More on Related Themes
2013-12-07 Interview with Steve Forbes by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
For whatever reason, Steve Forbes seems to bring out the passion in me. When I think about what central bank policies are doing to savers and investors, how we are screwing around with the pension system, circumventing rational market expectations because of an untested economic theory held by a relatively small number of academics, I get a little exercised. And Steve gives me the freedom to do it.
2013-12-06 Like a Shakespearean Script by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors
Shakespearean plays follow a pattern. The underlying plots and storylines change from play to play, but the five-act construction is a common overlap. Market cycles tend to follow a similar pattern cycle after cycle. Like the different plots in various Shakespearean plays, the catalysts that begin and end each cycle, and the events during the cycle are always different. However, market cycles seem to follow a script and, so far, this cycle seems to be following the script almost perfectly.
2013-12-05 10 for \'14 by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors
Each December we publish a list of investment themes that we feel are critical for the coming year. We continue to believe the US stock market will continue its run through one of the largest bull markets of our careers. Our positive outlook extends to the following areas: US Equities, Japanese Equities, European small cap stocks, high yield municipals.
2013-12-03 Turning Over Rocks by Herbert Abramson, Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management
The S&P 500 is at a record high and we believe the markets generally are fully valued. Corporate revenue growth is anemic, profit margins are stretched, and the prospect of earnings rising meaningfully is not high. And, the outlook for the U.S. and global economy is still uncertain. Market psychology is at a level suggesting the market is overbought. Margin debt is at record levels and the current popularity of stocks by retail investors at market highs is in itself a red flag.
2013-12-03 Secular Bull or Secular Bear? by Leo Cesna of Relevant Investments
Applying statistical control limits to Dr. Shiller’s CAPE Index reveals where the S&P 500 is likely headed.
2013-12-02 Japanese Equities: Room to Run by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company
From a behavioral perspective, Japanese equities are showing some very positive signs.
2013-12-02 The Elephant in the Room by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Investors will do themselves terrible harm if they ignore the objective warnings of history based on our subjective experience in this unfinished half-cycle. That subjective experience is far more closely related to my 2009 stress-testing decision than many investors recognize.
2013-11-29 \"Fixed\" Income Investing is Broken by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research
Back in June of this year, the Fixed Income (a.k.a. bond) market may have experienced the defining moment of this generation of investors. The yield on the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond moved above 3.50% for the first time since the summer of 2011. It stands at about 3.80% now. After many fake-outs, this could be the start of a long-term trajectory higher.
2013-11-25 An Open Letter to the FOMC: Recognizing the Valuation Bubble in Equities by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
The Fed has done enough, and perhaps dangerously more than enough. The prospect of dismal investment returns in equities is an outcome that is largely baked-in-the-cake. The only question is how much worse the outcomes will be as a result of Fed policy that has few economic mechanisms other than to encourage speculative behavior.
2013-11-21 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.
2013-11-19 Breaking News! U.S. Equity Market Overvalued! by Ben Inker of GMO
In GMO’s quarterly letter to institutional clients today, co-head of asset allocation Ben Inker outlines the reasoning behind GMO implementing a new forecast methodology for the U.S. stock market. While the new methodology has slightly increased GMO’s seven-year forecast for U.S. equity returns, Ben notes, "The basic point for us remains the same -- the U.S. stock market is trading at levels that do not seem capable of supporting the type of returns that investors have gotten used to receiving from equities."
2013-11-19 Ignoble Prizes and Appointments by Jeremy Grantham of GMO
Chief investment strategist Jeremy Grantham comments on this year’s Nobel Prize in economics and "the most laughable of all assumption-based theories, the Efficient Market Hypothesis"; candidates to succeed Chairman Bernanke at the Fed; the impact of commodity price rises and the housing bubble in the crash of 2008; and prospects for the U.S. equity market.
2013-11-19 Levitate: Dismiss Bubble Talk for Now by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
It’s premature to be calling this market a bubble. Rolling 10 year returns haven’t even reached a long-term mean. Valuation still well below prior bull market peaks.
2013-11-18 Chumps, Champs, and Bamboo by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
At bull market peaks, it often seems that the market is simply headed higher with no end in sight, and “buy-and-hold” appears superior to every alternative. Meanwhile, the reputation of value-conscious investors and risk-managers goes from “champ” to “chump.” Then, the bamboo tree suddenly sprouts, and the entire lag is often replaced by outperformance in less than a year. Only after the fact does the reputation of risk-managed strategies surge from “chump” to “champ.”
2013-11-17 The Unintended Consequences of ZIRP by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Two recently released papers make an intellectual and theoretical case for an extended period of very low interest rates and, in combination with other papers from both inside and outside the Fed from heavyweight economists, make a strong case for beginning to taper sooner rather than later, but for accompanying that tapering with a commitment to an even more protracted period of ZIRP. We are going analyze these papers, as they are critical to understanding the future direction of Federal Reserve policy. Secondly, we’ll look at some of the unintended consequences of long-term ZIRP.
2013-11-13 Twenty Five by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover, Mike Czekaj of Broadleaf Partners
I am not a particularly good salesman. From the time I first meet a prospect to when they become a full-fledged client, it can often take two years even when they initiate the first meeting. Fortunately, growing the firm isn’t one of my primary roles, a responsibility that does fall to Bill Hoover, my business partner. The beauty of our relationship is that while Bill devotes his time to our firm’s “outside” efforts, I am able to spend almost all of my attention tending to the portfolios of those who have already hired us. (View a printable version of this Economic
2013-11-07 EM: The Growth Story That Isn't by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors
We remain very concerned about emerging market stocks and bonds. The recent outperformance of EM stocks is again luring investors to once again touch the hot stove. Emerging markets seem to have some significant structural and cyclical issues about which investors seem unaware or seem to be ignoring.
2013-11-06 Why Worry About a Melt-Up? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
The risk of a melt-up in stocks is garnering more attention; and is something we’ve been discussing recently, too. Sentiment does appear stretched in the near-term and warns of a possible pullback. But there are few, if any, bubble-like conditions present and fundamentals ex-sentiment appear healthy.
2013-11-04 Leash the Dogma by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
It’s fascinating to hear central bankers talk about the economy, because in the span of a few seconds they can say so many things that simply aren’t supported by the evidence. For anyone planning to watch the confirmation hearings for the next Fed Chair, the evidence below is provided as something of a leash to restrain the attacking dogma.
2013-11-02 Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere by John Mauldin of Mauldin Economics
The froth and foam on markets of all shapes and sizes all over the world. It is an exhilarating feeling, and the pundits who populate the media outlets are bubbling over with it. There is nothing like a rising market to help lift our mood. Unless of course, as Prof. Kindleberger famously cautioned, we are not participating in that rising market. Then we feel like losers. But what if the rising market is a bubble? Are we smart enough to ride and then step aside before it bursts? Research says we all think that we are, yet we rarely demonstrate the actual ability.
2013-10-30 The Thermometer of the Stock Market by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
As long-duration owners of common stock, we believe it is the wealth created by the businesses which causes the owners to prosper. We have also been participants in the US stock market since 1980 and are very aware of big swings in enthusiasm for owning common stocks. So we thought it would be helpful to share our opinion on the current temperature of the market. To take the temperature of the market we need to examine the thermometer readings.
2013-10-26 A Code Red World by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The heart of this week’s letter is the introduction of my just-released new book, Code Red. It is my own take (along with co-author Jonathan Tepper) on the problems that have grown out of an unrelenting assault on monetary norms by central banks around the world.
2013-10-25 Why Growth is Deep in the Heart of Texas by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
TIME Magazine’s cover this week features an engaging collage of the 50 states reassembled to fit within the boundaries of Texas. With a growing number of solid-paying jobs, affordable housing, and low taxes, “the Lone Star State is America’s Future,” declares economist and writer Tyler Cowen.
2013-10-23 The Right Investment Vehicle by Craig French of WBI Investments
Remember your first car? You probably had some good times in it passing your driver’s license exam, going to the prom, driving to your first job. You most likely have a different car now that you’re older one more suited to your current lifestyle and needs. I’ll bet your current car is a lot safer and more reliable than that first one. A car is a motor vehicle you use to reach your destination. Like a car, an investment portfolio is a vehicle you use to reach your clients investment goals.
2013-10-22 Bond Legend Dan Fuss on Rising Rates by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Having just celebrated his 80th birthday, Dan Fuss can claim a unique achievement – his tenure in the fixed income markets has spanned a full market cycle, from the great bear market that began in the early 1950s through the equally great bull market that commenced in 1981. Fuss said today’s environment most closely resembles what he confronted in the late 1950s, when long-term rates were 3% and beginning their march upwards.
2013-10-21 Did Monetary Policy Cause the Recovery? by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Much of the present faith in monetary policy derives from the belief that it was the central factor in ending the banking crisis during what is often called the Great Recession. On careful analysis, however, the clearest and most immediate event that ended the banking crisis was not monetary policy, but the abandonment of mark-to-market accounting by the Financial Accounting Standards Board on March 16, 2009, in response to Congressional pressure by the House Committee on Financial Services on March 12, 2009.
2013-10-18 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."
2013-10-08 Forecasting Bond Returns and Evaluating Bond Funds by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
While past performance is not a guarantee of future alpha, it sure is a hint – the skills needed to generate alpha in a given market are likely to be as valuable in one period as in another. This principle is the basis of selecting active managers. How can we adapt it to bond funds, given the larger market forces at work?
2013-10-01 The Eight Principles of Value Investing by Scott Clemons and Michael Kim (Article)
In any environment, but especially one characterized by uncertainty, eight principles of investing are critical. These bedrock beliefs help guide our thinking at the levels of asset allocation, security selection and identification of the third-party managers we engage to help manage our clients’ assets.
2013-09-30 Sitting Ducks by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Stocks are a claim on a very long-term stream of future cash flows that will be distributed to shareholders over time, and P/E ratios are simply a shorthand. P/E ratios are useful only to the extent that the earnings measure being used is reasonably representative and informative about the long-term stream of cash flows what might be called a “sufficient statistic.”
2013-09-25 Bernanke's Temporary Reprieve by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
There is no nice way to state this opinion: the end of Quantitative Easing and the ultimate allowance of the open market to set interest rates will create a grueling multi-decade bear market in US bond investments. Higher rates mean the re-pricing of existing bond instruments to lower prices and the principle risk of longer-dated maturities getting exposed. In 1983, I remember people losing approximately 15% of their market value in one year as Treasury interest rates rose from 11% to 14%, temporarily crushing owners of 25-year tax-free unit trusts.
2013-09-25 Japanese Equities: Is the Bear Market Over? by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company
Japanese equities have spent the last twenty-four years in a secular bear market defined by lower lows and lower highs in market price. There is now hope that a new Prime Minister, and a new brand of economics, will reverse this multi-decade trend.
2013-09-24 William Bernstein – “Stocks for the Long Run” by Michael Edesess (Article)
William Bernstein’s reading of history is that if you want to build a nest egg and protect against the “four horsemen” that threaten it over the long term, the best thing to do is invest in a globally diversified stock portfolio.
2013-09-23 Psychological Ether by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
In my view, the problem with quantitative easing is that its entire effect relies on provoking risk-taking by those who would otherwise choose not to do so; that the FOMC has extended and amplified financial market distortions without regard to the rich valuations and dismal prospective returns that financial assets are most likely priced to achieve; and that this distortion of financial asset prices has precious little to do with the presumptive goal of Fed policy, which is greater job creation and economic activity.
2013-09-20 Rising Interest Rates Must End Soon by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners
The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury bond has risen by more than 84 percent from May to early September, one of the most violent and rapid increases on record. This spike has caused severe convulsions in the bond market, leading many investors to wonder how long the torment can last.
2013-09-20 Will Europe's Improving Economy Push Interest Rates Higher by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased in the second quarter after six straight declines. Data expectations were on the optimistic side, but investors appeared to become more confident before the release, thanks to encouraging evidence from supposedly reliable forward-looking indicators.
2013-09-19 The Curse of the Magazine Cover Indicator by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services
It’s fitting that last week former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson came out to speak about debt issues during a month when Time published a bull on the cover of its magazine. The bull is a symbol of a strong and positive stock market, but it seems whenever a U.S. company makes the cover of a publication, the company is in trouble and that it’s run is at an end.
2013-09-18 Stock Funds' 5-Year Track Records Set to Double by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
Many investors focus on the previous five years annualized return when analyzing which mutual funds to buy. We also pay a good deal of attention to the 5-year performance number when analyzing mutual fund and ETF returns at Halbert Wealth Management. And currently the 5-year average returns for most equity mutual funds are not all that attractive.
2013-09-17 Investing for Real People by Sponsored content by Oppenheimer Funds (Article)
Investor goals are the same, but solutions have changed. Today, aiming to meet basic needs requires new solutions. Laser focus on investor goals will help uncover appropriate investment opportunities. Expanding the opportunity set beyond the usual suspects will be critical to long-term success.
2013-09-16 Baby Steps by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Our view is that the Federal Reserve will taper its program of quantitative easing this week, in the range of a $10-15 billion reduction in the pace of monthly debt purchases. The Fed really has no “communication problem” about this the economic impact of further quantitative easing has had diminishing returns, and the economic drag from fiscal reductions has thus far been smaller than the Fed feared when it justified QEternity on the basis of those concerns last year.
2013-09-14 Nothing But Bad Choices by John Mauldin of Mauldin Economics
Crises in government funding don’t simply arrive on the doorstep unannounced. Their progress toward the eventual Bang! moment is there for all the world to see. The root cause is almost always the same: debt. And whether that debt is actually borrowed or is merely promised to the populace, when the market becomes worried that the ability of the government to fund its promises is suspect, then the end is near. Last week we began a series on what I think is an impending crisis in the unfunded pension liabilities of state and local governments in the United States.
2013-09-13 Invest In Stocks With A Margin of Safety To Reduce Risk And Enhance Returns by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
Of all of the many sound investing principles that legendary teacher and investor Ben Graham put forward, he believed that his concept of “margin of safety” was the most important of all. This investment lesson was so deeply ingrained into the mind of Ben Graham’s most famous student, Warren Buffett, that he created his two most important rules of sound investing. Rule number one: Never lose money. Rule number two: Never forget rule number one. Clearly, both of these renowned sages understood the importance of minimizing risk, especially when investing in equities.
2013-09-13 September Investment Bulletin: Global Equity Strategy by Team of Bedlam Asset Management
Year-to-date end-August the strategy performed well with a gain of 22.2% vs. 14.6% for the benchmark. During the month, the index “tumbled” 3.9%, partly out of fear of foreign military action in Syria and partly that central banks would cease printing money to hold down interest rates commonly known as tapering. Even so, the portfolio held up in August, with a much lesser 2.4% fall, thereby further widening outperformance over the index to 760 basis points so far in 2013.
2013-09-10 The Suit? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
Bernie Cornfeld, of IOS Fund fame, coined the phrase, “Do you really want to be rich?” At the time I was working as a stock broker, and writing investment strategy for E.F.Hutton, having penned in December 1974 that, “I recommend a gradual return to significant common stock accumulation” (I still have that report). I also learned that you have to evaluate the risks, because sometimes when you go after the “big bucks” you lose. Then you end up with small change!
2013-09-09 Market Technicals Signal Trouble Ahead by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent
Bear market enthusiasts have so far been disappointed in September after the sudden market rally last week. With equities up more than 1% on the month, many bears pointed to the historically poor performance of equity markets during this month as a reason to remain cautious. Bear enthusiasts need not fear, as markets appear to be converging toward an inflection point right around the Fed meeting in the middle of the month.
2013-09-04 The Bond Bear is Waking Up by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors
We’ve been bond bears for quite some time, and we still are. The good news is that the violent part of the bear market has passed. We expect a slower, but still painful and consistent, move higher in interest rates during the quarters ahead. The 30-year bull market in bonds is over.
2013-09-04 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management
In August the US Stock Market had its worst month since May 2012 and there are a bunch of interesting issues going into September, including Syria, Problems in Emerging Markets,and Fed tapering.
2013-09-03 As Uncertainty Abounds in September, Sideways Consolidation Continues by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
Global equities struggled last week, with the S&P 500 declining -1.39%.1 Volatility rose from geopolitical uncertainty over the military strike in Syria.2 Oil prices spiked with concerns about escalation and tension but retreated due to dampened international support and expectations that a military campaign would be short-lived. The U.S. Treasury announced its borrowing capacity will be exhausted by mid-October, exposing contentious fiscal battles. Reports mentioned former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers may be leading the succession race for Fed Chairman.
2013-08-29 Don\'t Buy Gold Below the 300-Day Moving Average by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company
Though gold bullion appears to have made a cyclical bottom, its long-term trend remains highly damaged. From a behavioral perspective, the price of gold must surpass its 300-day moving average (currently near $1560) to prove that a secular bull market remains intact. Long-term investors should recognize that the breakdown of April 2013 raised serious questions that have yet to be resolved.
2013-08-27 The Egyptian Coup: an Update by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
In this report, we will update developments in Egypt and discuss how the military’s actions increase the odds of future problems. We will study the military’s goals for the coup. From there, we will examine the Obama administration’s difficult position and how the Egyptian coup has caused a divergence of responses from regional powers. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.
2013-08-27 Surviving a Road Trip by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
The earnings and economic news never seem to quit. And every position, and each action be it buy, sell or hold has commentators and gurus voicing an opinion on every side of the subject. For many investors, it is impossible to sort out the right direction to be heading in, let alone whether you should be on the entrance or the exit ramp for the investments making up your portfolio.
2013-08-26 The Outlook Will Shift as Conditions Shift by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Though I expect that the present cycle will be completed by a market loss on the order of 40-55%, conditions can certainly emerge over the course of this cycle that could warrant a more constructive stance than we have presently, though possibly less extended than we’d like. The most likely constructive opportunity would emerge from a moderate retreat in market valuations, ideally to “oversold” conditions from an intermediate-term perspective, coupled with an early firming in measures of market internals.
2013-08-24 US Equities: Secular Bull Market? by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company
The Dow’s 10-year moving average currently near 11,500 provides one measure of risk in today’s uncertain environment. Though impossible to predict, a reversion to (or through) this long-term average would be entirely normal from a behavioral perspective.
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 Embrace Bottom Up by Herbert and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management
With all the conflicting macro news, some good, some not, and with the S&P 500 and the Dow at new highs while many sectors languish, it is preferable to focus on the little picture not the big one. The big one may currently be more unpredictable than the small one, being bottom up investment in undervalued securities. Those may currently be less popular, but we value investors are naturally driven to buy investments low, that are neglected and unpopular, with the view of selling them high when their popularity is enhanced. Buy low and sell high. Not buy high and sell higher as is now in vogue.
2013-08-21 The Danger of Duration: The Damage Potential of Rising Rates by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments
The Federal Reserve’s initial goals from “The Great Monetary Experiment” are accomplished. Investors could now face the threat of rising bond yields.
2013-08-21 The Big Secret Mutual Fund Companies Are Hiding by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
Do you know that most (if not all) mutual fund and ETF sponsors are keeping vital information about their funds secret from you? We’ll start today’s E-Letter with a discussion about what that valuable information is and why fund companies don’t want you to know about it.
2013-08-19 A Bear Market Is Here: In Bonds! by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors
While it certainly hasn’t made the headlines that it should have, the bond market has been kicked in the teeth. After bottoming at 1.61% on May 1, the yield on the 10-year Treasury Note hit 2.84% on Friday, its highest level in two years the worst bear market move in bonds since the end of the 2008-09 financial panic.
2013-08-19 A Warning Regarding Broken Speculative Peaks by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
We presently observe what might best be called a “broken speculative peak” a strenuously overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising yield syndrome followed by a breakdown in market internals.
2013-08-17 Signs of the Top by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The investment media seems obsessed with the question of whether the Fed will taper. The real question should be not about "tapering" but about credibility. What happens when fundamentals become the narrative as opposed to what the central bank is doing? What happens if the Federal Reserve throws a liquidity party and nobody comes? Today we look at some of the fundamentals. The market is in fact overvalued, but that doesn’t mean it can’t become more overvalued. Is this August 1987 or August 1999?
2013-08-16 The Case for Global Dividends: Valuations and the Impact of Rising Rates by Ehren Stanhope of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management
The S&P 500 Index has risen over 150 percent since March 9, 2009 in what could arguably be deemed the most hated equity rally of all time. The MSCI All Country World Index, one of the broadest global indices, has risen “just” 110 percent since its March 2009 nadir. Evidence indicates that United States (U.S.) investors have not participated in this rallya truly sad state of affairs. It is worthy of noting that over the last several years a number of well known market pundits have viscerally rejected the equity rally due to macroeconomic concerns.
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.
2013-08-10 We Can't Take the Chance by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
What would it have been like to be a central banker in the midst of the crisis in 2008-09? You’d know that you won’t have the luxury of going back and making better decisions five years later. Instead, you have to act on the torrent of information that’s coming at you, and none of it is good. Major banks are literally collapsing, the interbank market is nonexistent and there is panic in the air. Perhaps you feel that panic in the pit of your stomach. This week we’ll perform a little thought experiment to see if we can extrapolate what is likely to happen in when the nex
2013-08-08 Market Melt-Up Catches Defensive Investors by Surprise by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management
Extraordinary returns in the fourth year of a bull market remind us that long-term defensiveness can’t be rationalized. July saw remarkable returns across global equity and fixed income markets, with the exception of U.S. Treasuries. Investors would be well served to ignore media drama and fear mongering and simply follow the fundamentals. Five years spent worrying about Armageddon is too long, but there’s still time to get back to a normal allocation.
2013-08-08 Bond Wars by William Gross of PIMCO
Adaptation is tantamount to survival in the physical world. So argued Darwin, at least, and I am not one to argue with most science and its interpretation of natural laws. Adaptation has been critical as well for the survival of countries during wartime, incidents of which I am drawn to like a bear to honey, especially when they concern WWI. Stick with me for a few paragraphs on this the following is not likely to be boring and almost certainly should be instructive.
2013-07-30 The U.S. Energy Revolution by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
In March 1971, the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC), which allocated oil production for the state of Texas, announced that producers in the state would be allowed a “full allocation.” This was the first time the TRC had allowed Texas producers to supply an unlimited amount of crude oil since WWII.
2013-07-30 Only a Few Light Showers, So Far by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
Last week’s summer storm warning for the stock market has so far yielded just a few summer showers. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 tumbled, but with stronger-than-expected earnings reports across much of the tech sector, the NASDAQ Index moved higher last week.
2013-07-30 Managers Investment Group Webinar: Q&A Session with Eric Rothman by Team of Managers Investment Group
On June 11, 2013 Managers Investment Group (MIG) hosted a webinar “Beyond the Basics: Savvy REIT Investing.” The event featured Eric Rothman of CenterSquare Investment Management1, subadvisor to the Managers Real Estate Securities Fund (MRESX). The event included insightful analysis on where the REIT market has been over the last year and where it might be going for the rest of 2013, followed by a live Question and Answer session. We’ve made the Q&A below available to recap advisor-submitted questions.
2013-07-29 Baked in the Cake by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Once the risk premium is beaten out of stocks, there is no way out, and nothing that can be done about it. Poor subsequent returns, market losses, and the associated destruction of financial security (at least for the bag-holders) are already baked in the cake. This should have been the lesson gleaned from the period since 2000, but because it remains unlearned, it will also become the lesson of the coming decade.
2013-07-25 The Damage Potential of Rising Rates by Michael Temple of Pioneer Investments
The initial goals of the Federal Reserve’s “Great Monetary Experiment” to keep rates low, create negative real yields, spur consumption and cushion the budgetary consequences of fiscal stimulus have largely been accomplished. Investors could now face the threat of rising bond yields. Various bull and bear scenarios might ensue. What are they and what could trigger them? What are the risks to portfolios?
2013-07-24 Average Gas Price Could Hit $4 by Labor Day... Or Not by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
With the recent jump in gasoline prices, several energy analysts are forecasting that prices at the pump will top $4 a gallon (national average) later this summer. On the other hand, some analysts feel that gas prices will only go up another 5-10 cents a gallon just ahead, and then move lower in the fall. Of course, no one knows for sure. Today, we’ll take a look at what’s driving gas prices higher.
2013-07-24 D-Day +1 by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
I have termed last Friday (7/19/13) as D-Day because for the past few months my work has targeted that date as a potential turning point for the equity markets. Given the upside stampede, my sense was/is that “turn” would be to the downside for the first meaningful pullback of the year. In past missives I have elaborated on the reasons and clearly the media has “listened.”
2013-07-23 Fantasy versus Factors by Michael Nairne (Article)
Investors who wish to earn market-beating returns have a choice. They can indulge in the fantastical quest for “alpha” via high-cost active managers or they can construct factor tilts in their equity allocations via low-cost exchange traded or enhanced index funds. It doesn’t take a PhD in mathematics to determine which route is more likely to take an investor to higher performance.
2013-07-23 Risk Communicates Signals that Something Important is at Stake by Robert Mark of Castle Investment Management
The equity markets hit new all-time highs again this past quarter. However, we believe this rally is largely due to Ben Bernanke’s policy of Quantitative Easing (QE) which presently equates to the purchase of $85 billion in U.S. government debt every month. Through the Federal Reserve’s policies our government has effectively printed trillions of dollars since the financial crisis began, arguably inflating a host of asset prices including the stock market.
2013-07-22 The Road to Easy Street by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
The most important part of every studied investment discipline is the diligence to follow it even at points where it is frustrating to do so.
2013-07-19 Challenging a Long-Held Assumption about Commodities by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
It is widely accepted that China spurred higher commodity prices in the past decade. And if the country was the force behind the boom, then the assumption is that China’s lower, but still healthy growth will be a drag on commodity prices. But recent research challenges this assumption.
2013-07-18 The Death of Disasterism by Steven Vincent of BullBear Trading
From late 2012 I have been gradually layering and developing the thesis that a secular bull market started in November of 2012 (with a possible revised start date of June 2012), ending the sideways secular bear market that started in 2000. Here are the basic components of that thesis through the last report.
2013-07-18 An Inconvenient Truth: Bonds Have Vicious Bear Markets Too by Steve Rumsey of Optimus Advisory Group
Over the years, most of us have grown accustomed to the tried and true method of permanently holding bond funds within client accounts. These investment vehicles have come through for us time and time again, providing a cushion to those nasty stock market drops that happen every several years. After all, if we could get high single-digit returns from an asset class that never dropped more than high single-digits, why not buy and hold? As a local mortgage company’s commercial says, "It’s the biggest no-brainer in the history of mankind."
2013-07-15 Rock-A-Bye Baby by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
I’ve always thought that singing “Rock-a-bye baby” offers a bizarre lesson to our young, encouraging them to be lulled gently to sleep by describing a scene that should have them wide-eyed with terror.
2013-07-12 Even My 92- Year-Old Mom Questioned Me! by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
When I told Mom that I was buying gold bullion this week (7/8), she asked, “Are you sure you want to do that?”
2013-07-10 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management
The Bulls returned to stocks this week and bonds got crushed again. Comments out of the ECB, strong data out of Japan, and a good jobs number contributed to the rally, but at the end of the day the market had gotten a bit oversold. Bernanke is scheduled to speak today so if past history repeats itself things could get interesting again. Next week we will get a bunch of Q2 corporate earnings to that could also have quite an impact on the market either way.
2013-07-09 The Five Best New Investment Ideas: New Age Paradigms for the Post-MPT World by Bob Veres (Article)
Over the past four years, I’ve been collecting the most tangible, concrete post-Modern Portfolio Theory insights offered by professional investors.
2013-07-09 The Fed\'s Bind: Tapering, Timetables and Turmoil by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners
There are striking parallels between the dramatic recent sell-off in U.S. Treasuries and the Great Bond Crash of 1994. But the summer of volatility now facing financial markets is no doomsday scenario. Instead, it puts the U.S. Federal Reserve in a bind. Higher interest rates will reduce housing affordability, which is especially troublesome since housing is the primary locomotive of U.S. economic growth.
2013-07-02 Stay the Course as Mixed Signals Move Markets by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Traders stampeded out of gold, emerging markets and bonds this month, setting record monthly outflows in June. Ever since the Federal Reserve hinted in May that signs of a stronger economy could allow for a slowdown of stimulus, markets have protested the news.
2013-07-01 All of the Above by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Market internals remain broken here. That may change, and it might even change soon. Until it does, we would be inclined to tread carefully, because this may be the highest level investors will see on the S&P 500 for quite some time. Choosing between potential catalysts - credit strains in China, the risk of disappointing earnings, or economic weakness, the incoming data is consistent with one conclusion: all of the above.
2013-06-28 Inflation Lags Monetary Expansion: Prepare to be Swindled by JJ Abodeely of Sitka Pacific Capital Management
In May 1977, the consumer price index (CPI), which measures a basket of consumer goods in the U.S. economy, had risen 6.7% from the year before. The indexes had doubled over the previous 15 years, and by 1977 investors were fully aware that the rate of change was increasingi.e. the inflation rate was spiraling higher. By then, this inflationary awareness had worked its way into every corner of the financial markets, as commodities, gold and interest rates rose, and the stock market remained in a deep funk.
2013-06-28 Does Fed “Tapering” Represent Fed Tightening? by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC
It depends. On what? Whether a reduction in the amount by which Federal Reserve purchases of securities increases each month represents a tightening in monetary policy depends on how much loans and securities on the books of private depository institutions (i.e., commercial banks, S&Ls and credit unions) change each month. Whether Fed monetary policy gets more restrictive or more accommodative when Fed the Fed begins to taper the amount of securities its purchases per month depends on what happens to the growth in the SUM of Fed credit and depository institution credit.
2013-06-28 Stay the Course As Mixed Signals Move Markets by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
We maintain that gold is in extremely oversold territory and mathematically due for a reversal toward the mean. Yet when gold prices plummet, fear takes over and some investors forget the fundamental reasons to own gold: Gold is a portfolio diversifier and a store of value. It is a finite resource with increasing global demand.
2013-06-26 Perspective by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
When you look down the road of life, the items closest in time loom largest and seem most significant. But over a lifetime we learn that while items far away may appear small, they can actually be larger, and much more important.
2013-06-26 Win Ben's Money by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
From 1997 to 2003 a show called,” Win Ben Stein’s Money” ran on the Comedy Central Network. The last five years, investors in the US have been playing a very similar game we are calling, “Win Ben’s Money”. The new game stars Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Ben Bernanke. The object is to win the money the Fed creates via Quantitative Easing (QE) through macroeconomic analysis. In this missive, we will look at how these investors chased Ben’s Money and consider what to do going forward.
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 Stay the Course by Douglas Hodge of PIMCO
It is that time of the year again. As school schedules give way to summer vacations, many families will be packing up the SUV to head to one of this nation’s amazing national parks. Years ago, my young family traveled to Yellowstone National Park, home of Yogi Bear and Old Faithful. The requisite float trip down the Snake River was arranged and a good time was had by all a bit of spray but nothing too jarring. Only days later, I returned to the Snake River and had the ride of a lifetime.
2013-06-24 Market Internals Suggest a Shift to Risk-Aversion by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Our primary attention here is on market internals. If they improve, I expect that we’ll adopt at least a moderately constructive view. Presently, however, my impression is that investors have shifted from risk-seeking to risk-aversion. This shift is not because of a hawkish Fed, but in spite of a dovish one - something more appears to be going on. It’s tempting to wait until a stronger and more specific “catalyst” emerges, but the financial markets have demonstrated repeatedly over time that market losses come first, and the catalyst becomes evident afterward.
2013-06-24 \"Fixed\" Income Investing Is Broken by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research
Herb Brooks, who coached the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” U.S. Olympic Hockey Team to its unlikely win over the Soviet Union, included that quote as part of what I consider to be the best motivational speech in sports history. He was talking about his team and their Russian opponents. He might as well have been talking about bond investors on June 20, 2013.
2013-06-24 How Does the Fed's Recent Action Compare to EM Central Banks? by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments
In an interview on Bloomberg Radio with Tom Keene and Ken Prewitt, I shared my thoughts on the Fed’s recent announcement that it would continue its QE efforts for the time being. If you missed the segment, I’ve summarized that conversation here for you.
2013-06-21 Tapering the Taper Talk by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital
As usual the Federal Reserve media reaction machine has fallen for a poorly executed head fake. It has been fooled by this move many times in the past and for its efforts it has tackled nothing but air. Yet right on cue, it took the bait once more. Somehow the takeaway from Wednesday’s release of the June Fed statement and the Bernanke press conference is that the Central bank is likely to begin scaling back, or "tapering," it’s $85 billion per month quantitative easing program sometime later this year, and that the program may be completely wound down by the middle of next year.
2013-06-21 What\'s an Investor to do in Markets like These? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
What should an investor do after a day like yesterday? Stay calm and invest on, as I believe there is opportunity in picking up what the bears left behind. Here are a few ideas to ponder.
2013-06-20 The Best Time to Invest by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments
I frequently speak at investment conferences around the world, and get questions ranging from my outlook for a particular market to highly sophisticated investment concepts. One seemingly simple question asked by a young lady years ago at a conference in Canada which I attended with the founder of Templeton Investments, the late Sir John Templeton, was particularly timeless. She asked: “I’ve just inherited some money from my grandfather. When is the best time for me to invest it?”
2013-06-19 The Game of Risk by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
Ten years ago the COMP was changing hands around 5132. It is now trading at 3423 for a 13-year loss of some 33.3%. Meanwhile, over that same timeframe, the earnings of the S&P 500 are up 83%, nominal GDP is better by some 57.6%, and interest rates are substantially below where they were back then. If you are a college professor such statistics do not “foot” with your teachings because professors tend to believe stock returns are all about earnings and interest rates. I concur, but would add the caveat, “That is if you live long enough.”
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 Sloppy Markets Continue by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
Last week the S&P 500 declined 0.97%,1 while many global equity averages fell for the fourth week in a row. Early in the week, discussion of tapering by the Federal Reserve was a big headwind, as discomfort over a slower pace of policy accommodation rippled through global markets. Thursday’s rally was driven by thoughts that tapering fears may be overdone. Markets were also helped by better employment and consumption data.
2013-06-15 Economists Are (Still) Clueless by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The economic forecasts of mainstream economists are quite positive, if not enirely optimistic, reflecting the current data. Should we not take heart from that? Alas, no. This week we look at some of our recent musings on that topic, triggered by a letter from a very serious economist who took umbrage when I wrote disparagingly about economists and forecasting a couple months ago.
2013-06-14 The Sustainability of Managed Futures Returns by Robert Keck of 6800 Capital
Many investors have begun to question the efficacy of an investment in managed futures given the most recent two years of negative performance for the industry as a whole at a time when U.S. equity prices have been achieving multi‐year highs. The concern is not so much the magnitude of the losses incurred by the managed futures industry during this period; in many cases they are relatively small in comparison to the size of the drawdowns experienced by many other asset classes such as equities, real estate, fixed income, etc., during peak periods of market stress.
2013-06-14 Which Way for Bonds? Mapping a Path Forward by Bill Gross of PIMCO
In 1980, the Federal Reserve, led by Paul Volcker, tightened the quantitative noose to tame double-digit inflation, fueling an unprecedented tailwind for bond prices. Thirty years later we find ourselves at the other extreme, as central banks print money in the trillions of dollars to stimulate economic growth, and inflation is abnormally low. While we are not likely to see a repeat of that type of bull market any time soon, we also do not believe we are at the beginning of a bear market for bonds.
2013-06-12 5 Reasons Not to Flee Non-US Dividend Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
“As bond yields rise, is it time to flee dividend stocks?” Russ explains why the answer is, no, at least when it comes to international dividend payers.
2013-06-11 Bursting the Bond Bubble Babble by Andy Martin (Article)
Interest rates will eventually go up. The 50-basis-point spike in May on the 10-year Treasury bond may have been the beginning. But despite industry and media assertions, history shows that there is nothing to fear from rising rates.
2013-06-11 And Like Clockwork... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital
And like clockwork, stocks bounced both from their very short term oversold point and off the 50 day moving average on Wednesday...
2013-06-10 2009 vs. 2013 by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
One of the most strongly held beliefs of investors here is the notion that it is inappropriate to “Fight the Fed” reflecting the view that Federal Reserve easing is sufficient to keep stocks not only elevated, but rising. What’s baffling about this is that the last two 50% market declines both the 2001-2002 plunge and the 2008-2009 plunge occurred in environments of aggressive, persistent Federal Reserve easing.
2013-06-10 Dad\'s Rules: Timeless Wisdom From a Fallen Investment Hero by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research
Once I publish a blog post, I immediately start thinking of a topic for the next one. At this time last week, I decided to focus today’s blog on the concept of “trading turnover” that is, how long you hold something you bought, until you sell it. It seems that with the stock market on a four-year tear and the bond market threatening to fall apart at any moment, it is a great time for investors to prioritize the most basic investment rule: buy low / sell high.
2013-06-06 A Longer Time Horizon Can Be an Advantage for Value Investors by Mark Cooper of PIMCO
We believe that given challenging prospects for attractive investment returns, the value premium could become even more important in the years ahead. Even in an uncertain environment like we are currently experiencing, we believe the merit in owning equities for the long term is unchanged: We want to participate as an owner in a growing, profitable business.
2013-06-06 The Wisdom of Crowds by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners
Are markets efficient? This is a debate that has been on-going for decades. In one corner you have the proponents of the Efficient Markets Hypothesis. In their world alpha does not exist, or at the very least it is not sustainable. In the other corner you have the supporters of behavioural finance who see investors as being mostly irrational and suffering from all sorts of behavioural biases which create alpha opportunities galore. Out of this long lasting stand-off a new paradigm is emerging called the Adaptive Markets Hypothesis which aims to reconcile the two.
2013-06-03 Following the Fed to 50% Flops by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
One of the most strongly held beliefs of investors here is the notion that it is inappropriate to “Fight the Fed” reflecting the view that Federal Reserve easing is sufficient to keep stocks not only elevated, but rising. What’s baffling about this is that the last two 50% market declines both the 2001-2002 plunge and the 2008-2009 plunge occurred in environments of aggressive, persistent Federal Reserve easing.
2013-05-31 Buying Stampede by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
Over the long weekend I decided to type the words “buying stampede” into Google to see what popped up. To my surprise there were more than 2,000,000 “hits” on the phrase “buying stampede” and many of them were attributed to me. While that was a pretty humbling experience, it also was surprising because I would have thought more investors would have used that phrase in connection with the many upside rally skeins that have occurred over the past dozen years.
2013-05-30 Cyclical Securities: Too Early? by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
We have been making a number of arguments about various asset classes over the last three years and we would like to keep our readers very aware of the progress being made in these markets. We have argued that a secular bear market is in place for commodities and US company shares which are attached to the commodity cycle. Additionally, we maintain that there is a secular bear market operating under the surface in emerging equity markets. We believe that July of 2011 was the beginning of the secular bear market involving a number of asset classes beyond just commodities and emerging markets.
2013-05-30 Are We There Yet? by Vitaliy Katsenelson of Investment Management Associates
I started writing my first book, Active Value Investing: Making Money in Range-Bound Markets, in 2005; finished it in 2007; and published the second, an abridged version of the first (The Little Book of Sideways Markets), in 2010. In both books I made the case that there is a very high probability that we are in the midst of a secular sideways market a market that goes up and down, with a lot of cyclical volatility, but ends up going nowhere for a long time.
2013-05-30 Perfect by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
Normally, May is a perfect time to visit New York City. The snow is gone, spring is in the air, Broadway readies for its Tony celebration, and people just seem friendlier. While there were plenty of friendly vibes from the populace when I visited on company business last week, and it is a super season on Broadway (“Motown” and “Kinky Boots” look to lead the list of new musicals they were terrific), the weather was abysmal cold and very rainy. They even had snow in parts of New York as the weekend began.
2013-05-29 Investors Shun Stocks But Cling To Bonds - Why? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
he Halberts are out of town celebrating our son’s graduation from college on the sunny beaches of southern Florida. In place of my usual writing, I have chosen to reprint an excellent article from The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Zweig on investor behavior. The WSJ writer keys in on a new investor survey from Blackwater, Inc., one of the largest money management firms in the world (almost $4 trillion in customer assets). Blackwater surveyed investors that have at least $50,000 in investable assets. The findings are almost sure to surprise you.
2013-05-28 Economic Climate Change & the Long-Term View on Yields by Sponsored Content from Loomis Sayles (Article)
Will rates rise? It’s a logical question. US Treasury yields have been in a secular downward trend since the 1980s and almost frozen at historic lows for the last several months. While recent cyclical improvements suggest the US economy is heating up, we do not expect interest rates to start soaring to record highs. The interest rate environment will eventually undergo climate change, but the process will be gradual. There are secular headwinds cooling rates, and we expect them to persist for years to come.
2013-05-28 Rock, Paper, Scissors by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
There’s a sort of rock-paper-scissors relationship to financial indicators. Trend following factors typically trump valuations alone, while overvalued, overbought, overbullish syndromes trump trend-following and monetary considerations. Monetary factors tend to be most effective as confirmation of other measures, particularly of trend-following factors, but only in the absence of overvalued, overbought, overbullish syndromes.
2013-05-28 You Now Have All of Our Attention by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital
Mr. Bernanke’s opening statement was just what the market wanted to hear... "Premature tightening of monetary policy could lead interest rates to rise temporarily but would also carry a substantial risk of slowing or ending this economic recovery and causing inflation to fall further".
2013-05-24 Remarkable Resilience by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
We saw how the prospect of a sooner pullback in purchases in bonds by the Fed rattled the market both in the US and globally, but the picture, to us, has not changed to any great degree. A very gradual pullback, not even going to zero, in quantitative easing due to an improved economic situation doesn’t spell disaster to us. We continue to urge investors to pay attention to both sides of the risk equation when making decisions and to keep the longer-term perspective in mind. Short-term swings are inevitable, but should not be the basis for sound decision making.
2013-05-22 Is There Value in Today's Stock Market by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Due to the recent strength in the US stock market, we thought it would be helpful to followers of Smead Capital Management to understand the history of our core investment beliefs and where our portfolio is in relation to those core beliefs. A review of the ongoing tension between valuation mattering dearly and the enormous benefits of long-term business ownership is especially interesting after a significant upward move in the stock market. How do you keep turnover and trading expense low, while maintaining a meaningful margin of safety?
2013-05-20 Not in Kansas Anymore by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Knowing where you are doesn’t mean that you’re leaving, but you should still know where you are.
2013-05-16 Where Are the Bears? Evidence vs. Anecdotes in Assessing Market Sentiment Over a Full Market Cycle by JJ Abodeely of Sitka Pacific Capital Management
Imagine the stock market as a national park with just three kinds of animals: bulls, bears, and pigs. The saying “bulls make money, bears make money, pigs get slaughtered” conveys the idea that one can be bullish or bearish and be successful depending on the market environment, whereas greedy pigs are almost always set up for catastrophe.
2013-05-15 The Great Capitulation by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors
If you were to browse the virtual bookshelves of Amazon, some of the latest titles do not seem overly optimistic about the future. In Niall Ferguson’s The Great Degeneration, he examines why civil society is in complete “free fall”. Another recent “pick me up” entitled The Great Deformation, by former Reagan budget director David Stockman, discusses the negative impacts of Washington’s political dysfunction to our democracy.
2013-05-14 Who is Henry Singleton? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
The year was 1974 and Teledyne (TDY/$77.56/Outperform), on a split-adjusted basis, was trading at about $0.05 per share. By 1986 it was changing hands around $75 per share. Unfortunately, back in 1974 I didn’t have enough money to buy more than 10 shares, having lived through the devastating bear market of 1973 1974 where the D-J Industrial Average (INDU/15118.49) lost 47% of its value.
2013-05-13 Skills, Education, and Employment by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
It is graduation time, and this morning finds me swimming in a sea of fresh young faces as a young friend graduates, along with a thousand classmates. But to what? I concluded my final formal education efforts in late 1974, in the midst of a stagflationary recession, so it was not the best of times to be looking for work. It turned out that I had a far different future ahead of me than I envisioned then. But I would trade places with any of those kids who graduated today, as my vision of the next 40 years is actually very optimistic.
2013-05-13 Closing Arguments: Nothing Further, Your Honor by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Nothing further, your honor. I am resting my case.
2013-05-08 Screaming “Bear Market Rally\" by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
In the summer of 2009, I was a regular guest on CNBC shows like “Larry Kudlow”. We believe we were invited to participate in those panel discussions because we were the token “bull” in the conversation and I am obnoxious enough to state my piece against significant mental and verbal opposition. The US stock market had bottomed in March of 2009 and rallied explosively into the late spring and early summer. What reminded me of this is the news coverage and expert reaction to the recent collapse in commodity prices, especially gold and corn.
2013-05-08 6.7 Million “Missing Workers” Where Did They Go? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
Today we will touch several bases. We begin with last Friday’s unemployment report which was hailed by the mainstream media, but had a lot of bad news to go with the good. From there we look at the estimated 6.7 million “missing workers” in this economy and ponder if they’re permanently gone from the employment rolls.
2013-05-08 Absolute Return Letter: In the Long Run We Are All in Trouble by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners
In the long run we are all dead, said Keynes. Maybe so, but we could be in trouble long before then. Investors appear preoccupied with central bank policy. We argue that investors are quite right in keeping their eye on the ball but, to us, it looks as if they are focusing on the wrong ball. The real worries for the long term are demographics and negative real interest rates and the effect these factors may have on equity returns.
2013-05-07 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
The agonizing process of building momentum from a bear market economy has initiated a number of trends that remind us that time can be either an ally or foe. Inconsistent in its nature, a market’s response from dire lows is not always a pleasure to watch.
2013-05-07 Why Did Gold Prices Fall So Sharply? by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments
April’s sharp decline in gold got people’s attention. Plunging from $1,561 to $1,347/oz on April 12 and 15, it was a staggering decline of 13.7% the biggest 2-day drop since 1983. Is anything significant going on behind the scenes? We believe this price action is not a new phenomenon for gold, but a continuation of a much bigger trend that has been in place since the third quarter of 2011.
2013-05-07 Quarterly Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital Management
In his April 2013 commentary, PIMCO’s Bill Gross wrote, “PIMCO’s epoch1, Berkshire Hathaway’s epoch, Peter Lynch’s epoch, all occurred or have occurred within an epoch of credit expansion What if an epoch changes? What if perpetual credit expansion and its fertilization of asset prices and returns are substantially altered? What if a future epoch favors lower than index carry or continual bouts of 2008 Lehmanesque volatility ?”
2013-05-03 Pring Turner Approach to Business Cycle Investing by Team of AdvisorShares
Like the seasons of the year, the environment for bonds, stocks, and commodities progress in a repeatable and sequential fashion. A gardener understands it is difficult to plant in the winter because nothing grows. The same is true for the financial seasons in the business cycle, where investors can use knowledge of the sequence to create a financial market roadmap. This paper from Pring Turner Capital Group, one of our valued sub-advisors, takes you through the six-stages of the business cycle.
2013-05-02 “Twin Peaks” Target Achieved, What\'s Left? by Doug Ramsey of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management
Pithy sound bites aren’t our forte. So when we came up with the “Twin Peaks” idea (last decade’s S&P 500 highs of 1527 and 1565) a few months back, we hoped we’d stumbled on a market theme that might last a while. That wish was dashed on March 28th, when the S&P 500 exceeded its October 2007 peak of 1565.15.
2013-05-01 The Road to Omaha: Volatility or Wealth Creation by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
This is the last installment in our five part series called “The Road to Omaha”. In this series of missives we have looked at the keys to the investing success of Warren Buffett leading up to the 2012 annual meeting.
2013-04-29 When Rich Valuations Meet Poor Economic Data by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Given the full set of market conditions that we observe, including the persistent overvalued, overbought, overbullish syndrome that has developed in recent months, our concerns about stocks are not dependent on the direction of the economy over the coming quarters. An economic downturn would simply add immediacy to those concerns.
2013-04-26 The Sustainability of U.S. Interest Rates Rising by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments
Investors are growing concerned, with good reason, we think, that yields have bottomed for the 10-year Treasury and will surge as the economy gains strength. Prices, which move inversely to yields, would fall, and the question is whether rising rates in 2013 could trigger a bond bear market along the lines of the Great Bond Bear Market of 1994. We don’t think so.
2013-04-24 The 5% Problem: Double Jeopardy for Traditional Bond Investors by Nathan Rowader of Forward Management
Investors have suffered with low yields, but profited from rising bond values during the 30-year bull market for bonds. We believe the bond market is moving into a bearish phase, putting the value of existing bond holdings at risk. A variety of income-producing options are available for those who want to diversify bond portfolios and seek better yields. Historical analysis shows that a diversified portfolio would have outperformed traditional bonds during the last bear bond market and in periods of rising interest rates.
2013-04-22 The Endgame is Forced Liquidation by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Rule o’ Thumb: When the cover of a major financial magazine features a cartoon of a bull leaping through the air on a pogo stick, it’s probably about time to cash in the chips.
2013-04-19 Gold Buyers Get Physical As Coin and Jewelry Sales Surge by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Even with the gold price dropping, why are gold coins selling at a premium? It’s Economics 101: The coin supply is limited and the demand is high. This buying trend isn’t only occurring in the U.S. In Bangkok, Thailand, for example, crowds of buyers were filling stores, eagerly waiting in multiple lines to purchase gold jewelry and coins.
2013-04-18 The Lure of Hedge Funds by John West of Research Affiliates
Investors often buy what they think is exciting, sophisticated, and complex with the embedded assumption that all of these attributes will lead to greater returns. We see this today where we witness the continued explosive growth of hedge funds. But, a careful examination of the data reveals that these fancy lures fail to hook as much in excess, after-fee returns as more time tested strategies.
2013-04-17 In the Category of Sign Spinners by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital
If you thought the plunge in Gold prices was tough on those long the precious metal, wait until you see the upcoming hit to the April Non-Farm Payrolls in the category of Sign Spinners...
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.
2013-04-16 All That Glitters by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
Gold prices officially fell into bear market territory on Friday. With a 4% decline that day, the current drop in the price of gold from its August 22, 2011 top crossed the negative 20% mark. Today as I write this, the precious metal is down another 10% plus.
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.
2013-04-15 Is Gold Signaling a Secular Bull Market in Common Stocks? by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company
Gold is an asset that some people love to hate. Intelligent investors, however, should keep an open mind toward the shiny metal and the message it conveys.
2013-04-15 The (Up) Beat Goes On, Part II by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
We wrote Part I of this theme on February 11 during the first quarter rally, when the S&P 500 closed the week at 1518. This past week the S&P ended at 1589, after increasing 2.3%. Global stock prices continue to push to new highs and thus provide support for a pro-equity bias. One nuance is that the composition of the equity rally has been abnormally defensive.
2013-04-15 Increasingly Immediate Impulses to Buy the Dip (or, How to Blow a Bubble) by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
A tendency toward increasingly immediate attempts by investors to buy every dip in the market reflects a broadening consensus among investors that there is no direction other than up, and that any correction, however, small, is a buying opportunity. As investors clamor to buy ever smaller dips at increasing frequency, the slope of the market’s advance becomes diagonal or parabolic. This is one of the warning signs of a bubble.
2013-04-12 The Great Secret by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
When I was a young boy, I remember my father coming home looking very ashen from a visit with a dear friend dying in the hospital. His name was Dell Zink and he was one of my father’s closest friends. Mr. Z, as we kids affectionately called him, was a very religious man; a man who was regarded by his friends as intelligent and philosophical.
2013-04-04 Sound Fundamentals but Fatigue in the Markets by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners
Although economic fundamentals continue to strengthen, the run-up in asset prices that has unfolded over the past half-year appears to be at risk of a temporary set-back.
2013-04-03 Why This Economic \"Recovery\" is So Weak by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
We start today with an excellent editorial I read last week written by Mort Zuckerman, Editor-In-Chief of U.S. News & World Report. My goal every week is to do a lot of reading and summarize what I’ve learned in these pages week in and week out. But every now and then I run across something so good that it just makes sense to reprint it in its entirety, even if it’s not my own work. Not many of my contemporaries are willing to do that, as they think it makes them look less scholarly. I don’t have that problem.
2013-04-01 We Should Already Have Learned How This Will End by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
The bear market losses that complete each market cycle have different catalysts. Some feature recession, some feature inflation, some feature credit events, but nearly all feature a spike in risk premiums from levels that have become both low and complacent. That’s the underlying risk that overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yield conditions have reliably identified over time.
2013-04-01 A Fresh Milestone by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
Last Thursday the S&P 500 (SPX/1569.19) notched a new all-time causing Ms. Scaggs to pen the aforementioned story in Friday’s Wall Street Journal. I was particularly interested in a sentence further down in the article that read, “The rally in stocks comes as investors warm up to stocks for the first time in years.” That prose sparked memories of an era gone by.
2013-03-27 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Even after a global market surge that virtually “wiped away” the four year bear market, equities still seem to be the best game in town. Corporate and individual investors are flocking back to a haven they had abandoned in favor of bonds when, in an era long ago, yields and credit rating offered them a secure place to park money.
2013-03-27 Mark Hulbert: Our Kindred Spirit by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Mark Hulbert and I started in the investment business in 1980. He chose to create a business out of analyzing the results and psychological implications of investment newsletter writers. At Smead Capital Management, we formed a business to analyze publicly-traded US common stocks through the prism of our eight proprietary criteria. We enjoy his unbiased third-party opinions on current circumstances and his consistently good historical perspective.
2013-03-25 The Hook by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
At the 2000 peak, Richard Russell observed "Every bull and bear market needs a hook.’ The hook in a bear market is whatever the bear serves to keep investors and traders thinking that everything is going to be all right. There is always a hook."
2013-03-19 The Outlook for Equities by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital Management
It doesn’t take much to get me started on a memo. In this case one sentence was enough, in an article from the February 4 online edition of Pensions & Investments, as described by FierceFinance on February 28: “The long-term equity risk premium is typically between 4.5% and 5%.”
2013-03-18 Investment, Speculation, Valuation, and Tinker Bell by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
The most important questions investors should be asking are these: what do they know that can be demonstrated to be true; and what do they believe that can be demonstrated to be untrue. It is best to make these distinctions deliberately, lest the financial markets clarify these distinctions for investors later, against investors’ will, and at great cost.
2013-03-13 Who Cares if There's a High-Yield Bond Bubble? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
High-yield bonds, or "junk bonds" as they are widely known, have received a lot of attention in recent months. Is there a high-yield bond bubble? Certainly a ton of new money has gone into high-yield bond funds over the last few years. Millions of Americans who would have never considered high-yield bonds have bought in due to near zero returns on traditional savings vehicles.
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.
2013-03-11 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.
2013-03-11 Who's Selling And Who's Buying As The Dow Trades In Record Territory? by John Rothe of Riverbend Investment Management
Last week turned out to be another positive week for investors, as the S&P 500 finished the week up 2.2 percent. However, as my regular readers know, I consider the current market risk high, and have been building a case these past few weeks that we will soon be entering a bear market.
2013-03-08 Our Five Year Forecast by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs
We believe that predicting short term swings in the market is an exercise in humility. Longer-term market predictions can have some value, but they should be based on a form of valuation methodology of the underlying securities which make up the market of choice, and a consideration of the current mood of the market participants should also be included.
2013-03-07 80's Bull Redux by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors
We have thought for some time that the current bull market might be one of the strongest of our careers, and could potentially rival the 1980s bull market. Although this current cycles construction is quite different from the 1980s bull market, there are many aspects of this market that are curiously similar.
2013-03-07 Three Dimensions of Discipline by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments
As New Year's resolutions fade into guilty memories, it's a bitter reminder that maintaining discipline, in life and investing, is just plain hard. Despite best intentions, bear markets can tempt investors to sell everything, while bull markets can whip people into a buying frenzy, both courses of action that rarely end happily.
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.
2013-03-05 The Magic of Compound Interest by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
When compound interest works in your favor, it is a blessing. When it works against you, it's a curse! That is a "Jeffreism" I learned the hard way back in the bear market of the early 1970s when I was working for a $100 per week in this business and consequently had my credit cards levered to the "max." The interest rate at the time was 18%.
2013-03-04 Reminiscences of Marty Zweig: What I Learned From a Market Great by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
Wall Street loses one of its greats. Remembering Marty's contributions to my career... and investors everywhere. Marty epitomized humility and civilityboth in short order today.
2013-03-04 Out On A Limb - An Investor's Guide to X-treme Monetary and Fiscal Conditions by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Massive policy responses, directed toward ineffective ends, are scarcely better than no policy response at all. A look at the current monetary and fiscal policy environment, as well as more effective policy initiatives, and why they make sense.
2013-02-27 Specializing in Tax-Friendly Investment Strategies by Jim Tillar, Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup
Since the turn of the century (2000) investors have not had to think much about tax-friendly investment strategies due to two major bear markets. But times have changed. The stock market is near all-time highs and many, if not all, of investors' loss carry forwards have been used up. More importantly, the Obama administration has already raised tax rates on the wealthy and the outlook is for tax increases to broaden as part of the solution to taming our debt and deficit problems. The bottom line is that investors need a new strategy for this environment.
2013-02-20 Trying And Failing To Make The Math Work For Long-Term Bonds by Doug Ramsey, Eric Weigel of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management
For the past 31 1/2 years, owners of 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds have earned "real" total returns of 6.7%on par with the long-term real return to equities. Long before government bonds matched real stock returns, they suffered a 55-year period that offered investors a real return of zero. The short-term implications of higher U.S. Treasury rates on asset allocation decisions.
2013-02-19 Ducks, Swans and Old People by Mariko Gordon (Article)
Today we talk about experience. Specifically, why it's overrated and how an understanding of history helps you, as an investor, spot inflection points and exploit misunderstandings on the part of other investors.
2013-02-19 A Technical Look At The Current Market by John Rothe of Riverbend Investment Management
The S&P 500 Index has been rising consistently this year, leading many to wonder if this is the start of a new long-term bull market. Volatility has been low and market commentary from the financial media continues to be positive. Everything looks great right? Unfortunately, when we dig deeper into the underlying components of the market, we are actually in a high risk environment that may potentially harm investors who are too bullish.
2013-02-19 The Siren's Song of the Unfinished Half-Cycle by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
If there is one fatal siren's song of investing, it is the belief that an unfinished half of the market cycle will remain unfinished.
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.
2013-02-11 Shall We Dance? by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
My impression is that the worst investment outcomes have typically followed appeals to the idea that "this time is different," and "you've got to dance as long as the music is playing."
2013-02-05 Comparing Advisors to Jim Cramer: Measuring your Professional Alpha by Bob Veres (Article)
Jim Cramer, Suze Orman and other so-called investment pundits and gurus are constantly telling consumers that they can do a great job of managing their portfolios on their own. Let's look at what the research has to say about the various investment performance benefits that advisors should be able to give their clients during the accumulation phase of their lives – excess returns above what do-it-yourself investors could obtain on their own. I call those excess returns 'professional alpha.'
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.
2013-02-05 Are We There Yet? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
Last week we talked about the numerous commentators urging investors to buy the dips. We pointed out that many of them (unlike many of the Flexible Plan strategies) were under invested during the stock market rally that began last November and thus were simply trying to finally get on the market band wagon.
2013-02-05 Currency War or Something Altogether Different? by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners
"Who is afraid of currency wars?" asks Gavyn Davies in the FT. I have known Gavyn for 25 years and have to confess that he is way out of my league intellectually. He is one of the smartest people I have ever met and, thankfully, also one of the humblest. He rarely gets things wrong so, when I occasionally disagree with him, it always makes me slightly uneasy.
2013-02-04 Some Seasonal Blips by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments
We had a week of big numbers last week of which GDP, Personal Income, Durable Goods, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence, payrolls and the FOMC were the ones that had our attention. We went to print a little earlier this week, so missed the NFPs. But this is what came at us. First GDP. There's a spin to be told but here are the raw numbers with the center column the one that caught markets wrong-footed.
2013-02-04 A Reluctant Bear's Guide to the Universe by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
In recent years, I've gained the reputation of a "perma-bear." The reality is that I'm quite a reluctant bear, in that I would greatly prefer market conditions and prospective returns to be different from what they are. There's no question that conditions and evidence will change, unless the stock market is to be bound for the next decade in what would ultimately be a low-single-digit horserace with near-zero interest rates. For my part, I think the likely shocks are larger, and the potential opportunities will be greater than investors seem to contemplate here.
2013-02-01 For All the Sad Words of Tongue and Pen... by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
"For all the sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: It might have been." ... John Whittier; an influential American Quaker poet. Certainly, American poet John Greenleaf Whittier's apothegm has stood the test of time, serving as a universal lament for what "might have been." I was reminded of this maxim last week as Wall Street heard increasing laments from investors on the Street of Dreams.
2013-01-31 Making Sense of Low Volatility Investing by Feifei Li of Research Affiliates
Why do low volatility stocks outperform riskier ones over time? Dr. Feifei Li, our Head of Research and my long-time collaborator, has focused on understanding the theoretical foundation underpinning the low volatility anomaly and documenting the strategy's risk-return characteristics in developed and emerging markets. In this issue of Simply Stated, our newsletter focusing on investor education, she summarizes the literature on the low volatility effect as well as provides additional insights from her own research based on an expanded global data set.
2013-01-30 Taking a Dip? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
In the cold Midwest in January, the only talk of dips tends to be at Super Bowl parties or during the annual Polar Bear Club celebrations when a few hardy, scantily clad individuals jump into the frigid winter waters. Of course, in the summer those dips are much more inviting, following which a double "dipped" cone from the ice cream parlor has plenty to recommend it. But tune in to any financial news program or pick up your favorite financial read and you'll see that dips are all the rage. In this case, the reference is to "buying on dips."
2013-01-30 Expanding Horizons: The Most Difficult Environment for Generating Income in 140 Years by Ehren Stanhope, Travis Fairchild of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management
In the most difficult environment for generating income in 140 years, we survey the landscape of income-generating options, review lessons from the previous bond Bear Market, and demonstrate why we believe global, dividend-paying equities deserve a prominent role in investor portfolios.
2013-01-28 Capitulation Everywhere by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
The bears are gone, extinct, vanished. Among the ones remaining, many are people whom even I would consider to be either permabears or nut-cases. And yet, the historical evidence for major defensiveness has rarely been stronger.
2013-01-25 Opine Less, Think More by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management
In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks at investing from a broad perspective and goes over in detail some of the macro themes he is examining as he tries to help the reader make sense of what 2013 will bring. He discusses potential "black swans" that he has his eye on, the bounceback of American and European stock markets, the sometimes overlooked lack of a correlation between economic growth and stock market performance, what P/E ratios tell us both historically and in the present, and where valuations can go from here.
2013-01-22 Sunglasses and Cockroaches – Six Rules for Surviving in a Bear Market by Michael Skocpol (Article)
After more than three decades investing in Japanese securities, Peter Tasker has little patience for other investors' self-pity – and he doesn't want to hear your horror stories from 2008. Overcoming the challenges posed by bear markets requires the adaptive instincts of a cockroach, and Tasker identified six lessons investors can take away from those lowly insects.
2013-01-22 Wally Weitz on Value Investing in the Post-Crisis Era by Robert Huebscher (Article)
As the president and founder of Weitz Funds, Wally Weitz has spent nearly three decades putting his instinct for opportunity to work for shareholders. Influenced by the value-investing model of Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett, Wally manages the Partners III Opportunity Fund (WPOPX), which has had an annual return of 10.85%, versus 6.23% for the S&P 500. In this interview, he discusses his investment methodology and how it has evolved since the financial crisis.
2013-01-22 Puppet Show by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
What's fascinating is that in the presence of what are not thin strings, but massive cables supporting the economy like a puppet, the only response that Wall Street can muster is "Hey! He's walking!" as if the puppet is capable of motion without being propped up to a nearly reckless extent.
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 Forecast 2013: Unsustainability and Transition by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
As we begin a new year, we again indulge ourselves in the annual rite of forecasting the year ahead. This year I want to look out a little further than just one year in order to think about the changes that are soon going to be forced on the developed world. We are all going to have to make a very agile adaptation to a new economic environment (and it is one that I will welcome). The transition will offer both crisis and loss for those mired in the current system, which must evolve or perish, and opportunity for those who can see the necessity for change and take advantage of the evolution.
2013-01-15 It's Not What Happens That Matters by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Late in 2008 and in early 2009, a group of what we like to call "brilliant pessimists" hit the airwaves with their economic theories. The prognosticators' vision of the future was and is predicated on the history of similar situations and the mathematical realities of the huge debt overhang from the prior ten years of profligate economic behavior. They put very effective names on their visions like "new normal" and "seven lean years". They marketed their visions incredibly well to the point of shaming anyone who might disagree with their theories.
2013-01-15 Declaring Victory at Halftime by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Present overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yield conditions fall within a tiny percentage of market history that is associated with dismal market outcomes, on average. Its true that we've observed extreme conditions since about March 2012 with little resolution aside from short-term declines. But the S&P 500 remains only a few percent from its March 2012 high, and if history is any guide, the extension of these unfavorable conditions is not likely to reduce the depth of the market loss that can be expected to resolve them.
2013-01-14 Bond Market Review & Outlook by Thomas Fahey of Loomis Sayles
The ﬁnal quarter of 2012 was the icing on the cake of an exceptional year for the credit sectors. Fourth quarter credit gains stemmed in part from uncommonly aggressive monetary policy responses in the third quarter. As economic growth continued to undershoot expectations, major central banks made clear that they were dissatisﬁed with the status quo of tepid economic growth and high unemployment. The Federal Reserve went so far as to tie its monetary policy to the level of the unemployment rate.
2013-01-10 Finally, a Solution to the Income Investing Dilemma by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
There's an endangered species in the investment industry today and it goes by the name of "yield." With continued downward pressure from the Federal Reserve, both short-term and long-term interest rates have been held to artificially low levels. And each new announcement from the Fed seems to extend the outlook for low interest rates farther into the future.
2013-01-10 Defense as a Good Offense by Brian Frank of Frank Capital Partners
Oddly, defensive names that ordinarily trade at premiums to the market are trading at big value discounts. These companies that have the ability to grow in any economic environment are a part of the portfolio, as well as companies riding pockets of growth around the globe. There is a lot to be excited about in 2013 for value stocks.
2013-01-08 The Good Without The Awful by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Generally speaking, the very best times to be long are when a market decline to reasonable or depressed valuations is followed by an early improvement in market internals (breadth, leadership, positive divergences, price-volume behavior, and so forth). This is a version of a general principle: bullish investors should look for uniformly positive trends to be coupled with an absence of particularly hostile features such as overvalued, overbought, overbullish conditions. Put simply, we are looking for the good without the awful.
2013-01-07 Investments That May Keep Me Up at Night in 2013 by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The outlook for 2013 is quite improved compared with 2012. Domestic economic growth prospects are significantly less troublesome. The election is over. Europe has (painfully) slowly made progress in reducing its own budget problems. It is not all clear sailing, however. (It never is.) Europe remains a work in progress. All of the geopolitical risks of 2012, notably North Korea, Iran, and all of the rest of the Middle East, remain on the docket in 2013. And the battle over the U.S. budget will resume in the near future.
2013-01-04 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz
As always I hope you will enjoy this issue, as much as I have enjoyed putting it together. Most important though I wish one and all a very happy, prosperous and healthy new year!
2013-01-03 Lessons Learned by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
Beginning of the year letters are always hard to write because there is a tendency to talk about the year gone by, or worse, attempt to predict the year ahead. Therefore, we are titling this year's letter in an attempt to share some of the lessons that should have been learned over the past few years.
2013-01-03 Grin and Bear It. by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Without question, the financial markets yielded better in 2012 than what most had believed possible at the beginning of the calendar year. At that time, embroiled in a U.S. Presidential election and ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, many analysts would have been happy if we simply avoided catastrophe.
2013-01-02 Getting the Most from Your Investment Committee by Bob Veres (Article)
Investment committees are a little bit like fingerprints: they come in all shapes and sizes, and no two are exactly alike in form or function. So advisory firms that have investment committees – or are considering creating one – can learn a lot from one another. My research has identified some best practices for this flexible management tool, by comparing notes among advisors on how they are managing their IC teams.
2013-01-02 Somewhere Over the Rainbow by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
We are 13 years into a secular bear market in the United States. The Nasdaq is still down 40% from its high, and the Dow and S&P 500 are essentially flat. European and Japanese equities have generally fared worse. The average secular bear market in the US has been about 11 years, with the shortest to date being four years and the longest 20. Are we at the beginning of a new bull market or another seven years of famine? What sorts of returns should we expect over the coming years from US equities?
2013-01-02 How Much Hedge Fund Exposure Makes Sense? by Daniel Eagan of AllianceBernstein
Our research suggests that a well-diversified allocation to hedge funds might improve portfolio returns, but their greatest benefit is the risk reduction that comes from their low correlation to stocks. Here's why.
2012-12-31 Brief Holiday Update by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Though our concerns still weigh heavily toward the defensive side, there are hints of progress toward the resolution of the lopsided market conditions we've seen.
2012-12-24 Aspirin for a Broken Femur by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
The Federal Reserve under Bernanke is like a bad doctor facing a patient with a broken femur. Being both unable and unwilling to restructure the broken bone, he announces that he will keep shoving aspirin down the patient's throat until the bone heals.
2012-12-20 Hedge Funds: Identifying Alpha and Mitigating Risk by Daniel Eagan of AllianceBernstein
Hedge funds have historically generated higher returns than stocks with less volatility, but they also pose several significant risks that volatility alone doesn't capture, our research suggests. That makes careful due diligence and diversification of managers crucial.
2012-12-18 Central Bank Insurance by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Possibly, the question I am asked the most is, "What do you think about gold?" While I have written brief bits about the yellow metal, I cannot remember the last time I devoted a full e-letter to the subject of gold. Longtime readers know that I am a steady buyer of gold, but to my mind that is different from being bullish on gold. In this week's letter we will look at some recent research on gold and try to separate some of the myths surrounding gold from the rationale as to why you might want to own some of the "barbarous relic," as Keynes called it.
2012-12-15 A Face-Off Between Passive and Active Investing by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Exchange-traded funds continued to attract assets in 2012 while money has been exiting mutual funds. Still a majority of assets continue to be invested in actively managed products: As of the end of 2011, of the nearly $13 trillion invested in funds, index and exchange-traded funds comprise only about 8 percent, according to the Investment Company Institute.
2012-12-13 Rescuing the Bond Deer from the Bond Bear by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments
It's the season to talk about the man who delivers presents. No, not Santa Claus, but Fed Chairman Bernanke who has been delivering the green stuff for the past four years in a helicopter, not a sleigh... My last installment introduced the Fixed Income Bond Deer the investor caught in the headlights confused about what to do. This week we contemplate the following: should "Bond Deer" be grateful for the green stuff or frightened by the possibility that it is fueling the next bond "bear" market? The answer: it depends on how long this experiment continues.
2012-12-13 Hedge Funds: Separating Fact from Hype by Daniel Eagan of AllianceBernstein
It's easy to understand the allure of hedge funds and the fear they inspire. After conducting rigorous research aimed at separating fact from hype, we have concluded that hedge funds historically have had an attractive risk/return profile.
2012-12-11 The Death of Managed Futures? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent
Managed futures strategies, or systematic trend followers, have long been an important component of diversified high net worth portfolios. Because of their ability to go both long and short in more than 100 global futures markets spanning equities, currencies, commodities, rates, and bonds managed futures have historically generated very uncorrelated performance to traditional investments.
2012-12-10 Secular Bear Markets - Volatility Without Return by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
There is enormous risk, in my view, in the temptation to accept zero interest rates and low single-digit prospective market returns as an enduring characteristic of the financial markets while ignoring the unsustainable distortions that have produced this environment.
2012-12-06 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Now that the election is over, and the markets are oversold, the Mideast is again volatile, and the fiscal cliff is fast approaching, most market concern rests with whos going to be the first one in the pool? Interestingly, although the stars are aligned once again to make money in the equities markets, it is still a psychological, not financial, component that governs peoples capital deployment considerations.
2012-12-04 Economics 101: Little Return without Risk by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
A tremendous amount of energy and effort has been expended in the US on behalf of wealthy investors to secure returns while reducing risk. Like any useful endeavor, it started out as a wise thing and reached its stride in the late 1990s as a way to deal with a massive asset misallocation. As Warren Buffett always says, What the wise man does at the beginning, the fool does at the end. It appears to us that the efforts to eliminate risk in the US capital markets have reached the foolish point.
2012-12-01 The Bank of Canada Has Barked, But Will It Bite? by Ed Devlin and Richard Clarida of PIMCO
As Canadian consumers have increased their mortgage debt and bid up housing prices, the potential for a disorderly unwinding of these imbalances rightly concerns the Bank of Canada. PIMCO believes that the banks next policy move will be to raise interest rates, but with the traditional aim of fighting inflation rather than reducing home prices and consumer debt. We expect the Bank of Canada to continue tightening mortgage credit and using moral suasion to damp the housing boom and discourage consumers from taking on more debt.
2012-11-26 Overlooking Overvaluation by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Presently, on the basis of smooth fundamentals such as revenues, book values, dividends and cyclically-adjusted earnings, the S&P 500 is somewhere between 40-70% above pre-bubble valuation norms, depending on the measure. That's about the same point they reached at the beginning of the 1965-1982 secular bear period, as well as the 1987 peak.
2012-11-20 Syria: The Problem of Intervention by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
The situation in Syria continues to deteriorate. The rebels, though divided, are acquiring heavy weapons (there have been reports they have some tanks), mostly by taking them from the regime. Apparently, the rebels are also attracting former soldiers who can operate such weapons. Still, there is nothing to suggest that either side is about to dominate the other and so the current civil conflict will likely continue.
2012-11-12 Lopsided Risks by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
The recent sequence of overvalued, overbought, overbullish, technically exhausted setups followed by a clear technical breakdown is of greatest concern here, because we often observe that sequence at the beginning of deep and extended market losses.
2012-11-06 The Absolute Return Letter: The Era of Kakistocracy by Neils Jensen of Absolute Return Partners
We are now five years into a crisis that just doesn't want to go away. Paraphrasing Charles Gave of GaveKal who wrote a supremely succinct paper on this topic only last week, policy makers continue to tamper with interest rates, foreign exchange rates and asset prices in general. They continue to permit deposit-taking banks to operate like casinos. They issue new debt to pay for expenditures when we are already drowning in debt. They just don't seem to get it. Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same experiment over and over again, expecting a different result.
2012-11-05 Three Men Make a Tiger by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
In a few hours we will know the outcome of the US elections (hopefully without a repeat of 2000!). So, given that eventuality, why should we bother to explore the rather significant disparity in the models being used to create the polls to predict the outcome of the elections? Because doing so will help us understand why the models we use to predict the effects on our investments of market behavior and macroeconomics so often fail us, and why we should approach the use of such models with a full measure of wariness and skepticism.
2012-11-02 Time Heals U.S. Equities' Wounds by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
As long-term performance measures may improve, investor attitudes toward stocks may brighten.
2012-10-29 Distinction Without a Difference by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
In recent weeks, market conditions have fallen into a cluster of historical instances that have been associated with average market losses approaching -50% at an annualized rate. Of course, such conditions don't generally persist for more than several weeks the general outcome is a hard initial decline and then a transition to a less severe average rate of market weakness (the word "average" is important as the individual outcomes certainly aren't uniformly negative on a week-to-week basis).
2012-10-25 The Arithmetic of Equities by Andrew Redleaf of Whitebox Advisors
t is a first principle at Whitebox to be security agnostic: to penetrate the labels like bond and stock and hybrid and assess the real status of a security by the risks and rewards that flow from the combination of economic circumstances and the details of capital structure. For most of the last decade it was quite clear to us that equities bore all their traditional risk but bolstered only bond-like rewards (at best), while high yield bonds often offered equity-like returns that could be shielded from default risk by shorting the all too risky stock of the same or a similar firm.
2012-10-25 In or Out? The Case for - and Against - the Stock Market by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton
Given ongoing volatility in the stock market, it's no surprise that investors are increasingly bearish on the market's prospects, beset by a lack of confidence in its institutional underpinnings and a general pessimism about the direction of the economy. But is that distrust misplaced? Wharton experts are mixed about the future fortunes of the stock market, with some saying that investors are withdrawing at the worst possible time and others noting that many people had entrusted too much of their retirement savings to the fate of equity markets.
2012-10-24 Voluntary Exile by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
We at Smead Capital Management (SCM) believe that institutional and individual investors have moved their asset allocation away from large cap US stocks. Institutions are in exile in private equity, hedge funds and all things commodity and BRIC-trade related.
2012-10-22 The Data-Generating Process by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
For anyone who works to infer information from a broad range of evidence, one of the important aspects of the job is to think carefully about the structure of the data what is sometimes called the "data-generating process." Data doesn't just drop from the sky or out of a computer. It is generated by some process, and for any sort of data, it is critical to understand how that process works. In the financial markets, the data-generating process is often very misunderstood.
2012-10-22 Eggs Are Not Enough: The Truth About Diversification by Feifei Li of Research Affiliates
We learn in finance theory that diversification simply means not putting all your eggs in one basket. Simple as the idea is, most investors do not hold portfolios that are even close to being truly diversified. Two reasons make this sensible objective difficult to achieve. First, most investors are not disciplined enough to implement diversification. To illustrate my point, pause and check whether you are willing to reduce equities when the trailing 12-month return on stocks is 20+ percentage points higher than bonds?
2012-10-19 Quarterly Letter by Ron Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp & Company
In his latest quarterly letter, Ron Muhlenkamp, president and portfolio manager of the Muhlenkamp Fund, re-examines Europe, China, and U.S. Politics as the major drivers of the markets. On September 7, 2012, Muhlenkamp published a Market Commentary, headlined "Threat of European Banking Crisis Recedes." In it, he discusses the Outright Monetary Transactions program, introduced by the European Central Bank. Mr. Muhlenkamp thinks this program makes credible the ECB's promise to do all it can to keep the Eurozone together.
2012-10-15 Passed Pawns by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
I've long been fascinated by the parallels between Chess and finance. Years ago, I asked Tsagaan Battsetseg, a highly ranked world chess champion, what runs through her mind most frequently during matches. She answered with two questions "What is the opportunity?" and "What is threatened?" At present, I remain convinced that the key opportunity lies in closing down exposure to risk.
2012-10-15 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group
Some recent research by InvesTech Research shows that the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average can indicate who will win the White House. James Stack, President of InvesTech recently released a study that showed in elections since 1900 90% of the time the Dow has correctly predicted the outcome of the election based on its returns from Labor Day until Election Day. If the Dow posts a positive return during this time period, the party in power keeps the White House and if the return is negative, they do not
2012-10-12 Blue-Chip Dividend Aristocrats - There is a Lot of Value in this Market: Part 4 by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs
This is the fourth in a series of articles designed to counter a pervasive attitude that common stocks are expensive today. Furthermore, we would agree with those that contend that we have been in a stealth bull market for the last 18 months or more. However, would also contend that stocks were so cheap prior to this stealth bull-run that even though they have risen, there are still many stocks that remain fairly priced and even many that are undervalued. Blue-chip Dividend Aristocrats represent one of the best examples of our thesis.
2012-10-12 Long/Short Investing: Bon Apptit by Geoffrey Johnson of PIMCO
Long/short equity is a distinct investment approach that seeks to reduce downside risk while still capturing much of the equity markets upside potential. By removing the long-only constraint, long/short managers have an expanded opportunity set with the potential to generate returns and mitigate risk from both long and short investment ideas. Long/short equity strategies have a lower long-term volatility and risk profile than the market as a whole and have captured a good percentage of price movement in up markets and a smaller percentage in down markets.
2012-10-10 Beyond the Fiscal Cliff: the Dollar At Risk? by Alex Merk of Merk Funds
Looking beyond the fiscal cliff, we are afraid the greenback may be at risk no matter who wins the election. We examine the risk to the U.S. dollar in the context of the likely policies pursued under either an Obama or Romney administration.
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 When Career Risk Reigns by Neils Jensen of Absolute Return Partners
In this month's Absolute Return Letter we pick up the baton from last month. How does the current crisis actually affect financial markets? How do you overcome the low returns? What can you do to protect the downside risk in a high correlation environment? We argue that career concerns often lead to irrational decisions by professional money managers and that this provides opportunities for those who can afford to deviate from the norm.
2012-10-03 Monthly Letter to Our Clients and Friends by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs
Warren Buffett, Ben Graham's most famous student has said, "[Ben Graham] also taught me to see a stock not as something with a ticker symbol that wiggles around but to think about it as part of a business. Dont get elated because something had gone up or depressed because it went down. If I knew the facts, and it went down, I bought more of it". Although these two forces of investment beliefs are in constant battle, there is one common belief; Both believe that any attempt to "time the market" is not an intelligent approach to investment management.
2012-10-02 The 2010, 2011, 2012 Corrections Were P/E Multiple Related; Earnings Were Sound by George Bijak of GB Capital
We had nasty stock market corrections in the middle of 2010, 2011 and 2012 caused by political uncertainty about Europe's debt. In times of market declines it is good to remind ourselves the difference between a correction and a bear market.
2012-10-01 Leap of Faith by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Both the economy and the financial markets will do fine in the longer-term, but to imagine that there will not first be major challenges and disruptions is a leap of faith and a leap over a century of economic and financial history that screams otherwise.
2012-09-29 Uncertainty and Risk in the Suicide Pool by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave
Investors in the stock market, especially professionals, are obsessed with risk, your humble analyst included. We try to measure risk in any number of ways, looking for an edge to improve our returns. Not only do we try to determine probable outcomes, we also look for the 'fat tail' events, those things that can happen which are low in probability but will have a large impact on our returns.
2012-09-28 The Danger of Safety by Owen Murray of Horizon Advisors
Investors have become cautious and anxious following the bear market of the past twelve years and the recent bouts of extreme volatility. We examine risks and opportunities in light of the difficult market environment in our special report The Danger of Safety."
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.
2012-09-24 Eating the Future by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Every security on Earth works like this. The higher the price you pay for a given set of expected future cash flows, the lower your prospective future rate of return. Higher prices essentially take from future prospective returns and add to past returns. Conversely, lower prices take from past returns and add to future prospective returns.
2012-09-24 Are Green Shoots Being Spotted from the Helicopter? by Martin Pring of Pring Turner Capital Group
Ben Bernanke's helicopter has taken off from the tarmac once again. This time the QE3 flight path is headed, as some commentators have suggested, to "infinity and beyond". It seems to be a route whose popularity is growing as more and more central banks are expanding their balance sheets at record rates. So far this cycle inflation has been relatively well contained but that may be about to change, at least in the commodity pits.
2012-09-24 Echoes of the Arab Spring by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
In this report, we will discuss the issue of American foreign policy, democracy and the emerging world. Our primary focus will be on the Arab states. From there, we will examine the particular issues of democratization and regime change for a few selected nations in the Middle East. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.
2012-09-21 There is a Lot of Value in this Market: Part 1 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
Whenever there is a rise in stock values as we have experienced over the past year or so, it seems to be human nature to automatically assume that valuations have become too high. However, although it is possible that this is true, it is not necessarily so. A lot has to do with where valuations were before the run-up occurred. For example, if valuations were extremely low, then even after a rise, they can continue to be low or perhaps only have risen to becoming fairly valued.
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.
2012-09-17 The Philosophy of Tops by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
The call for this week: To me the only question is if the stock market is going to correct its current overbought condition by going sideways, or if it is going to correct back to the 1400 - 1422 support. In either event I have been pretty confident that the Fed has already begun printing money. That has been eminently evident by the overall action in the commodity markets, the dollar, and the fact that stocks were unable to correct in the normal timing band for a daily cycle low. Indeed, I actually expected an easing of monetary policy out of last month's Fed meeting.
2012-09-14 Dont Be the Equivalent of a Stock Market Racist by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs
Common stocks are very different and come in all assortments, sizes, shapes and flavors. Consequently, we encourage investors to think more specifically and rely more on the precise characteristics of the individual company or companies they are contemplating. Worrying about the general state of the economy or the stock market, or their future direction, is not only an exercise in futility, but an unnecessary exercise as well.
2012-09-11 US Stock Market Sentiment in a World of Wide Asset Allocation by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Our long-time readers are aware that we are stingy when it comes to trading and big believers of keeping trading costs low at Smead Capital Management. Despite these natural inclinations, we do try to keep the pulse of sentiment in the US stock market.
2012-09-10 Late-Stage, High-Risk by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
The market conditions we observe at present are very familiar from the standpoint of historical data, matching those that have appeared prior to the most violent market declines on record (e.g. 1973-74, 1987, 2000-2002, 2007-2009).
2012-09-06 September: A Rough Month for the Markets? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
September is often a bad month for the stock markets, historically speaking, and this year it could be especially turbulent. In addition to all the uncertainty about the weak US economy, there is uncertainty about what the Fed may do just ahead and what, if anything, will be done to address Europe's recession and debt crisis. In addition, there is the looming presidential election which no doubt will go hyperbolic this month.
2012-09-04 Risk Mitigation by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
How did the job of an asset allocator move from seeking out undervalued asset classes and securities to one of seeking to mitigate risk? Is risk mitigation a worthy goal or even possible without abandoning real return goals? When and why did wealth creation become wealth management? What opportunities exist today for those who seek wealth creation through intelligent risk taking?
2012-09-01 The Latest ETF Eye-Opener by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
A few years ago, we discussed the flow of money rushing into ETFs without careful analysis by investors about the unknown risks. Institutional Investor recently highlighted another downside to these investments: ETFs' use of hypothetical, back-tested performance. To attract assets, some index providers have unique indexes based on various performance characteristics, weighting methodologies and valuation metrics.
2012-08-30 Fixed Income Investing - the Dangers of Complacency by Bill Woodruff of Bandon Capital Management
The paper points out the US has been in a declining interest rate environment for 30 years, producing a tailwind for fixed income investors but one with little room left for further decline. At these interest rate levels - the yield on the 10 year US Treasury recently hit an all-time month end low of 1.49% - fixed income investors face unique risks which are predominantly unfamiliar.
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.
2012-08-27 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
For many weeks, I have received feedback from readers of my commentary that I am "too negative," "too pessimistic" in my views about the markets. While it is true that my objective quantitative science leaves little room for interpretation, let me dispel the notion that it is I, not my data, that is contemptuous of the "next move."
2012-08-22 Relative Value by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Everyone wants to wait for the perfect time to buy into the stock market or into any major investment market. They want to enter at historically cheap prices or at "absolute values". We at Smead Capital Management believe that these people are kidding themselves and everybody else. At the time of historical lows and "absolute value" those same folks are too mortified to pull the trigger and always come up with the reason that "it's different this time". Inertia rules the day.
2012-08-21 Young Americans: The Death of Equities May be Exaggerated by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
PIMCO founder Bill Gross believes the "cult of equity is dying" let me take the other side. Mutual-fund flows suggest that we may have lost a generation of investors. However, demographics suggest there may be another generation that could be the stock market's savior.
2012-08-08 Stock Pickers: "Somebody I Used to Know" by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Art has a tendency to express culture. One of today's catchiest songs does a great job of explaining the relationship between institutional/individual investors and US common stock picking. The song captures what has happened since the summer of 1999, when Warren Buffett warned investors about forward stock market returns because of a love affair that institutional and individual investors were having with US large cap stocks.
2012-08-05 Erasers by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
Moderate losses may be a necessary feature of risk-taking, but deep losses are erasers. A typical bear market erases over half of the preceding bull market advance. It is easy to forget - particularly during late-stage bull markets - how strongly this impacts full-cycle returns.
2012-08-01 Housing: Good Vibrations by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
It's time for an update to January's report on housing, and the news continues to get better. Household formations are key. Household formations are moving higher but housing completions aren't keeping pace. Real mortgage rates plunge into negative territory. Key housing market index indicates continued sales (and pricing) recovery.
2012-07-31 Beyond the Ultimate Death Cross by Georg Vrba, P.E. (Article)
Last week, I showed why the 'ultimate death cross' is not a bearish signal. But the methodology behind that signal - what's known as a 'golden-cross trigger' - can indeed offer a reliable guide to investors. And one can do even better with a simple improvement to the trigger that I have devised.
2012-07-31 Cult Figures by William Gross of PIMCO
The long-term history of inflation adjusted returns from stocks shows a persistent but recently fading 6.6% real return since 1912. The legitimate question that market analysts, government forecasters and pension consultants should answer is how that return can be duplicated in the future. Unfair though it may be, an investor should continue to expect an attempted inflationary solution in almost all developed economies over the next few years and even decades.
2012-07-31 The Price of Glamour by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
The list of glamorous growth stocks getting hit by what we call "minefield" price declines is getting fairly long. Some of the more influential names which have suffered sharp, swift declines include Nike (NKE), Chipotle (CMG ), Facebook (FB), Coinstar (CSTR), Starbucks (SBUX) and the King of the Glam stocks, Apple (AAPL). Is there a pattern here that matters? If earnings growth is hard to come by, what are the most important themes for long-duration common stock investors?
2012-07-24 Optimal Strategies for Secular Market Cycles by Michael Kitces (Article)
With alternative investments and active management strategies growing ever more popular, an advisor recently told me, 'It's just a fad and will end with heartache as all investment fads do. I've watched it play out over and over during my 30-year career.' But I am not persuaded. The secular market cycle today is different from the bear market 30 years ago, and not all market cycles favor the same investment strategies.
2012-07-24 Never Lost?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
Wall Street folklore suggests that in 10 years any fool can make every mistake there is in the stock market and that a really smart person can do the same in half the time. I don't know how long it took me, but I have tried to learn from those mistakes and avoid repeating them! Indeed, everybody who finally learns how to make money in the stock market learns his own way. I like this tale.
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.
2012-07-24 Litman Gregory Mid-Year Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory
High debt levels in developed countries create headwinds that are likely to hamper global economic growth in the years ahead. Europe's debt woes raise the risk of a damaging financial crisis, and global stock markets reflected these concerns in the second quarter. Why are we discussing this now? It is partly a reflection on having reached a quarter of a century in business and thinking about how we have conducted our business.
2012-07-23 Quarterly Market Overview by Robert Carey of First Trust Advisors
While it is nice to get the news in real time, the need for speed on the information superhighway can lead to incomplete or erroneous reporting. Look no further than the current election campaign season where the finger pointing has already started between President Obama and Mitt Romney. Good thing the Internet has also brought us some fact-checkers to help sort things out. Helping to sort things out is what we strive to do for our clients, as well.
2012-07-22 Extraordinary Strains by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
A broad array of observable evidence suggests extraordinary strains in Europe, and abrupt though expected deterioration in U.S. economic activity. The Federal Reserve certainly has policy options, but those options have no material transmission mechanism to the real economy.
2012-07-20 July 2012 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz
FRANK SINATRA FAN? Mena chided me for starting my last NewsLetter on a negative note so I thought Id repent this time and start with something more positive. Even if youre not a Sinatra fan, this lovely and moving piece of music by Andre Rieu," a renowned Dutch violinist, conductor and composer, and his orchestra is a tribute to Frank Sinatra with My Way on his Stradivarius violin at Radio City Music Hall New York.
2012-07-18 Short-Term Bullish...But U.S. Stocks Not Yet Cheap Enough to Deliver Even Average Long-Term Returns by Doug Ramsey of The Leuthold Group
Our investment disciplines currently mandate that we are near-term bullish with heavy (but not maximum) equity exposure across our tactical strategies. But the simple math that underpins long-term stock market returns doesnt currently support a long-term bullish stance (i.e., "buy and hold"). This view is contrary to prevailing market thought, in which stocks are viewed as having substantial near-term risk but good long-term return prospects.
2012-07-17 Game of Thrones by Cliff Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors
An economy consists of a gazillion simple transactions, all working together; and our economy used to be grounded is such factors such as supply and demand, growth, and imports and exports. But today the economy is driven by the political rhetoric of our elected officials as it relates to regulations, taxes, and anticipation of QE3. We are in global slowdown mode, and to understand how we should invest we need to better understand what deleveraging will mean over the coming couple years.
2012-07-16 The Third Law of Randomness by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Proper investing doesn't rule out randomness and unpredictability, particularly when it comes to individual events. It instead diversifies against randomness both across holdings at each point in time, and across time by repeatedly acting on the basis of averages instead of individual forecasts.
2012-07-14 The Beginning of the Endgame by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
For the last year I have been writing that it is not clear that Europe (with the probable exception of Greece) will in fact break up. The forces that would see a strong fiscal union are quite powerful. In today's letter, I will try to bring you up to date on some insights I have had in the 18 months since Jonathan Tepper and I did the final edits on our book, The Endgame.
2012-07-13 Limited Demand Suggests Further Downside Risk in Germany by Jordan Kohley of Lowry Research
European investors as well as those impacted by a European slowdown remain on edge as they grapple the potential outcomes of austerity measures, global bailout funds, and political gridlock in the European Union. While the extreme variability of these outcomes are worrisome, the final party that decides the direction of the stock market lies in the hands of the investor as they buy securities in pursuit of rewards exceeding risks, or sell securities fearing risks may now exceed rewards.
2012-07-12 Math, History and Psychology - Part 3 by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Over the years, we have heard Charlie Munger state that Psychology is the most underrated and underutilized of the major academic disciplines in business and investing. Andy Grove backed this up in a Fortune magazine interview by telling about the best business advice he had ever received. His City College of New York professor told him, When everybody knows that something is so, it means nobody knows nothin.
2012-07-10 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Several readers respond to Bob Veres' article, The Profession's Faulty Assumptions: A Top Ten List, which appeared last week. Also, a reader responds to Joe Tomlinson's article, How Safe are Annuities?, which appeared on August 14, and a reader responds to Beverly Flaxington's column, Dealing with Gossip in a Small Firm, which appeared last week.
2012-07-09 What if the Fed Throws a QE3 and Nobody Comes? by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
When we look around the globe, we find that the impact of quantitative easing is rarely much greater than the market decline that preceded it. Investors seem to be putting an enormous amount of faith in a policy that does little but help stocks recover the losses of the prior 6 month period, with scant evidence of any durable effects on the real economy.
2012-07-07 Into the Matrix by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
What does the current environment of earnings and valuations tell us about the prospects for the US stock markets in general over the next 3-5-7-10 years? This week we have part two of "Bull's Eye Investing Ten Years Later," which we started last week. These two letters have been co-authored with Ed Easterling of Crestmont Research. We take a look at research we did almost ten years ago as part of my book Bull's Eye Investing, updating the data and asking,"Are we there yet? When will we get to the end of the secular bear market?"
2012-07-06 Mid-Year 2012 Economic Update by Team of Horizon Advisors
The questions we hear most often from our clients have to do with the Eurozone, U.S. politics, and closely related, the so-called fiscal cliff. We thought we would approach each of these in turn.
2012-07-03 The 2012 Mid-Year Geopolitical Update by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management
As is our custom, we use this early July report to offer our outlook for the next six months. In this issue, we will discuss what we see as the key geopolitical issues that will affect the markets for the rest of 2012. This list is not exhaustive but highlights our greatest concerns.
2012-07-02 Anatomy of a Bear by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
The unusually bad outcomes of similar historical precedents help to convey why we retain such a durable sense of doom, even after last weeks scorching risk on advance. A moderate continuation of constructive market action would likely be sufficient to move us to soften our presently hard defense by retreating from a staggered strike option hedge. At present, conditions remain aligned with those that have preceded some of the most negative consequences in market history.
2012-07-02 Nightmare on Wall Street: This Secular Bear Has Only Just Begun by Ed Easterling of Crestmont Research
Secular bull markets are great parties. Investors arrive from secular bears really wanting to take the edge off. As the bull proceeds, above-average returns become intoxicating. By the time it is over, the past decade or two has delivered bountiful returns. In contrast, secular bears seem like hangovers. They are awakenings that strip away the intoxication, leaving a sobering need for an understanding of what has happened.
2012-06-30 Bull's Eye Investing (Almost) Ten Years Later by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The current valuation of the stock market is relatively high, but it is not overvalued, considering today's conditions. Low inflation-rate conditions should be accompanied by relatively high P/Es. But if deflation or high inflation (or both) are likely upcoming, the market is very expensive. On the other hand, if the inflation rate happens to remain near price stability, then this secular bear could remain active a while longer but how likely is that?
2012-06-29 Unmasking the Asian Giant by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
China is far from perfect: While actors can perfect their lines and use masks to captivate an audience, smart investors know better to use a wealth of information across numerous sources to guide investment decisions. Weigh the evidence and judge for yourself. As my friend, Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald recently said in an interview, A powerful China is coming, and we have two choices. Either we're at the table, or we're on the menu. To him this means, Good news from China is good news for the U.S.; bad news from the Chinese economy is bad news here.
2012-06-27 Long-Term Investing in a Short-Term World by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
In this electronic age, news and rumors can spread like wildfire across the globe, heightening market volatility as markets react in real time. It can be difficult for investors to see the forest for the trees as they try to dodge the downdrafts immediately in front of them, sometimes making hasty missteps.
2012-06-25 Enter, the Blindside Recession by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
The joint evidence suggests that the U.S. economy has entered a recession that will eventually be marked as having started presently. In recent months, our measures of leading economic pressures have indicated the likelihood of an oncoming U.S. recession.
2012-06-23 Daddy's Home by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
This week we will look at the recent action of the Fed and use that as a springboard to think about how effective Fed policy can be in an age of deleveraging. And we simply must look at Europe.
2012-06-19 Down and Out in Wenzhou by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Much like in the US in 2006, the Chinese government officials and the worldwide media need to believe that what is going on in Wenzhou is not the first domino in a series of dominos which fall over the next two years. The Chinese economy and its miracle of the last 30 years were originally driven by the competitive advantage of cheap labor.
2012-06-19 Shocking Fed Survey on Consumer Finances by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
Today we focus on a new Fed study which found that Americans net worth plunged almost 39% in the period from 2007 to 2010. That period included the so-called Great Recession, a financial crisis and a severe bear market in stocks. There are lots of interesting statistics to look at in this new Fed study.
2012-06-18 A Brief Primer on the European Crisis by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Europe has repeatedly been successful at addressing its recurring liquidity crises with the help of other central banks, but its still an open question whether they can durably solve the solvency crisis without more disruption and more restructuring of both government debt and troubled banks. In my view, the hope for an easy solution is misplaced, and the likelihood of recurring disruptions from Europe will remain high.
2012-06-18 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
The big problem last week was in trying to distinguish between macroeconomic factors and underlying stock performance. The resulting decoupling made some equities more vulnerable than aggressive weekly gains might otherwise have one believe. As we muddle through the disappointment of global austerity packages and downwards earning revisions, too many stocks have spurted up simply on traders dreams for a new bull cycle.
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?
2012-06-05 Perennial May Euro Crisis Hits U.S. and Global Markets by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management
For the third straight year, a Euro-crisis hit markets in May. Investors are fearful and looking for a plan of action. A good plan should defend against bear markets but not overreact to normal volatility. Earnings growth remains positive the U.S. is slowly but surely moving forward. Ample rewards await those who stay focused on long-term goals. For the third straight year a euro crisis hit markets in the month of May.
2012-06-05 Rational Despair and Analogous Situations by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Randall Forsyth of Barrons wrote a piece on May 31st, 2012 called, Irrational Exuberances Flip Side Seen in Low Bond Yields. It reminded me of the following and wise joke. A younger person asks an older person, How do you succeed in business? The older person says, Good Decisions. The younger person says, How do you make good decisions? The older person answers, Through experience. The younger person asks, How do you get experience? The older person answers, Bad decisions.
2012-06-04 Run of the Mill by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
The awful behavior of the market in recent weeks is very run-of-the-mill in terms of how similarly unfavorable conditions have usually been resolved historically, and there is no evidence that this awful prospective course has changed much. Investors should expect no easy solutions to the fiscal and global challenges ahead. They should instead expect market valuations that adequately reflect the fact that there are no easy solutions. In my view, those valuations remain miles below present market levels.
2012-06-04 1-800-GET-ME-OUT?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
The call for this week: Friday was the first day of hurricane season here in Florida, yet the storm didn't hit our beaches but rather blew onto the Street of Dreams with a 275-point "storm surge." The media attributed Friday's Flop entirely to the disappointing employment numbers, but the truth was the market was already headed down before the release of those numbers. And when the SPX's 1290 level was breached, the rout was on. And despite the break below my 1290 pivot point I can't shake the feeling that all of this is just part of the bottoming process.
2012-05-31 Institutionalizing Courage by Robert Arnott of Research Affiliates
Most investors measure wealth in terms of the value of their portfolio. We believe it is better to measure wealth in terms of the portfolios ability to support sustainable spending. This months Fundamentals explores why this approach requires courage.
2012-05-29 The Reality of the Situation by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
If one steps back from the trees to observe the forest, the reality of the situation is that Europe is already largely in recession, the global economy is slipping quickly toward the same outcome, and in my view, the U.S. is also entering a recession that will ultimately be dated as beginning in May or June of 2012 (i.e. now). The economic headwinds already in place are likely to make any meaningful budget progress virtually impossible in the Eurozone, and without meaningful budget progress, the likelihood of continued bailouts to peripheral European states is slim.
2012-05-24 Through the Economic Lens: 2012 Looks More Like 2010 by Robert Stein of Astor Asset Management
The recent selloff in the market, with nervous investors made all the more so because of the medias obsession with financial issues in Europe, is renewing talk about bear markets and recessions as people head for cover. In the midst of their misguided fears of a contagion effect, there is also concern about the fiscal cliff, spending cuts and higher tax rates that, at this point, will take effect on January 1. (Funny how that sounds like it would be a good idea for our debt problem.)
2012-05-23 Market Gut Check Time, Again by Mike Boyle of Advisors Asset Management
Our research of the last 50 years shows 3% pullbacks occur on average four times a year. So, clearly pullbacks are commonplace during a normal bull market; however, every time they occur they still set investor emotions on edge and test their resolve. At times like this we like to try and decipher what drove the selloff and try to resolve if we think it is just a normal correction or the beginning of a longer trend down and possibly the start of a new bear market.
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.
2012-05-21 I Should Have?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
The brilliant Lee Cooperman, captain of hedge fund Omega Advisors, quoted Joe Rosenberg on CNBC last week, You can have cheap equity prices, or you can have good news, but you cant have both! Clearly, we currently have bad news, which in my opinion has resulted in cheap equity prices. Playing to that quote, my father always told me, Good things tend to happen to cheap stocks. As stated, the real question is, If we get a rally from this oversold condition is it the start of a new up leg, or is it just a compression rally that will be brief followed by still lower prices?
2012-05-11 ECRI Update: Reaffirming the Recession Call ... Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 0.1 as reported in todays public release of the data through May 4. This is essentially unchanged from last week. However, the underlying WLI again rose fractionally from an adjusted 124.6 to 125.4 (see the fourth chart below). The big news this week, however, is not the weekly data update but ECRI's latest reaffirmation of its recession call in a Bloomberg interview with ECRIs Lakshman Achuthan earlier this week. Ive embedded a link to the nine-minute video on the Bloomberg website.
2012-05-10 I Question, Therefore I Am by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management
Historically, the attraction of value investing has been that, by purchasing stocks whose price does not incorporate a large hope premium over intrinsic value, the downside would be muted. Conversely, the potential for the premium to increase should investors perceptions change would promise worthwhile returns even in the absence of spectacular growth by the company. These assumptions suffered a severe setback in 2007-2009, when practically all stocks were caught into the same panic-driven downward spiral. But it does not entirely negate their validity.
2012-05-10 Staying Bullish by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management
We believe we are in a new bull market, and bull markets thrive on climbing that proverbial wall of worry. Bullish sentiment is low and bearish sentiment high. Anxious retail investors, having suffered two ugly bear markets since 2000, continue to shun stocks, with money flowing out of mutual equity funds now for more than 5 consecutive years. The public is hugely underinvested. Cash on the sidelines is enormous. The fuel to ultimately power stocks higher as confidence returns.
2012-05-09 Will The Bond Mania End Ugly? by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
Mass migrations of the investment public from one asset class to another have often ended very badly. We can all remember the late 2000-2002 bear market in stocks when the S&P 500 plunged almost 50% and the Nasdaq over 70%. Investors had been in a mania for stocks during the late 1990s. I believe what were seeing today qualifies as a mania for Treasury bonds. Im not predicting that the current bond bubble will end the way the dot.com mania ended, but it wont take a huge increase in interest rates to put a lot of bond fund investors who came late to the party underwater.
2012-05-04 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator: Third Consecutive Decline by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 0.0 as reported in today's public release of the data through April 27. This is the third consecutive week-over-week decline since January 6th. However, the underlying WLI again rose fractionally from an adjusted 124.0 to 124.7.
2012-05-03 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
As markets regroup from their phenomenal start to the year, certain groups have transformed the conversational dynamic. Focusing as I do upon longer term demographics, I have noticed a shift from traditional consumer cyclical brands toward epic population issue sectors, such as agriculture, healthcare, energy and infrastructure. Beyond the obvious significance of these topics, trading machinations within those secular themes have transformed during the last year. One notices a steadier stochastic pulse to equities within these sectors, emblematic of a longer attention span.
2012-05-01 Another Story of Too Much Debt: Investing During Unsustainable Economic Conditions by Brian McAuley (Article)
US-based investors cannot ignore the macro environment, and therefore must consider the consequences of our increasing indebtedness and its impact on capital markets. We can gain valuable insights into our fiscal problems from the housing bubble and the European sovereign debt crisis - lessons which every value investor should heed.
2012-05-01 Does Quality Matter? by Jeremy Javidi of Columbia Management
Most investors take comfort in investing in high quality companies. There are several attributes that define quality including strong balance sheets and cash flows. Having a strong balance sheet allows a company to redeploy capital towards growth opportunities rather than debt reductions. We believe that these attributes persist in the market over the market cycle and are virtuous in the pursuit of higher returns. However, recently we asked, where has quality gone? Often an initial snap back in the market after a bear market favors companies with weaker balance sheets.
2012-04-26 The Newlyweds Dilemma by John West of Research Affiliates
Before marriage, men and women enjoy a lot more free time. Married life represents a huge shift in their habits and schedules. Similarly, a new world of lower expected returns signals a major break from mainstream investment approaches. This months Fundamentals examines how investors can position their portfolios for the future.
2012-04-24 Why a 60/40 Portfolio isn’t Diversified by Alex Shahidi (Article)
Maintaining a balanced portfolio is critical, especially when predictions of growth and inflation vary as widely as they do today. Investors are always better off spreading risk than aggressively betting on one economic outcome, and that's especially true when the range of possible economic outcomes is so wide.
2012-04-24 In the Long Run with Dividend-Paying Stocks by Meggan Walsh and Clint Harris of Invesco
A healthy level of skepticism and the conviction to go against consensus when it is supported by sound fundamental research is a strong combination for successful investing. We have little exposure to energy, an area investors favor. Financials is one of our largest weightings, an area thats out of favor. We prefer dividend sustainability and growth while investors are currently focused on high yielders alone. Its important to remember that history has shown that dividend-paying stocks are part of an enduring, fundamental approach to value investing and not a thematic allocation.
2012-04-24 Real Career Risk by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Real career risk is too many people doing what you do for a living. Granthams problem is that every day three million brilliant people get up and spend most of their waking hours trying to practice wide asset allocation. Most of those three million brilliant people have strong backgrounds in economics and lean on their ability to make macroeconomic predictions. Too many people are doing the same thing at the same time for a living. Therefore, they need to either move to another town or wait patiently for most of the other bright people to take up another profession.
2012-04-24 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
As markets regroup from their phenomenal start to the year, certain groups have transformed the conversational dynamic. Focusing as I do upon longer term demographics, I have noticed a shift from traditional consumer cyclical brands toward epic population issue sectors, such as agriculture, healthcare, energy and infrastructure. Beyond the obvious significance of these topics, trading machinations within those secular themes have transformed during the last year. One notices a steadier stochastic pulse to equities within these sectors, emblematic of a longer attention span.
2012-04-23 Run, Don't Walk by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
One way to gauge your speculative exposure is to ask the simple question - what portion of your portfolio do you expect (or even hope) to sell before the next major market downturn ensues? Almost by definition, that portion of your portfolio is speculative in the sense that you do not intend to carry it through the full market cycle, and instead expect to sell it to someone else at a better price before the cycle completes. With respect to those speculative holdings, and when to part with them, my own view is straightforward. Run, don't walk.
2012-04-21 A Little Bull's Eye Investing by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Bull's Eye Investing was the book that really helped establish this letter. It dealt with a host of investing ideas, secular market cycles, value investing, alternative investing, and more. I have taken that material, updated it, and written a new book, part of the Little Book series done by Wiley, called The Little Book of Bull's Eye Investing Finding Value, Generating Absolute Returns, and Controlling Risk in Turbulent Markets. I have waited to announce this one until it is off the presses and being shipped. Here is the introduction and part of the first chapter of the book.
2012-04-20 Monthly Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory
Stocks and other risk assets surged in the first quarter, continuing the strong run that began in the fourth quarter of last year. In each of the past two quarters, domestic stocks gained about 12%, marking one the strongest runs over the October-March span going back to the 1920s. Developed foreign stocks increased nearly 12% in the quarter, emerging-markets stocks gained 14, small-cap U.S. stocks were up 12%, high-yield bonds rose 5%, and emerging-markets local-currency bonds added 8%.
2012-04-20 Fixed Income Investment Outlook April 2012 by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
The Feds easy money policy will likely not reverse in the near term, but may do so before 2014, if economic growth strengthens meaningfully; some inflation is also acceptable to the alternative deflation. We are seeing some economic strength in the U.S., which is translating into higher equity prices (and hopefully higher capital gains). We are still generally avoiding exposure to interest rate risk found in Treasuries and investment grade bonds. We believe the easy money has been made there and we are not currently being compensated for the risk of rising interest rates.
2012-04-20 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator: The Growth Index Slip by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 1.2 as reported in today's public release of the data through April 13. This is the first week-over-week decline since January 6th, over three months ago. The underlying WLI contracted more dramatically from an adjusted 125.9 to 123.9 (see the fourth chart below). This is the largest decline, in percentage terms, since August 19th of last year.
2012-04-19 My Sister's Pension Assets and Agency Problems by Jeremy Grantham of GMO
Investment behavior is driven by career risk. In the professional investment business we are all agents, managing other peoples money. The prime directive, as Keynes knew so well, is first and last to keep your job. To do this, he explained that you must never, ever be wrong on your own. To prevent this calamity, professional investors pay ruthless attention to what other investors in general are doing. The great majority go with the flow, either completely or partially. This creates herding, or momentum, which drives prices far above or far below fair price.
2012-04-18 Stock Picking in a World of Profit Margin Mean Reversion by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
We feel investors should avoid capital intensive companies which are tied to commodities or emerging markets. As interest rates rise and capital becomes dear, those who eat capital lose and those with strong balance sheets and who generate high and consistent free cash flow, should win. As Buffet, Grantham, Hutchinson and Stein pointed out, someone loses in the reversion to the mean of profit margins when compared to GDP. Lastly, dont be fooled by those who are bearish on the stock market because of their belief in profit margin reversion.
2012-04-18 European Debt Crisis Never Went Away by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
US stocks are having a big day today, with the Dow up just over 200 points. But there are problems lurking in Europe that could be quite negative for global equities over the next several weeks. There are fears that Spain and perhaps Italy will need more bailout loans in the weeks just ahead. Thats our topic for today. In December and January the ECB took the unprecedented step of loaning apprx. 1 trillion euros to European money center banks in an effort to buy some time for the banks to recapitalize. The loans had three year maturities, and the interest rate was an incredibly low 1%.
2012-04-17 10 More Years of Low Returns by Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live
Ten more years of low returns in the stock market. If you are one of the millions of baby boomers headed into retirement-start saving more and spending less because the stock market won't bail you out. I will explain why this is the likely future ahead for investors. In this weekends newsletter I wrote that "If you put all of your money into cash today and dont look at the market for another decade you will be better off..."I realize that this statement is equivalent to heresy where Wall Street is concerned but there is one reason behind my apparent madness - the power of reversion.
2012-04-13 Diversification Remains Difficult by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors
Our firm believes three principles build long-term wealth: Extend the investment time horizons. Compound dividend income. And truly diversify portfolios. Although obvious, few investors actually follow them consistently. In particular, we remain quite concerned that investors appear grossly under-diversified. Diversification is not dependent on the number of asset classes, but rather it depends on the correlations among those asset classes. Because correlations among asset classes have been so high, investors must be extra careful to ensure portfolios are indeed well-diversified.
2012-04-13 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator: The Growth Index Continues to Improve by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 1.4 as reported in today's public release of the data through April 6. This is the thirteenth consecutive week of improving data for the Growth Index and the highest reading since August 5th of last year. However, underlying WLI contracted slightly, decreasing from an adjusted 126.3 to 125.7
2012-04-12 Newtonian Profits by Neel Kashkari of PIMCO
Today many equity investors are asking whether corporate profit margins can stay strong. Stock prices today are anchored on strong profits, hence investors intense focus on the sustainability of those profits. If they fall, stock prices are likely to follow. No doubt individual companies and sectors will face margin pressure. But for the equity market as a whole, our central scenario is for corporate margins to remain strong in the near future. We are buying individual companies we like based on our analysis of their own fundamentals in the context of the economic environment they are in.
2012-04-12 Benjamin Graham's The Intelligent Investor: Chapter Eight by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs
There are only five pages dedicated to bonds in Chapter Eight. But, these five pages had such major influence on my early years as an advisor. And once again, it is those pages that are sending me a reminder as to why I should not buy bonds today. Given the current interest rates, I would strongly suggest any and all bond investors read these pages. I can assure you that Mr. Buffett has.
2012-04-12 Equity Market Review & Outlook by Richard Skaggs of Loomis Sayles
Looking out to year-end, Congress and the White House will be required to act on a long list of expiring tax measures and a debt ceiling increase is necessary as well. As we saw in 2011, compromise is very difficult to achieve and the elections introduce another level of uncertainty. However, the markets current attractive valuation builds in some of these risks. Beyond our shores, there is always the possibility of disappointment in Chinas growth trajectory, and further serious challenges with weaker members of the euro zone should be anticipated.
2012-04-12 Volatility Is Not Risk by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
Rogers blog dealt with his feelings about a recurring theme in Barrons over the weekend referencing peoples complacency for risk. The first part of his writing dealt with the risks associated with the utilization of puts. On this subject, Roger and I are in agreement. However, the second part of his blog talked about what he felt was the great risk of using dividend paying equities as an alternative investment choice. The following analysis utilizing the F.A.S.T. Graphs earnings and price correlated research tool illuminates the important parts that I feel Roger left out.
2012-04-11 Will Baby Boomers Wreck the Market? (The Sequel) by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
The basic premise behind the idea that Baby Boomers might lay waste to the stock market makes sense intuitively. The idea is that as Boomers retire, they will shift assets away from stocks to less risky alternatives such as bonds, annuities, CDs, etc. and begin living on the interest. All of this selling activity, the story goes, will put downward pressure on stock prices and lead to a major selloff.
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.
2012-04-09 How high is up? by Scott Brown of du Pasquier Asset Management
Europe hopes the latest (bailout and reg) moves will help it get its act together. (Good luck with that.) China applies the brakes. Labor looks strong, but can it continue? The Fed debates the need for more stimulus (without any consensus). Facebook moves closer to IPO (and investors beg to participate). The world lectures Iran and finally takes harsh measures (stand by to help Saudi). Investors hope to keep the mo going for another quarter, while being tempted to take profits along the way. Can we finally start focusing on Obama vs. Romney?
2012-04-09 How high is up? by Scott Brown of du Pasquier Asset Management
Although performance in our portfolios was good during the first quarter, it is likely that my defensiveness might be costing us during the current rally. Right now, my allocations reflect a lack of conviction that the rally can sustain, so while cash is king is a handy catchphrase, in our case it is our best defense against the kind of draw-down that ruins portfolios. Our methodology is not to have one or more security rupture the probability of continued portfolio progress, point A to point B. In that sense, we successfully continued our steady climb in valuation appreciation.
2012-04-05 NewsLetter - April 2012 by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz
Although we continue to believe in the tenets of Modern Portfolio Theory, the concept is Buy-and-Manage not Buy-and-Forget. As a consequence, we made numerous adjustments to our strategic allocations over the years. And, consistent with our buy-and-manage philosophy, for the last few years weve been studying investment markets and have come to believe that long-term future returns are likely to be even lower then we estimated in 2002, market risk will be higher and the benefits from diversification less (i.e., correlations will be higher).
2012-04-03 The Value of Sentiment Polls by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
In our opinion, those who are very bearish about the US stock market need a substantial price increase to trigger historically extreme newsletter writer sentiment. Those who are optimistic should prefer a temporary correction or sideways movement to reinforce fear on the part of the crowd. This would cause the bullish and bearish readings to gravitate to toward each other and remove the risk of having some temporary hell to pay for those of us who seek to practice long-duration common stock investing.
2012-04-02 1Q 2012: Why The Rally Can Last by Chuck Royce of The Royce Funds
We're seeing one of those rare occasions when one of our predictions for the market as a whole worked out almost exactly the way we thought it would. For a while now, we have been noting the disjunct between the very negative and alarmist headlines and the more optimistic view our own analyses and contacts with managements were revealing. It seemed to us as early as last September that the economy was in better shape than the conventional wisdom was suggesting.
2012-04-02 Bond Investors Beware: Quicksand Ahead by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management
There is a potential danger out there lurking for bond investors who are anxious for interest rates to increase. That danger for these yield-seekers is getting stuck in a bond mutual fund that might never deliver an investor the opportunity to realize the return of their capital. Bond mutual funds have been the beneficiary of a huge outflow of funds from the equity markets in 2011. The trend continued through the first quarter of 2012 even as equity markets turned in one of the best quarterly performances in a decade.
2012-03-30 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator Is Poised for Growth by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 0.0, the pivot point between growth and contraction, as reported in today's public release of the data through March 23rd. This is the eleventh consecutive week of improving data for the Growth Index and the highest level since August 12th of last year. The underlying WLI also improved, increasing from an adjusted 125.4 to 125.9 (see the fourth chart below).
2012-03-28 The End of the 30-year Bond Bull Market? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton
Is the great 30-year bull market in bonds coming to an end? Yes, perhaps -- or maybe not: It depends on whom you ask and how flexible your timing is. While many people think of bonds as conservative holdings, they have produced stellar returns for decades, thanks to the taming of inflation and other factors. But some experts say economic recovery could now reverse the process by driving interest rates higher, causing bond prices to fall.
2012-03-27 Buy Commodities, Sell Brands by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Warren Buffett was quoted the other day saying, We like companies which buy a commodity and sell a brand. We thought it would be very helpful to unpack his thought and put it into the context of today. We believe these current circumstances are framed by the historical over-pricing of commodities, the coming economic contraction of China, the successful cleansing of the income statements of US households and the inevitable rebound in housing in the US. We will look at the makeup of our portfolio companies which buy a commodity and sell a brand to consider their upside in this environment.
2012-03-26 A False Sense of Security by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
As we examine the present evidence relating to both the financial markets and the global economy, the aspect that strikes us most is the extent to which Wall Street continues to emphasize superficially positive data in preference for deeper analysis, to extrapolate short-term distortions as if they were long-term trends, and to misconstrue freshly printed wallpaper and thin supporting ice as if they were solid walls and floors.
2012-03-26 Overcoming Objections to Equities by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
So what are some of the improved economic conditions that have been pushing yields higher? We have devoted quite a bit of space in recent weeks to discussing the improvements in the labor market, and while jobs growth is certainly among the most important economic indicators, there are other factors that have been showing signs of improvement as well. Debt deleveraging remains a source of concern, but we have been seeing progress on that front. Individuals have been paying down their debt over the past few years and household debt levels have been falling noticeably.
2012-03-23 ECRI Indicators Improve, But Beware the ''Yo-Yo Years'' by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) came in at -0.4 in today's public release of the data through March 16th. This is the tenth consecutive week of improvement (less negative) data for the Growth Index and the highest level (i.e., least negative) since August 12th of last year. The underlying WLI also improved, increasing from an adjusted 125.0 to 125.7 (see the fourth chart below).
2012-03-21 Falling Treasuries: A Currency Perspective by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
What are the implications for the U.S. dollar and investors portfolios if bond prices continue to fall, as they have of late? Within that context, should investors care whether the U.S. retains its status as a reserve currency? Should it effect the way investors think about their own cash reserves?
2012-03-21 Why Convertible Bonds Should Be Part of Your Asset Allocation by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
Im going to let you hear from Greg Miller about convertible bonds. Not only will Greg tell you how they work, but also why they can be an important diversification technique in your portfolio even now when other types of bonds are falling out of favor. I believe that many of you will want to have convertible bonds in your portfolio before long. The interest rate increases weve seen over the last couple of weeks may be a sign that the long bull market in traditional bonds is rolling over to the downside. Convertible bonds offer opportunity even during periods of rising interest rates!
2012-03-20 A Look Back at the Performance of the Holy Grail by Theodore Wong (Article)
Back-tested results often look good on paper because stellar performance could have come from curve-fitting. If that were the case, then my 'Holy Grail' model would not have withstood the test of time. But in the 32 months that have passed since its publication, investors who heeded its advice would have outperformed the market on a risk-adjusted basis.
2012-03-20 Is There a Bubble in Treasuries? by Mike "Mish" Shedlock of Sitka Pacific Capital Management
Both Sides of the Case; Explaining the 2011 Treasury Rally (It's Not What You Think); Where to From Here? People have been calling a bubble in treasuries for at least a decade. The shocking result, especially to hyperinflationists, has been a stair-step decline in yields for 30 years. That's quite a long time.
2012-03-20 Has Anybody Seen My Old Friend Doomsday? by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Commodities have never been more popular or seen wider participation in my 32 years in the investment markets. The idea that more people existing is justification for higher commodity prices has constantly been refuted over the last 100 years. For example, we feel that if more people means perpetually rising commodity prices, they would have gone up all the time. In our opinion, China's hard landing is already happening. When China's debacle is obvious to everyone, commodities and stocks related to them will be the lepers of the investment world.
2012-03-19 An Angry Army of Aunt Minnies by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
The steepest market plunges on record (e.g. those following the 1973-74, 1987, 2000 and 2007 peaks, among others) have generally followed an overvalued speculative blowoff coupled with divergent interest rate pressures. This is why we take the "overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising yields" syndrome so seriously. Indeed, the outcomes are usually negative on average even without rising yields, but the yield pressures tend to add immediacy. Notably, the emergence of this syndrome has provided accurate warning of oncoming losses both historically, and also as recently as 2010 and 2011.
2012-03-16 ECRI Reaffirms Its Recession Call with New Analysis by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The WLI growth indicator of the ECRI came in at -1.4 in today's public release of the data through Mar. 9th. This is the 9th consecutive week of improvement data for the Growth Index and the highest level since Aug. 5th of last year. The underlying WLI also improved, increasing from an adjusted 124.6 to 125.1. The big news this week is the ECRI commentary: Why Our Recession Call Stands. The most interesting revelation in the commentary involved a shift to the year-over-year WLI change from ECRI's favored, and rather arcane, method of calculating the WLI growth series from the underlying WLI.
2012-03-15 Mr. BRIC Trade is on Our Side by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
A recent article in "The National" quoted Jim O'Neil as saying that current supply and demand for oil indicates that $80 to $100 per barrel for Brent Crude would be a fair price. O'Neil is a very savvy economist for Goldman Sachs, who coined the phrase BRIC trade back in 2001. Since that qualified him as an investment "Wayne Gretsky", we believe his thoughts are worthwhile. O'Neil argues that there are no winners in a war over Iran's nuclear capability. Therefore, he argues that the $25-35 premium in the price per barrel, would disappear by summer. We agree wholeheartedly.
2012-03-15 Market Update: A Real Recovery, or a False Start? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton
The Dow has hit its highest level in years, loan rates are at record lows and the U.S. economy appears to be gaining momentum. Even the housing market is starting to look inviting. But is this a real recovery -- or a false start like last year's? Wharton's Jeremy Siegel and Scott Richard think the economy is showing signs of a true rebound, and predict that stocks should do well in the next 12 months. But bonds, they warn, are in dangerous waters, and economic growth will be in jeopardy if oil prices keep rising and the European credit crisis worsens. (Video with transcript)
2012-03-13 Letter to the Editor - Tactical Asset Allocation v. Behavioral Finance by Various (Article)
Ken Solow, Michael Kitces and Sauro Locatelli respond to Christopher Sidoni's article, The Conflict between Tactical Asset Allocation and Behavioral Finance, which appeared on February 21.
2012-03-09 ECRI's Weekly Leading Index Improves (Slightly) Yet Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) came in at -2.6 in today's public release of the data through March 9th. This is the eighth consecutive week of improvement (less negative) data for the Growth Index and the highest level (i.e., least negative) since August 19th of last year. The underlying WLI also improved, increasing from an adjusted 124.1 to 124.3 (see the third chart below). Here again is a recent media appearance by Lakshman Achuthan, the Co-founder of ECRI, defending ECRI's recession call on with CNNMoney.
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 Street Smarts by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
While I remain cautious (not bearish) there are still things to do. For example, I continue to like the strategy of looking at companies whose share price has collapsed for a one-off event. Recall, this was the case with Acme Packet (APKT/$30.26/Strong Buy) back in January, where in our analysts view the stock swoon had taken a lot of the price risk out of the equation. A similar sequence occurred last week with Vocus (VOCS/$13.52/Strong Buy), where our fundamental analyst maintains his positive view.
2012-03-05 Warning: A New Who's Who of Awful Times to Invest by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Last week, the estimated return/risk profile of the S&P 500 fell to the worst 2.5% of all observations in history on our measures. This is not a runaway bull market. Rather, it is a market that again stands near the highs of an extended but volatile trading range. Importantly, the market is again characterized by an extreme set of conditions that we've previously associated with a Who's Who of Awful Times to Invest.
2012-03-02 Will the Bond Bubble Burst This Year? by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
I dont know who first uttered this classic line The trend is your friend (until its not) but it is timeless. It seems especially appropriate today in light of the massive shift weve seen from stocks to bonds since the financial crisis and bear market of 2008-early 2009. Millions of investors have moved from stocks to bonds and consider themselves safe. Today, there are more people invested in US bonds (of all types) than ever before.
2012-03-02 ECRI Continues to Defend its Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) came in at -3.0 in today's public release of the data through February 24th. This is the seventh consecutive week of improvement (less negative) data for the Growth Index and the highest level (i.e., least negative) since August 19th of last year. The underlying WLI also improved, incresing from an adjusted 123.1 to 124.2 (see the third chart below).
2012-02-28 Jim O’Shaughnessy: What Now Works on Wall Street by Katie Southwick (Article)
Understanding the science of investing has been the lifelong passion of Jim O'Shaughnessy, whose 1996 book, What Works on Wall Street, was among the first to explain the benefits of quantitative, empirical methods. Now, with the hindsight of the two bear markets since, he has refined his approach - rejecting some of his original ideas in favor of improved ways to forecast market performance. His new and improved approach finds that a dividend-oriented global strategy is best in today's environment.
2012-02-27 From News-Driven Bear to New Bull Market by David Moenning of Heritage Capital Management
One of the most interesting/difficult aspects of trying to manage money in the stock market is the fact that the game is always changing. And I'm here to say that one of the most dramatic changes I've ever witnessed in my 24+ years in this business has occurred in the past four months. In short, never before has the importance of being flexible been more evident as this market morphed from a violent, bucking bronco that moved hundreds of points on the latest headline or rumor out of Europe into a steady-Eddie, Energizer Bunny.
2012-02-24 ECRI Defends its Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) came in at -3.5 in today's public release of the data through February 10th. This is the sixth consecutive week of improvement (less negative) data for the Growth Index and the highest level (i.e., least negative) since August 26th of last year. However, the underlying WLI decreased fractionally from an adjusted 123.4 to 123.2 (see the third chart below). This is the second week of slippage in the underlying index.
2012-02-21 Gundlach: The Two Questions that Matter Most by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Two questions stand out amid the complexity of the current economic and market environment, according to Jeffrey Gundlach, both of which relate to critical elements of fiscal and monetary policy and should guide portfolio construction for investors.
2012-02-17 ECRI's Controversial Recession Call: Fifth Consecutive Improvement in the Growth Index by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) came in at -3.7 in today's public release of the data through February 10th. This is the fifth consecutive week of improvement (less negative) data for the Growth Index and the highest level (i.e., least negative) since August 26th of last year. The underlying WLI decreased fractionally from an adjusted 123.6 to 123.5
2012-02-15 Not in My Lifetime by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
The weak dollar and international economic fears have sparked multi-year bull markets in gold, oil and most major commodities. This has forced asset allocators at the largest institutions, consulting firms, registered advisory firms and financial advisor networks to over-emphasize all aspects of the capital eaters and the longer-term Treasury bonds which compete for these dollars. In effect, the Federal Reserve Board caused the last of the unbelievers to give up in early February because it does not appear that rates will rise in our lifetime.
2012-02-12 Hot Potato by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
A hot potato has been repeatedly passed from speculatively overvalued, overbought, overbullish market conditions driven by massive central bank interventions, to credit strains and emerging economic weakness nearly the instant those interventions are even temporarily suspended. The same speculators who have historically accompanied major and intermediate market peaks have emerged, followed by the emergence of credit strains, economic pressures, and a flight to safe-havens. The market is in an extended game of hot potato which will be resolved by the eventual removal of both conditions.
2012-02-10 Nike (NKE): Just Do It - Sell by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
A close examination of the earnings and price correlated graphs, coupled with the historic valuations that the market has applied to Nike shares, it becomes clear and obvious that Nike shares are overpriced today. Even with its high expected future earnings growth, the headwind of such overvaluation seems likely to make it extremely difficult to achieve any acceptable long-term rate of return. On the other hand, its also obvious that the market has decided to price Nike at todays rich valuation, and therefore, its at least possible that it can continue to do so.
2012-02-09 Driving Forward: A Case for Autos in 2012 by Ryan Issakainen of First Trust Advisors
The fallout from the credit crisis and subsequent bear market in equities from 2008 through Q109 cut deep, but few industries faced challenges as profound as the auto manufacturers. Frightened consumers simply stopped buying cars. Banks implemented stricter lending standards for those still interested in purchasing a vehicle. These were unchartered waters to be sure. But the worst appears to be behind us.
2012-02-07 Jeremy Siegel, Rob Arnott and Other Experts Forecast Equity Returns by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
A forecast of the equity risk premium (ERP) tells you how much to save, how to allocate assets between equities and fixed income, and how much you can consume. Given its great importance, the CFA Institute recently convened a group of top-level academics and practitioners to forecast future ERPs - and to reflect on similar predictions they had made a decade ago.
2012-02-06 Notes on Risk Management - Warts and All by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Presently, there seems to be an unusually wide gap between hindsight and foresight, both in the financial markets and in the economy. In both cases, forward-looking evidence suggests weak outcomes, but recent trends encourage optimism and risk-taking. Rather than sugar-coat these uncertainties and minimize the messy divergences in the data, I think the best approach is to review the evidence, warts and all, including economic risks, market conditions, and the strengths and limitations of our own investment approach.
2012-02-03 The Unlikely Bull Market by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners
Europe is going from crisis to crisis at the same time as stock markets climb higher. Meanwhile, investors are left confused. The key to understanding the apparent disconnect between stock market behavior and economic fundamentals is the aggressive policy being pursued by the ECB which has eased credit conditions in the crisis-stricken European banking industry. With more QE from the ECB in the pipeline, we expect equity prices to benefit.
2012-02-03 ECRI Recession Call: Growth Index Contraction Eases Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) posted -5.2 in its latest reading, data through January 27. The latest public data point is a reduced contraction from last week's -6.6 (a slight downward revision from -6.5). This is the highest level (i.e., least negative) since late August. The underlying WLI increased fractionally from an adjusted 122.7 to 123.2 (see the third chart below).
2012-02-02 Royce Looks Back at 2011, a Year of Correlation, Capitulation, and Consternation by Team of The Royce Funds
Twenty-eleven saw disasters both natural and human. There were threats of European default, failures of political leadership, worries over recession, and the ever-present specter of staggering debt. All of these events contributed to one of the wildest years for stocks in recent memory. It seems likely that 2011 will be remembered not for the severity of its losses, which weren't nearly as bad as one might think, but for its daily drama of extreme volatility.
2012-02-02 2011: The US Year by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors
The market generally proves the consensus wrong, and 2011 certainly adhered to that historical precedent because the consensus "must owns" at the beginning of 2011 generally underperformed during the year. What is somewhat startling to us, however, is that conviction has yet to be shaken. The consensus continues to favor commodities, emerging markets, and "any-bond-but-treasuries".
2012-02-01 Will I be able to retire ever? Answers to our clients #1 question! by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
Our clients are divided between those who are at least 65 and already retired (30%) and those clients aged 35-65 for whom retirement seems like an ever receding mirage. In this commentary, we will concentrate on the mechanism that we use to implement a clients retirement income strategy, review how this strategy has performed since January 2000, and review the lessons learned.
2012-01-31 Q4 2011 Market Commentary by John G. Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management
The proposed restructuring for private creditors of Greece has been called voluntary. Who voluntarily takes 30 cents on the dollar? The government authorities involved have insisted that any deal be deemed voluntary to avoid triggering credit default swaps (CDS) written on Greek debt. These CDS could accurately be called insurance contracts that are supposed to pay out if the Greek government defaults or changes the terms of its debt. The ISDA, the entity who decides these things, has more or less already said they wont consider the default a default.
2012-01-30 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
In recent discussions with clients, I have answered questions about good new versus bad news and short-term versus long-term probabilities. As my readers are aware, I have become increasingly bearish in my asset allocations, a factor which derives from a combination of very short-term information along with macro, secular data. In short, my analysis quantifies policies, valuations, and fundamentals which have dragged down the prospects for global earnings acceleration (in the near-term). Notice that I refer to these statistics as decelerators, not necessarily absolute impediments.
2012-01-27 Dissecting Todays Bull Market by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
So whats a tactical investing idea for the current cyclical bull market? Well, lets look at the investment implications of the Feds announcement this week. First, it suggests that nominal rates and real rates will stay low for a long time. This further buttresses the case for gold. Second, if US interest rates are going to be anchored at zero for an extended period, people are going to need to take some risk in one form or another to generate a decent return.
2012-01-27 ECRI Recession Call: Growth Index Contraction Eases Further by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) posted -6.5 in its latest reading, data through January 20. The latest public data point is a reduced contraction from last week's -7.6 (a slight downward revision from -7.5). This is the highest level (i.e., least negative) since early September. However, the underlying WLI declined fractionally from an adjusted 123.3 to 122.8 (see the third chart below).
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 The Plain Facts by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management
We believe that, while Europe will suffer a recession in 2012 on its painful path to recovery, with or without Greece, the U.S. and Canada will likely see accelerating growth this year, as will China, India and Latin America. In fact, global growth should be above 3%, supported by record high total household wealth in the world, which has doubled since 2000. China and India provide half of the worlds economic growth. And manufacturing in India and China grew in December and should continue to do so from renewed government stimulation.
2012-01-20 ECRI Recession Call: Growth Index Contraction Eases by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) posted -7.5 in its latest reading, data through January 13. The latest public data point is a reduced contraction from last week's -8.6, and the underlying WLI rose from an adjusted 121.1 to 123.4 (see the third chart below). The growth index had slipped lower over the past two weeks, but the latest data point is the highest (i.e., least negative) since early September.
2012-01-20 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Relative strength integers are congesting at resistance points each time our New Year rally attempts to gain traction. I am skeptical that we can sustain an upcycle. Although short cycle rallies are tempting, the dominant secular theme always prevails. We have a lot of work to do to dismantle the negative fundamentals which precipitated our current bear market. Thats not to suggest that portfolios cannot make money in here. Our portfolios have found success in mid-maturity corporate bonds, as well as trading with a shorter pulse in utilities, basic materials and technology shares.
2012-01-17 Letter to the Editor - GLWBs by Various (Article)
A reader responds to Wade Pfau's article, GLWBs: Retiree Protection or Money Illusion?, which appeared on December 13, 2011.
2012-01-17 On the Fed, Stocks, the Election & More on the 1% by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
We look at the Feds latest Beige Book report that came out last week, which showed that the economy improved in all 12 Fed Districts. We also ponder the question of whether the Fed is ramping up to do a QE3. Next, with everyone wondering if were facing another roller coaster ride in the stock market this year, I will bring you some interesting facts about what stocks have historically done in presidential election years. Finally, I dug a little deeper over the last week to find some fascinating information on the so-called Top 1% of wealthiest Americans.
2012-01-12 Nero (Iran) Fiddles While Rome (China) Burns by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
What is required for a whopper of a secular bear market is for most market participants to believe the positive side of the story all the way down. We believe that all the pieces are in place for commodities to suffer a multi-year bear market which will wipe out up to 70% of peak prices on most major commodities. We want to make sure everyone sees the potential for a massive reversion to the mean. In our opinion, the recession coming in Chinas economy will break the back of oil prices for decades. Lower oil prices could strip the economic relevance of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen.
2012-01-11 Bear Market Cycles and Valuations by Emil Zamarelli of Emil Zamarelli
The subject for this year's investment letter is long term bull and bear market cycles in equities. I will argue that these long term cycles repeat themselves and have similar characteristics in terms of their length and their excesses of optimism and pessimism. These excesses translate into exceedingly high and low market prices at their peaks and troughs. I believe that it is now a good idea to limit your exposure to the stock market. Cash and short term bonds issued by the highest quality governments and corporations are called for.
2012-01-09 The January Barometer by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
Its amazing that equity markets have rallied in light of the strong U.S. dollar. That action suggests that stocks are not ready for the pullback I have been expecting following last Tuesdays upside blow off. Still, while the Dow Industrials and Dow Transports have tagged new reaction highs, the SPX and NDX have not. Such divergences always leave me cautious, especially since we are past the seasonally sweet spot for stocks. At some point we are going to get a profit-taking event, whether it is from last Tuesdays intraday high or the 1300-1320 overhead resistance zone remains to be seen.
2012-01-06 Doing Nothing Nothing Done by Cliff W. Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors
Somehow, this is about the only time of year when most people reflect on the past, ponder the present, and plan/predict the future. There are several themes we have identified that will affect our asset-allocation discipline for 2012. As I commented in November, the market risks are geopolitical and the sentiment is driven by government policies. Our themes for 2012: Germanys Euro, Inflation versus Deflation, Election Year and It Isnt All Bad . For the year 2011, stocks basically broke even, although the 37 days where the Dow was plus or minus 200 points certainly made for a wild ride.
2012-01-06 ECRI Recession Call: Growth Index Shows Further Contraction by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) posted -8.2 in its latest reading, data through December 30. The latest public data point is a deeper contraction from last week's -7.6. The index had been hovering in a narrow range between -7.4 to -7.8 for the previous seven weeks but has now slipped lower.
2012-01-04 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group
The year 2012 is upon us and looms large for a number of different reasons. Within the next few days, the first of the Presidential primaries will begin and by early November we will know who our next President is and who controls Congress, along with many State Houses. Some astrologists believe this is the Age of Aquarius and according to the Mayan calendar, December 21st will be the end of time, or as some prefer to think of it (ourselves included) the beginning of a new age. Maybe the astrologists and Mayans have something going.
2012-01-04 Ebay and Amgen: Dividends Do Matter by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
We are owners of both EBay and Amgen. We believe the dividend policy and price action in the shares of these two companies can teach us about stock price performance over the next three to five years. History shows that for a few decades after terrible stock price performance investors demand more of their return from cash dividends. Historical payout ratio over the last 50 years is 52.6% and over the last 20 years it was 46%. We believe that the companies which raise their dividend payout ratio will enjoy the kind of outsized price gains that Amgen has seen in the second half of 2011.
2011-12-30 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Leave it to global austerity to bring confidence in markets to a grinding halt. Our global credit crisis allows for very little wiggle room in addressing both a moral and economic bankruptcy that has now engulfed the worlds financial markets for four years specifically, and nearly two decades, generally. In recent weeks, efforts to create multinational solutions worldwide, and bipartisan solutions domestically, have erased some doubt that the problem of overspending will be addressed, but only quenched an immediate taste for something positive to occur.
2011-12-30 ECRI Recession Call: Growth Index Virtually Unchanged for Seven Weeks by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) posted -7.6 in its latest reading, data through December 23. The latest public data point is virtually unchanged from last week's -7.7. The index has been hovering in a narrow range between -7.4 to -7.8 for the past seven weeks. Those of us who follow this indicator are nervously awaiting a confirmation or reversal of the trend.
2011-12-27 Vitaliy Katsenelson on Krugman’s Missed Call by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Vitaliy Katsenelson is the chief investment officer at Investment Management Associates, a Denver-based money management firm, and the author of two highly acclaimed books on value investing. In this interview, he identifies what Paul Krugman failed to see with regard to China, discusses the prospects for the European and domestic economies, and explains why Microsoft is a grossly undervalued stock.
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 How Do Markets Perform During Election Years? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Yale and Jeffrey Hirsch from The Stock Traders Almanac have scrutinized the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average over 177 years of presidential cycles. Beginning with Andrew Jackson in 1829, election years have averaged a 5.8 percent gain in stocks. In fact, 29 out of those 44 election years have resulted in gains for the Dow.
2011-12-22 Value Traps and Investor Psychology by Team of American Century Investments
Many financial market participants are familiar with what is generally known as the two basic emotions felt by investors, greed and fear. Very often, over-enthusiasm is observed accompanying greed during bull markets and over-despondency is seen on the heels of fear during bear markets. Besides the cyclical aspects of investor psychology, there are other aspects of behavioral finance (another name for this branch of psychology) to explore that relate to value trap avoidance.
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.
2011-12-20 Gundlach on the Key Threat to Global Economies by Robert Huebscher (Article)
If class warfare is to be the dominant theme in next year’s presidential campaign, it will revive the premise of Ernest Hemingway's 1937 novel, To Have and Have Not, which he wrote in the midst of the second downturn of the Great Depression. That was also the title Jeffrey Gundlach gave his conference call with investors last week, during which he warned that wealth inequality will threaten European and domestic economies. Last week also saw Morningstar pass over Gundlach as a candidate for its fixed-income manager of the year award, so we’ll look at whether that decision made sense.
2011-12-20 Dennis Gartman Explains His Call on Gold by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Dennis Gartman has been publishing his daily commentary, The Gartman Letter, since 1987. He's been in the news lately because of a call he made last week on the price of gold. In this interview, he discusses the reasons behind that forecast.
2011-12-19 When "Positive Surprises" Are Surprisingly Meaningless by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
How much importance should we put on the fact that economic data has delivered positive surprises in recent weeks? Don't all these surprises significantly short-circuit the risk of probable recession? As economist John Williams observes, "starting in October, a divergence developed: Whereas year-to-year change in BLS estimated payroll earnings continued at a more-or-less constant, positive level, tax receipts fell quite markedly. Where the Treasury numbers reflect full reporting, the BLS data are sampled..modeled and..revised...the BLS has overstated average earnings..in recent months."
2011-12-16 The Great Scarcity: Stockpicking by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Correlations among the S&P 500 Index companies was the highest on October 10th of 2011 as it has been for 25 years. In the opinion of Smead Capital Management, this means that more investors are participating in market directional strategies, macro-economic strategies and tactical portfolio strategies than at any time in US history. As large-cap value managers and stock pickers, we are very excited about the next three to five years as all the chips have moved to the other side of the table and stock picking has become a scarce resource.
2011-12-16 ECRI Recession Call: Growth Index Contraction Moderates Fractionally by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) posted -7.5 in its latest reading, data through December 9. The latest public data point is fractionally less negative than last week's -7.7, which is a downward revision from -7.6. CRI's recession call is, to say the least, quite controversial in financial circles. The perma-bears are generally supportive of the forecast, while the predominantly bullish mainstream financial view ranges from skeptical to dismissive.
2011-12-14 Estimating Future Stock Market Returns by Adam Butler and Mike Philbrick of Butler Philbrick & Associates
Investors would do much better to heed the results of robust statistical analyses of actual market history, and play to the relative odds. This analysis suggests that markets are currently expensive, and asserts a very high probability of low returns to stocks (and possibly other asset classes) in the future. Remember, any returns earned above the average are necessarily earned at someone else's expense, so it will likely be necessary to do something radically different than everyone else to capture excess returns going forward.
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.
2011-12-12 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
We yearn for improvement, yet do not wish to lower our standards of evaluation. Year-over-year uptrends are indeed showing some progress, but dont factor in the bigger issues of jobs loss, savings depletion, home and portfolio devaluation and most importantly the loss of innocence/confidence that our institutions know how to do it better and can help us to sustain enthusiasm for something better ahead.
2011-12-09 2012: Politics Versus Fundamentals by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors
Assessing the prospects for a coming twelve-month period is always a challenge. We rely on our broad arsenal of fundamental barometers for profits, sentiment, momentum, and our cyclical indicators to help us identify whether markets are correctly aligned relative to their economic and profits cycles.
2011-12-09 ECRI Update: Lakshman Achuthan Explains the ECRI Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) posted -7.6 in its latest reading, data through December 2. The latest public data point is fractionally less negative than last week's -7.8. Yesterday Lakshman Achuthan, the Co-founder of ECRI, spoke with Tom Keene on Bloomberg Television's Surveillance Midday. It was sufficiently representative of the ECRI view that it's also available on the ECRI website here, with bold heading Recession Update. The eight-minute video is well worth watching in its entirely.
2011-12-08 Some Perspective on Recent Stock Market Volatility by Team of American Century Investments
Both October and November exhibited substantial price volatility. For the full month of October, the index was up 10.9% on a total return basisthe best October performance for the S&P 500 in nearly 20 years. In contrast, for November the index was down -7.5% through Friday the 25th before a substantial rally the last three trading days of the month. Well take a closer look at the volatility of the S&P 500 from a historical perspective to provide some insights about market volatility its history, trends and causes.
2011-12-06 The Quality Conundrum by J.J. Abodeely, CFA, CAIA (Article)
We are witnessing the end of a remarkable and confounding era for stocks, best described by the 'quality conundrum' investors faced for much of the last two years. During that time the combined outperformance of low-quality stocks alongside the underperformance of high-quality stocks was unprecedented in the last 30 years. Now, we are embarking on an era where high-quality stocks will likely significantly outperform low-quality stocks, resolving this conundrum.
2011-12-05 The Facts They Dont Want You to Know by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners
Our industry needs a good old fashioned kick up its backside. Far too much mediocrity is rewarded for nothing other than destroying value.
2011-12-05 The Shortest Quarterly Letter Ever by Jeremy Grantham of GMO
Sadly, I feel increasingly vindicated by my seven lean years forecast of 2 years ago. The U.S., and to some extent the world, will not easily recover from the current level of debt overhang, the loss of perceived asset values, and the gross ﬁnancial incompetence on a scale hitherto undreamed of. Separate from the seven lean years syndrome, the U.S. and the developed world have permanently slowed in their GDP growth. This is mostly the result of slowing population growth, an aging proﬁle, and an overcommitment to the old, which leaves inadequate resources for growth.
2011-12-02 ECRI Recession Watch: Growth Index Reverses Trend and Declines Further by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) posted -7.8 in its latest reading, data through November 25. The latest public data point is more negative than last week's downwardly revised -7.4 (previously -7.3). Today's update reverses the trend off its interim low of -10.1 on October 14.
2011-11-29 The Volatility Trap: Why Staying the Course Makes Sense by C. Thomas Howard, Ph.D. and Craig T. Callahan (Article)
Those who let emotions drive their investment decisions missed out on the October market surge, the largest monthly stock market return in 20 years. These investors have unwittingly fallen prey to the 'Volatility Trap,' failing to recognize - as our data show - that increased volatility is a precursor to higher returns.
2011-11-29 Sometimes We Lose Perspective by Scott A. MacKillop (Article)
It's been a rough ride lately for investors. Looking back over the course of my lifetime, however, what has been particularly exceptional is not recent market swings - these come and go - but rather the return one would have earned if they had been continuously invested in the stock market over the past 60-plus years.
2011-11-26 ECRI Recession Watch: Decline in Growth Index Continues to Moderate by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute posted -7.3 in its latest reading, data through November 18. The latest public data point is less negative than last week's upwardly revised -7.8 and continues the trend off its interim low of -10.1 on October 14. Earlier this month I posted the November 7th CNBC interview with Lakshman Achuthan, the Co-founder of ECRI. I'm again including video because ECRI continues to feature it on their website here, which I see as ongoing evidence that they stand behind their recession forecast.
2011-11-15 Every Picture Tells a Story: Market Charts Looking Good by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
With so much focus on the macro, I thought an update on the micro would be welcome. Several measures of sentiment, valuation and technical conditions show the market to be in pretty good shape. Macro headwinds persist, but the expectations bar has arguably been set low enough to be easily hurdled.
2011-11-11 Off With Their Heads! by David Baccile of Sextant Investment Advisors
It is hard to know now whether deflationary or inflationary forces will prevail. But we dont have to know. I do not expect that central banks will be able to get monetary policy just right and so it is clear to me that the current environment of low, stable inflation around the world is going to be short lived. This outlook combined with the extremely low interest rate environment cause us to focus on the preservation of capital. Avoiding losses is very important now. With yields so low, offsetting or recouping any losses is very difficult and would take much longer than is typical.
2011-11-11 ECRI Recession Watch: Growth Index Decline Moderates by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute posted -8.5 in its latest reading. The latest public data point is less negative than last week's -9.4, and trending above its interim low of -10.1 on October 14. ECRI has come under some harsh criticism this past week, starting with a CNBC interview of Lakshman Achuthan, the Co-founder of ECRI. About half-way through the interview, the discussion turns into an uninformative debate in which Achuthan speaks of a "contagion among the forward leading indicators" but dodged requests for specifics.
2011-11-11 Style Investing Revisited: A Disciplined Approach Means More Than Adhering to a Style Universe by Team of The Royce Funds
Over time much has been written about style investinggrowth versus valuewithin the small-cap universe. In fact, investors often rely on style indexes such as the Russell 2000 Value Index and Russell 2000 Growth Index as proxies for a particular style and/or performance pattern, such as moving to value in anticipation of a bear market or growth in expectation of a bull. While this is certainly easy and convenient, especially for performance comparisons, style indexes are often more about a particular type of company or narrow set of criteria as opposed to a specific investment approach.
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.
2011-11-09 Seasick: Hanging on the Rail by Cliff W. Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors
For the past 22 months the question has lingered: when will Greece default? The markets are beginning to learn from the prior three Euro-crises what to expect from European policymakers. In the end it will be what Germany wants, as they are seemingly content to amputate the leg of Greece six inches at a time. Even prior to this past weekends summit, German Chancellor Merkel complimented now former Prime Minister Papandreou for stepping down but implored the new Greek policymakers to carry out the Brussels decisions completely and immediately.
2011-11-05 The Political Season Heats Up by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management
U.S. presidential elections are a year away, while France and many other countries will be staging elections within the next twelve months. We can expect continued volatility as politicians around the globe say things to benefit their re-election chances which can have a negative impact on stock prices globally over the short run. This has made and will continue to make the tried and true method of buying and holding specific stocks for the long term a difficult road to travel anywhere in the world.
2011-11-01 Economic Perception or Reality? by Mike Boyle of Advisors Asset Management
October is on track to post the best monthly S&P gain of this current recovery, the first double-digit monthly gain since December 1991 and the best October gain since 1974. Though we felt the equity markets were overdue for a bounce we do feel we are now ripe for a bit of consolidation before they move higher. We think as perceptions begin to align a bit more with reality that the S&P 500 should be able to move towards the April highs We recommend investors focus on the themes of quality dividends, quality growth and quality balance sheets that we have been highlighting for quite some time.
2011-10-31 Whipsaw Traps by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Current market conditions cluster among a set of historical observations that might best be characterized as a "whipsaw trap." Though last week's rally triggered several widely-followed trend-following signals, the broader ensemble of data suggests a high likelihood of a failed rally. In this particular bucket of historical observations, less than 30% of them enjoyed an upside follow-through over the next 6 weeks. So while the expected return/risk profile of the market remains negative here, we have to be somewhat more tentative about taking a "hard" defensive position.
2011-10-28 ECRI Recession Watch: Growth Index Virtually Unchanged by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) posted -10.0 in its latest reading, data through October 21, a fractionally change from the previous week's -10.1. On September 30th, the ECRI publicly announced that the U.S. is tipping into a recession, a call the Institute had announced to its private clients on September 21st.
2011-10-25 Time to Put Your Shades On by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors
The paradox of the stock market is that higher prices attract buyers, while lower prices attract sellers. This herd-like behavior is confirmed by peers and exaggerated even more now by social media outlets. The most important thing to acknowledge in these markets is to be tactical and buy on weakness. In our current yield starved environment, I have focused on growth and income (two such scarce resources these days) in both dividend paying large cap stocks and energy infrastructure MLPs.
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.
2011-10-21 ECRI Recession Watch: Growth Index Drops Further by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) has now posted 11 consecutive declines since early August. The interim high of 8.0 was set in the week ending on April 15. The latest reading, data through October 14, is -10.1, down from the previous week's -9.7. For a close look at this movement of this index in recent months, here's a snapshot of the data since 2000.
2011-10-21 Do Bullish Investors Have an Ace in the Hole? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
You may not be able to count cards at the blackjack table, but counting historical trends of the stock market and discovering inflection points are not only legal strategies, they are essential to successful investing. One card worth counting is the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), which measures the manufacturing strength of any given country. A rising PMI indicates a growing economy and is considered a leading indicator.
2011-10-20 Why Moving to Cash May be a Mistake by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
ecently, weve all had to contend with political inertia that has bordered on dysfunction on both sides of the Atlantic. In times like these, its not surprising that more and more investors are moving into cash. But that move may be a mistake. To be sure, if there is a worsening crisis in Europe or we have another severe recession, investors will probably be better off out of the market for a period of time. But unless you feel confident that you can predict these events, its worth considering three reasons to keep some equity exposure.
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.
2011-10-18 Gundlach: Markets Aren’t Cheap Enough Yet by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Prices for risky assets are straddling the extremes of two potential outcomes. A 'hurricane' may hit, in the form of a blow-up in Europe or a move to put the US federal government on an austerity program, driving prices lower. Or world economies will plod along, in which case optimistic pricing makes sense. But prices should be 'truly cheap' against those parallel problems, according to Jeffrey Gundlach, and that is not yet the case.
2011-10-17 Europe: Just Getting Warmed Up by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
At present, the S&P 500 is again just 10% below the high it set before the recent market downturn began. In my view, the likelihood is very thin that the economy will avoid a recession, that Greece will avoid default, or that Europe will deal seamlessly with the financial strains of a banking system that is more than twice as leveraged as the U.S. banking system was before the 2008-2009 crisis.
2011-10-14 ECRI Recession Watch: Growth Index Declines Further by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) has posted 10 consecutive declines since early August. The interim high of 8.0 was set in the week ending on April 15. The latest reading, data through October 7, is -9.6, down from the previous week's -8.7. On September 30th, the ECRI publicly announced that the U.S. is tipping into a recession, a call the Institute had announced to its private clients on September 21st.
2011-10-14 The Bottom Line #6 by Paul Azeff and Kory Bobrow of Euro Pacific Capital
What we can learn from the past is that in the current environment, being nimble, buying at major fear-induced selloffs and, even more importantly, selling into strength, is a strategy that will outperform the buy-and-hold crowd. For nimble traders, volatility represents opportunity. Having someone by your side to help calm the fear and quell the exuberance helps the returns a lot. Its when you have volatility like weve seen of late, or after the Great Depression, or experienced in the Japanese market over the last 20+years, when you really need a good execution strategy to stay profitable.
2011-10-14 Fall 2011 Quarterly Commentary by Alan T. Beimfohr and John G. Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management
We are left with depressed equity valuation in the US and Europe. Stocks are not supposed to be this cheap in the face of interest rates and inflation this low. In fact, stocks have tended to trade at more like 20 times earnings in the context of todays 2% inflation and 2% ten year Treasury yields, roughly 50% higher than todays valuation. Alan Greenspans Fed Model, which compares forward earnings yield (inverse of P/E) to 10 year Treasury yields, suggests US stocks are the most compelling vs. Treasuries in over fifty years.
2011-10-13 Boomer Demographics: The Shift Ahead by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
I looked at developments in U.S. demographics from 1980 to the present with a focus on the Boomer bulge. Then I examined current day demographics for several major countries around the globe. I've developed a set of population pyramids for the U.S. that start with 1981 and span7 decades at 10-year intervals using the U.S. Census Bureau data. Let's look at some comparative numbers for these seven snapshots. I've calculated the Elderly Dependency Ratios for each. As this ratio shifts higher, the productive population is increasingly burdened by the cost of entitlement programs.
2011-10-11 Setven Jobs - RIP by Team of Dana Investment Advisors
Just when it appears the free trade bills with South Korea, Columbia and Panama are about to be passed, South Koreans are protesting in the street to stop it. Before the worldwide economic crisis they were all for it. Now they feel their economy (exports) will be hurt by it. In this economic crisis it is every country for themself. There is legislation currently in Congress to impose a tariff on Chinese imports mainly because they will not allow their currency to float to levels that would be fairer to their trading partners - mainly us. Bad idea.
2011-10-07 Rewriting the 4% Rule by Kevin Feldman of iShares Blog
Is there a safer and simpler way to plan retirement distributions? If youve saved more than you need for retirement and can live on 3% plus an inflation adjustment each year, you have the past century of data on your side suggesting that your nest egg will not outlast you. For most of us though, this is an unrealistic drawdown rate, so you will likely need some professional financial planning help to map out a withdrawal plan that meets your retirement goals. Like all rules that try to simplify complex questions, 4% is just thata number, which may or may not be your number.
2011-10-07 Point of Maximum Pessimism? by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners
The current level of pessimism is quite overwhelming, in particular in Europe where the eurozone crisis has taken its toll on investor confidence. This has led to valuation levels we haven't seen since the dark days of 1981-82, just before we embarked on the 1982-2000 bull market - the biggest of all time. It is our view that investors will be amply rewarded if they begin to buy European equities at current levels, although it is a strategy that shall require both a solid stomach and some patience.
2011-10-07 ECRI Recession Watch: Growth Index Declines Further by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
Last week, September 30th, the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) publicly announced that the U.S. is tipping into a recession, a call the Institute had announced to its private clients on September 21st. One week later, the Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the ECRI has posted another week-over-week decline, now at -8.1 from the previous week's -7.2 (latest publicly available data as of September 30). The interim high of 8.1 was set in the week ending on April 15.
2011-10-06 CEOs More Negative on the Economy & Jobs by Gary D. Halbert of ProFutures Investments
Consumer spending accounts for apprx. 70% of GDP, so the fact that the confidence index remained very low once again this month does not bode well for a significant upturn in the economy in the 3Q. Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives created another very interesting table in his latest report: Using historical data from the Conference Board, Doug illustrates the average levels of the Consumer Confidence Index during each of the last five recessions. As you can see, consumer confidence in the recession and financial crisis of 2007-2009 was the lowest of any time in the last 30 years.
2011-10-05 Million Dollar Question: Dollar and Recession Risk Up Together by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
Recession fears have mounted, but the picture is still mixed and it's not yet conclusive. The US dollar is winning the "least ugly" currency contest, but isn't helping stocks or commodities. Short-term, a stronger dollar is a negative for riskier assets but not necessarily longer-term, if history's a guide.
2011-10-04 Jeffrey Gundlach: Preparing for the Coming Crisis by Katie Southwick (Article)
Speaking at a luncheon in New York last week, Jeffrey Gundlach, the founder and chief investment officer of DoubleLine Capital, gave investors advice on how to survive pending crises at home and abroad. After outlining the current state of U.S. debt and tax policy, Gundlach advised against European investments, favoring the U.S. dollar and owning U.S. government bonds as a hedge against credit.
2011-10-04 Is Recession a Certainty in the U.S.? by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management
There is certainly much greater economic risk out there than there was just a month or two ago. My sense is that any recession that the United States may experience would be associated with a slowing of U.S. GDP because of a fall of in Europe, and potentially China. I believe that China would act quickly to reverse their tightening bias to spur growth. Calling recessions is a dangerous game. We all try to make logical sense of markets and try to forecast the future. All I know is that folks that have done well decade over decade, like Buffet, are buying and not selling.
2011-10-03 The Road Ahead: Is it Inflation or Deflation? What the charts are saying. by Martin J. Pring of Pring Turner Capital Group
The secular bear market in bond yields may well be in its terminal phase but a reversal has not yet been signaled by any of our long-term indicators. However, being 30-years old this month, it is getting long in the tooth, whereas the secular commodity advance at a relatively young 10-years is half the age of its average predecessor. While the very long-term trend for commodities is up we also need to recognize that the primary trend of is bearish. They are therefore likely to experience additional corrective action prior to any attempt at new all-time highs.
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 ECRI Makes a Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
Today the ECRI publicly announced that the U.S. is tipping into a recession. Early last week, ECRI notified clients that the U.S. economy is indeed tipping into a new recession. And there's nothing that policy makers can do to head it off. ECRI's recession call isn't based on just one or two leading indexes, but on dozens of specialized leading indexes, including the U.S. Long Leading Index, which was the first to turn down before the Arab Spring and Japanese earthquake to be followed by downturns in the Weekly Leading Index and other shorter-leading indexes.
2011-09-27 Estimating Future Stock Market Returns by Adam Butler and Mike Philbrick of Butler Philbrick & Associates
Investors would do well to heed the results of robust statistical analyses of actual market history, and play to the relative odds. This analysis suggests that markets are currently expensive, and asserts a very high probability of low returns to stocks (and possibly other asset classes) in the future. Remember, any returns earned above the average are necessarily earned at someone else's expense, so it will likely be necessary to do something radically different than everyone else to capture excess returns going forward.
2011-09-26 Reflections and Outrage by Bob Rodriguez of First Pacific Advisors
Here is address given at the 2009 Morningstar conference which has just as much relevance now as it did then. Last years performance was a terrible one for the market averages as well as for mutual fund active portfolio managers. It did not matter the style, asset class or geographic region. We managers did not deliver the goods and we must explain why. In letters to shareholder will this failure be chalked up to bad luck, an inability to identify a changing governmental environment or to some other excuse? We owe them more than simple platitudes, if we expect to regain their confidence.
2011-09-24 Catastrophic Success by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Rick Perry touched the third rail of Social Security and called it a Ponzi scheme, which of course immediately made him the leading candidate in the shoot the messenger category. Behind the rhetoric, I look at some actual numbers. Not the unfunded liabilities, thats too easy. Lets look at what a heartless, uncompassionate man President Roosevelt was when he started Social Security. And of course, we must start off with the results of the FOMC meeting, which has me feeling not at all amused. What are they thinking? Apparently, they are seeing the results from another, alternative universe.
2011-09-23 5 Exceptional Dividend Growth Stocks - Lower Volatility and Higher Total Return by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
For many people these are troubled times where fears about our economy and the stock market are at a heightened state. Stock price volatility is higher than we've ever seen it, adding to investor nervousness. Therefore, we searched for a safe place for conservative investors to invest. Our due diligence identified five dividend growth stocks that possess stringent quality characteristics, while at the same time have produced strong above-average historical returns. But more importantly, each candidate had to have future consensus earnings estimated growth rates greater than the S&P 500.
2011-09-23 ECRI Growth Metric: Revised Data, Still Declining by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) posted another week-over-week decline, now at -6.7 from last week's -6.1, which is an upward revision from -7.1. In fact, with today's release, the publicly available ECRI data has been revised as far back as January 14th, with increasingly significant revisions from Q2 forward. The formula for the ECRI indicators is not published, but my speculation, based on the timing of the revisions, is that the Q2 Fed Flow of Funds release on September 13th occasioned the updates.
2011-09-21 Liquidity Crisis? A Currency Perspective by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
In 2008, the global financial system faced a potential meltdown when funding seized up for investment banks, ultimately leading to the failure of Lehmann Brothers. Three years on, we have got plenty of problems, but as we shall argue - investors may want to differentiate between a financial meltdown and insolvency. While complaining about policy makers and bankers may generate animated water cooler discussions, lets take their human (and fallible) nature as a given, and discuss implications for investors. In this context, we assess the U.S. dollar, currencies and equities.
2011-09-20 The Power of Dividends – And What They Say About Future Returns by Lance Paddock (Article)
The return on equities is driven by dividends, since companies must ultimately distribute their hard-earned cash to shareholders. Given that reality, recent history of dividend yields portends a disappointing future for equity investors, one of sub-par returns relative to historical averages.
2011-09-20 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to Dennis Gibb's article, The Risks of Exchange-Traded Products, which appeared last week.
2011-09-20 Deja Vu? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
Over the past 41 years I have observed a few comparisons that have had fairly good correlations to what was occurring at the time and have used them to help allay panic among investors at inappropriate times. Most recently, I have suggested the panic lows of August 4th and 8th showed such extreme panic-selling readings that participants had to go back to May 13, 1940, when the Germany Army broke through the Maginot Line and invaded France, to find similar panic levels. That observation was consistent with the analogue I have been using for two months.
2011-09-17 Twist and Shout? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
What in the wide, wild world of monetary policy is the Fed doing, giving essentially unlimited funds to European banks? What are they seeing that we do not? And is this a precursor to even more monetary easing at this next weeks extraordinary FOMC meeting, expanded to a two-day session by Bernanke? Can we say 'Operation Twist?' Or maybe 'Twist and Shout?'
2011-09-16 ECRI Growth Metric Goes Yet Further Negative by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) has now dropped further into negative territory after oscillating in a narrow range (1.5 to 2.1) from late June through the first week of August. Today's update of the publicly available data available (through September 9) now puts the decline at -7.1, down from last week's revised -6.6 (previously -6.2). The interim high of 8.0 was set in the week ending on April 15. For a close look at this movement of this index in recent months, here's a snapshot of the data since 2000.
2011-09-16 Sell your Bonds and Gold and Buy Dividend Growth Stocks Before it is Too Late by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
Although we generally believe in the soundness of the principle of diversification, we also believe that extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. Any historian of markets or economies would agree that financial markets are currently far from behaving ordinarily. We intend to point out several markets that are behaving both inefficiently and completely out-of-sync from sound and prudent economic principles. Therefore, we will argue that certain sacred cows that would and should apply during normal circumstances need to be questioned and challenged in these very uncertain times.
2011-09-13 Is the Next Leg Down in the Secular Bear Market Already Underway? by Martin J. Pring of Pring Turner Capital Group
It has been our view since the opening years of the decade that US equities are in a secular bear market. That opinion was based on several long-term indicators reaching the kind of extremes seen at previous secular peaks. Examples would include readings in the Shiller P/E ratio in excess of 22.5, the Tobin Q above 1.07 and the dividend yield below 3%. Since recent readings of 20.25,1.05 and 2.25% respectively have been closer to those seen at secular peaks than the 7.5,.3 and 6.5% normally seen at secular lows we are holding fast to the conclusion that the secular bear has further to run.
2011-09-12 Market Slide Continues, but Positives May Be on the Horizon by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
We are in the midst of a bear market in confidence more than anything else and investors should be on the lookout for signs that conditions will be getting better. There are a number of developments that could help restore confidence. Positive surprises in US economic data; lower interest rates in Europe; major European bond purchases; a eurobond issue; additional quantitative easing from the US Federal Reserve; the US Congressional super committee agreeing to major long-term entitlement reform; and US pro-growth tax policies that encourage capital formation.
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.
2011-09-10 Preparing for a Credit Crisis by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
This week we turn our eyes first to Europe and then the US, and ask about the possibility of a yet another credit crisis along the lines of late 2008. I then outline a few steps you might want to consider now rather than waiting until the middle of a crisis. It is possible we can avoid one but whether we do depends on the political leaders of the developed world making the difficult choices and doing what is necessary. And in either case, there are some areas of investing you clearly want to avoid. Finally, I turn to the weather and offer you a window into the coming seasons.
2011-09-09 Examining Systemic Risk in the Banking System by Team of Litman Gregory
When we spoke over two years ago, we discussed credit default swaps as speculative derivative instruments, the risks these presented to the financial system, and the need to better mitigate these risks. Can you comment on the progress the industry has made in reducing the systemic risk they pose to the financial system and talk about the risks they continue to pose? Derivatives, as such, were never entirely the problem. But, in some senses, they were symptomatic of a much deeper problemwhich is why we had created a system that was highly leveraged, highly complex, and highly networked.
2011-09-09 ECRI Growth Metric Drops Yet Deeper into Negative Territory by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute has now dropped further into negative territory after oscillating in a narrow range (1.5 to 2.1) from late June through the first week of August. Today's update of the publicly available data available (through September 2) now puts the decline at -6.2, down from last week's revised -4.4. The interim high of 8.0 was set in the week ending on April 15. See the CNBC video clip featuring Lakshman Achuthan, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer of ECRI, discussing the risk of a new recession.
2011-09-06 Predictably Incorrect by Bob Veres (Article)
I had to read through this commentary by behavioral economics researcher Dan Ariely twice before I was willing to draw the obvious conclusion. It's the biggest bunch of hooey I've ever read in the financial planning press.
2011-09-06 Five Strategies for a Sideways Market by Kane Cotton, CFA and Jonathan Scheid, CFA (Article)
If this slow growth environment coupled with asset price volatility continues for (to steal a quote from Fed Chairman Bernanke) 'an extended period,' what additional portfolio strategies might aid the overall risk/return profile of investor portfolios? More specifically, how do you manage investments in a sideways market?
2011-09-06 An Imminent Downturn: Whom Will Our Leaders Defend? by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
The global economy is at a crossroad that demands a decision-whom will our leaders defend? One choice is to defend bondholders-existing owners of mismanaged banks unserviceable peripheral European debt, and lenders who misallocated capital by reaching for yield and fees by making mortgage loans to anyone with a pulse. Defending bondholders will require forced austerity in spending of already depressed economies, continued monetary distortions, and the use of public funds to recapitalize poor stewards of capital. It will do nothing for job creation, foreclosure reduction, or economic recovery.
2011-09-02 ECRI Growth Metric Drops Deeper into Negative Territory by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) dropped deeper into negative territory after oscillating in a narrow range (1.5 to 2.1) from late June through the first week of August. Today's update, data through August 26, now puts the decline at -4.3, down from last week's revised -2.1. The interim high of 8.0 was set in the week ending on April 15. See the CNBC video clip featuring Lakshman Achuthan, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer of ECRI, which aired on Wednesday, August 31st, just before the ADP jobs report.
2011-08-30 Errata and Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
We correct a couple of errors which appeared in our article last week, The Simplest, Safest Withdrawal Strategy. A reader also responds to that article, and two readers respond to other recent articles.
2011-08-29 A Reprieve from Misguided Recklessness by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Over the past three years, Wall Street and the banking system have enjoyed enormous fiscal and monetary concessions on the self-serving assertion that the global financial system will "implode" if anyone who made a bad loan might actually experience a loss. Because reversing this mantra is so difficult, policy makers are likely to continue fitful efforts to "rescue" this debt for the sake of bondholders. The justification for those policies will therefore have to be coupled with rhetoric that institutions holding these securities are too "systemically important" to suffer losses.
2011-08-26 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Growth Metric Slips Further into Negative Territory by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) dropped further into negative territory after oscillating in a narrow range (1.5 to 2.1) from late June through the first week of August. Today's update, data through August 19, now puts the decline at -2.9, down from last week's -0.1. The interim high of 8.0 was set in the week ending on April 15. The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom. The next chart shows the correlation between the WLI, GDP and recessions.
2011-08-25 The Fork in the Road by Lance Paddock of Thompson Creek Wealth Advisors
On a fundamental basis the US stock market is still overvalued. As discussed in our last View from the Bluff profit margins are already likely to begin retrenching. If the economy gets worse that will likely accelerate along with a slowing of sales. Narrower segments of the US market are now near fair value, especially the highest quality parts of the market. Overseas markets are another story. International and developing markets are looking reasonable on the whole. Not cheap, but around fair value. Some individual markets (such as Japan and parts of Europe) are actually looking cheap.
2011-08-23 A Cautionary Note to my Fellow Gold Bugs by Emilio Vargas (Article)
The volume of missives I receive regarding the evolving debt-bubble collapse rises with the price of gold. The best time to buy gold was in 2001. Don't fall in love with gold now that the crisis is breaking and the price is going vertical.
2011-08-19 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Growth Metric Goes (Fractionally) Negative by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) has been oscillating in a narrow range (1.5 to 2.0 in the latest revision) for the past several weeks. However today's update, data through August 12, has touched negative territory with a -0.1 reading. The interim high of 8.0 was set in the week ending on April 15. The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom. The next chart shows the correlation between the WLI, GDP and recessions.
2011-08-17 The Common Stock Commandments of Claude N. Rosenberg, Jr. by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs
Through the years of our parents and grandparents markets there were a few voices of reason to help guide them. One of these voices was Claude N. Rosenberg, Jr. whose legacy is kept fresh through RCM, formerly Rosenberg Capital Management, a global asset manager and a company of Allianz Global Investors. Over the years he shared his thoughts with his writings. I have chosen to highlight a few of these ideas that he called his Common Stock Commandments that I consider timeless and can guide you just as he did years ago to your parents and grandparents.
2011-08-16 Is Gold in a Bubble? by Art Patten of Symmetry Capital Management
Back in 2010, we wrote that we viewed gold as overpriced, but were unwilling to lie down in front of what appeared to be an early-or mid-stage bubble. Good thing we didnt, as spot gold is up about 40% since. It might be time to revisit the trade though. In May of this year, Michael Darda of MKM Partners observed that the commodities rally was getting a bit long in the tooth when compared to earlier bubbles like U.S. housing and the Nasdaq. In late July of this year, Doug Short provided an eye-catching overlay of the recent gold price run-up on the bubble and bear markets seen in recent years.
2011-08-16 Money Manager Pride Goeth Before Destruction by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
All great money managers reach a point in their career where adulation and self confidence detracts from their better judgment. This interruption in judgment usually coincides with the discipline in use becoming the most popular discipline in the marketplace or the investing style being overdue for a three to five-year correction. Studies of the equity managers with the best long term records show that the best underperform the S&P 500 Index 35% of the time. The pride associated with multi-decade success and an army of folks enjoying your work is probably the most dangerous thing.
2011-08-15 The "Real" Mega-Bears by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
I'm posting my usual update shortly after reading an interesting, if rather disturbing, WSJ article, This Time, Maybe the U.S. Is Japan. It's time again for the weekend update of our "Real" Mega-Bears, an inflation-adjusted overlay of three secular bear markets. It aligns the current S&P 500 from the top of the Tech Bubble in March 2000, the Dow in of 1929, and the Nikkei 225 from its 1989 bubble high. The chart below is consistent with my preference for real (inflation-adjusted) analysis of long-term market behavior.
2011-08-15 Two One-Way Lanes on the Road to Ruin by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
The reason we are facing a renewed economic downturn is that our policy makers never addressed the essential economic problem, the need for debt restructuring. There are two one-way lanes on the road to ruin, and these are unfortunately the only ones on the present policy map: 1) Policies aimed at distorting the financial markets by suffocating the yield on lower-risk investments, in an attempt to drive investors to accept risks that they would otherwise shun; 2) Policies aimed at defending bondholders and lenders who made bad loans, which they now seek to have bailed out at public expense.
2011-08-15 Are We There Yet? The Value Restoration Project Resumes by JJ Abodeely of Sitka Pacific Capital Management
The declines in the stock market over the last three weeks have done a lot of damage to most investors portfolios. This would merely be an inconvenience if it meant that future returns could be expected to be robust enough to compensate for the losses. Investors in the stock market may rightly be viewing this recent decline of about 12% over the last 16 trading days as a painful, but necessary, correction in prices which will once again bring value back to the market.
2011-08-15 Return to Recession.or Recovery? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
Soft economic data has caused talk of a return to recession to grow, leading to a return to the risk-off trade and a spike in volatility. We believe these fears and the market reaction are overdone and indicators still point to growth, but risks are high. The chorus calling for a new quantitative easing (QE3) program from the Fed has grown. We believe it's unlikely at this point. The European debt crisis continues to damage investor confidence as policymakers appear to be consistently behind the curve. Meanwhile, the economic slowdown could ultimately help emerging markets.
2011-08-12 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Historically, the most potent bull markets and vibrant economies are led by significant consumer demand and corporate capital expenditures. We know, today, that corporations are sitting on cash reserves and that consumer demand is lacking owing to confusion and concern about fiscal and monetary policy and governments direction. In addition, there has been a drastic decline in disposable household spending, shifting the burden to government intervention to keep production incentives viable.
2011-08-12 ThECRI Weekly Leading Index: Consistently Indicating Slow Growth by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) has been oscillating in a narrow range (from 1.6 to 2.1) for the past seven weeks, with the latest reading at 1.7. The interim high of 8.0 was set in the week ending on April 15. The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom. The next chart shows the correlation between the WLI, GDP and recessions.
2011-08-10 Rumours by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
When asked how he made his money, Mr. Rogers answered, I sell euphoria and buy panic. Currently, gold and Treasuries are gapping on the upside; and, stocks are gapping on the downside. The implication, though I believe gold is in a secular bull market, suggests positions should be sold in metals and the freed-up cash should be used to buy sound stocks with decent dividend yields. The weeks ahead will determine if this is the correct strategy. All said, IMO it is too late to panic. The time raise cash, was months ago. Now it is time to selectively redeploy that cash into select equities.
2011-08-09 How Conservative Investing Threatens Retirement by Dan Richards (Article)
Just as the Great Depression left a generation with a poverty mentality that still persists, the two bear markets of the last 10 years risk shaped an entire generation's attitude to investing. That's a key finding from a survey of affluent Americans commissioned by Merrill Lynch and released earlier this year, and it raises important implications for how financial advisors should deal with conservatively-minded investors.
2011-08-09 Implications of the Debt Downgrade by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
As we had suggested in recent weeks, a U.S. downgrade was going to likely be more negative for the equity market than Treasuries, and that is exactly how the week is starting off. The reason is that history shows that downgrades light a fire under policymakers and the belt-tightening budget cuts ensue, taking a big chunk out of demand growth and hence profits. It is not just the United States the problem of excessive debt is global, from China to Brazil to many parts of Europe. And lets not forget the Canadian consumer.
2011-08-09 August Market Commentary by Patrick O'Shaughnessey of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management
Mike Tyson once warned, Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the face. The plan, for investors, is to be disciplined and not react emotionally. But right now the enemy is panic and Tyson is the market.There is no question that the level of debt in the U.S. and the financial weakness of other countries are alarming. However, the future of the S&P 500 is not likely to be tied to the current state of the economy. If any relationship exists between the market and the economy through history, it is a negative one where investors should be buyers of equities when GDP growth is negative.
2011-08-08 Recession Warning, and the Proper Policy Response by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
As of Friday the S&P 500 was below its level of November 2010, when the Fed initiated its second round of quantitative easing. Aside from a brief bump in demand that kicked the recession can down the road a bit, the U.S. economy is not much better off. Meanwhile, countless individuals in developing countries have been injured by predictable commodity hoarding and global price instability. The Fed has leveraged its balance sheet by over 55-to-1. As policy makers look to address the abrupt deterioration in U.S. , we should ask ourselves: Do we really long for more of the Fed's recklessness?
2011-08-03 Converging On The Horizon by Ed Easterling of Crestmont Research of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
By the end of this year, the earnings cycle is likely to be well above its typical thresholds of duration and magnitude. Although earnings could again rise in 2012, the magnitude of excess margins portends a fairly significant decline when the earnings cycle reverts. In addition, the profile of cyclical cycles in the stock market may have also run its course. The market may sustain or extend its gains for 2011 by year-end, but another up-year in 2012 would make history. Not only is duration stretched, but also the magnitude of cumulative gains has now matched the historical average.
2011-08-01 Europe's Cognitive Dissonance by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim
The latest bailout program should be successful in one regard: buying more time. Unfortunately for Europe, time is no longer an ally, and it most certainly is not healing all wounds. Across the European periphery, economic data are degenerating as the calendar marches forward. Year to date, Greeces debt burden, budget deficit, cost of funding, and unemployment rate have increased. Its economic output and tax revenues continue to depress.
2011-07-29 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Stabilization Continues by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose to 2.0 from a downward revision of 1.6 for last week (originally 1.7). The economy seems to be stabilizing after eleven consecutive weeks of decline. The interim high, now adjusted upward to 8.0, was set in the week ending on April 15. The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom. The next chart shows the correlation between the WLI, GDP and recessions.
2011-07-28 Six High-profile Industrials with Staggering Three-year Performance? (Part 1) by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
As a general rule there is an undeniable relationship between earnings and stock price. Where earnings go, stock price is sure to follow. However, since there are exceptions to every rule, there will be occasions where earnings and price become disconnected. When price rises significantly above earnings, we call this overvaluation. On the other hand, when price falls significantly below earnings, we call this undervaluation. Consequently, on this basis the principles of valuation can be a reliable and profitable means that investors can use to make intelligent buy or sell decisions.
2011-07-27 From Asset Allocation Nirvana to Asset Allocation Nightmare by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
We believe the next 10 years will be about money moving back into non-cyclical US large cap stocks and domestic companies which enjoy lower commodity prices and the repatriation of money from highly risky asset classes with poor odds. Being widely asset allocated today prepares folks for an under-performance nightmare In our opinion, bonds are expensive, commodities are outlandish, small caps trade at a huge premium and as Chinas economic contraction occurs, the crowd will flee emerging markets.
2011-07-26 Jeremy Siegel - Why I Changed My Mind about Index Funds by Dan Richards (Article)
Jeremy Siegel, the Russell E. Palmer Professor of Finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, discusses what caused him to reject capitalization-weighted market indexes and what he chose instead. This is a transcript of the interview.
2011-07-26 Investing with a View of Significant Inflation by Bob Kargenian (Article)
Almost all the analysis we read has concluded that, with the Fed seemingly printing money out of nowhere, the inevitable consequence must be significantly higher inflation. We're not convinced, but we have identified which strategies are likely to best protect clients if inflation accelerates.
2011-07-25 Simple Arithmetic by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
For most countries in Europe, government revenues typically run between near 40% of GDP, while government spending presently runs several percent ahead of that. In Greece, government debt now represents about 150% of GDP at interest rates between about 10% for very short and very long-maturity debt, to about 25% annually on 2-year debt. The overall average yield on Greek debt is close to 15%. The problem is that 15% interest on 150% of GDP works out to 22.5% of GDP in interest costs if the debt actually has to be rolled-over without restructuring it.
2011-07-22 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Stabilizing at Slow Growth by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) remained steady at 1.7 the same level as the two previous weeks. The economy seems to be stabilizing after eleven consecutive weeks of decline. The interim high, now adjusted upward to 8.0, was set in the week ending on April 15. The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom. The next chart shows the correlation between the WLI, GDP and recessions.
2011-07-21 Making the U.S. Dollar Safer: Return ON Your Money by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
Todays debate may be focused on whether the debt ceiling will be raised, but its tomorrows debate that really concerns us. Last week, Standard & Poors made it clear that raising the debt ceiling would be one thing, but in order to withhold a downgrade to the U.S. credit rating, the U.S. must show that it is not maxed out. In other words, show that it would be able to manage another crisis, or a potential war. What would be the implications of a credit downgrade? And what policies would need to be engaged in, in order to avert a downgrade and strengthen the U.S. dollar over the long-term?
2011-07-18 Dabbling with Support by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
The market continues to have the look of a broad topping process, in which it's very common to see it's confined to a trading range of about 5-7% for 6-8 months. Near-term, tests of widely-recognized "support" are often met by a bout of short-covering, similar to what we observed two weeks ago. Given the moderate improvement in market internals produced by that rally, a retest of those lows that isn't overly hostile to market internals might provide some latitude for market exposure. Suffice it to say that constructive opportunities are likely to be limited, but not impossible to achieve.
2011-07-15 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Slow Growth Stabilizing? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) Growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) remained steady at 1.7 — the same as last week's 1.7, which was a downward revision from 1.9. Is the economy beginning to stabilize after eleven consecutive weeks of decline? The interim high of 7.8 was set in the week ending on April 15. The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom. The next chart shows the correlation between the WLI, GDP and recessions.
2011-07-13 The Inflation Revival: Is it Time to Recalibrate Your Portfolio? by Richard Levine, Matthew Rubin and Tom Marthaler of Neuberger Berman
After a decades-long hiatus, inflation appears to be making a comeback. Clearly few anticipate a return to the days of the late 1970s and early 1980s when double-digit annual inflation gains were the norm. Still, the cumulative impact of inflation can be costly even during periods of modest price increases. According to Bloomberg $100 saved by the end of 1988 was “worth” only $56 by the end of 2009. Investors may wish to take into account such changes as they estimate the potential returns of their portfolios, and consider incorporating inflation hedges into their investment strategy.
2011-07-12 Widespread Tail Risk Concerns Seem Bullish by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors
Tail risk, as the name implies, is the risk of a highly unusual event occurring. A tail risk is often defined as an event occurring that provides a negative return at least three standard deviations below the average return. We doubt that the peak in the current stock market cycle is likely to occur when hedging tail risks is so common. After all, no one discussed tail risks at the market peaks in 2000 or 2007. Just like in previous cycles, the ultimate stock market peak will likely be accompanied by levered investments, rather than by hedged investments.
2011-07-12 Back in the Uptrend by Gene Peroni of Advisors Asset Management
June did not present a meaningful technical departure from the preceding five months. This does not mean that June was uneventful; it had its fair share of peaks and valleys, the most dramatic of which occurred during the gravest worries that Greece might default on its debt. It was not the first time this year that the stock market was rocked by blazing headlines reporting devastating or monumental events. In March, stocks were driven lower following the Japanese tsunami. Whether a financial woe or a natural disaster event, the effects have been similar thus far in 2011.
2011-07-08 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Eleven Consecutive Weeks of Slowing Growth by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) Growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined to 1.8 from last week's 1.9, a downward revision from 2.0. This is the eleventh consecutive week of decline from the 11-month interim high of 7.8 for the week ending on April 15. The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom. The next chart shows the correlation between the WLI, GDP and recessions.
2011-07-06 The Drudge Headline Indicator by Team of Bespoke Investment Group
The Drudge Report is not a financial news site, so whenever a financial news story grabs the Drudge headline, it means that the story has crossed over from just a financial news story to a mainstream news story. And when a financial news story crosses over into the mainstream media, it means that those that don't follow the market on a regular basis are suddenly following the market. This nearly all of the time occurs when the market (or economy, etc.) is going down and not up.
2011-07-01 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Ten Consecutive Weeks of Slowing Growth by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) Growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined to 2.0 from last week's 2.9. This is the tenth consecutive week of decline from the 11-month interim high of 7.8 for the week ending on April 15. The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom. The next chart shows the correlation between the WLI, GDP and recessions.
2011-07-01 The Ultimate Shell Game by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
As governments are forced to shift policy from spending to saving, the instruments they have at their disposal become obsolete without consumer support and/or confidence. The acquisition of “things” paid for by leverage, margin, and debt is a fruitless endeavor in today’s climate. As a result a truer “new paradigm” must develop which: Shifts the focus from hard asset leverage to savings and cash, Raises secular interest rates, Globalizes investment capital, trade, and profitability and Provides for a fairer, equal playing field in financial assets.
2011-06-30 Quantitative Easing Versus the 1940 Fall of France by Doug Short of Doug Short
In real (inflation/deflation-adjusted) terms, when did the US market permanently regain the high reached in 1929? The first chart illustrates two answers to the question. One uses the real price and the other uses the real total return. The remaining charts compare market performance since 2000 with the equivalent elapsed time following the peak in 1929. As the final chart shows, the current real total return over the past eleven plus years has been worse than the performance over the equivalent timeframe during the Great Depression — at least until the second round of quantitative easing.
2011-06-30 The Biggest Bear Market Rally of All? by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Most stock market participants screamed “bear market rally” in the summer of 2009 as the US market exploded to the upside from the March 2009 low. They were referring to the phenomena whereby a major rally follows a bear market, retraces some of the prior decline and attempts to suck most investors back into the market. These “sucker” rallies are debilitating because they heap agony those who end up getting caught twice in the same secular decline. We believe the rally in oil to $115 is possibly the biggest “bear market” rally ever and we advise folks to protect their capital.
2011-06-24 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: The Ninth Week of Slowing Growth by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) Growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined to 2.9 from last week's 3.6 (a downward revision from 3.7). This is the ninth consecutive week of decline from the 11-month interim high of 7.8 for the week ending on April 15. The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom. The next chart shows the correlation between the WLI, GDP and recessions.
2011-06-23 Fixed Income Commentary: Recent High Yield Selloff: Caution or Opportunity? by Jamie Farnham of TCW Asset Management
The spring season has tested the mettle of the high yield market. A common inquiry on investor minds of late is whether this is a short-term bump on a longer journey or alternatively that risk is rising for high yield investors. This note touches on (i) relative value, (ii) fundamentals and (iii) the potential interest rate effect on high yield.
2011-06-22 We’re Still Patiently Positioned for a Flatter Yield Curve by Team of American Century Investments
In this Weekly Market Update, we discuss the steep Treasury yield curve and our yield curve flattener trade. This economic cycle-based, duration-neutral, mean-reversion strategy—and how it fits with our other active positions—helps illustrate the investment process and outlook of the fixed income team. The gap between short- and long-maturity U.S. Treasury yields has been at or near historically wide levels since 2009. It’s an interesting facet of the latest economic cycle. One of our active positions is tied to an eventual narrowing of this spread to a more historically average level.
2011-06-22 Summer Bargains Galore by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
While China’s economy is hitting the wall and investors are beginning to deal with what we believe is a major bear market in commodities, it is time to stop and examine some of the bargains created by the recent correction. We have said many times that valuation matters. We believe one of the biggest bargains currently is Aflac (AFL). They are the largest seller of supplemental health insurance in Japan and the US. Japan and the US are probably the two countries which would benefit more from a decline in commodity prices than any others in the world.
2011-06-21 Estimating Future Returns by Adam Butler and Mike Philbrick of Doug Short
There are several reasons why it may be useful to have a more robust estimate of future expected returns on stocks: People who are approaching retirement need to estimate probable returns in order to budget how much they need to save. A retiree's level of sustainable income is largely dictated by expected returns over the early years of retirement. And investors of all types must make an informed decision about how best to allocate their capital among various investment opportunities. Many studies have attempted to quantify the relationship between Shiller PE and future stock returns.
2011-06-20 Greek Yields: 'Certain Default, But Not Yet' by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Either long- and intermediate-term Greek debt is a tremendous bargain here, or it is going to default. Unfortunately, the fiscal situation would almost inescapably require other European countries subsidize Greece for decades to come in order to avoid a debt restructuring. Taken together, the evidence surrounding Greece screams "Certain default, but not yet."
2011-06-17 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Eight Weeks of Declining Growth by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) Growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined to 3.7 from last week's 4.1. This is the eighth consecutive week of decline from the 11-month interim high of 7.8 for the week ending on April 15. The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom. The next chart shows the correlation between the WLI, GDP and recessions.
2011-06-15 Bad News Bulls by Michael Dana of Dana Investment Advisors
It’s been said that the stock market climbs a wall of worry. The bear market touched a bottom in March 2009 and proceeded to rise about 85% to a high in April. We are now in the midst of a correction from that high, but the overall trend remains positive for equities. Not so much so for the economy. Well, the economy is still growing, albeit slowly. At this stage in a recovery the economy should be recovering more rapidly. The economic news is not getting better. The May jobs report indicated that 54,000 new private sector jobs were created. Economists had forecasted 170,000.
2011-06-13 Ouch by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
While equity markets can certainly do anything, if the SPX declines to the lows registered in March of 2009, which is what Walter Zimmerman thinks, and if the current earnings estimates are anywhere near the mark, it would leave the S&P 500 trading at less than 6x earnings with a dividend yield (excluding any dividend increases) approaching 5%. I just dont believe this is in the cards, given my assumption the economy is NOT going to double dip. Amid such market machination I think investors should keep their heads screwed-on straight and begin compiling their buying lists.
2011-06-10 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: A Seventh Week of Declining Growth by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) Growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined to 4.1 from last week's 4.9. This is the seventh consecutive week of decline from the 11-month interim high of 7.8 for the week ending on April 15.
2011-06-07 How to Waste Time Effectively by Wendy Cook (Article)
Ah, the Internet. Could there be a more usefully annoying, time-sucking, time-saver? It's always there, ready to transport us to that crucial bit of information we need - or to distract us far away from what we need to be doing. How do you harness the power of the Internet without letting it gallop off with your valuable time?
2011-06-07 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
“Which way is the market going?” That’s one unanswerable question. What we do know, empirically, is that the global credit markets are poor; pricing in most stocks is inefficient and governed by short term trading and speculation; sustainable economic growth is non-existent; and inflation is rampant in consumer goods and raw materials. Even if we’re correct with our asset allocation, we are playing defense and hoping to minimize any downside damage. If hindsight and backtesting are any indication, I would posit that the current equity market continuum is poised for more downside potential.
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.
2011-06-07 Modern Portfolio Theory IS Harming Your Portfolio by JJ Abodeely of Sitka Pacific Capital Management
In a recent paper, Scott Vincent argues that the flawed foundation of MPT has allowed its advocates to control the language of the debate and set the stage for the obvious conclusion that passive index-based investing is inherently superior. And don’t think for a second that this debate is simply theoretical, academic, or unimportant– the basic tenets of MPT shape the decisions of nearly all investors in profound and often disturbing ways. YOUR money is almost certainly being managed with these ideas at the core. The traditional approach to asset allocation is built on false axioms.
2011-06-03 Five Misconceptions Squashed by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners
DSK is not the only one in need of a bailout! As the sovereign crisis intensifies - and it will - bond yields in some countries will go higher. But they won’t go higher everywhere. Demographic as well as technical factors (e.g. Solvency II) will drive ever more money towards bonds, and that money will have to go somewhere. Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia are probably the safest bets in terms of where sovereign bond yields could fall further. You should also expect high quality corporate bond yields to trade through sovereign yields in many countries. The trend has already begun.
2011-06-03 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: A Sixth Week of Declining Growth by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) Growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined to 4.9 from last week's 5.0. This is the sixth consecutive week of decline from the 11-month interim high of 7.8 for the week ending on April 15. The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom. The next chart shows the correlation between the WLI, GDP and recessions.
2011-06-01 Buy Cheap Bonds with Safe Spread by Bill Gross of PIMCO
If the government is going to artificially repress yield, then focus on the parts of a bond that are less repressed! Rather than outright default, many countries attempt rather successfully to keep nominal interest rates lower than would otherwise prevail. Over the long term, this “financial repression” results in a transfer of wealth from savers to borrowers. Investors shouldn’t give their money away, and at the moment, the duration component of a bond portfolio comes close to doing just that – because it doesn’t yield enough relative to inflation.
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.
2011-05-31 Small Windows in an Unfavorable Long-Term Picture by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Last week, bullishness pulled back to 43% according to Investors Intelligence, but advisory bearishness also fell to 19.4%, with the remainder boosting the "correction" camp to 37.6%. That's not much of an easing in overall sentiment, but it was enough to give us a bit of latitude to allow us to vary our exposure between a tight hedge and a 10-15% exposure to market fluctuations. That's been of help, but mainly to offset a shallow correction in a few defensive sectors like health care. Our latitude to accept risk will vary in proportion to the average market return/risk profile.
2011-05-27 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: A Fifth Week of Decline by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined to 5.0 from last week's 5.3. This is the fifth consecutive week of decline from the 11-month interim high of 7.8 for the week ending on April 15. The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom. The next chart shows the correlation between the WLI, GDP and recessions.
2011-05-26 How Quickly They Forget by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital
Asset prices fluctuate much more than fundamentals. Rather than applying moderation and balancing greed against fear, euphoria against depression, and risk tolerance against risk aversion, investors tend to oscillate wildly between the extremes. They apply optimism when things are going well in the world (elevating prices beyond reason) and pessimism when things are going poorly (depressing prices unreasonably). If investors remembered past bubbles and busts and their causes, and learned from them, the swings would moderate. But, in short, they don’t. And they may be forgetting again.
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 today’s 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.
2011-05-24 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.
2011-05-24 Debt Ceiling Jeopardizes Dollar’s Reserve Status by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
While borrowing costs for the U.S. government have not yet risen, irreparable harm may have already been done to the U.S. dollar and its status as a reserve currency. Ironically, it’s not a plunging, but a rallying bond market that is a symptom of the problem. Most observers believe that a) the Treasury has a big bag of tricks to continue servicing the debt; and b) politicians will play a game of chicken, but eventually do what they always do: agree to spend more money. We don’t know how the bond market will react; but we do know that policy makers are playing with fire.
2011-05-20 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: A Fourth Week of Decline by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined to 5.3 from last week's 6.4. This is the fourth consecutive week of decline from the 11-month interim high of 7.8 for the week ending on April 15. The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom. The next chart shows the correlation between the WLI, GDP and recessions. A significant decline in the WLI has been a leading indicator for six of the seven recessions since the 1960s.
2011-05-17 What 'Secular Cycle' Means by Ed Easterling of Doug Short
There is a skeptical gremlin perched on the left shoulder for many investors. He often sneers at notions of "cycles" and other presumably predictable periods. When the word "secular" accompanies the word "cycle," that gremlin becomes even more scornful. Why do we use the term "secular cycle" with the stock market and what does it mean? Figure 1 presents a view of the stock market over the past century. You will note periods of above-average returns (i.e., the green bar periods) and periods of below-average returns (i.e., the red bar periods).
2011-05-16 Hanging Around, Hoping to Get Lucky by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Despite the unique challenges of the most recent market cycle, I do expect that we will observe frequent opportunities to accept market risk in the coming years, even in an environment where valuations gradually work lower from a secular perspective. Even here, if we can clear some element of the hostile overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yields syndrome that has characterized the market, we will be open to moderate, if transitory exposure to market fluctuations, provided that we maintain a line of index put option protection against any abrupt deterioration.
2011-05-13 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: A Third Week of Fractional Decline by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined to 6.4 from last week's 6.6. This is the third week of fractional decline from the 11-month interim high of 7.7 for the week ending on April 15.
2011-05-10 Howard Marks on the Human Side of Investing by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Howard Marks is widely regarded for his thought-provoking essays on the discipline and process of value investing. He is the chairman and co-founder of California-based Oaktree Capital, and he delivered the keynote address at the Value Investing Congress in Pasadena last week.
2011-05-10 Howard Marks on the Human Side of Investing-Q & A by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Howard Marks is widely regarded for his thought-provoking essays on the discipline and process of value investing. He is the chairman and co-founder of California-based Oaktree Capital, and he delivered the keynote address at the Value Investing Congress in Pasadena last week. Here are excerpts from the Q&A.
2011-05-06 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: A Second Week of Fractional Decline by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined to 6.7 from last week's 7.5. This is the second week of fractional decline from the 11-month interim high of 7.7 for the week ending on April 15. The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom. The next chart shows the correlation between the WLI, GDP and recessions.
2011-05-03 Gary Shilling - Five Things that can Derail the Recovery by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Die-hard deflationists - those who foresee a continued bull market in bonds - are so few in number these days they could all share an elevator, according to Gary Shilling. One is Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg, whose views are considered elsewhere in this issue. But the loudest such voice belongs to Shilling himself, who has advocated for a long position in Treasury bonds continuously since 1980, a stance that has always proved prescient so far.
2011-05-03 Martin Barnes - How Safe is the Equity Market? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
When members of the Federal Reserve Board seek counsel on tough issues, one of the economists to whom they turn first is Martin Barnes. Speaking publicly last week, Barnes addressed two themes in the US economy and markets: the potential for a sustained bear market in equities and the likelihood of higher taxes. These two distinct questions are both critically important to investors.
2011-05-03 P/E: Future on the Horizon by Ed Easterling (Article)
Most people expect P/E to measure current valuation and to show historical patterns. But more features are available from some versions of P/E. The methodology behind the Crestmont P/E enables investors to anticipate the future. It may not precisely predict the market ten years away, but it frames within a relatively tight range the likely outcome. One component from determining the Crestmont P/E is a means to assess the future trend line for EPS using estimates of future economic growth (GDP).
2011-05-03 The Dollar: It’s Payback Time! by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
It’s payback time for Ben Bernanke. In some ways, this should neither surprise, nor scare anyone. Unfortunately, it might do both. In any open market, information is absorbed into asset prices, including exchange rates. Indeed, exchange rates may be the best pricing source to assess the impact of the relentless involvement of policy makers’ “print and spend” mentality in the markets. When trillions are spent, markets are likely to move. However, an unintended consequence has been that a broad range of assets are now moving more and more in tandem, giving investors fewer options to diversify.
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 Extreme Conditions and Typical Outcomes by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
As of Friday, the S&P 500 has advanced to a point where it is either within 0.1% or fully through its top Bollinger band on virtually every horizon. We can define an "overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yields syndrome" a number of ways. The more general the criteria, the better you capture historical instances that preceded abrupt market weakness, but the more you also encounter "false positives." Still, as long as the criteria capture the syndrome, we find that the average risk profile for subsequent market performance is negative, regardless of the subset of history you inspect.
2011-04-29 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Down Fractionally by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined fractionally to 7.5 from last week's eleven-month high of 7.7. The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom. The next chart shows the correlation between the WLI, GDP and recessions.
2011-04-29 We Are Not Perma-Bears, But We Are Cautious Now by Team of Litman Gregory
To understand the potential upside for stocks it's important to evaluate the factors that drive returns and how they might behave over our investment horizon. The three key variables are dividends, earnings growth, and changes in the price/earnings ratio. Our analysis focuses on assessing these key factors under several broad economic scenarios. This allows us to estimate return ranges for stocks, and to weigh these potential returns against the risks we see to make informed portfolio allocation decisions.
2011-04-23 The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) increased to 7.7 from by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) increased to 7.7 from a slight downward revision (6.8 to 6.7) for the previous week. This is this highest level since May 14, 2010.
2011-04-18 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Acknowledging that all market activity is cyclical, not linear, I am often amused at the reaction by investors to each day’s trading results and the media commentary that follows. I am often asked by the media to characterize a market’s daily events, as if one might create a justification for volatility out of context. I view this day-after commentary as specious, at best. It takes days/weeks/years for real trends to evolve. In my methodology and study of the market it is most often these secular, or generational, themes that most resonate upon asset allocation and equity selection.
2011-04-15 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index Continues to Hold Steady by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) has held relatively steady over the past eight weeks. The Growth Index is now at 6.7 based on data through April 8. The average of the past eight weeks is 6.6 with a range of 6.2 to 7.1 (unchanged from last week). The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom.
2011-04-15 Not all Bonds are Created Equal by Dan Fuss, Kathleen Gaffney, Matthew Eagan & Elaine Stokes of Loomis Sayles
It has become the question of the day: If interest rates are heading higher, shouldn’t I bail out of bonds altogether? While we anticipate rates will rise, we don’t believe abandoning bonds would be prudent for most investors. Bonds can play an important role in investor portfolios by providing income potential plus diversification. In this piece, we describe why we think rates may be biased higher in coming years and how our portfolio strategies may adjust to the new environment.
2011-04-14 U.S. Dollar – Review and Outlook by Axel Merk and Kieran Osborne of Merk Funds
We believe that continued U.S. dollar weakness may be a consequence of the diverging monetary approaches central banks are taking around the globe. While many international central banks have been on a tightening path, raising rates (i.e. Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Norway, Sweden, to name a few), the U.S. Federal Reserve has been conspicuous in its continued easing monetary policy stance. Indeed, while other central banks have been shrinking the size of their balance sheets, the U.S. Fed’s balance sheet continues to expand on the back of ongoing quantitative easing policies.
2011-04-12 A Top Value Manager Looks Outside the US by Robert Huebscher (Article)
David Winters, manager of the Wintergreen Fund, began his career working for Max Heine, where Seth Klarman and Michael Price also worked. In this interview, Winter discusses the why he believes many of today's best opportunities are outside the US and how he is hedging against the threat of inflation.
2011-04-08 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Growth Is Holding Steady by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) has held relatively steady over the past seven weeks. The Growth Index is now at 6.7 based on data through April 1. The average of the past seven weeks is 6.6 with a range of 6.2 to 7.1.
2011-04-05 A Trading System that Disproves Efficient Markets by Erik McCurdy (Article)
Efficient market adherents claim it is impossible to outperform the stock market over the long term. Although their principles are the foundation of modern investment theory, other compelling models, including the one I propose here, reveal that precisely the opposite is true, supporting the thesis that markets are highly inefficient.
2011-04-05 Letters to the Editor: GMWBs and the Permanent Portfolio by Various (Article)
A reader responds to our article, Understanding Variable Annuities with GMWBs, which appeared on March 1 and another reader responds to Geoff Considine's article, What Investors Should Fear in the Permanent Portfolio, which appeared on March 22.
2011-04-05 Inflation Worries? Commodities May Help by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors
Many of you may remember the movie This classic shed some interesting light on the world of commodities. Commodities include natural resources, industrial metals, precious metals, and agricultural products. Or, as Duke explained to Billy Ray Valentine, "Commodities are agricultural products...like the coffee you had for breakfast...wheat, which is used to make bread...pork bellies, which are used to make bacon, which you might find in a BLT sandwich. And then there are other commodities, like frozen orange juice...and gold. Though, of course, gold doesn't grow on trees like oranges."
2011-04-05 Estimating Future Returns by Adam Butler and Mike Philbrick of Doug Short
Investors should heed the results of robust statistical analyses of actual market history, and play to the relative odds. This analysis suggests that markets are currently expensive, and asserts a very high probability of low returns to stocks (and possibly other asset classes) in the future. Remember, any returns earned above the average are necessarily earned at someone else's expense, so it will likely be necessary to do something radically different than everyone else to capture excess returns going forward.
2011-04-05 Does a Weak Dollar Cause Inflation? by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
Should investors be concerned that a weaker U.S. dollar causes inflation? The price at the gas pump should be a stark reminder that a weaker dollar may contribute to higher prices. Yet, economists tell us that food and energy inflation does not count. Why do economists have such a baffling sense of logic? Are economists really aliens in disguise, locked up in ivory towers? Let’s shed some light on the logic and why it may not merely be strange, but wrong.
2011-04-04 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Holding Steady by Doug Short of Doug Short
The published ECRI WLI growth metric has had a respectable record for forecasting recessions and rebounds therefrom. A significant decline in the WLI has been a leading indicator for six of the seven recessions since the 1960s. It lagged one recession (1981-1982) by nine weeks. The WLI did turn negative 17 times when no recession followed, but 14 of those declines were only slightly negative and most of them reversed after relatively brief periods. Three other three negatives were deeper declines.
2011-04-02 The Plight of the Working Class by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Although the headline unemployment number went down to 8.8%, the only way you can get to that number is by not counting the millions who have dropped out of the employment pool, too discouraged to look, but who will take a job if they can get one. If you go back and take the number of people in the labor force just two years ago, the unemployment picture is back over 10% (back-of-my-napkin math).
2011-03-30 “Agri”-vation by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Recent events in the Middle East, combined with weather, have put tremendous pressure upon raw materials prices. The fear is that cyclical pricing pressure might become secular (generational) trends, accelerating inflation in energy prices, foodstuffs, and industrial components, thus undermining a tenuous uptick in consumer spending, global trade, and consumer confidence. While Wall Street rejoices that something, anything, has stimulated trading activity and profit margins, the world watches as surpluses contract and statistics become human convoys of disaster.
2011-03-29 The Biggest Urban Legend in Finance by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates
Stocks ought to produce higher returns than bonds in order for the capital markets to “work.” Otherwise, stockholders would not be paid for the additional risk they take for being lower down the capital structure. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that stockholders have enjoyed outsized returns for their efforts for most - but not all - long time periods.
2011-03-28 The Shorts Get Whipsawed by the VIX by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors
Getting to fair value would require the US equity markets to rise 31% from Friday’s close. That assumes no further gain in profits after Q1. These results are pretty robust. If we stress test for rising rates, the 10-year Treasury yield would need to rise to 6.5%, with no intervening increase in profits for the model to show equities are at fair value already. We stand by the forecast we made at the start of the year that the Dow should hit 14,500 by year-end 2011, while the S&P 500 strikes 1575. In other words, short the shorts – equities are still cheap. And watch out for the VIX, too.
2011-03-27 Changes in the Inflation Rate Matter as Much to Investors as the Level by Bill Hester of Hussman Funds
It is clear from February's inflation data that there was a broad increase in price levels last month, especially for goods used during the early stages of production. The Producer Price Index rose 5.6 percent from its level a year earlier, up from 3.6 percent in January. On a month-to-month basis, the PPI rose 1.6 percent, doubling its recent pace. That increase was partially fueled by higher food prices, which makes up about a fifth of the overall PPI. Commodity prices tracked within the PPI Index rose 8 percent from a year ago, up from 5.6 percent last month
2011-03-27 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Slight Moderation in Growth by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) continues its rise. The Growth Index is now at 6.5 based on data through March 18. A significant decline in the WLI has been a leading indicator for six of the seven recessions since the 1960s. It lagged one recession (1981-1982) by nine weeks. The WLI did turned negative 17 times when no recession followed, but 14 of those declines were only slightly negative (-0.1 to -2.4) and most of them reversed after relatively brief periods.
2011-03-23 Seismic Window by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
It is not the threat of earthquakes that keeps me cautious on the stock market. Despite the fact that we still have not had more than three consecutive down days since Sep 1, 2010, and therefore the Buying Stampede remains intact, I can’t shake the feeling it ended on Feb 18. Stampedes (both up and down) typically last 17 – 25 sessions before they exhaust themselves. Previously the longest stampede chronicled in my notes was a 52-session upside skein, of course that is until the Sep 2010 to Feb 2011 affair, which if ended on Feb 18 was legend at 117 sessions. If not, today is session 137.
2011-03-23 In Search of Value by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Within the space we do favour large-caps, strong balance sheets, high-quality, low P/E stocks, and commodities, especially energy. But among all the worries, we still see this as an overvalued market and we believe in buying low and selling high. We know that many pundits like to use short-term market measures of valuation using year-ahead or trailing earnings or cash flow, which at times seems a little disingenuous for an asset class that is inherently long-term in duration. Be that as it may, perhaps we can shed some light on why patience may still be virtuous here.
2011-03-22 Consensus: Groundhog Decade for Stocks by Ed Easterling (Article)
Just as Bill Murray woke up to the same thing day after day in the movie 'Groundhog Day,' it's likely that your outlook foretells a groundhog decade for the stock market that will repeat its near-breakeven returns from the past decade.
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 yen’s 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.
2011-03-18 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index Continues Its Climb by Doug Short of Doug Short
The question had been whether the WLI decline that began the the Q4 of 2009 was a leading indicator of a recession. The published index has never dropped to the -11.0 level in July 2010 without the onset of a recession. The deepest decline without a recession onset was in the Crash of 1987, when the index slipped to -6.8. The ECRI managing director correctly predicted that we would avoid a double dip. The latest GDP for Q4 of 2010, revised down slightly to 2.8, confirms the ECRI stance.
2011-03-14 Anatomy of a Bubble by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Over the past decade, investors have seen near-parabolic advances in a variety of assets, followed by crashes. These have included dot-com stocks (which peaked and crashed well before the general market peak in 2000), technology stocks, housing, commodities, and stocks in a variety of emerging markets. These experiences have made investors somewhat more attuned to the destructive potential for speculative bubbles in various assets, but has also created something of a "casino economy" where a great deal of resources are directed in hopes of participating in these bubbles.
2011-03-14 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Despite last week’s 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.
2011-03-12 Volatility on the Rise by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Geopolitical unrest and rising inflation concerns have conspired to increase market volatility. We remain bullish on US stocks and believe that this recent increase in consternation will ultimately be healthy for stocks. The US government keeps kicking the debt can down the road, while the Fed seems unconcerned about inflation and is intent on completing QE2. We believe changes are needed at both entities to foster sustainable economic growth. The European debt crisis is bubbling up again, while the ECB is talking interest-rate hikes. Future growth depends on the path of both issues.
2011-03-11 The ECRI Weekly Leading Growth Index Up Slightly by Doug Short of Doug Short
The question had been whether the WLI decline that began the the Q4 of 2009 was a leading indicator of a recession. The published index has never dropped to the -11.0 level in July 2010 without the onset of a recession. The deepest decline without a recession onset was in the Crash of 1987, when the index slipped to -6.8. The ECRI managing director correctly predicted that we would avoid a double dip. The latest GDP for Q4 of 2010, revised down slightly to 2.8, confirms the ECRI stance.
2011-03-07 Quantitative Easing and the Iron Law of Equilibrium by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
If you think about equilibrium, it helps to clear up all sorts of fallacies that people hold about the financial markets. For example, the currency and money market securities that are held by investors will - in aggregate - never "find a home" in any other form or market. If one takes their cash and tries to buy stock, they get the stock and the seller gets the cash. Nothing disappears, and nothing is created. The money-market securities held by investors is not a reflection of "liquidity looking for a home," but is a measure of how borrowers are on short-term sources of credit.
2011-03-05 Are Booming Economies Good for the Markets? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The important question is whether booming growth is always good for equity markets. On that, the data is mixed. While strong growth usually leads to higher earnings, it typically leads to tighter liquidity. The most dangerous periods for equity markets are typically strong economic activity combined with rapidly rising oil prices. In 34% of the years since 1950 with economic growth have experienced declining EPS growth. A doubling in the oil price is not good for markets. If we begin to work on the deficit with cuts and tax increases, it will be a headwind for economic growth and earnings.
2011-03-04 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index Moves Higher Into Positive Territory by Doug Short of Doug Short
The question had been whether the WLI decline that began the the Q4 of 2009 was a leading indicator of a recession. The published index has never dropped to the -11.0 level in July 2010 without the onset of a recession. The deepest decline without a recession onset was in the Crash of 1987, when the index slipped to -6.8. The ECRI managing director correctly predicted that we would avoid a double dip. The latest GDP for Q4 of 2010, revised down slightly to 2.8, confirms the ECRI stance.
2011-03-03 Driving Without Restrictor Plates by Cliff W. Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors
Since mid-January we have found ourselves in a quandary over “jumping in” or “diving in” to the strongly flowing bullish current of the developed markets. The warning signs have been the Mideast riots, unemployment, commodity inflation, and the US percentage of debt relative to GDP. The positives are corporate earnings, an accommodative Fed, cash-rich balance sheets, and no new taxes for now. Therefore we wanted to share with you a number of charts and statistics that are part of our process.
2011-03-02 Random Market Thoughts by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Only time will tell if yesterday’s market action was a true watershed. It was the first time since last July that the stock market was down on the first day of the month. Till yesterday, the opening days in January and February had already accounted for over half the year-to-date gains in the S&P 500. It was also the first time since the last leg of the bear market rally began six months ago that “good” news failed to ignite equity prices. Yesterday we saw auto sales shoot up 6.7% to 13.4 million units, which was the best level since August 2009, and we also saw the ISM inch higher.
2011-03-01 The 10% Problem by Nathan Rowader of Forward Management
Many investors continue to expect 10% returns — but these days, are doing well if they earn 5%. They need to understand why major shifts in the global investment climate are challenging them to reset return expectations and reboot their plans. After six decades of double-digit average U.S. stock market returns, many American investors may have come to expect that they will earn similar returns going forward. And why wouldn’t they? From 1948 to 1978, for example, the U.S. stock market generated an average annualized total return of 10.7%.
2011-02-25 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index Moves Higher Into Positive Territory by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) continues its rise — now at 6.1. The current number is based on data through February 18.
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: “It’s 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 Right Brains and the Dismal Science by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management
It has been said that successful investors need to employ not only the left side of their brains which is the analytical or scientific part but also the right side which is the centre for creative thinking. Thats because much of investing has to do with the unpredictable, the down cards, variables about future demand, growth, political policy changes, psychological responses, weather, oil spills, and so forth. Value investors dont want to pay for the down cards, but want to buy so cheaply in the here, that there is little or no risk of losing, and the hereafter can take care of itself.
2011-02-23 Right Brains and the Dismal Science by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management
It has been said that successful investors need to employ not only the left side of their brains which is the analytical or scientific part but also the right side which is the centre for creative thinking. Thats because much of investing has to do with the unpredictable, the down cards, variables about future demand, growth, political policy changes, psychological responses, weather, oil spills, and so forth. Value investors dont want to pay for the down cards, but want to buy so cheaply in the here, that there is little or no risk of losing, and the hereafter can take care of itself.
2011-02-18 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Moving Higher Into Positive Territory by Doug Short of Doug Short
Today the Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) continues to hover in the mild growth range, now at 4.9. The current number is based on data through February 11.
2011-02-16 The Cocktail Theory by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
“How can you be sure that the pullback, you have wrongly been expecting, is for buying?” Since 1940 there has never been more than one 10% or greater pullback in a bull move; we had a 17% pullback last year between April’s high into June’s low. Moreover, the retail investor is nowhere close to fully embracing this rally, which is typically what occurs around intermediate/long-term stock market “tops.”
2011-02-16 Politics of Inflation by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
In arguing food inflation is not the Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) fault, Fed Chairman Bernanke points the finger at everyone but him. Just as with a lot of Bernanke’s policies, his argument may hold in an academic setting, but the real world is a bit more complicated.
2011-02-15 Toward an Understanding of Risk by Robert Huebscher (Article)
How should clients think about risk in their portfolios? Advisor Perspectives put that question to a cross-section of prominent advisors and academics. Their answers encompassed diverse opinions and underscored how crucial that question is to the investment process.
2011-02-15 Assessing New Tools to Protect Against Tail-Risk Events by Jerry Miccolis (Article)
Protecting against sudden, severe market drops is as crucial as it is difficult. A plethora of approaches to this problem have been brought to market in last few years, and to evaluate them my firm developed a set of rigorous criteria. These criteria led us to a solution that works for us and for our clients.
2011-02-14 Fiscal Drag Coming and No More QEs by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
In an otherwise uneventful weekend, what did come out is that fiscal stimulus is about to turn towards restraint in a significant fashion. Even the White House recognizes the need for fiscal discipline and is on the precipice of unveiling a much more austere budget. And this will coincide with massive tax hikes and spending cuts at the lower levels of government too. The surgery is much more preferable now than becoming a banana republic down the road.The future of QE2 is looking more certain ― it will live to see June of this year but the chances of a QE3 are remote.
2011-02-11 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Steady As She Goes by Doug Short of Doug Short
Today the Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) continues to hover in the mild growth range, now at 4.5. The current number is based on data through February 4. The adjusted sequence for the last five weeks has been a steady range: 3.6, 4.1, 3.5, 3.6, 4.5.
2011-02-09 How to Play in 2011 by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
At the start of every year I remind myself that each individual year has its own story. For example, 2007 taught us that it never hurts to take profits after the market doubles and that if something is too good to be true (housing and credit bubble) it probably is. The 2008 lesson focused on capital preservation strategies and the urgency of managing downside risks. 2009 it was vital not to overstay a bearish stance in the face of massive fiscal and monetary stimulus. Last year’s lesson was how to handle the many post-stimulus market swings that are inherent in a post-bubble credit collapse.
2011-02-07 Jobs Data Redux and Inflation Spasm Ahead by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The labor market in the US is not improving. Lost in the debate over the weather impact was the benchmark revision to 2010 — overstated by 215k or 24%. The economy generated 909k jobs last year -insignificant considering that the population grew around 160k/month. The level of employment today is where it was in 2003. There have only been a handful of times in the past when both food and energy prices were rising so sharply in tandem. Since almost 25% of the CPI basket is in food and energy directly, it would seem logical to assume that we are going to get headline inflation in coming months.
2011-02-04 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Steady As She Goes by Doug Short of Doug Short
Today the Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) continues to hover in the mild growth range, now at 3.7. The current number is based on data through January 28. The adjusted sequence for the last four weeks has been a steady range: 3.6, 4.1, 3.5, 3.7.
2011-02-02 Random Thoughts from the Lone Star State by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
I still consider this to be a bear market rally. With respect to the economy, the illusion of sustainable prosperity has done wonders for consumer spending in the U.S. The consumer has been an upside surprise and the ISM was a whopper too as these manufacturing indices have been in general around the globe. There are so many other headwinds out there. Dramatic cutbacks and tax hikes at the state and local government levels are in motion. Federal government austerity is next. The housing market has not yet stabilized.
2011-02-01 Contrarians!? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
John Templeton once remarked, “For those properly prepared in advance, a bear market in stocks is not a calamity but an opportunity.” And while I don’t think this is just a counter-trend rally in an ongoing bear market, I continue to believe we are into an uptrend within the context of the wide-swinging trading range stock market we have experienced since the turn of the century.
2011-01-31 Market Ripe for Correction by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The stock market headed into this post-Egypt action terribly overbought and a correction was overdue. It is incredibly ironic that 18 months ago, President Obama gave his first foreign policy speech at the University of Cairo (the Investor’s Business Daily dubs it the “ill-conceived Muslim outreach speech” in today’s editorial), and now, Egypt is burning. Oil, gold and TIPS should be on anyone’s “buy list” if the turmoil does spread within the Arab world.
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.
2011-01-28 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Steady As She Goes by Doug Short of Doug Short
Today the Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) continues to signal improvement, although the latest 3.5 is slightly below the previous week's 4.1. The current number is based on data through January 21.
2011-01-28 Is There Really Joy in Mudville? by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The Q4 GDP data, while a tad light on the top line versus the consensus and whispered estimates of 4% did confirm that the spring and summer lull was just that, as opposed to the onset of a double-dip downturn. The 3.2% annualized real growth rate followed a 2.6% trend in Q3 and 1.7% in Q2. The configuration of the GDP report should help real GDP growth maintain its trend in the current quarter. The critical test will be the second quarter, when the incremental fiscal stimulus fades and the effects of higher food and energy prices depress the “real” macro numbers.
2011-01-25 A Reality Check by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
We will probably end up with a few years of stable to moderately deflating consumer prices once the effects of the latest commodity surge starts to fade. It appears that we are in the process of seeing another down-leg in national home prices. Equities are wildly overbought and may suffer the same fate before long, with all deference to the recent leg-up in valuations. The U.S. unemployment rate is unlikely to come down much, if at all, if real GDP growth does not accelerate beyond 3%. If it couldn’t do it in 2010, then we have no idea why it would be the case in 2011.
2011-01-25 Advisor Perspectives Announces First Venerated Voices Awards by Advisor Perspectives (Article)
Advisor Perspectives, a leading publisher serving financial advisors and the financial advisory community, today announced its first Venerated Voices™ awards, recognizing the market commentators who were most frequently read by advisors during 2010. Awards were issued in three categories: The Top 25 Venerated Voices™ by Firm, The Top 25 Venerated Voices™ by Author and The Top 10 Venerated Voices™ by Commentary.
2011-01-24 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
There is a lot of talk about the direction of interest rates and the cost of money. Sometimes, exogenous influences also exert influence over monetary factors. Today, tightening supplies of natural resources have created a subterranean inflation whose gross result has been to raise prices at the production and consumption sites. Corn, sugar, coffee, soybeans and other crops are at their lowest reserve levels in a generation. Demand, however, has not ebbed.
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
2011-01-21 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index Continues to Improve by Doug Short of Doug Short
Today the Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) continues to signal improvement. The latest weekly number is based on data through January 14.
2011-01-20 'The Feeling is... Mutual!' by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
As they chase performance, retail investors plowed a hefty $6.54 billion into equity funds in the week of January 12. TD Ameritrade has reported that margin lending has soared 31% from year-ago levels. Uh oh. The one industry that is being hammered right now is the municipal bond fund space — with net outflows last week of $2.37 billion, the tenth week in a row. While there is no doubt that we remain cautious on the equity market as an asset class, we like the large-cap, blue-chip, cash flow generators and reliable dividend payers.
2011-01-19 Breakfast with Dave by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
In more than 20 months, the equity market has managed to turn in the same performance it took 60 months to achieve in the last bear market rally. Strip out the financials, and indeed, the entire equity market is now behaving as if the destruction of debt and household balance sheets either never happened or that the aftershocks are completely yesterday’s story. Governments around the world, especially in the U.S.A., have managed to convince nearly everyone that prosperity is here and will persist to perpetuity. But … if it is too good to be true, it probably is. This is an illusion.
2011-01-19 Quarterly Newsletter by Bob Carey of First Trust Advisors
As big proponents of owning stocks over the past two years, we are pleased to report that our sentiments have proven to be both accurate and lucrative. Believe us when we say that we caught our share of flack for being so optimistic. The S&P 500 posted a total return of 93.1% from the bear market bottom on March 9, 2009, through December 31, 2010. When you expand to include small- and mid-caps, the returns are even better. But here is the encouraging part: those investors who opted out of stocks and did not return after they bottomed have a chance to reconsider.
2011-01-18 Richard Bernstein: The Antidote to Pessimism by Robert Huebscher (Article)
For an antidote to the bearish sentiment coming from David Rosenberg, look at Richard Bernstein. In contrast to Rosenberg's vision of Japan's lost decade, Bernstein expects the S&P to outperform emerging markets, at least in the near term.
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.
2011-01-18 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A number of readers respond to Nancy Opiela's article, Tactical Asset Allocation and Market Timing: What's the Difference?, and one reader responds to Michael Lewitt's article, The Wages of Growth. Both articles appeared last week.
2011-01-18 Headwinds Ahead by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
It is difficult to understand why it is that everyone is so whipped up about U.S. growth prospects. Even the latest set of data points has been less than exciting. Retail sales, payrolls, and consumer confidence have all been below expected and all of a sudden we see that jobless claims are moving back up. We have federal fiscal support, which at the margin is subsiding. And we have massive monetary support, and on this the Fed is going to be facing much more intense congressional scrutiny going forward. At the same time, about half of last year’s GDP growth was inventory accumulation.
2011-01-18 Bubble-Liscious by Cliff W. Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors
In the world of investing there is no substitute for taking action. Therefore, as your advisor, I seek to understand our bias and attempt to make rational and prudent decisions. Savvy investors understand the risks inherent in their assumptions and adopt a more businesslike approach to investing by reducing and hedging risk. Investors are typically surprised when facing a loss, and the psychological power of losses far outweighs the power of gains. Therefore remember the critical rule of compounding: Don’t lose money
2011-01-17 Borrowing Returns from the Future by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
It will come as no surprise that we continue to anticipate poor 10-year total returns for the S&P 500 over the coming decade. Our present estimate is about 3.3% annually, which includes dividends. That is about 1% less than the 10-year total return that we estimated just a few months ago, but this makes senses.
2011-01-14 Creating an Illusion of Prosperity by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The question really today is still one of sustainability. If the Fed and our public officials were as comforted as the financial markets now seem to be over the sustainability of the recovery, then after a full year into it the central bank would not have embarked on another monetary experiment and the government would not have dipped into Social Security as a means to put more change in people’s pockets for spending purposes. Money, as an aside, that isn’t really ours.
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 What's Past is Prologue by Michael Nairne (Article)
With nearly two centuries of stock market performance history now available, investors should be well-armed intellectually to deal with the vicissitudes of equity investing. Many, however, are not. I explore this history and what it means for future performance.
2011-01-11 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to the article, Return Distributions and the Shiller P/E Ratio, by Keith Goddard, which originally appeared on February 2, 2010 and was contained in The Ten Best Articles You Probably Missed on December 28.
2011-01-10 "Illusory Prosperity" - Ludwig von Mises on Monetary Policy by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Perhaps more than any other economist, Ludwig von Mises got the theory of money and credit right, because he made distinctions between various forms of money and credit that are often conflated by other theorists. The amount of real physical investment in the economy is, and must be, precisely equal to the amount of output not allocated to consumption but instead to savings. Unlike many other economists, Von Mises not only recognized this identity, but carried it through to what it implied for monetary policy.
2011-01-10 Global Instability by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
With inflation in China over 5%, Chinese policymakers are going to spend 2011 in restraint mode. Count on it. We are in the throes of a global currency war and late last week we saw Brazil move aggressively to rein in the real’s strength by imposing reserve requirements on domestic banks’ foreign exchange positions. We have food prices surging and this is very likely going to cause social strife in the emerging market world - India, China and Indonesia come to mind. The Eurozone sovereign debt situation is looking increasingly tenuous.
2011-01-10 Q4 Bond Market Review and Outlook by Teri L. Mason of Loomis Sayles
The US economic picture brightened as policymakers announced additional steps to stimulate the economy. Bond yields rose, causing many sectors of the bond market to lose ground in the final quarter of 2010, though high yield bonds, selected currencies and equity markets roared ahead.
2011-01-09 2011 Outlook: U.S. Equities Cyclical and Seasonal Trends (Part 2) by Martin J. Pring of Pring Turner Capital Group
Part II addresses the cyclical and seasonal factors that will be in force during 2011. An analysis of the seasonal aspects will give us a better feel for the expected pattern of price behavior as the year unfolds. Since we do not know when the peak will actually materialize well discuss some indicators that should be monitored from the point of view of confirming when they have taken place. First though, lets take a closer look at some of the seasonal/cyclical patterns and how they might affect 2011.
2011-01-05 A Rare and Dying Breed by Team of Beacon Pointe
Despite the rapid ascent of index funds and ETF investing during the past decade, we contend that carefully researched and selected active strategies offer the best opportunities for our clients to achieve their investment objectives while taking the least amount of risk possible. Our conviction is based on past experience, and our analysis of manager performance in the context of "active share", an objective new measure introduced by Yale School of Management's Cremers and Petajisto in a 2006 academic paper discussed below.
2011-01-05 What The Bulls May Be Ignoring ... At Their Peril ... Plus Some Ideas For 2011 by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The bullish case is pretty well established right now and there is no sense repeating them but what may be ignored are these half-dozen. Nothing of course says that the market can’t keep going up over the near-term. risks, I list. Just as the onus was on the double-dippers last summer given the sentiment and market action, the onus now is clearly on the V-shaped enthusiasts.
2011-01-04 The Coming Decade of Sideways Markets by Robert Huebscher (Article)
'We are in the middle of a sideways market, and we still have another decade to go,' says Vitality Katsenelson. In this interview, Katsenelson shares his insights on the decade ahead and the many factors that may keep China from leading us out of the recession.
2011-01-04 2011 Outlook: U.S. Equities Secular Trend (Part 1) by Martin J. Pring of Pring Turner Capital Group
In December 2009 we published an article entitled Are You Prepared for Another Lost Decade that argued the U.S. stock market has been in a secular bear market since 2000. Our objective now is to bring you up- to-date on our current views. Lets begin by outlining the characteristics of secular trends and recapping the case for a secular bear. In Part II we will examine the cyclical and seasonal outlook for 2011 and how this might dovetail into the secular picture.
2011-01-04 Getting a Grip by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
We can expect a showdown between the House Republicans and the Administration over the debt ceiling in Q2. At stake could be a good dose of spending restraint as ‘pay-go’ rules make a sudden reappearance after being neglected by the lame-duckers last year. There is always the reality of the payroll tax cut coming to an end in December and how that will crimp personal income in 2011. Of course, there is always the prospect of a Q4 corporate spending binge as the bonus depreciation allowance expires. The last 3 quarters of 2011 are going to be very interesting
2011-01-03 Setup and Resolution by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
One of the striking features of the market here is the extent to which large-cap, high-quality has underperformed speculative sectors of the market, creating what we view as a multi-year "setup" in favor of high quality issues.
2010-12-31 Heads you lose, tails you lose. by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Despite 2 year gains in financial valuations, most major global bourses remain in a downtrend as we enter 2011. Year-end improvements in market performance have not erased the erosive cycle trend decline begun in late 2006. Some argue that the past two years represented the regeneration of a new bull cycle in financial markets. However, empirical macro data, as well as a longer term perspective about the duration of bull markets, indicates that last year’s bull was simply a second intermediate upleg within a much longer bear market. No turnaround in the secular trend just yet.
2010-12-29 2011 Here We Come! by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management
There are two major trends in place that set the stage for world economics in 2011. The first is China’s continued rise. Although the U.S. remains the most powerful economic force on earth, China will soon be replacing Europe as the second most powerful economic force. China’s power is not built on sheer size alone: indeed, China’s statesman-like behavior during the current economic crisis in U.S. and Europe has highlighted its maturity and greatly enhanced its image. The second major trend going into 2011 is the rise of inflation.
2010-12-27 A Fed-Induced Speculative Blowoff by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Why are Treasury yields rising despite hundreds of billions of Treasury purchases by the Federal Reserve? There are two possibilities in the current debate. One is that the Fed's policy of purchasing Treasuries has scared the willies out of the bond market on fears of higher inflation, and that the policy is a failure. The other is that the policy has been such a success at boosting the prospects for economic growth that interest rates are rising on anticipation of a better economy. From our standpoint, neither of these explanations hold much water.
2010-12-23 Ten Reasons To Be Cautious For The 2011 Market Outlook by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
1) In Barron’s look-ahead piece, not one strategist sees the prospect for a market decline. This is called group-think. 2) The weekly fund flow data from the ICI showed not only massive outflows, but in aggregate, retail investors withdrew a RECORD net $8.6 billion from bond funds during the week ended December 15. 3) Bullish sentiment has now reached a new high for the year and is now the highest since 2007 ― just ahead of the market slide.
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 portfolio’s 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.
2010-12-21 Debunking Ken Fisher by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In his latest book, Debunkery, Ken Fisher achieves his goal of dispelling many common investment myths and, in doing so, offers his philosophy on how individuals should manage their money. While most of the advice he offers is unequivocally correct, he also makes egregious errors on some serious matters.
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.
2010-12-06 The Worst US Employment Report of the Year? by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
This was arguably one of the worst employment reports of the year. It was fascinating to see what little negative market reaction there was to the data — not just nonfarm payrolls but also the news that factory orders slipped 0.9% MoM in October, the steepest decline in five months. This is why everyone seems to believe the economy is improving and it’s so easy to do that when you simply ignore the bad data points! One of the key features of the payroll report was the continued retrenchment in the state/local government sector. This promises to be a major macro theme for 2011.
2010-12-06 Real Return Expectations by Michael Nairne (Article)
There is nothing more important to long-term investors than the real rate-of-return that they can reasonably expect to earn on their investments. We forecast the expected real annual return for US stocks over the next 10 years and then set out ways to potentially improve on what many will find to be a discouragingly low expected return.
2010-11-29 Not Fade Away: European Debt Crisis Hits Markets by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
Optimism is waning as global concerns are taking center stage, notably in the euro-zone. Investors shouldn't be complacent, but should heed the more-positive message coming from the US economy.
2010-11-22 Reality Check by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The world's economic environment is extremely fragile. The growth bulls are underestimating the fact that the fiscal disarray at state and local governments is a major headwind for the U.S. economy --state and local governments are the second largest contributor to spending outside of the American consumer. There is still scant evidence of a vibrant organic recovery. At least initially, the reversal of all the risk-on trends in the markets suggests that the pullback that became apparent after the peak in April is likely to be sustained over the intermediate term.
2010-11-16 A Reading List for 2010: Part 2 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 were presented last week and the remaining four are presented here.
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.
2010-11-11 The Road Ahead: Is It Inflation or Deflation by Martin J. Pring of Pring Turner Capital Group
Since the financial crash of 2008 there has been an intensive discussion amongst economists as to whether the fiscal stimulus and extraordinary monetary policy (Quantitative Easing, QE I and II) will lead to a significant inflationary wave or whether the system falls into a liquidity trap. Our objective here is not to dwell on the economic arguments, rather to examine the secular trends of commodities, bonds and their inter-market relationship to see what clues the markets themselves may be giving about the inflation/deflation outlook.
2010-11-09 How Modern Is Your Portfolio Theory? by Direxion Funds (Article)
After 58 Years, is there Another Way to Conquer the Efficient Frontier? In the past, active or "tactical" investment management referred to jumping in and out of stocks and bonds - market timing. With the introduction of sophisticated funds that help the masses harness the power of institutional managers and alternative asset classes and strategies, today, tactical management may help to renovate your portfolios - and help you retain and attract assets.
2010-11-07 Bubble, Crash, Bubble, Crash, Bubble... by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Given that interest rates are already quite depressed, Bernanke seems to be grasping at straws in justifying QE2 on the basis further slight reductions in yields. By irresponsibly promoting reckless speculation and illusory "wealth effects," the Fed has become the disease. The economic impact of QE2 is likely to be weak or even counterproductive. Even though the S&P 500 is substantially below its 2007 peak, it is also strenuously overvalued once again.
2010-11-06 Equity Valuation, Earnings and Relative Yield: A Compelling Point in the Cycle? by Richard Skaggs of Loomis Sayles
Large-cap US stocks, as represented by the Dow Jones Average, quadrupled in the 1980s and again in the 1990s. Given this historical perspective, the market’s long pause since 2000, accented by calamitous financial events, particularly in 2008, has left investors impatient and fearful. That said, investors would be wise not to wallow in this sentiment and overlook the long history of stocks returning to good form following lengthy periods of underperformance. The S&P 500 Index could be on the cusp of a positive long-term cycle based on its valuation, earnings and relative yield.
2010-11-05 More on QE2 - Will it Work? by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Quantitative easing is no antidote for structural economic problems, even if it manages to give investors a short-term sugar high. Let's learn from the Japanese QE experiment. The day the Bank of Japan launched the program on March 19, 2001, the Nikkei surged 7.5 percent, from 12,190 to 13,103. Three months later, as it became painfully obvious that the real economy was not responding well to the shock therapy, the Nikkei index slid 16 percent to just over 12,000.
2010-11-05 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
Today the Weekly Leading Index of the Economic Cycle Research Institute registered negative growth for the 22nd consecutive week, coming in at -6.5, unchanged from last week. The rate of contraction has been lessening over the past eight weeks. While the published index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession, the ECRI managing director is now on record stating that we've avoided a double dip. Doug Short presents charts of the index, gross domestic product and the federal funds rate since 1965.
2010-11-02 Whitney George On Where We Are In Today's Market by Whitney George of The Royce Funds
Whitney George, Co-Chief Investment Officer of Royce & Associates, discusses the state of the stock market and the economy, looks at the possibility of inflation and details what he likes about precious metals and mining companies and the Technology sector.
2010-11-02 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group
If you still don't think a bubble exists in U.S. government bonds, then consider this: The Treasury just sold $10 billion worth of five-year Treasury Inflation Protected Securities at a negative yield for the first time ever. People buy TIPS to protect against inflation, and there is so much talk about inflation even though it isn't here yet, the yield on these five-year securities was -0.55 percent.
2010-10-29 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
On Friday the Economic Cycle Research Institute's weekly leading index registered negative growth for the 21st consecutive week, coming in at -6.5, a fractional improvement over last week's -6.9. The rate of contraction has been lessening over the past eight weeks. The published index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession. Doug Short presents charts of the index, GDP and the federal funds rate since 1965.
2010-10-25 It's All About Earnings by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The equity market has now managed to climb three weeks in a row despite the fact that the U.S. dollar has done likewise in a classic countertrend rally from oversold conditions. Almost one-third of the S&P 500 universe has reported, and the year-over-year earnings growth rate is now running at plus-28 percent from plus-24 percent last week. Fully 83 percent of the companies have beaten their bottom-line estimate, which is far above the historical norm of 62 percent; although barely over 60 percent are bettering their revenue estimates, which is below average.
2010-10-22 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
On Friday the Economic Cycle Research Institute's Weekly Leading Index registered negative growth for the 20th consecutive week, coming in at -6.8, a fractional improvement over last week's -7.0. While the rate of contraction has been lessening over the past seven weeks, the magnitude of decline from the peak in October 2009 is unprecedented in the Institute's published data back to 1967. The published index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession. Doug Short presents charts of the index, gross domestic product and the federal funds rate since 1967.
2010-10-21 'Unusual Uncertainty'... It's Certainly Unusual by Jason R. Graybill and Neil D. Klein of Carret Asset Management
In mid-July, Federal reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke stated there is 'unusual uncertainty' with regards to the nation's economic outlook. As interest rates trend higher over the coming years from record lows, the yield curve will flatten. And as the economy improves, spreads between higher-risk credits and Treasury bonds will narrow.
2010-10-19 Tales of the Bull and Bear Bond Market by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs
The investment advisory business is competing to capture retirement dollars by offering new products that emphasize income. The greatest risk to any retiree is running out of money before they die. Most retirees understand this, so the idea of income for life sounds wonderful. What good is a guaranteed income payment, however, if the payment is not enough to cover the future cost of living? Current interest rates will not allow adequate income from bonds, or protect against the risk of inflation.
2010-10-18 'Gone in 60 Seconds' by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
The likelihood of the QE2 has risen dramatically since Ben Bernanke's Jackson Hole speech. This is being reflected by the 'stubborn rally' in most asset classes. If Bernanke did not think QE2 was needed, he surely would not allow such speculation because he does not want to surprise the various markets. Any ensuing pullback will be mild and contained above the 1130 - 1150 level on the S&P 500. Nevertheless, Jeffrey Saut is cautious, which he has not been since April.
2010-10-15 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
On Friday the Economic Cycle Research Institute's weekly leading index registered negative growth for the 19th consecutive week, coming in at -6.9, a fractional improvement over last week's -7.0. While the rate of contraction has been lessening over the past six weeks, the magnitude of decline from the peak in October 2009 is unprecedented in the Institute's published data going back to 1967. The published index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession. Doug Short presents charts of the index, GDP and the federal funds rate going back to 1967.
2010-10-14 Who's Doing the Buying? by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
So who's buying equities right now? Good question. We know it's not the retail investor and private clients - they have been selling into this entire bear market rally and rebalancing their asset mix in favor of income. It's not the mutual funds, because institutional private managers already have cycle-low cash ratios. There would seem to be three principal buyers right now: pension funds struggling to reach their 8 percent assumed annual returns, hedge funds, and the proprietary trading desks at big commercial banks.
2010-10-08 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
On Friday the Economic Cycle Research Institute's weekly leading index registered negative growth for the 18th consecutive week, coming in at -7.0, an improvement over last week's -7.8. While the rate of contraction has been lessening over the past five weeks, the magnitude of decline from the peak in October 2009 is unprecedented in the Institute's published data back to 1967. The published index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession. Doug Short presents charts of the index, GDP and the federal funds rate going back to 1967.
2010-10-07 Risk On, Risk Off by Cliff W. Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors
The huge drop in bond yields is the driving force in the equity markets and the decline of the dollar. The old adage 'don't fight the Fed' still applies, and Excelsia's allocations will be shifted more towards equities and alternatives as interest rates get driven lower and lower. Emerging market debt, commodity and natural resource companies, gold, and large-cap stocks all offer favorable prospects.
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?
2010-10-07 Government Policy and the Markets: Prepare For Some Big Changes by Tony and Rob Boeckh of Boeckh Investment Letter
Proponents of gold base their arguments on predictions of eventual monetary ruin, a dollar collapse and high inflation. The bond market, however, is far bigger and more sophisticated than the gold market, and it indicates that inflation expectations are nonexistent. Bond yields are far below their long-run equilibrium levels and if anything, are forecasting deflation and possible stagnation. The huge disconnect between gold and bonds should serve as a reminder to gold bulls to tread carefully, unless they are sure that the bond market has it wrong.
2010-10-05 The Misguided Promise of 529 Plans by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Along with the overall market, 529 plans suffered disastrous returns in 2008, leaving many families with insufficient funds to pay their tuition costs. The real problem, though, is not with the past performance of 529s. A misguided promise underlies the vast majority of 529 plans - that their heavy allocation to equities will provide acceptable risk-adjusted returns for the time horizons over which most parents invest.
2010-10-05 Charles Brandes on Investing Lessons from Benjamin Graham by Dan Richards (Article)
In this interview, Charles Brandes, the founder and Chairman of the Brandes Investment Management, discusses the lessons he learned from legendary value investor Benjamin Graham. Brandes also offers his forecast for equity market performance, as well as why he believes value stocks have an inherent, sustainable advantage over growth stocks. This is the transcript of the interview.
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.
2010-10-01 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
On Friday the Economic Cycle Research Institute's weekly leading index registered negative growth for the 17th consecutive week, coming in at -7.8, an improvement over last week's -8.7. The latest weekly number is based on data through September 24. The magnitude of decline from the peak in October 2009 is unprecedented in the Institute's published data back to 1967. The published index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession. Doug Short presents charts of the index, GDP and the federal funds rate since 1967.
2010-09-28 Reality Check on the Macro Outlook by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
More than 80 percent of the economic growth we saw from the lows of 2009 in real GDP was due to the massive amounts of federal government stimulus and the huge inventory swing. The underlying trend in organic real final sales is barely above 0.5 percent. One therefore has to therefore wonder, with an estimated 1.7 percentage point drag from fiscal withdrawal in the coming year and the evident signs of a peaking-out in the inventory contribution to growth, how can the economy not contract heading into 2011?
2010-09-27 Hemlines and Investment Styles by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital
High quality, large cap stocks have good potential over a range of possible scenarios, and are more attractive than bonds, which will do well in periods of economic weakness or deflation but poorly during periods of market strength or inflation. Treasury bonds and other high grade bonds currently have all environmental factors in their favor, but are priced rich. For them to do well from here, with yields so low, everything has to work out the way the bond bulls hope. Given current yield spreads, high yield bonds should outperform high grade bonds in most foreseeable long-term environments.
2010-09-24 Housing Still in a Deep Funk and Gold Going Higher Still by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Existing home sales increased 7.6 percent month-over-month in August in what can only be described as noise around a fundamental downtrend. The three-month trend in single-family sales is still -72 percent at an annual rate, the six-month trend is -31 percent and the 12-month trend is -19 percent. Meanwhile, gold is now on the precipice of breaking above $1,300/oz, and is likely to remain in this secular uptrend for quite a while longer. We\'re talking years. We\'re still talking $3,000/oz.
2010-09-24 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
Today the Economic Cycle Research Institute's weekly leading index registered negative growth for the 16th consecutive week, coming in at -8.7, an improvement over last week's -9.3, which is a downward revision from -9.2. The magnitude of decline from the peak in October 2009 is unprecedented in the Institute's published data back to 1967. The published index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession. Doug Short presents charts of the index, GDP and the federal funds rate since 1967.
2010-09-21 The Housing Elevator: Going Up or Down? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Several prominent analysts have written recently that the bear market in housing is nearing its end. Writing with varying degrees of conviction and citing a range of statistical measures, they reach the broad conclusion that now is the time to buy a house. We provide a summary of those opinions - from James Grant of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, Dave Leonhardt of The New York Times, and Anatole Kaletsky of GaveKal Research - along with our own contrasting thoughts.
2010-09-17 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
On Friday the Economic Cycle Research Institute's weekly leading index registered negative growth for the 15th consecutive week, coming in at -9.2, a slight improvement over last week's -10.1. The index had been hovering around -10 for the previous five weeks. The magnitude of decline from the peak in October 2009 is unprecedented in the Institute's published data back to 1967. The published index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession. Doug Short presents charts of the index, GDP and the federal funds rate since 1967.
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.
2010-09-10 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
On Friday the weekly leading index of the Economic Cycle Research Institute registered negative growth for the 14th consecutive week, coming in at -10.1, a fractional improvement over last week's -10.2, which was a downward revision from -10.1. The rate of decline from the peak in October 2009 is unprecedented in the Institute's published data back to 1967. The published index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession. Doug Short presents charts of the index, GDP and the federal funds rate since 1967.
2010-09-10 Using the Past to Predict the Future by Team of Bespoke Investment Group
Most technical analysts believe that chart patterns tend to repeat themselves. Using quantitative analysis, Bespoke went back and compared the last six months in the S&P 500 to every other six month period since 1928. They found that the stretch that most closely resembles the last six months is the period from November 1959 through May 1960. While the majority of investors still believe we will avoid the double-dip recession this time around, the 1959 to 1960 example suggests that even if we do go back into a recession (as we did then), a new bear market is not necessarily a sure thing.
2010-09-09 An Important Turn in U.S. Jobs by Anatole Kaletsky, Charles Gave, Pierre Gave, FX Chauchat and Will Deyner of GaveKal
GaveKal examines several topics related to investment strategy. The U.S. employment situation is in line with other post-recession periods, which belies the 'jobless recovery' thesis. 'Real' U.S. incomes (excluding government transfer payments) are improving faster than they did after the 2001 recession. Rumors about the death of inflation may have been exaggerated, while six major Western bond indicators are flashing sell signals. Meanwhile, investors seem prefer lending to heavily indebted governments rather than to the prosperous, resilient and well-managed listed corporate sector.
2010-09-07 The Three Factors of Fear by Bob Veres (Article)
Bob Veres presents the latest release from his new service, which provides advisors with sample letters that they can share with their clients. In this edition, he looks at human psychology and the three factors of fear to understand why markets may now appear scarier to investors.
2010-09-07 The Recognition Window by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Over the course of the market cycle, one of the primary areas of risk for stocks (and conversely, one of the best periods for Treasury bonds) is typically the 'recognition window' where economic activity begins to deviate from the upward trend that is priced into the market, and investors begin to recognize that an economic downturn is, in fact, likely. The instant relief provoked by the manufacturing purchasing managers index and the employment report was an overreaction to data that is still very early in that window.
2010-09-03 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
On Friday the weekly leading index of the Economic Cycle Research Institute registered negative growth for the 13th consecutive week, coming in at -10.1, a fractional decline from last week's -9.9. The rate of decline from the peak in October 2009 is unprecedented in the Institute's published data back to 1967. The published index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession. Doug Short presents charts of the weekly leading index, GDP and the federal funds rate since 1967.
2010-08-31 Why Mid-Cap? by RidgeWorth Investments (Article)
RidgeWorth Investments has published research detailing six distinct reasons why investors should consider a specific allocation to mid-caps. Specifically, it explores historical performance, evaluates current conditions that favor mid-caps as well as examines how mid-caps have performed during different points in market and economic cycles. Finally, the research looks at the incremental benefit of adding an allocation of up to 40% of mid-cap stocks to a portfolio of solely large and small cap stocks. We thank RidgeWorth Investments for their sponsorship.
2010-08-31 Evaluating Unconstrained Managers by Various (Article)
How can advisors evaluate an unconstrained asset manager, such as John Hussman of the Hussman Fund? In a follow-up to a recent article on research by Roger Ibbotson, we present views from several advisors on the role of returns-based style analysis and whether it can help identify whether managers such as Hussman deliver alpha.
2010-08-31 Risk vs. Risk by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management
The best stock market returns occur when interest rates are relatively low and supportive of under-owned equities, with lots of cash on the sidelines to fuel a rally. Markets are currently at or inflecting up from 'floors' or buy points. Probabilities remain high that markets will rise significantly from here even if we have another temporary setback. Accordingly, Trapeze Asset Management remains fully invested (even using some leverage in margin accounts) while continuing to have no short positions, particularly with the prevailing low valuations.
2010-08-30 Hussman Funds 2010 Annual Report by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
At present valuations, exposure to market and credit risk is not likely to be well-compensated over the long-term, and may be associated with substantial losses in the intermediate term. Recent advances may simply be the product of a fragile post-crisis bounce, similar to those following other historical credit crises in the U.S. and abroad. The quarters immediately ahead present the greatest risk of fresh credit strains and concentrated economic risk.
2010-08-28 The Dark Side of Deficits by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
At the start of each bull cycle, the markets had single-digit P/E ratios, with no exception. No secular bull market ever began with high P/E ratios, even though significant rallies often started from high P/E ratios. The lesson of history is that all periods of high valuations come to an unhappy end. The most significant driver of stock market returns is the valuation embedded in the P/E ratio. We are still in a secular bear market. Valuations, while lower, are still not at what could be called historical cyclical bottoms. Patience is the order of the day. We will get there.
2010-08-27 Increasing Risks by Tony and Rob Boeckh of Boeckh Investment Letter
Capital preservation is of critical importance in this volatile, highly uncertain world. Within that conservative context, Boeckh has been relatively bullish on risk assets. The time has come to add another layer of caution to portfolios. The S&P 500 may well remain in an extended trading range, but we may be much closer to the upper boundary than the lower. Seasonally, we are heading into a period when markets tend to be weak, and some important declines have occurred.
2010-08-27 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
On Friday the weekly leading index of the Economic Cycle Research Institute registered negative growth for the 12th consecutive week, coming in at -9.9, a fractional improvement from last week's -10.1. The rate of decline from the peak in October 2009 is unprecedented in the Institute's published data back to 1967. The published index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession. Doug Short provides charts of the weekly leading index, gross domestic product and the federal funds rate going back to 1967.
2010-08-25 What's With Equity Valuation? by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Historically, the average consensus estimate forward price-to-earnings ratio on the S&P 500 has been 15.6x. And yet, what we actually end up with on average is 19.2x. The consensus, in other words, is systematically publishing earnings forecasts that make the market look cheap. Meanwhile, the Shiller P/E, which uses the 'bird-in-the-hand' earnings, takes them in inflation-adjusted terms, and cyclically-adjusts the earnings data, currently generates a multiple of 20.6x, which is 26 percent above the historical norm.
2010-08-23 We're Underperforming the Great Depression by Doug Short of Doug Short
Doug Short presents charts of the weekly leading index of the Economic Cycle Research Institute and the federal funds rate going back to 1967. The index registered negative growth for the 11th consecutive week on Friday, coming in at -10.0, a fractional improvement from last week's -10.2. The rate of decline from the peak in October 2009 is unprecedented in the Institute's published data. The index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession.
2010-08-20 The Bear Market in Housing Starts is Still Far From Over by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
With the homeownership rate still at 67 percent versus the pre-bubble norm of 64 percent, and with lending requirements more stringent, including a new emphasis on down payments, you can forget a revival in housing demand anytime soon. Instead, demand will shift toward the old room at Ma and Pa\'s, the basement guest room at the in-laws or space in the rental sector. Indeed, demand for apartments may actually do well in this environment. The critical question, however, is: \'Have the builders done enough cutting?\'
2010-08-20 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
Doug Short presents charts of the weekly leading index of the Economic Cycle Research Institute and the federal funds rate going back to 1967. The index registered negative growth for the eleventh consecutive week on Friday, coming in at -10.0, a fractional improvement from last week's -10.2. The rate of decline from the peak in October 2009 is unprecedented in the Institute's published data. The index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession.
2010-08-19 The Bond Bubble Debate: 'One Rosie' Takes on 'Two Jeremies' by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
What we have on our hands is a powerful demographic appetite for yield at a time when income is under-represented on boomer balance sheets. The two most significant determinants of the trend in long-term bond yields - Fed policy and inflation - continue to flash 'green' at a time when the yield curve is still historically steep and destined to flatten. Finally, the central bank has already assured us that short-term rates will remain at rock-bottom levels for as long as the eye can see. David Rosenberg also comments on growing acceptance of frugality by retailers.
2010-08-17 Cerulli Survey Results: New Themes in Advisors’ Portfolio Strategies by Bing Waldert (Article)
New ideas, such as tactical asset allocation and the use of alternatives, have seen some uptake even before the market crisis, particularly within large institutions, but they are receiving increased attention as solutions for risk-averse clients. This article examines some of the evolutions, using data from a Cerulli Associates survey of Advisor Perspectives readers conducted in June and July of 2010.
2010-08-17 Not the Time For a Jubilee by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
We are in the early stages of a secular credit collapse following the biggest credit bubble in human history. The housing bubble was the result of a universal, irrational and linear belief in real estate asset appreciation that developed in the 1990s and reached its glorious peak in 2007. Now we are rolling back into pronounced economic weakness, with contraction in GDP likely to soon follow the stagnant economic conditions of the current quarter.
2010-08-16 Double-Dip or Single Scoop? by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
It is only a commentary on the human condition and the innate need to be optimistic that the vast majority of economists, analysts, strategists and market commentators still seem to be acting like ostriches with their heads in the sand, even in the face of fairly substantial evidence that GDP growth was cut at least in half in Q2 and that there is negative momentum in real retail sales being 'built' into the current quarter. If we are realistic, however, we can actually deploy strategies that will generate profitable results - certainly better than zero percent yields on cash.
2010-08-14 Technical Market Take by Mike Hurley of Incline Capital
Market technical are of concern technically. Specifically, there was not only a noticeable absence of new 52-wk highs during the recent bounce in equities, but last week’s decline saw more than twice the number of new lows, than new highs (A). Most definitely action which supports the opinion that stocks may well be forming some type of cyclical top. The bottom line being, that the market continues to suggest that the wisest course of action going forward is to underweight equities (or avoid them entirely, depending on suitability) while overweighting bonds.
2010-08-13 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
Doug Short presents charts of the weekly leading index of the Economic Cycle Research Institute, gross domestic product and the federal funds rate. The index registered negative growth for the ninth consecutive week on Friday, coming in at -9.8, a fractional improvement from last week's -10.3. The rate of decline from the peak in October 2009 is unprecedented in the Institute's published data back to 1967. The published index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession.
2010-08-12 Asset Allocation: Volatility, Correlations and Returns in the New Environment by Tom and Rob Boeckh of Boeckh Investment Letter
Slow growth, high unemployment and weak inflation will keep interest rates very low in the short term. Rising government debt levels and heavy reliance on monetary ease from the Federal Reserve, however, suggest rising risks of price inflation later on, possibly much later. The current period of low long-term interest rates should thus be thought of as an extended base-building period for higher rates down the line. Investors should maintain a diversified portfolio, shifting equity exposure to defensive, non-cyclical sectors, and build positions in cash and safe sovereign debt.
2010-08-11 Not in Kansas Anymore by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The transition to the next sustainable economic expansion and bull market in these types of business cycles takes between five and 10 years, and is fraught with periodic setbacks. While an underweight positions in equities still makes sense, a bar bell between basic materials and defensive dividend stocks is a prudent strategy, with the overall emphasis in the asset mix tilted towards bonds, especially the BB-rated sliver or that part of the higher quality non-investment grade space that currently has the greatest unexploited potential for spread compression and capital gains.
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.
2010-08-09 Some Salient Facts About the July Payroll Report by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
David Rosenberg outlines a number of reasons why last Friday' U.S. nonfarm payroll report was even weaker than we thought. He also comments on the recent 120 basis point decline on 10-year Treasury note yields, and its implications for the stock market.
2010-08-07 The Problem With Pensions by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
A report just out from the Center for Policy Analysis indicates that state and local pension funds are drastically underfunded. By the authors' calculations, state and local pensions are underfunded by $3 trillion. Pension funding in some states will be required by law to consume 25-30 percent or more of tax revenues. That is going to mean much higher taxes or reduced services. John Mauldin also discusses a possible surprise from President Obama concerning Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and provides an economic update on China.
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.
2010-08-06 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
Doug Short presents charts comparing the Economic Cycle Research Institute's weekly leading index, gross domestic product and the federal funds rate. On Friday the index registered negative growth for the eighth consecutive week, coming in at -10.3, a fractional improvement from last week's -10.7. A significant decline in the WLI has been a leading indicator for six of the seven recessions since the 1960s. The index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession.
2010-07-30 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
Doug Short presents charts of gross domestic product, the Economic Cycle Research Instititute's weekly leading index and the federal funds rate since 1965. On Friday the WLI registered negative growth for the seventh consecutive week, coming in at -10.7. The rate of decline from the peak in October 2009 is unprecedented since the metric was first devised in 1967. A significant decline in the WLI has been a leading indicator for six of the seven recessions since the 1960s.
2010-07-30 Slow Motion Recovery and What Would Make Me Bullish by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Legions of economists are claiming that it is normal to see the economy take a breather at this stage of the cycle, but in truth, what is 'normal' in the context of a post-WWII recovery is that four quarters into it, real GDP expands at over a 6 percent annual rate. That puts the current 2.4 percent growth rate into a certain perspective. David Rosenberg also lists 10 economic developments that could turn him bullish.
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.
2010-07-27 Active Managers Add More Value in Bull than Bear Markets by Jane Li, CFA, CAIA (Article)
In this guest contribution, Jane Li of FundQuest argues that both active and passive investing have their strengths and weaknesses; it depends on the market segment in question and on the economic climate. Active managers tend to add value in bull markets, but their value is shakier in bear markets.
2010-07-24 Some Thoughts on Deflation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
We face the deflation of the Depression era, and central bankers of the world are united in opposition. This is due to excess capacity, high unemployment and massive wealth destruction. Deflationary pressures are the norm in the developed world (except for Britain, where inflation is the issue). The US has mild (1 percent) inflation now, but if it trends to deflation, the Fed will react by monetizing the debt.
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.
2010-07-23 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
Doug Short provides charts comparing the Economic Cycle Research Institute's Weekly Leading Index to GDP and the federal funds rate. On Friday the index registered negative growth for the seventh consecutive week, coming in at -10.5. This number is based on data through July 16th. The rate of decline from the peak in October 2009 is unprecedented since the metric was first devised in 1967. The question, of course, is whether the latest WLI decline is a leading indicator of a recession or a false negative. The index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession.
2010-07-20 Jeremy Siegel on Why Stocks are Undervalued by Dan Richards (Article)
The Wharton School's Jeremy Siegel remains an outspoken proponent of stocks for the long run, as he demonstrates in this interview with Dan Richards. In the transcript of this interview, Siegel explains why equity investors should not be deterred by sour economic forecasts or by signals of apparent overvaluation based on Shiller P/E ratios.
2010-07-16 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
Doug Short provides a chart showing the correlation between the Economic Cycle Research Institute's weekly leading index growth index, gross domestic product and recessions. The index has just registered negative growth for the sixth consecutive week, coming in at -9.8. The rate of decline from the peak in October 2009 is unprecedented since the metric was first devised in 1967.
2010-07-15 A Short History of Stock Dividends by Doug Short of Doug Short
Doug Short provides charts of the inflation-adjusted price of the S&P composite and dividend yields, as well as real price growth and dividend growth since 1971. As the charts illustrate, risk has returned with a vengeance. Aging Boomers may finally recognize the value of dividend income, especially as their paycheck days draw nearer to a close. Perhaps dividends will someday reemerge as a mainstay of investing. The one certainty is this: It won't happen overnight.
2010-07-13 Total Return or Total Disappointment? by Doug Short of Doug Short
Doug Short provides charts of the S&P Composite since 1929 adjusted for real price and real total return. As the charts show, for the past 21 months, the secular bear market that began in 2000 has substantially underperformed the equivalent timeframe during the Great Depression.
2010-07-09 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Economic Cycle Research Institute's weekly leading index growth metric has had a respectable (but by no means perfect) record for forecasting recessions. Doug Short provides a chart showing the correlation between the WLI, gross domestic product and recessions. The question, of course, is whether the latest WLI decline is a leading indicator of a recession or a false negative. The index has never dropped to the current level without the onset of a recession.
2010-07-03 The Dismal Science Really Is by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Yesterday's unemployment numbers were very bad, and Mauldin explains how they were calculated and the implications of adjustments, such as the birth/death model. Personal income was also down, which is a very rare occurrence. Other indicators, including the money supply, are not indicative of economic growth. The Fed will act aggressively to thwart deflation.
2010-07-02 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
Today the Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) registered negative growth for the fourth consecutive week, coming in at -7.7. The rate of decline from the peak in October 2009 is unprecedented since the metric was first devised in 1967. The ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator has never dropped to this level without the onset of a recession.
2010-07-01 Summer Forecast (and Beyond) by The Emerald Team of Emerald Asset Advisors
With Spain and its PIIG friends continuing to cause anxiety in global investment circles, it's a good time to focus on the potential risks and rewards facing investors right now. In reviewing our commentary released on February 1st of this year, we find that little has changed in the reward/risk tradeoffs we see. Themes identified earlier this year are now starting to play out and come into focus, as often happens simply with the passage of time. So, here is a brief update on those themes and more importantly, how they are influencing the management of the portfolios we run.
2010-07-01 Regression to Trend by Doug Short of Doug Short
Looking at various metrics describing today's economy, Doug Short poses the question, 'Are you bearish or bullish about the market?' Short looks at the bearish view, the bullish alternative, and various methods for calculating consumer prices. He ultimately concludes that the ideal method is 'somewhere between the revised BLS method and the historic method preserved by John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics' and comes down on the bearish side.
2010-06-30 Financial Life Cycle Planning by Doug Short of Doug Short
How does the current Dow recovery compare with major recoveries in the past? Let's take a look.
2010-06-29 Timber as an Asset Class: If a Tree Falls in the Forest, Should you Buy It? by Charlie Curnow (Article)
"If the sun shines and it rains, the trees grow about on schedule," wrote Jeremy Grantham, chairman of Boston-based investment firm GMO, in his quarterly newsletter in April 2007. Grantham's enthusiasm for timber, which remains true to this day, may be excessive, despite the fact that, on the surface, historical data seems to support his optimism. If a tree falls in the forest, should you buy it?
2010-06-29 'Getting, Keeping, Losing!' by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
From one main goal, keeping the profits accrued since the March 2009 bottom, springs many daunting questions. Is this a new bull market or a secular bear market? What should one glean from economic reports? What signals should one watch for? Jeffrey Saut explains a quote from _The Slippery Slope of Wealth_ by George Gilder and provides his commentary and call for the week.
2010-06-25 The Big Picture by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Escalating global economic imbalances have dramatically increased the vulnerability of the global recovery. The chances of a growth relapse in the second half of the year are higher than the equity market and credit market have priced in. Treasury bonds seem to be the asset class that most closely shares these cautious views. Anyone with a pro-cyclical bent has to answer for why it is that the yield at mid-point on the coupon curve is below 2 percent, a year after a whippy rally in equities and commodities and what appeared to be a sizeable policy-induced GDP jump off the bottom.
2010-06-25 Market Volatility Update by Doug Short of Doug Short
The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index (VIX), which shows the market's expectation of 30-day volatility, has been rising to the 'above 30' warning level. It briefly crossed above 30 intraday but closed a shade lower at 29.74. Doug Short provides a chart series showing the VIX and S&P 500 over two timeframes.
2010-06-25 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
Doug Short provides charts of gross domestic product and the Economic Cycle Research Institute's weekly leading index since 1965. The WLI just registered negative growth for the third consecutive week, coming in at -6.9. The question, of course, is whether the latest WLI decline is a leading indicator of a recession or a false negative. The index has never dropped to -6.9 without the onset of a recession. The deepest decline without a near-term recession was in the Crash of 1987, when the index slipped to -6.8.
2010-06-22 Improving on Morningstar's Ratings: Moving Beyond Past Performance by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)
Past returns provide little or no help in choosing the best fund going forward, and Morningstar's stars are the best known example of this failure. In this guest contribution, Tom Howard presents new evidence of the failure of past performance to predict future returns, and shows how his strategy-based rating methodology offers measurably better predictive power.
2010-06-21 The ECRI Weekly Leading Index by Doug Short of Doug Short
Doug Short provides charts comparing gross domestic product, the Economic Research Institute's weekly leading index and the federal funds rate since 1965, with recessionary periods marked off. A significant decline in the weekly leading index has been a leading indicator for six of the seven recessions since 1965. The question, of course, is whether the latest WLI decline is a leading indicator of a recession or a false negative. Unfortunately, the federal funds rate is already at zero. Can the Fed still take steps to avoid a double-dip?
2010-06-21 Random Musings From a Summer Vacation by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
The debate of the day centers on whether what we have experienced since the March 2009 'bottom' is just a rally in an ongoing bear market or the beginning of a new secular bull market. Since the end of 2001, Jeffry Saut has been adamant that there is a secular bull market in 'stuff stocks' (energy, agriculture, metals, water, electricity, cement, etc.), especially 'stuff stocks' with a yield, as well as a bull market in emerging and frontier markets. The rest of his portfolio is geared toward taking advantage of the various mini-bull/bear market 'swings.'
2010-06-18 Sixteen Dow Recoveries: Update by Doug Short of Doug Short
How does the current Dow recovery compare with major recoveries in the past? The Dow closed yesterday (June 17th) 59.4% above the March 2009 low after reaching an interim closing high up 71.1% on April 26th. Compared to the other 15 rallies at the equivalent point, the current rally is in 7th place. The volatile recovery after the Crash of 1929 leads the pack by a wide margin. Second and third place date from yet earlier periods, as does the fifth place.
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.
2010-06-15 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 The Dow-Gold Relationship by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
David Rosenberg provides a chart comparing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to gold prices since 1900. If this ratio ends up retesting the two fundamental lows that it has achieved in the past, and if we are correct in our assertion that gold will go to $3,000 per ounce, then we may be getting a Dow 5,000 trough at some point down the road. Rosenberg also comments on the Fed's continued hold on monetary policy, and the threat posed by rising debt levels to growth.
2010-06-15 Airplane Musings - Part Deux by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust
Although U.S. federal government spending continues to increase, the rate of growth in that spending has slowed enormously. In the 12 months ended May 2010, accumulated spending by the federal government totaled $3.437 trillion, just 2.6 percent higher than the 12-month accumulated total federal spending for May 2009. This is quite a deceleration in growth from the 15.3 percent registered for the 12 months ended 2009 vs. 2008, near the trough of the last recession.
2010-06-10 The 'Yield' Theme Continues Unabated by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Fixed-income is woefully under-represented in U.S. and Canadian household balance sheets, while the average baby boomer is 55 years old and as a result is at an age where capital preservation strategies win out over a strict capital appreciation focus, which worked so well in the 80s and 90s. The market moves in 16- to 18-year cycles. Sadly, this secular down-phase in the equity market began in 2000 when the major averages hit their peak in real terms, so the best we can say now is that we are probably 60 percent of the way into it.
2010-06-09 Not Your Typical Pullback by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The outlook for the U.S. economy and the earnings backdrop have become highly uncertain due to the European debt crisis, which, with a lag, will end up hitting our shores. In the name of prudence, a higher risk premium must be applied to the investment decision-making process, which in turn means that a focus on income, capital preservation, and defensive, noncyclical strategies will work best. Trading up in quality and reducing risk will be the key to solid investment performance in coming months.
2010-06-08 Five Strategies for a Rising Rate Environment by Kane Cotton, CFA and Jonathan Scheid, CFA (Article)
The Federal Reserve can't accommodate forever, and the global stimulus effort will likely lead to inflation. Our growing indebtedness can only result in increased borrowing costs. That much we know. What we don't know is when and how quickly interest rates will rise. In this guest contribution, Kane Cotton and Jonathan Scheid examine five strategies for a rising rate environment.
2010-06-07 Growth Slowdown Coming by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The declines in the financial sector, construction and state and local governments are vivid reminders that the parts of the economy that were most affected by the bursting of the housing and credit bubble are still licking their wounds and cannot be relied upon to play any role in helping revive a moribund job market. If it weren’t for the plunge in the labor force, the U.S. unemployment rate would have climbed to 10 percent in May. And it's remarkable that with interest rates so low that we would be seeing mortgage applications for new purchases down to a 13-year low.
2010-06-03 Fundamental Strength Should Beat Out Heightened Uncertainty by Bob Doll of BlackRock
In previous business cycles, when credit market pressures surfaced at a time when the yield curve was steep, the economy experienced brief slowdowns, but not recessions. If that is also the case today, then what we are looking at should be a temporary slowdown in growth, but not a double-dip recession. Nervous investors and slowly receding uncertainty levels will keep market volatility high over the coming month. However, should the labor market recovery continue, the backdrop of strengthening corporate profits and a recovering economy should push equity prices higher.
2010-06-03 A Bear Market or Just a Correction? by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
So far the S&P 500 is down nearly 10 percent from the highs, so this is indeed a correction thus far. More often than not, however, declines like these morph into something more severe. Right now we are looking at a 50 percent retracement of the March 2009-April 2010 run-up, which means 943 on the S&P 500. Lows in the market tend to occur with the index 20 percent below the 200-day moving average, which at this stage would be 879. So at least we have a defined range of when to begin to put money to work.
2010-06-02 Manufacturing, Construction and Gold by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Deflation is still the primary trend, coupled with massive reflation efforts and the unintended consequences that come along with those efforts. The name of the game is therefore to focus on strategies that deliver income, minimize volatility and emphasize capital preservation in a secular bear market, and to use commodities as a buffer in a financially unstable world. Rosenberg also comments on rising manufacturing activity and construction, and rising gold sales at the U.S. Mint.
2010-06-01 Secular Bull and Bear Markets by Doug Short of Doug Short
Doug Short examines an inflation-adjusted chart of the S&P Composite. An obvious feature of the chart is a pattern of long-term alternations between upward and downward trends, or secular bull and bear markets. Secular bull years total 80 versus 52 for the bears, a 60:40 ratio. The latest monthly average of daily closes is 33 percent above trend after having fallen only 6 percent below trend in March of last year. Previous bottoms were considerably further below trend. Will the March 2009 bottom be different?
2010-06-01 Margins Peak, Gold Saves Lives by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
There is no ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card when it comes to the places where market prices could go during this period of pullback in investor risk appetite. The appetite for risk usually comes back because the Fed cuts rates. This time around, we may have to see more balance sheet expansion and more money printed. Gluskin still loves the bond market, but gold is a very good hedge here just in case we are wrong on the inflation call or if the markets begin to anticipate the massive reflation efforts that are still to come.
2010-05-28 May Volatility, Downward GDP Revision and Sputtering Labor Markets by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
We are still in the midst of a credit collapse. There is simply too much debt and debt service globally relative to worldwide income. The fact that we had a year-long respite does not alter this view, because that respite was induced by an unsustainable pace of bailout and fiscal stimulus in practically every country on the planet, not just in the United States. Governments bailed out the banks and stimulated the economy. But because the revenue cupboard was bare, public sector debt loads exploded at all levels of government, and to varying degrees, in every jurisdiction.
2010-05-26 Gold Prices, Housing, Bond Yields and the Shiller P/E Ratio by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The fact that earnings have been rising while the stock market has been correcting has helped cut the degree of overvaluation in half, to a 0.5 standard deviation from 1.0 just over a month ago on a normalized Shiller P/E ratio basis. The ECRI leading economic index is foreshadowing a deceleration in real GDP growth, however, to 1.5 percent in the second half of the year from the 3.75 percent average pace since the recession technically ended in mid-2009. The S&P 500 level that would be consistent with that sort of pace would be around 850, rather than the current level of 1,074.
2010-05-24 Don't Mess With Aunt Minnie by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
In medicine, an Aunt Minnie is a particular set of symptoms that is distinctly characteristic of a specific disease, even if each of the individual symptoms might be fairly common. Last week, we observed an Aunt Minnie featuring a collapse in market internals that has historically been associated with sharply negative market implications. Historically, we can identify 19 instances in the past 50 years where the weekly data featured broadly negative internals, coupled with at least 3-to-1 negative breadth, and a leadership reversal.
2010-05-24 Market Musings: Manic-Depressive Mondays by Doug Short of Doug Short
On Friday CNBC ran a piece observing that Mondays have strongly outperformed the other days of the week in 2010. Doug Short provides two pairs of tables that allow us to compare the behavior of weekdays during two nasty bear markets and the rallies that followed. Monday has indeed behaved strangely over the past decade. The key factor is whether we're in a bull or a bear market. Now that CNBC has publicized the 'buy on Friday, sell on Monday concept,' however, Short wouldn't put much 'stock' in this strategy going forward.
2010-05-24 Macro Woes Refuse to Abate by Chris Maxey of Fortigent
Despite the $1 trillion rescue package, Greece and other small European countries will probably still default on their debts. As it stands now, Greece faces two scenarios: default or endure years or even decades of deflationary growth. The root problem for the PIGS is lack of competitiveness within the euro area - an inevitable consequence of the one size fits all interest rate policy. Even if the PIGS governments could slash their fiscal deficits, the lack of competitiveness within the euro area calls for years of relative deflation.
2010-05-21 The First Official Correction in Equities by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
There’s no sense getting overly bearish over the latest stock market correction. For those of us with cash on hand, who had been waiting for this opportunity in a Godot-like fashion, the correction comes as good news. For the economy, it cannot be a bad thing to have oil prices come down, which helps add cash to consumer pocketbooks and protect profit margins. And of course this wonderful bond rally has acted as a source of social policy, as it has helped pull mortgage rates down to six-month lows, to 4.8 percent for the U.S. 30-year fixed rate product.
2010-05-21 Warning Flags by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital
The fact that we don't know where trouble will come from shouldn't allow us to feel comfortable in times when prices are high. The higher prices are relative to intrinsic value, the more we should prepare for the unknown. Anecdotal evidence of rising risk tolerance does not mean entire markets have returned to dangerous levels. The door is open to transactions that wouldn't be possible if risk aversion were higher. The clear inference is that fear of loss has declined and fear of missed opportunity has come back to life.
2010-05-21 Sixteen Dow Recoveries: Update by Doug Short of Doug Short
How does the current Dow recovery compare with major recoveries in the past? Doug Short overlays the first 500 days of sixteen recoveries in the Dow Jones Industrial Average since its creation in 1896 in a new chart, as well as a chart based on Dow daily closes with the sixteen rallies highlighted. The question is whether the rally of the past 14 months is the early stages of a secular bull market, or whether the future will resemble something closer to the early 1900s, the late 1960s-1970s, or something in between.
2010-05-18 Learning from the S&P 500 Monthly Moving Averages by Doug Short of Doug Short
Doug Short analyzes monthly closes of the S&P 500 since 1950 to back-test several monthly moving average strategies versus buy and hold. The results suggest that in secular bull and bear markets, passive management is a successful strategy on the way up, but is a losing proposition on the way down. The reverse is true for active management with simple moving averages. It's unlikely to outperform buy and hold on the way up, but outperformance on the way down is a virtual guarantee. Unfortunately it's impossible to pin-point those secular tops and bottoms and change strategy on a dime.
2010-05-14 The Rise of the Machines by Mark Mirsberger of Dana Investment Advisors
The author comments on recent volatility due to automated trading programs, on unemployment data, and on the European sovereign debt crisis. "The solution appears obvious – cut spending and reign in entitlement programs," he says. "Will that happen? Well, there certainly is political upheaval around the globe today and most of it is aimed at governments and political leaders."
2010-05-13 Japan's Post-Bubble Rallies by Doug Short of Doug Short
Doug Short provides an updated chart that gives a close-up view of cyclical rallies and their durations during Japan's secular bear market, now in its 20th year, as well as a table that documents advances, declines and elapsed time for each cycle.
2010-05-10 The Technicals Were Ripe For a Correction... by Chris Maxey of Fortigent
Last week's sell-off clearly resulted from a buildup of tension in technical factors coupled with overriding concern about the unfolding debacle in Europe. Numerous signs were flashing the caution light prior to last week. On the other hand, even though the technical factors were ready for a breakdown, a majority of the economic releases from last week suggest the recovery is still in its infancy. Investors should brace for another volatile week following the announcement that Europe will ready nearly $1trillion to bolster its capital markets.
2010-05-08 The Center Cannot Hold by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Citing a paper from the Bank for International Settlements, Mauldin says increasing sovereign debt has two consequences - higher interest rates for that debt and lower growth rates for the underlying economies. Growth in sovereign debt at its current rate is unsustainable and poses systemic risks for the global economy. Fiscal austerity is the only solution, and that seems unlikely, particularly in the case of Greece.
2010-05-07 The Right Page of the Right Book by Team of Beacon Pointe
The beginning of 2010 saw a continuation of the 2009 rally. Most stock exchanges around the world, with the notable exception of China, posted positive returns for the quarter and added to their gains off the March 9, 2009 trough. The major indices, however, remain well below their previous highs. The post-bear rally has been fast and furious and at this time, a pause seems justified. The exact timing and nature of this pause, however, are highly uncertain.
2010-05-07 Thoughts on Unemployment and the Market by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The U.S. employment report was strong on the headline but masked underlying deflationary trends beneath the surface. While the primary focus in the media and Wall Street research reports will likely be on the obvious - nonfarm payrolls surging 290,000 and an even stronger 550,000 gain in the household survey - what was most notable was the buildup of excess capacity in the labor market last month and further evidence of wage deflation coming to the fore. Gluskin also comments on yesterday's market dip.
2010-05-06 All Part of the Global Deleveraging Story by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Greek default now seems inevitable, as does an exit from the euro zone. This is all part and parcel of the global deleveraging cycle. Entities or countries that massively overextended themselves during the boom years are going to be paying the piper, as we are now, on the opposite side of the credit cycle - the secular contraction phase. It may have started with U.S. banks and American real estate three years ago, but it is now about European banks and welfare states within the euro zone.
2010-05-04 Whitney George and Review Spotlight by Whitney George of The Royce Funds
Royce co-chief investment officer Whitney George discusses in an interview why it's a good time to be an investor with a disciplined, long-term approach, even as the rally's pace continues to slacken. Plenty of companies are mispriced due to low expectations in the short run, but look promising over the long run. In addition, in a market review, Royce looks ahead to determine what level of returns investors can expect from equities over the course of the decade. Going forward, quality companies across all market caps should outperform in both up and down markets.
2010-05-04 Typical Situation: Do We Have a V-Shaped Recovery? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
The same leading indicators that warned of the recession in 2007 have been recently pointing to a strong recovery in the United States and globally. Ignoring them in late 2007 and again in early 2009 were both mistakes, particularly from an investment perspective. Concerns over Greece and contagion gave the market some indigestion last week, but a period of consolidation was not unexpected given prior market strength. Overly bullish sentiment (a contrarian indicator) still needs some working off, but the technical underpinnings for the market remain healthy.
2010-05-03 Regression to Trend by Doug Short of Doug Short
About the only certainty in the stock market is that, over the long haul, overperformance turns into underperformance and vice versa. Is there a pattern to this movement? Doug Short applies some simple regression analysis to this question. A regression trend line drawn through the S&P Composite stretching back to 1871 clarifies the secular pattern of variance from the trend — those multi-year periods when the market trades above and below trend. That regression slope represents an annualized growth rate of 1.7 percent.
2010-05-01 The Bond Roller Coaster by Michael Nairne of Tacita Capital
The bond market has been characterized by long-term secular cycles. From 1946-1981 yields steadily rose; since 1981 they have steadily declined. The good times for bonds couldn’t last forever. Although some longer-term bond exposure is needed today as a hedge against a deflationary scenario, investors should recognize that in the next year or so the bond roller coaster is about to get underway.
2010-04-30 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before Congress that he believes inflation will remain under control for the remainder of the year. He also talked about better retail sales and, perhaps as importantly, increased factory production, which could soon lead to the creation of more jobs. ProVise also comments on the hold on interest rates, lengths of historical bull markets, the ongoing health care debate, mortgage delinquency rates, home sales, nonprofit revenues, and the Forbes lists of the world's richest people and richest Americans.
2010-04-27 Gary Shilling: America’s Lost Decade by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The US faces 10 years of slow growth and deflation that could rival Japan's "lost decade" - two words which Gary Shilling did not utter but which unmistakably characterize his forecast. Shilling is founder and President of the New Jersey-based economic consulting firm A. Gary Shilling & Co.
2010-04-26 Looking Back, Looking Forward by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
The market is strenuously overvalued, faces a syndrome of overextended conditions that has historically proved hostile, and relies to an incredible extent on the absence of further credit strains. Accepting a greater level of market exposure will require, at minimum, that we clear the present syndrome of overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yield conditions. The quickest way to a more constructive investment stance would be a meaningful improvement in valuations (which would most likely be associated initially with a deterioration in market action), and no further credit strains.
2010-04-26 Fifty Years of Popularity Weighted Indexing by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates
For all but a few, fame and favor is fleeting. This holds true for fashion and for stocks. The top of the capitalization index is filled with companies that are at the height of their popularity and, judging by the amount of fallen angels, due for a fall. By contrast, the fundamental index approach, which selects stocks based on economic scale rather than market capitalization, is immune to the way that popularity pushes select stocks' prices - and portfolio weights - into the stratosphere.
2010-04-22 Sixteen Dow Recoveries - Another Look by Doug Short of Doug Short
This post features a return of Doug Short's analysis of how the Dow’s recovery compares to prior major recoveries, altered to adjust for reader feedback. Short has included an inflation-adjusted overlay chart, removed the 1932 rally (an outlier that scrunches up other rallies), and extended the timeline so we can see what followed. The recovery since March 2009 is the second in the first decade of the 21st century, and it started from a lower low. As the charts show, history has witnessed several other examples of multiple recoveries in relatively close succession with lower starting points.
2010-04-19 Sixteen Dow Recoveries by Doug Short of Doug Short
How does the current Dow recovery compare with major recoveries in the past? Doug Short created an overlay of the first 500 days of 16 recoveries in the Dow Jones Industrial Average since its creation in 1896 to help answer that very question. Compared to the other 15 rallies at the equivalent point, the current rally is in fourth place. The volatile recovery after the Crash of 1929 leads the pack by a wide margin. Where do we go from here? Some of the historic 500-day rallies went on to substantially higher gains. On the other hand, several of the earliest rallies soon faltered.
2010-04-13 Stocks Reach 18-Month Highs by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
Continued evidence of improvements in the economy and expectations for strong first-quarter earnings helped push stocks up nearly 8 percent for the year, to their highest levels in 18 months. BlackRock expects stocks to continue to grind higher over the course of the year, and for corporate earnings to become the main driver of equity prices. Over the longer term, the most significant investment issue will likely be the cyclical tailwinds of accommodative fiscal and monetary policy and the secular headwinds of massive budget deficits, high levels of debt and continued deleveraging.
2010-04-12 Extend and Pretend by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
A year ago, the Financial Accounting Standards Board suspended rule 157, which had previously required banks to mark their assets to market value when preparing balance sheet reports. The basic argument was that fair values were not appropriate because there was 'no market' for troubled assets, which was false even at the time. This 'extend and pretend' policy has created a gap between the reported value of assets and the value they would have on the basis of reasonable cash flows over the course of their maturity.
2010-04-07 When the Facts Change by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners
An echo bubble is upon us. Echo bubbles are the children of primary asset bubbles, and emerge when monetary authorities respond to the bursting of a primary asset bubble by slashing policy rates. Extraordinarily low interest rates are currently encouraging another bout of excessive risk taking. If policymakers raised rates now, however, they would almost certainly kill the fledgling recovery. The pressure is therefore on monetary authorities to keep rates low and feed the new bubble. Investors should steer toward assets that benefit from high volatility.
2010-04-06 Don't Discount Dividends by Team of American Century Investments
During long and sustained bull markets, investors tend to overlook the importance of dividends in long-term wealth creation for equity investors. Benjamin Graham and David Dodd emphasized the importance of dividends in the overall valuation process for equities in a classic 1934 text. Because of their consistency in both good times and bad, dividends and dividend reinvestment can help cushion the downsides as well as enhance ultimate wealth. Investors, therefore, should not 'discount dividends.'
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 Market Thoughts by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The market is overvalued by more than 25 percent, but is also extremely overbought after going 24 sessions without a decline of 1 percent or more. Eighty-nine percent of the stocks on the S&P 500 are now trading above their 50-day moving averages, and the Dow has advanced in 17 of the last 24 days. This suggests that the prop desks at the five large banks are all selling securities, with leverage, to each other. There is no sign of any other major buyer, including the Fed. This provides reason for caution, because the banks could decide to switch direction at any time.
2010-03-24 Rocking-Horse Winner by Bill Gross of PIMCO
Prudent lending must be directed not only towards sovereigns that can escape a debt trap, but ones that can do so with a minimum of reflationary consequences and currency devaluation. A unit of quality credit spread will do better than a unit of duration. Rates face a future bear market if global reflation is successful as central banks eventually normalize quantitative easing policies and 0 percent yields. Spreads in appropriate sovereign and corporate credits are a better bet as long as global contagion is contained. If not, a rush to the safety of Treasury bills lies ahead.
2010-03-22 What Is Priced In? by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The cyclically sensitive segments of the S&P 500 have priced in an extremely robust economic landscape. Sentiment is also very bullish, with the latest Investors Intelligence poll finding 46.2 percent bullish sentiment versus 21.3 for bears. Some of this bullish sentiment may be a product of complacency, however. Most leading economic indicators have peaked, indicating a slowdown ahead.
2010-03-20 The Threat to Muddle Through by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Mauldin criticizes Krugman's call for a 25% tariff on Chinese imports, and instead predicts that China will allow its currency to appreciate 5-7% per year for the next several years. Protectionism, he says, is the biggest threat to global recovery. In defense of his argument, Mauldin says similar tariffs could be imposed if the euro, Yen and the Canadian dollar continue their current trends. The larger problem is the growing US deficit, which must be dealt with in the medium term, or there will be no long term.
2010-03-19 Another Year Older... And Deeper in Debt? by Isbitts of Emerald Asset Advisors
Consumers continue to deleverage around the globe, as they have since 2008, and that deleveraging process is the underlying force behind financial markets. Despite the obvious short-term problems for markets everywhere, however, 2010 will be viewed in retrospect as a time for investors with long time horizons to start angling their portfolios toward a more positive long-term return than in the past decade. Continued low interest rates are starting to spark economic growth, and are making 'risk' assets more attractive.
2010-03-18 Bear Stearns: The Bear That Started It all by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
It is now two years since the Bear Stearns bailout, which set the stage for the global financial crisis triggered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, another established name in the business. Some of the key issues that led to the global financial crisis, however, remain unresolved, and could give rise to future problems. While perhaps not popular, it is necessary for governments to insist upon the separation of investment banking and regular banking, and to ensure complete transparency and liquidity of all derivatives.
2010-03-16 The New Investment Paradigm: Graham Meets Markowitz by Bob Veres (Article)
Broadly speaking, the financial services industry has been divided into two competing paradigms since roughly 1950. One, articulated by Harry Markowitz, suggests advisors add value through diversified portfolios optimized along the efficient frontier. The other, advocated by Benjamin Graham, says advisors add value by purchasing assets at prices less than their fair value. Bob Veres reconciles those views and describes the New Paradigm that has emerged.
2010-03-11 Market Comment by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Government stop-and-go policies have fostered an environment of intense volatility for equity markets over the past 12 years. The market has basically been flat for a buy-and-hold investor during this period. While this may make a great case for active portfolio management, chasing performance at this juncture is probably unwise. Housing is the quintessential leading indicator for economic activity, and many realtors still say business is slow. As the Japanese experience shows us, a double-dip recession may come faster than we think.
2010-03-09 Equities Notch Weekly Gains by Bob Doll of BlackRock
Last week was strong for risk assets, and equities in particular, as the broad U.S. averages entered positive territory for the first time since early January. All sectors were positive, with materials up the most at 6 percent. A profits-led recovery seems to be unfolding, which will lead to increases in capital expenditures, and eventually, employment. After six negative weeks, flows in equities have been positive for three weeks running. Accommodative liquidity conditions and a healing economy support a pro-growth investment stance.
2010-03-08 The Rubber Hits the Road by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
If we are indeed at risk of a second wave of mortgage defaults and credit strains, it will first show up as a jump in 30-day mortgage delinquencies in data released over the next two to four months. A small initial round of resets, started in November 2009, is already in progress. A deleveraging cycle would likely establish a sequence of troughs, each at lower levels of valuation. It will still be possible, however, to trade within that range in proportion to expected stock returns. Fundamentals will take precedence over all other considerations.
2010-03-05 Preferreds are Preferred by Team of Bespoke Investment Group
The ETF that tracks U.S. preferred stocks has soared to bull market highs in recent days. Preferred stocks fell more than common stocks during the 2007-2009 bear market, but since March 2, 2009, the iShares S&P U.S. Preferred Stock Index ETF is up 153 percent, while the S&P 500 is up 66 percent.
2010-03-04 The Retirement Lottery by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners
Aggressive advertising feeds us the fallacy that as long as we invest for the long term, equities will always provide us with solid returns. This may be true if your investment horizon is 30 or 40 years, but most people do not start saving for retirement until they are in their 40s. Hundreds of millions of baby boomers are now chasing whatever returns they can to ensure that they can retire in relative comfort. Jensen also examines the relationship between net private savings, foreign capital inflows and government debt.
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 The Return of the Primary Trend by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
If credit, equity prices and the economy are on a downward primary trend this year and 2009 was indeed a counter-trend bounce, then the appropriate course of action is to capitalize off the rally in assets last March and figure out how to still make money on a risk-adjusted basis. Rosenberg also examines February's recovery in the National Association of Home Builders housing market index and fiscal woes at the state level.
2010-02-13 Winter Quarterly Commentary by Alan T. Beimfohr and John G. Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management
Alan T. Beimfohr and John G. Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management say in their winter quarterly commentary that the federal government will need to time its balancing of the budget just right in order to avoid either a repeat downturn or accumulating inflation. The Fed, meanwhile, will also need to withdraw monetary stimulus at just the right time.
2010-02-13 Fear Takes the Wheel by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital
Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital says in his economic commentary that the recent strength of the stock market may be more attributable to fears of inflation than an improving economy. Growing U.S. debt levels threaten to swamp to dollar, and are leading investors away from dollars and treasury bonds.
2010-02-12 The Forgotten Benjamin Graham by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs
Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs says in his monthly letter that the lessons of security analyst Benjamin Graham still apply today: Judge the risk of holdings independently of market volatility, and balance portfolios evenly between stocks and bonds.
2010-02-11 Equity Investment Outlook January 2010 by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
In its equity investment outlook, Osterweis Capital Management says it expects the economy to continue expanding this year, but notes that it might face headwinds from a double dip in the housing market and an unwinding commercial real estate sector. Stocks recovered sharply last year in the face of expected profit recovery, but may but may suffer temporary setbacks if the economy disappoints.
2010-02-09 Trust, Illusion, Values and the Death of 'Common Sense' by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
Heron Financial Group president David Edwards says the 6.9 percent decline in the S&P 500 since January 19 was a normal market correction, and he expects positive returns in the S&P by the end of the year. He proposes several regulatory reforms to discourage "negative sum" products and restore investor trust.
2010-02-04 Breakfast with Dave by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Rosenberg's bearish thesis is based on his belief that the "great policy reflation experiment is over." He notes that China, India, Canada and most of Europe are tightening budgets. The 2009 stimulus "cushioned the blow;" 2010 and beyond look much different. He recommends a conservative asset allocation.
2010-02-03 Investment Commentary by Bruce A. Weininger of Kovitz Investment Group
Kovitz is a $1 billion Chicago-based asset manager. This commentary reviews their investment philosophy (value-driven without attempting to “time” the market), and includes a discussion of certain types of leverage that can be beneficial to the investor (e.g., operating leverage) and others that can be harmful (e.g., revaluation and multiple expansion risk). In this context, they comment that “the bond market might be a bit frothy and perhaps in some form of a bubble.”
2010-02-02 Good Day Sunshine by James A. Skinner of The Royce Funds
This is a review of 2009 market performance, with a focus on small-cap stocks. Historically, the authors argue, small-cap stocks are likely to lead in the decade that follows a decade of sub-par performance.
2010-01-30 This Time is Different by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Mauldin begins with an analysis of the reported Q4 GDP numbers, saying that it is not indicative of underlying growth in the economy. He then comments on the Reinhart-Rogoff book "This Time is Different," focusing on the point that governments can survive debt-fueled growth until confidence in them evaporates. He is discusses Greece's fiscal problems.
2010-01-29 Quarterly Letter by Jeffrey Erber of Grey Owl Capital Management
Jeff Erber says the S&P is now 20-30% overvalued, but “with a no-end-in-sight loose monetary policy this rally could continue for quite some time. “ He discusses his firm’s investment process and add
2010-01-14 Domestic REITs by Team of Litman Gregory
At current valuations, we believe REITs are overvalued. We think REIT investors are anticipating a quick and meaningful rebound in cash flows/dividends. Our dividend growth assumption over the next ye
2010-01-09 2010 Forecast: The Year of Uncertainty by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
"This will be my tenth annual forecast issue. Time has flown by, and I enter a new decade of writing Thoughts from the Frontline. And even as I write about the high level of uncertainty of the curr
2010-01-09 The Same Old Bear: A Study of Bear Markets and Stock Returns Since 1926 by Patrick O'Shaughnessy of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management
2010-01-06 Psychology of why investors 'Buy High/Sell Low,' and how to avoid that trap! by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
2010-01-04 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group
2009-12-31 A New Paradigm for a New Century by Paul Merriman of Merriman
2009-12-29 End-of-Year Letter Templates by Bob Veres (Article)
Bob Veres is the editor and publisher of Inside Information, a publication focused on practice management and related issues for the financial planning profession. He just introduced a new monthly service, Client Articles, which will contain articles (and cartoons) that can be sent to clients, for example as part of your quarterly newsletters. He provides two sample letters.
2009-12-28 Stocks are Still Cheap by Brian S. Wesbury of First Trust Advisors
2009-12-22 The Danger of "Expert Advice" - Financial or Otherwise by Kim Snider (Article)
A study by three neuroscientists at Emory University finds that when given expert advice, the decision-making part of our brain shuts down. That's not a big deal if the advice we are receiving is good. But what if it isn't? In this guest contribution, Kim Snider explores the problems with relying too heavily on supposed experts, and how to counsel clients who fall into this trap.
2009-12-22 Morningstar Ratings – Our Response by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Last week, we published the response from John Rekenthaler, Morningstar's VP of Research, to our recent study of Morningstar's ratings. We disagree with the Rekenthaler's analysis and provide our rebuttal.
2009-12-17 Good Things Come in Small Packages by Michael Nairne of Tacita Capital
2009-12-15 Barton Biggs on Undervaluation in the S&P 100 by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Barton Biggs, the former Chief Global Strategist for Morgan Stanley who now runs the hedge fund Traxis Partners, says the high-quality, large-capitalization stocks in the S&P 100 are now undervalued by one standard deviation. In our interview, Biggs also discusses his fears and how investors should protect themselves from the worst-case scenarios.
2009-12-15 The Next Black Swan? Underfunded Public Pensions by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The plights of California and other states reveal an ominous threat our economy faces: underfunded public pension liabilities. We examine the size and scope of this problem, focusing on whether the underlying assumptions used to calculate liabilities are realistic.
2009-12-15 Investing in Range-bound Markets by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
Vitaliy Katsenelson, a frequent contributor to these pages, reviews his thesis for secular market cycles, why the US markets remain locked in a range-bound state, and what it will take for them to exit from that state.
2009-12-08 Morningstar Ratings Fail over a Full Market Cycle by Robert Huebscher (Article)
When active managers are tested, as they were during the 2008 bear market and 2009 bull market, so are the systems used to predict their performance. Perhaps no system is as widely used as Morningstar's "star" rating system. In an update to a study we originally did two years ago, we show that Morningstar's ratings fail to offer any predictive ability when measured over a full market cycle.
2009-11-17 Ned Davis: The Cyclical Bull Rally is Not Over by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In February of last year, Ned Davis, president and senior investment strategist of an eponymous Florida-based institutional research firm, correctly forecast last year's market decline. In February of this year, he called the market rally that began in March. Now, he says, that cyclical bull rally is not over.
2009-11-03 Absolutely … Maybe by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Since Putnam introduced its absolute return funds earlier this year, over 4,200 advisors and $650 million in assets have flocked to the new financial products. Putnam's four funds seek to beat inflation by 100, 300, 500 and 700 basis points, and their performance over their first nine months (3.1%, 6.4%, 8.4% and 12.2%, respectively) was encouraging for their investors. Impressive as those results may be, the question is whether they are sustainable.
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 Managing Downside Risk in Retirement Planning by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
Boston University professor Zvi Bodie advocates a retirement investment strategy that offers investors some of the upside potential in equities tempered with downside protection against bear markets and a low-risk inflation hedge via heavy allocation to TIPS. Geoff Considine examines Bodie's strategy and shows that it will work very effectively, including in a bear market like the one just experienced.
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.
2009-10-20 Don’t be Misled by Morningstar’s Box Score Results by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Morningstar has published its latest Box Score Results, showing the performance of active managers across each of the nine style boxes. We report these results, along with those of another study by William Thatcher of the Hammond Group, which explains why Morningstar's results can be highly misleading.
2009-09-29 Strategic and Tactical Perspectives on Gold by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
There are good reasons for investors to maintain a long-term strategic allocation to gold, which has clear, positive portfolio benefits (due to low correlation to other asset classes). That said, gold is in an historic run-up in value and has been generating unsustainably high returns. Because of its high price and rising volatility, Geoff Considine argues there is significant tactical risk in gold.
2009-09-29 A Tale of Two Investors by Brian Murphy (Article)
Just as Dickens contrasted the fortunes and misfortunes in England and France in his classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, today the divergence is painfully apparent in those who plan to accumulate wealth for their retirement and those who seek excess returns in their portfolios. In this guest contribution, advisor Brian Murphy tells the tale of two clients - one who aggressively sought alpha and the other who passively built retirement wealth.
2009-09-15 Theoretical Support for the Moving Average Crossover by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)
In this guest contribution, Keith Goddard matches an appropriate descriptive theory about how asset markets work with recently published normative theory using Ted Wong's moving average crossover as an indicator for timing portfolio changes in active portfolio management strategies. He proposes that the theory of "Rational Belief Equilibrium" in asset markets, developed by Stanford professor, Mordecai Kurz, helps to explain why moving average crossovers have demonstrated predictive value in the stock market, and why they might continue to offer predictive value in the future.
2009-08-25 Building a Practice in America’s Fastest Dying City by Robert Huebscher (Article)
While many - perhaps most - advisors use client appreciation programs as part of their marketing efforts, Mo Young has embraced this idea and made it his sole marketing focus. Young's practice is based in Youngstown, Ohio - which has the distinction of losing population more rapidly than any other city in the US - yet Young has added several hundred new clients over the last four years with his strategy.
2009-08-25 Beating a Dead Dragon by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
The last thing you may want to read is another article about China - how many ink cartridges have been exhausted writing about its phenomenal growth numbers in the past decade? - but what Vitaliy Katsenelson has to say may surprise you: China's economy is hardly as vibrant as everyone thinks it is.
2009-08-04 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.
2009-07-28 How Long is the Long Run? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
How long must one be invested in the equity markets to have full confidence that they will earn superior returns (as compared to bonds) and overcome the risks of bear markets? We look at the historical record to see how stocks have fared against bonds for various holding periods, and we look at research by Zvi Bodie and Mark Kritzman on this topic.
2009-07-28 Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 3 by Theodore Wang (Article)
Buy-and-hold remains deeply entrenched in the financial planning community, despite many of the flaws Ted Wong's previous articles have illustrated. Although many financial advisors suffer dearly from their buy-and-hold practices, they are reluctant to change their approach. Who dares to challenge investment sages like Bogle, Siegel, and Malkiel who emphatically support this long-standing investment principle? Academic research studies overwhelmingly endorse buy-and-hold. How can they all be wrong?
2009-07-14 Beyond Grantham: Politics and Investment Strategy by Jerry Minton (Article)
Jeremy Grantham, the chairman of GMO, believes strongly in what he describes as market "inefficiencies" within the "Presidential Cycle." He is referring to the fact that stock market returns are not distributed randomly across the four-year presidential election cycle, but rather are strongly skewed to favor the pre-election year. Grantham believes - and guest contributor Jerry Minton agrees - the evidence is incontrovertible: the behavior of the political class over the election cycle effects the distribution of stock market returns.
2009-07-07 Gary Shilling: Recovery is a Year Away by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Among economists, Gary Shilling owns one of the most prescient forecasting records, having accurately predicted the credit crisis and the performance of key asset classes over the last several years. Now, he says, the chances that the current wave of "green shoots" will be the finale to the recession are "pretty low."e
2009-06-30 Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 2 by Theodore Wong (Article)
Many renowned financial experts declare that passive investing in a diversified index like the S&P500 is the only sensible way to manage money. In a follow-up to his article two weeks ago, Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 1, Ted Wong says that he respects their opinions but is unable to verify their claims. By examining the evidence, he shows that the Moving Average Crossover (MAC) system offers a superior risk-return profile to a buy-and-hold strategy.
2009-06-23 Compelling Evidence That Active Management Really Works by Ken Solow (Article)
The majority of academic studies conclude that active management does not add value for investors. However, a closer look at how many studies were conducted reveals several flaws in their methodology that are not as well-known as the accepted conclusion about active versus passive management. Guest contributor Ken Solow revisits work by two Yale researchers showing the value added through active management.
2009-06-16 Seth Klarman: Why Most Investment Managers Have It Backwards by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In his keynote speech last week to the Boston Security Analysts Society, Seth Klarman discussed how he repositioned his portfolio last fall to capture opportunities created in the wake of the financial crisis. Klarman is the lead editor of the sixth edition of Graham and Dodd's Securities Analysis, and his fund, The Baupost Group, is among the top performing hedge funds over its 27 year history.
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 Let’s Talk Stocks: Berkowitz, Marsico and Weitz by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Three of the industry's most accomplished value investors - Bruce Berkowitz of the Fairholme Fund, Tom Marsico of Marsico Capital Management and Wally Weitz of Weitz Funds - spoke at a panel discussion at the Morningstar Investor Conference on May 28. We present some excerpts of their thoughts on key questions raised during the panel.
2009-06-05 Bear Market Bubbles by MacKay of Broadleaf Partners
2009-06-02 Jeremy Grantham's Warnings to Investors by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Of the thousands of investment letters penned in the industry, only one draws as much readership as Warren Buffet's annual letter to his shareholders: The quarterly commentary written by Jeremy Grantham. Grantham, the Chairman of the Boston-based investment firm Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo, was a featured speaker at Morningstar's Investor Conference last week, and he spoke at two breakout sessions. Those who, like me, attended both were richly rewarded, as he gave two distinctly different talks, addressing many subjects not covered in his commentaries.
2009-06-02 Letters to the Editor What the "Missing Out" Argument Misses by Various (Article)
We publish a number of responses to Ted Wong's article last week, What the "Missing Out" Argument Misses.
2009-05-26 What the “Missing Out” Argument Misses by Theodore Wang (Article)
Market timing is discredited by passive investment advisors as a voodoo ritual. Buy-and-hold proponents argue most compellingly by citing the "missing out" scenario - they show a dramatic drop in return, to Treasury Bill levels, if investors are out of the markets for only a few good days. In this guest contribution, Ted Wong debunks the missing out argument, using 137 years of market data.
2009-05-19 David Swensen's Ascent by Mebane Faber (Article)
Mebane Faber provides an excerpt from his new book, The Ivy Portfolio, on the ascent of David Swensen and the development of the tools employed to manage Yale's endowment. Faber shows the data Swensen used to determine Yale's aggressive allocation to alternative asset classes.
2009-05-19 Waiting for the Fifth Wave by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In response to skepticism we've expressed in the past about technical analysis, one of our readers invited us to attend the Market Technicians Association symposium in New York last week. Our skepticism remains, but it was an enjoyable event and we report on the forecasts of Elliot Wave theorist Robert Prechter.