More on Related Themes
2013-12-11 Muddling Through: The \'Realpolitik\' of the Eurozone Crisis by Andrew Bosomworth of PIMCO
The long-term cost of Europe’s economic recovery is likely to challenge social tolerance and political will to achieve a fully integrated fiscal and political union. Although able to exploit the untapped potential of European treaties, the soon-to-be-elected 8th European Parliament looks more likely to continue to muddle through. We see low medium-term risk for government and corporate bonds with maturities of up to three years, but caution may be required for securities with longer maturities and lower down in the capital structure.
2013-12-11 Municipal Bond Outlook - Institutional Fixed-Income Sector Report by Team of Guggenheim Partners
Volatility induced by headline events has created attractive price dislocations in the municipal bond market, which may now present the best buying opportunity for investors since late 2010.
2013-11-26 Dig Deep - Then Dig Some More - to Uncover Risks in EM Corporate Debt by Shamaila Khan of AllianceBernstein
Emerging-market (EM) corporate debt returned big numbers for investors in recent years, as the sector rode a general wave of optimism about the future. But those days are gone. In 2013, successful investors have had to take a more painstaking path.
2013-11-19 Asset Class Allocation and Portfolios: Critique and Complication by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
In Part 1 of this essay, I explained that for asset class allocation to become an investment practice, it required a foundation of theory. And Modern Portfolio Theory was that foundation. But today, most financial journalists and investment advisors who proffer advice centered on asset class allocation are—if I may judge from their writings—oblivious of this. And why shouldn’t they be? Theory is abstract and difficult to apprehend.
2013-11-19 Confronting the Tax Drag by Tom Metzold, Jim Evans, Lew Piantedosi, Peter Crowley of Eaton Vance
The impact of the “tax drag” on investor portfolios can be significant over long time frames, potentially consuming a quarter or more of every dollar earned by the average investor. As federal tax rates have risen for many investors, so too has the risk of losing a larger portion of one’s returns to taxes highlighting the need for a tax-aware investment approach. Municipal and tax-advantaged bond strategies, tax-efficient equities and solutions for high-net-worth investors can all help improve investors’ after-tax portfolio performance.
2013-11-19 October 2013 Market Commentary by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management
The Fed’s decision in September to maintain it’s policy of asset purchases, better known as Quantitative Easing (QE), caught the broader market by surprise. Fed “tapering” of QE was broadly expected to begin in September. The Fed’s decision to delay the reduction of QE pushed back the date upon which anticipated tapering would begin. This resulted in a meaningful rally in Treasury bond prices in September. To the surprise of many media pundits calling for ever higher interest rates, US Treasury yields ended October at 2.55%, virtually unc
2013-11-15 Has Washington Drama Taken Its Toll On MLPs? by David Chiaro of Eagle Global Advisors
“They did it! They blew it up!” shouts Charlton Heston in the iconic ending scene of the film Planet of the Apes when he finds out he has been living on a post-nuclear war planet Earth. Americans are probably having some of the same feelings about our current world resulting from the ongoing political “nuclear war” raging in our nation’s capital.
2013-11-15 “Great Rotation?” How About “Selective Rotation?” by Eric Takaha of Franklin Templeton
A few months ago there was a lot of buzz about a so-called “Great Rotation,” used to describe an investor exodus from fixed income and into equities, conjuring up images of a massive herd of wildebeest on the African plain racing for greener pastures. Oftentimes, when investors react to the market with a herd mentality, they can wind up losing sight of where they are going, and why. Eric Takaha, senior vice president and portfolio manager for Franklin Strategic Income Fund, says what he’s seen is more of a “selective rotation.”
2013-11-06 The Top 10 Investor Worries Right Now by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research
In the first of a regular series in my Informed Investing blog, let’s count down the top 10 things that give investors the willies in today’s investment environment. These are situations known to even casual investors, but may or may not be communicated to them effectively by their financial advisors.
2013-11-05 Fed in Holding Pattern, but for How Long? by Christopher Molumphy of Franklin Templeton
At its October 29-30 policy meeting, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) again put off the so-called “tapering” of its $85 billion-a-month asset purchase plan, now over a year old, until some future date. In an official statement released at the conclusion of the meeting, the Fed cited fiscal policy issues as restraining growth and said it will continue its quantitative easing program (known as “QE”) until the job market improves “substantially.”
2013-11-04 Sovereign Ambitions to Develop Infrastructure Benefit Emerging Asia's Utilities Sector by Raja Mukherji, Emily Au-Yeung of PIMCO
The scope for infrastructure development in emerging Asia is tremendous, and the utilities sector has potential to contribute to and benefit from that growth. In general, we have found that state-owned utilities benefit from a range of operational advantages, partly as a result of the government’s vested interest. PIMCO’s bottom-up research allows us to analyze evolving company- and sector-specific factors within the greater macroeconomic picture to identify the best investment ideas in Asia’s utilities sector.
2013-10-29 Defining the EM Corporate Bond Opportunity by Sponsored Content from Loomis Sayles (Article)
Finance is a numbers business. Investors study prices, yields, rates of return. However, when it comes to sizing up emerging markets, we think they should also pay attention to semantics. In the past, terming a country “emerging” made it synonymous with low credit quality and higher risk. But today, many emerging markets boast strong credit profiles while parts of the developed world buckle under heavy debt loads.
2013-10-26 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.
2013-10-23 Economic & Capital Market Summary by Gregory Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management
It has been five years since the Financial Crisis wreaked havoc on the economy and capital markets. With equity markets trading near record highs and new issue corporate bonds coming to market regularly, the capital markets have largely recovered. However, we are concerned that the economic recovery is just an illusion that exists in spite of the efforts in Washington D.C. to kill it.
2013-10-16 Equity Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
As we write this outlook, our political leaders once again have succeeded in holding the U.S. government budget, and by extension the financial markets and the broader economy, hostage to their respective political agendas. We believe it is important to avoid getting caught up in the drama on Capitol Hill and remain focused on the slow but continued healing taking place in the U.S. economy.
2013-10-15 Bond Market Review & Outlook by Thomas Fahey of Loomis Sayles
Flip-flopping Federal Reserve (Fed) policy defined the third quarter. Last quarter, the Fed threw the markets a curve ball by announcing possible tapering of its large-scale asset purchases beginning this year. That “taper talk” set off a mini-riot in global bond markets. Many emerging market (EM) countries, like Brazil, India, Indonesia and South Africa, were the biggest victims, as their bond yields rose and their currencies crashed.
2013-10-08 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?
2013-10-07 Defining the EM Corporate Bond Opportunity by Elisabeth Colleran, Peter Frick, Peter Marber, David Rolley, Edgardo Sternberg of Loomis Sayles
Finance is a numbers business. Investors study prices, yields, rates of return. However, when it comes to sizing up emerging markets, we think they should also pay attention to semantics. In the past, terming a country “emerging” made it synonymous with low credit quality and higher risk. But today, many emerging markets boast strong credit profiles while parts of the developed world buckle under heavy debt loads.
2013-10-04 Don\\\'t Fret the Shutdown by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors
The shutdown allows money that would have been diverted to the government to be kept in the private sector. This may actually lift growth and profits in the quarters ahead. Don’t fret the shutdown.
2013-10-04 The Malfunctioning United States Government by Gene Goldman of Cetera Financial Group
Overall, we are entering a potentially volatile period for the financial markets. Increased uncertainty combined with below-trend economic growth will likely lead to sharp market fluctuations. To mitigate the risk of volatility, we remain committed to increased diversification. Within equities, we would begin reducing exposure to U.S. stocks and instead focus on better areas of opportunity international developed markets. Within fixed income, we would maintain a bias toward spread product, such as corporate bonds, which generally pay a higher yield compared to similar Treasuries.
2013-10-03 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares
Last week, total AUM in all active ETFs fell by almost $40.9 million. Assets in the two largest categories “Short Term Bond” and “Global Bond” fell by $7.74 million and $10.156 respectively. In addition, the “Foreign Bond” category decreased by $36.33 million, while AUM in “Currency” active ETFs fell by almost $5.2 million.
2013-10-01 The Ultimate Income Portfolio Revisited by Geoff Considine (Article)
Rising interest rates will be unkind to income-generating assets and the investors who depend on them in retirement. My ultimate-income portfolio (UIP) provides a solution to this problem. It has reliably produced high income and low volatility with respect to the stock market, and its performance is likely to continue, even if rates rise further.
2013-10-01 Corporate Bond ETFs Attract Steady Inflows Amid Bond Market Sell-Off by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares
Corporate bonds remained popular with investors amid the bond sell-off in recent months, while Foreign and Municipal bond funds experienced the steadiest and heaviest redemptions.
2013-09-30 Investing In Corporate Bonds: The Compelling Case For Active Management by Ed Devlin, Michael Kim of PIMCO
Passive investment returns in the Canadian corporate bond market have been unimpressive because of the way corporate bond indices are constructed and factors unique to the Canadian market. Unconstrained by these limitations, active managers with global reach may provide superior returns. The current environment presents an attractive opportunity for Canadian investors to implement a wide discretion, active approach to managing corporate bonds.
2013-09-25 Secular Trends in Asian Credit Markets Shape Long-Term Investment Themes by Robert Mead, Raja Mukherji of PIMCO
The next several years will likely see many Asian corporate issuers to come to the market for financing, whether to pursue long-term business plans or to employ traditional corporate finance and leverage strategies. Rigorous credit research, flexible resources, experienced local portfolio management and strong relationships with local stakeholders are all crucial to uncovering attractive opportunities while monitoring volatility in Asia’s credit markets.
2013-09-25 How To Calculate The Intrinsic Value Of Your Common Stocks: Part 1 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
Every investor in common stocks is faced with the challenge of knowing when to buy, sell or hold. Additionally, this challenge will be approached differently by the true investor than it would by a speculator. But since I know very little about speculation (trading or market timing), this article will be focused on assisting true investors desirous of a sound and reliable method that they can trust and implement when attempting to make these important buy, sell or hold investing decisions.
2013-09-24 ENERGY MLPs: A Suitable and Sustainable Asset Class by Sponsored Content from ClearBridge Investments (Article)
Key Takeaways: MLPs have provided income with little correlation to other asset classes and little sensitivity to interest rates, commodity prices or economic cycles. The market for MLP stocks has expanded greatly and offers liquidity which appeals to long-term institutional investors. The renaissance in U.S. energy production is driving sustainable growth in the infrastructure that MLPs own and operate
2013-09-24 Michael Aronstein’s Warning to Fund Investors by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Fixed-income investors may think rising interest rates are their biggest worry. But bond funds face a new risk, driven by their need for liquidity to service investors’ daily redemptions, according to Michael Aronstein.
2013-09-23 Seeking Global Growth: Our Outlook for Credit by James Balfour of Loomis Sayles
Global business and credit cycles are nothing new to investors. The familiar sequence of recession, recovery, expansion and slowdown plays out over time, influencing interest rates, credit availability, business climate and capital markets. It’s a time-honored process, but in practice, no two business and credit cycle pairings are exactly alike. Business and credit cycles tend to be driven by specific but varying factors that accumulate until an economic “tipping point” is reached, after which the business and credit climates deteriorate.
2013-09-21 How Did The Fed Catch Markets Off Guard? What Does it Mean for Investors? by Ken Taubes of Pioneer Investments
We think this decision prolongs the positive market environment we have seen in both equities and fixed income. With the Fed seemingly a distance away from tapering and raising rates, this could bode well for the risk sectors, where we could see further tightening in credit spreads on both high yield and investment-grade corporate bonds.
2013-09-20 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.
2013-09-17 Charles de Vaulx: “We Have Never Been as Cautiously Positioned” by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Charles de Vaulx is the chief investment officer and a portfolio manager at International Value Advisers. In this interview, he discusses his outlook for the market and the economy, and why his fund has never been as cautiously positioned as it is today.
2013-09-17 Investing for Real People by Sponsored content by Oppenheimer Funds (Article)
Investor goals are the same, but solutions have changed. Today, aiming to meet basic needs requires new solutions. Laser focus on investor goals will help uncover appropriate investment opportunities. Expanding the opportunity set beyond the usual suspects will be critical to long-term success.
2013-09-17 High Yield Market Overview August 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management
The high yield market, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Master II Constrained Index, was down 0.62% for the month of August. Political uncertainties continue to weigh on investor sentiment, including a potential military response to Syria and the U.S. approaching the debt ceiling limit in mid-October. Uncertainty about Fed policy and who will be the next Chairman are also in the background.
2013-09-16 The Next Big Challenge to Investors: Rising Rates by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments
Many investors were conditioned to accept that the economy would be in the rehabilitation ward for the foreseeable future, rates would remain low, and monetary stimulus would continue unabated. It was an increasingly dangerous mindset. Now that’s changing with the slow but steady recovery of the economy and the Federal Reserve’s announcement in August that it may begin “tapering” its billions in monthly bond purchases designed to keep rates low and boost asset prices.
2013-09-14 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.
2013-09-12 Brave New World by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms of ING Investment Management
If the monotony of high school lulled you into a catatonic state the semester you were supposed to read Brave New World, here’s the CliffsNotes summary of what you missed. Aldous Huxley imagined a futuristic utopia in which the government promotes economic and emotional stability through the plentiful use of a soporific opiate called “soma”. Soma allows the mind to take a holiday from worldly problems via a gram, or two or three. Imagine the chaos into which this fictional world would descend were the government to abandon its role as pharmacist to the masses.
2013-09-07 Unrealistic Expectations by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Two well-respected analysts of pension funds have produced reports this summer suggesting that pensions are now underfunded by more than $4 trillion and possibly more than $5 trillion. I would like to tell you that the underfunding is all the bad news, but when you probe deeper into the problems facing pension funds, it just gets worse.
2013-09-06 The Emerging Markets Debt Evolution by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments
My colleagues Mauro Ratto, Head of Emerging Markets, and Yerlan Syzdykov, Head of Emerging Markets Bond & High Yield, offered these thoughts on emerging markets.
2013-09-03 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group
For those in college during the 60s the time of “sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll” it’s hard to believe that marijuana has become legal. It is currently legal in some form in about 20 states and more are considering it, at least for medical purposes. Even Florida has strong proponents for the medical use of marijuana. There are always people who are trying to take advantage of the situation and this is no exception.
2013-08-29 Monthly Investment Commentary by Litman Gregory Research Team of Litman Gregory
U.S. stocks resumed their positive streak in July (after a slightly negative June). Large-cap stocks rose in three out of the four weeks and were up 5% for the month. Smaller companies generally outperformed their larger-cap counterparts. After Federal Reserve comments regarding the timing of its stimulus withdrawal upset markets in May and June (particularly the bond market), investors seemed to take comfort in the Fed’s more recent comments. Among other points, Chairman Bernanke reiterated that a decision to taper bond purchases is different from raising the federal funds rate
2013-08-23 Float Research: Is Fed Starting to Lose Control of Bond Market? by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares
Bond yields hit two-year highs as investors pull an additional $19.7 billion from bond funds in August. Read this investor insight by Minyi Chen, CFA, Chief Operating Officer of TrimTabs Investment Research and Portfolio Manager of AdvisorShares TrimTabs Float Shrink ETF (NYSE Arca: TTFS) to learn what concerns may arise in the coming months if this trend continues.
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.
2013-08-22 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares
Last week, total AUM in all active ETFs fell by over $60.5 million. AUM in the “Global Bond” category fell by nearly $89 million both because of falling values for ETFs in the category and redemptions in certain ETFs. The “Foreign Bond” category had another bad week, ending almost $36 million below where it began. As in previous weeks, assets in “Short Term Bond” active ETFs increased, this time by almost $36.5 million.
2013-08-21 Asia Brief: On Economic Evolution in Cambodia by Edmund Harriss, James Weir of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management
Cambodia’s recent national Assembly elections offer hope that the country may be able to achieve a peaceful political transition in the coming years. The country’s political turmoil has held it back behind its neighbors, but tourism and gar- ment assembly are driving an acceleration in economic output growth. However, Cambodia is at risk from inflation through imported petroleum, and its youthful population will want to see improving GDP per capita feeding through into higher living standards, rather than a higher hydrocarbon bill.
2013-08-15 High Yield Market Overview July 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management
The high yield market, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch High Yield Master II Constrained Index, was up 1.88% for the month of July. High yield recovered some of the sell-off experienced in May and June as Treasury yields stabilized and mutual fund and ETF (exchange traded fund) flows turned positive. The market’s rally occurred as rate fears subsided, which resulted in retail flows returning to the asset class.
2013-08-14 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares
Overall the total AUM in all active ETFs declined by $1.2 million last week, an insignificant amount for the $14.4 billion space. “Short Term Bond” increased by almost $29.3 million, while “Global Bond” fell by around $15.8 million. “Foreign Bond” had another bad week, ending almost $34 million lower than where it began, as did the “Currency” category which declined by more than $8.7 million.
2013-08-14 What Role for Emerging Markets After the Sell-Off? by Ramin Toloui of PIMCO
While history suggests that the sell-off in emerging market bonds could ultimately offer attractive buying opportunities, it is important to anchor investment decisions firmly within a forward-looking economic and market outlook. Continuing vulnerabilities in global growth suggest there is fundamental value in EM bond yields at present valuations, as interest rate hikes priced into EM yield curves are unlikely to materialize in an environment of tentative growth.
2013-08-08 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares
Overall the total AUM in all active ETFs declined by $2.5 million last week, an insignificant amount for the $14 billion space. The biggest change of the week was the “Short Term Bond” category overtaking the “Global Bond” to become the largest category in active ETF space.
2013-08-06 The ABCs of ABS: Identifying Opportunities in Asset-Backed Securities by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners
In the search for yield, ABS offers an opportunity to generate higher returns through rigorous analysis, unaccompanied by additional credit or interest-rate risk.
2013-08-02 Rising Rates? Keep the TIPS, Leave the Duration by Greg Wilensky of AllianceBernstein
Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) have been popular in recent years with investors worried about inflation, and returns have been strong. But TIPS have benefited from a long bull market for bonds and high interest-rate sensitivity. This could be a problem aheadunless investors do something about it.
2013-08-01 REIT Dividends and Potential Benefits to the Long-Term Investor by Christopher Barker of Managers Investment Group
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs’) historical performance has benefited from their high dividends, which is especially attractive in today’s low-yield environment. Net flows into real estate funds topped $6.0 billion over the last 12 months.
2013-08-01 July 2013 Market Commentary by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management
Fixed income investors have enjoyed a steady move higher in bond prices over the past five years. Given the consistency with which bond values have increased, it is understandable if bond investors were surprised by the just over 0.60%, or 60 basis point rise in ten year Treasury yields and corresponding movement down in bond prices during the second quarter.
2013-07-30 The Power of Diversification and Safe Withdrawal Rates by Geoff Considine (Article)
When Bill Bengen published his seminal research in 1994, a 4% safe withdrawal rate (SWR) was clearly attainable with a variety of asset allocations. But bond yields are lower now than they were then, and equity returns for the next 20 years are unlikely to exceed those of the prior two decades. Indeed, a new paper by three highly respected researchers showed that SWRs for stock-bond portfolios are well below 4%. But as I will demonstrate, a 4% SWR is still possible with a more diversified portfolio – and without subjecting clients to additional risk.
2013-07-19 Fixed Income Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
The question we keep asking is “Will the real Fed mandate, please stand up?” The Federal Reserve (the Fed) traditionally is charged with keeping inflation in check, but it also has a second mandate to ensure full employment. This dual mandate can occasionally create general confusion as to what is the best policy at a given time and which policy goal the Fed is trying to achieve. Today, we are at a juncture where the Fed’s mandates may not clearly align with stated future monetary actions.
2013-07-18 Second Quarter 2013 Financial Market Commentary by Andrew Zimmerman of DT Investment Partners
To taper, or not to taper, that is the question that investors are currently grappling with.
2013-07-16 High Yield Market Overview June 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management
The high yield market, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch High Yield Master II Constrained Index (the “Index”), was down 2.64% for the month of June. Yields moved sharply higher during the month as the high yield market experienced record retail outflows, quickly adjusting expectations around the Treasury market, and increased equity price volatility. Volatility spiked after a more hawkish message emanated from the Fed after the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on June 19th.
2013-07-10 Market Perspectives Q2 2013: Fed Fears by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
Investors have been hypersensitive to the inevitable reversal of the Federal Reserve’s bond purchasing economic stimulus program known as QE3. Signs of sustainable economic recovery have been closely monitored as a harbinger of a likely end of the program.
2013-07-09 Retirement Portfolios: Fears over Rising Rates are Overblown by Joe Tomlinson (Article)
The second quarter saw increases in interest rates, losses in every category of bonds and investors abandoning fixed-income markets. The distress has been particularly acute among retirement investors who considered bond funds to be safe. But are fears of bond losses overblown? I will make the case that the rise in interest rates is actually good for retirement portfolios. To see this, one has to look beyond the quarterly statement losses and focus on overall retirement outcomes.
2013-07-09 ENERGY MLPs: A Suitable and Sustainable Asset Class by Sponsored Content from ClearBridge Investments (Article)
Greater capitalization. More liquidity. The energy MLP market has grown steadily, with good reason: our constant demand for energy. While oil prices go up and down, volume has stayed consistent. Production is increasing. And the infrastructure is needed to support it. Add some risk, and you’ve got an investment which could fit in a diversified portfolio.
2013-07-09 High Yield Munis: Risky Business by Ryan Davis, Jingwei Lei of Fortigent
We shine a spotlight on the obscure market of high yield municipals this week. In the current fixed income selloff, the market has been among the worst performing with a drawdown of 6.1%. Investors could not get enough of the sector in 2012 as they chased yield; the Barclays high yield muni index returned over 18%. Investor sentiment has turned sharply, however, on this asset class. Funds experienced significant outflows over the last couple of months, which is especially troubling for a small and retail dominated market. Why did this onetime darling asset turn into a pariah so abruptly?
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.
2013-07-08 Widening the Search for Income: Beyond Traditional Bonds by Team of Forward Management
Multisector bond market strategies may provide an opportunity to capitalize on differences in relative value. A more refined and global approach may generate yield with dividend-paying stocks. Emerging market (EM) corporate bonds feature attractive fundamentals and have increased in popularity as an asset class.
2013-07-03 AdvisorShares Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares
Markets went higher last week after central bankers around the world reassured investors that they would not kill the economic recovery with higher interest rates. More volatile small and mid-cap stock indices performed even better than the S&P 500.
2013-07-02 Gundlach’s One-Word Explanation for June’s Decline by Robert Huebscher (Article)
According to Doubleline’s Jeffrey Gundlach, a single word explains the declines global capital markets experienced in June.
2013-07-02 Recent Volatility – Noise, not Signal by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)
This spasm of volatility is a normal side effect when market participants adjust their positions to a new expectation for the future of monetary policy. Even though the policy adjustment being discussed at the Fed is minor – i.e., a gradual tapering of quantitative easing (QE) – the timing of the change was sooner than many investors expected, so trading volume jumped.
2013-07-02 Do Dividend-Paying Stocks Have Staying Power? by Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson of Hartford Funds
The role of dividend-paying stocks in a diversified portfolio and the environment in which they are likely to outperform the broader equity market are often topics of debate among investors. I believe there are a number of reasons why a strategic allocation to dividend-paying stocks makes sense.
2013-07-01 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.
2013-06-27 Policy-Induced Volatility Continues by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners
The recent bond market collapse is reminiscent of the Great Crash of 1994. Further pressure on the economy due to rising interest rates could cause the Fed to revisit its timetable for QE.
2013-06-25 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Adam Apt responds in the latest exchange of letters on the topic of socially responsible investing. A reader responds to Geoff Considine’s article, A Better Alternative to Cap-Weighted Bond Indices, which appeared June 11. A reader responds to Wade Pfau’s article, Retirement Income Designations – Which Should You Choose?, which appeared last week.
2013-06-25 Is Fixed Income the New Equity? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent
After several decades of positive returns, fixed income investors are being treated to a rude awakening in the last six weeks. Recent comments from Federal Reserve officials suggest a sooner than anticipated exit from quantitative easing, raising the prospect of higher interest rates. Throughout the universe of fixed income assets, investors are questioning the future return potential, leading many to wonder, what now?
2013-06-25 Reframing Expectations by Aaron Reynolds of Baird Advisors
Even facing headwinds, bonds still serve important roles in a portfolio, including diversification and downside protection potential. As the heavy burden of total return falls on interest income, investors are being pulled toward higher-yield, higher-risk bond types. Investors can still benefit from the segmented bond market and the various strategies that are available. Expectations need to be reframed given the current environment of low yields and potential interest rate increases.
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.
2013-06-18 High Yield Market Overview May 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management
The high yield market, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch High Yield Master II Constrained Index (the “Index”), was down 0.53% for the month of May, as fears of eventual Fed tapering dominated investor sentiment and put upward pressure on Treasury yields. The end result was the most substantial setback in a year for the high yield market. Despite the fears of rising rates, mildly improving economic conditions, healthy corporate earnings/balance sheets, and reduced tail risks and stagnant global growth/low inflation continue to benefit the high yield market.
2013-06-17 2013 Midyear Economic Update -- Another False Dawn? by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC
We’ve seen this movie before since midyear 2009, haven’t we? The pace of economic activity begins to quicken and it looks as though a full-throated cyclical expansion might finally be at hand, only to have the economy slip back into the doldrums. Nominal private domestic spending on currently-produced goods and services grew in the first quarter at an annualized rate of 5.5% compared to 3.4% in the previous quarter. Consumer spending accelerated, housing sales picked up and business spending on equipment and software continued to grow at a healthy pace.
2013-06-14 The Evolution of Emerging Market Corporate Bonds for U.S. High-Grade Fixed-Income Investors by Todd Kurisu, Thomas Brennan of William Blair
Emerging market (EM) investment-grade corporate bonds are an important and growing segment of the core ﬁxed-income universe. These bonds have evolved to be more like U.S. investment-grade corporate bonds than high-yield or traditional emerging market debt (EMD) securities. This sector has demonstrated favorable risk, return, and diversiﬁcation beneﬁts in the context of a broad market ﬁxed-income portfolio. Today’s ﬁxed-income investors must have a framework for evaluating new opportunities subject to prudent risk management
2013-06-12 Silver Lining: Fed's “Tapering” Signals Stronger Economy by Eric Takaha of Franklin Templeton Investments
The Federal Reserve’s warning that it planned to scale back purchases of Treasuries sparked a storm on Wall Street, bringing instability to what had been a pleasant May in the US markets. Almost lost in the noise, however, is a silver lining: the Fed thinks the economy may be healthy enough to fly on its own.
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...
2013-06-07 Why It Pays to Invest in Emerging Market Dividend-Payers by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
An unexpected change of heart happened in May that you might not have heard about. After years of resisting any path other than its rigorous course, Germany announced it is backing off from pure austerity and is now planning to spend billions of euros to stimulate the economies of Europe.
2013-06-06 More Than a Feeling by Team of AdvisorShares
Tangible signs of fundamental weakness are appearing everywhere, yet financial market participants are simply choosing to ignore these signs. There remains a significant disconnect between the real economy and financial markets. Read this paper by Peritus Asset Management to learn how to navigate the weak fundamental picture in what they believe to be the beginning of a 15-20 year positive technical backdrop, which will put yield generating assets, such as high yield bonds, in the sweet spot.
2013-06-05 Certainty, Rates and the Year Ahead by Peritus Asset Management of AdvisorShares
The government tells us not to worry, as the Federal Reserve comes to rescue with QE-Forever. Certainty with fiscal policy doesn’t seem to change the demand equation and cheapened money doesn’t do anything if demand isn’t present. Treasury rates remain at 0% for the foreseeable future making yield hard to find. Read this position paper by Peritus Asset Management scrutinizing how all this has come to pass and what indicators are foretelling the near future effects on the high yield asset class.
2013-06-04 The Role of Cash in Multi-Asset Portfolios by Ashish Tiwari, Andrew Spottiswoode of PIMCO
Determining the optimal allocation to cash is as challenging as ever in today’s unusually uncertain markets. When allocating to cash, investors should consider a multi-dimensional framework to assess the liquidity of the underlying cash instruments. In our view, the most attractive risk-adjusted opportunities for cash investors lie just outside the traditional money market space.
2013-06-04 The Beginning of the End (for Bonds) by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Attention has been focused on the stock market, because of its relentless surge to new highs, but the decline in bond prices is also worthy of note. Bond prices declined more in May than in any prior single month in nine years. Moreover, bond prices are likely to continue getting clobbered as interest rates revert to normal, even as individual investors have more exposure to bonds than ever before. The decline experienced so far is just the beginning. Investors who fled to bonds seeking safe investments are bound to be severely disappointed.
2013-06-04 The REIT Market Today by Team of Managers Investment Group
In early May we interviewed Eric Rothman, of Urdang Securities Management and the portfolio manager for the Managers Real Estate Securities Fund. Below are his responses to our questions about the current state of the REIT market.
2013-06-03 Defense and Selective Offense by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO
Given the market’s newfound risk appetite for credit and less attractive valuations, we are taking advantage of global credit market liquidity in an effort to reduce our overall risk posture. In our selective offense approach, we continue to favor U.S. housing and housing-related areas, in addition to select investments in the energy, pipeline, specialty finance, gaming, hospitals, and airline and auto industries, given the more positive fundamental outlook for these sectors.
2013-05-31 What\'s the Answer to Unprecedented Policies and Ultralow Rates? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
So what’s the answer to unprecedented central bank policies that have been driving stocks higher and ultralow rates? I believe investors need to stick to a strategy that includes dividend-paying stocks that offer the opportunity for both income and growth.
2013-05-30 Has the Fat Lady Started to Sing on the Housing Market? by Martin Pring of Pring Turner Capital Group
As decision makers we are continually looking for clues from economic activity in order to adjust portfolios. The beauty of following business cycle sequences is the value from anticipating financial market leadership changes. A major beneficiary of this four year old business recovery has been housing and housing related stocks.
2013-05-24 Focus on What You Know and Can Control: Be Aware of Unexpected Risks in Bonds by Warren Pierson of Baird Advisors
While corporate bonds have seen improvement in credit fundamentals, similar improvement has not taken place for municipal bonds. Ongoing challenges in municipal credit could have a meaningful negative effect on municipal bonds. Many callable bonds with longer maturities face significant extension risk with an upward movement in interest rates. Durations currently pegged to shorter call dates could extend as issuers are less likely to call in bonds prior to maturity as interest rates rise. As callable bonds get re-priced to longer maturity dates, the resulting price declines could be profound.
2013-05-21 High Yield Market Overview by Team of Nomura Asset Management
The high yield market, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Master II Constrained Index, was up 1.86% for the month of April, as the high yield market continued to benefit from stable U.S. economic growth and steady asset reflation driven by the Federal Reserve and global central banks.
2013-05-16 Everybody Wants Some: Central Banks and Bond Funds Step up Buying of Stocks by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
The stock market has broken out of its "triple top" formation, which started in 2000, yet remains reasonably valued. Supply within the stock market has been dwindling thanks to near-record company buybacks. Demand for stocks is coming from some seemingly unlikely sources: global central banks and bond mutual funds.
2013-05-10 2013 US Financial Markets: Part 2 - The TINA Hypothesis by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group
Contrary to the “Bernanke Illusion” (money market funds are a zero return investment), history indicates that money market funds are likely to provide investors with returns approximating inflation over the next decade. As I pointed out in our last letter, the markets are pricing in inflation levels significantly higher than the prospective total returns of 10 year TBonds. The small additional return achieved by corporate bonds or US stocks (at current prices) is unlikely to compensate a buy and hold investor with sufficient gains to justify the interim risks.
2013-05-07 Navigating Opportunities in Senior Loan and High Yield Corporate Bond ETFs by Ryan Issakainen of First Trust Advisors
In this newsletter, we will consider how senior loan and high yield corporate bond ETFs may be utilized by investors to pursue a higher level of income while seeking to mitigate the impact of rising interest rates. We’ll discuss why we believe benchmark indices are flawed investment strategies for gaining exposure to these asset classes, and we’ll highlight how First Trust utilizes active management to seek better risk-adjusted returns than passive senior loan and high yield corporate bond index ETFs.
2013-05-07 Global Bonds: A Flexible Solution for an Uncertain Market by Olivia Albrecht, Michael Story of PIMCO
The recent rallies in both safe-haven and risk assets have left many investors in a quandary. We believe alpha, or above-market return, will have to play a greater role for investors seeking to meet return targets. In our view, the current environment affords many opportunities for generating alpha.
2013-05-07 Bail-Ins, Bernanke, and Buyouts: Assessing Key Event Risks for Fixed-Income Investors by Team of Hartford Funds
While the eventual shift to less accommodative central-bank policy and a rise in global interest rates are perhaps the greatest focuses of concern today for bond investors, other risks also merit scrutiny. European sovereign debt worries have resurfaced as the tiny nation of Cyprus, representing just 0.3% of euro-area gross domestic product (GDP), joined the list of bailout recipients. Recent rhetoric from the Fed has prompted investors to consider the impact of an eventual winding down of its asset purchases.
2013-05-01 There Will Be Haircuts by Bill Gross of PIMCO
It has been the objective of the Fed over the past few years to make even more innovative forms of money by supporting stock and bond prices at cost on an ever ascending scale, thereby assuring holders via a “Bernanke put” that they might just as well own stocks as the cash in their purses. Gosh, a decade or so ago a house almost became a money substitute. MEW or mortgage equity withdrawal could be liquefied instantaneously based on a “never go down” housing market. You could equitize your home and go sailing off into the sunset on a new 28-foot skiff on any day but S
2013-04-29 High Yield in a Rising Rate Environment by Team of AdvisorShares
We have all witnessed a major move in Treasury rates over the last couple months, causing concern for many that we may be in the early stages of a rising interest rate environment. The traditional thought is that as interest rates rise, bond prices fall. But looking at history, the high yield market has defied this widely held notion. This paper from Peritus Asset Management examines the main reasons why high yield bonds have historically performed well during times of rising interest rates.
2013-04-23 Enhancing Credit Returns in 2013 by Andreas Berndt, Ryan Blute of PIMCO
While credit achieved exceptional returns in 2012, achieving such returns in 2013 will be challenging in light of less upside potential and limited spread compression. Challenged by continued loose central bank monetary policies, alpha generation plays an increasingly significant role in seeking attractive total returns within credit portfolios. Encouraging investors to provide managers with a variety of innovative approaches and flexibility may enhance the return potential of a European corporate bond portfolio without materially changing overall credit or interest rate risks.
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 The Interest Rate Environment: Comparing High Yield Bonds and Bank Loans by Team of Hotchkis & Wiley
In its first quarter 2013 newsletter, "The Interest Rate Environment: Comparing High Yield Bonds and Bank Loans," Hotchkis & Wiley’s high yield team analyzes the behavior of the high yield market and the bank loan market in different interest rate environments to determine whether they can make sensible assumptions about the future.
2013-04-16 High Yield Market Overview by Team of Nomura Asset Management
The high yield market, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Master II Constrained Index, was up 1.03% for the month of March, as the high yield market continued to benefit from stable U.S. economic growth and steady asset reflation driven by the Fed and global central banks.
2013-04-16 2013 US Financial Markets by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group
In the fall of 2012 the S&P 500 came close to our forecast high (S&P- 1500) Last year we suggested that not only was the S&P likely to reach 1500, but also speculated that renewed bullish sentiment could take us back to the old highs of 1565. When the S&P touched 1563 a couple weeks ago, I started getting client calls complimenting my prescient forecast.
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.
2013-04-09 Morning in Japan by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments
There were two very important central bank meetings last week, one from the Bank of Japan the other the ECB. Bank of Japan press conferences have been soporific affairs for years with a few QE programs not leading to much and no changes to inflation targets. Deflation, a declining workforce and falling aggregate demand have been pretty much the unbroken story for the best part of two decades.
2013-04-02 Cypriots In The Streets by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals
The news of the month comes from the large Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where Keynesian economic planning left the economy facing complete bankruptcy. The result was an unprecedented step forward in the financial collapse of the West: direct forfeiture of bank deposits. Despite official protestations to the contrary, this fallout will spread to a bank near you.
2013-04-01 A More Mature Bull Market by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners
One of the characteristics of a more mature bull market, such as the one we are in today, is that asset prices become more susceptible to contractions due to negative news.
2013-03-28 Whatever It Takes in Japan? It Takes an 'Audacious' Monetary Policy! by Richard Clarida and Tomoya Masanao of PIMCO
The BOJ will have to make some key monetary policy decisions soon, given Kuroda’s sincere but ambitious desire to achieve 2% inflation within two years. The BOJ has lagged far behind other major central banks in the deployment of its balance sheet since the onset of the financial crisis. Expect Japan’s monetary policy to be more aggressive and experimental as it shifts toward reflating the economy. For global investors, this may mean a modest economic growth contribution from Japan, at least over a cyclical horizon, as well as additional central bank liquidity pouring into global m
2013-03-19 Paul Matlack from Delaware Investments on the Direction of the Bond Market by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Paul Matlack is senior vice president, senior portfolio manager and fixed income strategist for Delaware Investments. His firm oversees $145 billion in fixed-income strategies, and in this interview Matlack discusses his outlook for the economy and the bond market, and how advisors should be positioning client portfolios.
2013-03-18 Finding the Sweet Spot by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO
Where is the investment “sweet spot” in today’s global financial markets? The uneven global growth outlook means there are opportunities and risks for both credit and equity investors.
2013-03-15 High Yield Market Overview by Team of Nomura Asset Management
The high yield market, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Master II Constrained Index, posted a positive total return of 0.46% in February, as the high yield market finished on a positive note, after experiencing heightened volatility throughout the month.
2013-03-13 Yield Opportunity in a Low Yield Environment by Troy Johnson of Westcore Funds Denver Investments
The Fed’s aggressive monetary policy teamed with its inability to jump-start the anemic economic growth pattern has challenged investors’ quest for yield entering 2013. We offer investors the following for consideration as they seek yield in this environment.
2013-03-08 How Cash Could Point to More Upside for U.S. Stocks by Adam Peck of Heartland Advisors
Investors remain concerned about dwindling bond yields but still aren't rushing headlong into stocks, notwithstanding their recent market highs. We thought it might be interesting to take a look at the difference between the cash earnings yield of U.S. stocks (as represented by the MSCI U.S. Stock Index) and the yield being paid by intermediate-term investment grade corporate bonds. In looking at historical data, cash earnings yield can be a good proxy for free cash flows and an indicator of a company's financial strength.
2013-03-01 Wait for Your Pitch in Today's Market by John West of Research Affiliates
Great hitting in baseball depends in part on waiting for the right pitch. In today's market, most asset classescoming off their impressive 2012 recordare "high and outside" the valuations necessary for future big league returns. Patience is the name of the game today.
2013-03-01 Seeking a Fixed Income Fix by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments
While governments worldwide continue to struggle with debt and budget issues, for the most part, corporations have turned lemons into lemonade and have become lean and mean. While not without risk, corporate credit actually looks to be in fairly good shape, according to Eric Takaha who, as senior vice president and portfolio manager of Franklin Strategic Income Fund spends a good deal of time analyzing the space.
2013-02-28 Jeremy Siegel on Why Stocks Are -- and Will Remain -- the Best Bet by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton
Though stock market volatility continues to rattle investors' nerves, the future looks bright for equities in the U.S. and many emerging markets, according to Wharton finance professor Jeremy Siegel. That's not so for bonds, which could become money-losing investments as rising interest rates drive bond prices down. In an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, Siegel says that investors should think about reducing their bond holdings, buying more stocks and keeping just enough cash for a rainy day and other liquidity needs, since interest rates on cash are near zero.
2013-02-27 Rational Temperance by Bill Gross of PIMCO
While the market was indeed moving in the direction of "dot-com" fever three to four years later, the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the time was a relatively anorexic 6,000, and the trailing P/E ratio was only 12x. For a central bank that was then more concerned about economic growth and inflation as opposed to stock prices, risk spreads, and artificially suppressed interest rates, the Chairman's query made global headlines, became a book title for Professor Robert Shiller and a strategic beacon for portfolio managers thereafter.
2013-02-27 The Great Migration by Herbert Abramson, Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management
We are value investors dedicated to creating portfolios for clients, whether growth (equities), income or a balanced blend of both, of undervalued securities with meaningful upside potential and a margin of safety to guard against permanent loss. For us, the bottom-up factors are the most compelling, but we are also mindful that we need to take account of the top-down macro factors. We know how the Crash of ꞌ08 and the accompanying recession created havoc for investors, including us, no matter how undervalued stocks were.
2013-02-15 High Yield Market Overview January 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management
The high yield market, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Master II Constrained Index, posted a positive total return of 1.38% in January, as the high yield market continued to rally into the new year.
2013-02-14 Understanding Derivative Overlays, in All Their Forms by Markus Aakko, Rene Martel of PIMCO
Passively managed overlays are typically based on a simple formula, while active approaches involve more complex algorithms or decision-making. Overlay examples include portable alpha, LDI, currency, completion, rebalancing, and tactical asset allocation overlays -- as well as tail-risk hedging and hedge fund replication. Potential benefits include the ability to effectively manage cash, reduce costs and risk exposure, simplify manager transitions and express tactical views.
2013-02-12 Fixed-Income Insights: When High Yield Loses Some Height by Zane Brown of Lord Abbett
If one sought an indication of how monetary policy and historically low interest rates can influence investor behavior, the high-yield bond market could provide some perspective. In 2012, investors' ongoing demand for income was reflected by the high-yield market's 15.6% return, the $32 billion that flowed into the asset class, andas several headlines pronouncedthe market's record-low yields of less than 6%.
2013-02-06 Market Commentary by Matthew Tuttle of Tuttle Tactical Management
The long awaited sell off finally came this week as the market suffered its worst day since November. The decline seems to have somewhat solved the overbought situation as the market rallied back the next day.
2013-02-04 A Gross Underestimate by Jonathan Coleman, Soonyong Park of Janus Capital Group
As we enter 2013, we felt it would be an appropriate time to revisit one of last years most controversial predictions of future equity performance. We acknowledge that equities in general may not continue to deliver the same real rate of return they have over the last century; however, we believe the glum outlook for the asset class forecasted by Bill Gross last year misses the mark. Our estimates of future equity returnsbased on three different approachesall point to a meaningfully higher forecast than Gross' pessimistic prediction.
2013-02-01 Monthly Investment Bulletin by Team of Bedlam Asset Management
Financial discipline is collapsing and with it, trust in the value of money. Many heavyweight thinkers in America, such as Nobel laureate Paul Krugman have suggested that a solution to avoid national debt ceilings imposed by Congress would be to mint a trillion dollar platinum coin. Meanwhile, heavyweights close to policy makers in Britain and Japan have been musing whether their central banks should write-off the mountains of government bonds they have bought recently.
2013-02-01 A Gross Underestimate by Jonathan Coleman and Soonyong Park of Janus Capital Group
The glum outlook for the asset class forecasted by Bill Gross last year misses the mark. Our estimates of future equity returnsbased on three different approachesall point to a meaningfully higher forecast than Gross pessimistic prediction.
2013-01-31 Closed-End Fund Review: Fourth Quarter 2012 by Jeff Margolin of First Trust Advisors
Following a year (2011) when the average closed-end fund was up a respectable 5.37% on a share price total return basis, closed-end funds posted even better performance in 2012, with the average fund up 14.00% (according to Morningstar) on a share price total return basis. The strong performance was broad and deep with many categories posting double-digit total returns. There were many factors which contributed to the strong results posted in 2012 and while I have written and spoken about them before, I want to reiterate them here.
2013-01-31 A Look Back at My 2012 Calls by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
It's time again for Russ K's annual look back at the investment calls he made in 2012. Find out what he got right and the couple of things he got wrong.
2013-01-30 Weekly Market Commentary by Matthew Tuttle of Tuttle Tactical Management
The market continued to "melt up" this week. Everybody is expecting some sort of correction, but just like every time there is a consensus on something it never tends to happen. It is hard to envision the market having a massive continuation of this rally without some pullback, but we could easily continue to inch up for a while.
2013-01-29 Predicting Asset Class Returns: Recommendations for Financial Planners by Joe Tomlinson (Article)
Developing reasonable estimates for stock and bond returns requires more than just historical data or the assumptions provided in financial software packages. Inappropriate assumptions can doom retirees to outliving their savings or forgoing a life style they could otherwise afford. There are better ways to forecast, and in this article I'll suggest a few of them.
2013-01-29 The Term Premium: Past and Present by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management
Of the many possible explanations for the historically low level of government bond yields, near-zero central bank policy rates should be at the top of the list. However, government bond yields also appear low for reasons beyond central bank policy rates. In particular, todays low rate environment also reflects a depressed "term premium," or the compensation investors receive for taking duration risk.
2013-01-25 Feeding the Dragon: Why China's Credit System Looks Vulnerable by Edward Chancellor, Mike Monnelly of GMO
Edward Chancellor and Mike Monnelly, members of GMO's Asset Allocation team, write to institutional clients in a new white paper about China's credit boom and outlines some worrying recent developments in its financial system. In GMO's view, "China's credit system exhibits a large number of indicators associated with acute financial fragility," including China's debt and real estate bubbles, the belief that the government is underwriting financial risk, the shadow banking system, a proliferation in credit guarantees, among others.
2013-01-25 Pension Liabilities Time to Get Real by Christian Stracke of PIMCO
Creeping pension liabilities are an increasing concern for credit investors. Companies should provide more granular information on both sides of their pension balance sheets, as well as use more realistic assumptions. A few companies have improved their disclosures in recent years, but in general the information available to investors is still far from what we need.
2013-01-23 High Yield Market Overview December 2012 by Team of Nomura Asset Management
The high yield market, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Master II Constrained Index, posted a positive total return of 1.59% in December, as the high yield market rallied on the perceived benefits of a fiscal compromise in the U.S.
2013-01-22 Ten for '13 by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman
Last year, despite the noise surrounding the U.S. elections and the ongoing European debt crisis, the main drivers of asset prices arguably were the large-scale bond-buying programs put in place by global central banks to alleviate systemic pressures. In 2013, we anticipate fewer aggressive central bank actions as the pace of global growth gradually picks up. We believe the largest influential factors to our outlook are premature fiscal tightening in the U.S. and a potential resurgence of eurozone problems.
2013-01-18 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
We continue to feel that the mismatch between yield and interest rate exposure means that investment grade bonds are less attractive compared with the non-investment grade universe, especially in shorter maturities. Treasury, investment grade corporate and high yield bonds have yields and effective durations that are virtually unchanged compared to levels three months ago. Yields on short-dated high yield paper have actually risen a bit and are still, in our opinion, the most attractive sector we look at in terms of interest rate risk.
2013-01-15 Gundlach’s Predictions for 2013 by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Don't expect the low volatility that characterized the capital markets in 2012 to continue. Global economic uncertainty remains, and markets are poised like a 'coiled snake' to reward or penalize investors in certain asset classes, according to Jeffrey Gundlach.
2013-01-15 Template for a Year-End Client Letter 2012 in Review: Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future by Dan Richards (Article)
Client concerns about whether you're on top of things can be reduced by sending regular overviews of what's happened in the immediate past and the outlook for the period ahead. That's why each year since 2008, I have posted templates to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients an overview of the year that just ended and the outlook for the period ahead.
2013-01-15 New Year's Vantage Point: Christopher Molumphy by Christopher Molumphy of Franklin Templeton Investments
For a view on the U.S. and global fixed income market and potential opportunities therein, we turn to Christopher Molumphy, CFA, chief investment officer of Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group.
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.
2013-01-11 Thanks, Everybody...We'll be Right Back! by Colin Moore of Columbia Management
The Washington Comedy Club has taken a brief intermission and will be back in session shortly to resume the show. Please enjoy the facilities of this great country, free of charge, while you wait. Ignore the "Nero" character in the far corner playing the fiddle. Apparently, he isn't part of the show. Economic uncertainty emanating from fears of the U.S. fiscal cliff has been deferred but not avoided.
2013-01-08 2012: Resumption of the Stock Market Recovery by Ronald Surz (Article)
Let's take a close look at the details of what occurred in 2012 so we can assess the opportunities and prepare for the surprises that 2013 will bring. I'll give you my opinions, and you should form your own.
2013-01-07 An Unconstrained Approach to Bond Market Investing by Sabrina Callin, Lisa Kim of PIMCO
Investors are increasingly focused on alternatives to traditional investment strategies. Unconstrained bond portfolio construction should be driven by an outcome-oriented goal, with strategies assessed on an individual risk/reward and correlation basis, and each investment in the portfolio evaluated rigorously for the expected risk and return as well as the potential impact of the correlation to other investments in the portfolio.
2013-01-03 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!We don't know what you did on Monday night to ring in 2013, but the U.S. Senate was in session as they were attempting to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff".At 2:07 a.m. on New Year's Day the Senate passed a bill, 89 to 8, which does a number of different things.Then late that same morning, the House also passed the bill.We are going to touch on a few of the highlights in this opening Bullet and promise to give a more detailed analysis in our mid-month Bullets.
2012-12-26 Putting Clients' Cash to Work by Dan Richards (Article)
A central challenge advisors face are is clients who need mid- to high-single-digit returns to achieve their long-term goals, but who have an overweight position in cash. A recent luncheon with a group of highly successful advisors highlighted this challenge and illuminated a way to overcome it.
2012-12-21 The Fiscal Cliff, Taxes, and Muni Bonds by Team of Litman Gregory
We have written at length about our strategy on the bond side in many of our recent commentaries, and our focus has been almost exclusively on taxable bonds, addressing investors for whom taxes are not an issue, either due to tax bracket or account type (retirement assets for example). The fiscal cliff negotiations have brought taxes to the forefront of people's minds, and we want to update readers on our thinking about the municipal bond asset class. Our take may well be different than what youd expect based on the headlines.
2012-12-07 The Keynesian Depression by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners
Five years have passed since the beginning of the Great Recession. Growth is slow, joblessness is elevated, and the knock-on effects continue to drag down the global economy. The primary difference between today and the 1930s, when the U.S. experienced its last systemic crisis, has been the response by policymakers. Having the benefit of hindsight, policymakers acted swiftly to avoid the mistakes of the Great Depression by applying Keynesian solutions. Like the last depression, we are likely to live with the unintended consequences of the policy response for years to come.
2012-12-04 Cliff Diving by Michael Lewitt (Article)
While there may be compromise to avoid the self-inflicted crisis of the fiscal cliff, the course of fiscal policy is unlikely to alter significantly. There is a great deal of bold talk about tax reform, but the odds of our current leaders replacing our profoundly flawed tax regime with one that would breed economic growth and productivity are low. Congress will be lucky to avoid the fiscal cliff; asking it to alter the economy's DNA is unrealistic.
2012-12-04 Don't Let Sleeping Utilities Lie by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors
As the market continues to digest the unrelenting daily news flow relating to the fiscal cliff, some investors are trying to anticipate who the big winners and losers will be as we head into 2013. Although some may worry about uncertain economic consequences, Ned Davis Research notes that history reveals that in periods of market decline between 1970 and 2000, dividend paying stocks have outperformed their stingy counterparts by 1.5% per month.
2012-12-01 Are Corporate Bonds Expensive? by Team of Neuberger Berman
As in the case of Treasury bonds, yields for U.S. corporate credits have fallen to historic lows as prices have risen. The yield on the Barclays Aggregate U.S. Investment Grade Bond Index was recently at 2.8%far below levels achieved during the heady days of 2007. Obviously, this reflects overall interest rates, but is it also a sign that corporate issues may be overvalued? We explore the issues and consider how investors should position their portfolios for the current environment.
2012-11-27 Ten (Near?) Certainties to Invest Around by David Rosenberg (Article)
The ten key trends that should guide your investment decisions.
2012-11-27 Fixed Income Perspectives by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management
A wise American once said "Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid." A good example is when your pals in Washington are so busy pushing their partisan agendas that they lose sight of what could happen to the American economic Thunderbird if it goes all Thelma and Louise over the fiscal cliff. With the latest elections in the books, it remains to be seen if a Democratic president and acrimonious Republican House can put on their thinking caps to devise a way to delicately pump the brakes of fiscal restraint.
2012-11-26 Stuck in the Muddle with You by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Raising Keynes hasn't worked. What will finally lift the fog of uncertainty that bedevils the economy?
2012-11-19 Little Dutch Boy by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
In the Mary Mapes Dodge book titled Hans Brinker, there is a fictional story within the story of a little Dutch boy who, on his way to school, notices a hole in the dyke. Having nothing else to fix the leak, he plugs the hole with his finger and stays there through the night until workers come to repair it. We are now into the fourth year of efforts to print trillions of little Dutch boys out of dollars and euros in order to stop a tide from crashing through a fundamentally damaged dyke. All of this has bought time, but no workers have arrived, and no real repairs have been done.
2012-11-13 David Rosenberg on Obama's Victory by David Rosenberg (Article)
The election is behind us. The Fed has spent its last bullet. We are at an inflection point of the earnings and sales cycle. The fiscal cliff, the Chinese political transition and the spread of the euro zone recession to the north lie ahead.
2012-11-13 Bank Loans: Looking Beyond Interest Rate Expectations by John Bell and Kevin Perry (Article)
Portfolio managers of Bank Loan Strategies, John Bell and Kevin Perry, outline the major advantages and risks of bank loan investing and the roles that a bank loan allocation can play in a fixed income portfolio.
2012-11-07 October Surprise by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management
Third quarter earnings growth for S&P 500 companies is at risk of being negative for the first time in three years. While the presidential election is important, Congress will ultimately control spending and tax legislation. Monetary stimulus alone is both inadequate and unsustainable; pro-growth taxation, spending and regulatory policy is key to our economic revival.
2012-11-01 Invesco Fixed Income Investment Insights: October 2012 by Darren Hughes, Scott Roberts of Invesco
High yield bond mutual funds have received $38.9 billion of inflows year-to-date through August, the second largest net inflow in the US retail bond category as measured by Lipper. Given known search activity and anecdotal evidence, we believe institutional flows into the asset class have been strong as well. Given this backdrop, we'd like to provide some insight into what's driving these flows, the likelihood of this continuing and the value in the asset class.
2012-10-31 The Role of Risk in Asset Allocation by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates
A traditional asset allocation framework allocates to various asset classes with the goal of matching important risk exposures. In reality, many asset classes share exposures to common risk factors and thus are highly correlated, particularly with equities. This article explains how investors can achieve more intuitive and perhaps more sensible portfolios with an approach based on risk factors.
2012-10-30 The Dangers of Mortgage REITs: Does Doubling the Leverage Make Them a Good Investment? by David Schawel, CFA (Article)
Levered mortgage-backed REITs are dangerous. Many of those who invest in the underlying REITs have little idea what is generating 10%+ yields, nor do they understand what scenarios could lead share prices to drop precipitously. These investors need to recall the lesson we all learned so vividly in 2008 - leverage may increase returns, but it does so by significantly magnifying risk.
2012-10-30 Weekly Update: Commentary and Statistics by Team of ING Investment Management
U.S. equity markets fell back into decline during the week, as earnings reports and more specifically, forward outlooks inspired investor caution. Meanwhile, a potential "Frankenstorm" has the East Coast on edge for the coming week.
2012-10-29 Waiting for Treasuries to Reverse Course by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent
In the years since the global financial crisis, investors have funneled money into fixed income securities. This year alone, more than $260 billion found its way into fixed income mutual funds. In an environment desperate for yield-oriented solutions, such demand is not surprising. What might be considered surprising, however, is investors' willingness to embrace such yield with extraordinary risk attached.
2012-10-19 Fall Quarterly Commentary by John Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management
It was a busy quarter for central bankers. A surprise statement during July by European Central Bank President, Mario Draghi, moved markets: "Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the Euro... and believe me, it will be enough." These words sparked an immediate and sharp turnaround in European bond yields (down) and world equities. Not to be outdone, Fed Chairman Bernanke announced QE3 on September 13th, promising to continue purchasing bonds, thereby increasing the money supply, until employment conditions improve.
2012-10-18 Triskaidekaphobia1 \tris-kī-dek-ə-fō-bē-ə\ n: Fear of the Number 13 by Gene Tannuzzo of Columbia Management
In May of this year, the Congressional Budget Office published a paper outlining the tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to be automatically implemented on January 1, 2013 under current law. The paper illustrates the real risk of recession if Congress fails to address this looming "fiscal cliff" before year end. The markets are telling us not to worry about the fiscal cliff. Are the markets right, or should investors be more concerned that 13, as in 2013, could be an unlucky number for the U.S. economy?
2012-10-16 Will Bonds Be ‘Burnt to a Crisp?’ by David Schawel, CFA (Article)
Bill Gross's recent monthly commentary painted a disturbing picture for investors - he foresees bonds being “burnt to a crisp.” This isn't just hot air. Such a conflagration is possible, and investors in bond funds, especially those that are constructed similar to the widely followed Barclays bond index, need to heed risks inherent in today''s market.
2012-10-15 Bond Market Review & Outlook by Thomas Fahey of Loomis Sayles
Aggressive policy responses from major central banks were dominant forces in the third quarter. The European Central Bank (ECB), Federal Reserve (Fed), Bank of Japan (BoJ) and other central banks took decisive action, prompted by the escalating European sovereign debt crisis, slowing global growth, ﬁnancial market volatility, and the impending US "ﬁscal cliff."
2012-10-15 QE3Back to the Future by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
The broad scope and open-ended nature of the Federal Reserve's third round of quantitative easing raises questions about what exactly Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has in mind. Some insight, remarkably, emerges from a speech he gave in November 2002 to the National Economists Club in Washington, D.C., when he was simply a Fed board member. Taking his cue then from fears of a Japanese-style deflation, he laid out a path for monetary stimulus in an extreme situation, outlining nontraditional policy tools that have since become common.
2012-10-11 Alternative Investments Offer Strategies to Avoid Fed-Inflated Bond Bubble by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors
Over the past several years, investors have shifted hundreds of billions of dollars out of stocks and into investment grade corporate bonds and U.S. Treasuries. To date, this strategy has delivered solid results for many investors, as bond prices have generally continued to rally while bond yields have continued to fall.
2012-10-09 Is Gluskin's David Rosenberg Right about Utilities? by Geoff Considine (Article)
They're not the sexiest property on the Monopoly board, but in today's market, there's plenty of evidence mounting that utilities are a great source of income. Indeed, Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg made the case for utilities in a recent commentary.
2012-10-09 A Q3 Letter to Clients - Insights from a Wall Street Legend by Dan Richards (Article)
Here is a template for a letter to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients an overview of the past 90 days and the outlook for the period ahead. In it, I draw upon investing principles articulated by the legendary Barton Biggs, who passed away earlier this year.
2012-10-09 High Yield and Equities Mind the (Equity) Gap by Hozef Arif of PIMCO
High yield bonds returned 12% through September, even as corporate defaults continued to rise, albeit gradually. While the default rate is an important market metric, it has been a lagging indicator of high yield bond total return performance. Investors should closely monitor equity markets for signals on where high yield spreads may go.
2012-10-09 Global Investment Outlook by Team of Aberdeen Asset Management
Global growth remains positive but momentum is lacking. Central bank action has eased tensions. Markets are calmer but future direction is uncertain
2012-10-05 Market Performance and the Party in Power: Is There Really a Connection? by Team of Janus Capital Group
The relationship between domestic securities market returns and U.S. Presidential elections is a favored topic of Wall Street commentators. As the 2012 Presidential election heads toward the tape, the pundits are in full swing once again, and claims about the impact of a Democratic or Republican victory on U.S. stock and bond markets pop up almost as frequently as political ads. In this paper, we address the question, Should investors take these prognostications to heart and, more importantly, apply them to their asset allocations?
2012-10-05 Economic Recovery and Debt Reduction: Faster, Please! by Chris Molumphy of Franklin Templeton Investments
It's tough to be patient in an age of instantaneous communications and instant gratification. We all want immediate answers to our questions and quick fixes to our problems. When it comes to real world tangles like the global economy, though, Chris Molumphy, CIO of Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group, reminds us that patience, not a magic pill, is the order of the day when it comes to European and U.S. struggles to cure their economic ailments. He's realistic about these problemsbut isn't waiting to act where he does spot investment opportunities.
2012-10-02 Woody Brock on Why to Own Stocks Now by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Dr. Horace 'Woody' Brock is the founder Strategic Economic Decisions and the author of American Gridlock. In a recent talk, he explained why investors should own stocks - particularly those with stable dividends - and why bonds are very risky in today's environment. This is the transcript; a video of this talk is also available.
2012-10-01 If Its All About Macro These Days, Why Havent EM Stocks Done Well? by Morgan Harting of AllianceBernstein
It doesn't seem to make sense. Superior macroeconomic fundamentals in emerging countries have not led to stronger-or even positive-equity returns over the last two years. Since the beginning of 2011, the unhedged return in US dollars of the MSCI Emerging Markets (EM) Index has been (10)%, while the MSCI World Index has delivered 6.5%. What's going on?
2012-09-28 Alternative Thoughts: Macro Investing - What is macro investing and investing in a macro strategy? by Lawrence Epstein, Josh Rowe of Orinda Asset Management
Macro investing has long been the focus of investors in search of non-correlated investment strategies. Orinda Asset Management believes that macro strategies have the potential to produce positive absolute returns across market cycles. In addition, the strategy has historically exhibited low correlation to traditional equity and fixed income indices, and has provided effective diversification benefits when incorporated as part of a long-term investment plan.
2012-09-25 Jim Bianco – Markets Will Benefit From Disastrous Fed Policy by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The Fed's quantitative easing policy will be 'disastrous,' according to Jim Bianco, but prices for riskier assets will rise over the near term as a result. In remarks last week, Bianco, the head of the Chicago-based economic research firm that bears his name, also gave the US economy a near-failing grade of C-, and warned that inflation will be 'problematic.'
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 The Impact of Rising Interest Rates on Fixed Income Investments by Michael Zinkland of Managers Investment Group
In this ManagersInsight, we examine how bonds have historically performed during periods of rising rates and what investors can do to limit the impact of rising rates. We find that all is not lost for investorshistory suggests bonds could perform better than many expect when rates begin to increase.
2012-09-21 The Ramifications of a Robin Hood Tax by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Could a transaction tax have unintended consequence for American banks? While the jury is still out on that answer, Hungarys example is a reminder to policymakers to comprehensively consider the rewards of collecting a Robin Hood tax along with the risks. Profits and bank credit growth rates across Hungary plummeted due to the hefty bank levies imposed.
2012-09-19 Bank Loans: Looking Beyond Interest Rate Expectations by John Bell, Kevin Perry of Loomis Sayles
Fixed income investors may be stymied by the current mix of interest rate projections and global macroeconomic news. Interest rates remain near historical lows, and investors continue to move between risky assets and relative safe havens like Treasurys based on the latest market headlines. We believe that bank loans can be a compelling addition to fixed income portfolios in this environment and, more importantly, over the long term.
2012-09-13 How Would Municipals Fare Under Romney? by Douglas Peebles of AllianceBernstein
Last month, we wrote that changes to the tax code being discussed in Washington would affect the value of municipal bonds. While that analysis still holds true, that was before the election campaign engines really revved up. Now there's more chatter, if not more clarity. My colleague Michael Brooks weighs in.
2012-09-12 On Uncertain Ground by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital
I'm going to devote this memo to the uncertainty in the world and the investment environment and then offer my take on the appropriate strategy response. This will require me to touch on a large number of topics, but I will try to dwell less than usual on each of them.
2012-09-07 The Federal Reserves Next Move: QE3? Perspectives on U.S. monetary policy by Team of Janus Capital Group
We believe the Fed will take additional action by mid-September to stimulate the economy, probably through a third round of quantitative easing. U.S. economic growth remains well below potential and is slowing, and the Fed is not meeting its dual mandate to ensure price stability and full employment. We recently reduced our 2012 GDP growth estimate to between 1.5% and 1.7%.
2012-09-01 The Consequences of Easy Monetary Policy by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
We heard from Bernanke today with his Jackson Hole speech. Not quite the fireworks of his speech ten years ago, but it does offer us a chance to contrast his thinking with that of another Federal Reserve official who just published a paper on the Dallas Federal Reserve website. Bernanke laid out the rationalization for his policy of ever more quantitative easing. But how effective is it?
2012-08-30 Dividends: The Next Bubble? by Ed Perks, Don Taylor of Franklin Templeton
Dividend-paying stocks have received a good deal of attention this yearand for good reason. Ed Perks, senior vice president and director of the Core Hybrid Portfolio Management Group at Franklin Templeton, and Don Taylor, senior vice president and portfolio manager for Franklin Equity Group, suspect it's these fearful prognostications that are overinflated, not the asset class. As they see it, the dividend-paying stock universe is expanding, and deserves investor attention.
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.
2012-08-24 Preferred Securities: Review and Outlook by William Scapell, Elaine Zaharis-Nikas of Cohen & Steers
We would like to share with you our review and outlook for the preferred securities market as of July 31, 2012. For the month, the BofA Merrill Lynch Fixed Rate Preferred Index had a total return of 1.7% and the BofA Merrill Lynch Capital Securities Index returned 2.9%. Year to date, the indexes had total returns of 11.1% and 12.7%, respectively.
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.
2012-08-17 Fiscal Cliffhanger by Brian Horrigan of Loomis Sayles
In the famous 1955 movie Rebel Without a Cause, troubled high school student Jim Stark (played by James Dean) winds up playing a game of chicken with his classmates. The US economy is at risk of driving, so to speak, over a "fiscal cliff" starting January 1, 2013, an event that threatens to wreck the economy. There are fewer than five months to avoid going over this cliff.
2012-08-16 Markets Holding Up Despite Volatility by Ken Taubes of Pioneer Investments
Despite a steady stream of negative headlines and high volatility, markets are holding up pretty well. The broadest measure of the stock market, the S&P 500 Index, is up nearly 13% year-todate through today, August 13, 2012. The NASDAQ is up almost 17%. High yield bonds are up almost 9.7% while investment grade corporate bonds have gained over 7%. Even Europe has managed 7.5%, as measured by the FTSE Eurofirst 300 Index in dollar terms.
2012-08-14 An Imperfect Storm by Janus (Article)
Changing regulations have drained liquidity from the corporate bond markets, as growth in bond ETFs is distorting a shrinking market. These converging forces are likely to result in a more volatile environment, but we see opportunity for managers able to understand the fundamental risk and reward.
2012-08-14 The Eurozone Drama Continues by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
In this report, we will review the political and economic structure of the Eurozone. From there, we will discuss the critical event that caused the reversal in safety assets and what this reversal likely means for the geopolitics of the Eurozone. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.
2012-08-13 To Find Liquidity in Corporate Bonds, It Pays to "Think Odd" by Howard Edelstein of BondDesk Group
Electronic corporate bond markets are suddenly all the rage. Apparently, much of Wall Street now believes that a new, centralized electronic market will be required in coming years to prevent a contraction in liquidity in the $8.1 trillion market for corporate bonds. That's because there's a perfect storm of looming regulatory changes that will increase the capital banks need to support their trading operations, while limiting their ability to trade for their own account.
2012-08-10 2012 2Q Economic - Capital Market Summary by Greg Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management
The single biggest driver for the economy and investment returns is the deleveraging process which we are currently struggling through. Arguably, we have successfully transferred debt from the financial sector to the U.S. government through the Fed's QE programs. As we move through the long process of reducing debt, economic growth inevitably moderates as resources are applied to debt reduction rather than fixed investment and consumption within the economy. As a result, expected returns on financial assets are lower.
2012-08-08 Cash Flow is King by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors
In today's yield starved environment, investors continue to seek secure sources of income with the potential for growth. Energy infrastructure master limited partnerships (MLPs) have become increasingly attractive not only for their above average current yield, but for their low risk profile and ability to generate predictable cash flows backed by, in many instances, long-term tariff based contracts.
2012-08-02 Two Inflection Points by Andrew Redleaf of Whitebox Advisors
I'm generally happiest, professionally, when I have at least one strong investment conviction. Currently I have two. I want to be long large-cap equities and short small-cap equities. And I want to be long cheap options on natural gas, mostly by owning E&P (exploration and production) firms that have become attractively cheap with the collapse of gas prices.
2012-08-01 China's Growing Pains by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments
Many feel that China is the engine for the world economy and that if it slows down, we may be doomed to a recession or even a depression. Yes, China's growth is decelerating from the double-digits of recent years; various forecasters are predicting a possible GDP growth range of 7-8% this year. However, I think it's important to emphasize that would still represent an impressive pace, and remember that China isn't the world economy's only locomotive.
2012-07-30 Sharp Decline in Earnings and Revenue Estimates by Mike "Mish" Shedlock of Sitka Pacific
For the first time in three years, US Quarterly Earnings are Poised to Drop. "Third-quarter earnings of Standard & Poor's 500 companies are now expected to fall 0.1 percent from a year ago, a sharp revision from the July 1 forecast of 3.1 percent growth, Thomson Reuters data showed on Thursday. That would be the first decline in earnings since the third quarter of 2009, the data showed."
2012-07-25 Global Bonds - Where To Now? by Nic Pifer of Columbia Management
Economic data over the past four months show a clear softening trend in global economic activity. From our perspective, the muddle-along, sluggish global growth scenario remains very much intact. Highly accommodative monetary policies by the major central banks are helping support activity and contain downside risk.
2012-07-24 High Yield and Low Risk: Finding the Best Closed-End Funds by Geoff Considine (Article)
Yield-starved investors have ventured into exotic - and often risky - assets, including hedge funds, non-traded REITs and private placements. But an asset class that has been around since 1893 offers a compelling combination of low risk and high income. A carefully selected portfolio of closed-end funds (CEFs) will yield 8% with less volatility than the S&P 500.
2012-07-24 The Upside of Low Interest Rates for Pension Plans: Issuing Debt to Fund Pension Liabilities by Jared Gross, Seth Ruthen of PIMCO
Issuing debt allows a sponsor to de-risk without waiting for market events or cash contributions to reach the level of funding that triggers a shift in asset allocation. There are a number of ways in which a sponsor may benefit from replacing inefficient debt (in the form of a pension deficit) with the tax and accounting advantages of marketable debt.
2012-07-24 Why We Don't Rebalance by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates
Research makes a compelling case that investors should rebalance their portfolios, yet most investors do not do so. Why not? The answer is less about behavioral mistakes and more about the fact that rational individuals care more about other things than simply maximizing investment returns.
2012-07-23 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.
2012-07-19 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
Recent escalations in the euro crisis and weaker-than-expected global economic data have led to widespread calls for further stimulus. Global leaders believe they are addressing the issue, with China and the ECB lowering interest rates and the Bank of England announcing an additional 50 billion sterling of quantitative easing. We are skeptical about the benefits of such policy action and believe that the U.S. and Europe each require different solutions to solve their fiscal issues.
2012-07-18 Taking Short Cuts to Higher Returns with AQRs Capital Antti Ilmanen by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs
On November 2-3 of 2011 the CFA Institute and CFA France sponsored the Fourth Annual European Investment Conference in Paris, France. Antti Ilmanen, Ph.D. was one of the presenters. The title of his Presentation was Understanding Expected Returns. This months letter is based on this presentation as it appeared in the June 2012 publication CFA Institute Conference Proceedings Quarterly.
2012-07-18 The LIBOR Mess: How Did It Happen - and What Lies Ahead? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton
When regulators in the United Kingdom and United States announced a settlement with Barclays bank over its manipulation of LIBOR, the benchmark interest rate used around the world, there were plenty of reasons for jaws to drop. First and foremost was the whopping fine of $450 million, reflecting the seriousness of the case, along with analysts' predictions that LIBOR rates could influence interest rates on between $350 trillion and $800 trillion in loans and investments.
2012-07-17 Should You Wait to Buy a SPIA? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)
Advisors may be reluctant to recommend single-premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) with interest rates currently so low. It may be better to wait for rates to rise, which will bring more attractive SPIA pricing. But that leaves the question about how long we will wait for better pricing. In this article, I'll show how the decision to delay can turn out well or poorly, depending on the timing and size of rate increases.
2012-07-17 Can you Beat SPIAs with Long-Term Bonds? by Michael Edesess (Article)
While single-premium income annuities (SPIAs) guarantee a specific income as long as the purchaser lives, their rates of return generally compare unfavorably with long-term bonds over normal life expectancies. This makes SPIAs look like the inferior investment, notwithstanding their value as longevity insurance. But considering the low level of interest rates and the potential for future volatility, SPIAs are still a good choice for many retirees.
2012-07-16 High Yield and Bank Loan Outlook - July 2012 Sector Report by Team of Guggenheim Partners
After a strong first quarter for high yield bonds and bank loans, the mixed performance of the second quarter has conjured up memories of 2011s volatility. While the lack of clarity in Europe and the looming U.S. fiscal cliff will continue to weigh on the economy, the current macro-induced price dislocations present attractive long-term opportunities for investors with patient capital.
2012-07-10 Benchmarking Your Retirement Portfolio With a Risk-Free Strategy by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
Making the savings from 35 or 40 years of work pay for a retirement of the same length is a real challenge. At a zero real rate of return, you would have to save half of your income to enjoy a retirement that long without taking a cut in your living standard. There is, of course, a better way - judicious use of TIPS and annuities. A riskless strategy using those asset classes can safeguard one's retirement assets and can serve as a benchmark against which riskier portfolios can be measured.
2012-07-10 A Mid-Year Client Letter: Wisdom from Three Wall Street Veterans by Dan Richards (Article)
Here is a template for a letter to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients an overview of the past 90 days and the outlook for the period ahead.
2012-07-09 The 4 Biggest Investment Performance Myths - and How They Can Torpedo Advisor-Client Trust by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research
In 26 years in the investment industry, I have seen investor and advisor behavior from many different angles: as an advisor, portfolio manager, strategist, author and proprietor. Two things have been quite consistent during that quarter-century: 1) That clients and advisors both care deeply about investment performance and 2) that investment performance is rarely evaluated with proper perspective.
2012-06-27 Q3 2012 Outlook by Asset Allocation Committee of Neuberger Berman
The second quarter experienced a return to volatility as heightened concerns over the European sovereign debt crisis and an aura of pessimism around the pace of global economic growth have reverberated through financial markets. The year began on a positive note, with all major equity indices posting strong double-digit gains.
2012-06-25 Jilted Investors Unsure Where to Turn by Chris Maxey and Ryan Davis of Fortigent
Institutional and individual investors are at an uncertain juncture, waiting to see what the next shoe to drop is. With an important series of events occurring soon, such as the US Presidential election this fall and the fiscal cliff facing the US at years end, investors may need to wait to get more clarity on the market outlook.
2012-06-19 U.S. High Yield: A Closer Look at Junk Spreads by Hozef Arif of PIMCO
Investors are cautious about high yield bonds which have become more volatile following strong performance and inflows earlier this year. We believe the cyclical bottom in default rates is behind us, and based on a tightening in lending standards compared to last year, we expect a gradual increase toward the mean in default rates and credit losses in 2012.
2012-06-18 Cohen & Steers Preferred Securities Strategy by Team of Cohen & Steers
We would like to share with you our review and outlook for the preferred securities market as of May 31, 2012. For the month, the BofA Merrill Lynch Fixed Rate Preferred Index had a total return of 0.3% and the BofA Merrill Lynch Capital Securities Index returned 0.7%. Year to date, the indexes had total returns of +6.9% and +7.7%, respectively.
2012-06-18 Choosing the Right Asset Class in Emerging Markets: Why it Matters by Ignacio Sosa, Christopher Getter of PIMCO
Depending on individual risk tolerances during the past five years, it may have made more sense to overweight one or two EM asset classes and at times to avoid one or two EM asset classes altogether. In general, asset classes are better viewed as carriers of risks rather than each being considered a risk in its own right. This phenomenon is readily apparent in the emerging market space. We have advocated that asset allocation in EM should be dynamic with respect to both segment and country.
2012-06-07 May Rout Leads to June Rally by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
We got three exogenous events in May: Greek credit crisis resumed, with Greece likely to exit the Eurozone this summer. JP Morgan Chase lost $3 billion on Credit Default Swap trading. The FaceBook FacePlant. And on June 1st, the Labor department reported a minimal gain in jobs, which has economists worried anew about the United States returning to recession.
2012-06-05 When OK is Good Enough by Team of BondWave Advisors
The US economy continues to grow, but in recent months manufacturing and employment indicators have remained positive but have been flagging. While there might not be a lot to get excited about economically here in the US, OK is better than elsewhere, like Europe. We discuss the situation in the US and Europe and provide a commentary of the US Treasury, Corporate and Municipal bond markets.
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.
2012-06-04 Why Smaller Banks Are Attractive by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors
We continue to prefer smaller, US domestic banks to larger, multinational banks. A backdrop of anemic yet improving US employment and stabilizing housing markets will likely benefit domestic lenders, but the continued deflation of the global credit bubble could continue to hurt the growth prospects for global financial institutions. Although the vast majority of the risks related to the deflation of the US credit bubble seem well-known, investors still appear to be underestimating the risks of credit deflation in Europe and in the Emerging Markets.
2012-06-04 Opportunities in Credit Higher Quality High-Yield Bonds by Team of Columbia Management
One of the more compelling opportunities across todays fixed-income landscape is within the higher quality segment of the high-yield market bonds rated BB and B. Strong underlying fundamentals driven by a wave of refinancing and solid operating performance have greatly diminished credit risk among these issuers, as demonstrated by exceptionally low current and expected default rates. Despite this, spreads, or yield premiums relative to Treasuries, are generally higher than long-term averages.
2012-06-01 Are my methods unsound?...I don't see any method at all, sir. by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments
This week we can add the lowest ever level of GT10, which touched 1.44%, and the 7-year note firmly below 1%. German 10-Year Bunds fell to 1.12%, brining the total return close to 20% over the last year. Over in Switzerland, it will cost you nearly 0.5% for the privilege of holding a two year bond. If negative rates are on offer, distress and fear are not far behind.
2012-05-31 The Case for Short Duration High Yield by Greg Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management
Valuations in the domestic high yield market appear stretched and we are concerned that opportunities for incremental return are fewer over a near term horizon. In this article we provide an analysis of the structure of the high yield market and a rationale for investing in specific short duration and callable high yield bonds which offer investors a better risk/reward trade-off in the current environment.
2012-05-30 Delayed Entitlement: The Changing Economics of Retirement by Tom Streiff of PIMCO
Its a foregone conclusion that Baby Boomers retirements will be very different from the retirements of their parents. To understand how, we need to explore the impact of the most recent financial events on Baby Boomers. The conventional wisdom is that as the leading edge of Boomers converged on age 65, their associated retirements are well underway and the economic and societal effects of this demographic-driven, transfer-payment-promised contingent are just beginning. In the next three to five years we should face a rapid and unprecedented expansion of entitlement expenditures.
2012-05-29 What Does a Dividend Tax Hike Mean for Dividend-paying Stocks? by Steve Chun (Article)
The Bush tax cuts are due to expire at the end of this year, but owners of dividend-paying stocks need not be afraid. Historically, changes in tax regimes have had little effect on the value of the aggregate stock market. Historical data show that even vulnerable asset sub-classes - high-yield stocks, for example - have not lost value long-term as a result of similar tax increases.
2012-05-24 Why Invest in Asian Credit? by Showbhik Kalra of PIMCO
Asian sovereign and corporate credit offer more attractive yields than a number of other global fixed income sectors as investors take on additional risk. Given Asian markets diversity and the global macroeconomic environment, investors may wish to consider investment managers with a strong global macro process coupled with strong relationships with local stakeholders and experience in local portfolio management and markets.
2012-05-22 David Rosenberg - I am not a Permabear by Robert Huebscher (Article)
While most sell-side analysts are correctly classified as permabulls, Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg has been branded as the opposite - a permabear. He rejects that label. He recently said he's indeed bullish - on bonds and income - and has been so for quite a while.
2012-05-18 Preferred Securities Review & Outlook for April 2012 by Team of Cohen & Steers
Barring meaningful erosion in the economic backdrop, preferreds can continue to deliver attractive total returns due to generally improving credit fundamentals and historically wide credit spreads. In addition, favorable technicals should continue to support the asset class, as investor appetite for income is likely to remain strong and the overall size of the market could shrink as banks retire issues that may lose Tier 1 capital status. Preferreds offer an average yield close to 7%, which is significantly higher than other investment-grade alternatives such as corporate bonds and Treasurys.
2012-05-17 Our Fixed Income Insights on Yield Traps by Team of American Century Investments
From a fixed income perspective, we explain why aggressive yield-enhancing strategiesresulting from this extended period of historically low U.S. interest rates and yieldscan threaten the potentially valuable long-term portfolio benefits from holding fixed income positions. In particular, chasing yieldand stumbling into yield trapscan derail the important volatility reduction and diversification benefits offered by carefully selected and well-managed fixed income holdings.
2012-05-15 A Growing Attraction to Municipal Bonds by Team of Hennion & Walsh Asset Management
For income oriented investors, bonds can provide for a dependable and consistent stream of income, and principal protection when held to maturity. Bonds, whether they are Municipal, Government or Corporate bonds, can also provide for compounded growth opportunities when the income received from the bonds is reinvested. Additionally, for growth-oriented investors, fixed income securities can provide investors with downside protection and diversification within a growth portfolio especially in a highly volatile market where additional, measured, short-term flights to quality are likely.
2012-05-14 Brazil: Compelling Opportunities for the Long Term by Brigitte Posch of PIMCO
Although economic growth has moderated somewhat in recent years, Brazils growth story remains compelling. Underpinned by favorable GDP growth, Brazilian bank fundamentals are solid; banks are closely regulated and well-capitalized. PIMCO believes several key corporate sectors oil, gas, utilities, infrastructure and major banks will dominate the outlook for Brazil over a secular horizon thanks to stronger pricing power and improved profitability.
2012-05-10 A Mixed Fixed Landscape by Team of Franklin Templeton
The lingering low-rate environment in the U.S, Eurozone, Japan and some other nations has many yield-seeking investors feeling stuck in the mud. At its April policy meeting, the Federal Reserve pledged to keep its key short-term interest rate exceptionally low at least through late 2014. Some other global central banks, even in emerging nations, have pushed their rates lower too this year to spur growth. On top of that, many countries are also still trying to dig out of debt, but seem to be spinning their wheels.
2012-05-01 Why MLPs Belong in Your Portfolio by Geoff Considine (Article)
One would think that an asset class yielding 7% and carrying less volatility than do equities would be popular with investors. Yet, despite those attributes, master limited partnerships (MLPs) remain unknown or ignored by large numbers of investors. The case for MLPs is compelling, so it's time for a deep examination of the special properties of this asset class.
2012-04-27 High Yield and Bank Loan Outlook April 2012 Sector Report by Team of Guggenheim Partners
The leveraged credit market began the year strong with yields across the credit spectrum approaching historical lows. Investors should realize that it is no longer early in the credit market rally. We are coming into the seventh inning stretch and it is getting tougher to find opportunities. It is also important to watch for signs of overheating and to remain focused on fundamental credit work and security selection. As we look ahead, we continue to see room for further price appreciation as investor demand should remain robust, while new issue supply wanes from its record first quarter pace.
2012-04-27 Bond Market Reflections Spring 2012 by Bruce A. Weininger of Kovitz Investment Group
Faced with the prospect of loaning money out for eight years knowing that our best case return over that time was 2%, we decided that, for a while anyway, wed rather hold onto to cash in hopes that pricing will become more rational over the coming weeks or months.
2012-04-24 Fixed Income Commentary First Quarter 2012 by John E. Villela, David W. Seeley and Barbara J. McKenna of Longfellow Investment Management
The ever‐changing regulatory environment must be watched closely. The new, onerous capital requirements directed at the broker‐dealer community will make it more costly for broker‐dealers to hold inventory on their balance sheets. This will affect the cost of liquidity by making transactions more expensive in the marketplace. In addition, potential changes to money market regulations, which could include allowing the net asset value to float, could force a number of market participants to seek alternative fixed income solutions such as cash or short duration strategies.
2012-04-23 Decoding Duration to Better Understand Your Portfolio by William G. De Leon and Ravi K. Mattu of PIMCO
Duration is often used as a shorthand way to communicate the interest rate risk of a fixed income portfolio. We frequently encounter duration quotations presented as though no subtleties exist. These quotations average duration exposures across maturities and across currencies, implicitly assuming that yields across maturities and currencies are equally volatile and perfectly correlated. We approach the task of understanding interest rate risk with a more complete view of the risk dynamics driving interest rate sensitivity.
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.
2012-04-18 Balancing Perception, Reality, Equities and Fixed Income by Team of Franklin Templeton
Never underestimate the power of perception to influence peoples fiscal behavior. Perception is such a significant influence, in fact, that economic tea-leaf readers have developed a myriad of surveys and indicators to monitor individuals perceptions of the investing environment because perceptions canand domove markets. When sentiment is negative, investors tend to shift out of assets they perceive as risky and into assets they perceive as safe. Ed Perks, portfolio manager of Franklin Balanced Fund and Franklin Income Fund, is well aware of the role perception plays in the markets.
2012-04-09 Investment Grade Bonds Still Attractive by Tom Murphy of Columbia Management
We continue to find investment grade corporate bonds attractive. Even after a strong start to the year, corporate bond spreads are anywhere from 20-90 basis points above their 20 year averages. This historical absolute valuation advantage is also buoyed by attractive relative valuations versus Treasuries spreads as a percentage of overall yield are currently from 1.8 to 2.4 standard deviations above their 20 year averages. Aggregate corporate credit metrics are also basically as good as they have been any time over that 20 year period, and companies maintain tremendous financial flexibility.
2012-04-05 You Cant Handle the Truth by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners
The UK may not be facing the same set of challenges as many other European countries but that does not mean that the next few years will be plain sailing for the British. Households are overextended, banks are highly leveraged and the pension model is deeply flawed. Meanwhile, the British government, obsessed with keeping the coveted AAA rating, is pursuing a fiscal policy which is well intended but entirely inappropriate.
2012-04-03 A Q1 Letter to Clients: Bernanke, Buffett and Siegel on the Prospects Ahead by Dan Richards (Article)
Here is a template for a letter to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients a summary of what's happened in the past 90 days and the outlook for the period ahead.
2012-04-03 Good Quarter. More to Come. by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments
Good week ending an even better quarter. We like this rally because i) large cap stocks were in line with small and mid, that means less speculative juice and more reality investing ii) GTs came unglued fast but iii) Baa spreads came in thanks to low net issuance and high demand, again crushing the crowding out theorists but, no matter, iv) Europe came back from the brink and fewer daily catastrophe headlines and v) the Fed gave plenty of information to not expect a policy reversal. This is solid stuff and markets feel better than this time in 2010 and 2011 when we saw spring sell offs.
2012-04-03 Overcoming Financial Repression with High Yield Bonds by Peter Ehret of Invesco
In this current low-interest rate environment, we see value in the high yield market, especially as the asset class has proven to provide relative attractive returns not only when compared to treasuries and investment grade corporate bonds but also when compared to the typical inflation-hedging asset classes such as equities. Furthermore we feel the strong fundamentals in the asset class additionally bolster the positive story for high yield bonds. In summary, we believe that allocating a portion of ones investment portfolio into high yield bonds may help investors.
2012-03-30 Stocks, Bonds, and the Efficacy of Global Dividends by Ehren Stanhope, CFA of O'Shaughnessey Asset management
First, we look at the prospects for the two assets classes that comprise a majority of investors portfolios: stocks and bonds. Second, we review one of the most tried-and-true investment strategies that has been a part of the investment lexicon since the beginning of the modern investment era: dividends. But we do so with a caveat global dividends. Finally, we review the results of two strategies back to 1977 to demonstrate the applicability of our approach. We think you will find the results both eye opening and compelling.
2012-03-29 Asset Allocation Committee Outlook by Team of Neuberger Berman
The resurgence of risk appetite witnessed in late 2011 has continued, with most major equity indices up in double digits for the year-to-date. In contrast, fixed income indices have posted very modest and, in some cases, negative returns in the first quarter. Much has been accomplished in the U.S. and globally that has contributed to the now six-month-old equity rally. However, concerns remain. Given this picture, the Asset Allocation Committee's core view remains steadyunderweight bonds, overweight equities.
2012-03-28 Auctions Never Fail! by Lorenzo Pagani of PIMCO
The increase in volatility can reach a breaking point when dealers are no longer willing to absorb risk and the issuer loses market access, irrespective of whether an auction fails or not. Individual countries are working to regain credibility and address their debt-sustainability but what is needed is an explicit collective commitment towards fiscal union. Catalysts for uncertainty may only be a few weeks away with the elections in Greece, France and a referendum in Ireland looming. Foreign investors who preferred to remain on the sidelines during the rally may reappear as sellers.
2012-03-26 Postcards from the Edge: Central Banking in the Age of Policy Extremes by David Kelly, David M. Lebovitz and Brandon D. Odenath of J.P. Morgan Funds
Major developed world central banks have taken extraordinary action over the last few years, leaving us in uncharted territory, close to the edge with little experience or history to rely on. The move to todays extremes was forced by the impotence of conventional monetary policy tools, as well as the breadth and depth of the crisis-causing issues. Uncertainty about the probabilities and range of possible outcomes resulting from current extremes has, and will, impact both capital markets and decision making in the real economy.
2012-03-23 Preferred Securities - February 2012 Review and Outlook by Team of Cohen & Steers
We are encouraged by the trajectory of U.S. economic data and credit trends, as well as positive developments in Europe that have somewhat brightened the outlook for risk assets. However, we are closely monitoring various macro risks that could weigh on the global economic recovery, including a recession in Europe, high oil prices and slowing growth in China. Our portfolio remains more heavily weighted towards domestic issuers and is somewhat conservative relative to credit. That said, we continue to add to certain European issues and other higher-beta securities.
2012-03-20 A Turning Point by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments
Bottom Line: Bonds are now outside of the recent range, especially in the 30-year. We could see another 10bp retrace to 3.50%. Equities have had a good run but still have reasonable valuations. New money goes to IG bonds. Spreads are approaching their long-term mean but demand from natural buyers is high.
2012-03-16 Why Invest in Asia Bonds? by Teresa Kong of Matthews Asia
The development of Asias bond markets is one of the regions most profound economic changes of the last decade. This month Teresa Kong, CFA, writes about the diversification Asias bond markets can offer investors, and their three primary return drivers: credit, currency and interest rates.
2012-03-16 February Leaps to a Multi-Decade Market Open by Doug Cote of ING Investment Management
The markets YTD success has been fueled by a dramatic reduction in global risk and upbeat economic data. The fence to contain the euro crisis has been definitively established. Oil prices are a concern, but the real economy has the wind in its sails. Though equity fund outflows continue, its never too late for investors to do the right thing.
2012-03-15 You Can No Longer Say Corporates Without EM by Brigitte Posch and Ignacio Sosa of PIMCO
In our view, the risk profile for EM corporates has improved thanks to stronger sovereign balance sheets and economic growth prospects compared with developed markets. While EM corporates generally have not garnered as much attention as sovereigns, PIMCO expects that significantly more assets will be managed against an EM corporate bond index this year. The road ahead for risk assets may be bumpy. But PIMCO believes the case for focused EM corporate bond investing remains compelling based on improved credit fundamentals, a solid macro backdrop, and potentially attractive yields.
2012-03-14 Systemic Risk, Multiple Equilibria and Market Dynamics What You Need to Know and Why by Mohamed A. El-Erian and A. Michael Spence of PIMCO
In assessing the possibility, duration and impact of systemic risk factors, we need to analyze the interaction of expectations with market (endogenous) and policy (exogenous) circuit breakers. In the current environment, the prevalence of some subjective bimodal expectation distributions (e.g. Europe related) speaks to the multiple equilibrium features of sovereign debt markets. Multiple equilibria give rise to a range of scenarios, each quite different and each with its own distribution of returns, risks, correlations, and market functioning.
2012-03-12 The King is Back by Liam Molloy and Bethany Carlson of Galway Investment Strategy
On Mar 1, Lazlo Birinyi called for the S&P500 to hit 1700 in 2012 (an increase of 35%). The 24% rise in the S&P500 between Oct 4 and Feb 29 has prompted many to review their outlook for the year. Their euphoric revisions are propelled by some tailwinds: lean company financials with high operating leverage; emerging markets consumer demand; improving jobs reports; low interest rates, and high cash balances. Many of these factors contributed to Galways relatively positive outlook. However, one lesson we have learned over the years is to start getting nervous when everyone agrees with you.
2012-03-01 2012: A year in US bonds by David Harris of Schroder Investment Management
There are two new factors that came to the forefront in late 2011 and which are set to influence investments throughout 2012. Indeed, it appears the collective bond market had a series of epiphanies in Q3 that should frame investment activity for some time to come, and these factors are by no means isolated to the US. The first factor is the broad recognition that debt expansion will not be the large driver of economic growth as it has been for the past several decades. The second factor is that political policy pronouncements will often trump economic and credit fundamentals.
2012-02-22 Rethinking Risk: Pension Plans Should Adjust to Global Realities by Jeff Helsing of PIMCO
Many governments are carrying higher levels of debt, which can increase both economic and asset volatility as well as default risk. The resulting incremental increase in default risk suggests pension portfolios may have less duration than implied by traditional measures. Pension plans with high levels of equity exposure should consider increasing durations and credit exposure. Investment guidelines may need to be adjusted so they dont measure credit risk simply by the World Banks definition of emerging markets.
2012-02-21 David Rosenberg: "Searching for Certainty in a Sea of Uncertainty" by Katie Southwick (Article)
David Rosenberg is known for his bearish outlook, and he has not yet seen anything in recent economic news that persuades him to change his tune. Contrary to prevailing "bullish complacency" and the widespread belief that central banking systems "have the answers to the ongoing global debt deleveraging cycle," in the United States Rosenberg sees monumental deficits, flat growth, an underlying trend of deflation, and current fiscal policies that will limit future flexibility. In other words, trouble remains on the horizon.
2012-02-01 Year-End Commentary by Steven Romick of First Pacific Advisors
We find investing especially challenging todaynot that its ever been easy. We feel like we are forced to bet on policy, and how does one do that? Particularly when we believe we are betting that too many of the wrong people will make the right decisions. We feel a little like explorers, blazing new trails, learning about the new world weve come upon, charting a different path with new information, all while trying to avoid being scalped. We continue to seek the best path, even if its new, to both protect your capital (first) and to provide a return on it (second).
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.
2012-01-24 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.
2012-01-20 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.
2012-01-19 Riding the Global Roller Coaster: The Outlook for Emerging Markets High Yield Corporates in 2012 by Brigitte Posch of PIMCO
Because many emerging market high yield companies were able to deleverage after the 2008/2009 crisis, we believe they are generally in a stronger position than their developed market counterparts. Limited financing needs should provide technical support to the overall emerging markets corporate market. In an environment where lending conditions tighten in international capital markets, domestic markets may become a source of funding for EM HY corporates.
2012-01-13 What the Next Decade Holds for Commodities by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
What will happen over the next 10 years? I believe the supercycle of growth across emerging markets will continue with rising urbanization and income rates. This bodes well for commodities, especially copper, coal, oil and gold, and well continue to focus on companies that will benefit the most from these much-needed resources.
2012-01-11 From Divergence to Nemesis, More 2012 Economic Scenarios by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
A new outlook from the BlackRock Investment Institute offers five economic scenarios for 2012. Russ describes how this outlook lines up with his expectations for the year.
2012-01-10 2011: The Famine That Followed the Feast That Followed the Fiasco by Ron Surz (Article)
Ron Surz provides his award-winning commentary on the US and global markets.
2012-01-10 Chaos Theory by Neel Kashkari of PIMCO
How developed nations address their fiscal deficits will have broad implications for equity markets. Debating a future of inflation vs. deflation is radically new territory for investors. The chaotic nature of the choice facing societies is whipsawing equity markets and dominating bottom-up factors. Equity investors seem to be pricing in a combination of outcomes, with the largest weighting going to a goldilocks, mild inflation scenario. But the markets large daily swings reflect jumps back and forth as investors update the probabilities of very different destinations.
2012-01-09 Investment Perspective Fourth Quarter 2011 by Team of Cambridge Advisors
The concerns over Europes debt problems continued and contributed to volatility in stock prices and bond prices. Although the markets have responded favorably to the partial solutions that have emerged, the issues are not entirely resolved. In this environment where the outlook can and does change quickly based on unfolding worldwide events, volatility is likely to persist. We continue to believe diversification across asset classes is the prudent strategy in this environment. Bonds provide stability, but stock exposure is needed for long-term growth.
2012-01-09 Corporate Market Transparency Report: December 2011 by Chris Shayne and Farshad Mashayekhi of BondDesk Group
December was a relatively calm month on Wall Street, particularly compared to the extreme volatility of 2011. Concerns about Europe surfaced briefly, but by the end of the month all three major U.S. stock indices had recovered their losses. Corporate yields and spreads were essentially flat last month while transaction volumes were down slightly due to the holiday season. Demand for taxable (i.e., corporate) bond funds was moderate during December. According to the Investment Company Institute, mutual funds received $9.3B in net inflows vs. $15.5B during November.
2012-01-05 New Year, Old Worries by Team of BondWave Advisors
2011 was a volatile year where the old guard of the global economy was plagued by weak economies, bloated debt levels, tight credit, and action against normally stellar credit ratings. Europe dominated the headlines, both in December and 2011 overall, and continues to struggle. We discuss these issues and provide additional insight into the US Treasury, Corporate and Municipal Bond Markets.
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.
2011-12-28 Delayed LDI Implementation: Making it Worth Your While by Rene Martel of PIMCO
With interest rates so low, many defined benefit plan sponsors have delayed implementing or expanding LDI programs, often using intermediate duration bond portfolios instead. Traditional intermediate duration portfolios may not offer the most attractive yields or the best credit match for pension liabilities, and may make the transition to long-term bonds difficult later. We believe plan sponsors in a waiting mode should consider switching to long duration portfolios with a synthetic overlay in an effort to reduce duration exposure.
2011-12-23 Preferred Securities Investment Commentary by Team of Cohen & Steers
With interest rates likely to remain near historical lows for an extended period, we believe the high income potential of preferred securities (which currently offer nearly twice the income of corporate bonds) will continue to attract investors. Not only is high income in high demand, but it also provides a meaningful buffer to the total return profile of the asset class in this volatile environment.
2011-12-19 Changing of the Guard: Do European and U.S. Debt Woes Signal a Shift in the Economic World Order? by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors
Industrialized nations in the West have enjoyed decades of economic prosperity and generous social safety nets. However, recent events have made it clear that shifting demographics and huge debt burdens will make it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for many industrialized nations to maintain the same standard of living for their citizens. It seems that many formerly emerged economies are now on the verge of submerging. As citizens and political leaders in Europe and the U.S. slowly awaken to this reality, economies in many emerging markets are moving ahead at full steam.
2011-12-13 Harnessing the Power of Momentum by Michael Nairne (Article)
A market phenomena that we can harness on behalf of our clients is momentum - the propensity for price trends to persist in the short-term. I examine the origins of momentum, illustrate its return premium and consider how managers can leverage momentum on behalf of investors.
2011-12-09 Corporate Market Transparency Report: November 2011 by Chris Shayne of BondDesk Group
November was an extremely volatile month on Wall Street. Concerns about Europe caused a temporary free fall in the equity market, and later in the month American Airlines filed for bankruptcy. Not surprisingly all the turmoil drove up yields for corporate bonds as concerns about credit risk resurfaced. "A" rated corporates experienced the biggest increase, and we continue to believe that investors looking for yield should consider purchasing those bonds opportunistically. Demand for corporate bonds also increased in November, marking the fifth consecutive month buying activity has gone up.
2011-12-06 Adding Some Holiday Gloss to a Not-So-Super Month by Team of BondWave Advisors
November began with a European shakeup that did little to bolster the confidence of investors. Fear raged as Greece and Italy threatened to roll back efforts made by the ECB and IMF. In the US, all eyes were on the supercommittee, which was tasked with reducing the deficit over the next 10 years. BondWave Advisors discuss the US economic indicators that brought a coat of gloss to the pessimism and provide additional insight into the US Treasury, Corporate and Municipal Bond Markets.
2011-12-05 Five Reasons to Buy Equities by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Amid all the risks today, and given the spotty history of stocks during the last 10 years or so, it is easy to understand why both retail and institutional investors continue to avoid the U.S. equity market. But understandable as their reluctance is, there are at least five good reasons to consider equities now: 1) There is good value. 2) There will be no double-dip recession. 3) Europe should survive. 4) Washington will not implode. 5) Nobody is buying equities.
2011-11-30 Flex 5, a Tactical, Practical Portfolio for Todays Volatile Markets. by Charles Gelineau of PGA Financial
Volatility has increased dramatically and is expected to continue. It is an extraordinary drag on returns due to the disproportionate impact of losses versus gains. Traditional asset allocations are flawed 5 ways. Style-pure funds are inflexible with extreme exposure to systematic risk and no escape hatch.Flexible funds, by design, can go defensive or opportunistic resulting in better odds for attractive capture ratios. Flexible funds is a practical, tactical replacement for traditional allocations. With flexible fund portfolios, advisors can potentially Improve investment returns.
2011-11-16 As Alternative Investments Move into the Mainstream, Advisors and Investors Need to Choose Wisely by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors
We believe that having a piece of an overall portfolio that is committed to liquid alternatives is a critical component to long-term portfolio stability, capital preservation and growth. No one wants a repeat of 2008, or anything close to it. There are an abundance of liquid alternative choices available, some of which have proven themselves through various market cycles and environments. They have gone from Wall Street to Main Street for good reason. Embrace the opportunity, and you and your clients may just sleep a bit better at night during these volatile times.
2011-11-15 QE2 and Its Impact on Sterling Credit Markets by Ketish Pothalingam and Luke Spajic of PIMCO
The removal of government bond supply combined with the likely suppression of yields may encourage investors to seek out greater yield via investment grade bonds in the credit markets. The BoEs new round of QE could exacerbate the imbalance between supply and demand and leave a hole in supply that is highly unlikely to be filled by sterling credit issuance. The lack of issuance in the case of non-financials is generally due to strong corporate balance sheets, undrawn credit lines at banks and the rebirth of the loan market.
2011-11-08 Corporate Market Transparency Report: October 2011 by Team of BondDesk Group
October was the stock market's best month in nearly a decade. As expected, the strong equity rally caused retail corporate bond yields to fall as concerns about credit risk receded. Bonds rated single A experienced the biggest decrease in yields, though yields for triple B bonds remained largely unchanged, providing continued opportunity for investors willing to own lower rated investment grade bonds. The buy/sell ratio increased to 1.9 in October, a modest increase over the 1.8 ratio in September but a material increase over the historical norm of 1.4.
2011-11-08 Ignore Egan-Jones at Your Peril by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners
The ink on the Greek rescue agreement has barely dried, and the feeling in financial markets is sombre yet again. However, investors have changed their focus away from Greece towards Italy - a change which could prove disastrous for the eurozone given the size of the Italian bond market. In this edition of The Absolute Return Letter we take a closer look at Italy's refinancing needs and suggest corporate bonds as an alternative to government bonds.
2011-11-04 The Story of MF Global - Capitalism Works by Brian S. Wesbury of First Trust Advisors
The $41bil bankruptcy of MF Global, led by CEO Jon Corzine, is obviously front page headline news these days. While there are many things to learn from MF Global, the idea that capitalism failed is not one of them. There is, of course, the lesson that serving customers and earning money the hard way is the best way to create wealthmaking proprietary bets to try and strike it rich is not. The idea that someone understands the market better than the market itself is an age old problem, created and supported by blind ego. This problem-ego-has taken down companies before and will again.
2011-11-04 Corporate Bonds: Figuring out a Fair Price by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Q: How can you determine if corporate bonds are cheap or expensive? A: By looking at the spreads to Treasury bonds, relative to the state of the economy. Why you should care: Corporate bonds look reasonably priced compared with Treasuries. One way to think about corporate bond valuations is to consider thespread. Investors in corporate bonds are assuming credit risk the risk that the issuer wont repay the principal or make good on an interest payment. Investors are arguably not subject to that risk with a Treasury bond (for all its troubles, the US government has never defaulted).
2011-11-03 Dressing Up a Default for Halloween by Team of BondWave Advisors
Politicians in Europe spent October trying to juggle three balls: 1) avoiding an unavoidable Greek default, 2) keeping a Greek default from cascading into Italy and Spain, and 3) shoring up the European banks before a Greek default. BondWave Advisors discuss the details of the Greek situation in our November Fixed Income Report and provide additional insight into the US Treasury, Corporate and Municipal Bond Markets.
2011-11-01 The Danger in European Stocks by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
European equity prices, depressed by fears of a sovereign debt crisis, are cheap to such a degree that William Bernstein, author of The Intelligent Asset Allocator, called them a true bargain. Income-oriented investors, in particular, may be tempted by 4.2% dividend yields and a market-wide P/E ratio of approximately 11. My analysis, however, contradicts Bernstein's and shows the underlying risk those investments carry.
2011-10-31 Pennies from Heaven by Bill Gross of PIMCO
Growth is the commodity that the world is short of at the moment. Once interest rates inch close to zero and discounted future cash flows are elevated in price, it's difficult to generate much more return if economic growth doesn't follow. Equity markets should be dominated by dividend yields and the return of capital via share buybacks, as opposed to growth. In fixed income assets, we suggest that portfolios should avoid longer dated issues where inflation premiums dominate performance.
2011-10-19 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
We continue to favor short-term high yield securities.While the high yield market has generally been under pressure due to fears of lower economic growth, lower gross domestic product growth does not necessarily translate into weaker credit fundamentals. In light of all the uncertainty in the market, we have generally reduced our exposure to convertible bonds and have continued to favor bonds with high coupons that we think are likely to be refinanced before maturity.In addition we are keeping some cash on the sidelines so that we are in a good position to buy as future opportunities arise.
2011-10-19 All That Glitters Is Not a Cash Equivalent by Jerome M. Schneider of PIMCO
The latest volatility has investors asking questions about the securities they own, in particular probing any exposures to European issuers. Cash investors often over-allocate to money market and bank investment vehicles, while the most attractive risk-adjusted opportunities might fall just outside of this space. We currently see opportunities in short-dated, non-financial BBB-rated corporate bonds, along with dollar-hedged bonds and bills issued by sovereigns with solid balance sheets.
2011-10-19 Developed Europe: Economic Review September 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
With the world anxiously watching, Developed Europe battled against its sovereign debt problems on several fronts all through September. Investors became increasingly concerned as the month progressed because Euro-zone leaders delayed making a decision on paying Greece the next installment of its bailout package, despite the beleaguered country declaring that it would run out of money by mid-October without the aid tranche. News reports from the region indicated that the installment was being delayed to pressure Greece into speeding up crucial structural reforms.
2011-10-19 Americas: Economic Review September 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
Financial markets faced significant volatility as the global economic outlook weakened and concerns about the European crisis worsened. Markets in the Americas region were also affected by the erosion in investor confidence, though the developed markets in the region fared relatively better. Latin American currencies saw steep falls against the U.S. dollar, as the weaker economic outlook is expected to force the central banks to cut interest rates in the future, potentially reducing the relative attractiveness of these markets to global investors.
2011-10-18 Dan Fuss on the Liquidity Problem in the Bond Market by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Each morning, the traders at Loomis Sayles' bond desk rate the degree of liquidity in the bond market, with a rating of one being the worst and 10 the best. Ratings of one or two – as corporate bonds have been receiving of late – are an ominous sign, according to Dan Fuss. 'Liquidity is the God of the markets,' Fuss said, adding that he expects to deal with illiquidity for a while.
2011-10-17 Connecting the Dots by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors
The efficient frontier provides the optimal expected return for a portfolio for a given level of risk, or the lowest level of risk needed to achieve the optimal expected return. Over the years, investors have come to perceive that certain asset classes with higher risk premiums are more risky than others. We believe what many view as traditional asset allocation may be vulnerable going forward. In short, it is dynamic, not static. In todays negative real interest rate environment, investors will be well served by investing in certain asset classes perceived to be more risky.
2011-10-07 Corporate Bond Transparency Report by Chris Shayne of BondDesk Group
The equity market turmoil impacted yields for retail corporate bonds as expected, but the effect was not consistent across rating grades. Yields for 2nd tier investment grade (A, BBB) bonds increased substantially, while upper tier (AAA, AA) were largely unchanged. This was a continuation of the trend established in August.
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.
2011-10-03 Why Good Companies May Get Even Cheaper for Awhile by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO
Should investors buy good companies trading at historically attractive prices? According to conventional wisdom, this simple question has an equally simple answer - "of course" - that is supported by the vast majority of historical cases. But before acting on conventional wisdom, investors should ask themselves why so many unthinkables have turned into reality over the last few months. By doing so, they would be forced to consider important qualifiers arising from historic structural changes buffeting the global economy and, therefore, financial markets.
2011-09-28 Fed Extends Maturities by Kathy A. Jones and Rob Williams of Charles Schwab
Fed Notes-The TwistObservations and takeaways on the Fed's two day meeting this week. Bank Bondsplus Extraordinary Calls on Trust Preferred SecuritiesWe elaborate on factors affecting the banking sector. Obama Bill Questions Exemption on Muni bondsOur view on one piece of the job proposal presented by the Obama administration. Liquidity- Ignore at Your PerilWe highlight some reasons why liquidity, especially in volatile markets, is an important investment factor.
2011-09-27 Reexamining Bill Gross' Decision to Sell Treasury Bonds by Geoff Considine (Article)
Bill Gross made headlines in February by asserting that Treasury bonds were not providing enough yield to make them worth the risk and reducing his allocation to zero in the PIMCO Total Return Fund. The subsequent rally forced him to admit his mistake in August, but by then his fund was trailing 90% of its peers and having its worst year since 1995. I will examine Gross' decision in retrospect, to illustrate its tactical and strategic costs and benefits for his shareholders.
2011-09-27 A Buying Opportunity in Investment-Grade Corporate Bonds by Chris Shayne, CFA (Article)
Given that yields on Treasury and high-quality corporate bonds are near 50-year lows, investors looking for relative value in fixed income should consider purchasing lower-rated investment-grade corporate bonds. As Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg said last Wednesday, 'if you have money to put to work, and are looking for a reward that more than compensates for the incremental risk involved at this juncture, credit is a good place to be looking.'
2011-09-20 Counterparty Risk in Large Total-Return Funds by Robert Huebscher (Article)
We can add another to the list of concerns facing advisors: counterparty risk – a potential loss from the failure of a bank or broker-dealer. Underscoring this threat, DoubleLine's founder and chief investment officer, Jeffrey Gundlach, recently warned advisors to avoid all funds with counterparty risk. Heeding his warning, however, is not easy; it is virtually impossible to gauge the extent of counterparty risk in most funds.
2011-09-10 Market Comment by Keith Goddard of Capital Advisors
Whether measured objectively through indicators for valuation, trend and risk; or subjectively by pondering all that might go wrong in the euro zone, we come to the same conclusion about the current market climate proceed with caution.
2011-09-07 Keep Calm, Carry On by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim
The markets overreaction has created an incredible opportunity in U.S. equities. In particular, I see value in high-dividend stocks. Many companies with strong cash flows and stellar credit ratings pay more in dividends than the yield on their bondsa situation that hasnt existed for such a large number of stocks since the 1950s. Without doubt, Europes problems indicate that further turbulence, even a retest of recent lows on the S&P 500, cannot be ruled out. Nevertheless, for investors with 2- to 5-year horizons, price dips represent buying opportunities.
2011-09-01 Updated Ideas for Fixed Income Positions by Team of American Century Investments
The current environment and related factorsincluding double-dip recession concerns, equity and high-yield corporate bond market volatility, moderate inflation expectations in the near term, and premium pricing for U.S. Treasury securitieshave raised questions for investors as they return from summer activities and re-examine fixed income investment positions. It is difficult to address all investor situations and scenarios. So for our hypothetical allocations in this piece, we will focus on fixed income positioning within employer-sponsored retirement plans, both qualified and non-qualified.
2011-08-30 The Case for Active Management in a Volatile Market by Brandon Thomas (Article)
It's been an eventful few weeks, to say the least. The market volatility reminds us that active investment management is more crucial than ever.
2011-08-30 Why High-Yield Bonds Make Sense Today by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
None other than Gluskin Sheff's Dave Rosenberg, the widely followed analyst who was been consistently bearish in the current market cycle, said last week that high-yield bonds are 'a good place to be right now.' Recent price declines have made them attractive in the short term, and their risk-adjusted returns make them attractive to longer-term strategic investors.
2011-08-29 Instant Pudding by Tim Gramatovich, Ron Heller and Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares/Peritus Asset Management
We are in the midst of a prolonged stagnant economy and Europe is facing mounting issueshowever we believe the end result is a resetting of expectations and re-pricing of global equity markets rather than anything economically devastating. Credit bubbles, and the resulting deleveraging, take a great deal of time to heal and this time is no different. There is no instant fix. But with the transfer of debt to public balance sheets from private ones (thanks to QEs 1 and 2), we see corporate credit as more desirable than Government paper.
2011-08-26 The US Financial Sector in an Environment of Turbulence by Team of Loomis Sayles
US financial companies have spent the past three years trying to improve their balance sheets. We saw this trend reflected in company reports of asset quality improvements, increasing capital and strengthening liquidity. Heightened anxiety about the European debt crisis, a potential slowdown in the global economic recovery and the US credit downgrade appears to have overshadowed financial company fundamentals. Fundamental improvements by financial companies have fortified the sector, leaving it substantially stronger than in 2008. Currently, we think financials are well positioned.
2011-08-25 Perspective on the Fed, Inflation, and the Economy, as Well as Implications for Income Investors by Team of American Century Investments
The Fed recently took the unprecedented step of declaring their interest rate policy for the next two yearsthey will be holding their short-term rate target essentially at zero well into 2013. Well give our perspective on why the Fed has taken this unusual step, and what these policy decisions tell us about the state of the economy, inflation, and the bond market. Finally, well address potential solutions for income-oriented investors in todays environment of record-low bond yields.
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.
2011-08-24 Clearing Up Corporate Vs. Credit Bonds by Matt Tucker of iShares Blog
I often hear the terms corporate and credit used interchangeably to describe a certain segment of the bond market. However, they refer to two different types of bonds. When you buy a stock, youre buying an ownership stake in a corporation. Many of these corporations, regardless of where they are headquartered, issue debt in US dollars, and this debt is categorized as corporate. Easy enough. Where it gets tricky is that there are a number of other types of entities that also issue USD denominated debt. The term credit captures these other issuers, along with the debt of corporations.
2011-08-22 Whack-A-Mole by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
What did I think of Rick Perry's comments about Ben Bernanke? Frankly, I thought they were unfortunate. Perry suggested that monetary intervention would be "playing politics," which implies that Perry believes the Fed actually has the power to benefit the Obama Administration by improving the economy with its interventions. We certainly differ on that point. In my view, QE2 was an economically baseless attempt to distort the financial markets and force the prudent into taking risk in hopes of substituting speculation for innovation. Perry gives Bernanke far more credit than I do.
2011-08-22 Dont Dismiss Emerging Markets by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Fears about emerging market investments have grown of late. Todays doubts have three sources. 1) Many once popular emerging equity markets have failed to keep up with their impressive past gains. 2) The emerging economies look more vulnerable than previously to the ills of inflation and the associated slowdown in the pace of growth. 3) Valuations look much less compelling than they once did. But if all these factors keep emerging markets from repeating the phenomenal gains of the last 1020 years, investors would make a mistake to dismiss them out of hand.
2011-08-15 The August 9 FOMC Decision - Ineffective at Best, Dangerous at Worst by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust
The FOMCs decision to commit to holding its federal funds target in a range of zero to 25 basis points at least through mid 2013 strikes me as an ineffective way to accomplish one of its goals full employment of the labor force and potentially dangerous with regard to another of its goals stability in an index of goods/services prices. In my view, the Fed should abandon an interest-rate targeting approach to monetary policy. Rather, it should adopt a quantitative-targeting approach targeting the growth in the quantity of combined Federal Reserve and commercial bank credit.
2011-08-08 Buy Stocks Like Cans of Tuna Fish! by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
Following the positive jobs report today, stock prices swung between gains and losses, and closed at the low for the year. Where have we seen this before? April-July 2010. In that time frame, stocks fell 15.6%, erasing all the gains of that year, but still closed out 2010 with a gain of 15.1%. Our forecast for 2011 remains at plus 8%, which would be 13.7% above current levels. So what are we doing this week and next? Buying stocks!
2011-08-08 S&Ps Downgrade of U.S. Sovereign Debt Some People Actually Pay Them for these Opinions? by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust
S&P stated the obvious after the U.S. markets closed on August 5 - the projected growth in U.S. public debt is on a long-term unsustainable path. Rather than paying S&P for this opinion, all you need to do is look at some past CBO projections and you would have arrived at the same opinion years ago.
2011-08-02 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group
Recently, the Tax Court affirmed a tax deduction a family had taken for the 24 hour supervision needed for an elderly family member. Caregivers were hired-even though they were not licensed healthcare providers-and the family took a tax deduction for the cost of these caregivers. The IRS denied the deduction, but the Tax Court affirmed it. The Court went further by stating that the costs of maintenance and personal care services could qualify as a medical expense if a healthcare professional certifies that at least two of the six activities of daily living cannot be done without assistance.
2011-07-28 Quarterly Commentary: 2nd Quarter by Steven Romick of First Pacific Advisors
We pay attention to the macro environment because it sometimes allows us to identify significant opportunities and, at other times, to avoid or limit catastrophic risk. We still find ourselves worrying today, particularly about unreasonable government budgets that have helped foster unmanageable burdens. Over the past three years we have witnessed a shift in financial obligations from the personal to the public (governments) that has done nothing to enhance the solvency of the overall system, although the optics appear favorable to some.
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.
2011-07-20 Secular Outlook: Implications for Investors by Bill Benz of PIMCO
As the economy undergoes important realignments, investors will need to rethink their traditional approaches to managing their portfolios. As the lines between interest rate and credit risk become blurred, finding sources of safe spread becomes even more critical. More, not less, discretion is warranted when navigating volatile global markets, avoid sectors affected by financial repression and hedge against inflation and/or adverse tail events. We believe investors need to look at risk factors rather than traditional asset classes when making asset allocation decisions.
2011-07-12 An End-of-Quarter Letter to Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Given recent unrest in Europe and uncertainty about economic growth, many clients are looking to their advisors for direction. This template for an end-of-quarter letter is a starting point for your own letter to clients, one that can be a catalyst for a conversation about how to position portfolios.
2011-07-11 Perspective on the 2nd Quarter by Sean Hanlon of Hanlon Investment Management
At the start of the second quarter Hanlon Investment Management portfolios were positioned somewhat conservatively as our research anticipated that there was some volatility ahead. Our expectation was right-on as volatility and whipsawing markets were on display during this past quarter. We further increased our cautious stance and in June raised additional cash in client accounts as the risks warranted. The upcoming "summertime" third quarter is typically a sluggish trading quarter and we remain prepared for the prospect of continued volatility.
2011-07-01 Expert Roundtable on Interest Rates by Mark W. Riepe, Liz Ann Sonders, Kathy A. Jones, Rande Spiegelman & Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab
US short-term interest rates have hovered near zero percent for a record period of time. The Fed has kept the funds rate extremely low, not only to boost economic growth, but also to ward off the threat of a deflationary spiral. Given the economy's recent soft patch, we don't expect the Fed to raise rates too soon. But, at some point rates will rise, it makes sense for clients to start planning now. With this in mind, Mark Riepe, led a roundtable discussion of investment and debt strategies for both the current low-interest rate environment and a future point when rates begin to tick up.
2011-06-28 An Important Challenge to ‘Stocks for the Long Run’ by Geoff Considine (Article)
Jeremy Siegel's dictum - to invest in stocks for the long run - faces a new challenge. A recent paper by Robert Stambaugh, a Wharton colleague, and Lubos Pastor of the University of Chicago says that once you take into account the uncertainty of estimating future returns, stocks are not nearly as attractive to retirement-oriented investors as Siegel has claimed.
2011-06-21 The “Great Recalibration” by Team of Columbia Management
Investors who have participated in the municipal market over the last several years are keenly aware of the volatility that the market has experienced. Increased market volatility has resulted from the reaction to subprime exposure; downgrades and eventual disappearance of monoline insurers; the exit of hedge funds and arbitragers from the municipal market; fiscal strains on state governments; and changes in demand dynamics with the intro and eventual elimination of Build America Bonds. As each of these issues came to bear, they were often the subject of sensational headlines.
2011-06-15 The End of QEII: Gaining Clarity, Losing the Treasury’s Biggest Customer by Anthony J. Crescenzi and Ben Emons of PIMCO
The Fed’s policies and its fat balance sheet are playing a powerful role in shaping financial and economic conditions around the world. The drain of a single dollar from the financial system will signal a reversal of Fed policy and thus have a major bearing on financial conditions. Depending on the speed of the economic slowdown, the Fed could decide to keep a level of discretion over when and what will be reinvested in its portfolio.
2011-06-09 Understanding Recent Market Movements by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO
Despite massive fiscal and monetary stimulus, the U.S. economy has frustratingly failed to gain proper traction. The U.S. economy faces structural impairments in housing, credit, public finances, and the functioning of the labor market. The situation in Europe is another factor undermining market sentiment. Structural problems require structural solutions that are adopted within a clearly communicated overall vision.
2011-05-24 How to Build a Low-Risk High-Income Portfolio by Geoff Considine (Article)
Prominent investors, including Bill Gross and Warren Buffett, now say that the yields on long-term government debt do not justify the risks. But is this perception correct? I offer a way to answer that question - and to construct a low-risk high-income portfolio - using the prices of put options to derive the true risk levels of various asset classes.
2011-05-23 Spreads Edge out as Large Supply Continues by Stephen Smart of CCM
Secondary investment-grade and high-yield corporate bonds are still in favorable (albeit attenuated) trends, but are now past the seasonally “right” time of year for outperformance; most new nonfinancial issues are still being priced rich to secondaries. Investment-grade corporate bonds still look like they will probably outperform Treasuries over the next two-to-three year period, but I expect most of that outperformance will recommence later in the year – not in the May-October period.
2011-05-16 Secular Outlook: Navigating the Multi-Speed World by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO
It is a world that heals slowly and unevenly, and remains structurally impaired. Balance sheets, both across and within economies, are still out of equilibrium. We expect advanced economies will face sluggish growth and persistently high unemployment over the secular horizon. Emerging economies will achieve higher growth but face recurrent inflationary concerns. We do not expect policymakers to boldly address structural problems. By targeting negative real interest rates, they will pursue financial repression that undermines the “real return” contract that savers expect.
2011-05-09 The Menu by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
One of the ways investors can think about prospective return and risk is from the standpoint of the Capital Market Line, which lays out a menu of investment possibilities at various levels of return and risk. In theory, investors like to believe that this menu is always a nice, positively sloped line, where greater risk is associated with greater prospective return. And somehow, regardless of where market valuations are, investors often seem to believe that 10% is 'about right' for the prospective return on stocks. As it happens, valuations exert an enormous effect on the prospective returns
2011-05-04 Economic Update by Justin Anderson of Cambridge Advisors
Stocks pushed through volatility early in the month to post another respectable gain for the month of April. The S&P 500 was up 3% in April and is now up 9% year to date. Bond yields for the month were slightly lower but very close to where they started at the beginning of the year at 3.3% for 10 year Treasury bonds. Gold and oil prices reached new highs again during the month, mostly due to inflation concerns. GDP growth slowed to 1.8% during the first quarter. This was the seventh straight quarter with positive economic growth but it was less than the 20 year average of 2.5%.
2011-04-29 FPA Crescent Fund Q1 2011 by Steven Romick of First Pacific Advisors
The optimists held sway in the first quarter of 2011 and ended the quarter on a good note, with the stock market having returned 5.9%. Crescent returned 4.7%, capturing 80% of the market’s return with risk exposure at just 58% of capital during the period. Two investments – Aon and Covidien – accounted for more than 10% of the Fund’s return in the period. No investment detracted from the return to that degree. The greatest negative impact in the quarter came from Microsoft (down 19 bps), a holding we have increased to take advantage of price weakness, given the current low expectations.
2011-04-28 Weekly Market Update by Team of American Century Investments
Total returns began looking better for municipal bonds (munis) after mid-January this year as issuance eased and a wave of non-traditional (not tax-exempt income-seeking) buyers entered the market in pursuit of relative value and return opportunities provided by falling muni prices and rising yields compared with those of Treasuries. But the rewards from that influx of demand have not been uniform across the muni market, the non-traditional “crossover” buyers have targeted some segments much more than others, creating a divided market that has rewarded some investors at the expense of others.
2011-04-27 The Impact of Interest Rates on Real Estate Securities by Team of Forward Management
How interest rate movements impact real estate securities is a complex but topical matter. After studying the historical performance of these securities, our findings indicate that: Not all interest rates move together. Real estate securities have had surprisingly low correlations to interest rates. More often than not, real estate securities have generated positive performance during periods of rising interest rates. These observations indicate that credit quality, yield spreads and underlying fundamentals play an equal or more important role in investment returns than interest rates alone.
2011-04-26 The End of QEII: It’s Time to Make the Donuts by Tony Crescenzi, Ben Emons, Andrew Bosomworth and Lupin Rahman of PIMCO
With quantitative easing the Federal Reserve has in essence picked the pockets of Treasury bond investors throughout the world. Ultimately, the U.S. must own up to its past sins and let the deleveraging process play itself out. The U.S. must invest in its people, its land, and its infrastructure, as well as promote free trade, to achieve economic growth rates fast enough to justify consumption levels previously supported by debt.
2011-04-22 Achilles II by Michael Dana of Dana Investment Advisors
The other Achilles heel is what Representative Paul Ryan calls “the most predictable crisis in the history of the country.” We are talking about debt and it has one cause – spending. Congress prefers to kick the can down the road and let the next generation deal with it. Now that Congress has passed a budget bill for the fiscal year ending this October, perhaps they will get serious about cutting spending – more than the recent 1% budget cuts.
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.
2011-04-13 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
Investors sometimes walk a fine line between either over-reacting to temporal changes, which ultimately don’t have a lasting impact on either the economy or the markets, or underestimating the impact of real risks that can bring about lasting and meaningful changes. Currently, the main areas of concern are the Japanese triple disaster, the Middle Eastern/North African “Arab Spring,” and inflation. While we do not believe the Japanese and Middle Eastern situations pose a real threat to financial markets long term, we do believe inflation may.
2011-04-04 Confessions of an Investor by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners
Woody Brock is advocating a regime change. Throw away the generally accepted approach of two generations of investment ‘experts’ and start again, is Woody’s recommendation. As a practitioner, I certainly recognise the limitations of MPT and I agree that, in the wrong hands, it can be a dangerous tool, but there is also a discipline embedded in MPT which carries a great deal of value. And, in fairness to Woody, he does in fact agree that you can take the best from MPT and mix it with a good dose of ‘common sense’ and actually end up with a pretty robust investment methodology.
2011-03-23 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook: U.S. Economy, Global by Saumil H. Parikh of PIMCO
PIMCO continues to foresee a multi-speed global recovery over the next few years. The U.S. is experiencing a cyclical economic rebound, but its strong durability is uncertain. Several countries in Europe face headwinds to growth over our cyclical horizon. Japan’s growth rate will likely fall in the near term, but reconstruction activities should stimulate growth over time. We expect real economic growth in key emerging economies to remain at a solid rate during 2011, but lower than 2010.
2011-03-22 There are Still So Many Unknowns by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
There are still many unknowns with regard to the global macro picture, but what we do know are the following 10 things: 1. There are more upside than downside risks to the oil price. 2. Japan was already the number-one importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and this status will be accentuated as replacements for a damaged nuclear grid is sought. 3. Nuclear energy development takes a near-term hit here by the politics of the Japanese crisis but not a permanent hit. 4. The aftershock in Japan will be related to contaminated food supply so we can expect to see more inflation on this score too.
2011-03-21 iShares Bi-Weekly Strategy Update by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management
Last week, world equity markets suffered their sharpest correction since August of 2010. Unrest in the Middle East and sovereign debt issues in Europe are contributing to the spike in volatility, but last week’s sell-off was primarily driven by the earthquake in Japan and related concerns over the safety of its nuclear power plants. The events in Japan are unlikely to detract from global growth, or change the market dynamics favoring equities. In fact given the recent flight to safety and accompanying drop in nominal bond yields, we reiterate our preference for equities over bonds.
2011-03-10 Stock picking is dead? Long live stock picking by Robert McConnaughey of Columbia Management
A recent frontpage story in The Wall Street Journal was titled “Macro Forces in Market Confound Stock Pickers.” The article quoted a prominent Wall Street strategist as saying, “Stock picking is a dead art form.” The article is now prominently displayed on my office bulletin board as I believe it (and similar articles and research notes) marks a high in skepticism regarding active investing. I also believe these sentiments will be proven dramatically wrong in the months and years to come, as certain active investors take advantage of the inefficiencies that this very skepticism is causing.
2011-03-09 iShares Bi-Weekly Strategy Update Part 1 by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management
The overall economy is demonstrating impressive resiliency to higher oil prices – as evidenced by the recent strength in the ISM manufacturing and services surveys – but investors should not be too complacent when it comes to the consumer sector. Even though labor markets are staging a slow-motion recovery, the US consumer still faces multiple headwinds, including anemic wage growth, too much debt, and a still fragile housing market. Oil crossing the $100 threshold will not help.
2011-03-08 Consumer Confidence Turns Back Down by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
According to an RBC consumer outlook poll, one in three U.S. households is already “significantly” cutting back on spending because of rising gasoline prices. And this was a survey taken at a time when the national average price at the pumps was around $3.20 per gallon ― wait and see what happens when it costs four bucks to fill up the tank ― that is the pain threshold for 41% of the consumer sector as per this poll.
2011-02-28 Random Thoughts by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The combination of sharply higher oil prices, the global food crisis, the accelerating geopolitical risks abroad, and the switch in the United States from fiscal stimulus to restraint — all will serve to complicate the macro and market outlook further. Valuation may not be at an extreme, but most measures of market sentiment are. And some folks are beginning to notice that the wheels are starting to fall off the tracks.
2011-02-25 What Really Drives the Market by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Well, we used to say there were four key drivers: 1. Fundamentals; 2. Fund flows; 3. Technicals; 4. Valuation; Then we introduced another one last week: 5. The Fed’s balance sheet; Now that is not going to be included in any of the Graham & Dodd textbooks, that is for sure. But since Dr. Bernanke embarked on his non-traditional monetary maneuvers two years ago, there has been an 86% correlation between the S&P 500 and the movement in the Fed’s balance sheet. And now there is a sixth: 6. Corporate earnings surprises Yes, this works with a 90% historical accuracy rate.
2011-02-11 Reiterating Our Investment Thesis for 2011 by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
For 2011, not only do I still favor credit, especially the spread compression left in the high-yield space, but relative value portfolios, hybrids with a decent running yield and exposure to Canadian dollars. The resource sector is also attractive, especially oil, with a long-term view towards buying these companies on dips and not just for the commodity price uptrend. Corporate bonds, especially BB-rated product. Hedge funds, with low correlations with the direction of the market or the economy. And precious metals as a hedge against periodic bouts of currency and monetary instability.
2011-02-09 Why the US employment situation matters more than any other indicator right now by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
Americans are in a tough spot, but American business is in great shape with record profits, strong balance sheets and solid revenues from international operations. The stock market is getting frothy, as typified by increasing M&A activity. In 5weeks, the S&P 500 is up 5% on the year, and our forecast for the whole year is 8%, which gives us that “walking on thin ice” feeling. We’re not in the position to jump out of the market. We would turn bullish if we got sustainable job growth of 250K/month or better.
2011-02-08 Undoing Meredith Whitney's Damage by Hildy Richelson, Ph.D. (Article)
Meredith Whitney did the municipal bond market an immense disservice with her misguided comments on 60 Minutes when she predicted massive defaults. Two recent articles in this publication provided accurate rebuttals to her analysis, but they failed to clarify important reasons why muni bond investors do not face the imminent peril that Whitney predicted.
2011-01-31 Duration: Not the Whole Story by David L. Waldman of Loomis Sayles
Our analysis has shown that drawing on a broad set of quantitative tools to assess a portfolio’s perceived interest rate sensitivity can enhance the decision making process. At Loomis Sayles, iRate Beta is one of many resources—including other analytics, fundamental research and trading insights—for portfolio managers to consider when making investment decisions. By arming portfolio managers with a comprehensive perspective on their portfolios’ Treasury sensitivity and risk, we believe managers will be better positioned to consider various investment and hedging strategies.
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.
2011-01-18 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 The Fed’s Dual Mandate – Therein lies the Dilemma by Jason R. Graybill and Neil D. Klein of Carret Asset Management
High-quality municipal bonds should continue to move in concert with U.S. Treasury bonds. We expect supply to decrease slightly to be more closely aligned with softer demand. The media will continue to cast a light on the challenges facing the market. As the overall economy improves, we envision states and local municipalities following suit. Downgrades may continue to occur but the most severe cuts should be limited to the marginal parts of the municipal landscape. In closing, we expect structural change to occur, in a positive way, over the next few years.
2011-01-12 Tolerable Accuracy by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments
It paid to be practical in 2010. We started the year with relief that we averted catastrophe but were dimly aware it would be tough. How could it not be? Financial markets were in disrepair and the economy looked like it had only just made it through a re-stocking cycle. All other parts of the economy looked down for the count. But in the end, despite euro sovereign emergencies, deflationary fears and a phony currency war, both the real economy and financial assets had a strong year.
2011-01-11 2010: A Truth Odyssey by Ron Surz (Article)
I review some of the lessons learned in the last two years. I review the last year, discuss 2008's lessons, and conclude with my traditional review of the longer-term history of U.S. markets over the past 85 years.
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 Understanding Recent Municipal Bond Market Volatility by Steven Permut of American Century Investments
Municipal bonds have fallen in price recently. The price drop is not due to a new significant credit event or default, but rather, the decline is being driven by a host of other factors such as rising interest rates and a lack of liquidity stemming from increasing municipal supply, uncertainty surrounding the extension of Build America Bonds and the Bush tax cuts, and reduced investor demand. While municipal bond price volatility may continue into the beginning of 2011, we believe that municipal bonds still offer value over a long-term time horizon.
2010-12-21 Gundlach: Are Taxes Too Darn Low? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
One way to avert the crisis posed by growing fiscal deficits is a significant tax increase, according to Doubleline's Jeffrey Gundlach. Although he did not advocate this policy, in his conference call with investors last week he said the strain of fiscal deficits poses as yet unanswered challenges to the economy and the markets.
2010-12-10 Fleshing Out Our Themes for the Year Ahead by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Consensus views of 1,350 on the S&P 500 and 4% real GDP growth are far too high. In my view, real GDP growth in the U.S.A. is set to slow from around 3% in 2010 to 2% in 2011, or possibly even lower. This is not a double-dip but it is a slower growth profile. The fiscal and sovereign credit problems in Europe are not going away. The U.S. dollar is likely to strengthen, particularly versus the yen. Emerging markets will struggle as central banks move more forcefully to curb accelerating inflationary pressure.
2010-12-04 Decoupling, Further Defined by Andrew Foster of Matthews Asia
Emerging market equities— particularly those sectors most associated with decoupling themes—are now subject to elevated valuations. It appears that some investors have grown overly convinced that decoupling is a one-way, short-term bet. Don’t bet on it. Instead, take your time, and set any expectations for decoupling over the longest horizons.
2010-12-04 Short Skirts and Second Shoes by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management
We are in an honest-to-goodness bull market. There is much more upside ahead. Possibly for years. Tops are made in euphoria, as when the Fed decides to tighten money and raise interest rates. With the evident despondency today the Fed continues to bring on the punchmore liquidity, accommodative easing, to keep interest rates low and make credit readily availablefor consumer spending, for housing and autos and apparel and necessaries, for government borrowings. And for stocks. Well be swimming in punch.
2010-12-03 Fundamentals and the Stock Market by Matthew Rubin of Neuberger Berman
Is continued discomfort in the stock market justified? It can be argued that the economy is relatively weak, and with high unemployment, the weak housing market and a new focus on fiscal restraint, few expect rapid expansion anytime soon — not exactly a bullish sign for an asset class that is supposed to benefit from expansion. However, from a number of vantage points, stocks are displaying what we consider attractive characteristics that suggest the benefits of maintaining substantial exposure to equities in the current environment.
2010-11-29 Valuation Opportunity by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Because the fears forged during the 2008–09 crisis still linger, investors continue to avoid equities. For a while, extreme caution drove almost all new flows of funds into cash and U.S. Treasury bonds. As these flows drove down Treasury and agency yields, investors sought returns in more credit-sensitive bonds, but still, they largely avoided equities. The pattern has by now distorted valuations enough to present a special opportunity in stocks, even after their impressive rise from spring 2009.
2010-11-23 Conflicted Agents: Credit Ratings, Risk Management and Dodd-Frank by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst
Implementing Dodd-Frank levels the playing field for all of the producers of ratings. Banks and funds should start to create, aggregate and share two metrics - probability of default and loss given default - for all of the exposures which they touch. In creating these metrics, these institutions must both do their own work and will be able to reference any one of hundreds of external ratings and valuation sources.
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.
2010-11-22 Economic Insights: Five Reasons to Give Thanks by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Custom at this time of the year asks people to look back for reasons to give thanks. Though for investors the political-economic turmoil and risk of the times seem at first blush to yield little along such lines, a dispassionate reprise of the last year does, in fact, offer more material for thanks. To be sure, economic and financial matters are far from perfect or even second best. But still, they have improved during the last 12 months, in some instances, dramatically. Here are five reasons for thanks.
2010-11-10 Corporate Bonds March to Their Own Drummer by Chris Shayne of BondDesk Group
During the first week of the month traders bet big on QE2, purchasing Treasuries with abandon and dropping long term yields. On October 8th, 10-year yields hit a new low for the year, falling all the way down to 2.38%. But for reasons that arent completely clear, things changed in mid-October.
2010-11-09 Keynesian Confusion by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Keynesian policies are inflicting untold damage on the U.S. and global economies today. Keynes did not have to be misread. The reason that the current recovery is below par is that the economy is experiencing a massive paradox of thrift. We doubt that reducing already low rates is going to stimulate much of anything other than more frustration on the part of savers. Sooner or later, everything being earned on the upside of this liquidity-induced rally will be given back in spades - the only question is when.
2010-11-09 RCM's Global Strategic Outlook: Fourth Quarter 2010 by Andreas Utermann of RCM
Analyzing various leading indicators, there is hardly any hint of a recession. This is not to say that there is no risk of a recession happening. A continued weak labor market is weighing on household consumption in industrialized economies. The housing market in the U.S. is showing signs of weakness. There is a risk of a policy failure in emerging markets, especially of China overdoing policy tightening. Fiscal policy tightening in the West may actually turn out to be too strong. In sum, we think that structural headwinds and tailwinds could balance each other out.
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.
2010-11-02 Flaws in Vanguard’s Withdrawal Strategy: Income versus Total-Return Portfolios by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
Vanguard advertises that its mission is to simplify investors' retirement decisions. In a recently published study, however, it oversimplified the critical choices investors and their advisors face in constructing a portfolio for the withdrawal phase of retirement.
2010-11-02 Tax Location in Today’s Uncertain Environment by Glenn Frank (Article)
The tumultuous political climate in Washington has heightened anxiety around the country, and the uncertainty left when Congress adjourned without tackling any of the looming tax changes has left taxpayers and investors wondering just what is in store for 2011. Though the crystal ball remains cloudy, and while taxes may rise for no one, everyone, or just the wealthiest Americans, steps taken today can help tax planners and their clients be better prepared - no matter what the politicians do.
2010-10-27 Run Turkey, Run by Bill Gross of PIMCO
The Fed's announcement of a renewed commitment to quantitative easing has been well-telegraphed, and the market's reaction is likely to be subdued. We are in a 'liquidity trap,' where interest rates or trillions in asset purchases may not stimulate borrowing or lending because consumer demand is just not there. The Fed's announcement will likely signify the end of a great 30-year bull market in bonds and the necessity for bond managers and, yes, equity managers to adjust to a new environment.
2010-10-26 What Drives High-Yield Bonds (and Why You Should Listen to the Ratings Agencies) by Robert Huebscher (Article)
High-yield bonds are attractively priced - or they aren't - depending on how likely you think a double-dip recession is and how severe you think it might be. What drives the high-yield market was the subject of a talk last week by Martin Fridson, a global credit strategist with BNP Paribas Asset Management who is a highly regarded expert on distressed debt.
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.
2010-10-14 Baggage and Investing by Richard Bregman of MJB Asset Management
Many investors – still fearful of anything that carries risk – have piled into Treasury bonds, stunningly willing to accept paltry rates of interest in exchange for safety of principal. The strongest potential for gains right now, however, is in the common stocks of large, dividend paying multinational corporations that have repaired their balance sheets and have substantial cash on hand. Investors fearful of the stock market are leaving the prices of many of these companies at attractive levels, creating an opportunity for investors who are not as baggage-laden.
2010-10-13 Currency Wars Heat Up as Growth Chills by Nouriel Roubini of Roubini Global Economics
As global growth stagnates, governments are increasingly focusing on monetary policy as a last resort to prop up ailing economies. The U.S. Federal Reserve recently signaled that it will refocus away from eventual exit strategies and toward the possibility of further intervention in the ailing U.S. economy. Between the Fed's second round of quantitative easing, the European Central Bank's stubbornness, and a new round of currency wars as countries fight each other for export growth, the path out of the recession remains unclear.
2010-10-13 The Fed Feels Compelled to Experiment by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO
Judging from the minutes of the September 21 Federal Open Market Committee meeting, it is virtually a foregone conclusion now that the Federal Reserve will announce on November 3 that it is re-engaging in 'unconventional policies.' As a body, the FOMC recognizes that the benefits of quantitative easing come with potential costs and risks, including unintended consequences. Despite this tricky and uncertain balance, it feels compelled to act.
2010-10-13 What's Ahead in Q3 Earnings Season; Our Fair Value of the S&P by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The consensus is still expecting U.S. operating earnings per share growth of $95-plus in 2011, but at a time when profit margins are at a cycle high, not a trough. Judging from past performance at cycle highs, however, it may be more prudent to be valuing the equity market at $75 EPS growth, rather than $95. Slap on an appropriate multiple and you can see why an underweight position in equities still makes sense, speculative fervor sparked by quantitative easing notwithstanding.
2010-10-08 Narratives vs. Facts: Why U.S. Stocks are Surging Despite Anemic Economic News by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
Investors chasing yields have bid up the prices of corporate bonds and preferred stock, while Treasury bonds, near post-war lows, barely yield more than inflation. Emerging markets stocks and bonds are doing well, but the high returns of 2008 are unlikely to happen again. Indeed, after a decade of pariah status, perhaps the only asset class that offers a reasonable risk-adjusted return is U.S. stocks. Even so, expect no more than 8 percents returns including dividends until the debt deflation process is complete in another 5-10 years.
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 Challenges and Solutions for Income-Seeking Investors by Team of American Century Investments
The Fed's prediction that it will keep its short-term interest rate target at 0-0.25 percent for 'an extended period' continues to affect the near-term game plan for risk-averse investors and savers. A period of potentially heightened uncertainty and low absolute returns means that maximizing risk-adjusted returns is crucial to investment success over time. An optimized mix of fixed income holdings with a variety of different risk levels can add value to investor portfolios in this low-yield and low interest rate environment.
2010-09-22 Economic Insights: A Dispute Over Corporate Finances by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
In the midst of all the uncertainty these days, one comfort to which investors have clung is the record $1.8 trillion in cash on corporate balance sheets, by some estimates. But of late, even this bright spot has come into question. The cash holdings, some have argued, are more than offset by a continued growth in corporate debt and other liabilities. Matters are, as ever, more complicated than they appear, but corporate finances (even after considering liabilities) nonetheless look firm enough to offer something positive in the economic and investment climate.
2010-09-21 Jeffrey Gundlach: No Double-Dip Recession … but by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The economy won't suffer a double-dip recession, according to Jeffrey Gundlach. But that doesn't mean the DoubleLine co-founder, CEO and CIO expects strong economic growth. To the contrary, Gundlach said that we haven't yet recovered from the recession. "The people who are looking for robust and sustained growth are really kidding themselves," he said.
2010-09-15 Using Convertibles for Prudent Stock Market Exposure by Douglas G. Forsyth of Allianz Global Investors
For investors still wary of stepping fully back into U.S. stocks, convertible securities - which possess both equity and bond features - may be a prudent way to participate in potential stock upside while also defending against market volatility. With economic growth and corporate profitability slowly but steadily picking up steam, the prospects for convertibles may be particularly attractive now. At the same time, their diversification and total return benefits make them an appropriate allocation in a long-term portfolio as well.
2010-09-14 Identifying Opportunities in the Municipal Bond Market by RidgeWorth Investments (Article)
Ridgeworth Investments shares its perspective on the muni bond market in a recent white paper entitled "Identifying Opportunities in the Municipal Bond Market" which outlines the historical benefits of municipal bonds, the changing market dynamics in 2009 as well as RidgeWorth's outlook for municipal bonds in 2010 and potentially beyond. RidgeWorth concludes that despite a challenging market environment, munis still offer attractive investment opportunities. We thank them for their sponsorship.
2010-09-14 What Passes For Research These Days by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
A long list of published reports has claimed that private sector employment is actually running at a faster rate now than it was coming out of the 2001 recession. We should be extremely judicious, however, about how we interpret this research, especially since we know that the Fed just cut its macro forecast twice in two months, Obama felt the need to announce yet another fiscal stimulus package and the latest Fed Beige Book was the softest it has been in nearly a year. The macro backdrop could not possibly be more clouded.
2010-09-14 Sometimes We Get Lucky by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management
Monty Guild and Tony Danaher strongly recommend that investors sell long- and intermediate-term U.S. bonds, including U.S. Treasury bonds, U.S. government agency securities, municipal bonds and corporate bonds. It would be very unwise to bet that interest rates will stay down. Guild and Danaher also comment on the rising risk of inflation, the drug war in Mexico, the rise of the Japanese currency and bullish prospects for gold.
2010-09-07 Jeffrey Gundlach on Bonds, Stocks and Gold by Robert Huebscher (Article)
DoubeLine's Jeffrey Gundlach recently reduced his position from "overweight" to "small underweight" in Treasury bonds, and cited "divergent behavior across the yield curve." In this interview, he discusses that behavior and the rationale behind his move, as well as his thoughts on other asset classes, including equities and gold.
2010-09-01 Land of Confusion … Bubbles and Omens Dissected by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
Charles Schwab is sticking with its view that the recovery is square root shaped (a 'V' followed by a stall), and there's little question that we've entered the stall phase. In addition to the havoc the stall has wreaked on stock market volatility, it's taken yields on Treasury bonds to near all-time lows. This, of course, has generated a very strong upward price move in bonds (as bond prices and yields move inversely) and much talk about a 'bond bubble.' That could be the case if yields move higher, which could trigger a swift move out of bonds as an asset class.
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.
2010-08-24 Build America Bonds Power the US States by Hildy Richelson, Ph.D. (Article)
A skeptical attitude toward new products has long served the best interests of advisors and their clients, almost without fail. However, in this guest contribution, Hildy Richelson argues that advisors should not be afraid to embrace one of the market's most prominent recent innovations: the Build America Bond (BAB).
2010-08-23 Markets Pushed Back by Eric S. Ende of First Pacific Advisors
After the events in Greece, it was clear that the shift from expansion to fiscal tightening would put a damper on economic growth. The question of whether the U.S. economy will fall into a double-dip recession therefore misses the larger point. If another recession happens, markets will weaken, governments will stimulate, and the whole cycle will start again. If the economy avoids the second dip, however, the level of economic growth for the next five years should still be lower than the five that preceded the downturn.
2010-08-20 EM Corporate Debt: Ready for Prime Time by David I. Robbins and Javier Segovia of TCW Asset Management
Emerging Market corporate debt is rapidly growing into a significant asset class backed by the world’s fastest-growing economies. These bonds benefit from strong fundamentals, improving credit quality, declining default rates and superior prospects for economic growth across most of the emerging world. One of the most compelling aspects is their consistent outperformance relative to other fixed income asset classes since 2002. Currently, they offer a yield pick-up over comparably rated corporate issues in the U.S., despite the fact that they frequently enjoy stronger credit fundamentals.
2010-08-19 Bonds or Stocks? by Mark Oelschlager of Oak Associates
Since the market correction of 2008, investors have flocked to bonds and bond funds, and largely eschewed stocks and stock funds. Historically, however, investors have been the perfect reverse barometer, gravitating toward stocks or bonds at their peak and fleeing them at the bottom. This time should be no different, and it is therefore wise to bet that stocks will outperform bonds in the coming years. Of course there is no way to know when the current trend will reverse, but it will.
2010-08-19 An Investment Strategy for a Market in Transition by Dan Fuss, Kathleen Gaffney, Matt Eagan and Elaine Stokes of Loomis Sayles
The world is entering a period of rising interest rates on a secular basis. While inflation is not a concern in the near term, the seeds of inflation are likely being planted now, even though it could take quite some time for them to overcome powerful disinflationary forces at work today. If anything, the recent events in Europe and the deceleration of global growth suggest interest rates could remain low for longer than anticipated. The economy will likely grow at a disappointingly meager pace, but it will grow nonetheless.
2010-08-13 Medicine for a New Normal by Doug MacKay and Bill Hoover of Broadleaf Partners
We could be on the cusp of a major sea change in the markets, one in which cash-rich companies - which are in far better shape than governments - begin to compete for investors through the dynamics of dividend yield. Investors who can start to capitalize on these changes now are likely to benefit as the groundswell for all things bonds begins to find a suitable and potentially even safer path towards stocks with rising dividends.
2010-08-11 Real Real Returns Study by Team of Thornburg Investment Management
This commentary features Thornburg's annual look at what investors are left with after expenses, taxes and inflation take a bite out of nominal returns. Once again, common stocks and municipal bonds are the best performers. This year's study also looks at implications for retirees, a group for whom nominal returns don't mean much, since they need to be concerned about actual spending dollars to protect against outliving their retirement income.
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.
2010-08-06 August Monthly Economic Update by Justin S. Anderson of Cambridge Advisors
Compared to U.S. government bonds, stocks may be a better investment if we stay in a slow-growth rather than negative-growth environment. Yields are low and the Federal Reserve is expected to keep short-term rates low for quite some time. Higher yields may be found in corporate bonds or foreign government bonds. Emerging market governments have lower debt as a percentage of their growing GDPs and may also provide higher yields to investors.
2010-07-27 Why Immediate Annuities Make Sense by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
As they approach retirement, baby boomers are increasingly concerned about how best to manage their portfolios during the decumulation phase of their lives. One of the challenges for advisors and investors is understanding what role annuities should play, if any. Geoff Considine shows that immediate annuities should be an important part of a decumulation strategy.
2010-07-16 Global Government Spending Hits the Tipping Point... by Jason R. Graybill and Neil D. Klein of Carret Asset Management
A combination of spending cuts and tax increases could weigh on economic growth. This is important to bond investors over the short term, as global deleveraging will create slower global GDP growth and provide lower levels of inflation. In the longer term, governments will probably use their printing presses to inflate their way to lower debt levels while investors will demand greater returns relative to the interest rate and credit risks they assume. Thus, with an outlook towards higher rates in the years to come, Carret remains focused on short-duration, high quality portfolios.
2010-07-16 Sixty-two Percent Homeownership on the Horizon by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting
Eight million homeowners are currently not paying their mortgages, and 6 million of these owners will probably lose their homes to the bank in the next two years. This will reduce the homeownership rate to 62 percent. According to a recent study, another 5 percent of all households have no equity in their homes. This suggests that only 57 percent of U.S. households own a home with equity value. If many of these owners strategically default, this will push homeownership even lower. John Burns traces variables that will affect homeownership over the coming years.
2010-07-14 Second Quarter Commentary by William H. McAfee of WHM Capital Advisors
Gains in productivity are likely to translate into continued improvement in corporate earnings. Earnings surprises in this environment will benefit investors who have patiently invested in equities, even in the current downturn. In the mid-term, large-cap companies have done a very successful job of raising cash and paying down debt, giving them opportunities to capitalize on a slower growth environment. Smaller companies dependent on bank debt are still likely to face risks as bank lending is likely to stay depressed as real estate concerns continue to pervade bank portfolios.
2010-07-13 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)
In a letter to the editor, a reader questions Michael Nairne's article last week, And the Winner Is..., and we provide Nairne's response.
2010-07-12 Recession Odds Still on the Rise by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The Economic Cycle Research Institute's weekly leading index fell again last week despite the equity market bounce. The spot index fell 0.6 percent for the second week in a row, and the growth index slipped to -8.3 percent from -7.6 percent at the end of June. While this is the only indicator so far suggesting that recession odds are rising, once you get to -8.3 percent, looking at the historical record, downturns occur more often than not.
2010-07-12 Keeping a Level Head by Jonathan A. Shapiro of Kovitz Investment Group
A downward bias toward stocks was evident throughout the quarter. This was a marked, but not unexpected, change from the seemingly straight up rise stock prices made from the year earlier (March 2009) lows. The potential for global fallout from Europe's fiscal crisis and its impact on the worldwide economic recovery served as the largest drag on the equities markets during the quarter. Other negatives included inconsistent readings in the U.S. on job growth, consumer-related sales and housing.
2010-07-12 In Search of Your Sleeping Point by Cliff W. Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors
Asset allocation is an art involving quantitative analysis of financial markets combined with common sense. A buy-and-hold strategy is a dead decision during markets such as these. We have had the worst May in stocks since 1940. No credit still equals no jobs, China is destined for turmoil as its real estate market unwinds, and the Consumer Confidence Index is down to 52.9 in June from 62.7 in May. Fair value on the S&P is 950, which would indicate another 7 percent decline in stock prices from here.
2010-07-06 Liquid Assets Are at a 37-Year High on Corporate Balance Sheets: Is This a Bullish or Bearish Sign? by Team of American Century Investments
Whether bullish or bearish, the rapid growth in corporate liquid assets does reflect one undisputable fact: The corporate sector of the economy generally responded quickly and effectively to the Great Recession, cutting costs, shedding excess inventory and curtailing unnecessary investments. As a result, corporations are poised to perform well based on the overall strength of the current economic recovery. Earnings growth over the past five quarters has been impressive. However, whether this trend and rate of earnings growth can continue will increasingly depend on what happens to revenues.
2010-07-06 The Ultimate Income Portfolio by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
Conventional approaches to constructing income-oriented portfolios use either bonds or high-yield stocks. In this article, Geoff Considine explores a compelling alternative to that approach: a carefully selected model high-yield portfolio consisting primarily of low-beta, high-dividend stocks, against which the investor sells call options.
2010-07-06 And the Winner Is... by Michael Nairne (Article)
As investors rush into U.S. Treasury bonds in response to a weakening economy that may portend the onset of deflation, this begs the question whether there is a superior deflationary hedge. History can be instructive in this regard, as Michael Nairne explains in this guest contribution.
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.
2010-06-07 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.
2010-06-02 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 Three Ways to Improve Safe Withdrawal Rates by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
Using Monte Carlo analysis, Geoff Considine examines three ways safe withdrawal rates can be increased beyond the baseline 4% guideline. He compares and quantifies the benefits of increasing diversification beyond equities and bonds, increasing allocations to fixed income, and employing tactical asset allocation.
2010-06-01 Municipal Bond Market Insights by Northern Trust Investments (Article)
Not surprisingly, the most profitable investment trends tend to be those with the most staying power. That could be particularly good news for investors in municipal bonds, since structural forces are in place that may make tax-free bonds - and the income they generate - even more valuable in the years to come. Northern Trust provides their secular outlook for municipals, and we thank them for their sponsorship.
2010-05-25 W, Not V and Using ECRI Data as a Market Indicator by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The downdraft in the market in recent weeks reflects the financial risk related to the European debt crisis, the monetary tightening in China and the re-regulation of the financial sector that is currently making its way through to Congress. The next leg down in the equity market specifically and cyclical assets more generally is economic risk. As the events of 2002 showed, more-than-fully valued markets do not need a double-dip scenario to falter - a growth relapse can easily do the trick. It’s still time to be defensive and too early in this correction to be picking the bottom.
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.
2010-05-10 Euro-Sclerosis No Longer and Last Week's Market by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
In what can only be described as a spectacular showing of solidarity, European Union finance ministers managed to cobble together a 750 billion euro stabilization program. This is over and above the 110 billion euro Greek bailout package announced last week and is widely seen as a very powerful countermove against the 'wolf pack' that had been attacking the peripheral euro area financial markets over the past few weeks. Equities, commodities , credit and lower-tiered sovereign bonds should all improve markedly. Gluskin also comments on last week's uncertainty in capital markets.
2010-04-27 Paul McCulley’s Design for Financial Regulation by Robert Huebscher (Article)
PIMCO's Paul McCulley parents his 20-year-old son with an overarching principle: If you want access to the "Bank of Dad," then you must comply with the regulations of the "Bank of Dad." Wall Street abandoned similar tenets with in the run-up to the credit crisis, and now McCulley says that core principle - to play the game, you must accept regulation - needs to be restored before another crisis unfolds.
2010-04-20 Lessons from Yale’s Endowment Model and the Financial Crisis by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
The Yale endowment's performance during the financial crisis was worse than what would be mathematically expected, but not significantly enough to question the endowment model's tenets. Moreover, Yale's performance and philosophy suggest two very important lessons for advisors and investors- to diversify beyond equities and fixed income, and that some illiquid asset classes can be an important source of alpha.
2010-04-19 Let the Tightening Begin... by Jason R. Graybill and Neil D. Klein of Carret Asset Management
Chairman Bernanke has started to turn the Federal Reserve's liquidity spigot off, and will continue this process through the remainder of this year and into next. It will be a slow process, as the Fed remains concerned about the fragility of the economic recovery. With unemployment at elevated levels, foreclosures a topic of daily conversation and with banks still stingy about extending credit, the Fed seems focused on letting this economy gain its footing versus worrying about the potential risk of inflation.
2010-04-14 Where is Inflation Going? by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Inflation is going down. Fully 87 percent of the time, for five decades, U.S. core inflation has been lower the year after a recession ended, while core inflation has been down 75 percent of the time two years after a recession ended. This is because, even as the economy moves off the bottom, the output gap lingers and exerts downward pressure on inflation. In addition, nominal GDP growth rates have been in the 3-4 percent range in U.S. and Canada over the past five to 10 years. This has big implications for assumed returns in pension funds as the population ages.
2010-04-14 The Global Bond Market: Opportunity or Opportunity Cost by David W. Rolley of Loomis Sayles
The U.S. bond market is unlikely to offer investors the yield or capital appreciation opportunities they need to meet their investment objectives in 2010. Instead, investors will need to expand their investment universe. Investments in non-U.S., high-quality governments and supranationals could offer capital preservation, while emerging-markets debt and corporate debt might present performance prospects. In the non-dollar securities arena, investors could take advantage of securities offering capital preservation as well as performance.
2010-04-12 Setting the Record Straight on the Bond Debate by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Bond bears argue that the U.S. government has never before raised so much debt to finance the bloated fiscal deficit and roll over existing obligations. With credit contracting, rents deflating, the broad money supply measures now declining and unit labor costs dropping at a record rate, however, it hardly seems plausible that inflation is a risk at any time on the near- or intermediate-term forecasting horizon. Rosenberg also comments on currency, equity, commodity and corporate bond valuations, as well as money and credit contractions.
2010-04-07 We Expect China to Remain Strong by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management
China will not melt down in the near future, as some fear. Chinese exports have fallen in recent years, but infrastructure building and consumer spending will help pick up the slack. While bad real estate loans may become a problem in China, the problem should be well-contained. And provinces can raise taxes in order to pay off loans. Guild and Danaher also comment on instability in Mexico, Alan Greenspan's recent Congressional testimony and global markets.
2010-04-03 Is This a Recovery? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
"We will likely see a reduction in government spending (from all levels) over the next few years, a really nasty set of tax increases, which will hit small businessmen the hardest, and continued high unemployment, and all of it coming in a weakening economy by the end of the year," says John Mauldin. "I put the odds of a double-dip recession in 2011 at better than 50-50." Mauldin also offers asset allocation advice over a 10-year time frame.
2010-04-01 Market Insight by Payson S. Swaffield of Eaton Vance Investment Managers
Evidence mounts that the U.S. economy is moving away from the depths of the Great Recession. The U.S. economy expanded at a 5.6 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2009, and corporate profits surged. While unemployment stands at 9.7 percent, there are indications that the jobs picture may be improving, and inflation has remained in check. The U.S. stock market has responded favorably to the current environment, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbing more than 5 percent since calendar year-end.
2010-03-22 The AIG Rescue: What Did We Bail Out and Why? by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst
This article features a comment by Richard Alford, a former economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's foreign department. Alford notes that AIG is back in the news again for successfully negotiating the sale of two significant operating units. The Fed will receive partial payment for the sales in stock of the acquirer. This shows that both the Fed and U.S. taxpayers are still providing capital and taking risk to support the business activities of insurance subsidiaries of financially sound parenting companies operating abroad, a year and a half after the crisis hit.
2010-03-22 Inflation Benign For Now by Chris Maxey of Fortigent
Equity markets posted gains last week on news that inflation was muted and that the Federal Reserve would continue holding down interest rates at low levels for an extended period. The core consumer price and producer price indices rose just 0.1 percent in February, and the Fed's target federal funds rate remained between 0 and 0.25 percent. Leading economic indicators, however, have taken a weaker turn in recent weeks. Negative contributions from a shorter manufacturing workweek and falling stock prices were the biggest detractors.
2010-03-16 Implications of the Current Shiller P/E Ratio by Keith C. Goddard, CFA and Channing S. Smith, CFA (Article)
In this guest contribution, Keith Goddard and Channing Smith expand on ideas presented in a previous article, Return Distributions and the Shiller P/E Ratio. They study the historical behavior of U.S. stocks during three-year holding periods that began at with valuations comparable to recent market conditions, as measured by the Shiller P/E ratio.
2010-03-11 What the PBoC Cannot Do with Its Reserves by Michael Pettis of Michael Pettis
What the People's Bank of China does to the value of China's currency and how it invests its reserves matter a lot to China and the world, but not always in the way China and the world think. To get it right, we need to keep in mind the functioning of the balance of payments, the PBoC and other balance sheets, and the way the two are interrelated.
2010-03-11 Headlines Fail to Derail Munis by Team of BlackRock
Municipal bonds of all maturities enjoyed positive returns in February, outpacing their U.S. Treasury counterparts. Money market rates remain low, however, encouraging investors to move further out on the municipal curve to capture yield. While state and local governments continue to face fiscal challenges and worries over bond defaults, Moody's released an updated default rate study that continues to point to the relative safety of municipals.
2010-03-10 Don't Be Fooled, But It is OK to be Optimistic by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting
Positive job growth may soon be here. Recent job loss figures have been only slightly negative, and big companies that downsized significantly, as well as small businesses returning to growth mode may soon drive job creation. The length of unemployment in the labor force is still hovering near 30 weeks, however, and so job-focused government stimulus is likely to continue. The Census Bureau will hire nearly 1.2 million temporary workers over the next 3 months, but it will be important not to overreact to the news this generates.
2010-02-25 The Global Bond Market: Opportunity or Opportunity Cost by David W. Rolley of Loomis Sayles
The U.S. bond market is unlikely to offer investors enough yield or capital appreciation opportunities in 2010. Investors should instead expand their investments to include global bonds. High-quality governments and supranationals could offer capital preservation, while emerging market debt and corporate debt may present performance prospects. Non-dollar securities could offer both capital preservation and performance.
2010-02-23 Fixed Income Investment: What's the Index Doing for You? by Jason Brady of Thornburg Investment Management
The Barclay's Capital Aggregate Bond Index is comprised of thousands of securities picked not due to their size or relevance, but to their presence in the market. It is reconstituted monthly and consists of reasonably large bond issues denominated in U.S. dollars, with 75 percent of its issues backed by the government. Its combination of high negative convexivity, low yield, and long duration, however, makes it an imperfect model for investors seeking fixed income exposure.
2010-02-12 Affordability is a 'C-': Are We Nuts? by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting
John Burns Real Estate president John Burns says in his monthly email that affordability has rarely been better for the entry-level home buyer, but affordability has rarely been worse for buyers who bought or refinanced their homes in the past decade and are considering a move up or down. He also explores several other statistics in his U.S. housing forecast.
2010-02-04 Market Review & Outlook by Ronald W. Roge of R.W. Roge
R.W.Roge is a NY-based advisor and fund manager. They call for a "slow and bumpy" recovery, and expect interest rates to rise. They are investing in the shorter end of the yield curve, TIPS, and high-quality dividend paying stocks.
2010-01-26 2010 Outlook / Macro Overview by James F. Keegan of Ridgeworth
“In summary, global asset markets have transitioned from fear at the beginning of 2009 to an environment where government support and intervention have led to complacency and greed. While these powerf
2010-01-20 The Power of a Tax Credit Near Expiration by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting
We see a large "W" shaped [existing homes] sales volume curve forming, with a huge decline when the December and January data is released, and a potentially even larger spike in May and
2010-01-12 Bruce Berkowitz on the Keys to Success for the Fairholme Fund by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Bruce Berkowitz, manager of the Fairholme Fund, was just named Morningstar's US fund manager of the year. In our interview, he discusses current market conditions, the thesis behind several of his largest positions, his views on health care reform, and the elements of the macro environment that concern him most.
2010-01-05 Why it is Difficult to be Bearish by Mark Oelschlager of Oak Associates
2010-01-04 2010: The Year of Economic Recovery by Charles Lieberman (Article)
2009-12-18 Resale Volumes: Another Shoe to Drop? by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting
2009-12-15 A Template for a Year-end Letter by Dan Richards (Article)
Many advisors have told Dan Richards they receive a positive response from the quarterly review letters they've sent over the past year based on the templates he has provided. Here's a template that can be a starting point for a year-end review letter.
2009-11-24 Dan Fuss and the Long-Term Outlook for Interest Rates by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Dan Fuss, the highly respected bond manager at Loomis Sayles in Boston, says we are in the early stages on a long-term rise in interest rates. His view was shared by two other panelists, Carl Kaufman of Osterwies and Margie Patel of Evergreen. If you accept this consensus, you must ask whether your fixed income allocation is appropriate.
2009-11-17 Federal Taxes & Municipal Bonds Historical & Current Perspective by Munder Capital Management (Article)
With income tax increases seemingly around the corner given the budget deficit and a potentially very expensive federal health care plan, the spotlight has returned to municipal bonds and the power of tax-free income. Municipal portfolio managers at the Munder Funds identify the attractiveness of municipal bonds based on projected budget deficits, current spreads over treasuries, and macroeconomic trends. We thank them for their sponsorship.
2009-10-20 Finance After Auschwitz by Michael Lewitt (Article)
We are again privileged to provide an excerpt from Michael Lewitt's HCM Market Letter. In this installment, Finance After Auschwitz, Lewitt examines the dangers posed by Iran, whether the market is overvalued, the future of securitization, and what should be done about the private equity industry.
2009-08-11 What the New Normal Means for Asset Allocation by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
Bill Gross of PIMCO forecasts a New Normal - slow economic growth, higher inflation, and increasing correlations among asset classes. If this view is correct, what should investors do? Geoff Considine examines the implications for asset allocation and financial planning by stress-testing some well-known asset allocations to see how well they will serve investors in the forecast environment.
2009-08-04 How to Think about Return and Risk at the Same Time by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
In this guest contribution targeted to the educated layman, Adam Apt discusses the relationship between return and risk. Only when you can keep in mind at one and the same time these two concepts can you properly understand how to invest. And you will also understand why you should invest. Without the marriage of the concepts, you will be playing the market-or shunning it-as if it were a casino.
2009-07-14 Three Steps to a Referral Conversation that Works Today by Dan Richards (Article)
Recommendations initiated by someone looking for an introduction to an advisor doing a good job for a friend have always been an important driver of referrals, but this will be especially true this summer. In some instances, your clients will be asked outright how they feel about the job you've done and if they are comfortable recommending you. Dan Richards provides a three-step plan to make this happen.
2009-07-14 Letter to the Editor: Tobin’s Q Ratio by Various (Article)
We have a letter to the Editor regarding our article last week, The Q Ratio Sends a Modestly Bearish Long-Term Signal, and we publish John Mihaljevic's response.
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 High-Yield Bonds A Potential Opportunity for the Risk Tolerant by Northern Trust Investments (Article)
High-yield bonds have recently offered investors historically high spreads relative to Treasury and investment-grade corporate bonds, presenting attractive current income potential in today's low-rate environment. The current recessionary environment also poses a heightened risk of default, underscoring the importance of security selection and intensive analysis of underlying fundamentals. We thank Northern Trust Investments for this contribution and their sponsorship.
2009-06-09 Bill Gross and the New Normal by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Nearly a half-century of global economic prosperity has ended, and investors must gird themselves for muted returns from the capital markets, according to Bill Gross, a Managing Director at PIMCO. Gross shared his outlook at the Morningstar Investor Conference.
2009-06-09 Jeff Gundlach: The Party is Over by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The easy money has been made in the credit markets, as investors have reaped strong year-to-date returns, topped by 17% in emerging market debt and 30% in high yield bonds. Now the markets are in a much riskier position, said Jeff Gundlach, Chief Investment Officer of the TCW Group, in his quarterly update to investors that he titled "It was Great While it Lasted."
2009-06-02 John Bogle and the Lantern on the Stern by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In his remarks at the Morningstar conference last week, Vanguard founder and index fund pioneer John Bogle criticized many aspects of the mutual fund industry. Bogle, who turned 80 this year, is primed to fight his next battle - reducing investor reliance on past returns - which he likens to a lantern on the stern of a ship.
2009-05-26 Dan Fuss and the Eisenhower Recession Redux by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Those of us old enough to remember Studebakers and the military-industrial complex will recall the Eisenhower Recession, which began in 1957, lasted eight months and was followed by the 10 month "Rolling Adjustment" recession beginning in 1961. The W-shaped path of the US economy during this period is the correct analogy to today's crisis, according to Loomis Sayles and Company's Dan Fuss.