-Grade Bonds by Team of Litman Gregory

Investment-grade bonds are likely to generate average returns in a 1 percent to 2 percent range in most scenarios over the next five years. That is markedly lower than any historical rolling five-year average annual return number since the mid-70s. Forward-looking scenarios project that bond yields and inflation higher than their current levels and capital losses due to rising yields will cut into income from coupon payments.

2010-06-15 Asset Allocation Matters, But Not as Much as You Think by Robert Huebscher (Article)

The market downturn has caused a rethinking of many core principles underpinning investment advice, chief among them the role of asset allocation. We talk with Yale's Roger Ibbotson about the impact of market returns and active management in explaining return variance and the role of asset allocation going forward.

2010-06-15 Todays Top Economic Historian: The Path to European Stability by Dan Richards (Article)

Harvard's Niall Ferguson is arguably today's leading economic historian. In this interview with Dan Richards, Ferguson discusses the current troubles and future outlook for Europe. We provide a transcript and a video.

2010-06-11 Schwab Sector Views: Why Sectors? by Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab

Views on the S&P 500 sectors.

2010-06-05 There's a Slow Train Coming by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The question before the jury is a simple one, but the answer is complex. Is the US in a "V"-shaped recovery? Are we returning to the old normal? Mauldin concludes that the fundamentals are too weak to support robust growth, as typically follows a recession. He cites data from the Consumer Metrics Institute Growth Index, which suggests there will be a 2% GDP contraction in the third quarter, which he doubts will happen, but says the consensus 3% seems quite possible. He warns that if we go back into recession, the market on average drops 40%.

2010-06-02 Be Water, My Friend! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

As the old sailor's axiom states, you can't change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust the sails. Clearly, the stock market's 'winds' have been in a downdraft. Last month was the worst May for the S&P 500 since 1962. Granted, the May Melt could have been worse if the SPX had stayed at last Tuesday's low of 1040.78, but most oversold indicators are about as compressed as they ever get. This week markets will have to deal with yet another disappointment after BP's failed top-kill operation in the Gulf. The best strategy now is thus defense, until the 'sell signal' reverses.

2010-05-26 Tensions in Korea and Thailand by Robert J. Horrocks of Matthews Asia

What both Thailand and Korea have in common is that their underlying political tensions have been ongoing, certainly for long enough to have earned their markets a valuation discount. This is not to say that investors are in any way protected from such political unease - for if the events were to flare up into a serious conflict in either case, more property damage and loss to asset values would occur in both countries. Nevertheless, Thailand and South Korea remain the two cheapest markets in the region in terms of price-to-earnings measures.

2010-05-26 Two Will Get You Three (or) Three Will Get You Two by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Fiscal tightening and budget conservatism may have come too late for Greece and its global lookalikes. Continued deficit spending may be an exorbitant privilege extended to only a few. Caught in the middle are many developed countries that will likely face muted growth rates and a continued bumpy journey toward their destinations. Investors must respect this rather tortuous journey in the months and years ahead for what it is: a deleveraging process based upon too much debt and too little growth to service it.

2010-05-24 Comment: Clifford Rossi on the Need for the Office of Financial Research by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

This commentary features a contribution by Clifford Rossi, managing director of the Center for Financial Policy at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. Rossi writes in support of a proposal by Senator Chris Dodd to establish the Office of Financial Research, which would aggregate enterprise-wide views of risk at large financial firms. Critics say the OFR would represent an unwarranted breach of privacy. The new division was included in the Senate financial reform bill, but is in danger of being dropped during the final reconciliation process.

2010-05-20 An Emerging Conundrum by John West of Research Affiliates

Emerging economies have nearly doubled relative to the developed world since the mid-1990s. Despite this growth, however, emerging financial markets have performed relatively poorly over the long term as measured by the traditional indices. This gap between emerging market economic and stock market performance is a direct result of the return drag from capitalization weighting. Often, one, two, or at most a handful of stocks dominate local emerging markets. Not once have these large capitalization stocks collectively outperformed the rest of the market over a five-year period.

2010-05-14 Schwab Sector Views: Sea Change? by Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab

Market volatility has heated up during the past couple of weeks as more eyes have turned toward the debt problems plaguing Europe. After a nice run in equities, it's certainly not surprising to see some sort of pullback, especially in areas of the market that may have outperformed to start the year. The United States is entering a time of more-steady growth, with flattening leading economic indicators, which typically represents a shift in sector leadership. The information technology sector, for example, should outperform the market, while materials should underperform.

2010-05-13 Driving Without a Spare by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

Mohamed El-Erian recounts the results of last week's PIMCO Secular Forum on the three- to five-year outlook for the global economy and the markets. Participants concluded that we are heading toward a world that is re-regulated, de-levered, and growing less rapidly in the industrial countries. It will be a world in which concerns about the dark side of globalization temper enthusiasm for its net benefits, and in which politics matter a lot for markets and the economy. The drama playing out in Europe these days is a vivid illustration of this general secular characterization.

2010-05-11 A Historical Perspective on the Slight Depression by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Armed with textbooks and formulas, economists attack a problem by drawing lines, forming equations and trying to fit data to the real world. Niall Ferguson, a historian by training, thinks you can learn more simply by analyzing what has already happened. So what's a historian's take on the current crisis? Ferguson says it has yet to run its course.

2010-05-11 Talking to Clients about Expected Returns by Dan Richards (Article)

Of all the assumptions that go into clients' retirement plans, none has a bigger impact than the expected return on their investments, says Dan Richards. That number determines how much investors need to save, when they can afford to retire and the kind of lifestyle they can anticipate. Richards provides a context for discussing expected returns with clients.

2010-05-07 Understanding the Greek Aftershocks by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

The Greek crisis has already morphed into a regional shock. It now stands on the verge of morphing into a more global phenomenon. Some countries will benefit, mainly on account of capital flows coming out of the euro area. The majority will not. And even those that do benefit should remain vigilant and responsive. Like most other countries in the world, they will also end up suffering from the consequences of lower international demand and renewed disruptions to the global banking system.

2010-05-04 Consumer Sentiment and the Economic Outlook by Team of American Century Investments

The animal spirits John Maynard Keynes described in 1936 as a substantial force in determining the direction of the economy are still with us today. At the moment we are in a prolonged period of below-average consumer sentiment that began in mid-2007. Ultimately, consumer sentiment will rebound. When this occurs, the change in sentiment as measured by the Consumer Sentiment Index is likely to be quick and large. However, there will likely have to be some change in the environment or course of events to convince the population that our difficult times are behind us.

2010-04-27 The Four Horsemen of Growth: David Kellys Guide to Markets by Katie Southwick (Article)

With unprecedented volatility now largely behind us, J.P. Morgan's Chief Investment Strategist David Kelly believes that the economy is entering a period of recovery. To move forward, we must abandon our negative mindsets and focus on opportunities for expansion.

2010-04-19 Complex Structural Changes in China and the Global Economy by Michael Spence of PIMCO

China has come to a point where its size and global impact are large. Policy in China will have to be set within a delicate balancing act between domestic growth and development and distributional challenges on one hand, and recognition of global impacts on the other. The large developing countries need to understand better than they currently do that their growing size and presence in trade in goods and services is forcing uncomfortable structural change in the advanced countries as well.

2010-04-07 Iraqi Oil: A Riddle in the Sands by Nouriel Roubini of RGE Monitor

Iraq has the potential to be a major source of new oil in the next 5 to 10 years, but the process of scaling up production faces many obstacles. Modernizing and expanding the country's energy infrastructure will be costly, given Iraq's fiscal position, and this may tempt the government to extract as much revenue as it can in order to meet the country's fiscal vulnerabilities. And as Iraq's oil production gradually climbs, it will face pressure from OPEC to adhere to quotas. Given these uncertainties, Iraq's plans to more than double output within 5 years seem very optimistic.

2010-04-06 A Q1 Letter to Send Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Dan Richards provides the latest in his very popular series of quarterly letters for advisors to send to their clients. This Q1 2010 article combines the attributes he considers essential: a balanced outlook, candor, short enough for clients to get through yet long enough to be substantial, fact-based, and customizable to your own voice.

2010-04-01 The U.S. Bond Market is Losing Steam by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Smart investors will buy stocks on dips, sell their long term bonds denominated in the euro and the U.S. dollar, and shift into shorter maturity bonds or into stocks that can grow. Investors should consider selling all long term bonds of any type. Guild and Danaher favor foreign stocks in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. They also favor export-driven companies in developed countries, and commodity producers globally, especially oil companies that are increasing their production. Gold is in a trading range, and should be bought for below $1090 per ounce.

2010-03-31 The Price of Emotion by Michael Nairne of Tacita Capital

Emotionally driven investment decisions often lead investors to buy high and sell low, and can exact a huge price on a portfolio over time. The antidote to emotional investing is threefold. First, investors must clarify their ability to tolerate risk in financial and psychological terms, and use this profile as the primary determinant of portfolio design. Second, investors should back-test the asset class performance of recommended portfolios. Finally, investors must document their investment strategies in writing.

2010-03-30 Your Clients Lives Are NOT a Game by Dave Loeper (Article)

The dialog between Roger Schreinerand Dave Loeper continues, with Loeper responding to Lance Paddock's article last week, Game On!. Loeper refutes Paddock's charges, and offers data demonstrating his key point: superior returns and lower risk do not necessarily lead to greater wealth accumulation for clients.

2010-03-30 Not a Lost Decade for Diversified, Balanced Portfolios by Joni L. Clark, CFA, CFP (Article)

Did the last ten years really demolish the foundations of Modern Portfolio Theory and classic investing principles? How did portfolios that stuck to the principles of effective diversification and buy-and-hold investing actually perform during the so-called "Lost Decade?" The answers to both questions is an unqualified "no," writes Joni Clark of Loring Ward in this guest contribution, based on her analysis of a DFA-based strategy.

2010-03-29 Taking Stock of Deficits by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

As investors have gained confidence that financial markets have healed and economic recovery has begun, their concern has increasingly turned to the flow of federal red ink. While not all deficits lead to bad markets, there is reason for concern. The White House forecasts huge budget shortfalls in the years to come, and the deficit-narrowing plans it has offered rely almost exclusively on tax increases. Other considerations such as economic growth, a balanced monetary policy and earnings improvements, however, may allow stocks to rise even in the face of fiscal woes.

2010-03-23 Barron's' Pension Warning Doesn't Change Our Pension Outlook by Team of American Century Investments

A recent Barron's magazine piece about unfunded public pension liabilities painted an otherwise solid bond sector with a broad negative brush. While pension liabilities are a serious problem for state and local governments, they are neither a new problem nor an immediate problem, and they are not the most pressing issue that municipalities face in the post-recession environment, according to American Century Investments credit research director David Moore. Despite unfunded pension liabilities, no state runs a serious risk of default on its general debt obligation.

2010-03-18 How will an RMB revaluation affect China, the US, and the world? by Michael Pettis of Michael Pettis

Even if the U.S. took unilateral action to force a revaluation of the RMB and restore the balance of trade, it would take years to wean China away from its undervalued currency. An optimal solution would be to work out a multilateral plan that ends manufacturing subsidies in China, Japan and Germany and returns income to households, while the U.S. and the U.K. shift income from households to investment. Such a global solution, however, may prove politically intractable. Any country that benefits in the short term from stonewalling the adjustment process will probably do so.

2010-03-16 The Trifecta - Okun's Law and Unemployment - Is the Law of Supply & Demand Obsolete? by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Okun's law explains the relationship between unemployment and real output, and calculates the gap between real GDP and potential GDP. Based on current GDP growth forecasts, the law predicts a one-half percentage point decline in unemployment this year and a full-point decline in 2011. Despite very positive returns, however, investors continue to allocate to bonds instead of stocks. The laws of supply and demand tell us that this is unwise.

2010-03-16 No Shell Game? Then What Is It? by Dave Loeper (Article)

Wealthcare's Dave Loeper responds to Roger Schreiner's recent article, It's No Shell Game. Loeper contends that the rules of Schreiner's challenge ensure that Schreiner will win and, from a larger perspective, active management advocates sacrifice their clients' wealth by exposing them to risks those advocates cannot control.

2010-03-15 Will Exports Set Us Free? by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

A number of reports released in the past several weeks confirmed that global trade is rebounding sharply from its 2008/09 lows. Relying on exports to drive economic growth is a perfectly plausible strategy, but final demand in many of the developed economies is unlikely to return to its previous highs in the near future. Maxey also examines the failure of small businesses to join the recovery, and the week ahead in economic news.

2010-03-12 Bubbling over in China? by Bill McBride of Calculated Risk

As long as the Chinese government taps the brakes on the housing market whenever necessary, a steep drop in home prices is unlikely. This assumes the government learned from its mistakes in late 2007, when it adjusted too hard. Given the sentiment and concern out of Beijing about keeping a balanced economy as the world recovers, strong movements to dampen the Chinese housing market are unlikely. It is more likely that the government will continue to use the banks, as well as rules on second mortgages, to cool specific locations through 2010 while letting the overall market grow.

2010-03-10 Will the Bond Vigilantes Ride Again? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Projected deficits will remain too large for too long to avoid raising serious concerns about inflation, the dollar's value and the economy's fundamental growth potential. When investors return to these questions, chances are that the bond vigilantes who made pricing so tumultuous in the early 1990s will come back. Those vigilantes were unwilling to tolerate any red ink in federal finances during the Clinton administration. If President Obama wants to prevent bond vigilantism, he must end the current policy uncertainty and present a credible, balanced plan to control the future flow of debt.

2010-03-06 Welcome to the Future by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Mauldin reflects on an executive program held by the Singularity University that he recently attended. He discusses the potential for new advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, water purification, biotechnology, and several other areas.

2010-03-01 Lessons from the 'Naughties' by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

Sizeable real returns will be difficult in this decade, as they were in the last. Almost all asset classes are priced richly relative to historical norms. We can tilt the odds back in our favor, however, by tactically altering our portfolio risk based on measures as simple as yields and yield spreads. The surest path to success marries tactical asset allocation with a more efficient beta, such as the Fundamental Index methodology, and a full toolkit of alternative markets.

2010-02-24 Fine Tuning Your Asset Allocation - 2010 Update by Paul Merriman of Merriman

Never ignore your emotions or better judgment in order to chase higher returns. Investors should settle for lower returns in order to reduce their risks. It is better to work longer or save more each year than to retire with too little money. It is also better to have less money to spend in retirement than to suffer losses that put you in danger of running out of money.

2010-02-17 Eleven Lessons from Iceland by Thorvaldur Gylfason of VoxEU

Icelands banking crisis destroyed wealth equivalent to seven times the country's GDP. The government's strong executive branch put banks in the hands of owners who recklessly expanded their balance sheets under no supervision. This process occurred with very little input from the legislature or the judiciary. Politicians who privatize banks by hand-delivering them to their friends cannot be expected to provide adequate oversight.

2010-02-05 Discounts and Relative Performance by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

Arnott reviews the methodology behind fundamental indexing. Over the short term, fundamental indices take on much greater exposure in volatile markets to companies which underperformed relative to their economic size. This article explores the performance implications of the difference in relative valuation multiples.

2010-02-04 Market Review & Outlook by Ronald W. Roge of R.W. Roge

R.W.Roge is a NY-based advisor and fund manager. They call for a "slow and bumpy" recovery, and expect interest rates to rise. They are investing in the shorter end of the yield curve, TIPS, and high-quality dividend paying stocks.

2010-02-02 Bonds for the Long Run by Jeffrey Bronchick of Reed, Conner & Birdwell

RCB is a classic value-based investor. They note that the 2009 rally has left them with fewer buying alternatives. However, they state, "equities as an asset class will outperform investment grade bonds of almost any stripe over the intermediate and longer term using January 2010 as our starting point They believe equities are valued to do okay, since 2009 and 2010 earnings do not represent a normalized environment. Moving forward, the real fun in 2010 will be how investors react to the possibility of higher interest rates driven by a stronger than expected economy.

2010-02-01 A New Landscape Creates Opportunity by Team of Alliance Bernstein

This is a mostly bullish survey of global capital markets.

2010-01-29 And That's the Week that Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Ron Brounes weekly market recap.

2010-01-26 Buffetts Gold by Emilio Vargas (Article)

Warren Buffett's valuation of Burlington Northern and his use of arguably cheap Berkshire Hathaway stock to purchase it have created a bit of a cacophony among analysts. It seems to some very un-Buffett-like to pay top dollar for an asset and to use precious equity currency to get a deal done. What does Buffett see that others do not? Oddly, the argument made by gold bugs for their asset of choice may hold the answer.

2010-01-23 Congress Sacks Samoan Economy by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Schiff argues that the increase in the US minimum wage caused the closing of the tuna packing industry in American Samoa. 'This just serves to highlight, once again, how inflexible central plannin

2010-01-23 Was it Really a Lost Decade? by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

In this issue we study this abysmal stretch of portfolio performance, both to glean long-term lessons for how we allocate assets and structure equity indexes and to consider whether the naughts mig

2010-01-19 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Readers responded to a range of topics in our letters to the Editor: our Paul Krugman interview, our article last week on the causes of the financial crisis, our article on the true cost of insuring the uninsured, and our article on costless collars using options.

2010-01-15 The Most Profitable Letter in 2009 by Resendes of Applied Finance Group

there was one letter that was very profitable to investors for most of 2009 Beta. Lost in all the hand wringing over the economy, Beta was an investors best friend in 2009 so much so that outpe

2010-01-13 Payrolls, Policies, Politics by Art Patten of Symmetry Capital Management

2010-01-05 The Falling Dollar: Should We Worry? by Elisabeth L. Talbot, CFA (Article)

Over the past several months, it has become increasingly fashionable to refer to the decline of the U.S. dollar as another financial "crisis." Yet, given the current state of the global markets, declaring that the dollar's recent losses amount to a "crisis" is an overstatement, says Elisabeth Talbot in this guest contribution. To the contrary, current conditions surrounding the dollar are arguably supportive of - if not integral to - economic recovery.

2009-12-29 The Top 10 Articles You Didnt Read (But Should Have) by Robert Huebscher (Article)

We closely monitor which articles draw the most readership. This allows us to fine-tune our content to the preferences of our audience. Reflecting on those articles that were most popular over the last year, however, we believe other articles also deserved your attention. We provide the "Top 10" articles you didn't read - but should have.

2009-12-21 The Bumpy Road to Recovery by Paul Merriman of Merriman

2009-12-15 Letters to the Editor Morningstar Responds by Various (Article)

Our article last week, Morningstar's Ratings Fail over a Full Market Cycle, drew two responses from readers and a response from Morningstar. John Rekenthaler, Morningstar's VP of Research, says the three-year time period we chose was arbitrary and does not necessarily reflect a full market cycle. We also have a letter regarding our article last week, The Investment Value of Art.

2009-12-15 A Template for a Year-end Letter by Dan Richards (Article)

Many advisors have told Dan Richards they receive a positive response from the quarterly review letters they've sent over the past year based on the templates he has provided. Here's a template that can be a starting point for a year-end review letter.

2009-12-08 Morningstar Ratings Fail over a Full Market Cycle by Robert Huebscher (Article)

When active managers are tested, as they were during the 2008 bear market and 2009 bull market, so are the systems used to predict their performance. Perhaps no system is as widely used as Morningstar's "star" rating system. In an update to a study we originally did two years ago, we show that Morningstar's ratings fail to offer any predictive ability when measured over a full market cycle.

2009-12-01 To Roth or not to Roth, That is the Question by David B. Loeper, CIMA, CIMC (Article)

With the new Roth conversion rules about to be lifted next year and a "one-time special offer" available to allow investors to spread the tax bite of conversion over two years, more and more Roth conversion calculators are showing up every day. Be wary, says Dave Loeper of Wealthcare Capital. If you use one of these calculators, don't say he didn't warn you about how misleading the results can be.

2009-11-17 Bruce Greenwald on Positioning First Eagles Funds by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Bruce Greenwald is a professor of finance at Columbia, the Director of Research at First Eagle Funds, and a leading expert on value investing. Last week we published part one of our interview, where he discussed the structural problems in the economy and his forecast for higher unemployment. This week he discusses the positioning of First Eagle's investments, and why Warren Buffett's purchase of Burlington Northern was a mistake.

2009-11-03 The Best Books on Investing by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

Author and fund manager Vitaliy Katsenelson provides us with his list of the best books on investing. It contains six sections: Selling, Think Like an Investor, Behavioral Investing, Economics, Stock Market History, and Books for the Soul.

2009-10-27 Leveraged Index Mutual Funds Evolve to Meet Market Needs by Direxion Funds (Article)

Until recently, leveraged index funds had daily objectives, rebalancing their leverage at the end of each trading day in order to match their stated exposure rate. This characteristic made it necessary for investors to monitor them daily in order to both track and manage the exposure rates applied to their investments in the funds. Direxion Funds has released the first monthly-rebalanced leveraged funds, and they explain how they operate. We thank them for their sponsorship.

2009-10-27 Stay the Course or Plot Another? by Ted A. Ponko, CFA (Article)

Is it reasonable for investors' objectives to change along with major fluctuations in their wealth? In these instances, sticking with the current portfolio may not be the best option - even for long-term investors. In this guest contribution, Ted Ponko of Klein Decisions argues advisors need a reliable way to determine when to stay the course and when to plot another.

2009-09-22 Predictably Irrational - How Investors Frame Decisions by Robert Huebscher (Article)

One of the most provocative sessions at last week's Schwab Impact conference was given by Dan Ariely, who deftly summarized his current research in the important field of behavioral finance. Ariely's message was that, no matter how good their intentions or how deep their experience, people - investors specifically - consistently make the wrong decisions. They behave irrationally, and predictably so.

2009-09-01 Shiller P/E's and Predicting Returns by Joseph A. Tomlinson, FSA, CFP (Article)

It becomes clearer every day that the stock market does not follow a random walk and that there may be some predictability in long-term returns. But there's little agreement on how best to make such predictions. In this guest contribution, advisor Joe Tomlinson takes a look at using price/earnings ratios to predict future stock market performance.

2009-09-01 Dougal Williams Responds: The Failure of Asset Allocation Funds by Dougal Williams, CFA (Article)

Dougal Williams' article two weeks, A Crash Course in Investing: Six Lessons from the Market Meltdown, also drew comments from a reader, who challenged the methodology Williams used when he argued that asset allocation funds have failed to deliver out-performance. Williams responds to those criticisms and offers new evidence of the failure in that fund category.

2009-08-25 Should Investors Hold More Equities Near Retirement? by Ron Surz (Article)

A just-published paper argues that investors should hold more equities as they near retirement, contrary to conventional wisdom and to the glide paths employed by the target date fund industry. Ron Surz examines this research, and argues that the authors of the paper failed to properly consider the risks inherent in such a strategy.

2009-08-25 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

In our letters to the Editor, a reader responds to Dougal Williams' article last week, A Crash Course in Investing: Six Lessons from the Market Meltdown, and other readers respond to our article on Actively Managed TIPS and to an Advisor Market Commentary on healthcare policy.

2009-08-18 Actively Managed TIPS? by Robert Huebscher (Article)

When PIMCO talks, the market listens. But we mustn't forget that the bulk of PIMCO's revenue comes from actively managing bond portfolios so, when they claim that alpha can be earned by actively managing TIPS, a healthy dose of scrutiny is warranted. Our article shows why that scrutiny is justified.

2009-08-04 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

In our letters to the Editor, readers respond to last week's article, How Long is the Long Run?, Geoff Considine's article, The Retirement Portfolio Showdown: Jeremy Siegel v. Zvi Bodie , and Ted Wong's article, Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 3.

2009-07-21 The Retirement Portfolio Showdown: Jeremy Siegel v. Zvi Bodie by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

When investing for retirement over long time horizons, advisors can choose from two apparently conflicting approaches. They can follow the advice of Wharton professor Jeremy Siegel, who has steadfastly advocated equity-centric portfolios, most notably in his highly popular book, Stocks for the Long Run. Or they can listen to Boston University professor Zvi Bodie, who says equities are simply too risky over the long term, and the core of a retirement portfolio should be Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS). Geoff Considine's article shows how to resolve this conflict.

2009-07-21 Q2 2009 Performance among the Most Popular Mutual Funds in the Advisor Perspectives Universe by Robert Huebscher and Mary Pitek (Article)

Each quarter we analyze changes in the Advisor Perspectives database - a $50+ billion universe of high- and ultra-high net worth assets managed by Registered Investment Advisors. Our analysis has three parts. We look at changes in asset allocation, the performance of the most popular mutual funds, and the mutual funds that showed significant gains or losses in popularity during the quarter.

2009-07-07 The True Cost of Volatility by Dan Richards (Article)

Most advisors and investors hate volatility - the up and down hits to clients' long term goals. (To be more accurate, we hate the downs - the ups we don't mind so much.) Dan Richards discusses the big price clients pay for that volatility - not just stress and lost sleep at night, but volatility in portfolios that induces behavior that costs many investors serious money.

2009-06-23 A Mid-Year Letter to Your Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Even with the 40% market recovery since March, many investors are still very anxious and looking for guidance and direction from their advisors. One way to respond to this demand is by sending clients a mid-year letter with your thoughts on where we are today and an outlook for the period ahead. Dan Richards has prepared a template for you to use.

2009-06-16 Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 1 by Theodore Wang (Article)

Buying and holding a diversified portfolio works well during good times, but falls short when supposedly uncorrelated asset classes drop in unison in bear markets. Are there alternative investment strategies that work for all seasons? Ted Wong evaluates strategies using moving averages to determine their effectiveness.

2009-06-09 Changes in Asset Allocation by Robert Huebscher and Mary Pitek (Article)

Each quarter we review changes in the Advisor Perspectives (AP) Universe, which represents $50 billion in high-net worth assets managed by RIAs. Our analysis looks at changes in asset allocation, the mutual funds and ETFs that gained or lost market share, and the performance of the most popular actively managed mutual funds. This analysis focuses on changes in asset allocation.

2009-06-09 Changes in the Most Popular Mutual Funds by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Each quarter we review changes in the Advisor Perspectives (AP) Universe, which represents $50 billion in high-net worth assets managed by RIAs. Our analysis looks at changes in asset allocation, the mutual funds and ETFs that gained or lost market share, and the performance of the most popular actively managed mutual funds. This analysis focuses on the most popular mutual funds.

2009-06-09 Q1 2009 Performance among the Most Popular Mutual Funds in the Advisor Perspectives Universe by Robert Huebscher and Mary Pitek (Article)

Each quarter we review changes in the Advisor Perspectives (AP) Universe, which represents $50 billion in high-net worth assets managed by RIAs. Our analysis looks at changes in asset allocation, the mutual funds and ETFs that gained or lost market share, and the performance of the most popular actively managed mutual funds. This analysis focuses on performance across the most popular mutual funds.

2009-05-26 The Importance of Being Active by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)

New research from Tom Howard of Athenainvest shows buying and holding the typical active US equity fund is a recipe for underperformance. On the other hand, Howard shows that funds actively placing stock selection bets and enjoying recent return success earn increasingly superior returns and experience an improved likelihood of beating the market as the fund ages. Howard argues for the importance of being truly active as a fund manager.

2009-05-26 The Big Issues Facing the Hedge Fund Industry by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Last week, the Argyle Executive Forum hosted its 2009 Hedge Fund Leadership Forum in New York. This event attracted more than 200 leaders from the hedge fund industry, with a series of panel discussions centered on the key issues managers now face. Although the sessions were "off the record," we have summarized the key themes from the discussions.


Website by the Boston Web Company