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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-03-10 With Fed in Charge, 5-Year Bull Run Poised to Continue by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policy and gradual improvement in the economy are two big reasons the stock market can keep moving higher, says Kristina Hooper. Will it be reflected in this week’s consumer sentiment and spending data?

2014-03-10 Tech Bubble 2.0? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook in late February put an exclamation point on several high profile takeovers in the technology space in recent months. Sizeable deals such as Google’s $3 billion acquisition of Nest and Facebook’s $3 billion offer for SnapChat have fueled the idea that an indiscriminate buying spree in the technology space a la 1999 could set up financial markets for another valuation bubble.

2014-03-10 How Much Slack Is in the U.S. Economy? The Inflation Jury Should Decide by Jeremie Banet of PIMCO

The unemployment rate may not be a reliable indicator of output slack in the U.S. economy. We’ll know (with a lag) if the economy has reached the end of the cyclical downturn when inflation picks up. The Fed will have to choose between risking a hawkish mistake or being behind the curve, waiting to see inflation actually increase. We expect it will choose the latter.

2014-03-09 The Problem with Keynesianism by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Keynes himself would appreciate the irony that he has become the defunct economist under whose influence the academic and bureaucratic classes now toil, slaves to what has become as much a religious belief system as it is an economic theory. Men and women who display an appropriate amount of skepticism on all manner of other topics indiscriminately funnel a wide assortment of facts and data through the filter of Keynesianism without ever questioning its basic assumptions. And then some of them go on to prescribe government policies that have profound effects upon the citizens of their nations.

2014-03-07 Weather or Not? by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Everyone agrees that the winter just now winding down (hopefully) has been brutal for most Americans. And while it's easy to conclude that the Polar Vortex has been responsible for an excess of school shutdowns and ice related traffic snarls, it's much harder to conclude that the it's responsible for the economic vortex that appears to have swallowed the American economy over the past three months.

2014-03-07 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The fight over Ukraine is an unwelcome source of uncertainty; Hiring in the U.S. improves in February; American businesses have lots of cash to invest.

2014-03-07 Making Green from Gold, Palladium and Pollution by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

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

2014-03-07 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 135.5, up from 131.8 last week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place rose to 1.8 from last week's 1.7.

2014-03-06 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

February ended up being a strong month for stocks despite the growing perception of a slow economic start to the year 2014.

2014-03-06 The Briefest Flight to Safety by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Tensions in Ukraine and tapering speculation seem unlikely to derail rising U.S. equity markets and the positive outlook for U.S. credit.

2014-03-06 The Dollar's Long Term Decline by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

The cleanest of the dirty shirts doesn’t necessarily preserve your purchasing power. Sure, the U.S. dollar has beaten the Russian Ruble and some others of late, but when it comes to real competition, the U.S. dollar has taken a back seat. The U.S. dollar’s long-term decline may be firmly in place and investors may want to buckle up to get ready for the ride.

2014-03-05 What Is the Fed Thinking? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The central bank's decision to taper, despite its earlier caution on the economy, has puzzled many observers. New research from the Fed's own staff may provide some clues to its current mindset.

2014-03-04 The Second Coming by William Gross of PIMCO

Almost permanently affixed on the whiteboard of PIMCO's Investment Committee boardroom is a series of concentric circles, resembling the rings of a giant redwood, although in this case exhibiting an expanding continuum of asset classes with the safest in the center and the riskiest on the outer circles. Safest in the core are Treasury bills and overnight repo, which then turn outwards towards riskier notes and bonds, and then again into credit space with corporate, high yield, commodities and equities amongst others on the extremities.

2014-03-04 A Century of Policy Mistakes by Niels Jensen of Absolute Return Partners

A century ago Argentina ranked as one of the wealthiest countries in world. Today it is a shadow of its former self. A long string of policy errors explain the long slide from riches to rags. Europe, like Argentina 100 years ago, is facing enormous challenges - as well as potential pitfalls - and the management of those challenges will define the welfare path for many years to come. Unfortunately, the early signs are not good. Our political leaders, afraid to face public condemnation, have so far chosen to ignore them.

2014-03-04 What the Jobs Report Will Tell Us-And What It Won't by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Kristina Hooper puts the soon-to-be-released February employment report in context, including what it means for Fed policy, consumer confidence and stocks.

2014-03-01 Wallets Wide Shut by Mohamed El Erian of Project Syndicate

With profitability at or near record levels, cash holdings by the corporate sector in Europe and the US have reached an all-time high - and are earning very little at today’s near-zero interest rates. But, for at least six reasons, firms are not investing in capacity and creating the jobs that these economies need.

2014-02-28 Looking Beyond Politics in Thailand by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Throughout its history, Thailand has been subject to periods of political instability that have at times given cause for concern among investors. In the past few months, investor sentiment has reflected the political uncertainty, putting Thailand in the news.

2014-02-28 Korea's Changing Consumer Patterns by Michael Han of Matthews Asia

Following a recent research trip to Korea, I was able to spend some time there with my family. Three consecutive weeks away afforded me the opportunity to observe changes in spending patterns among Korean consumers as well as the improving competitiveness of the country’s service industries.

2014-02-28 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.8, down from 123.3 last week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place slipped to 1.7 from last week's 2.5 .

2014-02-28 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The sensitivity of emerging markets complicates the Fed’s exit plans; Raising the minimum wage is not the only way to aid low-income workers; Brazil’s economy is faltering as the World Cup approaches.

2014-02-28 Hide and Seek by Herbert Abramson, Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management

Hide and seek. A game investors played as children but should not forget these days. Currently, investors need to hide safely to protect from some unfavourable developments in an environment that could hurt them.

2014-02-28 Bounce Back by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen & Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

US stocks have bounced and the market’s still attractive and in the midst of a secular bull market. But there are likely to be bumps along the way; notably given that this is a midterm election year; which are known for first-half pullbacks. A diversified portfolio is important and both European and Chinese stocks appear to have upside, while Japan continues to frustrate with a two-steps forward, two-steps back sort of approach. And a final reminder not to replace fixed income assets with equities in search of higher income without recognizing the risk profile of a portfolio has changed.

2014-02-26 Is It Time for the Fed to ‘Level’ With Markets? by Richard Clarida of PIMCO

If unemployment continues to diminish and quantitative easing tapers to its expected conclusion, the Federal Reserve will likely feel compelled – if not by consensus, then by markets – to refine the forward guidance that it provides to the public today. With inflation running below 2%, the Fed may consider a price level target, together with more holistic measures of the state of the labor market, as a replacement for the unemployment threshold in offering guidance on the future pace of policy normalization.

2014-02-26 What Columbus Missed: Royce Rediscovers India by David Nadel of The Royce Funds

In 1492, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus set sail to discover India. He missed his mark, however, landing in America instead. The rest, as they say, is history-with the exception that more than 500 years later India is still worthy of discovery for many Western investors.

2014-02-26 Market Perspective by CCR Wealth Management Investment Committee of CCR Wealth Management

It cost $0.32 to mail a letter, unemployment was 4.9%, O.J. Simpson was found liable in a civil suit, Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule, Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to Death, Green Bay defeated the Patriots in the Super Bowl, Titanic came crashing into movie theatres, and Dolly, the first genetically engineered lamb was unveiled to the public; the year was 1997.

2014-02-26 A CAPE Crusader by James Montier of GMO

In a new white paper today, James Montier of GMO's asset allocation team reviews a range of valuation measures to assess current U.S. equity market valuations. He concludes: "We continue to believe that the weight of valuation evidence suggests the S&P 500 is significantly overvalued at its current levels."

2014-02-26 Gaps, Not Growth by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Monetary policy is primarily about "gaps" not growth: the Fed is trying to reduce spare capacity in the economy, not bring about a rapid expansion per se.

2014-02-26 U.S. Housing: Investors Reach for Higher-Hanging Fruit by Joshua Anderson, Emmanuel Sharef, Grover Burthey of PIMCO

PIMCO expects house prices to transition to steady secular growth, with nominal price increases of 5%–10% cumulatively over two years. An environment of reduced volatility and steady gradual growth may result in tightening risk premia and spreads as the market begins to price in this new dynamic. Over the coming years, we will focus on whether the underbuilding of single-family homes is ultimately resolved through housing starts, rental growth or continued price appreciation.

2014-02-25 U.S. Economy: Curb Your Enthusiasm by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Amid optimistic projections of an acceleration in growth, the factors that have restrained GDP remain firmly in place.

2014-02-25 How to Profit from the Yellen Fed by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

Janet Yellen might have the most powerful job in the world, as the Federal Reserve (Fed) she now chairs controls what may be the world’s most powerful printing press. We take a closer look at what her reign might mean for investors’ portfolios.

2014-02-25 Flirting With Deflation by Andrew Bosomworth of PIMCO

Over the medium term, we see downside risks to both growth and inflation in the eurozone, unlike the ECB’s more balanced view. However, even if eurozone inflation sinks close to 1% in 2014–2015, as PIMCO forecasts, this in itself probably would not be low enough for the ECB to consider further easing. A lack of further policy action may undermine the ECB’s credibility to anchor longer-term inflation more closely to 2%.

2014-02-25 Smoother Sailing in Washington? by Libby Cantrill of PIMCO

With the debt ceiling increase out of the way, we should expect many fewer fiscal fights – and less policy uncertainty and potential market disruptions – emanating from Washington in 2014. We also expect Washington to do less harm from an economic growth perspective. We estimate that fiscal drag in 2014 will be about 0.4% of GDP. As we enter an election cycle, we expect Congress will do very little that is constructive for the economy in the year ahead – meaning that tax reform and an immigration overhaul will likely have to wait.

2014-02-24 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

In the four and one-half year market recovery since the "Great Recession" there has been a remarkable transformation in the construction and analysis of corporate earnings. This is something that gives me pause for concern.

2014-02-22 Going for the Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Everyone wants the gold. Around the world, athletes train for years to compete for a gold medal. In Hong Kong and China, the Love Trade seeks gold coins, bars and jewelry.

2014-02-21 Investing in an M&A Boom by James Tierney, Jr. of Alliance Bernstein

Equity markets got off to a rough start in 2014, but a resurgence of corporate dealmaking has given investors reason to cheer. With executives’ confidence increasing, and companies sitting on a mountain of cash, we think that the stage has been set for a sustained recovery of US takeover activity.

2014-02-21 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Retail Sales by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

With yesterday's release of the January Consumer Price Index, we can now calculate Real Retail Sales for the underlying sales data released on February 13th. Nominal Retail Sales had fallen 0.4% month-over-month, the second month of contraction, and are up only 0.3% year-over-year. When we adjust for inflation, January sales were down 0.6% MoM. The YoY change was a fractional 0.1% growth. Real sales are down 0.9% from their all-time high in November.

2014-02-21 Is the U.S. Economy Under the Weather? by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Is the U.S. economy under the weather?; Japan is faltering a bit as year two of Abenomics begins; Bitcoin has generated a lot of attention, some of it unwanted

2014-02-20 Lack Of Slack - Why Aggregate Unemployment May Be Masking Wage And Inflation Pressures by Anthony Wile of J.P. Morgan Funds

A historically large number of long-term unemployed, representing 36% of joblessness, have kept the unemployment rate elevated which could be distorting the traditional tradeoff between inflation and unemployment dynamics.

2014-02-20 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.2, unchanged from last week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place slipped to 2.5 from last week's 3.2 (a downward revision from 3.3).

2014-02-19 US Savings Rate Falling Again - Here Comes \"MyRA\" by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Today we weave together several different topics that are all connected in one way or another. We begin with the US savings rate which is trending lower once again. From 1975 to 2007, the savings rate fell to an all-time low of 2.4%. While it jumped up briefly after the 2008 financial crisis, it is now moving lower yet again.

2014-02-19 The U.S. an Oasis in a Global Sea of Problems by Charlie Dreifus of The Royce Funds

Despite the ongoing political and economic uncertainty in the emerging markets and a slow start for stocks in 2014, Portfolio Manager and Principal Charlie Dreifus believes the U.S. economy is in good shape going forward.

2014-02-18 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

The new thinking amongst market analysts is that one must respond to every news flash, every short-term nuance, any variable that creates a daily ripple in prices or attitude, or risk having your portfolio drift in obscurity and underperformance. The new "keeping up with the Jones’" demands that we stay tuned to business news programming 24/7 to see if we’re conforming to expectations.

2014-02-15 The Economic Singularity by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Today, let’s think about central banks and liquidity traps and see if we agree that central bankers are driving the car from the back seat based upon a fundamentally flawed theory of how the world works. That theory helped produce the wreck that was the Great Recession and will have its fingerprints all over the next one.

2014-02-14 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.2, unchanged from last week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place slipped to 3.3 from last week’s 4.2. Last weekend, ECRI posted a new publicly available commentary on the company’s website: Failure to Launch. The brief text concludes with this remark: It is now quite clear that the economy is decelerating, not accelerating, with growth in ECRI’s Weekly Coincident Index ... falling rapidly.

2014-02-14 Arresting Disinflation Will Require Taking up the Slack by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Arresting disinflation will require taking up the slack. Estimates of the U.S. output gap remain substantial. The U.S. achieves budget peace but still faces long-term fiscal challenges.

2014-02-14 Weather Related? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen & Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

The recent slowdown in economic data appears to be largely weather related and we believe decent growth will reassert itself. Stocks have bounced after a weak start to the year, but the threat of a further pullback remains, although our longer-term optimism has not been dented. Likewise, we believe Europe offers some attractive investment opportunities but we’re in a wait-and-see mode with Japan. Finally, we don’t see EM turmoil becoming overly contagious, but we are watching that situation closely.

2014-02-13 Rich Man, Poor Man! by Jeff Saut of Raymond James

Last week was a pretty wild week starting out with Monday’s 90% Downside Day where 90% of total Up/Down Volume, and total Up/Down Points traded, were recorded on the downside (read: negative), leaving the S&P 500 (SPX/1797.02) down ~41 points. It was the second 90% Downside Day in the past two weeks with the first occurring on January 24th, which broke the SPX below its first support zone of 1808 – 1813, thus now that level becomes an overhead resistance level.

2014-02-13 A Centennial to Celebrate - The Federal Reserve Looks Forward to Its Next 100 Years by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The Fed’s centennial arrives at an interesting juncture. Never in its history has the American central bank been so deeply involved in economic management, and rarely has it attracted such controversy. The recent transition in Fed leadership marks the end of a significant era. In some ways, this makes it a perfect time to contemplate what the Fed was, what it has become and what it should be during its second century. The results of this review will be valuable to central banks the world over.

2014-02-12 Was the labor report positive, or negative, anyone? by Chris Maxey and Ryan Davis  of Fortigent

Stocks were modestly positive last week following three straight weeks of negative performance. Markets crawled back following an ugly Monday in which the S&P 500 suffered its worst loss in more than seven months. For the week, the S&P rose 0.9% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.7%.

2014-02-12 Grey Owl Capital’s Third Quarter Letter by of Grey Owl Capital Management

2013 was a banner year for the US stock market. Despite equities’ meager fourteen-year record of accomplishment, investors, broadly speaking, are limited to short-term memory. Last year’s performance was enough to generate significant enthusiasm for stocks. We continue to believe, the current environment warrants a more balanced approach.

2014-02-12 Why Quantitative Easing Didn’t Work by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

IN THIS ISSUE: 1. Why Fed’s Quantitative Easing (QE) Didn’t Work 2. Velocity of Money Plunged During Financial Crisis 3. Should Bernanke & Company Have Done More? 4. QE Was a Huge, Dangerous Experiment That Failed 5. Fed Begins to “Taper” QE Purchases in January 6. Conclusions – What Happens Next?

2014-02-12 Coasting? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

This year in the stock market I feel that most investors (and commentators) are focusing on walking the daily, hourly and, perhaps, even second to second ups and downs of the major market indexes. They’re measuring their progress each day, like using the foot-long ruler to measure a coastline. As with most things in life, with the stock market it is often better to get a broader perspective – see the forest not just the trees. When you do that, it’s apparent that last week was a probable turning point, or at least a notable one.

2014-02-11 Triple Witching Hour Proves Benign by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Markets yawned their way past two big reports and one key deadline last week, but investors are still fleeing stock funds overall. It’s a strange brew that signals continued volatility ahead, says US Investment Strategist Kristina Hooper.

2014-02-11 Obama Spins Subsidies Both Ways by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

In our current age of spin and counter-spin, there is no contortion too great for a politician to attempt. On occasion, however, the threads of one story become entangled with another in a manner that should deeply embarrass, if the media were sharp enough to catch it. This happened last week in response to the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) bombshell report on how Obamacare incentives could reduce the size of the labor force by more than two million workers by 2017.

2014-02-11 Obama Spins Subsidies Both Ways by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

In our current age of spin and counter-spin, there is no contortion too great for a politician to attempt. On occasion, however, the threads of one story become entangled with another in a manner that should deeply embarrass, if the media were sharp enough to catch it. This happened last week in response to the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) bombshell report on how Obamacare incentives could reduce the size of the labor force by more than two million workers by 2017.

2014-02-10 Emerging Markets Equity Commentary - December 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Emerging market equity prices saw a modest correction for the second successive month in December, as investors remained cautious about the outlook for some of the emerging economies. Select countries such as Thailand in Asia and Turkey in Europe continue to face difficult political environments, with large demonstrations against the governments. Their currencies have reacted negatively to the latest developments, making investors fearful of a repeat of the volatile market movements seen during the third quarter of 2013.

2014-02-10 Double Trouble by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

On the basis of a broad range of valuation measures that are tightly (nearly 90%) correlated with actual subsequent S&P 500 total returns over the following decade, we estimate that stock prices are about double the level that would generate historically adequate long-term returns.

2014-02-10 Growth and Policy Uncertainty Cause Choppy Markets by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities closed with modest gains last week, as the S&P 500 overcame Monday’s decline, the largest one-day percentage loss since June 2013. The weaker-than-expected ISM manufacturing and vehicle sales data drive the sell-off on Monday, exacerbating the focus on slowing momentum for the U.S. recovery. The impact of adverse weather complicates the picture. Also, although January non-farm payroll missed expectations, there were more upbeat indications for the household survey.

2014-02-10 Market Outlook by Scotty C. George of Alexander Capital

Despite the inverted gyrations of the stock market during the past three weeks, my market overview continues to be moderately bullish, of course with specific reservations about investors’ unbridled carryover of unrealistic expectations borne out of last year’s performance.

2014-02-10 Volatility Should Persist, But Stick With Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iSharesBlog

Volatility rose last week and is now close to its long-term average. Economic data has softened, but we do not believe the Federal Reserve will change course. Investors may want to consider adding to equity positions during periods of weakness

2014-02-09 A Most Dangerous Era by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we were confronted with a rather troubling appendix in the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the Affordable Care Act, which suggests that the act will have a rather profound impact on employment patterns.

2014-02-07 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Long-term unemployment needs to be addressed more intensively. January’s jobs data was very much a mixed bag. Janet Yellen’s testimony will include thoughts on joblessness.

2014-02-07 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.2, down from last week’s downward revision from 133.7. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place slipped to 4.2 from last week’s 4.3.

2014-02-07 Emerging Europe: Regional Economic Review - 4Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

The club of emerging European economies expanded, as Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) moved Greece from developed to the status of an emerging economy. The majority of the countries covered in this review, including the new entrant, had something to look up to in the New Year.

2014-02-07 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

How do you follow up some 30%-ish annual index gains in 2013...with major losses in January? Sadly, that’s what investors experienced as the Dow plunged over 5% to start the month, the worst January since 2009. Those who say "as January goes, so goes the market" are not among the most popular these days. Earnings have been lackluster at best; emerging markets are in panic mode; Bernanke is moving out to pasture; investors still have quite a few profits they can take from last year. Then again, 11 months is plenty of time to "right the ship."

2014-02-07 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Fears over emerging markets, a tightening Federal Reserve Board and a loss in momentum in the economy have combined to create a sloppy market for stocks, while the bond market continues to confound the pundits and enjoy a solid start to the New Year.

2014-02-07 Global Inflation: A Mixed Picture by Monty Guild of Guild Investment Management

Many investors and global macro economists have been on vigil for a ramp up in global inflation spurred by immense central bank QE and other forms monetary stimulus. All of the money printing from around the globe has helped keep the financial system functioning, and it continues to help weak developed economies get back on firmer growth footing.

2014-02-07 2013 Year-End Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory

We find ourselves with a more sanguine big-picture view, at least over the nearer term, than we have had in some time. U.S. and global economic fundamentals gradually improved over the past year across a number of dimensions, and seem poised for continued improvement or at least stability in 2014. However, as we look ahead, the longer-term risks related to excessive global debt, subpar growth, and unprecedented government policy that we have worried about since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis still remain largely unresolved.

2014-02-06 Divesting When Discomfited by Ben Inker of GMO

Ben Inker explains why, "for our asset allocation portfolios we generally try to trade slowly." He notes, "The slightly odd fact is that moving slowly on value-driven decisions has simply made more money historically than moving immediately would have."

2014-02-06 Year-End Odds and Ends by Jeremy Grantham of GMO

In a new quarterly letter to GMO’s institutional clients, chief investment strategist Jeremy Grantham offers "Year-End Odds and Ends": Fossil Fuels: Is Tesla a Tease or a Triumph?, Fracking and Yet More Technical Stuff on Fracking, Update on Metals, Fertilizers, and Food, Problems in Forecasting Short-term Prices for Resources, Another Look at U.S. GDP Growth, Investment Lessons Learned: Mistakes Made Over 47 Years

2014-02-06 Emerging Market Woes abd Fed Tapering Equals Stocks Plunge by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

January saw US stocks record their first losing month since last August. After reaching new record highs at the end of December, the Dow Jones shed almost 1,000 points in the last half of the month and the decline continues. Analysts attributed the sell-off in large part due to troubling news from several emerging nations, in particular to the so-called "Fragile Five" - Turkey, India, Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa.

2014-02-06 Beyond the Mall: Why Consumers Matter by Ted Baszler of Heartland Advisors

The bottom line is, more people are working now than were a few years ago, pumping income into the economy. At the same time that employment and real wages have been staging a moderate comeback, the housing market has continued to hold firm, and equity markets have posted impressive returns. Record-high levels of personal net worth have prompted more discretionary spending. Periods of greater spending also are associated with higher levels of equity ownership, which can push P/Es higher.

2014-02-05 The Fed\'s Forced Feeding Will End Badly by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

This financial market reminds me of when we were kids sitting at the dinner table and the one thing almost all of us heard back in the 1970s was "that plate better be clean by the time I get back or else." This left us with images of torture that would follow the "or else."

2014-02-05 Chicago Housing Outlook an A Plus after Falling 91% by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting

Watch out for a housing renaissance in the Chicago metro area. The region massively overcorrected in this last downturn and just recently joined the recovery. New home revenue fell 91% from 2005 to 2010, and most private builders went out of business.

2014-02-05 New Maestro, Seasoned Band by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

The process by which the Fed carries out its duties is institutionalized, firmly rooted and unlikely to change - no matter who is at the helm. The core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index will be one of Janet Yellen’s most important guiding lights for future Fed policy.

2014-02-05 Emerald Economic Commentary by Team of Emerald Allocation Strategies

As Yogi Berra once said, "You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there." As we look back on 2013 and look ahead to 2014,we want to share our thoughts on the road traveled and more importantly, the possible road ahead.

2014-02-04 Investors Should Focus on Wages, Not Jobs by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

This Friday investors receive the first official labor market report of 2014. Following a highly disappointing jobs figure in December, many market participants hope to see a rebound - particularly one that will help justify the Fed’s decision last week to continue tapering its asset purchases.

2014-02-03 10 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back! Comments on January Stock Market by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

US stocks as measured by the S&P 500 delivered a phenomenal 32.4% return in 2013. That was the 6th best year for US stocks since 1940. In January, US stocks fell 3.5%. We don’t watch business news anymore, but judging from an increased volume of phone calls from clients, we presume that CNBC, Fox Business, CNN and MSNBC have categorized this modest decline as "an apocalypse." Our "dashboard" shows return numbers for US and International stock markets, commodities, currencies and bond yields. A lot of red YTD 2014, but all green at the end of 2013.

2014-02-03 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

Despite the inverted gyrations of the stock market during the past three weeks, my market overview continues to be moderately bullish, of course with specific reservations about investors’ unbridled carryover of unrealistic expectations borne out of last year’s performance.

2014-01-31 Thrift, Thrift, Burning Bright by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms of ING Investment Management

Does the title sound familiar? Think feral instead of frugal, and William Blake’s "Tyger, Tyger, burning bright" may start to flicker between the synapses of memory and an English lit class you once soldiered through. But even if you haven’t read "The Tyger", its theme is aptly captured in the opening line and its image of a big flaming kitty cat. Essentially, Blake saw reality in duality: To appreciate the ferocious feline in all its glory is to come face to face with the same force that created "The Lamb", another entry in the poet’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience.

2014-01-31 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.8, unchanged at one decimal place from last week’s downward revision from 133.9. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place rose to 4.3, up from last week’s 4.2.

2014-01-31 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Personal Income Less Transfer Payments by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The December month-over-month Real Personal Income less Transfer Payments came in at a disappointing -0.21% (-0.2% rounded to one decimal). The year-over-year change is -2.47% (rounded to -2.5%). However, the YoY metric is radically skewed by the December 2012 end-of-year tax-planning strategy whereby income was captured in 2012 to avoided expected tax increases.

2014-01-31 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

China’s shadow banking products are coming under the spotlight. Emerging markets: Be sure to differentiate. The fixed income sector’s surprising strength.

2014-01-31 Value-Hunting in the US by Cindy Sweeting of Franklin Templeton

With key stock indices in the US closing the year near historical highs and many pundits predicting stronger growth rates both in the US and globally going into 2014, one would think bargains would be hard to find this year. January’s volatility, however, proved just how unpredictable markets can be. The recent market gyrations may be somewhat painful for many investors in the short-term, but the silver lining is that corrections can serve up buying opportunities, particularly for long-term, value-oriented investors.

2014-01-31 The New Watchword-Deflation? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Equity markets have been shaky to start the year but we don’t believe it’s time to abandon ship. The fundamentals in the United States continue to look appealing and the recent pullback has helped to correct some sentiment and valuation concerns. We are watching the fight against deflation carefully in Europe and Japan, and believe both countries may need to do more via monetary policy stimulus. Meanwhile, some emerging economies are dealing with inflation, but we don’t believe the recent problems will morph into a widespread crisis at this point.

2014-01-30 Quarterly Review and Outlook - Fourth Quarter 2013 by Van Hoisington, Lacy Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

In The Theory of Interest, Irving Fisher, who Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman called America’s greatest economist, created the Fisher equation, which states the nominal bond yield is equal to the real yield plus expected inflation. It serves as the pillar of macroeconomics and as the foundational relationship of the bond market. It has been reconfirmed many times by scholarly examination and by the sheer force of historical experience. Examining periods of both low and high inflation offers insight into how each variable in the Fisher equation affects the outcome.

2014-01-30 FOMC Sticks With the Tapering Plan by Team of Northern Trust

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) at the conclusion of its meeting today announced a further $10 billion reduction in its monthly rate of asset purchases. The increment was similar in size and composition to the first tapering step taken in December.

2014-01-30 The Equity \"Game\" by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

We have seen the cracks begin to emerge in the equity story over the past week. Earnings are beginning to come in and so far have been a disappointment. The retail sector is showing signs that Q4 was weaker than originally expected, with store cuts announced by, Sears, J.C. Penney, and Macy’s and job cuts at Target. Emerging markets have been roiled this week, with Argentina shifting policy, likely devaluing their currency, and other currencies plunging.

2014-01-29 All Things in Moderation, Including Housing by Ed Devlin of PIMCO

In our view, the cooling housing market and other domestic factors will keep Canadian growth at a modest 1.75%-2.25% in 2014, despite a boost from higher U.S. growth. While we expect a correction in Canada’s housing market to begin this year, the macroeconomic environment and the availability of mortgage credit suggest a housing crash is unlikely. In this environment, we think the Canadian dollar should remain attractive, 10-year bonds should offer the potential for gains, and provincial bonds will likely outperform federal government and corporate bonds.

2014-01-29 The Future in Focus: Trade Could Aid an Aging America by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Goods and services sourced from overseas could help the United States alleviate the effects of future labor shortages - if lawmakers can resist protectionist impulses.

2014-01-29 Middle East/Africa: Regional Economic Review - 4Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) anticipates weak growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region mainly due to heightened political instability. What’s more, after years of healthy performance, growth in the oil exporting nations is expected to lose pace due to lower international demand and local oil supply disruptions. Given that these countries are witnessing a population boom, the IMF emphasized the need for economic diversification by the oil exporters and job creation in private non-oil sectors.

2014-01-28 Emerging Market Issues Weigh on U.S. Equities by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished lower last week as the S&P 500 declined 2.6% and suffered the largest weekly pullback since June of 2012. U.S. stocks are down approximately 3.0% both year to date and from all-time highs. In 2014, lack of direction in the market has been a focus, and the waning influence of macroeconomic news caused a notable shift late last week.

2014-01-28 Surviving Austerity by Andrew Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

With the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index having posted a 30% gain, it’s easy to assume that U.S. stocks easily led the world in 2013. (There is more on what is behind this rally in the latest version of the Euro Pacific Capital Newsletter). But as it turns out, the stimulus-loving U.S. markets had plenty of company. Surprisingly, this includes countries supposedly saddled by the scourge of austerity.

2014-01-27 Broadleaf\'s 2014 Investment Playbook by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover, Mike Czekaj of Broadleaf Partners

Most sell side firms publish their outlook for the economy and stock market at the end of December and in early January. As a buy side firm, we really aren’t under any expectation to share our outlook for the coming year and, as funny as it might sound, some of our clients don’t even care to know what we think, only that we handle what they hired us to do, which is to outperform the market indices over a full market cycle and help them attain their financial goals over time.

2014-01-27 Increasing Concerns and Systemic Instability by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The potential collapse of a now-complete log-periodic bubble is best considered something of a physics experiment, and it’s not what drives our investment stance. Still, the backdrop of steep overvaluation, extreme bullish sentiment, record margin debt, and international dislocations could hardly provide a more fitting context for a disruptive completion to the present market cycle.

2014-01-27 America\'s False Dawn by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

Financial markets and the so-called Davos consensus are in broad agreement that something close to a classic cyclical revival in the US economy may finally be at hand. But, while the celebration may seem warranted at first glance, the champagne should be kept on ice.

2014-01-25 Five Things To Ponder: Valuations, Triggers & Inequality by Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live

I was thinking about valuations, profits and what could cause a real correction in the markets. That is the premise behind today’s "Things To Ponder" for your weekend homework.

2014-01-25 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

So while the Fed was the first to implement nontraditional monetary strategies, the BoE may be the first to unwind them. And it may be the first to test the power of macroprudential policy. The results might make for an interesting export back across the Atlantic.

2014-01-25 Wealth Services at Banks Come Under Central Bank\'s Scanner by Rajat Dhar of Cogent Advisory

RBI, the central bank of India, made critical observations of way in which wealth services were being practised at banks. Also, the clear note was made with respect to the rising cases of misselling at banks. This market commentary covers the draft guidelines issued by RBi and tries to uncover the reason for the same and the way forward for the clients. This has been the first time ever that separate guidelines have come for banks and independent financial advisors or advisory firms in India; and this article covers the wealth services being offered by banks in India.

2014-01-25 Forecast 2014: The CAPEs of Hope by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

As we will see in the pages ahead, buy-and-hold investors are clearly sailing in dangerous waters, where the strong, cold current of deleveraging converges with the warm, fast rush of quantitative easing. Not only does this clash of forces create the potential for epic storms and fateful accidents, it dramatically increases the chances for sudden loss as rogue waves crash unwary investment vehicles against the underwater demographic reef!

2014-01-24 The Policy View From Washington by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Lawmakers put the finishing touches on the budget bill, which will remove most of the fiscal policy uncertainty for the next two years. That’s helpful for the economy and the financial markets, although the debt ceiling remains a possible trouble spot. Federal Reserve officials seem intent on continuing the tapering of asset purchases, but economic and financial market developments will dictate the pace.

2014-01-24 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.9, down from last week’s 134.3. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place rose to 4.2, up from last week’s 3.5.

2014-01-23 Economic Growth is Likely to Improve in 2014 by Derek Hamilton of Ivy Funds Investment Management

We believe a global economic upturn is likely in 2014, although the overall growth rate will remain sluggish. We think developed countries will show the largest improvement, which in turn will help support growth rates in emerging markets.

2014-01-23 Can Equities Continue Their Rise? Equity Investment Outlook: January 2014 by Matt Berler, John Osterweis of Osterweis Capital Management

2013 marked the fifth year of recovery following the near-death experience of the 2008 global financial system meltdown. From a low of 677 in 2009, the S&P 500 Index (S&P 500) finished 2013 at 1,848, delivering a stunning 203% total return from the low. Over the same period, the total return for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 188%. The tech-heavy and arguably more speculative NASDAQ logged a 249% total return. These very large equity returns reflect both a strong recovery in corporate profits and a dramatic clean-up of our financial system.

2014-01-23 A Problem with the Numbers - Unemployment and the Fed\'s Timetable by Anthony Wile of J.P. Morgan Funds

Given a potentially inaccurate assessment of labor force participation, the Federal Reserve may be missing the mark on their current economic projections, which increases the potential for policy error going forward. Assuming the natural rate of unemployment is at the low end of Fed projections, the Fed can lower forward guidance thresholds without spurring an acceleration in inflation.

2014-01-22 Crosscurrents Buffet Markets by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equity performance was mixed last week, as the S&P 500 recovered from Monday’s sell-off that was the largest one-day decline since early November. Economic data was mostly in line or slightly better than expected, following the disappointing December unemployment report. Corporate earnings drove much of the price action. Bank earnings were fairly well received but did not always translate to good performance since the stocks ran up earlier. Negative guidance trends remain an overhang, particularly for retail.

2014-01-22 4 Simple Truths About US Consumers by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The December employment report called into question the momentum of the jobs recovery, which has clear implications for consumers. While further clarity on jobs is needed, here are some key observations that help frame the consumer-sentiment discussion.

2014-01-22 What to Expect in 2014 (And Beyond) by Jack Rivkin of Altegris

Each year, I take Alfred Lord Tennyson’s advice and "ring out the old, ring in the new" by creating a list of expectations about the markets. My list involves events that the average investor thinks have only a one-in-three-chance of happening, but which I believe have more than a 50% chance of occurring. If this approach sounds familiar, it should. It’s modeled after Byron Wien’s annual list of "surprises." Like his, my expectations are designed to provoke thought and discussion.

2014-01-21 Superstition Ain\'t the Way by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer.

2014-01-21 Weighing the Week Ahead: More \"Experts\" Predicting a Market Top by Jeff Miller of New Arc Investments

Most potential stock investors have been bruised by events over the last decade. They are receptive to a message of fear, and many pundits are happy to satisfy their urges. Calling for a major market turn can be very profitable for the pundit. This is true even if the prediction is very early and the pundit never signals when to shift back.

2014-01-21 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

With a few more days to digest the labor data, investors began the week on another sour note, but a sense of normalcy returned on some other better-than-expected releases. Still, the Fed’s stimulus remains atop the headlines as speculation runs amuck about how the tapering will play out. Earnings season pushes ahead and, thus far, the results are lackluster at best. Don’t forget, as January goes...

2014-01-18 Dialing Down the Drama by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

We remain optimistic on stocks for 2014, but there will likely be bumps in the road. Investor sentiment is elevated, complacency seems to be building, and the valuation story is less compelling. But waiting for a correction can be quite detrimental to portfolio performance, evidenced by last year. QE tapering will likely continue at a very modest pace and U.S. interest rates will likely drift higher throughout the year. We remain positive on Europe and our outlook toward China is improving, while we are in at wait-and-see sort of mode with Japan.

2014-01-18 Forecast 2014: \'Mark Twain!\' by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The surface of the market waters looks smooth, but the data above suggest caution as we proceed. Perhaps slowing the engine and taking more frequent soundings (or putting in closer stops!) might be in order. The cry should be "Mark twain!" Let’s steam ahead but take more frequent readings and know that a course correction may soon be necessary.

2014-01-17 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Retail Sales and Industrial Production by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

With yesterday’s release of December’s CPI, we can now calculate Real Retail Sales for December. Month-over-month real sales came in at -0.07% (-0.1% rounded to one decimal). This indicator is now fractionally off its all-time high set the previous month. Although real December sales were a bit disappointing, this indicator rose 3.57% year-over-year, and it was positive for nine of the 12 months.

2014-01-17 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 134.5, up from last week’s 133.4 (an upward revision from 133.0). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place rose to 3.7, up from last week’s 2.5.

2014-01-17 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The U.S. budget deal reduces policy uncertainty. The fiscal state of the states is better, but challenges remain. Meeting the new cast at the Fed.

2014-01-16 A Flight to Quality by Ben Fischer of Allianz Global Investors

CIO NFJ Ben Fischer delivers his 2014 outlook, focusing on the Fed’s tapering of its bond-buying program and how high-quality, dividend-paying stocks should respond.

2014-01-16 Let the taper begin! Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

At the December meeting, the Federal Reserve (the Fed) decided to reduce its purchases of Treasury and mortgage securities (a.k.a. quantitative easing/QE) beginning in January 2014. This answered the question of when the taper would begin, and the markets reacted predictably. Two questions remain, however: How long until the Fed completely winds down QE; and when will short rates begin to reflect the improving economy? We feel it may be sooner on the former and could be quite some time on the latter.

2014-01-16 2014: Once more for \'84 by Team of Smead Capital Management

Since our thinking is always dominated by owning businesses which meet our eight investment criteria in a long-duration time frame, we continue to remain vigilant of the circumstances around us. To that end, we thought it would be helpful to review a similar historical situation and glean a feel for what was wise behavior back then and what might be wise behavior as we look forward to the year 2014.

2014-01-16 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Last year ended very well for us! The New Year has started slowly both because of the weather and because of the middle of the week timing of the holidays. Last Friday’s employment report for December was the 1st real piece of economic data which the financial markets could sink their teeth into, and the results have most people (not us) confused.

2014-01-16 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

In late December just before Christmas, the Postal Regulatory Commission delivered an unwanted present in the form of a "temporary" three cent rate hike for first class mail effective January 26th. It seems that the Post Office decided it lost $2.8 billion as a result of the Great Recession and convinced the Commission that it needed to make this loss go away. Well, in reality, the Post Office asked for a permanent hike, but was only given the opportunity to make up the loss and then have the rate go back down. We shall see.

2014-01-16 A Disappointing Jobs Report: 3 Investing Takeaways by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Last Friday’s non-farm payroll report was a huge disappointment. Russ explains what this means for investors.

2014-01-15 Fed Tapering -- Shades of 1937? by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

In the press conference immediately following the December 17-18, 2013 FOMC meeting, Fed Chairman Bernanke indicated that it was the FOMC’s current plan to have terminated Federal Reserve outright securities purchases by the end of 2014, commencing with a $10 billion reduction in securities purchases immediately after the December 2013 FOMC meeting and then continuing to taper its purchases by about $10 billion after each 2014 FOMC meeting. Of course, this tapering plan is subject to modification in either direction depending on forthcoming economic and financial market developments.

2014-01-15 The Employment Picture: Clear As Mud by Scott Brown of Raymond James

On balance, most of the economic reports in recent weeks have been consistent with a moderate increase in momentum heading into 2014. However, the December Employment Report showed a surprisingly soft gain in nonfarm payrolls. Is this a sign of another false dawn in the recovery?

2014-01-15 The January Barometer by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

It’s that time of year again when the media is abuzz with that old stock market saying, "so goes the first week of the new year, so goes the month and so goes the year." Admittedly the January Barometer has a pretty good track record.

2014-01-14 Fed Taking a More Holistic View of Data by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Recently released FOMC minutes and jobs numbers show why the Fed wants to add a qualitative dimension to its forward guidance, writes Kristina Hooper: The unemployment rate can fall significantly, but it may be for the wrong reasons.

2014-01-14 The Diversification Obituary by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

According to some major media outlets, 2013 was the year diversification died. With the S&P 500 racing to a more than 30% gain (the largest since the late ’90s), it seemed as though no other asset class truly mattered last year. While it is true domestic equities had a banner year, one-asset class portfolios will never be robust, and there is reason to believe 2013 is a prime example of why diversification is incredibly important.

2014-01-14 Income Market Insight by Payson Swaffield of Eaton Vance

In 2013, the markets got their first taste of what I referred to in my last report as the post-post-crisis era. It was a year in which talk of "tapering" dominated the financial headlines - a reference to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s plans to scale back its purchases of long-term bonds, as a first step toward reducing its accommodative monetary policy.

2014-01-14 Merk 2014 Dollar, Currency & Gold Outlook by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

Rarely has the future been so clear. Really?? A lot of money has been lost jumping on the bandwagon. Let’s do a common sense check on the greenback to gauge where risks might be lurking and where there might be profit opportunities for investors.

2014-01-14 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

The stock market’s valuation expansion has left a bittersweet taste in the mouths of some who believe that this historic sequence of "new highs" is simply smoke and mirrors and accelerated expectations. Indeed, while the wealth effect is improving the lot of many, it is also exacerbating the gap between "reality" and "perceived-reality".

2014-01-13 Hovering With an Anvil by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

In my view, the stock market is hovering in what has a good chance of being seen in hindsight as the complacent lull before a period of steep losses. Meanwhile, we would require a certain amount of deterioration in stock prices, credit spreads, and employment growth to amplify our economic concerns, but even here we can say that there is little evidence of economic acceleration. Broad economic activity continues to hover at levels that have historically delineated the border of expansions and recessions.

2014-01-13 Weighing the Week Ahead: Can Earnings Growth Propel Stocks Higher? by Jeff Miller of New Arc Investments

If you could know one thing about stocks in the coming year, it would be what to expect from corporate earnings. The Q4 2013 reports will provide a preview, with attention starting this week.

2014-01-13 Demographic Trends in the 50-and-Older Work Force by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

In my earlier update on demographic trends in employment, I included a chart illustrating the growth (or shrinkage) in six age cohorts since the turn of the century. In this commentary we’ll zoom in on the age 50 and older Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR).

2014-01-13 Stocks Rise Modestly in First Full Week of Trading by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished mostly higher for the first full week of the year, with the S&P 500 gaining approximately 0.6%. There were no meaningful directional drivers behind the price action, which is a dynamic that has been prevalent so far in 2014.

2014-01-10 Automation and Lean Manufacturing: Boost Profits, Squeeze Employment by Tyler Howard of Saturna Capital

Despite industrial production reaching all-time highs in August of this year, employment in the manufacturing sector remains substantially below levels witnessed before the 2008-2009 recession. When looking at longer term employment trends in manufacturing, it becomes clear that companies increasingly boost production without adding incremental labor. Profit margins, while not yet recovered to pre-recession peaks, endure at historically high levels. Several long-term changes in the manufacturing economy contribute to this divergence: outsourcing, automation, and lean manufacturing.

2014-01-10 High Yield and Bank Loan Outlook- January 2014 by Team of Guggenheim Partners

Improving U.S. macroeconomic conditions should spur additional investor demand for high-yield bonds and bank loans, particularly with defaults exceptionally low. Still, investors should monitor trends pointing to an erosion of safety in leveraged credit.

2014-01-10 2014 Economic and Investment Outlook by Team of Ivy Funds Investment Management

Although the December 2013 U.S. budget pact between House and Senate negotiators was a welcome development, partisan battles over government spending still are possible in 2014. The agreement ends a three-year budget fight and sets government spending through fall 2015, but it does not eliminate the need to raise the nation’s borrowing limit - the "debt ceiling."

2014-01-10 Macro Strategy Review by Jim Welsh of Forward Investing

Heavy emphasis on the fundamentals factors driving the U.S., European Union, China, and Emerging economies, and how the fundamentals are likely to impact markets.

2014-01-10 Yellen\'s Inheritance: Monetary Policy in Flux by Joseph Carson, Darren Williams of AllianceBernstein

Evolving economic challenges are transforming central banking around the world. The new monetary-policy doctrine is likely to put greater emphasis on asset-price developments. But, without a true monetary anchor, central banks could still risk a repeat of the recent boom/bust cycle.

2014-01-10 Exploring Ceylon Tea Country by Jodi Morris of Matthews Asia

Riding by train through the Sri Lankan highlands recently, I found it difficult not to be mesmerized by the views of mountains blanketed in tea plantings and cool mist. My days spent exploring Sri Lanka’s mountainous interior were among my favorite as a first-time visitor to the country.

2014-01-10 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.0, up from last week’s 133.0. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place came in at 2.5, up from last week’s 1.9.

2014-01-10 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Today\'s Strange Nonfarm Payrolls in Context by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The January Employment Report gives us a look at the December Nonfarm Employment along with extensive revisions back to January 2009. The big stunner today was the meager 74K new jobs in December against expectations of around 196K. This sucker punch from the Establishment Data was accompanied by the equally stunning news that the unemployment rate declined from 7.0-6.7%. The two numbers, of course, are from two completely different surveys - the jobs number from the Establishment Survey of business and government and the unemployment rate from the Household Survey of the general population.

2014-01-10 Weekly Economic Commentary: December U.S. Employment Report by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

December U.S. employment report clouded by weather-related factors. A review of the two U.S. employment surveys. The ECB reaches a critical stage.

2014-01-10 Continuing a Winning Formula for 2014 by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

We believe there’s a way that increases the odds of winning. It’s by combining a bottom-up approach with a top-down strategy: Find great, fast-growing and shareholder-focused companies and focus on the best stocks in the sectors experiencing positive momentum.

2014-01-09 The U.S. Begins an (Un)employment Experiment by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Extended unemployment benefits stopped for 1.3 million people at year-end. This doesn’t change their employment status...they just stop getting unemployment compensation. Extended benefits (of up to 99 weeks) was part of the recession-fighting fiscal stimulus package. A question was: did this create a dis-incentive to find a job (aka "funemployment").

2014-01-09 Seesaw Rider by William Gross of PIMCO

There’s 50 ways to leave your lover and maybe more than that to lose your money or "break the buck," as some label it in the money markets. You can buy the Brooklyn Bridge, bet on the Cubs to win the World Series or have owned 30 year Treasury bonds in 2013, to name just a few. But bridges and baseball aside, what you’re probably interested in hearing from me is how to avoid breaking your investment buck in 2014.

2014-01-09 The Price Action of Stocks Trumps Fundamentals by Robert Mark of Castle Investment Management

Perhaps the best argument that one can make for stocks is that many hold doubts about the continuing bull market. The reasons for these doubts are understandable, as the economic recovery has been anemic and growth has slowed significantly - likely leading to lower profits in the future. As a result, corporations have aggressively cut costs, increased productivity and preserved cash - pushing profit margins to historically high levels.

2014-01-08 Consumer Confidence Jumped in December, But Why? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Today we’ll look at several economic reports, including a big jump in consumer confidence last month. That seems a little odd given that over 63% of Americans still believe the country is headed in the wrong direction as I reported last week.

2014-01-08 Ready For Lift-Off? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

While some had expected a quick recovery from the recession, that was never likely to be the case. Recessions that are caused by financial crises are different from the usual downturns - they are more severe, they last longer, and the recoveries take a long time. The economy has been in recovery mode for the last four and a half years, but finally appears to be poised for an acceleration in 2014.

2014-01-07 Where are Margins Headed? by Mark Oelschlager of Oak Associates

The fourth quarter was another good one for stocks, with the S&P 500 returning 10.5%, and 32.4% for the year. This was the best calendar-year performance by the index since 1997. All four quarters of 2013 produced positive returns, with the first and fourth quarters, typically the strongest seasonally, both hitting double-digits. For the year Consumer Discretionary and Healthcare were the standout sectors, while Utilities and Telecom lagged. The laggards are not surprising, as they are income-oriented - an area of the market that was hurt by the backup in bond yields.

2014-01-07 More Jobs to Turn Up the Taper Dial - But Not Yet by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The job market is a focal point for the Fed and early signs point toward further progress in reducing unemployment. But don’t expect central bankers to speed up the tapering process until there’s more evidence of a turnaround, writes Kristina Hooper.

2014-01-07 A Healing Economy by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

The quarter continued the theme of the year, with U.S. equities continuing their dramatic performance. For the quarter, the Dow was up 9.6%, the S&P 9.9%, and the NASDAQ 10.7%. The year’s returns substantially exceeded last year"s "expert predictions" and much of this year’s punditry with the Dow up 26.5%, S&P up 29.6%, and NASDAQ up 38.3%.

2014-01-07 Is 2014 the Year That Alternatives Matter Again? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, investors piled into alternative investments en masse to help insulate their portfolios from another dramatic market decline. For those who had not yet bought into the idea of improving portfolio risk-adjusted returns, the 50% drawdown in the S&P 500 provided all the convincing needed.

2014-01-07 Turn the Page: Outlook for Economy/Stocks in 2014 by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

In this comprehensive (read: long...sorry!) 2014 outlook report, we assess the likelihood a correction is in the offing given the strong gains since 2009.

2014-01-06 Confidence Abounds by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

It’s the very nature of a peak that it can’t be produced except by unusual optimism.

2014-01-06 Reflections on 2013: What\'s Important, What\'s Not, and What\'s Ahead by Mike Shedlock of Sitka Pacific Capital Management

A tale of 2 halves with lingering questions characterizes what we can say was the story for housing for 2013. In the first half of the year, rates were low as the 10 year note was well under 2%. People were still refinancing, as home prices rocketed. Multiple bids were common, and pundits like Ivy Zelman cheered the improving market with praise like "Housing is in Nirvana".

2014-01-06 Weighing the Week Ahead: Will \"Good News\" be Good for Markets? by Jeff Miller of New Arc Investments

Suppose you knew -- right now, at the start of the week -- that the payroll employment report would show an extreme number. With 200K jobs expected, suppose it were to be 350K? Or 50K? If you had advance information from Mr. Beeks would you even know what to do?

2014-01-06 The Great Malaise Drags On by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

Maybe the global economy will perform a little better in 2014 than it did in 2013, or maybe not. Seen in the broader context of the continuing Great Malaise, both years will come to be regarded as a time of wasted opportunities.

2014-01-06 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

To say that 2013 was an interesting year would be a bit of an understatement. We learned a long time ago not to make predictions about the stock market because no matter what is predicted, it is likely to be wrong. Even if we get lucky one year, we are not likely to even get close the following year. We do try to give guidance, however. Last year we suggested that, given the late run in the market in 2012 and its 15% return, investors should be happy with a return of 8 to 10% in 2013. Obviously, investors enjoyed much better returns.

2014-01-06 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

To say that 2013 was an interesting year would be a bit of an understatement. We learned a long time ago not to make predictions about the stock market because no matter what is predicted, it is likely to be wrong. Even if we get lucky one year, we are not likely to even get close the following year. We do try to give guidance, however. Last year we suggested that, given the late run in the market in 2012 and its 15% return, investors should be happy with a return of 8 to 10% in 2013. Obviously, investors enjoyed much better returns.

2014-01-03 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.9, up from last week’s 131.9. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place came in at 1.8, unchanged from last week.

2014-01-03 Gold Stocks: What to Expect in the New Year by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

After three years of pain, can gold stocks break their losing streak and see a gain in 2014? History says chances are good.

2014-01-03 Six Questions for 2014 - January 3, 2014 by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Our economic outlook for this year will be available next week. To provide a taste of what’s ahead, here are six of the key questions we’ll focus on during the coming months.

2014-01-02 2013 - Good Year Or Good Riddance? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

It’s New Year’s Eve, so I thought it might be interesting to look at some recent polls to get a sense of how Americans feel about how things went in 2013 and what they considered to be the most important news stories of the year.

2014-01-02 2013 in Review: Best of the \"Silver Bullet\" Awards by Jeff Miller of New Arc Investments

Regular readers of my "Weighing the Week Ahead" series know that I occasionally give the Silver Bullet Award. This recognizes writers who take it upon themselves to debunk dangerously misleading financial analysis. Their often thankless work reminds me of the Lone Ranger, whose adventures often upheld the notion that "...that all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever."

2014-01-02 The Long and The Short of Gold Investing by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

There are two types of gold investors: those trying to make money on short-term market timing and those looking for long-term asset preservation. It was the fear-driven trading of the former that helped gold break $1900 in 2011, and for good reason - stormy markets steer investors to safe havens.

2013-12-31 2014? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Year-end letters are difficult to write because there is always a tendency to discuss the year gone by or, worse, attempt to forecast the coming year. Typically, when the media asks where the S&P 500 (SPX/1841.40) will be at the end of the new year, I tell them you might as well flip a lucky penny.

2013-12-30 Weighing the Week Ahead: How Should Investors Judge the Prospects for 2014? by Jeff Miller of New Arc Investments

Sometimes the calendar of news and events makes it easy to predict what will grab our attention in the week ahead. In the last few weeks leading up to the Fed tapering announcement, I highlighted the following.

2013-12-30 Predictions for the 2014 U.S. Financial Markets by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

I’ve had so many phenomenal and diverse guests on my syndicated radio show, Financial Myth Busting, this year: Steve Forbes, Mort Zuckerman, David Stockman, Michael Belkin, David Walker, Dr. Ben Carson, Marc Faber, and even Ted Nugent. This is a very eclectic group, but they all have certain opinions in common. They all share the same concerns that the U.S. economic growth remains anemic and the continued economic instability and political deadlock along with business community’s mistrust of the U.S. government will continue to destroy America’s bottom line in the future.

2013-12-30 Plow Horse, Trotting by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

What a year 2013 has been. Remember how it started, with the media hyperventilating over the "fiscal cliff" deal and spending sequester? The vast majority of economists, pundits and politicians believe in Keynesian economics. So, it’s not surprising that higher tax rates and spending cuts sent them into an intellectual and theoretical funk.

2013-12-30 What Does US Tapering Mean for Asia? by Paul Chan of Invesco Blog

The US Federal Reserve (Fed) took its first step toward unwinding its unprecedented monetary stimulus. Beginning in January 2014, the Fed will reduce monthly asset purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion. The scale of the tapering was very much in line with market expectation. While timing may have surprised some investors, the market had already priced in the Fed’s imminent move.

2013-12-27 Gary Shilling: Review and Forecast by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

It’s that time of year again, when we begin to think of what the next one will bring. I will be doing my annual forecast issue next week, but my friend Gary Shilling has already done his and has graciously allowed me to use a shortened version of his letter as this week’s Thoughts from the Frontline. So without any further ado, let’s jump right to Gary’s look at where we are and where we’re going.

2013-12-27 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.9, up from last week’s 130.9. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, slipped to 1.9, down from 2.1 last week.

2013-12-27 2013: Looking Back at the Year of the Bull by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Will stocks continue to climb in 2014? Odds are "very good," finds BCA Research. According to historical data going back to 1870, there were 30 times when annual returns in domestic stocks climbed more than 25 percent. Of these, 23 experienced an additional increase, resulting in a mean of 12 percent, says BCA. Thinking back to January 2013, investors had a very different frame of mind. While we recently talked about the year’s biggest stories in U.S. energy and gold, today, we recap our popular commentaries focused on the domestic market.

2013-12-26 Economy Surprises On The Upside, But Is It Real? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

In today’s abbreviated holiday E-Letter, we’ll look at last Friday’s surprising report on 3Q GDP. In its third estimate of 3Q GDP, the Commerce Department reported that the economy surged by more than anyone expected. Given the surprisingly strong numbers, more than a few are questioning the report’s accuracy and wondering if it will be revised lower in January.

2013-12-24 The Three Key Words in Client Conversations by Dan Richards (Article)

Here are four suggestions to help read between the lines in conversations with both existing and prospective clients, including the three key words that you should always be ready to say.

2013-12-24 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

vestors thanked Bernanke this week for what they perceived as an early holiday present. While no one knew how they would react once the Fed began to taper its bond purchases, many surprised analysts by lifting stocks to one of the best showings of the year (and a new record on the Dow). And now that that uncertainty is out of the way, let the vacations begin.

2013-12-24 A Spoonful of Sugar by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The press has framed Ben Bernanke’s valedictory press conference last week in heroic terms. It’s as if a veteran quarterback engineered a stunning come-from-behind drive in his final game, and graciously bowed out of the game with the ball sitting on the opponent’s one-yard line. In reality, Bernanke has merely completed a five-yard pass from his own end zone, and has left Janet Yellen to come off the bench down by three touchdowns, with no credible deep threats, and very little time left on the clock.

2013-12-24 Fed Taper Brings Us Back to the Future by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

A return to normal economic conditions is now more palpable following the Fed’s decision to start unwinding QE and early signs of a revival in consumer spending, growth and jobs, writes Kristina Hooper.

2013-12-24 Bernanke\'s Santa Claus Cheer by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

What will Santa bring for Christmas...does he exist at all? Yes he does, his name is Bernanke and he has a stock market rally to share and good holiday cheer for all!

2013-12-23 Welcome, Taper by Dianne Lob of AllianceBernstein

The Federal Open Market Committee’s statement that it will begin to taper its bond purchases in January is a good sign that the US economy continues to heal, in our view.

2013-12-23 2013 Festivus Airing of Grievances - I\'ve Got a Lot of Problems with You People! by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

I often hear this from some of the cable news hosts and their guests. You see, according to these "economic theorists", when the unemployed and/or lower-income populace receive various types of funds from the government, they spend these funds, thus increasing nominal aggregate spending in the economy. What could be wrong with that in an economy that is operating below its potential?

2013-12-21 Start Me Up: Fed Announces a Much-Anticipated Taper by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The Fed decided to begin tapering its QE-related bond purchases with a reduction of $10 billion; split evenly between Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities. In a sign that tapering was already priced in, the stock market surged on the announcement; while bond yields remained quite tame. The Fed announced slightly sunnier economic forecasts, suggesting quantitative easing could wind down within a year.

2013-12-21 What Has QE Wrought? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Now that we have begun tapering, we will soon see lots of analysis about whether QE has been effective. What will the stock market do? The US economy seems to be moving in the right direction, but the Fed has forecast Nirvana (seriously) - do we dare hope they can finally get a forecast right? Or have they jinxed us?

2013-12-20 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook for the Americas: Riding the Cross-Currents of Higher U.S. Growth and the Fed by Mohit Mittal, Lupin Rahman, Ed Devlin of PIMCO

In the U.S., lower fiscal drag and the possibility of higher consumer and corporate spending should drive growth higher in 2014. Supported by higher U.S. growth and stabilization in Europe and China, Latin America is set to grow 3%-4% on average, but with a large dispersion across countries. Canada should benefit from the U.S. recovery but will likely lag U.S. growth due to lower consumption and residential investment.

2013-12-20 Looking Beyond the Initial Fed Taper by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Can the Fed be believed or trusted? Pioneer’s Sam Wardwell analyzes the tension between data dependency and forward guidance in Fed policy.

2013-12-20 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

As this will be our last weekly of the year, we thought we would offer some parting reflections on the year just past.

2013-12-19 A Dovish-Bullish Taper by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

They finally did it. At Chairman Bernanke’s next to last meeting, the Federal Reserve announced a modest tapering of quantitative easing, reducing its monthly purchases of Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities by $5 billion each ($10 billion total) to $75 billion starting in January. As a result, the size of the Fed’s balance sheet will continue to rise, but slightly more slowly than before.

2013-12-19 Market\'s Fed Frenzy Can Finally End by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The Fed surprised many investors by announcing it will taper in January, but made clear that interest rates will remain near the zero-bound as forward guidance becomes its primary policy tool.

2013-12-19 What the Fed\'s Taper Means for Investors by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Kristina Hooper breaks down the Federal Reserve’s surprise move to begin unwinding its bond-buying program and its implications for markets and monetary policy.

2013-12-18 Fed May Have An Unexpected Surprise In Mind by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

My readers know that the global financial world is waiting with bated breath for tomorrow’s Fed decision on whether to start to "taper" QE purchases now or wait until next year. The Fed’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) is holding its last policy meeting of the year today and tomorrow, and Chairman Bernanke will hold a press conference afterward.

2013-12-18 PIMCO\'s Cyclical Outlook for Asia: Growth Is Stabilizing but Not Stellar by Ramin Toloui, Tomoya Masanao, Robert Mead of PIMCO

In China, near-term economic performance will be dominated by the dialing back and forth of credit conditions by policymakers, while long-term reform progresses incrementally. Japan’s GDP growth will slow in 2014 due to a consumption tax hike but will still be above the country’s potential growth as it is assisted by reflationary policies. The pace of Australia’s growth will slow due to weakness in manufacturing and mining, reflecting tempered growth in China.

2013-12-17 Gundlach - Don’t Plan on Tapering by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Investors face many concerns as the new year approaches, but a recurrence of May’s "taper tantrum" should not be high on their lists, according to DoubleLine’s Jeffrey Gundlach. With the majority of Fed governors staking a dovish position, "quantitative stimulus is likely to remain with us longer than people think," Gundlach said.

2013-12-17 How a Simple Sandwich Got a Top Prospect’s Attention by Dan Richards (Article)

Many advisors generously support charities and good causes in their communities and around the world. Here’s how to communicate that support to clients.

2013-12-17 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Dan Richards’ article, How Service Screw-ups Can Create Happier Clients, and a reader responds to Patrick McVeigh’s article, Low Demand Will Depress Oil Prices, both of which appeared last week.

2013-12-17 Five Strategies for a Rising-Rate Environment Revisited by Kane Cotton, CFA and Jonathan Scheid, CFA (Article)

In June 2010, we recommended five strategies for a rising-rate environment, acknowledging that we had no idea when or how abruptly rates would rise. Indeed, rates fell since we wrote that article. But they are on the rise again. After reviewing how our original five strategies performed, we’ll now present our revised recommendations for investing as rates increase.

2013-12-17 Will 2014 Bring an End to Central Bank Intervention? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Nearing the final two weeks of the year, it is customary to look forward to the trends and events that will shape the coming year. A theme that may come to the fore in 2014 revolves around central bankers, specifically the diverging fates in various economies of the world.

2013-12-17 The Monster That Is Europe by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week, Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen of the Front National (FN) of France held a press conference in The Hague to announce that they will be cooperating in the elections for the European Parliament next spring and hope to form a new eurosceptic bloc.

2013-12-17 2013 A Pretty Good Year by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

This time last year we were bullish about equities and positive on the slow but steady strengthening of the economy. The market did not disappoint. The economy was almost heroic, you might say, with its performance enduring government sequestrations and higher taxes almost a 2% drag on GDP but comporting with our expectations of 2 - 2.5% growth. 2013 is ending with GDP and the markets coming fairly close to what we thought they’d achieve. Now the year is almost out, so let’s take stock of 2013 but look ahead to 2014.

2013-12-17 Rare Washington Compromise Plus Rising Consumer Debt Equals Modestly Higher 2014 GDP by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains the two reasons why the U.S. economic growth picture looks a little rosier in 2014.

2013-12-17 Taper Time? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

There are many arguments for and against an initial reduction in the Fed’s monthly rate of asset purchases, but the balance has shifted toward a December taper. It appears to be a very close call, but even if the Fed decides to delay again, we all know (or should know) that QE3 is going to wind down in 2014.

2013-12-16 The Coming Retreat in Corporate Earnings by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The problem is not simply that earnings are likely to retreat deeply over the next few years. Rather, the problem is that investors have embedded the assumption of permanently elevated profit margins into stock prices, leaving the market about 80-100% above levels that would provide investors with historically adequate long-term returns. An equivalent way to say this is that stocks are currently at levels that we estimate will provide roughly zero nominal total returns over the next 7-10 years, with historically adequate long-term returns thereafter.

2013-12-16 The World We Live In by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

For me, the final month of the year has always been a time to reflect upon the past as well as plan for the future. Analyzing the year soon to pass provides a valuable perspective with which to evaluate the important issues that will impact our country and economy going forward. In this context, 2013 sure has been a memorable year highlighted by horrific natural disasters, the deaths of Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela, and on the lighter side, the unforgettable ending to perhaps the greatest Iron Bowl ever played.

2013-12-16 A Budget Deal Wimpy Would Like, Saturday Night Debate & A Word on Pensions by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Saturday evening, I was asked by a reader (I was surprised to learn she was a regular reader) why I am always pointing out the potential pitfalls associated with data we capture and why so harsh on the good folks in our nation’s capital. "Things are actually pretty (darn) good - a deficit reducing budget is about to be passed, unemployment is the lowest it has been in years and the housing market is abuzz. Not to mention, the stock market has been pretty good to those that have invested." I responded that I respected her view but was truly bothered by the data, as evidenced by this weekl

2013-12-16 Settling In by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

An improving outlook for U.S. housing will be constructive for consumer spending, confidence and jobs. There are many ways to invest directly and indirectly in companies that should benefit from higher housing prices, a pickup in home repairs and remodeling, and residential investment spending. We continue to favor select investments in homebuilders, building materials, appliance manufacturers, lumber, home improvement, banks, title insurance, mortgage origination and servicing, and non-Agency mortgage-backed securities.

2013-12-13 The Year of the Horse: 3 Reasons Chinese Stocks Could Gallop Ahead in 2014 by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While Chinese stocks have massively underperformed their U.S. and developed market counterparts year to date, Russ explains the three reasons why he’s still bullish on China.

2013-12-13 They Bravely Chickened Out by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Earlier this week Congress tried to show that it is capable of tackling our chronic and dangerous debt problems. Despite the great fanfare I believe they have accomplished almost nothing. Supporters say that the budget truce created by Republican Representative Paul Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray will provide the economy with badly needed certainty.

2013-12-13 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

No one deserved a break more than investment guys/gals (except maybe politicos). Unfortunately, Thanksgiving holiday was too "short and sweet" for many and the economic week that followed was crazy. Number after number depicted an economy on solid ground with strong confirmation from the late-week labor releases. Investors took profits throughout much of the week as the final month of the year began, but the Bulls were back in force to conclude the week.

2013-12-13 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

The past two weeks were pretty quiet as the Thanksgiving holiday combined with conflicting economic data produced a stalemate on Wall Street.

2013-12-13 Viewpoints from AAM - Navigating the New High Landscape by Mike Boyle of Advisors Asset Management

December, historically the best month to own equities, has begun with a whimper with the S&P 500 closing at a loss each of the first four days of the month. If you include the last trading day of November, that makes five days in a row of red-filled screens for a total loss of 1.23% for the S&P 500. In the grand scheme of things that is a pretty small loss but it already has pundits dismissing the chances of a "Santa Claus Rally" and others saying the recent new market high of 1807.23 for the S&P 500 reached on November 27 might be its last.

2013-12-13 Glance Back...Focus Forward by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

A great market year for stocks is about to be capped off...can the run continue into 2014?

2013-12-13 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The Federal Reserve should find a way out of quantitative easing (QE) soon. And I think the Fed will take the first step in that direction at its December 17 - 18 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. Here are the arguments for and against reducing quantitative easing that the discussions will feature.

2013-12-13 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.4, down from last week’s 132.7 (adjusted from 132.8). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, slipped to 2.8, down from 2.9 last week.

2013-12-13 One of the Most Notable Stories of the Year: Energy Renaissance in the U.S.A. by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Only a few years ago, we were contemplating the supply constraints facing the petroleum industry, as many major oil fields around the world were facing a decline in production. Now, with the disruptive technology in shale oil and gas, we may be looking forward to decades of drilling.

2013-12-12 All News is Good News by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Financial markets have been discounting the end of tapering for months, and whether it happens in December or March is less important than the reality that the U.S. economy is recovering amid a global synchronous expansion.

2013-12-12 Stay the Course or Take an Unconstrained Approach to Bonds by Matthew Pasts of BTS Asset Management

BTS Asset Management contends that today’s bond market environment calls for an unconstrained approach to bonds with the ability to move between bond asset classes based on economic indicators and market opportunities. The potential discrepancy in results among bond asset classes may be more pronounced than we have seen in the past 30 years which creates opportunity for a more tactical approach. Now may be the time for an unconstrained approach to the bond market.

2013-12-12 The Wisdom of Looking Like An Idiot Today by Adam Taggart of PeakProsperity.com

Here’s a recently-released report on the stark choice that bubble markets force investors to make: to look like an idiot now, or look like one later. Those that have sought to position themselves prudently and defensively since 2008 currently look foolish as liquidity-inflated stocks and real estate prices have passed them by over the past 2 years-- while ’safe havens’ like precious metals have suffered mightily. But it’s critical to remember that the nefarious nature of a bubble is to suck in as many participants as possible before bursting and causing maximum damage.

2013-12-12 A Budget Compromise is Reached, But Unresolved Issues Remain by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

The agreement reached last October to raise the nation’s debt ceiling established a bipartisan committee to negotiate a budget to run the federal government in 2014 and 2015. The committee’s primary focus was to replace the next round of across-the-board "sequestration" cuts, which otherwise would significantly reduce spending on defense and domestic programs during those years.

2013-12-12 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook: Synchronized Optimism by Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

In the U.S., the abatement of fiscal policy tightening combined with steady improvements in labor market demand and higher asset valuations is likely to drive an increase in real growth. The eurozone should finally emerge from recession in 2014, and Japan is likely to continue to grow with the continued assistance of extraordinarily expansive policies. In China, external demand will likely improve, but domestic demand will likely slow somewhat.

2013-12-11 AdvisorShares Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

In our last commentary, we noted the slow holiday week that did not provide us with much economic fodder. This week, the unemployment rate dropped to 7% and payrolls jumped more than expected. Third quarter GDP rose more than expected, and hit its highest mark since Q1 2012. Although the status of the U.S. budget remains up in the air, many expect Janet Yellen to maintain Chairman Bernanke’s accommodative policies. With the hectic holiday schedules nearing, it is difficult to predict what we will see this month.

2013-12-11 The Fed is Playing Hamlet to the Markets by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

To taper or not to taper-that is the question the Fed is asking itself. What’s moving the market is (it appears) the odds of Fed action. For the first half of last week, "good news was bad news" as stock and bond markets apparently interpreted better economic data as suggesting an earlier QE (Quantitative Easing) Taper. On Friday, the market apparently decided the jobs report was good enough to further reduce downside risks to the economy but not strong enough to spur the Fed to action.

2013-12-11 Fed: No More Excuses Not To Taper - Just Do It! by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

We had some terrific economic news late last week. The 3Q GDP report and the November unemployment report were so strong that some are wondering if the data are credible, and are likely to be revised lower next month. The government reported that 3Q Gross Domestic Product jumped from 2.8% as reported last month to a whopping 3.6% in its second estimate last Thursday, well above the consensus estimate of 3.1%.

2013-12-11 Muddling Through: The \'Realpolitik\' of the Eurozone Crisis by Andrew Bosomworth of PIMCO

The long-term cost of Europe’s economic recovery is likely to challenge social tolerance and political will to achieve a fully integrated fiscal and political union. Although able to exploit the untapped potential of European treaties, the soon-to-be-elected 8th European Parliament looks more likely to continue to muddle through. We see low medium-term risk for government and corporate bonds with maturities of up to three years, but caution may be required for securities with longer maturities and lower down in the capital structure.

2013-12-11 A Week To Remember in Muni Land! Detroit and Illinois and Must Read Employment Data by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

What a week! Illinois passed pension legislation (I would have lost that bet) and Detroit can proceed with its bankruptcy. On the former, let’s see if the long-overdue pension fix survives legal challenges from unions and helps Chicago address its pension issue. Perhaps those contemplating the legal challenge will look to Judge Steven Rhodes’ opinion in the Detroit bankruptcy case to find that he believes pension obligations are no different than any other contractual obligation.

2013-12-11 Municipal Bond Outlook - Institutional Fixed-Income Sector Report by Team of Guggenheim Partners

Volatility induced by headline events has created attractive price dislocations in the municipal bond market, which may now present the best buying opportunity for investors since late 2010.

2013-12-10 Fiscal Policy and Monetary Policy - Update by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Market participants expected the November Employment Report to be the deciding factor on whether the Federal Reserve would begin to slow its rate of asset purchases this month. However, officials aren’t going to react to any one piece of data. The best argument for tapering is that it has to start sometime. However, the key factors that delayed the tapering in September and October are still with us to some extent.

2013-12-10 Best Consumed Below Zero? by Bill O'Grady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

In this report, we will turn our attention to Denmark to study its decision to undertake the below-zero rate, the specifics of the situation that prompted it and the effects of the negative rate on financial conditions and the broader economy. We will then briefly look at the possibility of a below-zero rate policy for the ECB and, most importantly, the geopolitical ramifications of the decision by the world’s second largest currency block to ease into unknown consequences of negative rates to stimulate the economy.

2013-12-10 Is Good News Really Good Again? by David Wismer of Flexible Plan Investments

It would be hard to attribute that statement to any one media source or Wall Street analyst, since the sentiment was rampant on Friday after the release of the better-than-expected Nonfarm Payrolls Report. The seasonally adjusted gain of 203,000 jobs in November versus an expectation of around 185,000, and the resultant dip in the unemployment rate to 7.0%, generated a Friday market rally few observers anticipated.

2013-12-10 Macro Factors Distract Wealth Creation by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

What do Obamacare, Federal Government debt/budget deals, Quantitative Easing and jobs data have in common? To us they are all types of macroeconomic factors on which most investors focus. We believe the reason most investors focus on these types of news stories is because they can influence the US stock market over the next six to twelve months instead of the next 10 to 20 years. In this missive, we would like to challenge everyone’s thinking about their ultimate goal for investing in the stock market and the behaviors which lead to wealth creation.

2013-12-09 America\'s Partisan Peril by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

Many Americans started 2013 with high hopes that congressional leaders would overcome, even if only partly, the polarization and political dysfunction that had slowed recovery. But optimism foundered over the course of 2013, while frustration soared.

2013-12-09 Improving Economic Data Imply Further Global Recovery by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished last week in barely negative territory, ending the positive streak for the market. Economic data concerning the post-government shutdown climate has improved. Employment data beat estimates and increased by 203,000 jobs in November, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.0%, also surpassing expectations.

2013-12-09 Pessimists Get Desperate by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Payrolls keep growing. Economic data stays positive. The stock market makes new highs. It’s been consistent for nearly five years. And so has the pessimism. In fact, the pouting pundits of pessimism get more determined each month, trying to prove that things are really bad out there.

2013-12-09 Gauging Tapering Post November Jobs Report by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

With another month down in 2013, last week came time to dissect the latest report on employment. If the market reaction was indicative, the highly anticipated November labor report did not disappoint, sending stocks up more than 1% on Friday.

2013-12-06 Resource Investors Who Use this Strategy Have Seen Significant Gains by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

When playing Blackjack, the house has the edge in winning...unless you know how to count cards, a strategy proven to increase a player’s chances. But did you know you can apply this concept to the market as well?

2013-12-06 To Taper Or Not To Taper? Digging In To Today\'s Employment Report by Team of GaveKal Capital

Today’s employment and personal income and outlays reports may be strong enough for the Fed to begin tapering later this month. November employment came in at 203k jobs and the unemployment report dipped to a 5-year low (7%). The net revisions for September and October were also 8k higher.

2013-12-06 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

The U.S. employment report puts taper onto the table. Don’t expect further rate cuts from the ECB or the Fed. Auto sales have been a bright spot amid sluggish consumer spending.

2013-12-06 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.8, up from last week’s 132.3. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, rose to 2.9, up from 2.6 last week.

2013-12-06 Did the Government Shutdown Help the Economy? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Take the government shutdown in October, when the House and Senate fought over the debt ceiling. Economic data wasn’t released, services were halted, national parks were closed, and "non-essential government workers were told to stay home. As a result, GDP was expected to collapse. Yet, data released this week reveal a different, stronger image of the U.S. economy. I think Shakespeare would deem the media’s fear mongering tactics as Much Ado About Nothing.

2013-12-06 Red Shoots? Amid the Holiday Cheer, is a Market Peak Brewing? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

I don’t see imminent signs of a rough market, but it does appear that some "red shoots" are not forming. FYI, a red shoot is a term I just made up. Whereas a "green shoot" is a piece of good news in an otherwise difficult economic environment, I define a red shoot as a piece of potentially bad news among a sea of green stock market profits.

2013-12-05 A Synchronous Expansion by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Major developed economies are all contributing to global economic growth, and this improving fundamental picture, coupled with ongoing monetary accommodation, bode well for risk assets.

2013-12-05 No Silver Bullets in Investing by James Montier of GMO

In a new white paper today, James Montier of GMO’s asset allocation team reviews recent "innovation in our industry." He argues, "one of the myths perpetuated by our industry is that there are lots of ways to generate good long-run real returns, but we believe there is really only one: buying cheap assets."

2013-12-04 An Agenda to Save the Euro by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

It has been three years since the outbreak of the euro crisis, and only an inveterate optimist would say that the worst is definitely over. It is not, and it won’t be unless and until the eurozone’s structure is fundamentally reformed.

2013-12-04 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

And stocks just keep rolling along. November ended with another bang as the Blue Chips climbed 3.5% for the month and The Dow Jones extended its weekly winning streak to eight. But did anyone even notice? Happy Thanksgivukkah.

2013-12-03 Looking Out on the Horizon for Equities by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished higher for an eighth consecutive week as the S&P 500 increased 0.1%, representing the longest positive streak since 2004. Inertia may have carried markets forward in a relatively quiet trading week without major headlines. Retail news appeared fairly positive in anticipation of a strong start to the Thanksgiving shopping weekend. Economic data was mixed.

2013-12-03 Philly Fed, the Geo Score and A Housing Stat Making Some Blue by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Following a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday that involved way too much food, I found myself doing all I could to avoid the Black Friday masses and succeeded until I took to the highway for a journey to Albany, NY - they were leaving the malls and, perhaps it was exhaustion from their day of shopping, but the traffic and driving skills left something to be desired. Those weary shoppers amassed along I-87 brought to mind the question of how healthy (or not so healthy) is the economy?

2013-12-03 Turning Over Rocks by Herbert Abramson, Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management

The S&P 500 is at a record high and we believe the markets generally are fully valued. Corporate revenue growth is anemic, profit margins are stretched, and the prospect of earnings rising meaningfully is not high. And, the outlook for the U.S. and global economy is still uncertain. Market psychology is at a level suggesting the market is overbought. Margin debt is at record levels and the current popularity of stocks by retail investors at market highs is in itself a red flag.

2013-12-03 Is the Fed Increasingly Monetizing Government Debt? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

Fed Chair Bernanke vehemently denies Fed "monetizes the debt," but our research shows the Fed may be increasingly doing so. We explain why and what the implications may be for the dollar, gold and currencies.

2013-12-03 On the Wings of an Eagle by William Gross of PIMCO

I’ve always liked Jack Bogle, although I’ve never met him. He’s got heart, but as he’s probably joked a thousand times by now, it’s someone else’s; a 1996 transplant being the LOL explanation. He’s also got a lot of investment common sense, recognizing decades ago that investment managers in composite couldn’t outperform the market; in fact, their alpha would be negative after fees and transaction costs were factored in.

2013-12-03 U.S. Economy Slowly Gaining Traction - What\'s Ahead for Year-End? by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

As we enter the final month of 2013, my themes of the last several weeks continue - the capital markets, in general, remain quiet and U.S. economic data, while mixed, shows signs of steady improvement. This week, I’ll start by looking forward to some news we’ll be watching as the year closes out...

2013-12-02 Economic Cycle Update: Evidence Suggesting Slow Growth Reigns by Team of Manning & Napier

Since the start of the current recovery, we have made the case that the economy would grow at a slower pace compared to most other expansions in recent memory. The consumer factored prominently in this outlook as they embarked on a long overdue period of balance sheet repair. Corporations would have little reason to invest if consumer growth was weak and large fiscal deficits would limit the ability of the federal government to contribute to growth.

2013-11-30 Arsonists Running the Fire Brigade by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In the old days, central banks raised or lowered interest rates if they wanted to tighten or loosen monetary policy. In a Code Red world everything is more difficult. Policies like ZIRP, QE, LSAPs, and currency wars are immensely more complicated. Knowing how much money to print and when to undo Code Red policies will require wisdom and foresight. Putting such policies into practice is easy, almost like squeezing toothpaste. But unwinding them will be like putting the toothpaste back in the tube.

2013-11-29 Back to Housing Bubbles by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate

What we are witnessing in many countries looks like a slow-motion replay of the last housing-market train wreck. And, like last time, the bigger the bubbles become, the nastier the collision with reality will be.

2013-11-28 The Race is On by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

There’s a race to the bottom going on, reflecting a widespread reduction in the level of prudence on the part of investors and capital providers. No one can prove at this point that those who participate will be punished, or that their long-run performance won’t exceed that of the naysayers. But that is the usual pattern.

2013-11-28 U.S. Housing Sector - Losing Ground? by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The powerful momentum that drove the American housing sector forward in the past three years may be dissipating. And it is clear that higher mortgage rates have a pronounced impact on demand. The Federal Reserve will therefore have to proceed with caution as it considers when and how to reduce its asset purchases.

2013-11-28 Five Reasons Inflation Is Still Missing by Chun Wang of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

Apart from a couple of market-oriented drivers that could reverse course on a short-term basis, we are not seeing convincing evidence of an imminent pick-up in inflation. Let us be clear. There is most definitely inflation in the financial markets, but that does not seem to benefit the average person in the U.S. The liquidity injected by various central banks went mostly into the financial markets first and foremost; only a small fraction of it trickled down to the average person. That is why all this money printing has not been reflected in various inflation measures.

2013-11-27 International Equity Commentary - October 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Equities Advance as Global Manufacturing and Services Activity Gains Momentum

2013-11-27 The Future in Focus: Our Demographic Destiny by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

In the first of a series on population trends that will shape the U.S. economy, Milton Ezrati looks at the policy challenges posed by an aging America.

2013-11-26 Why a Shrinking Deficit Means Lower Earnings by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Proponents of tax increases or government spending cutbacks will have to reckon with something they never anticipated: depressed corporate earnings that will reduce equity prices. As our government deficit shrinks - whether through sequestration or by any other means - so will corporate profits, the primary driver of equity prices.

2013-11-26 Elections in Chile by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

On November 17, Chileans went to the polls to vote on a new president and parliament. In this report, we offer short biographies of the two Chilean presidential candidates, focusing mostly on Michelle Bachelet. From there, we will provide a short history of Chile, primarily to highlight the tensions between the forces of liberalization and reaction. An examination of the Allende-Pinochet period will detail the factors that have affected Chile’s political structure over the past five decades. As always, we will conclude with market ramifications.

2013-11-26 While You Were Sleeping: Asian Developments Loom for Financial Markets by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Amid all the Fed talk dominating airwaves and headlines, a few key developments occurred overseas last week that could shape financial markets significantly in the quarters ahead.

2013-11-25 Talkin\' Baseball and the Game (Data Really) of the Week by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

A lot to cover as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday. Last week saw some very interesting data - some of which I will get to and the balance of which I encourage you to explore (see the last page for "Data Updates"). Before I get to the data of the week, I take a look at baseball - well, not really. I offer some perspective around the Braves picking up and moving from Atlanta to nearby Cobb County.

2013-11-25 An Open Letter to the FOMC: Recognizing the Valuation Bubble in Equities by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The Fed has done enough, and perhaps dangerously more than enough. The prospect of dismal investment returns in equities is an outcome that is largely baked-in-the-cake. The only question is how much worse the outcomes will be as a result of Fed policy that has few economic mechanisms other than to encourage speculative behavior.

2013-11-25 Ben\'s Rocket to Nowhere by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Herd mentality can be as frustrating as it is inexplicable. Once a crowd starts moving, momentum can be all that matters and clear signs and warnings are often totally ignored. Financial markets are currently following this pattern with respect to the unshakable belief that the Federal Reserve is ready, willing, and most importantly, able, to immediately execute a wind down of its quantitative easing program. How this notion became so deeply entrenched is a mystery, but the stampede it has sparked is getting more violent, and irrational, by the day.

2013-11-25 Equities Extend Gains for the Seventh Consecutive Week by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished higher again last week as the S&P 500 increased 0.4%. The Fed continued to dominate headlines, with heightened emphasis on the distinction between tapering and tightening. Bubble speculation continued to receive attention in the press, while many articles refuted such concerns. The financial sector performed well, led by banks.

2013-11-25 Permanently Depressed? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

One of the main economic debates of the last few years has been whether weakness is cyclical or structural. If the downturn is due to a temporary (albeit, severe) shortfall in domestic demand, then growth should pick up sharply at some point as the economy returns to its potential. If it’s structural, fiscal and monetary policy can do little to help. Opinions differ, but while the consensus may see the sluggish economy as reflecting mostly cyclical forces, cyclical weakness is more likely to become structural the longer it lasts.

2013-11-24 Game of Thrones - European Style by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The Eurozone crisis is not over, and it will not end quickly or soon. Even if it seems to unfold in slow motion - like the slow build-up in a Game of Thrones storyline to violent internecine clashes followed by more slow plot developments but never any resolution, the Eurozone debacle has never really gone away. The structural imbalances have still not been fixed; politicians and central bankers have still not agreed to solve major fiscal problems; the overall economy still disintegrates; unemployment is staggeringly high in some countries and still rising; and the people are growing restless.

2013-11-22 Guidance Counselors by Richard Clarida, Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

Forward guidance is an explicit communication by a central bank that provides information today about the timing for specific policy tools in the future. There are at least three types of forward guidance: calendar-based, outcome-based and optimal control. Since 2011 the Fed has deployed both calendar-based and outcome-based guidance. We expect the Yellen Fed to enhance the current outcome-based guidance to convey more information about the timing and pace of policy moves.

2013-11-22 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Retail Sales by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The underlying sales data were stronger than expected, and the disinflationary October headline CPI boosted the number higher. in light of the general pessimism over the government shutdown and congressional face-off on debt ceiling, the October numbers are indeed surprising.

2013-11-22 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum, Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

The world needs to do more to stimulate spending. Moderate gains are seen for U.S. holiday sales. The Federal Reserve may change its policy mix.

2013-11-22 Understanding the Rise of China by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

If the sweeping economic reforms planned by Chinese leaders during the Third Plenum can be our guide, it looks to be a promising decade for global investors. Details released this week confirmed President Xi Jinping’s concerted efforts to move China toward a market-based economy that mirrors the West.

2013-11-22 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.2, up from last week’s 131.0 (revised from 131.1). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, rose to 2.4, up from 2.2 last week.

2013-11-21 Looking Beyond Inventories by Team of Northern Trust

Inventories have the habit of offering surprises in reports of real gross domestic product (GDP). The third quarter GDP report was one such occurrence, with inventories making an unexpectedly hefty contribution. A reversal of this event is most likely to influence the headline GDP number in the final three months of the year.

2013-11-21 The Fed and the Economy: “Don't Shoot Until You See the Whites of Their Eyes” by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The Federal Reserve has started to highlight “forward guidance” as a way to keep interest rates lower for longer and get the exhausted hamster off the treadmill of quantitative easing. We still think tapering remains farther off than most investors expect.

2013-11-21 Developed Asia Pacific: Regional Economic Review Q3 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Developed Asia Pacific economies were back on their feet during the second quarter of 2013 as economic growth gained momentum, inflation fell mildly and exports climbed strongly. Most developed countries in the region such as Japan, Australia, and New Zealand reported a sharp positive swing in consumer and business confidence. Predominantly expansionary monetary and fiscal policies also helped keep the pace of economic recovery.

2013-11-21 US Stocks for a Baby Boom by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

As contrarians, we at Smead Capital Management frequently get questions about stocks like Gannett (GCI), Bank of America (BAC) and eBay (EBAY). To understand how excited we are to own these common stocks you need to understand how a long-duration common stock portfolio would benefit from the coming baby boom in the developed world. Thanks to wonderful research from The Bank Credit Analyst (BCA), we can understand the demographics of developed nations like the US. BCA concluded that a "baby boom" is coming in the US and in other developed nations.

2013-11-20 Setting Sail on the QE Express by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

I’ve been managing money for over 25 years and rarely have I seen the level of craziness and insanity in both our politics and financial markets in the U.S. I’m frightened of this deepening manmade disaster that’s unfolding in front of us right now in both the financial markets and the economy. Too much faith is being placed in untested theories and that quantitative easing is going to cure all of our ills.

2013-11-20 Yellen: “Farther To Go” by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Janet Yellen gave a balanced assessment of how monetary policy will be conducted during her tenure as Fed chair. However, the financial markets perceived a “dovish” tilt. She stressed that conditions in the labor market are still far from normal and noted that inflation has been running below the Fed’s goal of 2% “and is expected to do so for some time.” However, Yellen noted that there were risks of removing support too late as well as too soon. QE3 can’t go on forever.

2013-11-19 Where Will the Holiday Shopping Season Lead Us This Year? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The unofficial start to the holiday shopping season kicks off in a few short days. Economic uncertainty abounds, raising fears that consumers will pull back from spending, but some positive developments suggest consumers will be just fine.

2013-11-19 A Glimpse of a Yellen-Led Fed by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Kristina Hooper highlights some key takeaways from incoming Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s testimony before the Senate last week, including when the Fed is likely to taper its bond-buying program.

2013-11-19 Breaking News! U.S. Equity Market Overvalued! by Ben Inker of GMO

In GMO’s quarterly letter to institutional clients today, co-head of asset allocation Ben Inker outlines the reasoning behind GMO implementing a new forecast methodology for the U.S. stock market. While the new methodology has slightly increased GMO’s seven-year forecast for U.S. equity returns, Ben notes, "The basic point for us remains the same -- the U.S. stock market is trading at levels that do not seem capable of supporting the type of returns that investors have gotten used to receiving from equities."

2013-11-18 Chumps, Champs, and Bamboo by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

At bull market peaks, it often seems that the market is simply headed higher with no end in sight, and “buy-and-hold” appears superior to every alternative. Meanwhile, the reputation of value-conscious investors and risk-managers goes from “champ” to “chump.” Then, the bamboo tree suddenly sprouts, and the entire lag is often replaced by outperformance in less than a year. Only after the fact does the reputation of risk-managed strategies surge from “chump” to “champ.”

2013-11-18 Willing a Fiscal Win by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms of ING Investment Management

Why can’t we just will our desired political outcomes the way the most fervent seemingly can impact ballgames? After watching Fenway Park packed to the rafters with Red Sox faithful exercising their sovereign and ethereal right to psychically encourage baseballs out of the yard and knowing that millions of others in Red Sox nation were doing the same in front of their televisions we’re left wondering if the fans of Team U.S.A. can apply a little of that classic Carlton Fisk mojo a few hundred miles down I-95.

2013-11-17 The Unintended Consequences of ZIRP by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Two recently released papers make an intellectual and theoretical case for an extended period of very low interest rates and, in combination with other papers from both inside and outside the Fed from heavyweight economists, make a strong case for beginning to taper sooner rather than later, but for accompanying that tapering with a commitment to an even more protracted period of ZIRP. We are going analyze these papers, as they are critical to understanding the future direction of Federal Reserve policy. Secondly, we’ll look at some of the unintended consequences of long-term ZIRP.

2013-11-16 Gliding to Year End? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Although we remain optimistic, the path to year-end may have some potholes. US stocks are among the more attractive investment options available, but there is the risk of a pullback in the near term should sentiment conditions continue to be elevated. There is also a risk of a melt-up in stocks given recent momentum. Europe is dealing with falling inflation and weak growth, although expectations are low, leaving investment opportunities somewhat attractive. Both Japan and China appear to be at a crossroads and we are watching political and monetary developments carefully.

2013-11-15 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Industrial Production by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Official recession calls are the responsibility of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which is understandably vague about the specific indicators on which they base their decisions. This committee statement is about as close as they get to identifying their method.

2013-11-15 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The Federal Reserve’s policies may remain easier for longer than previously thought. What’s the best way to arrest falling labor force participation? Look for the Fed to adopt a lower unemployment target.

2013-11-15 Are You Prepared for Economic Recovery? by Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson of Hartford Funds

Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson discusses how many portfolios are out of balance today and explains why investors should consider increasing their equity exposure.

2013-11-14 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Data keeps coming fast and furious and (for the most part) it has been favorable. Investors remain torn between being ecstatic about the solid recovery or worried about the implications for another Fed move. Stocks were mixed throughout the week with the Dow Jones staying in record territory. Is that worth a Tweet (now that it’s public)?

2013-11-14 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

There were several news surprises to trade around last week, but when the music ended stocks were mixed as the charts above illustrate. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained nearly 1 percent while the NASDAQ Composite was virtually flat.

2013-11-13 Fed Research on Policy Rules by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

In a paper for last week’s IMF annual research conference, William English (head of the Federal Reserve Board’s Monetary Affairs division) discussed current monetary policy strategy, with a focus on threshold rules and forward guidance. The paper caused a stir in markets but we do not think it signals a fundamental change in Fed communication. Small changes to the so-called “Evans Rule” are possible, but the basic framework will probably remain in place even as QE tapering begins.

2013-11-13 Markets On Cruise Control And Why There Will Be No Dectaper by John Rothe of Riverbend Investment Management

We are now post shutdown, post debt ceiling and post election, and equity markets are now on cruise control.

2013-11-12 Reflections on a Week in Cuba by Robert Huebscher (Article)

My recent one-week visit to Cuba revealed why our relationship with this island country – less than 100 miles off the coast of Florida – has been problematic for the U.S. for the last half-century. Once the Castro brothers are gone, the government of Cuba may change in dramatic ways. But such a transition would have to be accompanied by a change in U.S. policy to Cuba. Pictures from my trip are also provided.

2013-11-12 Markets Vacillate Between Stronger Economy and Fed Accommodation by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished mostly higher last week as the S&P 500 increased 0.6%, ending higher for the fifth straight week. The return of central bank action was a primary concern. The European Central Bank (ECB) surprised investors with a 0.25% rate cut, while the debate over the Federal Reserve’s impending tapering decision continued in earnest.

2013-11-12 Taper Talk by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Taperingplease bring it on. We wanted it yesterday, or last month, or even years ago. We never thought QE helped the economy and certainly don’t think keeping it around is a good idea. It’s created uncertainty at an unprecedented level.

2013-11-12 Currency Markets Show Signs of Reversal by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

A mixture of surprising economic data and changing central bank policy led to sharp moves in currency markets last week. This came after several gyrations in FX markets earlier this year. Looking forward, volatility is likely to remain, but many signs point towards a strengthening U.S. dollar.

2013-11-12 New Fed Papers Foreshadow a Dovish Fed Policy Under Yellen by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

New Fed Papers Foreshadow a Dovish Fed Policy Under Yellen Two new Fed papers presented at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) argue for prompt lobbying for continued aggressive monetary policy, but suggest prompt tapering of quantitative easing (QE) and more emphasis on forward guidance. The assumption is that these papers would not have been released if Janet Yellen intended to push policy in a different direction . . . and they reinforce the message of papers released at Jackson Hole this summer, suggesting that QE wasn’t acting as effective economic stimulus.

2013-11-12 Let's Party Like it's 1978 by Bill OGrady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

A twice yearly meeting of the Chinese government officials, formally known as the third plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, started on Saturday and will end tomorrow. Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping has indicated that this session could be as consequential as the plenary session in 1978 which introduced policies that set in motion the Chinese growth engine. We are going to take a closer look at the changes from the plenary session 35 years ago, the circumstances leading up to the session and how China changed following the meeting.

2013-11-12 Big Ideas on Gold and Resources in the Big Easy by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

For nearly four decades, curious investors have made their way to the Big Easy for a taste of New Orleans and several helpings of advice and perspective at the New Orleans Investment Conference.

2013-11-12 Dream to Outperform the Market by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

If you dream about investment market outcomes which are already popular in the marketplace, your dreams can turn into nightmares. The Everly Brothers 1958 hit song, “All I have to do is Dream” tells us a great deal about the long-term posture of investors in late 2013 and how dreams can turn to nightmares. On the other hand, if you dream about an outcome which most experts aren’t expecting, the rewards can be explosive.

2013-11-12 Will 39% Hike in Minimum Wage Tank The Economy? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

President Obama called for a whopping 39% increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour last Thursday. There is already a bill working its way through in the Senate to do the same thing. If this legislation passes, the minimum wage will be increased 95 cents each year for the next three years starting this year, to bring it to $10.10 by 2015.

2013-11-11 Confounding Friday Report, Pesky Housing Details, Stamps and Election Results by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

The markets rallied on Friday ostensibly because of the First Friday employment data was it good news (job creation) or bad news (rate is up and the Fed will keep juicing the market). Read on. Next, it is on to a look at housing data that seems to have been under the radar screen of the media. I conclude this week with a look at my election predictions. While I hit a touch over 50% (worthy of baseball hall of fame induction) the folks at the major networks won’t be inviting me to work the election map anytime soon.

2013-11-11 Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The economic data were mostly stronger than anticipated last week. GDP growth exceeded expectations, although the details were a bit troublesome. With everyone anticipating some impact from the partial government shutdown, nonfarm payrolls accelerated in October. Moreover, revisions to August and September, painted a much stronger picture of job growth. What does this mean for the Fed and its decision to taper?

2013-11-10 What Would Yellen Do? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In advance of this week’s confirmation hearings for Federal Reserve Board Chairperson-nominee Janet Yellen, let’s pretend we are prepping our favorite Banking Committee senator for his or her few questions. What would you like to know? In this week’s letter I offer a few questions of my own.

2013-11-08 U.S. Shale Oil: A Central Banker\'s Best Friend by Charles Wilson of Thornburg Investment Management

After nearly a decade of sustained high energy prices , U.S. oil and natural gas producers responded to the market’s call for supply with newly exploitable shale resources. The fresh supply helped reduce concerns about global spare production capacity and limited upward pressure on energy prices. Central bankers around the world were able to maintain highly accommodative monetary policies for prolonged periods as a result.

2013-11-08 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.0, down from last week’s 131.4 (revised from 131.5). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, rose to 1.8, up from 1.7 last week.

2013-11-08 Government Shutdown Doesn't Shut Down Markets in October by Karen Cavanaugh of ING Investment Management

The stage was set for an October selloff, but markets treated investors to another round of across-the-board gains. Headlines comparing today’s equity market with 1999 are way off; the current rally has been driven by solid corporate fundamentals, and the market remains compellingly valued. Global economic growth remains sluggish, and eventual Fed tapering is likely to introduce volatility into markets worldwide.

2013-11-08 Taking Stock in the Economy by Ken Taubes of Pioneer Investments

Now is a good time to take stock in the current macro environment from a market perspective. Here’s what we think could happen at the end of this year and next year.

2013-11-08 Equality of Opportunity by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

Countless statistics show that the gap between the rich and poor has widened considerably and continues to widen. To an extreme, an economics professor at George Mason recently published a book in which he predicts the population will be divided into two groups: those who are good at working with intelligent machines, and those who can be replaced by them. This is obviously a scary outcome, but are we focusing on the wrong thing?

2013-11-08 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

The ECB’s rate cut signals concerns about deflation. The U.S. job numbers provide an upside surprise. How reliable are the U.S. employment data?

2013-11-08 Should You Walk Away from a Fed that Prints Money? by Tad Rivelle of TCW Asset Management

Either the markets or the Fed itself will come to accept that financial repression is a “box canyon” whose only escape is by climbing out through higher rates and wider spreads on risk assets. Staying “risk on” requires the investor to underwrite the exacerbating risks inherent in an economy that is being given bad signals and is accumulating a menagerie of mispriced assets and bad loans. Yes, you should walk away from a Fed that prints money.

2013-11-08 Big Ideas in the Big Easy by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

This is likely a contrarian view to the folks in the White House, but I think investors benefit from being contrarian and thinking differently. In preparation for my presentations in New Orleans as well as for the Metals & Minerals Investment Conference in San Francisco and the Mines and Money in London in a few weeks, I’ve been pulling together this kind of research that we can all put to use now.

2013-11-07 Welcome to the Two-Speed Economy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains why the U.S. economy is starting to look like a two-speed economy and what this means for investors.

2013-11-07 Absolute Return Letter: Euthanasia of the economy? by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees, Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

QE has had two noticeable and positive effects. It has saved the world from a financial meltdown not once, but twice, and it has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on asset prices, so in that respect QE has been a success. However, there are growing signs that QE may be beginning to impair economic growth and it may even cause dis-inflation, precisely the opposite of what was widely expected. For these reasons we believe it is time to call it quits and begin to tackle the root problem a banking industry still suffocating from bad loans.

2013-11-07 Putting Macro Trends in Context: What do They Mean to a Bottom-Up Investor? by Will Nasgovitz of Heartland Advisors

For some time now, we’ve had a generally positive economic outlook. The occasional setback is assured, but on the whole we believe that the U.S. economy is still in the early stages of a multi-year recovery.

2013-11-07 Global Inflation: A Mixed Picture by Monty Guild, Anthony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Many investors and global macro economists have been on vigil for a ramp up in global inflation spurred by immense central bank QE and other forms monetary stimulus. All of the money printing from around the globe has helped keep the financial system functioning, and it continues to help weak developed economies get back on firmer growth footing. However, it has not translated to rapidly rising prices for goods and services that many expected.

2013-11-06 Why Worry About a Melt-Up? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The risk of a melt-up in stocks is garnering more attention; and is something we’ve been discussing recently, too. Sentiment does appear stretched in the near-term and warns of a possible pullback. But there are few, if any, bubble-like conditions present and fundamentals ex-sentiment appear healthy.

2013-11-06 Welcome to the Two-Speed Economy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains why the U.S. economy is starting to look like a two-speed economy and what this means for investors.

2013-11-06 Tighter Fiscal Policy Not Helping by Scott Brown of Raymond James

We are now more than five years into the economic expansion, but to many Americans, it still feels like a recession. Many of the headwinds that restrained the recovery early on, such as housing and state and local government, have turned to modest tailwinds, and monetary policy remains highly accommodative. The biggest restraint on growth this year has been fiscal policy. There is a near-term focus on a long-term budget deal, but an agreement seems rather unlikely. Sequester spending cuts set for mid-January should be a more important consideration for lawmakers.

2013-11-06 Sergeant Friday Questions a Treasury Spokeswoman -- Just the Facts, Ma\'am by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

Sergeant Friday: What has been the behavior of total federal outlays in the past five fiscal years? Treasury Spokeswoman: As shown in Chart 1, the year-over-year change in federal outlays ballooned to 17.9% in FY 2009 because of the sharp increase in income security expenditures (e.g., unemployment insurance benefits, food stamps) due to the most severe recession since the early 1930s, TARP expenditures to recapitalize our financial system and a fiscal stimulus program.

2013-11-06 The Top 10 Investor Worries Right Now by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

In the first of a regular series in my Informed Investing blog, let’s count down the top 10 things that give investors the willies in today’s investment environment. These are situations known to even casual investors, but may or may not be communicated to them effectively by their financial advisors.

2013-11-05 Three Articles to Help Clients to Happy Retirements by Dan Richards (Article)

For many clients in their 50s and early 60s, the challenges to achieving happy and secure retirements have never been greater. Three recent articles will help you when talking to clients about retirement.

2013-11-05 Geo Scores and Election Predictions by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

“It’s the economy, stupid.” I’m sure many of us remember that statement from a few years back. With a couple of gubernatorial and many mayoral elections at hand, I thought it might be fun to provide our call on these races by looking at how the economies of those States and cities have fared over the past year. If it is indeed “the economy, stupid,” the below may provide some insight into where incumbents are safe and where change may come. This report will print longer due to the inclusion of more tables than usual.

2013-11-05 Skepticism Still Abounds by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities were mixed last week as the markets were broadly unchanged. The October FOMC statement was a bit more hawkish than expected, causing concern that the recent delay in tapering may have been too aggressive. Other worries appear to be tail risks surrounding a possible Fed liquidity trap and accompanying asset bubbles. Economic data were mixed as markets struggle with the trade-offs between recovery and policy normalization.

2013-11-05 Ex-US Property Bubble Peaking? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

For several years now, a common storyline on China was the immense overcapacity in the country’s housing market. A mixture of easy credit policies and officials’ explicit economic growth plans based on capital investment yielded construction on a massive scale across the countryside. So-called ghost towns emerged as the pace of building and the migration of rural citizens into these cities fell out of sync.

2013-11-05 Stormy Weather by David Wismer of Flexible Plan Investments

Young and old alike celebrated Halloween last week, albeit in soggy fashion in much of the nation.

2013-11-05 Even Economists Get Stuck Looking in the Rearview Mirror by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Will the US economy grow in an above-average way in the next ten to twenty years or do we need to resign ourselves to an era of anemic economic growth? Two pieces of information came out this week, adding to existing information on the subject and speak to this core debate in the US stock market. The first piece was called “Slowing to a Crawl” by Jonathan Laing from Barron’s.

2013-11-05 Don't Miss This Golden Cross in Resources by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

While investors have been focusing on the strengthening U.S. market, we’ve also kept our eyes on other improving indicators happening in resources, Europe, and emerging markets. These places may not be as widely popular, but we believe investors can benefit greatly from taking a view that’s different from the ones observed by the majority.

2013-11-04 Bubbles in the Broth by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate

As below-trend GDP growth and high unemployment continue to afflict most advanced economies, their central banks have served up an alphabet soup of unconventional monetary policy measures. But, with asset prices continuing to rise, many countries may have more helpings than they can stand.

2013-11-04 Leash the Dogma by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

It’s fascinating to hear central bankers talk about the economy, because in the span of a few seconds they can say so many things that simply aren’t supported by the evidence. For anyone planning to watch the confirmation hearings for the next Fed Chair, the evidence below is provided as something of a leash to restrain the attacking dogma.

2013-11-04 Why Wealth Taxes Are Not Enough by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

The IMF is right on grounds of both fairness and efficiency to raise the idea of temporary wealth taxes in many countries. But, as appealing as such taxes may seem at first sight, a closer look reveals that the revenues are lower, and the costs higher, than calculations used to promote them would imply.

2013-11-02 Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere by John Mauldin of Mauldin Economics

The froth and foam on markets of all shapes and sizes all over the world. It is an exhilarating feeling, and the pundits who populate the media outlets are bubbling over with it. There is nothing like a rising market to help lift our mood. Unless of course, as Prof. Kindleberger famously cautioned, we are not participating in that rising market. Then we feel like losers. But what if the rising market is a bubble? Are we smart enough to ride and then step aside before it bursts? Research says we all think that we are, yet we rarely demonstrate the actual ability.

2013-11-01 Bank Reform: Europe's Slow and Steady Progress Continues by Monty Guild, Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

When Spain’s real estate bubble burst in 2008, the country went into a recession. The country was returning to growth in 2010, just in time to be taken down by the continent’s emerging banking and sovereign debt crisis.

2013-11-01 Where Do Profits Go from Here? Up. Here's Why. by Joseph Tanious, Anthony Wile of J.P. Morgan Funds

After record-setting earnings in the first two quarters of 2013, the S&P 500 is on track to hit another historic high in profits for 3Q13. If this occurs, the first three quarters of this year will have been the most profitable ever in the 56-year history of the S&P 500. Future earnings growth through margin expansion seems unlikely, as an improving labor market and higher interest rates will most likely squeeze margins. However, stable revenue growth, share buybacks and the additional use of debt financing should support modest earnings gains in the year ahead.

2013-11-01 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.5, up from last week’s 131.1. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, dropped to 1.7, down from 2.0 last week.

2013-11-01 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

The public needs to move beyond its bad feelings toward financial institutions. Should we modify the price stability mandate of central banks? The Fed offers no surprises.

2013-10-31 Third Quarter Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital

Despite the recent shenanigans in Washington concerning funding the government and raising the debt ceiling, as well as the constant news coverage of the quantitative easing “taper” that the Federal Reserve may or may not begin, we are going to spare (at least for this quarter) both you and us another long discussion of these very real issues.

2013-10-31 Global Economic Outlook by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The United States avoided a fiscal accident after Congress struck a deal to end the partial government shutdown and bought time to resolve differences over the federal budget. Assuming political discord will not result in another standoff, the U.S. economy is projected to show steady and stronger growth in 2014 compared with 2013.

2013-10-31 Fed Outlook for the Short and Longer Run by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

One of the ironies of Ben Bernanke’s tenure is that he set out with a goal to improve Fed communication while in office. Immediately after his first meeting as chairman in March 2006, Bernanke set up a subcommittee tasked with facilitating debate around communication issuesincluding inflation targeting, post-meeting statements and minutes and public speeches by individual Fed officials.

2013-10-31 The Age of Experimentation (Global Economic Outlook for Fourth Quarter 2013) by Robert Scherfke of Hartford Funds

Macroanalyst Robert Scherfke, PhD discusses the progress global economies have made since 2008 and the challenges officials face as they normalize fiscal policies.

2013-10-30 US Economy Mired in a Sea of Contradictions by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Consumer confidence has plunged over the last month, due in large part to the government shutdown and fear that the US might default on its debt because of the ineptitude of our leaders in Washington. Normally, when consumer confidence plunges, we would expect a significant slowdown in consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of GDP.

2013-10-30 Bernanke vs. Yellen: A Spooky Outlook? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

Fed Chair nominee Janet Yellen will take over where her predecessor Ben Bernanke leaves off. Not just operationally, but also philosophically. To understand where the Fed and the U.S. dollar may be heading, we take a closer look at where Bernanke and Yellen are coming from.

2013-10-29 Why Deficits Don’t Matter by Bob Veres (Article)

Stephanie Kelton, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri/Kansas City, believes that the root of our deficit problems can be found in a fundamental misunderstanding – shared by Democrats, Republicans and mainstream voters alike – about the government’s balance sheet. She argues, plausibly, that the whole idea that we should control the deficit at all is costing our nation trillions of dollars in lost output. The result is lost income, savings, wealth and prosperity.

2013-10-29 Puerto Rico: “Always the money owing” by Hildy and Stan Richelson (Article)

We have not recommended or purchased Puerto Rico bonds for 12 years. This is not because we thought that Puerto Rico would imminently default. Rather, we did not like the low ratings and the Commonwealth’s ubiquitous and growing debt. We view an investment in bonds as a way to control risk, not to make outsized returns.

2013-10-29 Is This the New Normal'? by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Markets Settle into a New “Normal” All sorts of economic data were released last week, but volatility has dropped: rightly or wrongly, market forecasts about the pace of quantitative easing (QE) and earnings growth in the U.S. appear to have coalesced around an outlook for “slow growth with ongoing QE”.

2013-10-29 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Nice to have a week free of politico rhetoric and distractions for a change (don’t get used to it). With little in the way of budget battles, investors focused on earnings and generally liked what they saw. Add in some positive economic news from China and a labor picture that should prompt the Fed to stay put (for now) and you have another record for the S&P.

2013-10-29 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

A very quiet week for stocks as earnings season kicked into high gear at last.

2013-10-29 Equities Reach All-Time HighsYet Again! by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities marked another all-time high last week as the S&P 500 increased 0.9%. (1) Global equities reached new cycle highs for the second week in a row. Many investors have concerns that the gains will not last since the world economy remains lackluster and the liquidity driving the current rally will eventually stop.

2013-10-28 The Grand Superstition by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

One thing that separates humans from animals is the ability to evaluate whether there is really any actual mechanistic link between cause and effect. When we stop looking for those links, and believe that one thing causes another because “it just does” we give up the benefits of human intelligence and exchange them for the reflexive impulses of lemmings, sheep, and pigeons.

2013-10-28 Beyond the Noise, More of the Same? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Delayed economic data reports have begun to arrive. The figures point to a disappointing 3Q13 (relative to expectations) and the partial government shutdown is unlikely to help in 4Q13. The recovery had been poised for improvement this year, but fiscal policy has been a major headwind. Economic figures will be distorted in October (due to the government shutdown) and in November (due to the rebound from the shutdown). Yet, beyond the noise, the underlying pace of growth is likely to remain disappointing in the near term. Is there hope for 2014?

2013-10-28 Crawling, Economic Impact of Stubbing Your Toe and Employment by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

I have to admit, I had a lot of trouble figuring out where to start this week -- unemployment from last week, post-shutdown observations, exports or sobering observations around expected growth of the US economy and expected implications. It was a Barron’s article, “Slowing to a Crawl” that pushed me to address the latter first. Why? Much of what the article focuses on hit very close to home the impact of demographics and economic data on our economies.

2013-10-28 Jobs, Jobs, Jobs by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Following an extended delay, investors were disappointed (sort of) to learn that the September payroll report was another dud. The headline figure was below expectations, but investors were largely comforted by knowing this likely extended QE3 further into the future.

2013-10-28 Why Growth is Deep in the Heart of Texas by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

A recent TIME Magazine cover features an engaging collage of the 50 states reassembled to fit within the boundaries of Texas. With a growing number of solid-paying jobs, affordable housing, and low taxes, “the Lone Star State is America’s Future,” declares economist and writer Tyler Cowen.

2013-10-26 A Code Red World by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The heart of this week’s letter is the introduction of my just-released new book, Code Red. It is my own take (along with co-author Jonathan Tepper) on the problems that have grown out of an unrelenting assault on monetary norms by central banks around the world.

2013-10-25 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.1, up from last week’s 130.3 (revised from 130.4). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, dropped to 2.0, down from 2.7 (a downward revision from 2.8).

2013-10-25 Why Growth is Deep in the Heart of Texas by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

TIME Magazine’s cover this week features an engaging collage of the 50 states reassembled to fit within the boundaries of Texas. With a growing number of solid-paying jobs, affordable housing, and low taxes, “the Lone Star State is America’s Future,” declares economist and writer Tyler Cowen.

2013-10-24 Risk-On Returns by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Ultra loose U.S. monetary policy continues pushing asset values higher at home and abroad. Seasonal factors should also provide a tailwind and lift asset prices across nearly every investment class.

2013-10-23 Singaporean Consumer Consumption and Confidence is Weak - Should Investors Worry? by Team of Manning & Napier

Singapore is the world’s 35th largest economy by nominal GDP, yet ranks 6th in the world by GDP per capita, signifying its position as an advanced and highly-productive economy. With an efficient regulatory framework, low tax rates, and a flexible labor market, Singapore has a reputation for being one of the most business-friendly countries in the world.

2013-10-23 At 40 I\'m Half Dead by Liam Molloy, Bethany Carlson of Galway Investment Strategy

So goes comedian Louis CK’s bit about hitting middle age. “Not old enough for anyone to care that you’re old. Not young enough for anyone to be proud of you or impressed.” And as we head into the backstretch of this economic cycle, that same cynicism and resignation seems to be settling right in. The glory days of riding the upward slope when almost everything was screamingly cheap in 2009 are behind us.

2013-10-23 Shifting Gears: The Fed Turns from Tapering to Tempering Expectations by Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson of Hartford Funds

Federal Reserve (Fed) Chairman Ben Bernanke surprised markets on September 18 by announcing a continuation of the Fed’s $85 billion-per-month bond purchases and more muted expectations for economic growth and inflation. With this proverbial monkey wrench thrown into the gears of financial markets, investors are now asking how the Fed’s new course changes the investment outlook.

2013-10-23 Lackluster Employment Report Leaves Fed on Hold by Team of Northern Trust

The sluggish hiring pace visible in the September employment report justifies the Federal Reserve’s decision to postpone tapering of asset purchases. Data for the September report were gathered prior to the government shutdown, but October employment numbers will contain distortions arising from not collecting data during the typical survey period, rendering comparisons difficult.

2013-10-23 What a Yellen Fed Could Mean for Interest Rates by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

A major question among investors after Janet Yellen’s nomination for Fed Chair is whether she will be too soft on inflation. Part of Yellen’s dovish reputation stems from a debate among the FOMC in July 1996, in which she warned the committee about the risks of pushing inflation too low. With the passage of time, however, the views Yellen expressed at that meeting now come across as very sensible. Indeed, today they would be considered uncontroversial among most economists. In reality Yellen is closer to the Fed consensus on inflation than her reputation in markets would suggest.

2013-10-23 Investment Bulletin: Global Equity Strategy by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

The portfolio enjoyed another index-beating month with a gain of 0.9% versus 0.6%, so improving further the long term numbers. As noted in previous Bulletins, correlations between growth and equity market returns are low. Investors remain fixated otherwise, but some confusion is reasonable given that growth in earnings per share is also slowing. Yet strong equity markets can be justified by the Free Lunch Theory.

2013-10-23 Economic & Capital Market Summary by Gregory Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management

It has been five years since the Financial Crisis wreaked havoc on the economy and capital markets. With equity markets trading near record highs and new issue corporate bonds coming to market regularly, the capital markets have largely recovered. However, we are concerned that the economic recovery is just an illusion that exists in spite of the efforts in Washington D.C. to kill it.

2013-10-23 Cirque du Ben by Liam Molloy, Charlie Mas of Galway Investment Strategy

The Cirque du Ben will soon be leaving town for good. Some have cheered while others have watched in horror waiting for the disaster, but all were treated to a high wire act unlike any other Fed chairman has ever performed. Fed chairmen are often defined by the consequences of the previous performer. Bernanke had a couple of tough acts to follow in Volcker and Greenspan. Volcker had to guide an economy out of stagflation while Greenspan presided over 9/11, two recessions, and a full market crash in 1987. By the end of his his show, Greenspan had an oversized influence on policy.

2013-10-23 Emerging Europe: Regional Economic Review - 3Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

In its latest World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) further trimmed its forecast for global growth. The Washington-based lender said expansion will be driven more by developed economies as emerging markets grapple with slowing growth and a tighter global financial scenario as interest rates hint of trending higher in advanced economies such as the United States. However, a reading of economic tea leaves for the Euro-zone and economies such as Russia, Turkey, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic offers room for optimism.

2013-10-22 Bond Legend Dan Fuss on Rising Rates by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Having just celebrated his 80th birthday, Dan Fuss can claim a unique achievement – his tenure in the fixed income markets has spanned a full market cycle, from the great bear market that began in the early 1950s through the equally great bull market that commenced in 1981. Fuss said today’s environment most closely resembles what he confronted in the late 1950s, when long-term rates were 3% and beginning their march upwards.

2013-10-22 Inching Closer by Sponsored Content from Janus Capital Group (Article)

How is the recent flooding in Colorado related to global economies and the financial crisis of 2008? Get a unique perspective from Colleen Denzler, CFA, Janus’ Global Head of Fixed Income Strategy, on how global economies are grappling to wean themselves off government support and grow their economies from within.

2013-10-22 Washington Strikes a No-Surprise Deal - Now What? by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Congress called a time-out in the budget/debt fight last week, striking a deal to avoid default and fund the U.S. government through January 15, 2014 and raise the debt limit through February 7, 2014. While the parties agreed to budget talks, they did not commit to reaching an agreement (technically, Paul Ryan and Patty Murray, the House and Senate budget committee chairs will begin a process of fiscal negotiations, due to wrap up by mid-December).

2013-10-22 Earnings Season Hides in the Government Shadow by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Lost in all the discussion about Washington is the fact earnings season is in full swing.It is shaping up to be another interesting reporting season, on account of volatility in the markets and economy.So far, companies are beating expectations, but the broader trend is lower.

2013-10-22 The Fiscal Follies, the Economy, and the Fed by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The deal reached last week does not remove uncertainty about the budget and debt ceiling. We could go through a similar crisis in three months. The hope is that lawmakers will learn from the recent experience and work together.

2013-10-22 The Boys Are Back in Town by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

The boys are indeed back in town as Washington D.C. opened its doors for business as usual last week following a contentious debt ceiling debate and a 16-day shutdown of the government. This outcome had been anticipated in these letters for often-stated reasons, and just like when the ”fiscal cliff” was averted, I now expect the media to turn its focus to the next Armageddon.

2013-10-22 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

The gov is back in biz (so get back to work). Investors were pleased (for now).

2013-10-22 Middle East/Africa: Regional Economic Review - 3Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Economic activity in the Middle-East and North Africa (MENA) has been hindered by prolonged political unrest and civil strife. The region’s vulnerability has increased over the last two years due to mounting structural challenges. What’s more, widening fiscal deficits due to the economic slowdown and dwindling foreign currency reserves remain sources of concern, as noted by a World Bank report.

2013-10-21 Winners and Losers - Pensions and Food Stamps by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

To the brink they went and a “deal” was had. I don’t know if I call it much of a deal I kind of feel like I’ve seen this B movie before. I could go on but that would put me in the same stature as the talking heads on the left and right news channels that prophesize to their viewers without regard for the rest of us. That said, one quick digression.

2013-10-21 Puerto Rico - What do you think of? by David Lieberman (Article)

The name should conjure up images of beautiful beaches, warm weather, and Old San Juan. But, for U.S. investors, it is increasingly conjuring up images of debt run amuck. Make no mistake, Puerto Rico has massive amounts of debt; nearly $70 billion, and that excludes their unfunded pension liabilities.

2013-10-21 Did Monetary Policy Cause the Recovery? by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Much of the present faith in monetary policy derives from the belief that it was the central factor in ending the banking crisis during what is often called the Great Recession. On careful analysis, however, the clearest and most immediate event that ended the banking crisis was not monetary policy, but the abandonment of mark-to-market accounting by the Financial Accounting Standards Board on March 16, 2009, in response to Congressional pressure by the House Committee on Financial Services on March 12, 2009.

2013-10-21 Fourth Quarter Investment Outlook by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

The macro theme of the fourth quarter and early 2014 is monetary reflation and global growth resynchronization. The Fed’s surprising decision to postpone tapering its QE program will likely encourage further risk-taking. In the meantime, we observe increasing signs of a synchronized improvement among the four important economies - the United States, Europe, Japan and China.

2013-10-21 Europe Turning a Corner? by Brandon Odenath of J.P. Morgan Funds

Since late last year, investors have seen periods of strong outperformance by assets from the most impacted parts of Europe, leaving many observers wondering if Europe is turning a corner. Intervention by the ECB and the ability of those liquidity injections to stop the bleeding in the economy has helped. The reduction of austerity and drag coming from fiscal policy should be the key to faster economic growth.

2013-10-18 Connecting the DOTs: The Role of North America's Emerging Markets' in Achieving Energy Independence by John Devir of PIMCO

The midstream energy sector is likely to grow more quickly than the overall U.S. economy over the next several years, creating the potential for attractive investment opportunities. North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas, or the “DOTs” for short, stand to disproportionally benefit from strong growth in onshore U.S. oil and gas shale development. PIMCO’s approach is to identify and invest in the companies, including pipeline operating companies, favorably positioned to benefit from prolific oil production.

2013-10-18 Despite Uncertainty, the Market Still Looks Strong by Charlie Dreifus of The Royce Funds

Although it was an ugly battle, on Thursday morning October 17 President Obama signed a bill that reopened the government into January 2014 and raised the debt ceiling until early February of next year.

2013-10-18 Consumer Confidence Plunging Recession Ahead? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The stalemate in Washington continues, the government remains in partial shutdown and the debt ceiling looms on Thursday. A bipartisan deal to fund the government until January 15 and raise the debt limit until early February is working its way through the Senate and could be voted on later today or tomorrow. It is unlikely that the Senate bill will pass in the House, which is reportedly working on yet another bill (see link below) that is unlikely to pass in the Senate.

2013-10-18 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 130.4, down from last week’s 130.3 (revised from 130.4). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, dropped to 2.8, down from 3.6 (a downward revision from 3.9).

2013-10-18 High Yield Bond Outlook: A Time for Unconstrained Management by Vilis Pasts, Matthew Pasts, Isaac Braley of BTS Asset Management

Using our unconstrained approach, BTS indicators signaled a move back into High Yield bonds near the end of September.BTS Asset Management views the High Yield bond sector as exhibiting solid fundamentals. Based on historical comparisons, High Yields have strong cash flow coverage for interest payments, due to conservative use of leverage. Post 2008, companies hired less people and have kept other fixed costs down.

2013-10-18 Debt Limit Extended, Fed Policy in the Wings - What to Expect from the Markets by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments

Last night Congress reached an agreement to raise the debt limit and end the 16-day shutdown. After all the acrimony and tense negotiations, the deal passed by a comfortable margin with 81-18 vote in the Senate and 285-144 in the House.

2013-10-18 Weekly Economic Commentary by Christopher Molumphy of Northern Trust

Closing the books on the U.S. budget... for now; Do we need a debt ceiling?; Study of financial market function earns the Nobel Prize.

2013-10-18 In Other News by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

It will take some time to gauge the full impact of the government shutdown and data is likely to be somewhat skewed over the next couple of months. However, sitting on the sidelines isn\’t a great option and stocks still appear to us to be the best place to invest money for the longer term. International growth, although not robust, appears to be more supportive as we head into 2014 than it has since the financial crisis, and we favor developed over emerging markets for the time being.

2013-10-17 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

Last quarter we wrote about the confusion that can be created by the Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) two official mandates: keeping inflation in check and ensuring full employment. We also pointed out that given the rather fragile economic backdrop, talk of letting the economy stand on its own two feet by reducing their bond buying might be premature. During the third quarter, it appeared most economists felt comfortable that the Fed would indeed begin “tapering” its purchase of Treasuries and mortgage securities after the September Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetin

2013-10-17 Yellen to the Rescue? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

While Democrats and Republicans fight with water pistols, the President may be readying a bazooka by nominating Janet Yellen to succeed Ben Bernanke as Fed Chair. You may want to hold on to your wallet; let me explain.

2013-10-17 Politics Secondary to US Equity Fundamentals by Grant Bowers of Franklin Templeton

It’s easy to get caught up in the tense drama surrounding the government shutdown and the debt ceiling squabble between Congressional Republicans and Democrats, but Grant Bowers, portfolio manager of Franklin Growth Opportunities Fund, maintains that looking beyond the political posturing and focusing instead on US corporate fundamentals is his preferred approach. Read on for more from Bowers on how he views the issues at hand, and why, even in the face of another political showdown in the Capitol, he thinks the US still presents a strong investment case.

2013-10-16 Pacific Basin Market Overview - September 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

North Asian markets ended higher during the quarter after comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke appeared to infer that the Fed’s asset purchase program would be extended for a while longer. On the other hand, India and the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region underperformed along with weakening currencies and continued fund outflows. In China, Premier Li Keqiang’s statement that China would meet its gross domestic product (GDP) growth target this year, coupled with better-than-expected economic data, brought some relief to the equity markets.

2013-10-16 Economic Assessment Without Government Reports by Team of Northern Trust

The very near-term economic outlook is unclear and will remain so until the political impasse in Washington over the government shutdown and debt ceiling is settled. If differences are resolved in a day or two, the damage could be about 0.2 percentage points to fourth quarter real gross domestic product (GDP). A failure to raise the debt ceiling would more of a calamity, which we hope not to encounter.

2013-10-16 Equity Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

As we write this outlook, our political leaders once again have succeeded in holding the U.S. government budget, and by extension the financial markets and the broader economy, hostage to their respective political agendas. We believe it is important to avoid getting caught up in the drama on Capitol Hill and remain focused on the slow but continued healing taking place in the U.S. economy.

2013-10-16 Being Contrarian Could Lead to Lucrative Energy Plays by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Sometimes the most attractive energy assets aren’t found in the ground. Rather, at times like today, they are listed on the stock exchange.

2013-10-15 Is Gold Overpriced? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)

New research, based on an econometric model of gold prices, has attempted to answer the question, “Is gold overpriced?”

2013-10-15 Bond Market Review & Outlook by Thomas Fahey of Loomis Sayles

Flip-flopping Federal Reserve (Fed) policy defined the third quarter. Last quarter, the Fed threw the markets a curve ball by announcing possible tapering of its large-scale asset purchases beginning this year. That “taper talk” set off a mini-riot in global bond markets. Many emerging market (EM) countries, like Brazil, India, Indonesia and South Africa, were the biggest victims, as their bond yields rose and their currencies crashed.

2013-10-15 US Default: How Bad Would It Be? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has publicly declared October 17 this Thursday as the date when the US government would no longer be able to pay its bills, should Congress not reach a budget resolution.A once unthinkable outcome is becoming all too close to reality due to brinksmanship in Washington.For the second time in two years, investors have had to contemplate just how such a situation would shake out for financial markets.

2013-10-15 A Degree in Debt: Student Loans and the Economy by Team of Manning & Napier

Recent times have drawn concerns about student loan debt and rising delinquencies. Anecdotes of unfortunate individuals struggling financially to cope with massive student loans raise fears of broader risks to the US economy and financial markets.

2013-10-15 Equity Markets to Congress: “What, me worry?” by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

President Obama said he was willing to have discussions, though he said he wouldn’t engage in negotiations. (Comment: I guess it depends of what the meaning of "is" is.) So far, those discussions haven’t produced a deal, but at least they’ve started talking.

2013-10-14 House Republicans Determined to Burn Country to the Ground (In Order to Save It!) by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

Whenever our financial markets commentary strays into the realm of politics, we’re guaranteed to offend at least half of our clients and readers. So let us state up front that our job is NOT to choose sides but to evaluate how politics will affect the US economy and by extension corporate earnings, which are the bedrock of stock market performance. By that measure, the current tactics of House Republicans to shutdown the “non-essential” parts of the federal government and block raising the debt ceiling is an unmitigated disaster. Businesses crave predictability and reliabi

2013-10-14 Waiting for the Fed by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The Fed is waiting for evidence of stronger economic growth before it tapers monetary policy, which requires new data that won’t be available until the budget and political impasse is settled. Measured GDP, when it becomes available, will be weakened by the shutdown, but workers will be paid and underlying trends remain fairly positive. The negotiations may be protracted and highly distracting while underway, but equities should rally as soon as the budget issue is either resolved or reduced in severity, as hinted by last week’s sharp rally in reaction to progress in the talks.

2013-10-14 Short Horizon, Long Horizon by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

On all evidence, we’re far more inclined to view the position of stock prices as a temporary overextension of already extreme conditions than some durable change in the workings of the financial markets.

2013-10-14 A Look at “Stale Data” (Not Due to Gov't Shutdown) and Housing by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

I am confident that some type of deal will be reached to avert a default. And, let’s keep in mind that, according to the CBO, the 10/17 deadline is really just a deadline to start making decisions about what to pay with the remaining $30 or so billion as they project another one or two weeks before the “day of reckoning” when there is only enough money to pay about 70% of the government’s bills which bills to pay.

2013-10-14 Me and My Horse by Jim Goff of Janus Capital Group

This is not a story about getting back on the horse that throws you. It is about just staying on the horse. It is also a market story.

2013-10-14 No Sign of Economic Problems by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

With the federal government partially shut for the past couple of weeks, the normal steady stream of economic indicators has slowed to a trickle. We’ve missed reports on employment, construction, retail sales, international trade, and inventories.

2013-10-12 These Could be the Most Lucrative Energy Plays by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Sometimes the most attractive energy assets aren’t found in the ground. Rather, at times like today, they are listed on the stock exchange.

2013-10-11 The Fed's Surprise and Yellen's Challenge by Mohamed A. El-Erian of Project Syndicate

To ask what Janet L. Yellen, the nominee to succeed Ben Bernanke as Chair of the Federal Reserve, has in store for US monetary policy is to pose the wrong question. The real issue is the decline of the Fed’s policy effectiveness.

2013-10-11 Flying Blind: Forecasting with No Data or Endgame by Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial

Everything from the government shutdown to posturing regarding the lifting of the debt ceiling has heightened uncertainty about the economic outlook. Consumer and business confidence have fallen since the threat of a shutdown emerged, while the reality has taken a toll on communities where a large number of federal workers have been furloughed. Everyone, from cab drivers to restaurant owners, small retailers and (largely) defense manufacturers, were affected in the early days of the partial shutdown of government agencies.

2013-10-10 The Fire Fueling Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Gold took quite a beating in September, bucking its seasonal average monthly return of 2.3 percent. The political battle between President Barack Obama and Congress, China’s Golden Week, and India’s gold import restrictions likely weighed on the metal.

2013-10-10 Economic and Market Overview: Third Quarter 2013 by Team of Envestnet

The economic environment in the third quarter was one of growth, albeit at a slower pace than most economists, and the Federal Reserve (“Fed”), believe can be self-‐sustaining. The slow but steady gains the economy made were enough to buoy the stock market, but likely only because the Fed has seen it necessary to maintain its aggressive monetary policy. While employment gains were anemic during the quarter, the unemployment rate actually declined to 7.3%, largely due to a contraction in the labor force.

2013-10-09 Little Visible Progress on the Budget Shutdown, but Some Inside Baseball In Play by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

President Obama canceled his planned visit to Asia and participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summitciting the inconvenience caused by the government shutdown (“the difficulty in moving forward with foreign travel in the face of a shutdown), sending John Kerry in his place, and reiterating his unwillingness to negotiate with Republicans.

2013-10-09 The U.S. Can\'t Default On Its Debt. Right? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The Treasury Secretary has warned that his agency will exhaust the “extraordinary measures” it has used to fund the government on October 17. On the Sunday talk shows, he warned of “catastrophic consequences” if Congress doesn’t raise the statutory debt ceiling by then. So, over the next nine days, you’ll be hearing ominous forecasts of what will happen if the US defaults on its nearly $17 trillion national debt, or even some of it. Sound familiar?

2013-10-08 Government Shutdown Masks Pending Debt Ceiling and Third Quarter Earnings by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Equities were mixed last week as the markets were focused on the budget impasse in Washington, D.C., that forced the federal government into a partial shutdown. As with the 17 prior shutdowns, we do not anticipate a lasting impact on the economy or markets. While the shutdown makes headlines, the issues that will likely have the most impact are the debt ceiling debate and third quarter corporate earnings announcements, which could mean a bumpy ride for investors.

2013-10-08 The Only Story in Town by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

It’s strange times in the United States. The government is partially shut down and isn’t releasing any statistics. Even John Muir wouldn’t be allowed to hike in a national park. All the while, the President and the Treasury Secretary are predicting an economic calamity for the US (and maybe the globe) if the debt ceiling isn’t raised. Yet, they refuse to negotiate to prevent that from happen.

2013-10-08 Detente with Iran? by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

On September 28th, President Obama reportedly called Iranian President Rouhani to confer over American and Iranian relations. In addition, Iran’s nuclear program was discussed. This was a historic eventthe first documented call between a U.S. president and his counterpart in Iran in 35 years. The last time such a conversation occurred was when the Shah was in power.

2013-10-08 Listen to the 10th Man by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

There’s no shortage of short-term risks in today’s market or conventional wisdom on how they will play out. But prepping for the unexpected could limit the number of surprises and better insulate investors’ portfolios, writes Kristina Hooper.

2013-10-08 And That\'s The Qaurter That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

An obsession with Fed policy; troubles in Syria; new concerns in DCand yet the market kept rolling (for a while).

2013-10-08 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

The gov is closed for business. Nuff said. Coming up in the week ahead: ISM Fed Minutes (Wednesday) Retail Sales (Friday), PPI (Friday)or maybe not.

2013-10-08 Absolute Return Letter: Heads or tails? by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees, Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

Demographics captivate me. There are around 7.1 billion of us occupying planet earth today, going to 10 billion by 2050. I often think about how good old mother earth will cope with the additional 3 billion people we are projected to produce between now and 2050. More people translate into increased pressure on already scarce resources, but that is only part of the story and a story well covered by now.

2013-10-07 Auto Focus: Voluntary Plans Morphing to Mandatory? by Jon Vogler of Invesco

The American private retirement system has historically been voluntary. Employers first decide whether they’re going to sponsor a plan and then select the plan’s features. But over the last several years, focus has intensified on two criticisms of the voluntary system.

2013-10-07 Ted Williams, Ford F-150\'s, and Market Valuations by Robert Mark of Castle Investment Management

In late 2008 Lehman Brothers had just collapsed, AIG needed help from the US government and markets around the world were in a tailspin. Today, five short years later, we find it strange how the strength of the stock market defies a climate of declining earnings. With another quarter of corporate results behind us, equities continue to rally despite corporate earnings offering no material support, with many companies actually talking down their future growth prospects.

2013-10-07 Shutdown, Debt Ceiling - Who Cares? by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Driving home last week, the plight of furloughed Federal employees was on my mind. How could our elected officials in DC accept their pay for not doing their jobs while hurting folks that want to work but are told not to because the men and woman not doing their job (and still getting paid) shutdown part of the government? I was heartened to learn that Congress was going to take action but quickly realized that the “fix” paralleled the stupidity that got us into this mess. The legislation ensures that all furloughed employees will be paid for the furlough period.

2013-10-07 When Economic Data is Worse Than Useless by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Investors and analysts fall over themselves daily to analyze and interpret the latest data from regional Fed surveys (e.g. Philly Fed, Empire Manufacturing), purchasing managers indices (e.g. national manufacturing, national services, regional PMIs), and other economic measures (e.g. new unemployment claims, average weekly hours). The problem is that virtually all of these measures have become not only uncorrelated with subsequent economic outcomes, but negatively correlated with subsequent outcomes.

2013-10-07 Charles Wheelan’s Tips for Separating Economic Truth from Fiction by Jeff Briskin (Article)

The world of numerical obfuscation is a topic covered in an informative and surprisingly entertaining ‘statistics primer’ by economist Charles Wheelan. In a recent conversation with Wheelan, we discussed his book and the lessons it offers to financial advisors, whose decision-making processes are influenced by the seemingly endless stream of economic and market data posted every day.

2013-10-05 The Road to a New Medical Order by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I will aim to dwell simply on the economic ramifications of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, as it exists today. We are changing the plumbing on 17.9% of the US GDP in profound ways. Many, if not most, of the changes are absolutely necessary.

2013-10-04 The New Normalization of Fed Policy by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

The Fed is sending a message that the unwinding of its extraordinary accommodation will be done with great care and patience, and will take time - a long time. In delaying a taper, not only did the Fed show markets it has little tolerance for any tightening of financial conditions, it also strengthened its forward guidance considerably. The Fed’s decision to delay a taper will likely relieve some of the upward pressure on longer-term interest rates.

2013-10-04 The Economy, the Fed, and Politics by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

It was a good quarter to invest in equities, and despite a down second quarter, overall a good year as well. The Dow was up 1.5%, the S&P 4.7% and the NASDAQ 10.8%. Year-to-date returns were very positive with the Dow up 15.5%, S&P up 17.9%, and NASDAQ up 24.9%. International equities were also positive for the quarter and year with the MSCI ACWI ex US up 9.4% and up 7.5% year-to-date. While emerging market equity indices were up 5% for the quarter they remained negative -6.4% for the year.

2013-10-04 The Debt Ceiling Drama is Heating Up by Team of Northern Trust

The debt ceiling drama is heating up. Threatening default is reckless, but long-term budget issues require attention. Measures of policy uncertainty show a link to economic performance

2013-10-04 The Fed and Its Big Thumb by Ron Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp & Co.

We’ve seen what happens when prices get ahead of the economy reality. The bubbles in the dot-com’s in 2000 and the housing market in 2007 were such effects. We fear that the apparent Fed desire to continue to manipulate interest rates may engender more bubbles.

2013-10-04 Introducing the Tortoise Economy by Sam Stewart of Wasatch Funds

All things considered, large U.S. companies that operate globally appear to be particularly attractive right now. Because many of these companies are generating significant portions of their sales outside the U.S., investors are effectively getting some international exposure with what I consider to be more-quantifiable risks.

2013-10-04 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.1, down from last week’s 132.9. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, remains unchanged at 4.8% (with last week’s number revised downward from 4.9).

2013-10-04 The Fire Fueling Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

For patient, long-term investors looking for a great portfolio diversifier, a moderate weighting in gold and gold stocks may be just the answer. And, today, when looking across the gold mining industry, you’ll find plenty of companies that have paid attractive dividends, many higher than the 5-year government yield.

2013-10-04 Debt Ceiling Debate Takes Center Stage as Government Shutdown Continues by Michael Townsend, Liz Ann Sonders & Kathy A. Jones of Charles Schwab

It appears likely the first government shutdown since 1996 will not be resolved quickly. We believe Congress will seek to package reopening the government with a debt ceiling increase. Despite the brinksmanship, we don’t expect to see a downgrade of U.S. government debt by the major ratings agencies.

2013-10-03 United States GDP (Gross Domestic Product), a Sign of Things to Come or of Things past? by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

Today’s United States GDP (Gross Domestic Product) report of 2.5% was nearly as expected so lower. The actual expectation was 2.6% that puts our average for the year now at 1.8%. This is not a good GDP. The United States GDP indicates what direction the country is going. It tells us whether we are growing and getting stronger or just stumbling by. Quarter to quarter it is much better but the number for the year so far tells us we have a long way to go.

2013-10-03 Third Quarter Market Commentary: Let's Reminisce by Robert Stimpson of Oak Associates

US stocks have risen each quarter of 2013, outperforming most other asset classes and emerging markets along the way. In the third quarter, the S&P 500 Index rose 5.24% and pushed the year-to-date gain to 19.79%. All sectors within the S&P 500 have produced positive returns this year, although the pro-cyclical groups have outperformed the defensive ones.

2013-10-03 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Last week, total AUM in all active ETFs fell by almost $40.9 million. Assets in the two largest categories “Short Term Bond” and “Global Bond” fell by $7.74 million and $10.156 respectively. In addition, the “Foreign Bond” category decreased by $36.33 million, while AUM in “Currency” active ETFs fell by almost $5.2 million.

2013-10-03 More Heat Than Light by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Following their surprising decision to maintain the current pace of quantitative easing (QE), Fed officials provided more detailed reasoning last week in public remarks and interviews with media outlets. Unfortunately, the latest comments added more heat than light to the QE debate in our view. Much like Chairman Bernanke’s post-meeting press conference, officials expressed contradictory views on several major policy questions.

2013-10-03 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook for the Americas: A Slow-Moving Fed Benefits Economies on Both Continents by Mohit Mittal, Lupin Rahman, Ed Devlin of PIMCO

PIMCO expects the U.S. economy to grow 2.0%2.5% over the next year. However, a continued government shutdown would be a drag on growth. In Latin America, we see growth picking up to 3.0%3.5%, but the outlook varies by country. Mexico should fare well, but Brazil’s story is more mixed. In Canada, we believe the housing correction will be less severe than many are predicting, and we expect GDP to grow 1.5%2.0% over the cyclical horizon.

2013-10-02 Countdown to a Government Shutdown (Sept. 30) by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Unless an 11th hour deal is struck, the government will shut down at midnight tonight. Memories are fresh from similar "fiscal follies" in the summer of 2011 and we’ll compare and contrast. The last shutdown was 17 years ago and a look at that history may also be instructive.

2013-10-02 The Death Knell of Global Synchronized Trade by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

At Smead Capital Management, we believe the interest on September 18th in emerging markets, oil and gold are the last gasps of a dying trend. Our discipline demands that you must avoid popular investments and completely avoid investments attached to a perceived “new era.” We argue that the international investment markets reaction to Bernanke’s reprieve on September 18th is proof of a vision we have of the future.

2013-10-02 What's easy about Quantitative Easing? by Gene Goldman of Cetera Financial Group

Recently you may have read or heard in the news about the possibility of the Federal Reserve (Fed) “tapering” its Quantitative Easing (QE) program. The topic can be so ingrained in the news cycle that few newscasters take the time to cover the details. So we thought we’d spend a few minutes discussing the background and recent developments on the QE program, and why it matters to investors.

2013-10-02 And That\'s The Week That Was by Rob Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Move over Ben BernankeTed Cruz has the floor. (Somehow investors seem more interested when Dr. B speaks.) With politicos facing debates on debt ceilings and budget funding, few have confidence that they can act reasonably and with compromise (and the Cruz debacle did not help matters). Stocks fell over five consecutive days as portfolio managers set up positions for the next quarter. Labor and manufacturing releases highlight a hectic week on the economic calendar, but shenanigans from DC may steal the headlines.

2013-10-02 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Financial markets have now become a function of how investors are guessing the drama in Washington DC will play out.

2013-10-01 The Looming Threat to China’s Economy by Marianne Brunet (Article)

The debate over China’s economic prospects centers on its real-estate bubble, excessive leverage and rising labor costs. But regardless of its short-term fate, China’s economic growth will ultimately be limited by the availability of a key resource. China ranks second lowest in the world for water availability per capita. Water-scarcity poses a threat to its future growth. The challenge is determining how severe this will be.

2013-10-01 Europe Pokes Its Head Out From the Shadows by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

With all the focus on affairs in the US, China and developing nations, Europe has largely been given a free pass in recent months. The lack of attention gave Europe the opportunity to fix some of its troubles, but challenges remain and are likely to surface in the weeks ahead.

2013-09-30 Teenage Melodrama and the Market's Infatuation with QE by Michael Temple of Pioneer Investments

Like a teenager caught between the decision of going to college and leaving friends behind or living in the comfort of home and going nowhere, debt markets have been reeling between taper angst and infinite quantitative easing euphoria.

2013-09-30 Sitting Ducks by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Stocks are a claim on a very long-term stream of future cash flows that will be distributed to shareholders over time, and P/E ratios are simply a shorthand. P/E ratios are useful only to the extent that the earnings measure being used is reasonably representative and informative about the long-term stream of cash flows what might be called a “sufficient statistic.”

2013-09-30 DC Follies, Puerto Rico and A Report on Defaults and Bankruptcy by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

I start this week with some observations on the follies taking place in our nation’s capital, then provide some data around Puerto Rico and, finally, a look at a recently released report around municipal defaults. One might argue a common thread just might run thru this commentary. Be on the lookout for a special release later this week as the Geo Score is updated for States, Counties and over 330 Cities.

2013-09-27 Read My Lips... by Dimitri Balatsos of Tesseract Partners

Chairman Ben Bernanke’s press conference this week, commenting on the decision by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) not to “taper,” reminded us of the famous slogan of Presidential hopeful George H.W. Bush at the 1988 Republican National Convention “Read my lips: no new taxes.” Yet, after he won the election, he raised taxes in an effort to reduce the public deficit.

2013-09-27 GDP, a Sign of Things to Come or of Things past? by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

Today’s GDP report of 2.5% was nearly as expected so lower. The actual expectation was 2.6% that puts our average for the year now at 1.8%. This is not a good GDP.

2013-09-27 Give Me Tapering... Just Not Yet by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Last week Federal Reserve (the Fed) officials surprised investors by choosing not to begin slowing the pace of quantitative easing (QE) despite months of setup in their public comments. Instead, the latest iteration of the Fed’s bond buying strategy will continue at $85 billion per month. At this point our best guess is that the decision was a path of least resistance among a divided committee: there seemed to be a number of officials who were concerned about downside risks to growth from fiscal policy uncertainty and higher interest rates.

2013-09-27 3 Reasons the Labor Market Will Continue to Frustrate the Fed by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

The Fed’s decision to delay tapering is an implicit acknowledgment that the labor market is far from healed. Russ explains why the labor market is likely to continue to frustrate the Fed and gives two implications for investors.

2013-09-27 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.9, up from last week’s 132.3 (revised down from 132.4). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 4.9% from last week’s 4.5%.

2013-09-27 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Merkel’s win is unlikely to lead to any changes in the Eurozone. Extra lift from exports is not guaranteed. Robust growth is a challenge in India, Brazil and Indonesia.

2013-09-26 One Trick Pony: Whipping the GDP Donkey into a Stallion by Cliff Draughn of Excelsia

The difficulty since 2012 has been that if you are not significantly overweight US equities, then your returns are less than stellar. Employing a diversified, risk-averse investment strategy in 2013 has in hindsight been the wrong thing to do, given that every other asset class is negative year-to-date, while US stocks are up double digits. The combination of the Fed’s Zero Interest Rate Policy and the artificial bubble in Treasury bonds has forced conservative investors into riskier positions in order to find risk-adjusted returns.

2013-09-26 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook for Europe: Near-Term Recovery, Long-Term Risks by Andrew Balls of PIMCO

While Europe has emerged out of recession, the relative tightness of monetary policy means the eurozone is still struggling to get back to potential pre-Lehman growth rates. The European Central Bank should be able to maintain stability over the cyclical horizon while policymakers continue to address outstanding issues as they look to build a less vulnerable monetary union. We are selective in our approach to regional credit and remain neutral on the euro, balancing our cyclical outlook with longer-term secular concerns on the eurozone outlook and valuations.

2013-09-25 Surprise! No Tapering and More Budget Progress than Meets the Eye by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

On Monday, Larry Summers exited the pool of candidates for the next Federal Reserve (Fed) chairman. (Only the timing was really a surprise.) On Wednesday, the Fed didn’t taper and de-emphasized several of the targets they’d set earlier. (Big surprise versus consensus - not central bank best practices). Municipal bond offerings by Puerto Rico, California, and Illinois were met with strong investor demand.

2013-09-25 Muni Market Resurgent by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management

In light of the recent recovery in fixed income markets and the outperformance of the municipal bond market in particular, I thought I would send a note to provide a brief update since we last sent our market observations in July and August. As you may recall, we stated in the clearest terms that we felt the recent rise in interest rates provided an attractive entry point for municipal bond investors.

2013-09-24 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Hail the Almighty Fed. Despite a rather hectic week on the economic calendar, investors instead focused primarily on news from the Federal Reserve. They rejoiced the end of Summer’s campaign for Chair and further rejoiced another Fed meeting with far more words than action. The week ended with profit-taking and plenty of uncertainty heading into the homestretch of the year.

2013-09-24 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

The Federal Reserve kept its word last week: until they see an improvement in jobs growth and wages they simply won’t budge on their mission to keep interest rates low to stimulate borrowing and economic expansion. What this means to the markets, however, is more ambiguous.

2013-09-24 The Brazil Conundrum by Bill OGrady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

The last decade has been exceptionally good for emerging markets. Never before have so many countries grown so rapidly, and at the same time. The average growth rate from 2003 to 2012 was 13.1% for emerging markets, while the long-term average stands at 5.0%. This growth rate was partly due to mean reversion after sluggish growth periods in the 80s and 90s, when the average growth rate for the group stood at 3.5%.

2013-09-23 America's Labor Market by the Numbers by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

Net monthly job creation in the US was up in August, while unemployment was down. But, to get a real sense of the American labor market’s health, we need to look at other indicators, and what these numbers have to tell us about both the present and the future is far from reassuring.

2013-09-23 A Gross Failure of Communications by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Everyone was totally caught by surprise when the Fed announced it would maintain the $85 billion monthly rate of bond buying after Fed officials had carefully signaled for months that it would soon start tapering purchases. Moreover, the Fed’s justification was not compelling and the decision wrecked havoc with the Fed’s efforts to improve transparency. Investors are right to be confused. Still, bonds remain at risk, while stocks should continue to do well.

2013-09-23 Seeking Global Growth: Our Outlook for Credit by James Balfour of Loomis Sayles

Global business and credit cycles are nothing new to investors. The familiar sequence of recession, recovery, expansion and slowdown plays out over time, influencing interest rates, credit availability, business climate and capital markets. It’s a time-honored process, but in practice, no two business and credit cycle pairings are exactly alike. Business and credit cycles tend to be driven by specific but varying factors that accumulate until an economic “tipping point” is reached, after which the business and credit climates deteriorate.

2013-09-23 The Euro Tug-of-War by Thomas Kressin of PIMCO

Faced with lingering economic stagnation, record unemployment and continued political strife in the region, the common consensus for a depreciation of the euro seems only natural and very much required to counter the weak cyclical position of the eurozone. The rising current account surplus in combination with net long-term capital inflows point to a stronger euro that could stay with us for an extended period; such a development could potentially undermine the fragile social consensus to continue with the necessary structural and fiscal reforms.

2013-09-23 Shake & Bake and Pension Woes, One Man's “Thoughts From the Frontline” by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week I take a departure from form. After a few brief words around the Fed’s Shake and Bake maneuver and a very quick look at Food Stamp data, I return you to the capable hands of John Mauldin to dive into the Pension woes. We are honored that Mr. Mauldin based his work on DIVER’s data and some of our tools. If you decide to follow John’s advice around your city, let us know if we can help. Be sure to check out the “Data Released this Week” as our data team was hard at work.

2013-09-23 Loose and Looser by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Larry Summers took his name out of the hat and won’t be considered for the top spot at the Federal Reserve. And while nothing is a slam dunk, it looks very much like current Vice Chair Janet Yellen is going to get the call from President Obama to step up and replace Bernanke.

2013-09-23 Post Fed, Expect More Surprises by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Kristina Hooper says investors should brace for more big market swingsand some fiscal curveballsin the wake of the FOMC’s decision not to taper in September. But the economy is throwing some good surprises our way too.

2013-09-21 Rich City, Poor City by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we will conclude our look at pension plans for the nonce with a 30,000-foot overview of the states and then take a deeper dive into one city: mine. This will give you at least one version of how to do your own homework about your own hometown. But fair warning, depending on your locale, you may need medical help or significant quantities of an adult beverage after you finish your research.

2013-09-21 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Global deleveraging has a long way to go. Fiscal drama and the economy. Funding for economic statistics needs to be enhanced

2013-09-21 Stock Buyback Announcements Slow to $2.3 Billion Daily in Third Quarter by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

Due to the acceleration in buyback volume in previous quarters, we are not reducing our $2.0 billion daily estimate of actual stock buybacks. Actual stock buybacks tend to track new stock buybacks closely with a lag. If the volume keeps falling in Q4 2013, however, we will likely reduce our estimate.

2013-09-21 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.4, to one decimal place unchanged from last week’s 132.4 (revised down from 132.3). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 4.5% from last week’s 4.3%.

2013-09-21 India's Need for Labor Reform by Siddharth Bhargava of Matthews Asia

India has long been recognized as a country of vast potential. With over 1.2 billion people, it boasts nearly one-fifth of the world’s working age population. However, the country’s laws hark back to a period when India’s political philosophy was still rooted in socialisma time when the government ran its own factories. Such laws have failed to keep pace with the economic liberalization program that began in 1991.

2013-09-21 How Did The Fed Catch Markets Off Guard? What Does it Mean for Investors? by Ken Taubes of Pioneer Investments

We think this decision prolongs the positive market environment we have seen in both equities and fixed income. With the Fed seemingly a distance away from tapering and raising rates, this could bode well for the risk sectors, where we could see further tightening in credit spreads on both high yield and investment-grade corporate bonds.

2013-09-21 Fifty Shades of Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Unlike many commodities, there are many shades to gold, such as the Love Trade’s buying gold for loved ones and the Fear Trade’s purchasing gold as a store of value. An additional “shade” investors need to be aware of is how the Fed interprets the recovery of the U.S. economy.

2013-09-20 The Fed's About-Face by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The Federal Reserve’s decision not to taper quantitative easing telegraphed a mixed signal to markets about policy guidance while tempering forward economic growth expectations. Dramatically lower interest rates can be expected.

2013-09-20 Growth and Rising Stars by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

While developed market growth in several regions is picking up cyclically from low levels, overall global economic growth should remain subdued over the next several years. We believe credit spread tightening and rating upgrades are most likely for specific companies in industries and areas with strong growth. We see these "rising star" companies in the U.S. and European auto sector, the gaming, energy and chemical industries and in sectors tied to the U.S. housing market.

2013-09-19 A Closer Look at Earnings by Ted Baszler of Heartland Advisors

To get a sense of whether forward estimates currently in place for the S&P 500 may be excessiveparticularly in light of an economic recovery that has at times moved in fits and startswe took a look at how earnings have historically related to weekly jobless claims figures.

2013-09-19 The Taper That Wasn\'t by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The Fed’s failure today to announce some sort of tapering of its QE program, despite the consensus of an overwhelming percentage of economists who expected action, once again reveals the degree to which mainstream analysts have overestimated the strength of our current economy. The Fed understands, as the market seems not to, that the current "recovery" could not survive without continuation of massive monetary stimulus.

2013-09-19 Time to Taper? by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

The Fed debate this year has largely revolved around a single question: When will the FOMC begin to slow the pace of quantitative easing (QE)? At the start of the year, most analysts thought that the committee would continue its bond buying program at full speed all year, and only taper its purchases in early 2014. However, we began to hear hints from Fed officials as earlier as January that they may stop short of consensus expectations.

2013-09-19 When Doves Cry, \"Not Yet\" by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The Fed surprised markets and the consensus by maintaining its full QE bond buying program; while both stocks and bonds soared on the news.

2013-09-18 Bernanke Gets Another Chance to Communicate by Scott Brown of Raymond James

It seems clear that most Fed policymakers have not decided whether to begin reducing the pace of asset purchases. Officials will review a wide range of data and anecdotal information this week. It’s generally (but not universally) expected that this will lead the Federal Open Market Committee to begin tapering, but modestly, while signaling a wait-and-see attitude on further action. The Fed should continue to stress that short-term interest rates will remain low for some time. The economy is still far from being fully recovered, but we’re well on our way.

2013-09-18 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Depending upon where you reside, or on which side of the issues you fall, it was a good week last week. We averted a military strike on Syria by the U.S., at least temporarily; we had reasonable adjustments to economic growth statistics; and most made some money in their portfolios. While cyclical dynamics are relatively benign, the broader secular outlook continues to build a solid foundation for recovery.

2013-09-18 Newsletter September 2013 by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

SAY IT ISN’T SO... Investment News headline “Ex-J.P. Morgan broker: Firm pushed house funds.” The story went on to report: “Claims reps didn’t get commission on trades of outside funds. A former J.P. Morgan broker has filed an arbitration claim alleging that the bank’s securities unit encouraged sales of proprietary funds by withholding commissions from brokers on trades of outside funds.

2013-09-17 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 Tidbits Foreclosure, BK Signs and John Mauldin's “Unrealistic Expectations” by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Some tidbits to start and then on to an outstanding guest commentary from the renowned John Mauldin. Our tidbits focus on Foreclosures and some insights around our review of some bankruptcy warning signs published by S&P Capital IQ. Our guest commentary, “Unrealistic Expectations” (I might have called it “Unrealistic Assumptions”), focuses on the daunting reality of underfunded pension plans.

2013-09-17 Doesn\'t Government Lie? by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Like a Plow Horse, the US economy keeps plodding along GDP and payrolls keep growing. This confounds many pessimistic, debt-focused, perma-bear investors, who fall back on the belief that anything good must simply be a lie.

2013-09-17 Consumers Face An Economy at a Crossroads by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

As the Federal Reserve prepares to debate the merits of tapering its asset purchase program this week, a key area of the economy that will be closely analyzed by Bernanke and Co. is the health of the American consumer. There are tenuous signs that consumers are spending more, but attitudes towards the economic recovery are hardly encouraging. Consumers will find it difficult to stay the key cog of economic growth in the U.S., but at the very least, their participation in the recovery is imperative, and leaves much to be desired.

2013-09-16 FOMC Preview: Taper Likely To Be Deferred or Minimal by Team of Northern Trust

Market participants have been working overtime to refine their expectations of what the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) might do at its meeting next week. Many are calling for a cut in the Fed’s pace of asset purchases from the current level of $85 billion per month.

2013-09-16 Russia is Tough to Love, Easier to Hate, Hard for Investors to Ignore. Here\'s Why by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Russian President Vladimir Putin created a stir recently when he shared his thoughts with Americans in an op-ed printed in The New York Times. According to The Times, very few pieces written by heads of state have been published by the paper and very few received the attention Putin attracted.

2013-09-16 Syria: Foreign Policy Turmoil is a Distraction for Investors by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The equity and bond markets have been buffeted by the turn of events in Syria, although incoming economic data is vastly more important than political developments. Syria remains a mess on many levels. But it is essentially irrelevant in affecting labor scarcity, inflation or possible changes in monetary policy. Many politicians and analysts consider the pace of growth unsatisfactory, but the moderate growth rate has been sufficient to bring down the unemployment rate, while corporate profits have increased.

2013-09-16 Baby Steps by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Our view is that the Federal Reserve will taper its program of quantitative easing this week, in the range of a $10-15 billion reduction in the pace of monthly debt purchases. The Fed really has no “communication problem” about this the economic impact of further quantitative easing has had diminishing returns, and the economic drag from fiscal reductions has thus far been smaller than the Fed feared when it justified QEternity on the basis of those concerns last year.

2013-09-16 Investing in Puerto Rico: What Investors Should Know by Stephanie Larosiliere of Invesco Blog

In recent quarters, investors have been on high alert about Puerto Rico’s ailing financial situation. The concern was sparked by the US territory’s ongoing recession, which has been characterized by high unemployment, $70 billion of total debt and a consecutive streak of annual budget deficits. Compounding investors’ fears were Detroit’s recent bankruptcy filing and June’s massive sell-off in the municipal bond market, which may have caused some weakness in Puerto Rico’s debt.

2013-09-16 Opportunities in Uncertainty by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Uncertainty and volatility are elevated, which we believe provides opportunities for investors.

2013-09-13 Pacific Basin Market Overview August 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Asian equity markets ended lower in August, chiefly due to concerns about currency weakness in India and Indonesia, while improved macroeconomic data from China contributed to this market’s outperformance. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index including Japan fell by 1.3% while the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Free Index closed 0.71% lower during the month. (All performance figures are based on MSCI indices in U.S. dollar terms with dividends included unless otherwise stated.)

2013-09-13 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Last week, total AUM in all active ETFs increased by around $38.2 million.As in previous weeks, assets in “Short Term Bond” active ETFs increased, this time by almost $61.7 million, while AUM in the “Global Bond” category fell by about $39 million.The “Global Bond” category had another bad week, ending over $18.3 million below where it began.The “Alternative Income” category increased again but by less than in previous weeks; AUM increased by nearly $4.26 million. The “Alternative” active ETF category’s AUM rose by approximately

2013-09-13 Waiting for Clarity From the Fed and Congress by Team of Northern Trust

U.S. economic growth averaged roughly 2.0% in the first half of the year and the average gain of real gross domestic product (GDP) during the entire 16-quarter economic recovery is 2.2%. Real GDP is projected to grow close to this trend in the second half of the year.

2013-09-13 What's Happening to Bonds and Why? by Mohamed El-Erian of PIMCO

To say that bonds are under pressure would be an understatement. Over the last few months, sentiment about fixed income has flipped dramatically: from a favored investment destination that is deemed to benefit from exceptional support from central banks, to an asset class experiencing large outflows, negative returns and reduced standing as an anchor of a well-diversified asset allocation.

2013-09-13 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.3, an increase from last week’s 131.5. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 4.1% from last week’s 3.9%.... At this point the company is still featuring a commentary posted at the end of July, Becoming Japan, which highlights the decline in GDP growth for Japan and seven other major economies, including the US.

2013-09-13 The View from Here - September 13, 2013: Five Years After by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

How much have we recovered from the global financial crisis?

2013-09-13 Open for Business Down Under by Kenneth Lowe of Matthews Asia

Swiftly after fighting off what most observers deemed to be a fairly weak incumbent Labor opposition in the recent Australian election, the leader of the Conservative coalition and the country’s newly crowned Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, firmly declared Australia to be “once more open for business."

2013-09-12 Rates Update: Rationale for the Continuing Sell-off and Distinctions between 1994 & 2003 by Brian Smith of TCW Asset Management

The bond market continues to struggle to find support, with 10-year Treasury yields touching 3%, a sell-off of roughly 140 bps in the last 4 months! While reduced dealer risk capacity and impaired investor loss tolerances are two underlying factors contributing to recent rates volatility, this violent move to higher yields has been primarily led by expectations that the Fed will begin to taper asset purchases in their upcoming meeting on September 18th.

2013-09-12 Approaching a Turning Point by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Higher interest rates continue to negatively affect the real economy, increasing the susceptibility of risk assets to downside risk.

2013-09-12 Brave New World by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms of ING Investment Management

If the monotony of high school lulled you into a catatonic state the semester you were supposed to read Brave New World, here’s the CliffsNotes summary of what you missed. Aldous Huxley imagined a futuristic utopia in which the government promotes economic and emotional stability through the plentiful use of a soporific opiate called “soma”. Soma allows the mind to take a holiday from worldly problems via a gram, or two or three. Imagine the chaos into which this fictional world would descend were the government to abandon its role as pharmacist to the masses.

2013-09-12 Unemployment, Participation and the Fed by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Despite a mediocre August jobs report, we still expect the Federal Reserve to announce a slowing of the pace of bond purchases when it meets next week. One reason for this view is that Fed officials care more about the level of the unemployment rate than the pace of job creation. We often write that monetary policy is about “gaps” not growth: the Fed is trying to reduce spare capacity in the economy, not bring about a rapid expansion per se.

2013-09-11 Demand and Supply Fundamentals Point to Continued Price Growth by Adam Artunian of John Burns Real Estate Consulting

Will home price appreciation remain strong in the face of modest job growth and the recent uptick in mortgage rates?

2013-09-10 Capital Spending: A Double-Edged Sword by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Rising business outlays on equipment and technology will likely contribute to a subpar pace of hiringand help boost corporate profit margins.

2013-09-10 Notable Lines by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

One of President Obama’s most notable lines, "you didn’t build that," sent chills up my spine when I first heard it. As an entrepreneurial-minded business owner, I found that statement shocking, to be honest. But maybe there is some truth to it...

2013-09-10 QE Tapering: Why Whether' or When' Doesn't Really Matter by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

We didn’t go to war last week what will happen is highly uncertain but the perceived probability of an imminent U.S. attack on Syria seemed to drop as the week proceeded.

2013-09-10 The Suit? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Bernie Cornfeld, of IOS Fund fame, coined the phrase, “Do you really want to be rich?” At the time I was working as a stock broker, and writing investment strategy for E.F.Hutton, having penned in December 1974 that, “I recommend a gradual return to significant common stock accumulation” (I still have that report). I also learned that you have to evaluate the risks, because sometimes when you go after the “big bucks” you lose. Then you end up with small change!

2013-09-10 The August Employment Report Enough to Taper? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The August Employment Report was not as strong as expected, but it wasn’t terribly weak either, making the Fed’s decision to taper a bit more difficult. Still, QE can’t last forever.

2013-09-10 Some Scary Bumps in the Road Just Ahead by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The major stock indexes moved lower after setting new record highs in early August, although prices have recovered somewhat in the last few days. So was the weakness in August just an overdue correction before moving even higher? Maybe, but there are a number of things coming up in the next month or so that could rattle the markets even more, including whether or not we go to war with Syria. We’ll talk about those today.

2013-09-10 Check or Checkmate... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

The White House’s goal is to persuade Congress to authorize a limited military strike against Syria to punish it for a deadly chemical weapons attack. But after a frenetic week of wall-to-wall intelligence briefings, dozens of phone calls, and hours of hearings with senior members of Mr. Obama’s war council, more and more lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, are lining up to vote against the president.

2013-09-10 Taper Vs. No Taper - Let\'s Meet Somewhere In The Middle by John Rothe of Riverbend Investment Management

Volatility in the US equity and bond markets has risen since Ben Bernanke and the rest of the Federal Reserve Board mentioned the possibility of tapering its bond purchase program - in other words, a potential end to the "free ride" the Fed has been giving investors. However, economic data is still weak and a reduction in economic stimulus by the Fed may harm the US economy.

2013-09-09 Get Ready for “Taper Lite”: 3 Signs the Labor Market Isn't Picking Up by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While the overall US economy is healing, the labor market’s recovery continues to be frustratingly slow. Friday’s payroll report suggests investors should prepare for a less aggressive Fed, a more muted backup in interest rates and a bond market that can go up as well as down.

2013-09-09 The Lesson of the Coming Decade by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Even if the S&P 500 Index goes nowhere over the coming decade - as historically reliable measures of valuation suggest - it will probably go nowhere in an interesting and volatile way, providing better value and opportunities that are well-supported by historical evidence. The challenge will be to maintain discipline even when frustration begs investors to abandon it.

2013-09-09 Moving On - Five Years After Lehman by John Petrides (Article)

This month marks the fifth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers failure and the start of worst financial crisis in American history since the Great Depression, and yet to some investors, it seems like only yesterday. Investors still hold onto that period of volatility as if it will happen again tomorrow, paralyzing and confusing their investment decisions. Consequently, many investors have watched from the sidelines as the stock market has recovered solidly year after year.

2013-09-09 First Friday Review, Opportunity Knocks, Pensions and Geo Score Bottom 10 by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week I go far and wide.Initially, we take a look at the relatively poor First Friday Employment Report (you know the one the media loves to harp on).We then turn to a quick look at what some view as a buying opportunity and wonder if it is really so.Hint: if you know the answer with certainty, please let all of our readers know.We then move on to revisit the latest Pension data and ask the question: what would these figures look like if some of our factors were normalized?

2013-09-09 The Shape of Things to Come by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

With a week to go before the September FOMC meeting, there’s little that stands in the way of Fed tapering. Friday’s jobs report didn’t impress but it probably wasn’t bad enough to stop central bankers from pulling some punch, writes Kristina Hooper.

2013-09-09 Equities Advance Despite Concerns Over Weak Employment and Growth by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities moved higher last week, with the S&P 500 advancing 1.40%.1 In the face of another disappointing employment report, positive recovery expectations provided tailwinds. Key manufacturing and service sector data surprised to the upside, and improved corporate confidence was highlighted by merger and acquisition activity. Developments outside the U.S. supported recovery and reform, and emerging market fears lessened. A potential U.S. military strike on Syria was an overhang as President Obama’s decision to seek congressional approval raised concerns about other looming battles.

2013-09-09 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

A couple of holidays during the week prompted some light volume and volatility as investors were forced to digest a slew of key economic releases and some potentially concerning geopolitical developments on a limited work schedule. In the end, investors took advantage of bargains leftover from a poor August, but many still maintain the same uncertainties that caused the pullback in the first place. Syria and the Fedthe headlines should be around for the foreseeable future.

2013-09-09 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks finished higher last week, but August was a down month as worries about monetary policy including who will lead the Federal Reserve next year, along with the confusion surrounding the Obama administration’s Syria decisions have put a damper on things for now.

2013-09-09 Market Technicals Signal Trouble Ahead by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Bear market enthusiasts have so far been disappointed in September after the sudden market rally last week. With equities up more than 1% on the month, many bears pointed to the historically poor performance of equity markets during this month as a reason to remain cautious. Bear enthusiasts need not fear, as markets appear to be converging toward an inflection point right around the Fed meeting in the middle of the month.

2013-09-06 The Growth Mirage by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Despite disappointing economic data, there continues to be widespread expectations of a period of stronger economic growth just ahead. This growth mirage draws thirsty investors and increases the likelihood that interest rates will continue rising over the near-term.

2013-09-06 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Last year ECRI switched focus to their version of the Big Four Economic Indicators that I routinely track. But when those failed last summer to "roll over" collectively (as ECRI claimed was happening), the company published a new set of indicators to support their recession call in a commentary entitled The U.S. Business Cycle in the Context of the Yo-Yo Years (PDF format). Subsequently the company took a new approach to its recession call in a publicly available commentary on the ECRI website: What Wealth Effect?.

2013-09-06 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Nonfarm Employment by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

I’ve now updated this commentary to include today’s release of the August Nonfarm Employment data. As the adjacent thumbnail illustrates, the trend in this indicator has been ever upward, but at a frustratingly slow pace. Today’s announcement of only 169K new jobs was below forecasts. Moreover, the nonfarm jobs number for July was revised downward from 188K to 172K and the June number was revised downward from 162K to 104K for a combined decline of 74K from last month’s report.

2013-09-06 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Manufacturing surveys are upbeat, but should we trust them? The August employment report leaves lots of room for improvement.

2013-09-05 Seventh Inning Stretch by William Gross of PIMCO

They say that reality is whatever you wish it to be and I suppose that could be true. Just wish it, as Jiminy Cricket used to say, and it will come true. Reality’s relativity came to mind the other day as I was opening a box of Cracker Jacks for an afternoon snack. That’s right I said Cracker Jacks! I can’t count the number of people who have told me during the seventh inning stretch at a baseball game to make sure I sing Cracker Jack (without the S) because that’s what the song says. I care not. No one ever says buy me some “potato chip” or some “pea

2013-09-05 Dividends Matter by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Many people think of emerging market stocks as pure growth plays, and may not realize that there is a separate potential benefitdividendsthat can also be available to investors in these markets. A prolonged period of easy monetary policies in many developed nations (particularly the US) has left income-seeking investors searching for alternatives to traditional fixed income, including dividend-paying stocks. Many investors may not realize dividends aren’t just a developed-market phenomenon.

2013-09-04 How Syria Could Spark New Middle East War by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

What does the stand-off in Syria have to do with the investment markets? Potentially, a lot. As I have argued in recent weeks, if the Middle East devolves into another military quagmire, it could be quite bearish for the US stock and bond markets going forward. That’s why we will talk about the implications today.

2013-09-04 Off to the Races by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

Summer is traditionally a slow season for precious metals, but this summer started with a rout. In the last week of June, gold and silver hit 2-year lows of $1,192 and $18.61 respectively. Fortunately, after staggering along the lows, the precious metals are off to the races once more - with gold rallying more than 18% and silver 31%. This remarkable performance continues even in the face of the Fed’s sustained tapering threats.

2013-09-04 The Vultures' Victory by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

The recent decision against Argentina by a United States appeals court threatens to upend global sovereign-debt markets. Indeed, a basic principle of modern capitalism that when debtors cannot pay back creditors, a fresh start is needed has been overturned.

2013-09-04 How Strong is the Job Market? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

A year ago, as the Fed was about to embark on its third large-scale asset purchase program (QE3), the policy focus shifted to the labor market. In announcing QE3, the Federal Open Market Committee indicated that purchases would continue “if the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially.” A year later, how much improvement have we seen?

2013-09-04 In a Little While: Market\'s Not Out of the Woods Yet by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Since moving into the "pullback" camp in early August, the market has had a mini-correction and it may not be over. Sentiment and technical conditions have improved; as has the economic backdrop, but risks remain. Until we get past Syria, Fed tapering and the debt ceiling, volatility may remain elevated.

2013-09-03 How a Menu of Services Generates Revenue by Teresa Riccobuono (Article)

Very few advisors do as good a job as possible articulating their value proposition and the ways they can be of service to their clients. If clients purchase products or services from competitors, it may be because they are unaware of the full range of your offerings.

2013-09-03 Our Views as We Head into Autumn by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Economic growth prospects for the U.S. are slowly improving, implying that the unemployment rate will continue to work its way lower and corporate profits will keep rising. We expect the Fed to start tapering of its bond buying program in September. Interest rates should revert to more normal, higher levels, but stocks should also work their way higher. Nonetheless, investors will be focused on events surrounding Syria, at least over the near term.

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

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

2013-09-03 So Step Right Up, Pick Your Favorites... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

So with the backing of The White House, the State Department, the Senate & The Economist, the United States is going to launch Tomahawks on Syrian targets. The President did say that he will let Congress vote on a strike, but both he, Secretary Kerry and Senator Reid let it be known that they will be lighting fuses soon. So as a refresher as to who is supporting whom in Syria, the chart below will both assist and thoroughly confuse you...

2013-08-30 Look for these European Stocks to Exert a Lot of Horsepower by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article, “Emerging Europe is a Haven in Selloff,” highlighting the region’s recent success in “rising above the storm” that other developing markets have not been able to avoid. Dark clouds have been swirling around emerging markets, with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index falling about 12 percent on a year-to-date basis.

2013-08-30 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Global policy-makers increasingly at odds with one another. Foreign exchange reserves may hold key to stabilizing emerging markets. Geopolitics weigh heavily on energy markets.

2013-08-30 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.3, an increase from last week’s 131.0 (revised from 131.1). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) declined to 4.2% from last week’s 4.5%.

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

2013-08-28 On Tapering, All Signs Point to “Maybe” by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Investors looking to the July 30-31 Fed policy meeting minutes for clear clues on future moves were left disappointed. Nearly all senior Fed officials expect that a reduction in the pace of asset sales is likely to be warranted by the end of the year. However, they appear evenly divided on whether that will be sooner (September) or later (December). The economic data remained mixed, suggesting that the decision will be a close call.

2013-08-28 America is Turning Into a \"Part-Time Nation\" by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Part-time work accounted for a whopping 77% of the jobs the US economy created from January through July, according to household survey data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last year during the same time period, part-time jobs were only 53% of the total versus 47% full-time jobs. This trend toward part-time, low paying jobs is accelerating rapidly.

2013-08-27 Will Rate Rise Derail Housing Recovery? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

As the Federal Reserve grapples with when and how to unwind quantitative easing, interest rates climbed more than a point since the end of 2012. This caused mortgage rates to increase to their highest levels in two years last week, with the average conforming 30-year loan jumping to 4.58% from 4.40% the week prior. Rising financing costs is presenting a headwind for one of the biggest bright spots in the US economy over the past 12 months.

2013-08-27 How Real is the Recovery in Commercial Real Estate? by Joel Beam, Ian Goltra of Forward Management

How Real Is the Recovery in Commercial Real Estate? A conversation with Joel Beam and Ian Goltra of Forward’s Real Estate Portfolio Management Team.

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

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

2013-08-27 Policy Uncertainty on the Rise by Libby Cantrill, Josh Thimons of PIMCO

Congress seems to be digging in and ramping up the rhetoric in advance of a possible government shutdown, a debt ceiling increase and a probable selection of a new Fed chair. We think it is likely policymakers will agree to a short-term deal to fund the government and avert a shutdown, and also cobble together a resolution on the debt ceiling, although neither is likely until the last minute. The Fed chair debate will likely continue to sway markets over the next few months, leading to greater uncertainty and greater market volatility.

2013-08-27 Choose Your Door Wisely.. by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

If I was being forced to choose a side for year end 2013 performance, I would have to agree with Mr. Plant. While September is historically a difficult month for the markets, we also know that the Q4 tends to reward the equity markets.

2013-08-26 Want A Stroke? Take A Bank Stress Test by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The latest stress tests run by the Fed of our nation’s largest banks produced a mediocre conclusion that passed almost all of the banks, but suggested some additional capital would be appropriate and it had some concerns about Goldman and JP Morgan Chase. Stress tests remain a very good idea, but Fed officials may be playing too much of a political game by keeping the pressure on a few of our largest banking institutions.

2013-08-26 Summers For Fed Chair by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

In the next month or two, President Obama will pick someone to succeed Ben Bernanke at the Federal Reserve. At this point, we think the odds-on favorite is Larry Summers.

2013-08-26 Chicago Post Script, Reported Data Errors (Really) and What is a “Geo Score”? by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Regular readers know I periodically suggest looking at alternative data points to gain a broader perspective. In this instance, something a little different. At the core of the DIVER platform is our database and we take data integrity very seriously. So much so that we periodically find errors in reported data. Many times, the source will correct the data as we notify them. Typically, when we find an error in a CAFR, the source will defer the correction until the next CAFR is released. In DIVER however, we will display the accurate values.

2013-08-26 Equities Relatively Flat as Crosscurrents Remain by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished mostly higher last week, and the S&P 500 advanced 0.50%.1 The Dow Jones Industrial Average was the only the only major U.S. index to falter last week.1 Market sentiment was dominated by the notion that the market had become too bearish in the wake of the prior week’s sell-off in equities and credit. Continued improvement in global recovery sentiment seemed to provide a notable tailwind. The Fed dominated headlines markets appear obsessed with policy normalization and succession issues.

2013-08-26 The Case for More Mortgage QE by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Disappointing new home sales don’t mean that tapering is less likely to occur in September. Rather, it may only mean that when tapering begins, the Fed’s likely to start small and only trim Treasuries.

2013-08-26 The Outlook Will Shift as Conditions Shift by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Though I expect that the present cycle will be completed by a market loss on the order of 40-55%, conditions can certainly emerge over the course of this cycle that could warrant a more constructive stance than we have presently, though possibly less extended than we’d like. The most likely constructive opportunity would emerge from a moderate retreat in market valuations, ideally to “oversold” conditions from an intermediate-term perspective, coupled with an early firming in measures of market internals.

2013-08-25 France: On the Edge of the Periphery by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Charles de Gaulle said that "France cannot be France without greatness." The current path that France is on will not take it to renewed greatness but rather to insolvency and turmoil. Is France destined to be grouped with its Mediterranean peripheral cousins, or to be seen as part of the solid North Atlantic core? The world is far better off with a great France, but France can achieve greatness only by its own actions.

2013-08-24 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.1, a decline from last week’s 131.2. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) declined to 4.5 from last week’s 4.7%.

2013-08-24 Revisiting the USD Bull Market by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments

The USD bull market has begun with signs that the USD is transitioning to a cyclical currency. Monetary policy divergences in G4, slowing in USD diversification and a dramatic turnaround in the twin deficits, provide a strong fundamental underpinning to a USD rally going forward.

2013-08-23 Economic Update: August 2013 by Lori Liffring, Michael Bridgeman, Gaylan Abood, Justin Anderson, Karen Benefiel of Cambridge Advisors

Stocks had another strong month in July with the large-cap S&P 500 index up 5.0% and the small-cap Russell 2000 up 7.0%. International stocks in developed markets were also 5.2% higher as measured by the MSCI EAFE index while emerging market stocks were up less than 1%. Bond prices stabilized during the month resulting in only a slight 0.1% gain.

2013-08-23 What Does an Improving Economy Mean for Stocks and Bonds? by Charlie Dreifus of The Royce Funds

With the economy improving, inflation tame, and a Federal Reserve meeting approaching in September, Portfolio Manager and Principal Charlie Dreifus believes that small-caps remain an attractive option within the equities market.

2013-08-23 Switcheroo by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

What is priced into the bond market in terms of its outlook for the Federal Reserve? Does the increase in interest rates sufficiently reflect the market’s perceived policy shifts?

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.

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

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

2013-08-22 Bernanke's Taper Tinkering by Tad Rivelle of TCW Asset Management

For at least the past five years, the Fed has cast an exceedingly long shadow over the capital markets. For this reason, understanding Fed policy has been central towards proper guidance and direction of investor capital allocations. Since Chairman Bernanke’s trial ballooning surrounding a potential “taper” of the Fed’s QE policy, longer maturity Treasury interest rates have soared over 100 basis points.

2013-08-22 Hot Potato: Momentum As An Investment Strategy by Ryan Larson of Research Affiliates

Investors increasingly are attracted to momentum as a key ingredient in their portfolios. But how does momentum fare as a stand-alone strategy? In this issue of Fundamentals, we look at the pros and cons of this important risk factor.

2013-08-21 The Danger of Duration: The Damage Potential of Rising Rates by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

The Federal Reserve’s initial goals from “The Great Monetary Experiment” are accomplished. Investors could now face the threat of rising bond yields.

2013-08-21 Trickle-Up Economics by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Major magazines have a history of putting a topic on their cover at the end of a long-term trend. For example, “The Death of Equities” was a Business Week cover in late 1979, near the end of a miserable stretch in the US stock market. Time’s recent cover story, “The Childfree Life”, got us wondering about the economics of childbearing in the US? Does Time’s cover mark the end of a trend? Can the US economy succeed without homegrown population increases? Will economic success driven by the current demographics in the US trickle down to unemployed blue collar

2013-08-21 The Big Secret Mutual Fund Companies Are Hiding by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Do you know that most (if not all) mutual fund and ETF sponsors are keeping vital information about their funds secret from you? We’ll start today’s E-Letter with a discussion about what that valuable information is and why fund companies don’t want you to know about it.

2013-08-20 Part-Timers and the Labor Market by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Over the past few weeks we keep getting the same two questions about the labor market. Basically, investors want to know whether the labor market is really improving if so many of the jobs are going to part-timers and if the more expansive definition of the unemployment rate (the one that includes discouraged workers and part-timers who want to work full-time) is about double the regular unemployment rate.

2013-08-20 The Speed of Fed Rate Hikes by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

For the last several months, talk of tapering has dominated the Fed debate. Although there remains some uncertainty around the detailssuch as how large the initial step might bemost observers now expect the Federal Reserve to begin slowing the pace of quantitative easing (QE) at the September 17-18 meeting. Attention is now turning to another major issue on next month’s agenda: the publication of Fed officials’ forecasts for the funds rate in 2016. The Fed rolls forward the Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) by one year each September.

2013-08-20 A Lot Of Action In What Was Expected To Be A Quiet Week by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Most of the U.S. economic data released last week was rather ho-hum, consistent with continuing slow growth, but markets weren’t boring. Maybe markets are thin because it’s August, but the U.S. Treasury market had one of its worst weeks in a long time, and the selling spilled over into the U.S. stock market.

2013-08-20 August Monthly Investment Bulletins by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

For the first seven months of the year the portfolio rose by 25.2% vs. 19.3% for the index. During the month, the 6.4% gain was 150 basis points ahead. Three trends continued: the gradual increase in fund flows into equity markets relative to other asset classes, slightly improving economic data across most developed countries, and a mild deterioration in many developing nations.

2013-08-19 Chicago and Detroit A Guest Commentary by Joshua Laurito of Lumesis

A few weeks back, we brought you a guest commentary by Josh Laurito regarding the City of Detroit. His perspectives were well-received by our readers. This week, Josh is back by popular demand with some thoughts on his home town of Chicago. We believe there is great value in considering fresh perspectives from intelligent people that is precisely what Josh brings to the table.

2013-08-19 A Bear Market Is Here: In Bonds! by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

While it certainly hasn’t made the headlines that it should have, the bond market has been kicked in the teeth. After bottoming at 1.61% on May 1, the yield on the 10-year Treasury Note hit 2.84% on Friday, its highest level in two years the worst bear market move in bonds since the end of the 2008-09 financial panic.

2013-08-19 Equity Fatigue Continues with Headwinds from Bond Sell-off by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished lower for the second straight week as the S&P 500 declined 2.04%, narrowly escaping its worst week of the year. A specific catalyst behind the pullback was not identified by us or market analysts.

2013-08-19 A Warning Regarding Broken Speculative Peaks by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

We presently observe what might best be called a “broken speculative peak” a strenuously overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising yield syndrome followed by a breakdown in market internals.

2013-08-19 Consumers: Wallets Open, but Not Too Wide by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

U.S. consumer spending is likely to remain on a slow, but steady, growth trajectory, boosting overall economic growth.

2013-08-16 Purgatory Is Heaven by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

Since June, the Fed has stressed three messages: Tapering is not tightening, the federal funds rate will not move in tandem with a slowdown in asset purchases, and any change in Fed policy will rely on data, rather than a date. If Ben Bernanke leaves the Fed when his term expires, whoever is chosen to replace him will be bound by rules and the strength of the institution. The outlook for interest rates depends more on the Fed’s overall approach to the policy rate, and PIMCO believes the Fed will not increase that rate until 2016.

2013-08-16 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

The speculation about Fed leadership has gone too far. Eurozone growth should be placed in perspective. The velocity of money may turn around soon.

2013-08-16 What Happens When You Tell Indians to Stop Buying Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

With the government in India raising its import tax for gold to 10 percent this week, I firmly believe Indians will continue indulging in gold, even if they have to smuggle it in.

2013-08-16 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.2, a decline from last week’s 131.5 (a downward revision from 131.8). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) declined to 4.7 from last week’s 4.9%.

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.

2013-08-15 Correlation and Portfolio Construction by Dean Curnutt of Macro Risk Advisors

We review recent periods of financial market stress, which bring about elevated levels of asset volatility and during which investors are vulnerable to incurring substantial loss of capital. We illustrate that risk is determined both by the volatility of individual investments in a portfolio and the degree to which they are correlated. Often overlooked, correlation is a critical factor. Because assets become more correlated at the same time they become more volatile, we argue that the benefits of diversification often are difficult to achieve when they are most needed.

2013-08-14 Why GDP Deserves Less Attention by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Before joining Columbia Management I worked for several years as an economist at a few of the large broker-dealers in New York. One of my primary functions was to maintain an ongoing estimate of growth in the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP)a so-called GDP “bean count.” Most investors use GDP as their primary summary measure of overall economic performance, so they are keenly interested in how incoming data are likely to impact the estimates. Our running tally of GDP growth for the current quarter was one of the most sought after pieces of research we produced.

2013-08-14 Macro View...In Microwave Time (Part 1 of 2) by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

In today’s sound-bite, tweet-driven world, one can’t help but do all they can to keep it simple, keep it brief and resist the temptation many of us Baby Boomers have to fall prey to “paralysis by analysis.” With that spirit in mind, here is a quick, pointed update on the 13 key points for investors I laid out in an article in RIABiz.com on January 14 of this year. These were and are the most significant data and forces for investors to track today, to pursue long-term growth and sidestep major losses.

2013-08-14 Does the Recent Decline in the Unemployment Rate Reflect an Improving Labor Market? by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

Last Friday the BLS reported that the national unemployment rate declined by two-tenths of a percentage point in July vs. June. On the surface, that would seem to be good news for the labor market, right? Not according to the knee-jerk analysis by a lot of jerks on cable financial news.

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.

2013-08-14 Macro View...In Microwave Time (Part 2 of 2) by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Today’s blog post picks up where last week’s left off by updating the 13 key points for investors I laid out in an article in RIABiz.com on January 14 of this year. These were and are the most significant data and forces for investors to track today, to pursue long-term growth and sidestep major losses. As I did last week, I will also note whether I think each point is a positive or negative (or other) for investors now that we are about 3/5 of the way through 2013. The six areas covered last week were generally positive. Let’s see about the final seven on the list

2013-08-13 Envisioning the Planning Firm of the Future by Bob Veres (Article)

Virtually all advisors operate with a value proposition built on bettering their clients’ financial future through management of their assets. But trends in the workforce and capital markets will force advisors to rethink those assumptions and, if Richie Lee is right, the planning firm of the future will adapt a four-factor service model that places much greater emphasis on helping clients maximize their human capital.

2013-08-13 So Now What? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

What did we learn last week? The Fed may not be in any hurry to begin reducing the rate of asset purchases. The economic data suggest a mixed picture.

2013-08-13 China Struggles to Fight the Trend by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Prior to the global financial crisis, decoupling’ was the word du jour. In the years since the crisis began, however, decoupling has vanished from the everyday lexicon. In recent weeks, the financial media noticed a new form of decoupling, one that shows improving growth prospects in the developed world but slower growth in developing economies. Rightly or otherwise, much of that slowdown is pinned on China and recent data continues to suggest a slower pace of growth than investors became accustomed to in prior decades.

2013-08-13 Tapering, Munis and an Uneven Recovery by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week’s Tidbits are a bit longer text wise than usual. I focus on the end of QE (or the beginning of tapering) and then take a quick look at counties in Michigan feeling the impact of Detroit’s filing. I then move on to a review of a very uneven housing market and offer a quick observation on exports before concluding with some State Geo Scores to consider.

2013-08-13 Emerging Asia Pacific: Regional Economic Review - Q2 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Asia’s emerging nations, the darling of the world economy since the 2000s, uncharacteristically slowed in the first quarter of 2013. After a decade of robust growth, many of Asia’s fast-growing economies are coming to terms with structural changes. Asian currencies, which had appreciated quite a bit over the past few years thanks to ultra-loose monetary policy in the developed world, came tumbling down at the first talk of a slowdown in the supply of cheap money.

2013-08-13 Developed Asia Pacific: Regional Economic Review Q2 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Many developed economies in the Asia Pacific region rebounded during the second quarter of 2013 to post a healthy set of growth and inflation numbers. Turning on the monetary spigots during the past one year provided a major fillip to many developed Asian economies. Countries that fumbled in the wake of natural disasters in the recent past, showed marked improvement. Even those countries that were said to be suffering from structural deficiencies, too, responded well to the monetary medicine administered by their various central banks.

2013-08-13 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

When the Fed talks, people listen (and it doesn’t even have to be Bernanke). This week, a few key policymakers (not named Bernanke) expressed their views that the bond buying program may begin to be tapered this year, perhaps as early as the September meeting. Some investors used the opportunity to sell stocks and book some profits, though news from China eased certain concerns that the global economy was on shaky ground.

2013-08-13 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stock prices declined modestly last week. A shrinking trade deficit caused 2nd quarter GDP estimates to increase (over 2% now annualized), thus renewing fears that the Federal Reserve would commence “tapering” at their September meeting.

2013-08-13 Dog Days of Summer Are Upon Us by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Hopefully you are reading this from the beach, because there is so little news happening in the markets that those of us in the office are about to start making news up to justify stock price movements. But while news and volumes are at August lows, here are some thoughts that might ring a bell to help you to either make some money or to set down your smartphone and get back to the water.

2013-08-12 The Key Economic and Market Forces Guiding Equity Markets by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

This week we want to address important themes that underline our continued cautious optimism for a slowly improving global economy and signs of revenue and earnings growth momentum.

2013-08-12 Lower Your Expectations for Future Return by Cory Fulton of Mesirow Financial Wealth Management

While equities are not priced particularly well and the current environment does not bode well for future long-term expected real returns, they are currently a better choice for investors relative to the alternative. Right now, any meaningful shifts in one direction or the other could be setting the investor up for additional disappointment. At this stage in the game, equities look to offer better prospects in the long-term. However, the time is not right to abandon your long-term investment plan in the face of the positive market headlines and lofty predictions emanating from Wall Street.

2013-08-10 We Can't Take the Chance by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

What would it have been like to be a central banker in the midst of the crisis in 2008-09? You’d know that you won’t have the luxury of going back and making better decisions five years later. Instead, you have to act on the torrent of information that’s coming at you, and none of it is good. Major banks are literally collapsing, the interbank market is nonexistent and there is panic in the air. Perhaps you feel that panic in the pit of your stomach. This week we’ll perform a little thought experiment to see if we can extrapolate what is likely to happen in when the nex

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

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

2013-08-09 A Surprising Way to Play a Europe Rally by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

After a lengthy period of stagnant growth and lackluster results, the gradual crescendo of improving economic data that’s been coming out of Europe lately certainly commands attention.

2013-08-09 Real-Time Tax Data Indicates U.S. Economy Rapidly Losing Steam by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

The U.S. economy real growth is slowing even more now than in July as signs indicate an even weaker economy than we think. Read this investor insight by TrimTabs Asset Management to learn what tax withholdings and recent fund flows may be foretelling.

2013-08-09 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.8, essentially unchanged from last week’s 131.7 (a downward revision from 131.8). At the end of July the company posted a new commentary, Becoming Japan, which highlights the decline in GDP growth for Japan and seven other major economies, including the US. Also this week ECRI’s Lakshman Achuthan defended his company’s recession call on Bloomberg TV.

2013-08-09 The Calm Before the Storm? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Record highs in US equities have resulted thus far in only modestly elevated investor sentiment and it appears retail investors are returning to the market, which could fuel further gains. However, volatility is likely to increase with political and Fed issues on the horizon. Europe remains attractive, along with Japan, but we are watching the potential consumption tax increase closely, while China’s valuations are improved but concerns remain.

2013-08-08 Not an Entry Point for U.S. Stocks by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

My long-term view of U.S. equities remains bullish, but a number of indicators, as well as near-term macro challenges, point to a pause in the run-up of that asset class.

2013-08-08 Quarterly Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital Management

To begin, let us state that we are tired of writing about macroeconomic issues. We suspect you are tired of reading about them. We would like nothing more than to send out a quarterly letter full of updates on the companies we own and the rationale for individual buy and sell decisions. Nevertheless, we must address the market action following Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s May 22nd testimony before Congress, where he merely floated the idea of “tapering” the Fed’s quantitative easing efforts.

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.

2013-08-08 Looking Farther Down the Road by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover, Mike Czekaj of Broadleaf Partners

The stock market has continued to do very well over the summer months, reaching new, all-time highs and proving to even the most stubborn of skeptics that Great Recessions can become Great Recoveries for those with the appropriate time horizon. While our industry spends a great deal of time and effort focused on relative performance results compared to appropriate benchmarks, the greatest value any financial advisor or money manager can provide is usually addressed far less often; simply keeping you in the game.

2013-08-08 The Role of Confidence by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

The so-called wealth effect plays an important and well recognized part in the functioning of an economy. When assets appreciate in value, the owners translate their increased wealth into increased spending. While at first glance this is unsurprising, it should be noted that this is true even if the appreciation is unrealized, and thus the increased wealth exists solely on paper. The relationship can be stated as follows: the richer people feel, the more they spend. Changes in confidence have an impact on behavior similar to the wealth effect. That’s what this memo is about.

2013-08-07 Adapt or Die... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Bond king Bill Grosss $261.7 billion Total Return Fund at Pacific Investment Management Co. suffered a $7.5 billion net outflow last month, according to data from fund tracker Morningstar Inc. on Friday. It is the third straight monthly outflow for the Fund, on the heels of nearly $10 billion in redemptions in June. Clients have yanked $15.6 billion from Gross’s Fund in 2013 through July. Jeffrey Gundlach’s $37.9 billion DoubleLine Total Return Bond Fund suffered $580 million net outflow in July, according to Morningstar.

2013-08-06 Low Quality Jobs Recovery Continues in July by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

In a busy week of economic data, investors ended the week on a mixed note.The government jobs report revealed a labor market experiencing steady if not unspectacular growth, as nonfarm payrolls came in below consensus estimates while the unemployment rate surprised to the upside.

2013-08-06 Unlocking the Two Mysteries behind SPIAs by Wade Pfau (Article)

Two mysteries confound planners who purchase single-premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) for their clients: Why does the present value of a SPIA often exceed its cost, and why do equity allocations appear to increase when a SPIA is purchased? Unlocking those mysteries requires advisors to use a different framework – based on the household balance sheet – for the withdrawal phase of retirement.

2013-08-06 Human Capital in the Digital Economy by Alan Winger (Article)

Human capital is a key asset that planners manage as they strive to maximize consumption throughout clients’ lives. Human capital, or lifetime income, often peaks in value early in their careers. Moreover, today’s digital economy means human capital is more volatile and less predictable than in the past, and that carries important implications for financial planners.

2013-08-06 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

After a week like this, everyone needs a vacation. Big Oil led the earnings trail and the results were not pretty. Europe and China both expressed nice signs for their previously weaker manufacturing sectors. At home, the labor results were mixed, manufacturing looked solid, the consumer remained active, and Michael delayed the vote yet again.

2013-08-06 The “Employment Situation” and A Look at Housing by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week, we start with a return to our “tidbits” and then insight and thoughts around the Employment Situation as reported on Friday and our take on that and related data. We also take a look at Homeownership data and wonder if the glass is half full or empty.

2013-08-06 Politicizing the Economy by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

If we were put in charge of the world, if we had complete control of fiscal and monetary policy, we would change things.

2013-08-06 Equities Grind Higher as the Economy Continues to Muddle Through by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities advanced last week, with the S&P 500 increasing 1.10%.1 For the month of July, the S&P gained 5.09%, and equities have increased 21.33% year to date. Second quarter earnings season is nearly complete, and there has not been a material change in estimated earnings for the balance of the year or 2014. Revenues were slightly ahead of expectations, and earnings per share were approximately 3% higher than expected, annualizing at about $110 per S&P 500 share.

2013-08-06 Will Soft Q2 GDP and Jobs Data Influence Fed Tapering? by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

As I said mid week, the “fiscal cliff” tax increases were squeezing consumers’ disposable income and spending growth was coming at the cost of a lower savings rate. Suspending the “social security tax” was expected to stimulate the economy, so it’s only logical that it would work in reverse, too.

2013-08-05 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

July U.S. employment report a bit disappointing. Part-time employment gains are not uniform across nations. Affordable Care Act and small business employment.

2013-08-05 Two Charts Illustrate How to “Follow the Money” by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Too often investors get caught up in their political allegiance or parties, focus on the negative and lose confidence in stocks. As a result, they can miss great bull markets. I believe when it comes to finding investment opportunities, it’s not about the political party, it’s about the policies, both monetary and fiscal.

2013-08-05 Weak Job Growth? RX: Buy Stocks by Charles Lieberman (Article)

At dinner with friends on Saturday evening, I was asked if I’m still bullish. Another investment guy is now cautious, bordering on bearish. A discussion ensued. The case for being bearish remains weak and unconvincing, hardly even believable in my judgment. Much of the case seems to be driven by the notion that stocks have rallied a lot, so surely they must decline.

2013-08-05 The Minsky Bubble by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

In his classic treatise on speculation, Manias, Panics and Crashes (originally published in 1978), the late Charles Kindleberger laid out a pattern of events that has periodically occurred in financial markets throughout history. Drawing on the work of economist Hyman Minsky, the conditions he described are likely far more relevant at the present moment than investors may recognize.

2013-08-02 Fed Shows Its Dovish Side by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

The Federal Reserve made several small changes to the text of its statement, which, combined, suggest a slightly more dovish posture at this meeting than at the last one in June.

2013-08-02 Second Half Challenges by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

One of the most challenging aspects of managing portfolios is to process the endless information flow and determine what impact it will have, if any, on the markets. Some information, while interesting to read about, has virtually no impact on the future direction of stock and bond prices. Other information may not have an immediate impact, but it may be impactful in the future. This, delayed-impact information encompasses the vast majority of information that surfaces on a daily basis.

2013-08-02 Detroit Broke City by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

It should come as no surprise that the lessons that should be learned from the bankruptcy of Detroit, a city that once stood as the shining example of America’s industrial might, are being ignored by the American political establishment and its allies in the docile press corps. While the death spiral of the Motor City may be extreme in relation to conditions throughout the country, it is a difference of degree rather than design.

2013-08-02 The Federal Reserve in a Time for Doves by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

The battle is on to replace current US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and two of the leading candidates, Lawrence Summers and Janet Yellen, display a dovish bias regarding inflation. In normal times, that would be a handicap; under current conditions, it is an advantage.

2013-08-02 The Fed's Outlook and Leadership in Flux by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Many observers blamed a lack of clarity from the Federal Reserve (the Fed) for the sharp increase in interest rates after the initial signals about tapering. As a result, in recent weeks Fed officials have tried to calm nerves by stressing that the decision to slow the pace of quantitative easing (QE)now expected to begin after the September FOMC meetingdoes not signal anything about the outlook for the funds rate or their broader policy goals. Unfortunately for the Fed, the policy outlook looks increasingly fluid again.

2013-08-02 QE Why $85 Billion per Month? Why Not $170 or $42 -1/2 Billion? by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

Am I the only one who wondered how the Federal Reserve arrived at a figure of $85 billion as the amount of longer-maturity securities it planned to purchase per month in its third round of quantitative easing (QE)? Why not double that amount? Why not half that amount? How will the Fed know when it is time to “taper” its securities purchases? How will the Fed know by how much to taper? Inquiring minds want to know.

2013-08-01 Is It Time for the Fed to Wind Down the Economic Stimulus? by Team of Knowledge@Wharton

Is it time for the Federal Reserve to start tapering down the "quantitative easing" bond-buying program that has helped stimulate the U.S. economy since the financial crisis of 2008? Views are mixed. Several experts, say yes, it’s time. Others worry it could be too soon.

2013-08-01 The Fed's Balance Sheet by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The value of the Fed’s portfolio has fallen by about $192 billion as a result of the rise in interest rates over the past quarter. Further losses from rising interest rates could compromise the Fed’s ability to engage in monetary tightening should market conditions warrant such action.

2013-07-31 Calm Has Replaced Fear in the Bond Market by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

Calm largely returned to the bond market in July following a bout of turbulence in June. Volatility declined across the broad spectrum of fixed income assets, with interest rates and credit spreads falling from their highs, in some cases dramatically. Flows have also turned positive in many market segments, particularly for high yield and bank loan securities.

2013-07-31 An Important Week on the Economic Front by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The markets have placed too much emphasis on the Fed tapering. Whether policymakers decide to slow the rate of asset purchases in September or December shouldn’t matter all that much. The Fed’s decision will be data-dependent. Note that it’s not the figures themselves that matter. Rather, it’s what the data imply for the overall economic outlook.

2013-07-31 Bad Trade?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Last week I asked myself the obligatory question, “Did I make a bad trading decision by targeting mid-July through mid-August (with the date specific of July 19th) as the timing point for the first meaningful decline of the year?” The reason for said question was that every time the S&P 500 (SPX/1691.65) sold off last week, buyers showed up to save the day. And, the operative word is “trading” because that potential downside strategy was merely a short-term tactical call.

2013-07-31 Still High Time for High Yield? by Team of Rainier Funds

Given recent strong performance and yields hovering at historic lows, a current topic of debate has been whether the high yield bond market has become an asset bubble and how much of a risk is the potential end to the Federal Reserve’s accommodative monetary policy to high yield investors. While we at Rainier acknowledge there are current risks in the fixed income market, we believe these concerns are not unique to high yield bonds.

2013-07-30 Result of Japan's Upper House Election by Team of Nomura Asset Management

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito coalition have secured an upper house majority by winning 76 seats in the July 21st House of Councilors election to reach the total of 135 seats together with the seats that were not contested this time (out of a total 242 seats). This has ended the state of a “divided National Diet,” allowing more stable management by the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cabinet and the ruling coalition parties.

2013-07-30 Conflicting Crosscurrents Move Equities Sideways by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished last week narrowly mixed, with the S&P 500 falling -0.02%.1 While the second quarter earnings per share growth continues to move higher, revenue growth remains below trend. The economic calendar is focused on this week’s release of the July employment report. Global macro headlines generated more uncertainty than direction for the markets.

2013-07-30 Earnings Take a Back Seat to Policy by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Although it was a quiet week on the economic front, there were a few notable indicators to digest.

2013-07-30 Economic & Capital Market Summary by Gregory Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management

We are approaching the five year anniversary of the beginning of the Financial Crisis. By this time in 2008 we had already experienced the complete seizure of the Auction Rate Preferred securities market and the takeover of Bear Stearns by JP Morgan Chase. In August of 2008, we would see the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the government takeover of AIG. We stand here today, shoulders slumped, and heads bowed mourning the lack of real progress in addressing the structural problems that are impeding sustained economic growth and private credit expansion.

2013-07-30 FPA Crescent: Steve Romick\'s Quarterly Commentary by Steven Romick of FPA Funds

FPA Crescent Fund has released its quarterly commentary examining the state of the fund and its investments as well as an outlook on the greater economy. Portfolio manager Steve Romick feels that the economic “recovery has been disappointing and largely engineered by central bank policy” and worries “that low interest rates and novel and theoretical Fed policy could lead to unintended consequences.”

2013-07-30 Pennies from Heaven, Irrationality, and “Dys-information” by Chris Richey of Neosho Capital

If QE4 holds to course, ending, not just tapering, sometime in mid-2014, the U.S. will have spent 4+ years out of the past 6 living on monetary stimulus, all the while continuing to pile up ever more claims against future prosperity.

2013-07-30 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stock averages were nearly unchanged last week as earnings reports are being reported mostly in line albeit with the usual concerns about the pace of economic activity. This is reflected once again by a lack of revenue growth for many industries.

2013-07-30 Only a Few Light Showers, So Far by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

Last week’s summer storm warning for the stock market has so far yielded just a few summer showers. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 tumbled, but with stronger-than-expected earnings reports across much of the tech sector, the NASDAQ Index moved higher last week.

2013-07-30 Royal Babies and Economic Growth by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

On a recent business trip to Europe, we noticedanecdotallya lack of hope in the economic future of Europe. There is a good reason for the lack of hope. Hope, we believe, comes in the form of new life. When all of the austerity being practiced in developed nations around the world is pretty much done, something else needs to happen for economic growth to take hold. At Smead Capital Management, we believe developed economies need rebirth and the birth last week of a son to the Royal family is a watershed event.

2013-07-30 ING Fixed Income Perspectives July 2013 by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

We are constructive on interest rate risks in many developed and emerging economies as global central banks reinforce accommodative monetary policy. We favor the U.S. dollar versus the Japanese yen, the Euro and other developed market currencies. Credit spreads should narrow from current levels as the markets gain confidence and the Treasury market stabilizes. preads offer more than adequate compensation for likely credit losses and a further rise in interest rates. Spreads have been pressured to pre-QE3 levels and mortgages look attractive at these higher levels as prepayment speeds slow.

2013-07-29 And That\\\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

So now Prez Obama is sharing his two cents about the economy. After weeks of endless babble from the Fed Chief and his partners in crime about the economy and the longevity of the bond buying program, O is now making job creation his number one priority. Is anyone listening to his urgent messages (certainly no one in DC)? Investors (at least those not on vacation) were less than impressed with the less than impressive earnings of the week, though markets held their own.

2013-07-29 Will a New Fed Chairman Derail the Stock Market Rally? by Kipley Lytel of Montecito Capital Management

Over the past two years, investor exuberance has poured over $150 billion into equity funds. The perception of market risk has been sharply lowered over the past years by the central bank’s supportive activities in the capital markets and the high octane fuel of near zero interest rates. Meanwhile, Bernanke’s buyback of treasury and mortgage back securities is at a pace of moving the Fed’s balance sheet to over $4 trillion.

2013-07-29 Driftingbut for How Long? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Equities have drifted higher during a decent earnings season with few surprises, while yields have calmed and volatility has plunged. Typical lackluster summer action may prevail for the next month, but action is likely to heat up as the weather begins to cool.

2013-07-29 Global Economic Outlook by Team of Northern Trust

Growth is expected to improve in the United States and the United Kingdom while disappointing in Europe.

2013-07-27 A Lost Generation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we will briefly look at why weak consumer spending is going to become an even greater problem in the coming years, and we will continue to look at some disturbing trends in employment.

2013-07-26 The View From Here by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Despite the advance of college savings accounts, many families are ill-prepared to pay for school.

2013-07-26 Emerging Markets Equity Commentary June 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Emerging market equity prices declined appreciably on heightened investor concerns over an early withdrawal of the monetary stimulus measures in the developed world. The most recent policy statement issued by the U.S. Federal Reserve, which was more optimistic about the growth prospects for the U.S. economy, and comments by Fed officials seemed to suggest that the central bank is preparing to wind down its bond purchase program.

2013-07-26 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Income inequality is rising, but it’s not clear what to do about it. Brazil’s struggles come at a delicate time. Detroit’s road to bankruptcy does not set a path for others to follow.

2013-07-26 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.3, up slightly from last week’s 130.2. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) remains unchanged at 4.5%.

2013-07-25 A One-Pillar Economy by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Despite blockbuster new home sales, higher interest rates have put downward pressure on housing activity. This is highly worrisome given the importance of housing to the health of the U.S. economy.

2013-07-25 The Damage Potential of Rising Rates by Michael Temple of Pioneer Investments

The initial goals of the Federal Reserve’s “Great Monetary Experiment” to keep rates low, create negative real yields, spur consumption and cushion the budgetary consequences of fiscal stimulus have largely been accomplished. Investors could now face the threat of rising bond yields. Various bull and bear scenarios might ensue. What are they and what could trigger them? What are the risks to portfolios?

2013-07-24 Stocks and Bonds Both Again Rally as Bernanke Soothes by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s congressional testimony got more headlines, but Detroit’s long-anticipated formal filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy was by far the more important development. Billions of dollars of losses will be imposed on general obligation bondholders and/or retired employees.

2013-07-24 Quarterly Review and Outlook by Van Hoisington, Lacy Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

The secular low in bond yields has yet to be recorded. This assessment for a continuing pattern of lower yields in the quarters ahead is clearly a minority view, as the recent selling of all types of bond products attest. The rise in long term yields over the last several months was accelerated by the recent Federal Reserve announcement that it would be “tapering” its purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities. This has convinced many bond market participants that the low in long rates is in the past.

2013-07-24 Bursting of the Bond Bubble by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group

Our April newsletter focused on the extreme overvaluation in the bond market. I argued that money market funds (or cash) were likely to outperform bonds and bond funds over the next decade. In May I applied the same logic to US stock prices and the inherent fallacy in the prevailing TINA (“there is no alternative” to stocks) hypothesis. Although stocks are likely to outperform bonds over the next decade, both asset classes remain seriously overvalued. In a world of overvalued assets, zero return looks much better than large potential losses even when that means foregoing transitory

2013-07-24 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

This past week, total assets in the active ETF space increased by over $60 million. The top 3 categories (“Global Bond”, “Short Term Bond” and “Foreign Bond”) all saw increases in AUM. The “Alternative Income” category fell in AUM, after weeks of only going up.

2013-07-24 Blather, Rinse, Repeat by Scott Brown of Raymond James

As expected, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke repeated recent themes in his monetary policy testimony to Congress. However, he appeared to make a clearer distinction between the Fed’s two current policies, emphasizing that short-term interest rates will remain low for a long time. Even though there wasn’t anything new in Bernanke’s testimony, the markets took it as “dovish.” Importantly, the Fed isn’t the only central bank placing an emphasis on forward guidance.

2013-07-23 Emerging Europe: Regional Economic Review Q2 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Trimming its forecast for global growth, the International Monetary Fund’s mid-year assessment of the world economy highlighted the slowdown in emerging economies such as Russia and recessionary conditions in the Euro-zone. Still, the recent surge in factory production and rise in new orders brought a whiff of optimism to emerging European markets such as Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, which have been reeling under a prolonged downturn due to weak demand from the Euro-zone.

2013-07-23 Emerging Markets: Undervalued or Value Trap? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

In the first quarter, we explored the divergence of emerging market equities from the US. We noted that a combination of factors likely drove the 12% performance differential, including investor risk appetites, inflationary pressures in developing markets, and reduced commodity price expectations.

2013-07-23 Time to Kick the “Ick” Factor for Energy and Materials by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

Basic materials have been the “biggest loser” of an asset class for 2012 as well as thus far in 2013. Everything tangible, from gold and copper to coal and steel, has acquired an “ick” factor that makes the asset class nearly uninvestable. Shares of companies in these categories are trading at values not seen since 2009 market lows. We are beginning to see some very important developments that might make the group more palatable. In fact, we believe that metals, mining and energy could again become Wall Street darlings.

2013-07-23 You Thought It Was Hot Outside... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

You thought it was hot outside? Wait until you see the weekly cash inflows into U.S. Equities... Funds that hold only U.S. stocks gained $15.58 billion in new cash, the most since June 2008. ETFs that hold domestic equities attracted $12.45 billion of those gains.

2013-07-23 Risk Communicates Signals that Something Important is at Stake by Robert Mark of Castle Investment Management

The equity markets hit new all-time highs again this past quarter. However, we believe this rally is largely due to Ben Bernanke’s policy of Quantitative Easing (QE) which presently equates to the purchase of $85 billion in U.S. government debt every month. Through the Federal Reserve’s policies our government has effectively printed trillions of dollars since the financial crisis began, arguably inflating a host of asset prices including the stock market.

2013-07-22 A Tale from A Land Afar Comes Home, How Strong is This Recovery? by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

A break from our recent practice of tidbits. There’s a story you should read the similarities just might make you take notice. From there, I delve into the “recovery” and provide a bit more around our recently introduced Geo Score.

2013-07-22 Middle East/Africa: Regional Economic Review Q2 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Moderate growth is anticipated in Middle-East and North Africa (MENA) region as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) notes that economic expansion in the oil exporting countries has slowed down due to subdued global oil demand. While oil importing countries are expected to make a slight recovery, nations in transition are facing complex socio-political issues, which could further delay their recovery.

2013-07-22 Don\'t Follow the Yellow Brick Road by David Lieberman (Article)

Gold has been in a broad sell off, falling from a high of about $1,900 an ounce to about $1,250 an ounce within a year. However, gold remains incredibly difficult to properly value, and is something that we suggest that clients avoid. Here’s why.

2013-07-22 The Purgatory of Low Returns by James Montier of GMO

This might just be the cruelest time to be an asset allocator. Normally we find ourselves in situations in which at least something is cheap; for instance when large swathes of risk assets have been expensive, safe haven assets have generally been cheap, or at least reasonable (and vice versa). This was typified by the opportunity set we witnessed in 2007.

2013-07-22 If the Fed Wants to Lower Bond Yields, Perhaps It Should Switch to QT by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

Whenever I forget to mute CNBC or Bloomberg TV, I invariably hear some wag explaining to us that the goal of the Fed’s policy of quantitative easing (QE) is to lower bond yields in order to stimulate borrowing by the nonbank public and thus, increase aggregate spending. If, in fact, the Fed’s paramount goal is to lower bond yields, then I suggest that it might want to consider quantitative tightening (QT). Why?

2013-07-20 Any Bonds Today? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Given the acknowledged limitations of the CPI, we nevertheless use it in myriad ways. It governs cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security beneficiaries, government employees, and many labor union members. CPI is baked into the general cake, even though we know it is an imperfect fit in almost every situation.

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.

2013-07-19 Did Bernanke's Dovish Comments Please the Markets? by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

The key phrase: “About half of these participants indicated that it likely would be appropriate to end asset purchases late this year. Many other participants indicated that it likely would be appropriate to continue purchases into 2014.” Bonds rallied, suggesting that the sell-off of the past few weeks had exhausted itself or overshot (at least for now).

2013-07-19 Print the Legend by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman tragedy has become one of those transcendent events that dominates the national discourse and throws light on dimly lit aspects of our society. Obviously, the case touches most closely on issues of race relations, media culture, and the politicization of the justice system. It also reveals how preconceived emotional commitments to a narrative can consistently trump demonstrable facts. These tendencies are also present in the polarized discussion about the persistent weakness of the U.S. economy.

2013-07-19 Egypt: Stating the Obvious by Michelle Shwarzman of Invesco Blog

Although the outcome may have been viewed as a surprise by many, the ongoing economic malaise that partially fueled the revolt against and eventual ouster of Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi, was not.

2013-07-19 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

The year’s first half included some big surprises. U.S. wage and salary growth sets the stage for stronger consumption. Don’t be discouraged by the most recent housing report.

2013-07-19 Challenging a Long-Held Assumption about Commodities by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

It is widely accepted that China spurred higher commodity prices in the past decade. And if the country was the force behind the boom, then the assumption is that China’s lower, but still healthy growth will be a drag on commodity prices. But recent research challenges this assumption.

2013-07-19 Fixed Income Fed Insight: It's All About Employment by Christopher Molumphy of Franklin Templeton Investments

We can try to guess what the Fed is thinking, but ultimately the Fed is driven by inflation and the labor markets. With inflation seemingly under control, it’s really the labor markets that dominate. So if you want to know what the Fed’s going to be doing, look at the labor markets how many jobs we create each month and, most importantly, the unemployment rate.

2013-07-19 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.2, up slightly from last week’s 130.1 (revised from 130.2). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 4.5% from 4.3% last week (revised from 4.6%).

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.

2013-07-18 What's Next for the U.S. Dollar? by Nic Pifer of Columbia Management

Global government bonds have performed poorly so far this year. Year to date through July 13, the Barclays Global Treasury Index, which covers 30 investment grade domestic government bond markets, is down 5.5% in unhedged U.S. dollar terms. The same index hedged back to U.S. dollars is down 0.6% year to date. This difference in returns highlights a key point.

2013-07-17 The Bernanke Guessing Game by David Wismer of Flexible Plan Investments

There can be little doubt that US equity markets have become more dependent than ever, at least in the short-term, on the every utterance of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his fellow FOMC members.

2013-07-17 Fed's Gobbledygook - What Do They Really Mean? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Recent communications from the Fed and comments by Chairman Bernanke cast a great deal of uncertainty on the equity and bond markets in late June. Specifically, Bernanke’s remarks in his press conference on June 19 where he discussed ending its program of quantitative easing prompted a huge global selloff in the stock and bond markets.

2013-07-17 Canadian Secular View: Into Darkness? by Ed Devlin of PIMCO

Many investors are buying Canadian federal government bonds, shorting Canadian bank stocks and selling Canadian dollars in anticipation of a prolonged downturn. While significant risks are clearly facing the Canadian economy, our baseline forecast does not justify positioning our portfolios for a prolonged Canadian downturn.

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

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

2013-07-16 Hedge Funds Can Advertise...But Should They? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

In April 2012, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act was signed into law. The legislation eased a number of regulatory burdens on small businesses and private industry in a bid to boost job growth. The bill made additional headlines for lifting an 80-year ban on solicitation for private placements, the restriction that prevented hedge funds from advertising their wares to the general public.

2013-07-16 AdvisorShares Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

The market increased again last week and both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached record highs by the end of the week. The Nasdaq Composite Index also rose significantly, hitting a 12 year high.

2013-07-16 The Great Rotation Continues Forward... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke grabbed the mic on Wednesday and gave a performance that garnered a standing ovation from Stock, Bond, and Commodity investors. Only U.S. Dollar longs went home dragging their programs and spilling their popcorn. As a result, U.S. equity markets ended the week at all-time highs as stocks remained the darlings of the asset classes.

2013-07-16 Bernanke Still Trying To Get The Message Across by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Economists view the Federal Reserve’s communications with the public as being consistent over the last several weeks. There has been no change in the monetary policy outlook. The Fed had been expected to reduce the pace of asset purchases later this year. The financial markets, however, seem to be hearing different things at different times.

2013-07-16 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

The big news during the past two weeks has to be the employment numbers that came out about 10 days ago. Most economists were looking for about 165,000 jobs being added to the workforce, but the June number came in at 195,000 jobs. This was higher than even the highest estimates.

2013-07-16 Arc of a Diver: The Budget Deficit\'s Plunge by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The budget deficit has been cut by more than halffrom over 10% of GDP to less than 5% today. June saw a budget surplus! The health of the private sector (given its deleveraging since 2007) more than offsets the drag from public sector deleveraging.

2013-07-15 Beneath the Noise, a Resilient Demand Trend and Clear Fed Plan by Alan Levenson of T. Rowe Price

Available data point to real GDP growth of less than 1% in the second quarter, yet we are looking through the dip: core demand data have been firmer (watch June retail sales on Monday), and a Q2 inventory correction will likely be followed by current quarter re-stocking. The sharp upward adjustment in mortgage rates will not derail the housing recovery. The FOMC has provided substantial clarity, in our view, regarding the monetary policy path that it intends to follow if the economy evolves in line with its expectations.

2013-07-15 Don\'t Forget About Earnings by John Petrides (Article)

Earnings season is upon us! Investors can finally focus on what really matters in driving stock prices...earnings growth.

2013-07-15 The Egyptian C#@P by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

From June into early July, the government of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was under pressure from widespread civil unrest. On July 3rd, the military, after warning the president that he had 48 hours to make changes or face an ouster, made good on their promise. The title of our report is “tongue in cheek” as the Obama administration and other officials are going to Orwellian lengths to say this isn’t a coup.

2013-07-15 Detroit, Addicted to Fed $$ by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Last week, I left you with a hint that the July 8 commentary was to be a collector’s edition. After reading this week’s you will know why (hint: it is in the title). I start this week with a guest commentary from Kate McDonough who takes a look at the Detroit Emergency Manager’s Proposal for Creditors. I then take a look at just how reliant we are on the Federal Government for revenue (beyond what the Federal Reserve is doing).

2013-07-15 Rock-A-Bye Baby by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

I’ve always thought that singing “Rock-a-bye baby” offers a bizarre lesson to our young, encouraging them to be lulled gently to sleep by describing a scene that should have them wide-eyed with terror.

2013-07-15 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

After weeks of naysaying and fear-mongering about the Fed, investors finally embraced news from Bernanke and friends and equities moved back into record-setting territory. While most accept the fact that the Fed has entered the “beginning-of-the-end” of its bond-buying stimuli, the minutes from the latest policy meeting and a few “comforting” comments from Dr. B. himself helped calm the masses that the program would not end “yesterday.”

2013-07-13 The Bang! Moment Shock by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we resume our musings about Cyprus, to see what that tiny island can teach us about our own personal need to engage in ongoing critical analysis of our lives and investment portfolios. Cyprus is not Greece or France or Spain or Japan or the US or (pick a country). I get that. No two situations are the same, but there may be a rhyme or two here that is instructive.

2013-07-12 The Fed's Circular Mess by Adam Thurgood of HighTower Advisors

Market volatility is back. The Fed put the end of QE in play, and as a result, big moves in risk assets have become the norm. The market’s reaction over the past several weeks has brought a disturbing question to the surfacehow is the Fed really going to get out of the mess it has put itself in?

2013-07-12 Weekly Market Review-Highlights of the Prior week by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Stocks moved higher but volume was notably low over the holiday shortened trading week. This week for a change, positive economic data, not speculation about the Federal Reserve’s tapering of Quantitative Easing drove the market in the US.

2013-07-12 Bond Yields Gone Wild? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

With the Federal Reserve’s intention to taper its easing, yields have risen quickly, causing municipal bonds to experience their worst decline since September 2008. In the second quarter, the Barclays Capital Municipal Bond Index lost nearly 3 percent, with the long end of the yield curve receiving the biggest blow, as bonds maturing in 20 years fell more than 4 percent.

2013-07-12 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

ECRI posts its proprietary indicators on a one-week delayed basis to the general public, but last year the company switched its focus to a version of the Big Four Economic Indicators I’ve been tracking for the past year. In recent months, however, those indicators have slipped below the fold, replaced by the mixed bag of whatever Indicator du Jour might look recessionary, as in the "Yo-Yo Years" commentary.

2013-07-12 Making Sense of the Bond Market by Phelps McIlvaine of Saturna Capital

The great challenge for investors and advisers today is to forecast where interest rates and bond prices will be once the influence of radical central bank intervention dissipates. Measures of inflation expectations are declining, and deflation remains the dominant influence on interest rates. In assessing whether to trim bond allocations, it is important to revisit the reasons for selecting a particular asset allocation before modifying or abandoning it.

2013-07-12 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

The view of Spain’s economy from the ground is no prettier than it is from distance. Not all forward guidance is created equal. China’s suspension of key economic data raises, not quells, concern.

2013-07-12 Commodities 2013 Halftime Report: A Time to Mine for Opportunity? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

It was a challenging first half of the year for most commodities, with only two resources we track on our Periodic Table of Commodities Returns rising in value. Natural gas and oil rose 6.5 percent and 5 percent, respectively, while silver lost a third of its value and gold lost a quarter of its price from the beginning of the year.

2013-07-12 Calming Downand Changing Focus by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Markets are calming and investors seem to be focusing on fundamentals againa nice change from recent history. The bar is relatively low for earnings season but focus will be on the commentary surrounding releases. We believe more sideways movement in both US equities and Treasury yields could prevail over the next couple of months, with summer months muting action; but remain optimistic about stocks longer-term. Likewise, Japan could tread water until new elections are held, but we believe the eurozone provides opportunities that should be looked into at the expense of investments in China.

2013-07-11 The Capital Flight from Safety: It is Not About Tapering it is About Growth by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

Since Ben Bernanke’s comments seemed to unleash the bond vigilantes on June 19, we have seen a reversal in money flows that have used the U.S. Treasury market and the gold market as a “flight to safety trade.”

2013-07-11 Turmoil and Transition in China by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Tensions in Asia are rising, as China attempts to move toward a more market driven economy. This, combined with the ongoing ultra loose monetary conditions in Japan, has elevated the threat of a financial crisis in the region between now and the end of 2013.

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

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

2013-07-11 The Taper by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

If SNL’s Emily Litella worked on Wall Street, she’d probably be asking “What’s all this hubbub about the Fed’s tapir? After all, it’s a fine animal that never hurt anyone on Wall Street.” It would then be pointed out to her that the word was “taper” and not “tapir”. She would politely end her commentary with her famous “Never mind.”

2013-07-10 3 Risks that Could Derail the Market Rally by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Stocks can withstand moderate rate increases, as we saw last Friday when they rallied despite a sell-off in bonds. But Russ K warns that they may not withstand these three other scenarios.

2013-07-09 The Germans Deserve Credit for Extending Credit by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Germany’s government agreed to (indirectly, via guarantees) provide Spain’s government-run ICO development banks with the funding to make up to 800 million of low-interest loans to small and medium-sized businesses.

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 So the Bulls Returned... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

So the Bulls returned to Equities on a holiday shortened week with plenty of news and data to outrun. The Egyptians threw out their President and the Portuguese gave a thumbs down to their government. But dovish comments out of Draghi/ECB, strong data out of Japan, and a 3rd strong month of Non-Farm Payroll growth pushed the Russell 2000 to all-time highs as the rest of the market jumped into its slipstream.

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.

2013-07-09 Record Selling of Bond Funds: $79.8 Billion Pulled from Bond Mutual Funds and Exchange-Traded Funds by TrimTabs Asset Management of AdvisorShares

The biggest liquidity story is unfolding in the bond market, not the stock market. Investors are pulling record sums out of bond funds. Read this investor insight by TrimTabs Asset Management to learn more about the central bank’s influence on the markets as well as supply and demand activity with the stock market.

2013-07-09 The G8: Sorry, Maybe Next Time by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

While the recent gathering of the Group of 8 industrialized nations addressed worthy topics such as Syria and tax avoidance, it failed to tackle essential economic and fiscal issues.

2013-07-09 Jobs, the Fed, and Long-Term Interest Rates by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The June Employment report showed a labor market that is far from fully recovered, but appears to be well on its way. Federal Reserve policymakers are not going to react to any one report, but the trend in nonfarm payrolls has remained strong. Is that enough to ease up on the gas pedal? Perhaps. However, it should still be some time before the Fed has to hit the brakes.

2013-07-08 Defaults, Growth, Philly Fed and a Collector's Addition by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

The first Friday has come and gone. Initial reports were seemingly positive and then, I think, people read the report or they simply were shaking off the cobwebs from their Independence Day celebration. As always, we await the more detailed State, county and city numbers to avoid revisions to data of up to 30%.

2013-07-08 What Really Matters by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke has made quite clear that the Fed’s decision to reduce its bond buying program is data dependent, so many people now wonder if some recent weaker data, such as the downwardly revised Q1 GDP, may signal that the Fed is likely to continue buying bonds at the $85 billion monthly pace for a while longer. To paraphrase George Orwell, some data is more equal than other data. Monthly employment data top the list, although monthly inflation reports, if they were to show any meaningful rise in inflation, would immediately trump the jobs report.

2013-07-08 Deflationary Boom? by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Taken together, the financial markets have priced a wide range of assets on the assumption that the U.S. is on the verge of a deflationary boom. Most likely, part of this scenario is wrong.

2013-07-05 Record Selling of Bond Funds: $79.8 Billion Pulled from Bond Mutual Funds and Exchange-Traded Funds by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

The biggest liquidity story is unfolding in the bond market, not the stock market. Investors are pulling record sums out of bond funds. Read this investor insight by TrimTabs Asset Management to learn more about the central bank’s influence on the markets as well as supply and demand activity with the stock market.

2013-07-05 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The odds of a September tapering have increased but are conditional on labor market conditions continuing to evolve at least as favorably as viewed at the present time. The important caveat is that the Fed’s forward guidance has stressed the importance of improvements in the “outlook” of the labor market and inflation to consider tapering, which implies that economic data between now and the September FOMC meeting will play an important role in the timing of tapering of asset purchases.

2013-07-05 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 130.4, down slightly from last week’s 130.6. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) fell to 5.3% from 5.8% last week.

2013-07-05 The Asian Giant Stampeding into Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

In this environment, gold should remain attractive. However, as the West flees the precious metal, another set of gold buyers has come forward with the aim to preserve wealth. Take a look at the chart below which shows total gold production compared to the gold deliveries on the COMEX and the Shanghai Gold Exchange.

2013-07-03 Alternative Energy Brief: EU Solar Tariffs “a big mistake.” by Edward Guinness, Matthew Page of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management

This month we explore the impact of recent EU solar module tariffs.

2013-07-03 The Fed's Prisoner Dilemma: Interest Rates Too Low for Too Long by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

The Prisoner Dilemma is based on the example of two prisoners who are told that if one testifies against the other, the one who testified will go free, but if both testify against the other, both will be jailed a conundrum about courses of action that don’t result in the ideal outcome. We believe the Federal Reserve (Fed) will try to manage expectations so that the Treasury yield curve does not adjust too violently.

2013-07-03 Getting Back to “Normal” by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

Though markets were whipsawed by the announcement, the Fed’s plan to step aside and allow normalization is a good thing. The primary risk to hedge is now economic growth and the strong equity returns it tends to produce not financial Armageddon. While risks in Europe and China persist, U.S. fundamentals look relatively strong. It’s not too late for investors to move away from defensive positioning and back toward a standard allocation.

2013-07-03 A Roadmap for Rates by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Uncertainty over the Federal Reserve’s timeline for tapering quantitative easing has resulted in increased volatility in fixed income markets. While the coming months could see the 10-year Treasury yield climb as high as 3.5 percent, the resulting economic slowdown will keep rates subdued in the medium-term.

2013-07-03 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

Last month was the first down month for the market this year. The next few weeks ought to be interesting, we have the monthly jobs number on July 5th when most people are probably on vacation and then corporate earnings start in two weeks. No telling at this point about whether the market will want good news or more of the Goldilocks, not to hot, not too cold, news that could keep Quantitative Easing going. Going forward investors will continue to analyze anything the Fed says for clues.

2013-07-03 Does China's Central Bank Matter More than The Fed? by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

I’m pleased to share with you the economic and market brief that I prepare for Pioneer’s investment professionals each week. It’s intended to be short but informative, and I hope you find it useful.

2013-07-03 Global PMI: Possible Opportunity for Mining Stocks by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

For the month of June, JP Morgan Global Manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) showed a reading of 50.6 for global aggregate manufacturing around the world. A reading of this scale indicates no real change in the market, though the one-month reading brings potentially positive news for some investors.

2013-07-02 Investors Gear Up for Earnings Post-Taper by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Following a few weeks of FOMC-induced turmoil, investors are looking forward to getting back to the fundamentals.Second quarter earnings season are set to kick off July 8 with Alcoa, in what will mark an important reporting period for financial markets.Given the now much telegraphed intentions of the Fed, investors are scrutinizing whether the US economy and corporate sector is ready to stand on its own feet.

2013-07-02 Let\'s Barbecue It... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Equity investors finished June with the first down month in 8 for the S&P500. Bond investors took a Tommy Boy two by four across the face. And yes, it did leave a mark. Two months ago the "Great Rotation" from bonds to equities was nowhere to be seen. Today the panic out of fixed income funds is happening at the highest levels seen since 2008. As we noted last week, inflection points in major rotations are volatile, scary, and unpleasant. This helps to explain the seven 100 basis point moves in the S&P500 in the month of June, which marks the most volatility in 12 months.

2013-07-01 \"This Country is Different\" by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Cyprus is a very small country, some 800,000 people. Among the leadership, everyone knows everyone. There is much to admire, as we will see. But Cyprus has had a gut-wrenching crisis, proportionately more dire than any in other European countries recently; and precedents are being established here for how future problems will be dealt with in the Eurozone and elsewhere.

2013-07-01 The Golden Cycle by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The New York Times had the definitive take on the vicious sell off in gold. To summarize one of their articles: Two years ago gold bugs ran wild as the price of gold rose nearly six times. But since cresting two years ago it has steadily declined, almost by half, putting the gold bugs in flight. The most recent advisory from a leading Wall Street firm suggests that the price will continue to drift downward, and may ultimately settle 40% below current levels.

2013-07-01 Headlines, Patience, Pensions, Tax Collections, Income and Send a Letter! by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Muni Tax Exemption Justification Please: Back in the news. As Congress makes another run at overhauling the tax code, the Senate Finance Committee had a pretty good idea let’s start with a “blank slate” when it comes to deductions, exemptions and credits. The Committee has asked Senators for proposals around deductions and exemptions and to support the same.

2013-07-01 All of the Above by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Market internals remain broken here. That may change, and it might even change soon. Until it does, we would be inclined to tread carefully, because this may be the highest level investors will see on the S&P 500 for quite some time. Choosing between potential catalysts - credit strains in China, the risk of disappointing earnings, or economic weakness, the incoming data is consistent with one conclusion: all of the above.

2013-06-28 Labor Force Myth Sends the Wrong Signal on U.S. Growth Prospects by Brandon Odenath of J.P. Morgan Funds

We’ve seen the pundits on TV and read their op edsthe drop in the labor force participation rate is proof that unemployment is falling because many of the unemployed have simply given up the search for work. The inference of course, suggests that the economy is in much worse shape than falling unemployment rates would indicate.

2013-06-28 Inflation Lags Monetary Expansion: Prepare to be Swindled by JJ Abodeely of Sitka Pacific Capital Management

In May 1977, the consumer price index (CPI), which measures a basket of consumer goods in the U.S. economy, had risen 6.7% from the year before. The indexes had doubled over the previous 15 years, and by 1977 investors were fully aware that the rate of change was increasingi.e. the inflation rate was spiraling higher. By then, this inflationary awareness had worked its way into every corner of the financial markets, as commodities, gold and interest rates rose, and the stock market remained in a deep funk.

2013-06-28 Investment Bulletin: Global Equity Strategy by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

For the first five months of the year the global portfolio enjoyed a net gain of 21.0%, 350 basis points better than the index, edging ahead further in May. Recent smoke signals from the Federal Reserve Bank implying - subject to a wide range of get-out clauses that less money might be put into the system, have caused market hysterics. Bond investors have rightly been stampeding out, ending a 32-year old bull market. Its longevity had caused dangerous complacency and overexposure, especially to illiquid and expensive emerging market debt through open-ended vehicles.

2013-06-28 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

Small businesses may hold the key to better economic growth. Chinese officials are trying to curb financial excess. There are a number of ways to reach 7% U.S. unemployment.

2013-06-28 Stay the Course As Mixed Signals Move Markets by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

We maintain that gold is in extremely oversold territory and mathematically due for a reversal toward the mean. Yet when gold prices plummet, fear takes over and some investors forget the fundamental reasons to own gold: Gold is a portfolio diversifier and a store of value. It is a finite resource with increasing global demand.

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

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

2013-06-27 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.

2013-06-27 The Tipping Point by Bill Gross of PIMCO

I’ve spun a few yarns in recent years about my days as a naval officer; not, thank goodness, tales told by dead men, but certainly echoes from the depths of Davy Jones’ Locker. A few years ago I wrote about the time that our ship (on my watch) was almost cut in half by an auto-piloted tanker at midnight, but never have I divulged the day that the USS Diachenko came within one degree of heeling over during a typhoon in the South China Sea. “Engage emergency ballast,” the Captain roared at yours truly the one and only chief engineer.

2013-06-27 Monetary Exit Strategy: Removing The Doubt by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

In the press conference following last weeks FOMC meeting, Federal Reserve (the Fed) Chairman Bernanke said that the committee was “puzzled” by the sharp rise in bond yields over the last two months, and that the increase “seems larger than can be explained by a changing view of monetary policy.” We would argue, in contrast, that the recent increase in bond yields has been almost entirely about a changing view of monetary policy.

2013-06-27 Currency Wars: A Case for the U.S. Dollar by Gibson Smith, Chris Diaz of Janus Capital Group

In recent years, the U.S. dollar has tended to lose value when the global economy improves, as investors are more willing to take risks. We believe that pattern has changed and that the U.S. dollar will outperform the Japanese yen, the euro and the British pound over the medium term, even if the global economy continues to improve. In our view, current conditions justify a material deviation in currency exposure compared with certain global fixed income benchmarks, such as the Barclays Global Aggregate Bond Index.

2013-06-27 What We've Got Here is (a) Failure to Communicate by Scott Brown of Raymond James

In his press briefing following the June 19 FOMC meeting, Fed Chairman Bernanke outlined how the evolution of the economic outlook will drive policy decisions in the months ahead. The key messages are that monetary policy will remain data-dependent, that tapering is not tightening, and that higher short-term interest rates are still a long way off.

2013-06-27 ING Fixed Income Perspectives June 2013 by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

Fears of Fed tapering are overblown; we expect global funding conditions to remain easy. We continue to favor the U.S. dollar and are bearish on the euro and the yen; we are cautious on EM local currencies, as volatility is likely to persist.Spreads are appealing at current levels, with higher-quality industrials offering the most attractive risk/reward.

2013-06-26 The QE Lemon Has Been Squeezed Dry by Tad Rivelle of TCW Asset Management

We’ve just witnessed the dress rehearsal for the end of the Fed’s Quantitative Easing (QE). Markets that had learned to stop worrying and love the financial repression have been given reasons to fear the interest rate cycle. For five years we have lived with a central bank that has used, or abused, a zero rate policy and QE to effectuate the Great Risk-On trade to cure the ills of the Great Recession.

2013-06-26 Win Ben's Money by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

From 1997 to 2003 a show called,” Win Ben Stein’s Money” ran on the Comedy Central Network. The last five years, investors in the US have been playing a very similar game we are calling, “Win Ben’s Money”. The new game stars Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Ben Bernanke. The object is to win the money the Fed creates via Quantitative Easing (QE) through macroeconomic analysis. In this missive, we will look at how these investors chased Ben’s Money and consider what to do going forward.

2013-06-26 The Fed\'s Dirty Little Secret: QE Does Not Work by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Today I hope to dispel the myth that the Fed’s massive quantitative easing (QE) policy has driven long-term interest rates lower. I will argue that the opposite is true and demonstrate that the yield on the 10-year Treasury note has actually risen during QE-1, QE-2 and QE-3. This flies in the face of most market commentators.

2013-06-26 Trampled By the Crowd? Logic Briefly Abandoned Creates Opportunity by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

The past two week slide in asset prices has caused a resurgence of doomsday pundits warning of impending calamity. The negative interpretation of Fed Chairman Bernanke’s comments regarding the U.S.economy’s future upgraded prospects is simply not logical. A careful review of what Bernanke said at his press conference was entirely consistent with what the Fed has said and done in the past.

2013-06-25 The Great Debate on Inequality: Stiglitz versus Krugman by Michael Edesess (Article)

Economics Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz is the chief alarmist warning that income and wealth inequality in the U.S. is a very serious threat to the economy. So it comes as a surprise that his fellow Nobelist Paul Krugman – Stiglitz’s intellectual comrade-in-arms – disagrees with him. Their disagreement goes to the heart of today’s economic problem.

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

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

2013-06-25 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

All markets came under pressure last week (and this morning) over the dual concerns of a slowing global economy coupled with the Federal Reserve’s suggestion that things are improving and thus “tapering” might start by the end of the year.

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 How Not to Invest in Dividend Stocks: Seven Mistakes Investors Commonly Make by David Ruff of Forward Management

While investors may assume that dividend investing is relatively straightforward, they commonly make mistakes that may undercut the potential income and total return of their investments.

2013-06-24 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

What is the Fed actually saying? The economy is recovering; the labor market is improving; short-term interest rates should remain low until at least 2015; the bond buying program will continue in its current form; any “winding down” (tapering) of purchases will be contingent on steady growth; the policymakers would be prepared to ramp up buying if conditions warrant. What have many investors been hearing/thinking?

2013-06-24 Quick Takes by Charles Lieberman (Article)

One of the issues being hyped these days is over the uncertainty surrounding Fed policy, which quite candidly, I don’t get. Short of laying out precise dates and amounts, the Fed has provided exceptionally detailed guidance that it will ease off the accelerator over the coming months, as long as the unemployment continues trending down. Downside risks have receded, the economy is improving, and extraordinary measures for policy are no longer needed. On the economy’s current trajectory, the Fed suggests it will no longer be engaged in QE by next summer.

2013-06-24 Market Internals Suggest a Shift to Risk-Aversion by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Our primary attention here is on market internals. If they improve, I expect that we’ll adopt at least a moderately constructive view. Presently, however, my impression is that investors have shifted from risk-seeking to risk-aversion. This shift is not because of a hawkish Fed, but in spite of a dovish one - something more appears to be going on. It’s tempting to wait until a stronger and more specific “catalyst” emerges, but the financial markets have demonstrated repeatedly over time that market losses come first, and the catalyst becomes evident afterward.

2013-06-24 Despite Interest Rate Concerns, Muni Volatility May Offer an Entry Point by Jack Tierney of Invesco Blog

As we approach the midway point of 2013, the capital markets have many concerns: the potential end of quantitative easing (QE3), the slow rate of economic growth, the stubbornly high unemployment rate and the sorry state of affairs in both federal and state government finances. I won’t speculate on the eventual outcome of these issues, especially where politics is concerned. But I do think it’s valuable to look past the market’s fear and search for areas where smart investors can take clear-eyed action and benefit in uncertain conditions.

2013-06-24 A Timetable for Ending QE by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

In a press conference following this week’s FOMC meeting, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke provided markets with a clearer understanding on how the Fed expects to phase out its current quantitative easing (QE) program. This timetable is justified both by economic progress and by the significant future costs which a too-large Fed balance sheet is likely to entail. Moreover, the timetable, while never previously explicitly outlined, should not have been a surprise to most market observers. Nevertheless, Mr. Bernanke’s words have been met by a sharp selloff across a wide range of financial a

2013-06-24 How Does the Fed's Recent Action Compare to EM Central Banks? by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments

In an interview on Bloomberg Radio with Tom Keene and Ken Prewitt, I shared my thoughts on the Fed’s recent announcement that it would continue its QE efforts for the time being. If you missed the segment, I’ve summarized that conversation here for you.

2013-06-24 Tidbits, Employment and Quotes to Make You Say... by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

The Fed roiled the markets this week announcing the end of QE may be near if A few things to consider: we’ve heard this before, the “if” is a big “if” (see below for some insightful quotes from John Mauldin) and, remember QE was the extraordinary measure taken by the Fed after dropping rates no longer accomplished the Fed’s goals. This month, the Fed noted that the “downside risks to the outlook for the economy and labor market [has] diminished since last fall” while in May they noted that they “continued to see downside risks to the econ

2013-06-24 The Fed Unintentionally Lays an Egg by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities declined last week as the S&P 500 ended down 2.09%.1 The S&P suffered the first back-to-back one-day declines of more than 1% since last November. Global equities and bonds were also hit hard, with large sell-offs in emerging market assets, commodities and commodity currencies. Concerns about the fallout from dampened Fed policy accommodation are driving the weakness.

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

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

2013-06-21 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Ultimately my opinion remains unchanged: The ECRI’s credibility depends on major downward revisions to the key economic indicators -- especially the July annual revisions to GDP -- that will be sufficient to validate their early recession call. Of course, the July revisions will be quite controversial this year, with some major accounting changes and revisions in annual GDP back to 1929. So if we don’t get the downward revisions to support ECRI, they can always question the accounting changes in the revision process.

2013-06-21 Tapering the Taper Talk by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

As usual the Federal Reserve media reaction machine has fallen for a poorly executed head fake. It has been fooled by this move many times in the past and for its efforts it has tackled nothing but air. Yet right on cue, it took the bait once more. Somehow the takeaway from Wednesday’s release of the June Fed statement and the Bernanke press conference is that the Central bank is likely to begin scaling back, or "tapering," it’s $85 billion per month quantitative easing program sometime later this year, and that the program may be completely wound down by the middle of next year.

2013-06-21 Austerity is a Four-Letter French Word by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The France that I see as I look out from the bullet train today is far different from the France I see when I survey the economic data. Going from Marseilles to Paris, the countryside is magnificent. The farms are laid out as if by a landscape artist this is not the hurly-burly no-nonsense look of the Texas landscape. The mountains and forests that we glide through are glorious. It is a weekend of special music all over France, and last night in Marseilles the stages were alive and the crowds out in force.

2013-06-21 End of Quantitative Easing Tapers Asian Returns? Part I by Robert Horrocks of Matthews Asia

Historically Asian markets have done well in periods of a weaker U.S. dollar and faster growth, so lowering peoples’ growth expectations and causing them to bid up the U.S. dollar is about the worst combination for Asian equities historically. And I do not think that Asia’s relation to global markets has changed significantly enough to nullify this past relationship. However, there are reasons to think that the effects on Asia’s equity prices may be a little more muted this time.

2013-06-20 Fed Slightly More Optimistic by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

The Federal Reserve made only slight changes to the text of its statement, but those it did make signal slightly more optimism. It said labor market conditions show “further improvement,” rather than “some improvement” and sees “diminished” downside risks for the broader economy.

2013-06-20 Municipals: A Glimpse of What's to Come? by Guy Davidson of AllianceBernstein

Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke reiterated today that a healthier economy would prompt the Fed to end its unprecedented bond-buying program, which has kept yields artificially low. Speculation on this question over the last several weeks has caused a sharp bond sell-off and rising yields. But we don’t see this as the start of a rout for most municipal bonds.

2013-06-19 Will The Fed Tank The Markets Tomorrow? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The Fed Open Market Committee is meeting today and tomorrow to set monetary policy going forward. The big question is whether or not the Fed will decide to “taper” its monthly purchases of $85 billion in Treasury bonds and mortgage securities, which have driven stocks and bonds higher over the last few years. The decision depends largely on the Fed’s view of the economy, so they tell us.

2013-06-19 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

The near term is going to be all about the Fed and what they say about tapering their bond buying. In anticipation the market has rallied from the low it set on June 5th. Markets were oversold but they also seem to be interpreting the Fed’s message as QE is somewhat irrelevant because they will maintain a zero interest rate policy until the unemployment rate hits 6.5%, which isn’t going to happen anytime soon. It also looks like the market doesn’t mind talk about Ben Bernanke leaving in January as he would probably be replaced by Janet Yellin who seems to espouse all the same

2013-06-19 Pride: In the Name of the US Manufacturing/Energy Renaissance by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Manufacturing/energy renaissance in the United States is a long-term theme; not a short-term trade but it’s underway. The list of companies "reshoring" to the United States are powerful and growing. Can the United States become a global exporting powerhouse?

2013-06-19 3 Reasons to Consider Spanish Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While Europe is not out of the woods yet, Russ is less concerned about the Spanish market.

2013-06-19 Dialing Down by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The financial markets have gyrated in recent weeks on fears that Federal Reserve policymakers will taper the rate of asset purchases. The rise in long-term interest rates and increased market volatility are hard to justify based on the discussion of possible changes in the Fed asset purchase program alone. No change in monetary policy is expected at this week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

2013-06-18 GMO’s Montier on Why to Hold Cash by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Central bank policies have distorted markets to such a degree that investors are devoid of any buy-and-hold asset classes, according to James Montier. But according to Richard Bernstein, the flood of liquidity unleashed through quantitative easing (QE) now offers investors compelling opportunities.

2013-06-18 Help Clients Fill the Income Void by Sponsored Content from Legg Mason Global Income Survey (Article)

Affluent investors all over the world just aren’t getting what they want from their income investments, according to Legg Mason’s recently released Global Income Survey. Yet there is good news: most say they want to become more knowledgeable about income investing, and they’re eager for financial professionals to point out fresh opportunities.

2013-06-18 Promise to Be Irresponsible by Jeremie Banet, Mihir Worah of PIMCO

We believe the recent rise in real rates and fall in inflation expectations could jeopardize the U.S. economic recovery. We also believe these are a direct result of uncertainty about the Federal Reserve’s ultimate goal. Low real yields accompanied by sufficient nominal growth are the necessary prescription for a still ailing economy.

2013-06-18 The Snowden Affair by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Over the past two weeks, revelations published in The Guardian and the Washington Post reported on a massive data gathering program that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been operating since 2001. The NSA, created during the Truman administration, mostly monitors signal intelligence and is the primary cryptographer for the U.S. government.

2013-06-18 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stock prices came under pressure last week over the strength of the Japanese Yen versus the dollar which led to a large decline in stock prices there as well as the misplaced fears domestically that the Federal Reserve Board will pull forward its timetable for “tapering” its quantitative easing policy.

2013-06-18 Fed Zombification by Cliff Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors

The enthusiasm of our culture for Zombies is estimated to contribute a tidy $5 billion dollar a year to GDP, and that doesn’t even include the too-big-to-die zombie banks. In my opinion, the acute interest in zombies and horror (and escapism in general) says something about our country’s mental health.

2013-06-17 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

When Ben Bernanke talksactually he doesn’t even have to talk to move the markets. For the past few weeks, investors have speculated about the next Fed moves and the possibility of a “tapering” of the $85 billion a month bond purchase program, perhaps as early as next week. Markets have been jittery (to put it mildly) as global stocks have fallen (thanks Japan) and international bond rates have been on the rise. Investors began over-analyzing each economic release, each comment by a Fed official, each forecast by a regulatory body or related agency.

2013-06-17 Tidbits, Stabilization Funds, Rearview Mirrors and Magic 8-Balls by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week I decided to try something new think of it as the appetizer, dinner and dessert. The appetizer is our section of Tidbits, a look at some headlines and a thought or two around the same. The meal is where we take a deeper dive into a subject or two and dessert is where we round things out what’s new, what’s coming up and the like. If you don’t like the new format, let me know.

2013-06-17 Keynesian Model Blew It Again by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

If there’s one economic conclusion we can make from recent data, it’s that the Keynesian model has failed - again.

2013-06-17 Sloppy Markets Continue by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Last week the S&P 500 declined 0.97%,1 while many global equity averages fell for the fourth week in a row. Early in the week, discussion of tapering by the Federal Reserve was a big headwind, as discomfort over a slower pace of policy accommodation rippled through global markets. Thursday’s rally was driven by thoughts that tapering fears may be overdone. Markets were also helped by better employment and consumption data.

2013-06-15 Economists Are (Still) Clueless by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The economic forecasts of mainstream economists are quite positive, if not enirely optimistic, reflecting the current data. Should we not take heart from that? Alas, no. This week we look at some of our recent musings on that topic, triggered by a letter from a very serious economist who took umbrage when I wrote disparagingly about economists and forecasting a couple months ago.

2013-06-14 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Six years ago, in 2007, the trustees of Social Security projected that Social Security would run out of money, i.e., have a negative balance, in the year 2041. At the end of last month the trustees updated this projection and indicated that the trust fund backing the payment of Social Security would be zero by 2033. A zero trust fund does not mean the payment of Social Security benefits would also go to zero, but would drop to 77% of their originally promised levels through 2087. Is any of this getting Congress’s attention? (Source: Social Security Trustees)

2013-06-14 Which Way for Bonds? Mapping a Path Forward by Bill Gross of PIMCO

In 1980, the Federal Reserve, led by Paul Volcker, tightened the quantitative noose to tame double-digit inflation, fueling an unprecedented tailwind for bond prices. Thirty years later we find ourselves at the other extreme, as central banks print money in the trillions of dollars to stimulate economic growth, and inflation is abnormally low. While we are not likely to see a repeat of that type of bull market any time soon, we also do not believe we are at the beginning of a bear market for bonds.

2013-06-14 A Sweet Find on an African Adventure by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The heart of Africa has been beating strong in recent years due to elevated commodity prices and resilient domestic demand, despite the global economic slowdown. Among the sub-Saharan African countries, Sierra Leone was the fastest growing country last year, according to the World Bank. Its economy experienced growth that is as rare today as Fancy Red diamonds. GDP increased a whopping 18 percent.

2013-06-14 ECRI Recession Watch: New Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.3, up slightly from last week’s 131.0 (revised from 130.9). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 6.6% from 6.4% last week (revised from 6.3%).... Two weeks ago the company took a new approach to its recession call in its most recent publicly available commentary on the ECRI website: What Wealth Effect? More...

2013-06-14 A Taste of Rising Rates by Team of Neuberger Berman

The mantra "sell in May and go away" has taken on a new twist this year. Equity markets saw mixed returns last month but bonds took a beating, with losses materializing in nearly every fixed income segment. The reason? Interest rates rose significantlyand rather unexpectedlyover the course of the month. What implications would rising rates have for the market? We consider what’s ahead.

2013-06-14 Changing Picture by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

We could be in the beginning stages of an adjustment toward a more "normal" monetary policy environment, with attendant volatility. This once again illustrates the importance of diversification and focusing on long-term goals when investing. We continue to believe the US equity markets are an attractive place for assets and recommend buying on pullbacks to the extent that you need to add to equity exposure. Additionally, continue to exercise caution around fixed income allocations and focus more on the developed markets vs. EM.

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

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

2013-06-13 The Instability of Stability by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Hyman Minsky’s scholarship holds valuable lessons for the current dynamic in the economy. The Fed, via QE, continues to induce speculative buying in the Treasury market, which is having the effect of destabilizing a number of asset classes.

2013-06-13 Securing a Lasting Economic Recovery by Team of Northern Trust

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, business expansions have averaged 59 months in the past 11 business cycles. June 2013 marks the fourth birthday of the current U.S. economic recovery, and this one seems very likely to be above average on this score.

2013-06-13 Thinking About Thinking? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

I think a lot about thinking in an attempt to improve my ability to make good decisions. I also work hard to avoid linear thinking, which tends to extend present conditions “linearly” into the future. Such thinking caused investors to ignore the Dow Theory “sell signal” of September 1999 with portfolio consequences that are now legend. That same thinking occurred in November of 2007, concurrent with another Dow Theory “sell signal,” with similar portfolio consternations. Ladies and gentlemen, economic changes, and for that matter stock market changes, tend t

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 Gundlach – Don’t Sell Your Bonds by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Don’t sell your bonds just yet, according to Jeffrey Gundlach. Global economic growth is slowing, he said, and the U.S. will be competing for a larger slice of a shrinking worldwide pie. A weaker economy dims the prospects for higher interest rates. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield – currently 2.08% – will be 1.70% by the end of the year, according to Gundlach, providing profits for holders of long-term bonds.

2013-06-11 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

The last few weeks have seen volatility emerge as concerns about the Fed’s policy of quantitative easing and the timing of changing it have taken center stage.

2013-06-11 May Flowers Bring Best Equity Market Since 1997 as Bonds Wilt by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

The S&P 500 has opened 2013 with its best year-through-May return since 1997. U.S. Treasury prices, in contrast, plunged last month on talks of Fed “tapering”. Don’t expect the reflation in bond yields to continue in the near term, as the Fed continues to struggle in its current war against deflation. Fundamental business activity not quantitative easing is the wellspring of sustained economic growth, creating lasting sales and profits. For investors, the two biggest self-defeating fears continue to be 1) the fear of buying equities and 2) the fear of buying bonds.

2013-06-11 Risk Parity - New Thinking or New Packaging? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Ever since Harry Markowitz brought forth the notion of mean-variance optimization in 1952, academics and practitioners alike have sought ways to build more robust asset allocation methodologies. Recently, the most talked about approach in the institutional world is risk parity, which seeks to focus on risk as its primary input. Risk parity is intuitively appealing, but suffers many pitfalls that investors need to consider.

2013-06-11 Crushing the Middle Class by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Like a carefully memorized religious incantation, politicians and central bankers continually stress how their stimulus policies are designed to promote the interests and prosperity of the middle class. Cynical observers may note that this brave political stance may have something to do with gaining the support of the vast majority of voters who identify themselves as "middle class." However, the cumulative effect of their economic programs has achieved the opposite.

2013-06-11 And Like Clockwork... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

And like clockwork, stocks bounced both from their very short term oversold point and off the 50 day moving average on Wednesday...

2013-06-10 2009 vs. 2013 by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

One of the most strongly held beliefs of investors here is the notion that it is inappropriate to “Fight the Fed” reflecting the view that Federal Reserve easing is sufficient to keep stocks not only elevated, but rising. What’s baffling about this is that the last two 50% market declines both the 2001-2002 plunge and the 2008-2009 plunge occurred in environments of aggressive, persistent Federal Reserve easing.

2013-06-10 Growth in “GDP”, A Quick Look at Droughts (Yes, Drought) and Pension Data by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

I’m simply not going to take the bait and respond to the Employment Situation report. Regular readers know my thoughts around this monthly report that garners way too much attention (take a look back at the May 6 commentary and others around employment data). This week I focus on how and where State economies are growing, remind you of the availability of some critical data points and pass on some observations and opportunities around Pension data.

2013-06-08 Banzai! Banzai! Banzai! by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In practice it may be harder for Japan to grow and generate inflation than it might be for other major nations. Today we’ll focus on Japanese demographics. While the letter is full of graphs and charts, it does not paint a pretty picture. The forces of deflation will not go gently into that good night.

2013-06-07 Filling in the 2Q13 Picture and Looking Ahead by Scott Brown of Raymond James

We’re now two-thirds of the way through 2Q13. However, the second quarter economic picture is still sketchy. We have some data for April, which is subject to revision. Figures for May will begin arriving this week. Despite the cloudy near-term economic picture, the financial markets are looking ahead to better growth in the second half of the year.

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.

2013-06-07 Is College Overrated? by Vivek Tanneeru of Matthews Asia

Obtaining a college degree in Asia, like elsewhere in the world, is a middle class dream. It is often considered a ticket to increased employment opportunity. But recently there has been some evidence to suggest that this is not always the case.

2013-06-07 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The change at the top of the Bank of England comes at a delicate time. The May U.S. employment report will not sway the Fed either way. Eurozone and China PMI reports - interpret with caution.

2013-06-07 As Economy Heats Up, Will Commodities? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Don’t wait for the Fed to officially raise rates, as research shows that investors get the most benefit from materials and energy stocks by getting in now

2013-06-06 But We Want Goldilocks-Like Growth by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

While the equity markets would enjoy a bit of the great rotation out of the 20+ year outperformance in bonds and into equities, the move in May has been too much, too quick for even equity investors to stomach. So while the Long Treasury ETF (TLT) fell -6.8% in May, the size of the move even scared investors in REITs (IYR), Junk Bonds (JNK/HYG), and Utilities (XLU).

2013-06-06 The Fed's Dilemma by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Market volatility is rising as the Fed continues with its asset purchase program. The economy also appears increasingly vulnerable to a rise in interest rates, which would have an adverse effect on housing in particular.

2013-06-06 The Risk of Government Policies and the Rationing of Retirement by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates

In late April, a group of leading economists and investment practitioners assembled in La Jolla, California, for Research Affiliates’ 2013 Advisory Panel. Our theme this year touched on two topics that have been front-and-center in recent public debates: the risk of government intervention and the potential rationing of retirement.

2013-06-06 The Wisdom of Crowds by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

Are markets efficient? This is a debate that has been on-going for decades. In one corner you have the proponents of the Efficient Markets Hypothesis. In their world alpha does not exist, or at the very least it is not sustainable. In the other corner you have the supporters of behavioural finance who see investors as being mostly irrational and suffering from all sorts of behavioural biases which create alpha opportunities galore. Out of this long lasting stand-off a new paradigm is emerging called the Adaptive Markets Hypothesis which aims to reconcile the two.

2013-06-06 Inflation Is Still the Lesser Evil by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

The world’s major central banks continue to express concern about inflationary spillover from their recession-fighting efforts. That is a mistake: given the political, social, and economic risks of continued slow growth, policymakers should encourage a sustained burst of moderate inflation.

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.

2013-06-05 Fed Advisory Council Drops A Bombshell by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Last Friday afternoon, the Fed released the minutes from a May 17 meeting of the Federal Advisory Council (FAC). The Council is a group of 12 influential bankers from across the country who meet periodically and give the Fed Board of Governors input regarding the economy, moneyary policy, etc. The minutes from the latest FAC meeting clearly indicate that the bankers are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the Fed’s unprecedented “quantitative easing” policy. To my knowledge, no one in the mainstream media has reported on what you will read here today.

2013-06-05 Will Green Shoots Flourish in U.S. and Latin America? by Josh Thimons, Lupin Rahman of PIMCO

The US economy is much further along the road to repair relative to its developed market peers, but it is still dealing with an unsustainable fiscal situation. Latin America is closely coupled to the rest of the world. What happens in the U.S., China and Europe over the secular horizon is especially critical. Our secular investment outlook calls for a more defensive posture toward risk. In U.S. fixed income, this suggests positioning for alpha rather than capital appreciation.

2013-06-05 26 Years of Wealth Effect: Equity Valuation in the Greenspan/Bernanke Era by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

I recently observed that P/E multiples are becoming stretched versus historic experience. Historically rich valuations, however, should be viewed in context of today’s highly supportive monetary environment.

2013-06-04 Woody Brock’s Challenge to Krugman and the Keynesians by Bob Veres (Article)

A polarizing choice confronts policymakers. Either they side with Paul Krugman and the Keynesians, and advocate for aggressive fiscal measures to stimulate America’s economic growth rate, or they align themselves with the so-called austerians, who argue that budget cutbacks are necessary to eliminate deficits. A third option is rarely discussed. Its most outspoken proponent, Horace “Woody” Brock, says that America should continue to borrow, but spend wisely – and develop new policy instruments that would eliminate asset bubbles and stimulate economic activity.

2013-06-04 Vincent Reinhart on Debt and Growth in the U.S. and Japan by Robert Huebscher (Article)

High debt levels translate to slower growth, according to Vincent Reinhart. That conclusion will be disheartening to those who jumped on the errors several University of Massachusetts scholars found last month in Carmen Reinhart (Vincent’s wife) and Ken Rogoff’s research. But Vincent Reinhart is the author, along with his wife and Rogoff, of a study published in 2012 that documented the degree to which high debt-to-GDP levels correlate with slower economic growth in developed countries.

2013-06-04 When You Have to Fire an Employee by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I have to fire an investment advisor working for me. There have been some complaints from clients and employees that I can’t ignore any longer. But there are clients who really like this guy. They won’t be happy about this change. What do I do to ensure I don’t lose these clients?

2013-06-04 The Gold Bull vs The Paper Tiger by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

That’s all, folks. One look at the headlines will tell you the gold bull market is officially over: the stock market is booming, a modest recovery of the US economy is underway, and the dollar is dominating the forex. Time to sell your bullion and get back into US stocks!

2013-06-04 Employment Data, “State of the States” and Interesting Quotes Worth Exploring by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

I simply can’t seem to shake the notion that some basic issues continue to exist despite some of the favorable headlines and discussions with some pretty smart people who think the worst is behind us (I do subscribe to the view that it is critical to seek out views contrary to my own to keep me in check). During these discussions or when revisiting their basis, I can’t help but revert back to the data. After all, facts are facts.

2013-06-04 Wounded Heart by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Joseph Schumpeter, the originator of the phrase “creative destruction,” authored a less well-known corollary at some point in the 1930s. “Profit,” he wrote, “is temporary by nature: It will vanish in the subsequent process of competition and adaptation.” And so it has, certainly at the micro level for which his remark was obviously intended. Once proud, seemingly indestructible capitalistic giants have seen their profits fall short of “everlasting” and exhibited a far more ephemeral character.

2013-06-04 Caught Between Slow Growth and the End of Easy Money by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Two contradictory investor concerns are to blame for a recent pickup in market volatility. Russ explains which of the concerns is premature and what that means for investors.

2013-06-03 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

And the streak continues. (The monthly winning streak that is.) While stocks have drifted lower each of the past two weeks, the Dow has surged for six straight months and the S&P 500 now stands at seven and counting. In fact, much of the week’s losses came in the final hour(s) of trading as investors took profits for the month and positioned their portfolios for the summer. No news from the Fed yet, but the bond debates continue. Housing remains strong on the economic front, but next week’s data will go a long way toward setting the tone for the future.

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.

2013-06-03 Is Volatility Dead? Hardly. by Paresh Upadhyaya, Michael Temple of Pioneer Investments

Certain pundits suggest we have entered a new volatility regime that volatility has been tamed by the massive amount of liquidity injected into worldwide capital markets by very accommodative central banks. We take a different view. While volatility has been declining across many asset classes, it is creeping into several that may have escaped some investors’ attention.

2013-06-03 A Taste of What Tapering Might Mean by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

A week on from the sparks of the FOMC minutes and we can see how the market handles the subtler parts of Fed communication. Not well. Most of the dove camp talked about adjusting purchases up or down depending on economic conditions (all very reasonable and consistent) but stressed there was really nothing in the data for change. The hawk that counts, Bullard of the St. Louis Fed, even called for continued QE given low inflation. So the “employment is too low, continue” and "inflation is too low, continue” camps agree.

2013-06-03 Following the Fed to 50% Flops by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

One of the most strongly held beliefs of investors here is the notion that it is inappropriate to “Fight the Fed” reflecting the view that Federal Reserve easing is sufficient to keep stocks not only elevated, but rising. What’s baffling about this is that the last two 50% market declines both the 2001-2002 plunge and the 2008-2009 plunge occurred in environments of aggressive, persistent Federal Reserve easing.

2013-06-01 After the Gold Rush by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate

The run-up in gold prices in recent years from $800 per ounce in early 2009 to above $1,900 in the fall of 2011 had all the features of a bubble. And now, like all asset-price surges that are divorced from the fundamentals of supply and demand, the gold bubble is deflating.

2013-05-31 Austerity and Demoralization by Robert Shiller of Project Syndicate

Austerity, according to some of its promoters, is supposed to improve morale. But the kind of fiscal austerity that is being practiced now has the immediate effect of rendering people jobless and filling their lives with nothing but a sense of rejection and exclusion.

2013-05-31 Japan: Gauging the Stimulus Response by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The Japanese patient seems to be responding well to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s attentions. Equities have rallied strongly. The yen, as the government desires, has retreated from export-crushing highs. The economy has shown signs of a genuine cyclical pickup. The good news has buoyed spirits in Japan. It will likely continue for a while longer, too. But the picture for the country is not yet all joy, because Abe’s policies fail to address the country’s significant, longer-term, fundamental problems.

2013-05-31 Taking a Bite of Values by Peter Langerman of Franklin Templeton Investments

In the midst of a spring stock market surge sweeping some spots on the global mapnotably the USsome investors have been left scratching their heads, wondering just what it is that the equity market is celebrating. True, the US economy has been improving in some areas, but is it enough to justify the hooplaand keep the market from back-sliding at the first hint of trouble? And, are there any values to be had in this environment? Peter Langerman believes much of today’s US market euphoria is actually rational because it’s based on improving fundamentals, and yes, there are values to

2013-05-31 The American Consumer is Not Okay by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

The spin-doctors are hard at work arguing that falling unemployment, rising home values, and record stock prices mean that the American consumer the major drag on the economy in the post-crisis period is finally back. The facts say otherwise.

2013-05-31 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Personal Income Less Transfer Payments by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

I’ve now updated this commentary to include April Real Personal Income less Transfer Payments. As I’ve discussed before, the adjacent thumbnail shows the major spike in incomes triggered by pulling early 2013 income forward in November and December (bonuses, dividends, etc.) to manage the tax risks of the Fiscal Cliff. At this point we’ve recovered from the post-strategy dip, so the trend going forward will give a more realistic sense of where this indicator is heading.

2013-05-31 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Is central bank communication clarifying or confusing? The European Central Bank should focus its efforts on small business lending. A look beneath the surface of housing proves revealing.

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 UK Secular Outlook - Morphing into the Carney Era by Mike Amey of PIMCO

The UK remains in a “stable disequilibrium”, one that needs to either transform into growing economy with narrowing income differentials or risk a more aggressive policy response. Financial repression, protection of real purchasing power, tail risks of accelerated currency weakness and price sensitivity will likely dominate UK markets over the secular horizon. Investors may consider progressively reducing exposure to assets susceptible to tail risks. Higher quality short-dated income-generating, inflation-hedging and non-sterling assets remain attractive.

2013-05-30 Global DC Plans: Similar Destinations, Distinctly Different Paths by Stacy Schaus, William G. S. Allport, Justin Blesy of PIMCO

DC plans in in the U.S., Australia and the U.K. may benefit from better aligning asset allocation defaults to workers’ needed outcome: purchasing power in retirement. Focusing on needed outcomes would suggest a higher allocation to real assets, earlier de-risking and consideration of tail risk hedging.

2013-05-30 Reflation in the Balance by Richard Clarida of PIMCO

Four of the world’s major central banks are now “all in” when it comes to ballooning their balance sheets in correlated, if not coordinated, efforts to achieve escape velocity in their economies. In accounting for the impact of quantitative easing on two key balance sheets, we are able to interpret, monitor and calibrate the programs currently in place. This in turn can help us prepare portfolios if or when sentiments and inflation expectations shift.

2013-05-30 Morning in a New Europe by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The pace of policy reforms is accelerating and economic recovery appears to be on the horizon for the European Union.

2013-05-29 Is This the End of the World As We Know It? by Massimo Tosato of Schroders Investment Management

After five turbulent years of decline and unrelenting economic doom there are signs that change could be afoot.

2013-05-29 April 2013 Market Commentary by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management

Interest rates rose modestly during the first quarter as ten year Treasury yields increased by approximately 0.10% or 10 basis points. Seasonal tax-time municipal bond liquidations, together with a heavier primary calendar, weighed heavily on the market causing municipal bond yields to underperform on a relative basis. In our recent market opinion we thoroughly discussed our view that the relative cheapening of municipal bonds presented investors with and attractive entry point as we expect technical conditions to improve as we move into the summer months.

2013-05-29 Filling the Hole We Have Dug by Adam Bowe, Robert Mead of PIMCO

Mining investment contributed more than 60% of the growth in Australia’s GDP in 2012. The expected decline in mining investment will likely leave a significant economic hole in the short term that needs to be filled. PIMCO expects easier monetary policy will be needed to support other sources of domestic growth, such as non-mining business investment, household consumption and housing construction.

2013-05-28 Economic Climate Change & the Long-Term View on Yields by Sponsored Content from Loomis Sayles (Article)

Will rates rise? It’s a logical question. US Treasury yields have been in a secular downward trend since the 1980s and almost frozen at historic lows for the last several months. While recent cyclical improvements suggest the US economy is heating up, we do not expect interest rates to start soaring to record highs. The interest rate environment will eventually undergo climate change, but the process will be gradual. There are secular headwinds cooling rates, and we expect them to persist for years to come.

2013-05-28 Is Austerity a Bad Idea? by Michael Edesess (Article)

There are strong arguments for and against both austerity and Keynesianism. However, some recent writings should make us remember to question the terms of the argument itself. While evidence-based economics is important, it can also mislead.

2013-05-28 Europe's Crossroads: The End of the Muddle Through? by Andrew Balls of PIMCO

The eurozone may be nearing a critical junction, owing to its weak growth, weak institutions, debt dynamics and domestic and cross-border political challenges. The German government may take a more active leadership role after its national election, but it is more likely it will continue with piecemeal measures. Considering the current low yield environment and ample central bank liquidity, it is important to focus on absolute yield levels and returns, and consider global alternatives such as emerging market securities and currency exposure.

2013-05-28 The Puzzle Is Complex: Education Funding, Assessed Values and Housing Prices by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

While many look to Memorial Day as the official beginning of summer, we hope all took time to reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day as a time to thank, recognize and remember those that have, are and stand ready to defend our country and all we stand for. I, for one, am incredibly grateful to the men and women that serve our country and put their lives on the line to defend our freedom, democracy and way of life.

2013-05-28 Watching Risk-Reward Ratios: Economic Data Still PositiveBut Rate Is Slowing by Rob Stein of Astor Asset Management

Risk-reward ratios are on our radar screen these days as we review the most recent economic data against the backdrop of recent market movement. This is not to say that we are in any way suggesting a top, a bear market, or even that a correction is on the horizon, even taking into account this past week’s movement and volatilityalthough each of these scenarios remains a possibility. At this point, though, we do have some minor concerns about risk-reward in the markets going forward, suggesting that a slight adjustment in beta or equity exposure from current levels is prudent.

2013-05-28 Eurozone: Why a Breakup Is Still in the Cards by John Greenwood of Invesco

I was recently asked whether I still hold the view that the eurozone will fragment, or whether I have moved from that position. Simply put, I am sticking with my position. I think that eventually one or more smaller countries will defect from the eurozone. Cyprus came close to it, and I think Greece may still exit.

2013-05-28 Rock, Paper, Scissors by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

There’s a sort of rock-paper-scissors relationship to financial indicators. Trend following factors typically trump valuations alone, while overvalued, overbought, overbullish syndromes trump trend-following and monetary considerations. Monetary factors tend to be most effective as confirmation of other measures, particularly of trend-following factors, but only in the absence of overvalued, overbought, overbullish syndromes.

2013-05-28 Taking Stock by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. and global equities were under pressure last week, with all major U.S. indices lower for only the fourth time this year. With discussion of the Fed tapering its stimulus, market uncertainty gained momentum. The S&P 500 was down 1.0% for the week.1 We consider the market pullback technical in nature since the mention of a Fed quantitative easing exit likely created a natural point to take profits after the recent rally.

2013-05-24 Recession Watch: ECRIs Weekly Leading Indicator Up Slightly by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

TheWeekly Leading Index(WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 130.6, up slightly from last weeks 130.1 (a downward revision from 130.2). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) dropped to 6.8% from 7.0% last week.

2013-05-24 The Biggest Loser Wins by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific

While the world’s economies jockey one another for the lead in the currency devaluation derby, it’s worth considering the value of the prize they are seeking. They believe a weak currency opens the door to trade dominance, by allowing manufacturers to undercut foreign rivals, and to economic growth, by fighting deflation. On the other side of the coin, they believe a strong currency is an economic albatross that leads to stagnation. But the demonstrable effects of currency strength and weakness reveal the emptiness of their theory.

2013-05-24 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The two Asian giants have a challenging year ahead. The Fed will be challenged to keep the bond market under control.

2013-05-24 The Love Trade for Gold is Still On! by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The more important demand for gold, in my opinion, comes from the enduring Love Trade, as countries like China and India buy the precious metal out of love and tradition.

2013-05-24 Bifurcation Blues by Herbert and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management

Bifurcation. A very technical sounding word. It merely means “a division into two parts”, which is what we are witnessing in many areas related to investment, both macro and micro. And it is exhibiting to value investors those areas to avoid and the most attractive to embrace. And giving rise to a wide range of disparate opinions among economic and investment professionals as to what outcomes are likely. Needless to say, we have our own strong views.

2013-05-24 Remarkable Resilience by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

We saw how the prospect of a sooner pullback in purchases in bonds by the Fed rattled the market both in the US and globally, but the picture, to us, has not changed to any great degree. A very gradual pullback, not even going to zero, in quantitative easing due to an improved economic situation doesn’t spell disaster to us. We continue to urge investors to pay attention to both sides of the risk equation when making decisions and to keep the longer-term perspective in mind. Short-term swings are inevitable, but should not be the basis for sound decision making.

2013-05-23 The Labor Force Participation Puzzle by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

Slow growth and mediocre job creation have been common themes used to describe the U.S. economy in recent years, as both the labor market and broader economy failed to produce the snap-back rebound many expected following the deep recession seen in 2008 & 2009. Despite that lackluster growth, the unemployment rate has now fallen to 7.5% after peaking at 10% in October of 2009, a much faster decline than expected, given average employment growth of less than 125,000 per month.

2013-05-23 QE from 35,000 Feet by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Quantitative easing has benefited from global macro events and appears likely to continue for the rest of the year. Markets, though, will continue to anticipate how the current policies will eventually be unwound.

2013-05-23 ING Fixed Income Perspectives May 2013 by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

How do you like them apples? By pointing out some Excel blunders in the data of Harvard economists Reinhart and Rogoff, a UMass-Amherst grad student appears to have gotten their number and in the process discredited their seminal work touting the merits of austerity. Though Good Will Hunting fans may be amused to see a couple of Harvardians get their comeuppance, you don’t need the titular character’s wicked smarts to deduce that harsh government spending cuts may not be the best way to pick up your economy.

2013-05-22 Is There Value in Today's Stock Market by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Due to the recent strength in the US stock market, we thought it would be helpful to followers of Smead Capital Management to understand the history of our core investment beliefs and where our portfolio is in relation to those core beliefs. A review of the ongoing tension between valuation mattering dearly and the enormous benefits of long-term business ownership is especially interesting after a significant upward move in the stock market. How do you keep turnover and trading expense low, while maintaining a meaningful margin of safety?

2013-05-22 Cyprus and the Eurozone...Still Stuck in the Middle by Gregory Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management

The debt crisis in the Eurozone turned another chapter as Cyprus finally reached the point of requiring a bailout from the European Union. The wisdom of Gerry Rafferty’s hit song “Stuck in the Middle with You” which was written in 1973, rings true today as we watch the EU and the European Central Bank navigate the mess in Europe. With each attempt at containment, there appears some plot twist, the proposed Cyprus bank bailout is no exception. While the bailout of Cyprus and its banks is not large in size, only 10 billion, relative to the Cyprus economy, it is significant.

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

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

2013-05-22 Malaysia's Post-Election Investment Outlook by Scott Klimo of Saturna Capital

Earlier this year we identified ASEAN as the most attractive region within the emerging markets universe. That prediction has proved accurate. Market indices (USD returns) year-to-date through April in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia are 23%, 22%, and 16%, respectively. Singapore (which we do not consider an emerging market) gained 6%, while Malaysia rose only 3.9%. So what’s the outlook for Malaysia?

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

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

2013-05-22 Where is inflation headed? What will it mean for investors? by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

Slow economic growth and long-term headwinds should keep inflation contained. Low inflation should help support equity markets and high yield bonds, but may be a negative for gold prices. The inflation environment should also help prevent interest rates from rising too fast.

2013-05-22 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Once again stock prices moved higher last week despite mostly poor economic data and a background in Washington DC of multiple scandals. The latter begging the question as to whether substantive policy actions are now off the table for the year.

2013-05-22 Is Japan's Economic Rebound For Real? by Daisuke Nomoto of Columbia Management

The two phrases “Abenomics” and the “BOJ’s Shock and Awe Monetary Easing” are all over the headlines about Japan. Prime Minister Abe unveiled his economic policy late last year calling for a 3% annual nominal gross domestic product (GDP) growth target and an aggressive monetary easing by the BOJ (The Bank of Japan) to achieve 2% inflation. The BOJ unleashed the world’s most intense burst of monetary stimulus last month promising to double the monetary base to 270 trillion yen ($2.7 trillion) by the end of 2014 to defeat deflation.

2013-05-21 Federal Spending, the Deficit and Debt Ceiling by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

As our regular readers know, we have a level of concern with regard to the budget deficit, the debt ceiling and all things related thereto. And, while many of us have concerns regarding maintenance of the tax-exemption for muni debt and the tax-deductibility of muni fixed income interest, this week we are approaching the world from a slightly different angle. The focus: how reliant are States and counties on the Federal Government and who is most reliant.

2013-05-21 Developed Europe: Regional Economic Review 1Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

After withdrawing into the background in late 2012, the Euro-zone sovereign debt crisis resurfaced in the first quarter with the Italian elections and Cyprus’ banking crisis. In late February, Italy’s national elections resulted in a fractured mandate, and Italians voted out the incumbent, the main architect of the country’s austerity and reforms agenda.

2013-05-21 Why the Lack of Inflation Is a Problem by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Given the outsized role central banks are playing in today’s financial markets, inflation watching has taken on increased significance.It is widely assumed that continued easy money policies are only possible as long as price increases remain under control.At the same time, for a global economy trying to escape an extended period of weak growth and burdensome debt loads, low inflation is a double-edged sword.

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

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

2013-05-21 Are Equity Investors Pushing the Gas Pedal Too Hard? by Norman Boersma of Franklin Templeton Investments

Whatever previous reticence investors may have had about equities last year seems to have evaporated and, with remarkable speed, turned into fear over having missed the equity rally. Some major market averages have accelerated at a pace some say is reckless, so as we head toward the mid-point of the year, Norm Boersma, CFA, chief investment officer of Templeton Global Equity Group, takes a look at reasons investors might continue to push the gas pedalor tap the brakes.

2013-05-21 Don't Set Much Store in the Equity Risk Premium by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

An old measure but a useful one. It should give us some indication of the market after the 23% gain in the S&P since November. The measure is simple enough: the forward price earnings yield less the yield on the GT30. This makes sense because the duration of equities is around 16.5, which is close to the GT30 of 19. By the way, other sources, notably the New York Fed use different approaches, for example Cyclically Adjusted Price Earnings and a shorter duration risk-free rate. But it’s the vectors that matter not the scale.

2013-05-20 Reinvigorating Egypt's Economy by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

While blaming the revolution is not a persuasive explanation for Egypt’s current economic woes, its appeal to many Egyptians is understandable. Over the last few months, their economic situation has gone from bad to worse.

2013-05-20 A European Vacation from Austerity? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Recession-wracked governments in the eurozone are rethinking fiscal constraints.

2013-05-20 Bernanke's JEC Testimony by Scott Brown of Raymond James

On Wednesday, May 22, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will testify on “The Economic Outlook.” The next monetary policy meeting is four weeks away, but Bernanke is likely to provide a preview of what will be discussed at that time specifically, on the issue of when to begin reducing the rate of asset purchases. The short answer may be “it depends.”

2013-05-20 Still Bullish by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Like Rip Van Winkle, imagine you went to sleep on October 9, 2007 and didn’t wake up until yesterday. On 10/9/2007, equities were at record highs: 14,165 for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and 1,565 for the S&P 500.

2013-05-17 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

Predictions of an American manufacturing renaissance may be premature. Does the Fed have to worry about deflation? The U.S. fiscal deficit is narrowing rapidly.

2013-05-17 Recession Watch: ECRI\'s Weekly Leading Indicator Declines by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Essentially ECRI is sticking to its call that a recession began in mid-2012, although the company calls it a "mild" recession, which is quite a shift from their original stance 19 months ago: "...if you think this is a bad economy, you haven’t seen anything yet."

2013-05-16 Searching For a New Investment Paradigm by Philip Lawton of Research Affiliates

Investment management is supposed to be built on brilliant minds’ novel insights and innovative approachesor so our training and traditions have led us to believe. We celebrate our best investors, such as Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch, and Bill Gross, and our best financial theories, such as modern portfolio theory (MPT) and the efficient markets hypothesis (EMH).

2013-05-16 The Truth about April's Budget Surplus by Marie Schofield of Columbia Management

The Truth about April’s Budget Surplus Columbia Management By Marie Schofield May 16, 2013 Washington finally had some good news to report, specifically on the budget deficit. The Treasury reported a $113 billion surplus, the biggest in five years. April is a critical month for the budget because of tax filing and payment deadlines. While some attribute the surplus to reduced outlays on sequestration, it was mainly due to growing revenues courtesy of a build in individual and corporate tax receipts.

2013-05-16 Saving for College: A Family Affair by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

The language of personal finance isn’t especially racy, but “debt” certainly has taken on the negative tone of other “four-letter words.” Even so, with college costs on the rise and many parents feeling especially pinched in this challenging economic environment, student loans rather than college savings have become the solution for many.

2013-05-15 And That\\\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Fiscal Cliff. Sequester. Different names for similar budgetary issues that both basically resulted in games of Congressional “kick the can.” Now in a stroke of luck for non-compromising politicos, the budget deficit is shrinking as higher payroll taxes and paybacks from previously bailed out entities (thanks Fan) have enhanced government revenues since the beginning of the year.

2013-05-15 Speaking of a Great Week... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

I left the office each day thinking that I just saw another walk off game winning home run by the S&P500. The bears were given their chance in April with the weak economic data and slightly less than exciting earnings, but they just couldn’t break it. In return, the employment data was a bit better, the global central banks came out swinging (ECB, Australia, and South Korea), then the markets broke the Yen, Bonds, and Gold, and the Bulls absolutely skinned the Bears.

2013-05-15 Consumers: The Great Sobriety by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Americans have cut debt, boosted savings, and held spending in checkall of which should aid the economy.

2013-05-14 David Rosenberg – My Love Affair with Bonds is Over by Robert Huebscher (Article)

The chorus of rate-spike-fearing inflationists has a new member. David Rosenberg, a stalwart advocate of fixed-income investing for the last quarter century, publicly declared on May 3 that his “love affair with the bond market has come to an end.” Prepare for a redux of 1970s stagflation, he said, and he advised investors how to construct portfolios to prepare for that scenario.

2013-05-14 Nouriel Roubini: Four Reasons Investors Should be Worried by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Despite a modest recovery from the nadir of the financial crisis, the global economy still faces tail risks, according to Nouriel Roubini. Roubini’s forecast is not as gloomy as the one that earned the moniker “Doctor Doom,” when he correctly predicted the housing market collapse and the ensuing global recession. But, in a talk May 1, he identified today’s biggest danger points in Europe, the U.S., China and geopolitics which he said threaten to destabilize the global economy.

2013-05-14 Mohamed El-Erian: The Three-Speed Global Economy by Robert Huebscher (Article)

The global economy is operating at three distinct speeds, according to Mohamed El-Erian, and investors need to understand the implications of the divergent paths that key countries are following. Japan and most European countries are going backward, he said, and could continue in that direction for decades. The U.S. is “healing,” but not quickly enough to get to “escape velocity.” Certain emerging markets, meanwhile, are adapting technology and innovation and are growing rapidly.

2013-05-14 Housing Finally Breaks Free by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Housing, which for so many years represented everything bad about the credit crisis, is finally beginning to have its day back in the sun. Trends in housing markets around the country are improving, to the benefit of the overall economy. It appears that trend is set to continue.

2013-05-14 Cyclical and Emerging Market Strength May Be Pointing to Better Growth by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Last week U.S. equities advanced as the S&P 500 increased by 1.3%. We have been amazed bythe market’s ability to continue to rally in an environment in which sales growth has been anemic and earnings gains have been largely based on companies’ abilities to manage margins and utilize financial engineering.

2013-05-14 The Budget Deficit by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The Monthly Treasury Statement showed a large budget surplus for April. Some of that may prove to be temporary. Income was pulled forward into 2012 ahead of expected tax increases in 2013 and that was reflected in higher tax payments in April. Some of it is payback from the bailouts of a few years ago (for example, earnings from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). However, much of the improvement reflects a rebound from a severe recession. Tax revenues are recovering and recession-related expenses are trending lower.

2013-05-14 New Normal ... Morphing by Mohamed El-Erian of PIMCO

The New Normal has morphed to include consequential elements of a "stable disequilibrium." In the midst of notable multi-speed dynamics, the global economy as a whole is muddling along a road that will give way over the next three to five years to one of two stark alternatives: either sustainable global growth, institutional and political renewal in the West and safe deleveraging; or growth shortfalls that cause financial instability, fuel greater social tensions, accentuate political dysfunctions and complicate debt traps.

2013-05-13 Skills, Education, and Employment by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

It is graduation time, and this morning finds me swimming in a sea of fresh young faces as a young friend graduates, along with a thousand classmates. But to what? I concluded my final formal education efforts in late 1974, in the midst of a stagflationary recession, so it was not the best of times to be looking for work. It turned out that I had a far different future ahead of me than I envisioned then. But I would trade places with any of those kids who graduated today, as my vision of the next 40 years is actually very optimistic.

2013-05-13 Investment Bulletin: Global Equity Strategy by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

Equity markets remained strong and the portfolio continued to outperform well, with a monthly gain of 3.2% vs 0.6% for the index. After two decades of policy torpor, Japan’s government has rapidly adopted a trio of policies to kick start the economy: monetary and fiscal stimulus, plus a weak yen. This is shock and awe’ relative to GDP, being far greater than any experiment in any developed country since the Second World War.

2013-05-13 Tenuous Times? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

US stocks continue to make new highs, yet commodities have struggled and Treasury yields remain low, albeit up from recent near-record lows. Although not the standard playbook, we remain optimistic but acknowledge an equity pullback can occur at any time. Manufacturing data has been soft, the employment picture is mixed, and housing continues to improve. The European Central Bank (ECB) has joined the easing arty, illustrating the continued disappointments coming out of the eurozone.

2013-05-13 The Cash Conundrum by Ric Dillon of Diamond Hill Investments

In an effort to keep interest rates low, the Federal Reserve, along with other global central banks, is flooding the financial markets with liquidity. This additional liquidity is pushing prices for most financial and real assets higher. At some point, the Fed’s policy of easing will end and in some ways will be reversed. Purchases of government-backed securities may end this year (QE3); however, the Fed has signaled that the near zero interest rate policy for Fed Funds is likely to continue into 2015.

2013-05-13 Americas: Regional Economic Review 1Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Weaker global demand and prices for energy and commodities, as well as softer than expected domestic consumption have restricted the growth outlook for most economies in the Americas region during the first three months of the year. Fewer monthly job additions in the U.S. have dented consumer confidence, and growth for the current year is now forecast to be moderately lower than earlier expectations.

2013-05-10 A Tale of Two Markets: Equity Bulls and Bond Bears by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

Surging equity markets absent an accompanying rate rally is a red flag, as Treasury yields remain well below “normal”. While investors’ renewed enthusiasm for equities is warranted, they must be careful to avoid the “folly of gaming diversification”. Corporate earnings have impressed, though revenue has struggled due in part to a moribund Europe. Divergent markets mean investors should stay broadly diversified in equities and real bonds not near-cash and ever alert to the fundamentals.

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.

2013-05-10 Weekly Research Briefing by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

This week’s focus was squarely on central bank policy decisions and the U.S. April payrolls data. Mid-week the FOMC reinforced the "Bernanke put" by stating explicitly that quantitative easing can be increased if conditions worsen.

2013-05-10 Recession Watch: ECRI\'s Weekly Leading Indicator Continues to Show Improvement by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Essentially ECRI is sticking to its call that a recession began in mid-2012, although the company calls it a "mild" recession, which is quite a shift from their original stance 19 months ago: "...if you think this is a bad economy, you haven’t seen anything yet."

2013-05-10 Symptoms Don\'t Lie by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

A good doctor will not simply make a diagnosis based on measurements. The symptoms and complaints expressed by the patient are at least as important in making a determination as the data provided by diagnostic tools. When the data says one thing and the symptoms continuously say another, it makes sense to question the reliability of the instruments. This would be particularly true if the instruments are furnished by a party with a stake in a favorable diagnosis, say an insurance company on the hook for treatment costs. The same holds true for the U.S. economy.

2013-05-10 The U.S. Economy Stands to Gain from Actions of Central Banks by Team of Northern Trust

Recent central bank meetings have resulted in a reiteration of accommodative monetary policy from the Federal Reserve and new initiatives from its counterparts overseas.

2013-05-09 Make Way for the MIPS by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Emerging markets still provide excellent opportunities for outperformance in equities, with Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore being among the best positioned for the decade ahead.

2013-05-08 Europe (and Italy's Rivals) Appear on Road to Recovery by Par Rostom of Franklin Templeton Investments

When Europe’s debt disease spread to Cyprus, accompanied by bank runs and public unrest, some doubted the European Central Bank’s (ECB) ability to contain the contagion. And, even more recently, Slovenia turned up sick, warning of escalating debt problems and faltering banks. But with the setbacks have come some surprising steps forward, too, including progress in Italy, which recently formed a new coalition government.

2013-05-08 Germany Under Pressure To Create Money by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Currently, central banks around the world are walking in lock step down a dangerous path of money creation. Led by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan, economic policy is driven by the idea that printed money can be the true basis of growth. The result is an unprecedented global orgy of currency creation. The only holdout to this open ended commitment has been the hard money bias of the German-dominated European Central Bank. However, growing political pressure from around the world, and growing dissatisfaction among domestic voters have shaken, and perhaps cracked, the German resolve.

2013-05-08 Are Investors Breathing a Sigh of Relief? by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Last week U.S. equities delivered another gain as the S&P 500 increased by 2.0%.1 On Friday, the U.S. jobs report offered relief from fears of an accelerating weakness caused by prior softness during this time in each of the last three years. However, the full set of economic data for the week supports our view of a slower second quarter in a post-sequestration environment.

2013-05-08 US Economy Should be \"Good Enough\" for Stocks by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

The April employment report confirms that the US is on a slow-but-positive course of economic growth. This environment should be conducive to further gains in equity prices. Europe, in contrast, continues to struggle and investors should approach that region with caution.

2013-05-08 6.7 Million “Missing Workers” Where Did They Go? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Today we will touch several bases. We begin with last Friday’s unemployment report which was hailed by the mainstream media, but had a lot of bad news to go with the good. From there we look at the estimated 6.7 million “missing workers” in this economy and ponder if they’re permanently gone from the employment rolls.

2013-05-08 Absolute Return Letter: In the Long Run We Are All in Trouble by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

In the long run we are all dead, said Keynes. Maybe so, but we could be in trouble long before then. Investors appear preoccupied with central bank policy. We argue that investors are quite right in keeping their eye on the ball but, to us, it looks as if they are focusing on the wrong ball. The real worries for the long term are demographics and negative real interest rates and the effect these factors may have on equity returns.

2013-05-07 Mutual Fund Companies Need to Prepare for a Changing Environment Fund Industry Turbulence Ahead by Paul Franchi (Article)

The mutual fund industry grew explosively from the 1980s on a rare tonic of a low-inflation credit expansion powered indirectly by international trade flows. That run reached a peak in 2008 when the application of quantitative easing (QE) served to prevent industry collapse with a softer form of transition, which continues today but must end when inflation returns.

2013-05-07 Meredith Whitney – State-issued GO Muni Bonds are Safe by Ben Huebscher (Article)

Meredith Whitney has softened her tone regarding muni bonds. The analyst who famously predicted disaster for the entire market on national TV now she says that new governors have been elected and states have begun reforming. There will be problems in four key states, but she is not predicting a disaster. In fact, she said investors will be safe in general obligation bonds.

2013-05-07 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

The trend is your friend (and the current trend is a “friend with benefits” for investors). After a record-setting first quarter for stocks, analysts were skeptical that the “party” would continue. And yet, the Dow Jones enjoyed a fifth straight month of gains in April, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq one-upped the Blue Chips with six month winning streaks.

2013-05-07 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Financial markets got the news they wanted last week as Europe cut interest rates, while here at home the Federal Reserve hinted they might do even more when it comes to money printing. To top it off, Friday’s employment report showed improvement from March although the details caused most to discount the excitement.

2013-05-07 Central Banks Steal the Spotlight Once Again by Chris Maxey, Brian Payne of Fortigent

Central banks around the world continue to provide increased stimulus to their respective economies. Increased conviction over pro-stimulus policies comes in light of recent flaws found in the Reinhart, Rogoff January 2010 paper, which suggested that government debt of more than 90% of GDP is detrimental to economic growth. The latest week brought another round of news in the world of central banking, although it seems the number of options left on the table is running short. What central bankers hope for now is that economies will finally enter recovery mode.

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.

2013-05-07 Quarterly Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital Management

In his April 2013 commentary, PIMCO’s Bill Gross wrote, “PIMCO’s epoch1, Berkshire Hathaway’s epoch, Peter Lynch’s epoch, all occurred or have occurred within an epoch of credit expansion What if an epoch changes? What if perpetual credit expansion and its fertilization of asset prices and returns are substantially altered? What if a future epoch favors lower than index carry or continual bouts of 2008 Lehmanesque volatility ?”

2013-05-06 Aligning Market Exposure With the Expected Return/Risk Profile by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Some risks and market conditions are more rewarding than others. My objectives for this week’s comment are very specific. First, to demonstrate using a very simple model that investment returns do indeed vary systematically with market conditions. Second, to demonstrate that overvalued, overbought, overbullish conditions have historically dominated trend-following measures when they have emerged. Third, to demonstrate the impact of accepting investment exposure in proportion to the return/risk profile that is associated with a given set of market conditions.

2013-05-06 Dispelling Dollar Doubts by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Will the U.S. dollar, almighty no longer, be supplanted as the world’s reserve currency? Not anytime soon.

2013-05-06 All's Well That Ends Well by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The economic data reports were decidedly mixed last week. However, the April Employment Report exceeded expectations, which provided a good excuse for share prices to move higher. Bonds were whipsawed, encouraged by the view that the Fed was less likely to taper its asset purchases, but then hit hard by the better-than-expected payroll figures.

2013-05-06 That Was the Week That Was by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Informally the TV show, “That Was The Week That Was,” is referred to as TW3and was a satirical comedy program first aired in the early 1960s. The program was considered a lampooning of the establishment. At the time it was considered a radical departure from legitimate television, but it set the stage for many more such radical departures. I revisit TW3 this morning because I have had so many requests for a formal repartee of a number of last week’s Morning Tacks woven into a more formal strategy letter.

2013-05-06 The Narrative Changes Yet Again by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The April employment report suggests that the economy continues to expand at a moderate pace, as had been the common view prior to the March employment report. While sequestration and the hike in the payroll tax at the beginning of the year may have taken a bite out of growth, hindsight indicates the economy entered 2013 with enough momentum to overcome these new forms of fiscal drag. Growth should strengthen over the coming months, as lower oil prices and time overcome the negative influences.

2013-05-06 Beyond the Headlines: Job Growth, Exports and Housing by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Congress has done something for the American public. FAA, sequester, flight delays we can fix that! While I would usually take a cynical swipe at Congress (something like, “did they act because they, too, were impacted by their own stubbornness”), I’ll let well enough alone and simply pass on a heartfelt thanks. Perhaps this is the start of something. I hear they are working closely on immigration reform and an exemption for Congress and their staff from the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Ok, so two of three initiatives garnering bi-partisan support are purely self-ser

2013-05-06 The Economy: Why Interest Rates Shouldn't Rise Anytime Soon by Ron Sloan of Invesco

Real is irrelevant. The US Federal Reserve (the Fed) is unconcerned about real GDP the inflation-adjusted measurement of US economic growth. Rather, without inflation in our economy, the Fed is focused on raising nominal GDP. And that priority means that interest rates should stay low for the foreseeable future.

2013-05-04 Don't Sell in May: Here are Reasons to Extend Your Stay by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

During the first week of May every year, the maxim, “Sell in May and Go Away,” gets taken out, dusted off and powered up as a reason to sell stocks. The rhyme is more than just a catchy urban legend: June, July, August and September have historically been the weakest months of the year for the S&P 500 Index.

2013-05-03 Pring Turner Approach to Business Cycle Investing by Team of AdvisorShares

Like the seasons of the year, the environment for bonds, stocks, and commodities progress in a repeatable and sequential fashion. A gardener understands it is difficult to plant in the winter because nothing grows. The same is true for the financial seasons in the business cycle, where investors can use knowledge of the sequence to create a financial market roadmap. This paper from Pring Turner Capital Group, one of our valued sub-advisors, takes you through the six-stages of the business cycle.

2013-05-03 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Nonfarm Employment by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

I’ve now updated this commentary to include April Nonfarm Employment, which included the prior month revision. As the adjacent thumbnail illustrates, this indicator has trended upward in a relatively smooth trajectory over the past 13 months.

2013-05-03 Job Creation May Be More Robust Than Official Statistics Suggest. by Team of Northern Trust

Job creation may be more robust than official statistics suggest; U.S. employment situation; Central bank meetings

2013-05-02 Europe at a Minimum Speed by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Market forces are correcting the growth dichotomy between the European Union’s core and periphery, thus improving the outlook for the region.

2013-05-01 While the Bears Fight... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

While corporate earnings outlooks and released economic data remained soft, the world moved to declare Austerity a failure and quickly assumed that the ECB could ease further at this week’s meetings. The recent collapse in commodity prices and slowdown in China does put a high card in their hand. With these new thoughts, European equities and bonds both surged on the week...

2013-05-01 Emerging Asia Pacific: Regional Economic Review by Team of Thomas White International

Major emerging Asia Pacific economies, which picked up growth momentum during the latter half of 2012, struggled to carry forward the economic pace during the initial months of 2013. China, India, and Indonesia, some of the most populous countries in the region and in the world, faced significant headwinds to growth as key engines of the economy investment, consumption, and exports came under strain.

2013-05-01 The \"Real\" Unemployment Rate Doesn\'t Look Too Good by Steve Rumsey of Optimus Advisory Group

The "real" unemployment rate is hardly mentioned in the media. With the headline unemployment rate standing at 7.6% (single-digit unemployment rates always seem somewhat tolerable) after tagging 10% in 2009, is it any wonder that the employment picture seems to be decent?

2013-05-01 May 2013 Commentary by Team of Sadoff Investment Management

The slow growing economy will cause the Federal Reserve to stay the course with continued stimulus via low interest rates and Quantitative Easing (QE) for some time. This environment continues to be bullish for stocks.

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

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

2013-04-30 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks rebounded from the previous week. Earnings were not bad, and investors now appear to be focusing on this week’s Federal Reserve and European Central Bank meetings.

2013-04-30 Zebras?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

We saw many “outside zebras” gorging themselves on stocks in late 2007 as the D-J Industrial Average (DJIA) made a new all-time high and then registered a Dow Theory “sell signal” in November 2007. Subsequently, those outside zebras ended up as “lion lunch” when the senior index shed an eye-popping 53% over the ensuing 17 months.

2013-04-29 New Highs Bring New Worries by Richard Golod of Invesco

The sustainability of the rallies in US and Japanese equities this year so far is looking uncertain amid slowing year-over-year earnings growth and mixed global economic signals. European and emerging market shares have traded lower year to date and seem likely to continue lagging in the near term. However, on balance, I remain optimistic about global equities, seeking yield opportunities and investments with an actively managed, more selective approach.

2013-04-29 The Trapdoors at the Fed's Exit by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate

It may be too soon to say that many risky assets have reached bubble levels, and that leverage and risk-taking in financial markets is becoming excessive. But the reality is that credit and asset/equity bubbles are likely to form in the next two years, owing to loose US monetary policy.

2013-04-29 Employment Trending the Right Way and the DC Two-Step by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Spring is in the air and it has nothing to do with the lovely weather we are experiencing here on the east coast. Congress both houses have done something for the American public. FAA, sequester, flight delays we can fix that! While I would usually take a cynical swipe at Congress (something like, “did they act because they, too, were impacted by their own stubbornness”), I’ll let well enough alone and simply pass on a heartfelt thanks. Perhaps this is the start of something.

2013-04-29 Developed Asia Pacific: Regional Economic Review by Team of Thomas White International

After facing subdued economic conditions for the most part of 2012, developed Asia Pacific economies started 2013 on a cautious note. While most countries opined that downside risk to GDP growth declined substantially, challenges to growth arose from a recessionary scenario in key developed economies, especially from the European Union.

2013-04-29 Cruel Top Line Growth by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

The current earnings season is a very mixed bag. Start with the economic background where nominal growth decelerated in 2012 from around 4.4% to 3.6%. The first quarter may be marginally higher but some of that is from a low base effect. It’s very difficult for companies to raise prices, increase share or volumes when demand is simply deficient. Sure, balance sheets are in much better shape, as evidenced by robust bond issuance, but many companies are in excess savings mode. Here are undistributed corporate profits as a percent of GDP.

2013-04-29 When Rich Valuations Meet Poor Economic Data by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Given the full set of market conditions that we observe, including the persistent overvalued, overbought, overbullish syndrome that has developed in recent months, our concerns about stocks are not dependent on the direction of the economy over the coming quarters. An economic downturn would simply add immediacy to those concerns.

2013-04-27 The Cashless Society by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

A cashless future might be farther off than we either fear or hope. Not only is it farther away than some think, we are actually seeing an increase in the use of cash all over the world (and this is not just a US phenomenon). We will look at some interesting factoids that make for thought-provoking discussions, but when we couple them with research on the rise of the unreported economy (aka the underground economy) and the number of people who get some form of government assistance, we may find problematic consequences resulting from hidden incentives that work in unintended ways.

2013-04-26 An Update on the Global Business Cycle by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman

Understanding where we are in the an important aspect of investing, as the behavior of asset classes may vary throughout that cycle. Recent data indicate that the U.S. remains in its fourth year of expansion, but payroll and retail numbers have disappointed. Outside the U.S., Europe continues to be mired in recession while China’s growth rebound recently has appeared to sputter. In this edition of Strategic Spotlight, we review what these developments mean for the global business cycle and how to position portfolios accordingly.

2013-04-26 The Sustainability of U.S. Interest Rates Rising by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments

Investors are growing concerned, with good reason, we think, that yields have bottomed for the 10-year Treasury and will surge as the economy gains strength. Prices, which move inversely to yields, would fall, and the question is whether rising rates in 2013 could trigger a bond bear market along the lines of the Great Bond Bear Market of 1994. We don’t think so.

2013-04-26 Recession Watch: ECRI\'s Weekly Leading Indicator Rises Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Essentially ECRI is sticking to its call that a recession began in mid-2012, although the company now calls it a "mild" recession, which is quite a shift from their original stance 18 months ago: "...if you think this is a bad economy, you haven’t seen anything yet."

2013-04-26 The Yin and the Yang of Commodity Price Trends by Team of Northern Trust

In recent weeks, financial press headlines have centered on the sharp drop in the price of gold. Of greater importance, however, are the significant price declines of oil, wheat, corn and copper. The S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index is down 6.1% year-to-date after a nearly steady reading in 2012 and gains exceeding 20% in both 2010 and 2011. It is essential to recognize the different nuances buried in these commodities’ price trends. First we will focus on the implications of declining commodity price trends and then discuss gold specifically in more depth.

2013-04-26 No Escape by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Global economic growth has weakened, while the US economy hasn’t reached "escape velocity." US stocks have held up relatively well. With few other attractive alternatives, domestic equities appear to be the best house in a rough neighborhood. With the Fed committed to easing, housing improving, and valuations reasonable, the trend should continue. Risks remain and diversification and some hedging strategies are recommended.

2013-04-26 Why The Fed's Balance Sheet Matters Neosho Capital Takes On Alan Blinder by Chris Richey of Neosho Capital

We anticipate the Fed will begin slowing, but not eliminating, its QE purchases later this year, barring another severe downturn in the intervening period. As such, we expect macro-economic factors such as currency, interest rates, growth, and inflation to continue to be a significant influence on stock market returns and that the long-term benefits of active portfolio management and individual company performance will continue to be masked by these macro influences.

2013-04-26 A Playbook for Investors: How to Shoot, Score, Win by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

So, in the competitive spirit of the NBA playoff season, I’ve gathered a series of plays that investors can use to shoot, score and win during this year’s market. I’m happy to say they include all the elements of an exciting game, including a comeback kid, an upset and an underdog.

2013-04-26 Financial Repression: Why It Matters by Shane Sheperd of Research Affiliates

Financial repression refers to a set of governmental policies that keep real interest rates low or negative, with the unstated intention of generating cheap funding for government spending. The ramifications of these policies will be measured in decades, not years.

2013-04-26 Like Baseball in the Snow by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover, Mike Czekaj of Broadleaf Partners

As has occurred in each of the last three years, the economy should continue to plug along, not as we might like it to be, but as we can reasonably expect. Growth scare or not, we suspect that the end of 2013 will show that continued progress lies ahead, but perhaps not exactly in the same pattern as it has thus far.

2013-04-26 Changing the Conversation by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

It has been estimated that if the government used the same methodology to measure inflation that it used during the 1980’s, we would be currently dealing with official inflation that would be many times higher than today’s official 1.5% rate. But now the government appears ready to distort the figures even further.

2013-04-25 Questioning Quantitative Easing by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Speculation over the reduction or expansion of quantitative easing largely amounts to market noise.

2013-04-25 The End of “Expansionary Austerity?” by Scott Brown of Raymond James

A few years ago, an economic paper by Harvard professors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff helped fuel the push for austerity. It was met with some criticism from economists, but was widely embraced by the press and by politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. The study has now been demonstrated to have had serious flaws, but will those in power fold? Or will they double down on bad economic policy?

2013-04-24 The 5% Problem: Double Jeopardy for Traditional Bond Investors by Nathan Rowader of Forward Management

Investors have suffered with low yields, but profited from rising bond values during the 30-year bull market for bonds. We believe the bond market is moving into a bearish phase, putting the value of existing bond holdings at risk. A variety of income-producing options are available for those who want to diversify bond portfolios and seek better yields. Historical analysis shows that a diversified portfolio would have outperformed traditional bonds during the last bear bond market and in periods of rising interest rates.

2013-04-24 Europe's Sovereign Debt Problem: A Call for a Clear Destination by Andrew Bosomworth, John Henning Fock of PIMCO

Without political commitment to a common fiscal destination, the long-term instability and market distortions within Europe’s capital markets are likely to intensify. To preserve the euro, the eurozone must develop federal fiscal policies that tackle significant economic, cultural and societal differences and define a credible roadmap to achieving structural reforms, a banking union, political union and fiscal union. Historical precedents in Europe may help guide the way.

2013-04-24 Indian Milk Helps Quench Thirst for Emerging-Market Growth by Tassos Stassopoulos of AllianceBernstein

Evolving trends in emerging markets are not always driven by macro-economic policies or demographics. Sometimes, something as simple as a fridge can change millions of people’s lives and re-define an entire industry.

2013-04-23 The New Challenges to Reinhart and Rogoff by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Advocates for debt reduction and austerity have had no more authoritative sources than Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff. But last week, these two professors had to defend claims that errors in their research – ranging from a typo in a spreadsheet to the failure to include data from New Zealand – invalidated their much-acclaimed findings.

2013-04-23 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Michael Edesess’ article, Will Germany Lead the World’s Energy Revolution?, and a reader responds to Robert Huebscher’s article, Michael Pettis - Can China Save Itself?, both of which appeared last week.

2013-04-23 Middle East/Africa: Regional Economic Review by Team of Thomas White International

According to a World Bank (WB) report, global growth in 2013 will remain sluggish as economic recovery in the developed nations is likely to be slow. Lower business and consumer confidence, government spending cuts, as well as high rates of unemployment may delay the recovery, the report says. The report has also noted that developing nations may experience slower growth due to structural and monetary policy challenges.

2013-04-23 Federal Funds, Interest Rates and Defaults and Bankruptcies by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week we focus on Federal Funds delivered to the States and consider some interesting data points to contemplate as folks pretend to get a bit more serious about addressing fiscal issues at the National level. We move on to an interesting and surprising quote on rates and then a look at some facts and figures around bankruptcies and defaults.

2013-04-23 Ugly Week All Around Bombings, Explosions and Selloffs by John Buckingham of AFAM

It was a miserable week, what with the Boston bombings, lockdown and shootout, the horrific fertilizer plant explosion in Texas and the ricin-laden letters sent to elected officials providing vivid reminders that we still live in a dangerous world. True, the week ended about as well as it could as Friday night’s incredible drama in Watertown brought some closure in Boston and the come-from-behind victory for the Red Sox on Saturday was right out of Hollywooda three-run go-ahead home run after Neil Diamond leads Fenway Park in a rendition of Sweet Caroline!

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

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

2013-04-22 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

The end to another tax season; a hectic week on the earnings calendar; a number of key domestic economic releases; and ongoing developments on the global economic frontand yet, much of the country (and world for that matter) was focused on the events in Boston and the aftermath of the bombing that led to a massive manhunt and a shootout with police. Early in the week, the celebrated Boston Marathon came to an abrupt halt as terror again reigned throughout the country and nearby residents were sent into lockdown mode.

2013-04-22 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Despite recent gains in portfolio valuations, I question whether we are really “profiting” from the upward surge. To be sure, there is more money in your account, according to your last three monthly statements. And who’s to argue that doesn’t translate to “real” dollars, “real” well-being.

2013-04-22 Emerging Europe: Regional Economic Review by Team of Thomas White International

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was established in 1992 to help Russia and former communist states such as Poland, Hungary, and Czech Republic among others in their transition to market-based economies. In its January forecast, the London-headquartered bank sounded optimistic over the economic prospects of most of the countries covered in this review, which also include Turkey.

2013-04-22 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

The deadly bombings in Boston last week, along with a spate of senseless killings in Newtown and Aurora, should highlight for those consumed by economics and financial market statistics the fragility of life and a sense of perspective about helping those in need at their darkest hour. How noble that on the day of the U.S. equity market’s most damaging point collapse in years, our focus was on Boston and not on our wallets or portfolios.

2013-04-20 Austerity is a Consequence, not a Punishment by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Austerity is a consequence, not a punishment. A country loses access to cheap borrowed money as a consequence of running up too much debt and losing the confidence of lenders that the debt can be repaid. Lenders don’t sit around in clubs and discuss how to “punish” a country by requiring austerity; they simply decide not to lend. Austerity is a result of a country’s trying to entice lenders into believing that the country will change and make an effort to restore confidence.

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

Every so often we write an Investment Outlook with conclusions that prove to be both accurate and worth repeating. Such is the case with our prior outlook issued in January 2013. In it we stated that “At the risk of sounding complacent, we believe that the fundamental trends that produced such favorable results in 2012 are still in place and should support another good year in 2013. We are not blind to the challenges and uncertainties that still face us, nor do we believe that the year ahead will be devoid of volatility.

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

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

2013-04-19 The Pharaoh's Dream by Andrew Bosomworth of PIMCO

As yields on assets decline, central banks’ ultra-loose monetary policies are effectively forcing investors further out the concentric circles into lower quality, more illiquid sectors in search of positive yielding assets after deducting inflation. In order to achieve 6%-7% returns in the future, investors may be required to take on more risk. Allocating part of a portfolio away from “middle circle” asset classes into assets with higher return potential as well as assets offering liquidity is the right strategy in our opinion.

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

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

2013-04-19 Recession Watch: ECRI\'s Weekly Leading Indicator Rises by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Essentially ECRI is sticking to its call that a recession began in mid-2012, although the company now calls it a "mild" recession, which is quite a shift from their original stance 18 months ago: "...if you think this is a bad economy, you haven’t seen anything yet."

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

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

2013-04-19 First Quarter Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory

Looking ahead, significant uncertainty surrounds fiscal and monetary policy in terms of what policies will be adopted and their ultimate economic and financial market impacts. More broadly, still-high global debt levels pose an economic headwind. Against this backdrop, our outlook for stocks has not improved. If anything, given the sharp run-up in stock prices, we are getting closer to reducing our U.S. equity exposure further than we are to increasing it.

2013-04-18 Reversing Quantitative Easing by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

The Fed is likely to lag the markets, as they do in most cycles. The markets will probably anticipate the Fed reversing QE. The Fed will surprise few investors. The Fed should reverse QE in a yield curve-neutral way, in our view. Steepening the curve risks perversely stimulating the economy by making carry trades and loan spreads more profitable. This cycle will probably end as do most cycles. The Fed will be behind the curve, play catch-up, tighten too much, invert the curve, and cause a recession. That end result, however, is probably quite far in the future.

2013-04-18 Inflation and Interest Rates by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The Federal Reserve began its first asset purchase program in the fall of 2008, during the depth of the financial panic. Some observers feared that the Fed’s actions would fuel higher inflation. However, the Fed is now well along in its third asset purchase program and inflation (as measured by the PCE Price Index) has remained low. In fact, Fed officials expect that inflation will trend at or below the 2% target for the next couple of years. That hasn’t stopped the inflation worrywarts from predicting that inflation is still “just around the corner.”

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

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

2013-04-17 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 Michael Pettis - Can China Save Itself? by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Most analysts predict China’s growth will slow; they disagree only as to the depth and timing of its eventual recession. A rare exception to that group is Michael Pettis. Pettis, who describes himself as a skeptic, believes China can rebalance its economy.

2013-04-16 Five Warning Signs of a Coming Market Correction by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Funds

There are no positive fundamentals driving the U.S. stock market. No one has ever gotten rich by chasing markets by buying at the top, which is how this market feels.but it seems everybody feels they can’t afford to miss being in the U.S. equity markets. People should instead be focused on the true facts of the U.S. economy and corporations and tune out the hype and happy talk from the media and Fed heads. Instead investors should focus on the real data.

2013-04-16 Tax Day as Polarizing as Ever by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Tax season is once again upon the American population, and this year, just as in years past, people are less than enthusiastic. It is estimated that the average taxpayer contributed slightly more than $11,000 dollars to federal taxes in 2012 and those figures are on the rise. As might be expected in the current backdrop, however, not everyone shares the same opinion on taxes.

2013-04-15 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Another dayAnother record. With last week’s poor unemployment releases suddenly a distant memory, investors looked forward (and not backward) and took the Dow Jones and S&P 500 back into record-setting territory with a four-day winning streak. By week’s end, however, some key earnings reports disappointed and analysts became more concerned about the state of the consumer (though there is clearly no consensus on that front either).

2013-04-15 Housing Is it Getting Better, A Second Look by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week we take a quick look at some of what is in the President’s budget and then focus on the housing market (the title harkens back to something we wrote a few months back). You may sense, as you read on, I’m a bit cranky this week. As you read through the housing section you’ll understand why.

2013-04-15 Keynes And Retail Sales by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

No, just because retail sales fell 0.4% in March does not mean Keynes was right. Sequestration did not cause the decline. Nor did the end of the temporary 2% payroll tax cut, back in January, cause it either.

2013-04-12 ECRI\'s Weekly Leading Indicator Shows a Small Improvement by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 130.1, up from 129.1 last week (revised from 129.2). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) remains unchanged at 6.2%.

2013-04-12 Housing Bubble II? by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

It might seem like the housing bubble just burst, but as the housing market stages a comeback, investors are asking if we’re already facing another bubble. Russ explains why home prices aren’t in a bubble but home builder stock valuations may be.

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.

2013-04-12 March Jobs Report: Disappointing, But Not Terrible by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The economic added 759,000 jobs in March before seasonal adjustment, that is. That translated into a disappointing 88,000 gain in the seasonally-adjusted number. Figures for January and February were revised higher. The slower March figure could reflect a lagged impact from the payroll tax hike or February may have simply borrowed some strength from March.

2013-04-12 Everyone Wants More Financial Stability, But at What Cost? by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

For all the good intentions, there is no guarantee that the rush to re-regulate will be successful. The next crisis may look nothing like the one just past, and the political will to take tough preventative steps during good times cannot be taken for granted.

2013-04-12 Assume a Perfect World by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Waiting for our forecasts to be wrong before we adopt a yet another “solution” based on a temporary fix of yet another forecast that turned out to be wrong is no way to run a railroad, unless you want your train running off a cliff. I applaud the recent attempts in DC to come to a solution on the deficits and budget, but where are the leaders who want to get real with those forecasts?

2013-04-12 Soft Patch - Part Four? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Stocks continue to trade at all-time highs, but concerns are rising over a possible pullback and downturn in economic growth. A consolidation of gains is likely, but trying to trade around a pullback can be quite difficult. A potential tapering of Fed asset purchases continues to be discussed, but the Fed also appears nervous over the potential for a spring downturn. Cooler heads appear to be gaining traction in Washington and at least some marginal progress is being made. Economic improvement is gaining traction in Japan, raising hopes of sustainable change, while Europe continues to suffer.

2013-04-11 The Ripple Effect of Abenomics by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Monetary policy in Japan will continue to drive investors in that country to overseas markets, which will affect global asset prices and bond yields.

2013-04-11 Global Investing in 2013: Policy Dominance, Active Management and a New Paradigm in Currencies by Scott Mather of PIMCO

We expect that the impact of ongoing global policy experimentalism on real economic growth and financial markets will likely vary substantially from country to country, creating both risks and opportunities. With flexible, active global strategies investors can potentially benefit from a broader opportunity set and the ability to go off benchmark in an effort to both avoid risks and tap opportunities.

2013-04-11 Telling (Taper) Time by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

Investors need be alert for signs of progress in the many employment indicators the Fed is watching, and listen closely to what the Fed is saying to know when bond buying will be tapered. The failure to achieve “escape velocity” is why the Fed is using its printing press to purchase $85 billion of securities monthly. These purchases will continue, the Fed says “until the outlook for the labor market has improved substantially.” The Fed has made progress toward achieving escape velocity but the progress must be sustained for the Fed to throttle back on its stimulus.

2013-04-10 Economic Slowdown Halts Equity Rally by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

The latest softness in economic indicators probably means that more consolidation in the equity markets is required before we can advance beyond the recent all-time highs. During March, nearly all of the activity for the S&P 500 was within 1% of 1550. Equities may move lower due to deteriorating technical conditions and the possibility of weak first quarter earnings reports.

2013-04-10 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks were slightly lower last week as the troubles in Europe, Asia (Japan & North Korea) dovetailed with a really lousy employment report here at home on Friday.

2013-04-10 Looking for Warm Milk and a Blanket by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Conspiracy theory economists would say that the Government fudged the data weaker so that it could help sell $60-70 billion in U.S. debt this week. Whatever the outcome, last week we had a perfect storm of high expectations for the data + very below average March weather + the payroll tax hike impact + the upcoming sequester worry. Economic data will move violently from month to month, but unfortunately last week, it was mostly in the WEAKER THAN EXPECTED direction and investors did not hesitate to bring pain on risk assets.

2013-04-10 Time to Flee Equities for Bonds...and Japan? by John Rothe of Riverbend Investment Management

Last week’s string of bad economic data may finally be the tipping point we have been waiting for. For the past few weeks, I have become more and more bearish on the US economy and stock market. Payroll tax hikes, sequestration, and slowing global growth mixed with a euphoria for a rising stock market have pushed the markets into a high risk environment.

2013-04-09 BLS Revisions Include 464K More Jobs Than Previously Reported by Ali Wolf of John Burns Real Estate Consulting

The largest 358 metros created 464,000 more jobs in 2012 than the 1,472,000 jobs previously estimated, a 32% increase from initial employment gain figures. 310 of the 358 metros showed job growth.

2013-04-09 Labor Markets Stumble in March by Ryan Davis, Chris Maxey of Fortigent

In an unexpected development, labor markets fell flat during March. Following several months of healthy job growth, the economy was only able to muster 88,000 new jobs in March, well below economists’ expectations for nearly 200,000 jobs.

2013-04-09 Investment Bulletin: Global Equity Strategy by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

Another good month and a strong quarter, with the portfolio gaining by 3.5% and 15.2% (net) respectively, outperforming the rises in the index of 1.8% and 14.0%. Conspiracy theorists could be forgiven for believing that most political/central bank action is designed to support equity prices. The Cyprus fiasco is an example: whatever the legal frameworks, from government guarantees of bank deposits to the repayment of sovereign bonds, all are merely non-binding statements of intent, thus a wake-up call to buy real, income-producing assets.

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.

2013-04-09 Twins by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

Any thoughts that the stock market was going to extend its rally were also shortened last week by a truly horrendous jobs report. In an economy that needs 250,000 new jobs each month just to replace retirees, we only had slightly more than 80,000 in March. The economists’ expectations were bunched around 200,000, so the disappointment in the air was palpable when the market opened and swiftly sank 150 points on the Dow Industrials.

2013-04-08 The Theology of Inflation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

We begin this week with a simple pop quiz. Is inflation good or bad? Answer quickly. I’m sorry your answer is wrong. Or rather, we can’t know if your answer is right or wrong because we are not sure what is meant by the question. We may think we know and we may be right but we can’t be sure, because the word inflation has different meanings for different people in different places and different times. In fact, even the same people in the same place and time can’t agree on a precise definition.

2013-04-08 “Country Roads, Take Me Home,To The Place I Belong ” by David Lieberman (Article)

Recently, I was listening to a Pod Cast from This American Life about the increasing disability rolls in the United States. The story itself was excellent and I would highly recommend it, but the implications of the numbers are equally remarkable. In the past 20 years, the number of people on disability in the United States has soared, even recently when the unemployment rate has declined materially. Rather than focus on the policy decisions, causes of this phenomena, or even whether they are logical, good, or bad, I’m going to focus purely on the unemployment and economic ramifications

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

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

2013-04-08 Taking Distortion at Face Value by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The U.S. stock market presently reflects two unstable features. One is that extraordinary monetary policy specifically quantitative easing has created an ocean of zero-interest money that someone has to hold at each point in time, and that provokes a speculative reach for yield. The other is that extraordinary fiscal policy, coupled with household savings near record lows, have joined to elevate profit margins more than 70% above their historical norm, as the deficit of one sector has to emerge as the surplus of another.

2013-04-05 ECRI\'s Recession Indicators Decline from the Previous Week by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Today ECRI has added a new headline on the website, Employment Growth Hits New Low, based on data from today’s jobs report. Essentially ECRI is sticking to its call that a recession began in mid-2012, although the company now calls it a "mild" recession, which is quite a shift from their original stance 18 months ago: "...if you think this is a bad economy, you haven’t seen anything yet."

2013-04-05 This Week's Central Bank Meetings Revealed a Range of Behavior by Team of Northern Trust

This week’s central bank meeting revealed a range of behavior. The U.S. employment report fell well short of expectations. Does China have a property bubble?

2013-04-05 Federal Judge Green-Lights Stockton Bankruptcy by Michael Brooks of AllianceBernstein

Stockton, California, made headlines last June when it filed for a Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Now, a federal judge has not only given his okay to proceed; he’s also thrown retiree pension benefits into the debate. The big question is whether these benefits can be cut. The outcome could be a groundbreaking decision that would encourage other municipalities to adopt this approachparticularly those with pension problems.

2013-04-04 Sound Fundamentals but Fatigue in the Markets by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Although economic fundamentals continue to strengthen, the run-up in asset prices that has unfolded over the past half-year appears to be at risk of a temporary set-back.

2013-04-04 Absolute Return Letter: The Need for Wholesale Change by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

The seeds of the next crisis have probably already been sown as a consequence of the lax monetary policy currently being pursued. Frustrated with the lack of direction from political leaders, most recently witnessed in the handling of the crisis in Cyprus which was a complete farce, central bankers from around the world are likely to demand change, but politicians will have to be pushed into a corner before they will respond to any such pressure. Hence nothing decisive will happen before the next major crisis erupts.

2013-04-04 Teachings from Recovered Markets by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

Domestic indices’ all-time record highs indicate that U.S. domestic equity markets have largely recovered from the 2008 Great Recession. It may have taken four years but it still seems a remarkable achievement given the Dow’s low of 6620 in March 2009. It is worth noting that prior highs were attained in an era with a poor savings rate and wide use of levered strategies. The last four years were widely characterized by a “low return” market mantra and fear of equities stoked by many doomsayers, pundits, and strategists who greeted every upturn with pessimism.

2013-04-03 First Quarter Recap by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

This past month marked the fourth anniversary of the global equity market bottom on March 9, 2009. U.S. stocks have clawed back all of the losses from the Great Recession and are near historical highs. Most other major markets are still well below their 2007 peaks, but have rebounded sharply since last June and look increasingly resilient. However, there is tremendous anxiety about the economic outlook, and many investors fear equities and other risk assets are floating on a sea of liquidity rather than solid fundamentals. We are more constructive and maintain a pro-growth investment stance.

2013-04-03 Will Bonds Repeat the \"Massacre\" of 1994? by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

At last year’s Contrary Opinion Forum in Vermont, Michael Aronstein of Marketfield Asset Management outlined the case for brisk economic recovery as one of the most contrary of all possible opinions. With this thesis in mind, I recently examined the behavior of 30-year Treasury bonds, comparing today’s environment with that of 1994.

2013-04-03 Minor Crisis...Not Too Many Hurt by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Cyprus proved, over the last two weeks, that markets often overlook the small stuff. Very few commentators we follow saw any of it coming and the theories that sprang up in the interim (Cyprus as vassal state to Russia, return to the Cypriot pound, imminent EU break up, twin euros in circulation, utter disaster for the economy, German intransigence and Schrecklichkeit) were absurd.

2013-04-03 Surprise! 2013 Rally Pales in Comparison to 2012 “Stealth” Rally by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

Despite the hoopla over first quarter market performance, it paled in comparison to the first three months of 2012. Driven in part by an extremely accommodative Fed, the U.S. economy is gaining traction, but Europe continues to flounder. After their first negative print in three years during the third quarter, S&P 500 companies returned to positive earnings growth in the fourth. A broad, globally diversified portfolio is the best way to balance the desire for wealth accumulation with an appreciation of volatility.

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

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

2013-04-03 Why This Economic \"Recovery\" is So Weak by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

We start today with an excellent editorial I read last week written by Mort Zuckerman, Editor-In-Chief of U.S. News & World Report. My goal every week is to do a lot of reading and summarize what I’ve learned in these pages week in and week out. But every now and then I run across something so good that it just makes sense to reprint it in its entirety, even if it’s not my own work. Not many of my contemporaries are willing to do that, as they think it makes them look less scholarly. I don’t have that problem.

2013-04-02 Bernanke’s Motives Behind Quantitative Easing by Paul Franchi (Article)

We are at a turning point: away from one global monetary standard, to a yet-to-be-determined new form.

2013-04-02 Is the Vix Still an Adequate Measure of Risk? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The 30-day implied volatility index for the S&P 500 calculated by the Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE), known as VIX, has long been used as an indicator of market sentiment. Commonly referred to as the “fear index,” the VIX often portends periods of stress in equity markets, as options traders price in higher volatility in the future. The shape of the VIX futures curve, in particular, has historically been used as an indicator of future volatility levels.

2013-04-02 Flying High on Borrowed Wings by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

After selling off an astounding 56% between October of 2007 and March 2009, the S&P 500 has staged a rally for the ages, surging 120% and recovering all of its lost ground too. This stunning turnaround certainly qualifies as one of the more memorable, and unusual, stock market rallies in history. The problem is that the rally has been underwritten by the Federal Reserve’s unconventional monetary policies But for some reason, this belief has not weakened the celebration.

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.

2013-04-01 Employment 401, Muni Index Says and New Data by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week we spend time looking back at employment data (promised two weeks back) and offer some perspective from a soon to be published book. We take a look at the DIVER Muni Index and conclude with an introduction of some new and meaningful data now available to our subscribers.

2013-04-01 U.S. Stock Market: Too Good to Be True? by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Funds

There is nothing worse than buying at the top of the market. Think back to the last two economic cycles. If you bought the US stock market or real estate in late 2007, you are way under on those purchases and that is after sweating it out for the last 5 years. Even with the 2009-2012 rebound, we have not seen real estate values or the Dow Index back to even. You have to ask yourself, how can this be?

2013-04-01 Plan Sponsors and Participants Need HELP by Jon Vogler of Invesco

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP Committee) held a hearing titled “Pension Savings: Are Workers Saving Enough for Retirement?” on Jan. 31, 2013. Witnesses shared successful initiatives and highlighted areas that need improvement to help workers achieve a financially secure retirement.

2013-03-29 ECRI Recession Indicator: Unchanged from Last Week by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) to one decimal place is unchanged from last week. It is now at 129.7, the same as last week’s downward revision from 129.8. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) has risen fractionally to 6.6%, up from last week’s 6.3%. Those of us who regularly follow ECRI’s publicly available data and commentaries understand that there is no logical connection between ECRI’s proprietary indicators and their "pronounced, pervasive and persistent" recession call of September 2011.

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

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

2013-03-29 Market Resilience by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

After a stellar first quarter performance from US stock markets, which showed impressive resilience to continued headwinds, a pullback is certainly possible but we don’t suggest investors who need to add to allocations wait. In a relative world, the US stock market continues to look like an attractive place to invest, although there may also be opportunities in Japan and Europe as well. The upcoming earnings season could tell the story for the market over the next couple of months, but we continue to advocate a long-term point of view and maintaining a diversified portfolio.

2013-03-28 On the Fed, the Keystone Pipeline & the War On Jobs by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The Fed Open Market Committee (FOMC) met as scheduled last Tuesday and Wednesday to review monetary policy and its massive “quantitative easing” effort. The official policy statement released at the end of the meeting on Wednesday was little changed from those in previous months.

2013-03-28 Today's Good News Isn't Bad for US Stocks by Daniel Loewy of AllianceBernstein

Believe it or not, recent US housing market gains, the slight reduction in jobless rates and other signs of a revival in US economic growth are making some investors bearish about US stocks. We think their fears are misplaced.

2013-03-28 What Will Drive the Market? by Charlie Dreifus of The Royce Funds

The sequester adds to the economic headwinds caused by ending the payroll tax holiday and the boost in tax rates. However, even with the sequester, total federal government outlays will rise this fiscal year. Finally, after more than a month of daily increases for a gallon of unleaded gasoline, prices are now declining. This has been of concern as rising oil and gasoline prices were yet another headwind facing the U.S. economy. (Oil prices have also declined.)

2013-03-28 What Maslow and Rand Would Tell Investors Today by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

While gold’s performance in the short term has been counterintuitive, I plan to stick to my own advice. I simply feel safer with a small weighting in gold as insurance.

2013-03-27 Why Not a Quantitative Target for Quantitative Easing? by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

When I should have been practicing my bass guitar in preparation for my band class Thursday evening, I, instead, watched the first few minutes of Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke’s post-FOMC press conference. A number of press inquiries were related to adding specificity to the FOMC’s criteria for modifying its current $85 billion per-month purchases of securities. In the short time that I watched the press conference, Chairman Bernanke did not seem to satisfy the press on this issue.

2013-03-26 A Cry for Help from Income Investors by Legg Mason Global Income Survey (Article)

Confronted with the stark realities of income investing now, affluent investors all over the world are rethinking their approach, notes Legg Mason’s just-released Global Income Survey. Yet the Survey also found income investors hungry for more knowledge and ideas -- creating opportunities for savvy financial advisors.

2013-03-26 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks were flat last week as investors were mesmerized by the goings on in Cypress and the European Union.

2013-03-26 Currencies in a Race to Debase by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Since the start of the year, investors have seen rapid shifts of sentiment in currency markets. The debasement that for so long was assumed to be a purely Western phenomenon is beginning to impact countries globally, driving changes in expected returns and growth prospects.

2013-03-26 Smart People's Opinions, The Data Says and Some Looming Deadlines by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Being on the road gives me a lot of time to read the views and opinions of many very smart people (Faber, Mauldin, Hussman, Hunt and Zhao this week citations below as they all are worth a read). An interesting thread runs through much of what I absorbed this week: they don’t believe the hype.

2013-03-26 The Stimulus Trap by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

For years we have been warned by Keynesian economists to fear the so-called "liquidity trap," an economic cul-de-sac that can suck down an economy like a tar pit swallowing a mastodon. They argue that economies grow because banks lend and consumers spend. But a "liquidity trap," they argue, convinces consumers not to consume and businesses not to borrow. The resulting combination of slack demand and falling prices creates a pernicious cycle that cannot be overcome by the ordinary forces that create growth, like savings or investment.

2013-03-26 In Gold, Not Cyprus, We Trust by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Global investors had to muster the courage to keep calm as news of Cyprus’ proposed partial theft of all bank deposits took Wall Street by surprise, closed the country’s banks and drove the price of gold higher.

2013-03-25 The Hook by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

At the 2000 peak, Richard Russell observed "Every bull and bear market needs a hook.’ The hook in a bear market is whatever the bear serves to keep investors and traders thinking that everything is going to be all right. There is always a hook."

2013-03-25 Fed Outlook: Cautiously Optimistic or Just Hopeful? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The Federal Open Market Committee’s latest policy meeting generated few surprises. The FOMC maintained its forward guidance on the federal funds rate target, which is still not expected to start rising until 2015, and did not alter its asset purchases plans ($40 billion per month in agency mortgage-backed securities and $45 billion in longer-term Treasuries). However, in his press briefing, Bernanke indicated that the pace of asset purchases could be varied as progress is made toward the Fed’s goals or if the assessment of the benefits and potential costs of the program were to cha

2013-03-25 Cyprus Reminds Us of Threats and Improving Global Economy by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Equity averages sagged slightly last week. Strength later in the week made up for earlier weakness as the equity rally paused for the Cyprus crisis. We (and the consensus) perceive Cyprus as mainly a local problem and believe it supports our view to remain cautious with Eurozone weightings.

2013-03-25 Still Bullish by Richard Golod of Invesco

Global equities (as measured by the MSCI All Country World Index) fell modestly in February amid reignited fears about the euro’s future, signs of distress in China’s economy and the looming sequester deadline in the US. Nevertheless, I believe the US, Japan and emerging markets may offer compelling opportunities, while Europe requires a more selective approach.

2013-03-22 Happy Clients; Terrified Prospects by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

Four years ago, on March 9th, 2009, US stocks collapsed to a 12 year low. A financial crisis rooted in overleveraged purchases of junk (or even fraudulent) securities claimed, in quick succession, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brother, Merrill Lynch (forced into a shotgun marriage with Bank of America) and AIG. Investors panicked, selling good securities at deep discounts to fair value.

2013-03-22 Is Plan B for Cyprus an Exit from the Euro? by Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Having rejected an initial bailout package that would have imposed a levy on bank deposits, Cyprus now faces some difficult choices in exchange for continued emergency bank funding.

2013-03-22 Insights on India: Land of Paradoxes by Chetan Sehgal of Franklin Templeton Investments

Technology has made it easy for our emerging markets team to stay in contact from nearly every corner of the globe, but electronic communications can’t replace human interaction through a face-to-face exchange of ideas. Twice a year, our 50+ analysts gather together in a single location to share opinions on companies, discuss global events, and conduct a peer review and evaluation. I’ve invited my colleague, Chetan Sehgal, to pen his thoughts on India and why we chose it as the location for our most recent gathering.

2013-03-22 ECRI’s "Recession" Indicators: Unchanged from Last Week by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The only new ECRI-related news since last Friday’s update is a CBS Moneywatch commentary, Can the stock market rise while the economy stalls? ECRI liked the commentary well enough to reprint it on the company’s website. It basically reiterates Achuthan’s point in the "Yo-Yo Years" essay that it’s possible for the market to rise during a recession, citing three such instances (of the 15 recessions) since the Roaring Twenties.

2013-03-22 The Success of Central Bank Policy Is Not Measured By The Revenue It Generates by Team of Northern Trust

The success of central bank policy is not measured by the revenue it generates. Cyprus is a small country that could cast a long shadow. The U.S. dollar’s fortune is changing

2013-03-22 In Gold We Trust by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Poorly thought out government policies hurt the formation of capital and destroy people’s trust in paper money. Leaders may have good intentions, but some of their actions show disrespect for private property and individualism. This only reemphasizes gold as an important asset class.

2013-03-21 Will the Real Unemployed Please Raise Your Hands? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week’s letter will be a very short part of a book I am writing with Bill Dunkelberg (the Chief Economist of the National Federation of Independent Businesses) on the future of employment. It has taken longer to write than I initially anticipated, for a host of reasons, chief among which is that the future is not as obvious as I originally thought. Diving into the data has brought a few surprises.

2013-03-21 Cyprus as a Pandora’s Box by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The attempt to levy a deposit tax on Cypriot accounts has the potential to further destabilize the European Union, with contagion risk elevating for other peripheral member states.

2013-03-21 Fed Still Inching Toward Optimism by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

The Federal Reserve made no changes to monetary policy today and only some small changes to the language of its statement. Once again, the Fed’s comments were slightly more optimistic about the economy than they were after the prior meeting.

2013-03-21 Global Markets’ Time Factor by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

In recent months, the dichotomy between booming financial markets and sluggish economies (and dysfunctional politics) has loomed large. The critical element of time and who controls it could well mean the difference between an orderly global resolution of today’s ongoing financial problems and a return to serious trouble.

2013-03-20 Spending Patterns Paint Half Truth by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

On March 13th, the Commerce Department announced a 1.1 percent increase in food and services retail sales, doubling a prior Dow Jones survey of economists that forecast an increase of just 0.6 percent. This new data has led to a fresh wave of enthusiastic commentaries that the US economy is set for a strong recovery. Less examined were the underlying factors that supported the increase.

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.

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

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

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

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

2013-03-19 Gambler’s Fallacy by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

“My luck has gotta change” is a famous lament that has buried many a player on the crap tables. But as shown in the aforementioned “coin toss” quote, “The outcomes in different tosses are statistically independent and the probability of any outcome is still 50%.” While that’s true in gambling, it is not so true in the stock market. The fact is, there are certain historic precedents in the stock market that can tilt the odds of success decidedly in your favor.

2013-03-19 Things Could Get Bumpy But Hang in There? by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

The quality of the Fed’s Flow of Funds data is about as comprehensive a balance sheet assessment of corporate and private America as you could wish for. It’s also great for looking at trends rather than the hot spots over which the market frets. Here are some of the findings:

2013-03-18 And That’s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Move over Dow Jones, here comes the S&P. What few thought possible a year ago is coming to fruition as the major indexes continue to push toward record territory. The S&P 500 is close (but no cigar) to besting its personal high set in late 2007, before this whole banking mess emerged and sent equities into a tailspin. Confident investors seemed to be overlooking the numerous concerns (budget/sequester, payroll taxes, Europe, China) so they can participate in the record run.

2013-03-18 M&A and Dividends Likely Drivers of the Market by Charlie Dreifus of The Royce Funds

The sequester adds to the economic headwinds caused by ending the payroll tax holiday and the boost in tax rates. However, even with the sequester, total federal government outlays will rise this fiscal year. Finally, after more than a month of daily increases for a gallon of unleaded gasoline, prices are now declining. This has been of concern as rising oil and gasoline prices were yet another headwind facing the U.S. economy. (Oil prices have also declined.)

2013-03-18 Conflicting Data and Market and Credit Risk by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Conflicting data and information is everywhere. The equity markets make new highs, the talking heads on the various business shows talk of the new bull run, unemployment is down and a recent article in Barron’s highlights the fact that “State tax revenues have increased for 11 quarters running fueled by a recovery in home prices” (citing BlackRock). Others challenge the recently released employment numbers saying the headlines do not tell the whole story and, once the Fed steps back and the inevitable budget cuts (less increases) come, the economy’s true status will b

2013-03-18 Investment, Speculation, Valuation, and Tinker Bell by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The most important questions investors should be asking are these: what do they know that can be demonstrated to be true; and what do they believe that can be demonstrated to be untrue. It is best to make these distinctions deliberately, lest the financial markets clarify these distinctions for investors later, against investors’ will, and at great cost.

2013-03-18 Currencies: A 1970s Flashback? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Four decades ago, a currency war and significant Fed easing were followed by a bout of high inflation. Now investors are worried that history could repeat itself.

2013-03-18 5 Reasons to Still Like (but not Love) Stocks by David Kelly of JP Morgan Funds

While investors have been justifiably worried that the combination of the big tax hikes of January and the Sequester in March could lead to an economic slump, so far the numbers are reassuring.

2013-03-15 Waiting on Weakness? by Mike Boyle of Advisors Asset Management

On Tuesday, March 5, The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) set a new record close at a level of 14,253.8 (old record of 14,164.5 was set on 10/09/07). Since then it has gone on to set four more consecutive record-closing highs. The S&P 500, at a closing level of 1556.2 on 3/11/13, is still about nine points shy of its record high of 1565.2 (also set on 10/09/07), but it is up seven days in a row and the odds of that occurring are about 1.17%.

2013-03-15 ECRI’s Recession Call: Proprietary Indicators Still Not Cooperating by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose in today’s update. It is now at 129.9 versus the previous week’s 129.5 (revised upward from 129.3). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) has eased, now at 6.3, down from last week’s 6.4 (an upward revision from 6.2).

2013-03-15 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Industrial Production and Real Retail Sales by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

With the exception of Real Personal Income Less Transfer Payments (e.g., Social Security, Supplementary Security Income, workers compensation, etc.), the Big Four continue to show expansion. The seemingly bizarre income data is the result of the end-of-year strategy of early bonuses and moving forward of 2013 income to avoid higher taxes. We’ve seen this situation before in the 1990s. The PI anomaly is the reason the average for the Big Four (the gray line above) has shows contraction for the past two months.

2013-03-15 Global Economic Overview by Team of Thomas White International

Global economic trends largely remained positive during February, though the stalemate after the Italian elections and the failure by policymakers to reach a deal to avoid the U.S. sequester heightened the political and policy risks. The U.S. GDP figure for the last quarter of 2012 was revised higher, showing the world’s largest economy managed to avoid a decline.

2013-03-15 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Despite exceptionally easy monetary policy, inflation risk remains low. Record stock market levels are boosting consumer spending. U.S. capital spending is poised to be a bright spot this year.

2013-03-15 China\’s Next Stop by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Would it surprise you to discover that China is planning to add 800 miles to its subway system over the next two years? That’s the distance equivalent to building a network from Dallas to Chicago in less time than the U.S. Congress can resolve a budget!

2013-03-15 Finally!! Now What? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Surprise! We don’t know what’s going to happen in stocks over the next few weeks. But we are seeing an environment that we believe can foster further gains in the US as economic data remains generally positive, the Fed maintains its accommodative stance, and small progress is being made in the fiscal realm. Investors concerned about a pullback may want to hedge their portfolios, but maintain adequate exposure to equities.

2013-03-14 Excess Liquidity Finds a Home by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

U.S. home prices appear likely to continue to rise as the Federal Reserve injects more liquidity into the system. Given housing’s unique characteristics, this will have positive effects for consumption and growth.

2013-03-14 DC Plan Sponsors: Now's the Time to Get More From Bonds by Stacy Schaus of PIMCO

Long on equities and light on bonds, today’s DC plan lineups may expose participants to extreme market risks. Plan sponsors could potentially improve retirement outcomes by trimming choices for stocks and considering additional options for bonds. The inclusion of active fixed income strategies with global exposure or additional income opportunities could help participants reach their retirement goals.

2013-03-14 Global Currency Battles: A Waiting Disaster or a Win for All? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

To many, Japan’s recent moves to devalue the yen looked like the spark that could ignite a global currency war -- a series of competitive devaluations that, last century, helped plunge the world into the Great Depression. Until now, central bankers have been resisting the urge to politicize exchange rates. However, while currency skirmishes can be dangerous and require monitoring, they are also necessary for establishing equilibrium in markets and will help in the global economic recovery, some experts say.

2013-03-13 Some Stunning Demographic Trends in Employment by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

I spent much of yesterday reviewing the latest employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They have a wealth of employment data, much of which stretches back to 1948. My focus was the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) with some specific attention to gender and age. The LFPR is a simple computation: You take the Civilian Labor Force and divide it by the Civilian Noninstitutional Population. The result is the participation rate expressed as a percent.

2013-03-13 Argentina on Sale by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

(From Cafayate, Argentina) There are some who worry whether the path that Argentina has taken to monetary ruin on multiple occasions (and that it seems intent on taking again) is one that the US may also find itself on. That worry has crossed my mind a few times, I must confess. Today we will look at Argentina more in depth. From a monetary perspective, it deserves attention. And once again there will be opportunity.

2013-03-13 Dow--Then and Now by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is making record highs, knocking the 2007 peak off its pedestal, but investors aren’t celebrating.

2013-03-12 Gundlach: Investors are asking the Wrong Question by Robert Huebscher (Article)

If you're trying to assess the Federal Reserve's so-called exit strategy from quantitative easing, then you're asking the wrong question, according to Doubleline's Jeffrey Gundlach. Quantitative easing is a permanent policy tool, he said, and investors should be asking what that means for their investment strategy.

2013-03-12 Finally, a Jobs Report Worth Reading by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Surprisingly, the February employment report showed a labor market growing at a reasonably healthy rate. Concerns that the sequester would spill into the broader economy have yet to materialize and if recent trends hold, the economy may finally be approaching a point of robust and sustainable job growth.

2013-03-12 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks rose each day last week as the notion of a ho-hum global economy was reassuring to those who fear either a recession or a surge in economic activity.

2013-03-12 The Plow Horse is Trotting by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

In October 2012, we raised our recession odds from 10% to 25%. We saw an increase in uncertainty and fear over the election and the fiscal cliff as having the potential to cause a drop in velocity. Panics (falling velocity) are rare. As a result, our base case (75% odds) was for a 2.5% to 3% increase in real GDP for 2013. Real GDP increased just 0.1% in Q4, but now it appears the Plow Horse is starting to trot a little.

2013-03-12 We Made It. Now What? by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

What looks like a fairly settled policy in Europe is fast becoming a very dangerous situation, according to Christian Thwaites in his latest "Thought of the Week" -- "We Made It. Now What?" -- adding that the outlook for the world's second largest economic bloc is pretty week.

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

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

2013-03-12 The 2030 Increasing Inequality Scenario by Bill O'Grady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

Last month we started looking at the 2030 alternative world development scenarios as laid out by the National Intelligence Council (NIC). The NIC forecasts the likely paths that are either currently underway or are forecast to occur in the future. In its most recent report, the NIC projects four possible global political and economic states based on expected trends. Last time, we presented the most likely best case scenario. This week, we will explore the third scenario, under which the world gets wealthier as a whole, but inequalities increase.

2013-03-12 Spring Thaw by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

The first thing you notice when you are landing at Detroit Metro Airport in the winter after two weeks in the Caribbean is whether or not there is snow on the ground. I am pleased to report that other than a few clumps left by the snow plows or swept by the wind into the empty furrows and fenced-in corners of a farmer's field, the six inches that covered everything when I left have largely disappeared.

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

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

2013-03-11 In-Plan Roth 401(k) Conversions Part 1 by Jon Vogler of Invesco

A January 2013 survey by Aon Hewitt found that an increasing number of US employers plan to add a Roth option to their retirement plans over the next 12 months. The survey results come shortly after a provision in the American Taxpayer Relief Act (the "fiscal cliff" tax act adopted in January) gave workers a chance to stockpile more tax-free earnings as long as their employers' 401(k) plans include a Roth option, along with the ability to move assets accumulated in tax-deferred 401(k) accounts.

2013-03-11 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Stocks moved to record highs (Dow Jones) early in the week and never looked back. Some favorable economic data, particularly from labor, renewed investors' confidence and others jumped on as the week progressed to participate in the friendly trend. Even with the spending cuts from sequester threatening to weaken the economy, investors focused more on the present than the future. Though naysayers scoff at the recent moves and claim the economic strength is at least partially artificially Fed induced, their voices have been silenced for now.

2013-03-11 The Job Market: Not As Strong As It Looks by Scott Brown of Raymond James

With headwinds fading, the U.S. economic recovery appeared poised to pick up more substantially in 2013. Unfortunately, fiscal policy is going in the wrong direction.

2013-03-11 Spring is in the Air, Who's Buying Fixed Income and Exports by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week we start with a look at some bizarre coincidences that have us wondering if it is Spring that is the cause. We next look at who is buying so much debt and to contemplate the implications for the muni market. We conclude with a look at Exports and a reminder that the world really is a small place.

2013-03-08 Three Trends Will Shake American Businesses Out Of Paralysis by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

On-shoring, energy infrastructure reinvestment and plant replacement are three trends in the making that will shake American business out of paralysis. In the last "Bond Deer in the Headlights," I outlined the "Monetary Abolitionists" assertion that out-of-control government spending, made acceptable by historically low interest rates, was responsible for corporate paralysis in investing and hiring.

2013-03-08 Flying High by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover, Mike Czekaj of Broadleaf Partners

The media has made a spectacle out of the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching new all-time highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 indices do not include the compounding effect of dividends paid by member companies. Any retiree will tell you that dividends represent a return of capital and useful income in the real economy. If you had reinvested those dividends back in the index as they were paid, the old time highs reached in October of 2007 likely would have been passed some time ago.

2013-03-08 Spasmodic Stupidity: The Wile E. Coyote Congress by Cliff Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors

I predict the Ides of March will find us in a continued sequestration, and Congress will use the time between now and the debt ceiling deadline on March 27th to debate the merits of true tax reform as opposed to governing by crisis. In the end, though, the reform conversation will revert to governance by crisis, with another stop-gap measure to avoid government shutdown during Holy Week and Easter, which will tide us over to the elections of 2014. Do you expect any different?

2013-03-08 Labor Policy Needs to Help, Not Hinder Employment. by Team of Northern Trust

Labor policy needs to help, not hinder employment. The U.S. employment report surprised on the upside. Watch the shadows behind China's official credit measures

2013-03-08 How to Keep Calm and Invest On by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The market noise of today will not be going away. However, investors can gain confidence in the following wisdom of the crowd. As famous investor Benjamin Graham said, "The individual investor should act consistently as an investor and not as a speculator. Keep calm and invest on.

2013-03-07 When Will the Music Stop? by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The investment environment is in transition, with uncertainty around policy moves contributing an increasing amount of uncertainty for asset prices.

2013-03-06 How Big a Problem will the Sequester be for the U.S. Economy? by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Having dodged the fiscal cliff and postponed the debt ceiling deadline, Congress decided to let the spending sequesters happen. Will the result be to throw the economy into recession or cause an economic catastrophe? We don't think so, and neither does Congress.

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

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

2013-03-06 Why Our Best Ideas Come In The Shower and Why They Are So Hard To Remember by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

I don't know about you, but I have had some of my best and most creative ideas while in the shower. But the shower is not the only place or activity where we tend to be more creative. Our creative juices can frequently be stimulated when doing other things as well such as driving home from work, during or after exercise, cooking, meditating, etc.

2013-03-05 What Economists can Learn from Downton Abbey by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Economists warn that the U.S. economy could be heading toward one of two catastrophes: the two-decade long stagnation that has befallen Japan, or the hyperinflation that struck Zimbabwe and the Weimar Republic. Such cautionary tales alert policymakers to the failed efforts of their predecessors. But the most relevant comparison is rarely cited – to Great Britain in the 1920s, as depicted in the highly popular PBS series Downton Abbey.

2013-03-05 Understanding the Risk in Bonds by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Treasury bond prices rallied this past week, as sequestration promised to act as a drag on growth, while a very messy election result in Italy also pushed safe haven investors into Treasuries. Both factors are likely to be short lived insofar as they support bond prices. Interest rates are likely to head higher even with Fed policy likely to remain highly accommodative. Initially, longer maturity bond prices will decline and the yield curve will steepen.

2013-03-05 Weave a Circle Round Us Thrice by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

There was plenty of news to threaten the recent market rallies but, as of writing, we're within a whisper of all time highs in US stocks and managing to have a very orderly consolidation in bonds. This is surprising because the political process has once again taken careful aim and shot itself in the foot. The sequester has become the dumb answer to difficult questions and will initiate, mostly indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts.

2013-03-05 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks drifted last week, buffeted by concerns over Europe due to the Italian elections and worries here at home as the "dreaded" sequester begins to take effect.

2013-03-05 Is Now the Time to Diversify? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The use of global diversification in constructing client portfolios has come under fire in recent years due to the underperformance of many risk assets. Traditionalists who stuck to their familiar S&P 500 and BarCap Aggregate Bond index blends generally outperformed their diversified peers in 2011 and 2012, as historic risk premiums failed to materialize and various alternative investment strategies faced headwinds.

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

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

2013-03-04 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

The sky is falling. The sky is falling. It's the millennium all over again. (How did those fears work out?) With politicos unable to reach any agreement on the budget (taxes), the "dumb, arbitrary" spending cuts began to take effect to the tune of $85 billion this year. (So much for a military preparedness.) Though the impact on the economy will not be felt overnight, some areas will begin to suffer sooner than others and biz/consumer confidence could become an issue in the near future.

2013-03-04 Federal Government Employment, Tax Exemption and the Drought by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week we focus very briefly on the sequester and Federal government employment and then revisit a subject that has faded but has the potential to reappear this Spring and Summer (the drought) and conclude with a quick look at housing prices. Well, as expected (how awful that this is what I've come to expect from our elected officials), the can was kicked down the road.

2013-03-04 Out On A Limb - An Investor's Guide to X-treme Monetary and Fiscal Conditions by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Massive policy responses, directed toward ineffective ends, are scarcely better than no policy response at all. A look at the current monetary and fiscal policy environment, as well as more effective policy initiatives, and why they make sense.

2013-03-04 What is Italy Saying? by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

The outcome of the Italian elections should send a clear message to Europe's leaders: the austerity policies that they have pursued are being rejected by voters. Indeed, it will take a decade or more to recover the losses that austerity has wrought.

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

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

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

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

2013-03-01 The Walk of Life: Stepping Away From Dire Straits and Toward Active Short-Term Mgmt Strategies by Jerome Schneider, Andrew Spottiswoode of PIMCO

Money market investors may find the benefits of recent regulatory and industry reforms bittersweet at best, as they are still tolerating borderline zero percent yields in a persistent low rate environment. Without creative strategies for liquidity management, many investors are finding themselves in the "dire straits" of actual negative real returns on their cash allocations even with modest current levels of inflation.

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

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

2013-03-01 The Fed's Tightening Pipe Dream by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

Testifying before the US Senate this past Tuesday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke made an extraordinary claim about its bloated balance sheet: "We could exit without ever selling by letting it run off." What Bernanke means here is that the Fed could simply hold its Treasuries and agency bonds until they mature, at which point the government would then be forced to pay the Fed back the principal amount. Through this process, the Fed's unprecedented and inflationary position will be gradually and placidly unwound.

2013-03-01 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Personal Income Less Transfer Payments by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

I've now updated this commentary to include the January Personal Income data, the red line in the chart below. As expected, the January brought the inevitable reversal of the dramatic advance in the November and December data, which was a result of moving income forward to manage the tax risk in anticipation of the Fiscal Cliff. The -4.7% decline in January essentially cancels the 1.4% rise in November and 3% rise in December.

2013-03-01 There Are More Sellers Than Buyers in the World Economy. by Team of Northern Trust

There are more sellers than buyers in the world economy. The recent Italian election may usher in renewed instability. US bank lending is finally expanding, but not everyone is happy about it.

2013-03-01 Global Volatility by Josh Thimons of PIMCO

The Fed's new communication strategy may, in fact, be a more sensible policy prescription than calendar rate guidance. We expect increased market volatility, particularly around economic data releases. Investors with an understanding of the Fed's now increasingly transparent reaction function will find opportunities to profit in the volatility markets. According to our model of the Feds reaction function, presently every .25 of a percent unexpected change in the unemployment rate is likely to lead to roughly an 11 basis point change in the five-year Treasury yield.

2013-03-01 Critical Juncture? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Headwinds have reemerged and investor concern is heightened yet again. We still believe stocks can run further, but a pullback is more likely in the near-term. The sequestration is now in affect but that doesn't necessarily mean it's here to stay and more budget fights loom, particularly in advance of the potential government shutdown on March 27. Meanwhile, some members of the Fed are in favor of scaling back its quantitative easing (QE) program, rattling markets a bit.

2013-02-28 An Ephemeral Swoon by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Although volatility is likely to stay relatively high going forward, the recent move in the markets to risk-off mode appears to be a temporary condition.

2013-02-28 What Italy's Election Result May Mean for the Markets and Your Investment Portfolio? by Team of Thomas White International

Global equity and bond markets have reacted sharply to the outcome of Italy's elections on February 24-25. The poll result is inconclusive, with no clear winner. And apparently, Italians have voted against the austerity measures and reforms that are widely believed to have improved international confidence in Italy last year.

2013-02-27 Impending Decline in Stock Prices by Charles Lieberman (Article)

It is a popular view that stocks have run up excessively, rising more than 125% off the March 9 2009 low, and are now highly vulnerable to a sizable retrenchment. This is a sexy idea, but also quite contentious. Nonetheless, it is worth considering seriously.

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 Healthcare Blues by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

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

2013-02-27 ING Fixed Income Perspectives February 2013 by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

Despite its diminutive size, February has been a whirlwind. Eat and drink too much on Fat Tuesday, be reminded of our corporeal nature on Ash Wednesday, receive a sappy Hallmark card on Thursday, and cap it all off with a memorial for a bunch of ex-presidents on Monday. Unfortunately, the next several weeks don't appear to offer any relief from this calendar whiplash.

2013-02-27 Pew: Americans Have Little Will to Cut Spending by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The Pew Research Center released a new national poll on Friday and the results are quite surprising. As the March 1 deadline for a possible budget sequester approaches, the new Pew survey finds limited public support for reducing spending for a wide range of government programs, including defense, entitlements, education and health care.

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.

2013-02-27 Singapore A Wise Owl Among Currency Snakes by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

As China enters the "Year of the Snake," Singapore stands as a beacon of sound currency in a world gone mad. China's renminbi remains pegged to the US dollar, while even steadfast Switzerland has followed the US, UK, EU, and Japan into an impoverishing strategy of currency debasement. Singapore, alone, has been able to sustain genuine economic growth in the context of a strong national currency.

2013-02-26 Global Investment Review First Quarter 2013 by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

At the beginning of last year the prospects for capital markets were grim yet the results surprisingly good: positive returns and modest economic growth. The cause was central banks in developed countries acting as a backstop for sovereign and other large debts, through direct purchasing funded by accelerated money printing. This also ensured low interest rates. Subsequently, mountainous debt problems are slowly being tackled, even as they appear to increase.

2013-02-26 Looking For A Reason To Sell-Off by Christian W. Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Markets were looking for a reason to correct. Risk assets had outpaced themselves since mid November and in the first seven weeks the S&P[1] had outperformed the US Treasury 10-year note by 12% and the 30-year bond by 15%. The markets will lumber through the sequester and face the next test on the debt ceiling and first quarter results. Below the surface, the outlook is mildly optimistic. Why the qualifier? Because everything, in Europe, US and Japan, must be set in the context of the asset deflation and deleveraging going on and that will go on for some years.

2013-02-26 Sudden Discomfort by Scott J. Brown of Raymond James

Minutes of the January 29-30 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee showed a growing discomfort with the Feds Large-Scale Asset Purchase program (QE3). Thats not all that surprising. Even those who strongly favor the program arent exactly happy with it. However, thats a far cry from wanting to end the program anytime soon. We should learn more this week as Fed Chairman Bernanke delivers his semiannual monetary policy testimony (Tuesday and Wednesday).

2013-02-25 Fed Will Make Excuses About Inflation by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors

Inflation is tame. For now. The CPI was flat in January and is up only 1.6% from a year ago. The PPI rose a small 0.2% in January and is up just 1.4% from a year ago. And even though energy prices spiked in February, the year ago comparisons are likely to stay tame. The consensus expects the February CPI to rise 0.6% - the largest in 44 months. Nonetheless, it would still show just 1.9% inflation in the past year, which is still below the Federal Reserves target of 2%. This wont last. With the Fed loose; we expect consumer prices to rise toward 3% during 2013.

2013-02-22 Only Do What Only You Can Do by Satya Patel of Matthews Asia

Sri Lanka is a tiny country of approximately 21 million people, with roughly the same population as the city of Mumbai and a total land mass nearly as big as Ireland and slightly bigger than the U.S. state of West Virginia. Despite being diminutive relative to other Asian countries, exports are an important part of Sri Lanka's economy, just as they are for its neighbors.

2013-02-22 January 2013 Market Commentary by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management

The municipal bond market continues to perform well in the face of significant political, financial and economic uncertainty, once again, demonstrating the importance of consistent, competitive tax-free cash flow. Municipal bonds proved to be one of the best performing asset classes during 2012.

2013-02-22 Central Banks Are Factoring Financial Stability into Their Decision Making by Team of Northern Trust

Central banks are factoring financial stability into their decision making. The FOMC is taking a critical look at its asset purchase strategy. Don't look now, but the sequester is coming.

2013-02-22 Is it Time to Review Your European Investment Strategy? by Team of Thomas White International

A sharp equity and bond market reaction is likely expected in response to the outcome of Italy's February 24-25 general elections, several media sources such as THE GLOBE AND MAIL have reported. While the poll result is uncertain, these reports indicate that in the event of a clear victory for Silvio Berlusconi's political party, buying interest in equities and lower-quality debt may be affected.

2013-02-22 A Test of Strength for Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

This week, we saw the gold bears growling louder and gaining strength, as the worlds largest gold-backed ETF, the SPDR Gold Trust, experienced its largest one-day outflows since August 2011. The Fear Trade fled the sector following the Federal Reserves meeting that revealed a growing dissension among some of its members over the central banks bond-buying program.

2013-02-21 Fed Must Tune in to Changing US Economy by Joseph Carson of AllianceBernstein

With each passing month, more questions are being asked about the sluggish US economic recovery. Why has growth been subdued since the recession ended in mid-2009? What's changed in the economy? How long can loose monetary policies persist before promoting more inflation or creating a new bubble?

2013-02-20 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Tick Tick Tick. The President has plans for improving life in America. Tick Tick Tick. Republicans want to fix the middle class (and restricting taxes on the upper class may help). Tick Tick Tick. Earnings reports look good, but forecasts for the current quarter have been lowered. Tick Tick Tick. Weekly jobless claims keep falling, but major corporations are announcing layoffs. Tick Tick Tick. Sales figures show growth, but Wal-Mart and others are worried. Tick Tick Tick.

2013-02-20 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

The single biggest predictor of financial growth is not how much money we have stashed away in secret savings accounts, but how much confidence we feel about a fair return for the deployment of those dollars. In that sense, corporations and individuals alike uniformly adhere to a quid pro quo matrix. Investing must be fair; it must be reasonable; and, win or lose, it must be swathed in aspiration that makes us feel worth making the investment in the first place.

2013-02-20 Stock Market Lingers At A Precarious Place by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has flirted with its all-time high of 14,198 twice in February as the Dow managed to rise above the 14,000 mark but then fell back. The S&P 500 Index is not quite as close to its all-time high, but it is within striking distance. There is widespread optimism that both indexes can break-out to new record highs, which would likely spark a new buying surge.

2013-02-20 Whatever It Takes by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Was it only a few years ago I visited the Emerald Isle of Ireland? The collapse of its largest banks foreshadowed the demise of many other European banks that had borrowed money from British, German, and other European banks to lend against homes and property. The Irish government had to guarantee deposits and bond holders in order to prevent a bank run. I think I am correct when I state that the Central Bank of Ireland was the first central bank to avail itself of large-scale use of the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) provision of the European Central Bank.

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

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

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

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

2013-02-19 Too Great Expectations by Richard Golod of Invesco

Global investors entered the year with newfound enthusiasm. Across the board, global equities traded higher in January, and retail money flows into global equities were the best in 17 years. Media reports about a "Great Rotation" from fixed income into equities are raising expectations about the possibility of a new secular bull market. However, I believe a little perspective is in order.

2013-02-19 On Competitive Devaluations by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Aggressive monetary policy moves in recent years have been accompanied by a growing fear of a currency war. In a currency war, or competitive devaluation, countries attempt to weaken their currencies to boost exports, but each devaluation leads to counter devaluations. That's not what's going on now. However, whether a country is purposely devaluing its currency or is merely pursuing accommodative monetary policy is irrelevant, the consequences are the same. The recent meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bankers highlights the lack of coherent policies to boost growth.

2013-02-16 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The recent energy dividend is not likely to last. Crafting a single monetary policy for Europe is challenging.

2013-02-15 International Equity Commentary January 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

International equity prices sustained the uptrend in January, helped by data releases that supported the growing optimism over healthier global economic growth. Though the U.S. and U.K. economies declined unexpectedly during the fourth quarter of last year, the pace of growth improved in several Asian countries, including China, during the period.

2013-02-15 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

So, what is the top tax bracket next year? For couples with earnings over $450,000, it is 39.6%. Oh, no. We're sorry. It's potentially another 1.19% which is the amount that is added to the marginal rate due to the cut-backs in itemized deductions. Therefore, the top tax rate is 40.79%. Oh, no. We're sorry. You could also lose your personal exemptions, which will add as much as another 1.05%, so the top tax bracket is 41.84%. Oh, no. We're sorry. We forgot the Medicare surtax on high wage earners of 0.9%, making the top tax bracket 42.74%. Oh, no. We're sorry.

2013-02-15 Hyperinflations, Hysteria, and False Memories by James Montier of GMO

In the past, Ive admitted to macroeconomics being one of my dark, guilty pleasures. To some value investors this seems like heresy, as Marty Whitman1 once wrote, Graham and Dodd view macro factors...as crucial to the analysis of a corporate security. Value investors, however, believe that macro factors are irrelevant. I am clearly a Graham and Doddite on this measure (and most others as well).

2013-02-14 When Politics Trump Economics by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The U.S. economic expansion continues, but increasing attention to political risks, and currency wars, in particular, indicate a period of heightened volatility could be ahead.

2013-02-14 A Bold New Direction for Japan\'s Economy by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

Newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to take Japan's economy in a daring new direction to end 20 years of stagnation and deflation. His policies resemble past efforts -- but with far more firepower behind them. That means even looser monetary policies and a sharp rise in government spending to boost demand. Some analysts say it's just the medicine Japan needs and, on the spending side at least, the opposite of what Europe and the U.S. are doing.

2013-02-14 Quarterly Commentary by Robert Sanborn of Sanborn Kilcollin Partners

In the macro sense, 2012 was the ultimate "kick the can"/"keep the lid on" year. The US elections validated the status quo, as prediction markets such as Intrade indicated they would throughout the entire year. In Europe, the most important event of the year was ECB head Mario Draghi's July statement that the ECB would do "whatever it takes" to keep the Euro-zone together, and the second half of the year was relatively quiet on that front.

2013-02-13 Concerned by Recent Economic Data? Look Closer by Marco Pirondini of Pioneer Investments

We've seen a lot of GDP data recently that, at first look, may seem a bit concerning. But if we take a moment for analysis, much of the news is actually good for the economy and the markets.

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

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

2013-02-13 Global Economic Overview January 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Global economic trends continued the moderate positive momentum from earlier months and helped sustain investor sentiment in January. The unexpected decline in U.S. economic output for the fourth quarter of last year was mostly due to a sharp fall in government spending and a smaller inventory buildup, while consumer and business spending exceeded forecasts. Also, recent data suggest that U.S. labor market gains during last year were better than earlier estimates.

2013-02-13 The Economy: Worst Five Years Since the Depression by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

While the many facts and figures below are disappointing, even depressing, Americans need to know the truth about the real state of our economy and our union. Consider what follows as a rebuttal to President Obama's speech tonight. Feel free to forward this to as many people as you wish.

2013-02-12 The Milton Friedman Centenary: One Hundred Years of Surprisingly Little Solitude by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Milton Friedman was once a lonely voice for capitalism in a collectivist era, and seemed doomed to a hundred years of solitude. Instead, he arguably became the preeminent public intellectual of the hundred years that followed his 1912 birth.

2013-02-12 Currency Wars? What Currency Wars? by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

There's much talk of currency wars right now. We think they're way overblown. The source of the problem lies with Japan, which has made explicit a strategy to lower the yen, increase domestic demand and increase inflation. It needs to do all three. The twenty year old balance sheet recession and deflation in Japan has been a costly error in targeting inflation and not much else.

2013-02-11 When to Worry About Inflation by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Though the Fed continues to flood the US economy with money, Russ explains why inflation isn't likely to be a problem until 2014 and what investors can do in the meantime to prepare.

2013-02-11 There the Bears Go Again by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

The S&P 500 is up 6% since the start of the year and 12% from a year ago. On cue, the bears have started to claim this run-up in stocks is just plain crazy, based on unreasonable euphoria or "it's just technical." It cant possibly last because "the fundamentals are bad."

2013-02-08 World War C: Neosho Capital On The Currency War by Chris Richey of Neosho Capital

This summer, Brad Pitt will star in a new film called "World War Z", an action-horror film about a post-zombie apocalypse Earth, hence the "Z" in the title. Zombie films are not our cup of tea at Neosho (we thought the genre was dead), so it is debatable whether we will see this film, but one thing is clear to us, we are perched on the precipice of "World War C", where "C" stands for "currency".

2013-02-08 Investing In a World of Make Believe by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

In recent years, a high degree of economic, financial, and political uncertainty has resulted in acute volatility in stocks, real estate, commodities and precious metals. I believe that another aggravating factor has been the increasing skepticism through which the investing public views government statistics and statements.

2013-02-08 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

Immigration reform would help the US economy at many levels. There is much going on with the US labor force participation rate. Will leadership change usher in a new era at the Bank of Japan?

2013-02-07 Echoes of 2004 by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Rising equities and tightening credit spreads define the near-term investment outlook, but this is not the first time we have seen this cycle play out in recent memory.

2013-02-07 Investing In a World of Make Believe by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

In recent years, a high degree of economic, financial, and political uncertainty has resulted in acute volatility in stocks, real estate, commodities and precious metals. I believe that another aggravating factor has been the increasing skepticism through which the investing public views government statistics and statements.

2013-02-06 The January Barometer by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

It's that time of year again when the media is abuzz with that old stock market saying, "so goes the first week of the new year, so goes the month and so goes the year." With the S&P 500 (SPX/1513.17) better by 2.17% over the first five trading sessions of this year, and up 6.10% for the month of January, it is worth revisiting the January Barometer. Devised by Yale Hirsch in 1972, the January Barometer states that as the S&P 500 goes in January, so goes the year.

2013-02-06 The Job Market Data and the Fed by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Nonfarm payrolls fell by 2.8 million in January before seasonal adjustment, that is. Adjusted, payrolls advanced 157,000, about as expected. However, annual benchmark revisions showed a more rapid pace of job growth over the last two years a pace at odds with the Household Survey data. How might the Fed view the range of job market data?

2013-02-06 GDP Report Tanks - Is A Recession Looming? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

We will cover a lot of ground today. We begin with a new report from Goldman Sachs which argues that the US economy will remain the strongest in the world for many more years. The report rebuts claims that America is a nation in decline. Quite the contrary, say Goldman analysts who claim that there is a growing"awarenessof the key economic, institutional, human capital and geopolitical advantages the U.S. enjoys over other economies."

2013-02-06 What Happens When the Fed Loses Money by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

The Federal Reserve's exit from ultra-easy monetary policy still looks very far offby most accounts, rate hikes will not begin for more than two years and asset sales for even longer. However, the exit strategy could matter for markets well before that point. Fed officials have said that they will consider the costs and risks associated with quantitative easing (QE) when deciding how long to continue their purchases, and one factor they will be looking at will be whether the program could "complicate the Committee's efforts to eventually withdraw monetary policy accommodation."

2013-02-06 The Good, the Bad, and the Greek (Risks) by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Greece is a small country with large implications. Last week we began to explore what I learned from my recent trip to Greece. In this week's letter we will finish those observations and in particular look at some of the comments from my meetings with over 40 people: owners of small businesses and large ones, billionaires, taxi drivers, politicians, central bankers, investors, ex-patriots, wives, and mothers. I believe we can arrive at some small understanding of the problems Greece faces. Then we will consider the broader consequences for Europe.

2013-02-06 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Earnings have come in pretty well, but the news on the economy remains dreary despite the cheerleaders in the financial media.

2013-02-05 In Uncertain Environment, Jobs Grow Tepidly by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

For the 35th consecutive month, private payrolls registered positive growth. It was hardly the robust report economists would prefer, but the labor market continues to mend. However, there are still plenty of reasons to be concerned, especially with sequestration on the horizon.

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

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

2013-02-05 2012 Equity Market Market Year in Review by Natalie Trunow of Calvert Investment Management

Equities started the year strong as global inflation remained tame, and aggressive, accommodative monetary policy by central banks around the globe helped equity markets rally hard off their lows posted in the fall of 2011. Continuously improving U.S. economic data, strong corporate earnings, and policy steps toward mitigation of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe also provided support for the equity markets worldwide.

2013-02-05 Fourth Quarter 2012 Equity Market Review by Natalie Trunow of Calvert Investment Management

With the excitement of the QE3 announcement wearing off in the fourth quarter, market participants refocused on the less-than-stellar earnings season in the U.S. and uncertainties surrounding the U.S. presidential election and impending fiscal cliff, while the negative impact of Hurricane Sandy further dampened investor sentiment. Despite a double-dip recession in the eurozone, there was some progress on the European policy front and China's economy continued to show signs of stabilizing, which helped international stocks outperform their U.S. counterparts.

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.

2013-02-04 2013 Annual Forecast by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group

It's that time again. January will be over by the time you read this which means we are out of holiday excuses or "just ramping up for the new year" reasons for not getting back to work. Having said that, I'd like to offer my excuse for the Annual Forecast getting to you in February instead of the first week of the year. Hand over my heart, we started early this go-round.

2013-02-04 Shifting Sentiment? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Is investor sentiment shifting in favor of equities, which could help to continue the recent rally?

2013-02-04 A Look at California, Thoughts on Employment and Why I Worry by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week we consider recent information and data regarding California, GDP and the employment picture. We also touch on why I worry about the next six months (at least). We conclude with a wrap up of the data imported into DIVER last week and coming road trips. Also, be on the lookout for a Lumesis press release and "Topic of Interest" paper later this week.

2013-02-04 Retirement Landscape: Cliff, Clamor, Clarity and (Dis)closure by Jon Vogler of Invesco

With the November election in the rearview mirror, it's a good time to scan the retirement landscape. What can plan sponsors and plan participants expect on the regulatory and legislative fronts in the coming year? While I don't claim to have a crystal ball, there are some likely developments on the near-term retirement horizon.

2013-02-04 Some Seasonal Blips by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

We had a week of big numbers last week of which GDP, Personal Income, Durable Goods, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence, payrolls and the FOMC were the ones that had our attention. We went to print a little earlier this week, so missed the NFPs. But this is what came at us. First GDP. There's a spin to be told but here are the raw numbers with the center column the one that caught markets wrong-footed.

2013-02-04 A Reluctant Bear's Guide to the Universe by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

In recent years, I've gained the reputation of a "perma-bear." The reality is that I'm quite a reluctant bear, in that I would greatly prefer market conditions and prospective returns to be different from what they are. There's no question that conditions and evidence will change, unless the stock market is to be bound for the next decade in what would ultimately be a low-single-digit horserace with near-zero interest rates. For my part, I think the likely shocks are larger, and the potential opportunities will be greater than investors seem to contemplate here.

2013-02-01 Q412 Portfolio Commentary by Jay Compson of Absolute Investment Advisers

While much of the fundamental picture has played out as we expected over the past 18-24 months, the financial markets appear to be concerned solely with the existence or non-existence of macro headlines and events. There seems to be a disconnect between market movements and fundamentals which means doing real work based on intellectual honesty and logic puts you at a disadvantage. Chasing momentum and profiting from central bank market manipulation appear to be the current winning strategies.

2013-02-01 Crystallization at Davos by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The euphoria among my fellow Davos attendees was palpable, but short and long-term risks for the world's advanced economies, including competitive currency devaluation, remain concerning.

2013-02-01 Feasting in a Time of Famine: The South African Consumer by Maria (Masha) Gordon, Richard Flax of PIMCO

South Africa's consumer sector has been on a strong run for the past several years, but there are signs the consumer is now coming under pressure. For all the challenges that have faced the South African economy, most listed consumer companies have enjoyed a great run since 2008. However, a combination of factors strong growth in retail sales and credit along with the rise in consumer debt levels and weak employment growth suggest the South African consumer sector may have pulled consumption forward in a way that could prove ultimately unsustainable.

2013-02-01 Moving the Hurdles by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The ink of my weekly piece was not even dry last Friday, when the House announced that it would vote on a three-month delay in the debt ceiling showdown. Congress now has until May 19 to raise the debt ceiling. So, the most dangerous hurdle has been moved down the track. Other hurdles remain in place.

2013-02-01 For All the Sad Words of Tongue and Pen... by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

"For all the sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: It might have been." ... John Whittier; an influential American Quaker poet. Certainly, American poet John Greenleaf Whittier's apothegm has stood the test of time, serving as a universal lament for what "might have been." I was reminded of this maxim last week as Wall Street heard increasing laments from investors on the Street of Dreams.

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

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

2013-02-01 ECRI "Recession" Update: Leading Index Growth Hits Another Interim High by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

ECRI posts its proprietary indicators on one-week delayed basis to the general public, but ECRI's Lakshman Achuthan has switched focus to his company's version of the Big Four Economic Indicators I've been tracking for the past several months. See, for example, this November 29thBloomberg video that ECRI continues to feature on their website. Achuthan pinpoints July as the business cycle peak, thus putting us in at the beginning of the eighth month of a recession.

2013-02-01 2013 Economic & Capital Market Outlook by Gregory Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management

It took our country 229 years to accumulate $8 trillion in federal debt. It only took the next eight years to double it to $16 trillion. History shows that when a country accumulates debt at this rapid pace, economic growth languishes. Not surprisingly, Congress is pursuing policies that attempt to inflate the economy. Five years after the Financial Crisis, we really havent fixed much. Instead, we've issued more debt in order to pay our bills and sustain a quality of life society cannot afford long term.

2013-02-01 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Nonfarm Employment by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Note from dshort: This commentary has been revised to include the latest Nonfarm Employment data released today.... Nonfarm Employment rose 0.12% in January, following 0.15% and 0.18% gains in December and November, respectively. The Year-over-year increase is 1.52%. Nonfarm employment has been the tortoise of the Big Four, slow and steady. The average MoM change over the past 12 months has been 0.13%, and the range has been 0.07% to 0.20% -- no contractions.

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

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

2013-02-01 Dow To 14,000 and Beyond? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

So will the Dow go beyond 14,000? Although you cant predict how hot the weather will be this summer, the clouds appear to be parting to reveal the sun today. Make sure your asset allocation positions your portfolio to shine.

2013-02-01 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

Is the world engaged in a currency war? Januarys job report had some pleasant surprises, but more progress is needed. Purchasing managers surveys suggest growth in the US, retreat for Europe

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.

2013-02-01 Look at the Bears! Look at the Bears! by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms and Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

Yes, the grumbling of bond bears is reverberating in Treasury yields, but that sound isnt the death knell of a grizzly; at this point, the closest ursine analogue is Boo-Boo Bear.

2013-01-31 Q4 2012 Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital Management

During the second half of 2012, central banks turned their massive and coordinated monetary intervention "up to eleven." This is the overwhelmingly dominant economic and market force today. Despite the long-term consequences (which are very real), we believe the central bankers commitment is steadfast. It has and will likely continue to mute both real economic and financial market volatility (at the expense of long-term growth). A deeper analysis of what has changed, our assessment of the impact, and our portfolio response follows.

2013-01-29 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

The trend is your friend...so hopefully it will continue for a little (lot) longer. With the uncertainty of the fiscal cliff on the backburner (for now), investors seem to like what they are seeing from earnings season and in the economy. They continued to take stocks higher as the S&P 500 settled above 1500 for the first time in five years and is currently riding a eight session winning streak.

2013-01-29 Q4 2012 Market Commentary by Team of Altegris Advisors

With the end of a historically challenging year for alternative investment strategies, signs emerge of a potentially more favorable environment.

2013-01-29 How Much Help from Housing? by Alan Levenson of T. Rowe Price

We expect the ongoing recovery in new housing construction from unsustainably low levels to contribute roughly percentage point to real GDP growth this year, and emphasize the risks to the upside of this forecast. Imminent employment growth in housing-related industries will provide an important channel for secondary "multiplier" effects of the housing recovery. Applying recent house price increases to the entire stock of owner-occupied housing overstates their likely wealth effect on consumer spending.

2013-01-29 Investment Basics by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

I've always been curious about how famous people would have done had they pursued completely different careers. Some of our former presidents make excellent examples. For instance, Abe Lincoln towered over his contemporaries. I wonder how he would have fared as a basketball player had the game existed during his life. Our heaviest president, William Howard Taft weighed well over 300 pounds. Had football risen to prominence a few decades earlier, could gridiron greatness have been part of his resume?

2013-01-29 What Budget Problems? by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

"Vickers falls on fear of peace." There's an apocryphal story of how on the day after D-Day, the stock of Vickers, a large defense contractor, abruptly fell. I can't find the source but it was a good story going around the City some, ahem, 30 years ago. Last week there was not a lot of price action in bonds until Friday when economic upticks replaced budgets as the main driver. We saw a one point correction in treasuries. The market is right to push budget concerns into the background for now.

2013-01-28 Capitulation Everywhere by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The bears are gone, extinct, vanished. Among the ones remaining, many are people whom even I would consider to be either permabears or nut-cases. And yet, the historical evidence for major defensiveness has rarely been stronger.

2013-01-28 A Few Things to Consider. Plus a Look at Maine and Illinois by Gregg L. Bienstock of Lumesis

This week's commentary is a slight departure from our standard format. It's been a few weeks since we mentioned the fiscal cliff, sequestration and the like. This is due to our collective saturation and the perspective of so many that the problem was solved. Well, we want to provide a reminder or two and throw a few thoughts at you to kick around. We conclude with a quick look at Maine and Illinois.

2013-01-28 Is the Fed Doing the Right Thing? by Mark Oelschlager of Oak Associates Funds

After a strong 2012, the stock market is off to a good start in 2013, rising more than 5% so far in January and currently riding an eight-day winning streak (the longest since 2004). Encouraging economic data has a lot to do with this. Unemployment claims are at a 5-year low, home sales and prices are up, and consumer credit and retail sales are growing. Research firm ISI says that the current level of unemployment claims is consistent with 4% real GDP growth for the first quarter, which would be an acceleration from the sluggish growth of recent years.

2013-01-25 Americas: Regional Economic Review 4Q 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

The outlook for most economies in the Americas region improved during the fourth quarter as domestic consumption growth was sustained and the anticipated revival in global demand has lifted the prospects for export growth this year. Partly helped by fiscal and monetary policy measures introduced since 2011, consumer demand has held up across most countries in the region.

2013-01-25 Will Resolution of the Fiscal Cliff Squelch Consumption? by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments

The U.S. averted the Fiscal Cliff with passage of the "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012" on December 31. Economists think resolution of the Fiscal Cliff will lead to a fiscal drag of 1% on GDP and adversely affect the mainstay of the economy: the American Consumer. We're not convinced this will happen and believe tax increases overstate the related negative consumption impacts. While we expect some weakness in consumption, it is likely to be transitory and confined in the first half of 2013, before recovering above-trend in the second half.

2013-01-25 ECRI "Recession" Update: Leading Index Growth Hits a New Interim High by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

For a few months, ECRI's indicators cooperated with their forecast, but that has not been the case in the second half of 2012 -- hence, I surmise, their switch to the traditional Big Four recession indicators. ECRI's December 7th article,The Tell-Tale Chart, makes clear their public focus on the Big Four.

2013-01-25 Prisoner of the Bureaucracy by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I wrote some time ago that Greece had a choice between Disaster A: staying in the euro; and Disaster B: leaving the euro. I have recently come back from four days in Greece, meeting with lots of people at all levels of society, and will share with you in this letter my analysis of their choices and the results. I'll also have a few things to say about what the developments in Greece might mean for the rest of Europe and the developed world.

2013-01-25 Housing Is Off the Floor, But Faces Ceilings. by Team of Northern Trust

Housing is off the floor, but faces ceilings. The cost of housing could be a source of increased inflation. January's FOMC meeting should not break any new ground.

2013-01-25 Resource Investors: Why You Can Expect Sunnier Days Ahead by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

During the current commodity supercycle, there have been occasionstoo many to countwhen investor psyche has been damaged by reports about slowing U.S. growth, a hard landing in China or a debt crisis in Europe. Yet just behind the gloom, significant and positive trends are taking hold, causing the storms to start dissipating.

2013-01-24 Beggar Thy Currency Or Thy Self? by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

One need not be an economist to figure out that, while all currencies can depreciate against something else (like gold, land, and other real assets), by definition they cannot all depreciate against each other. Yet, when push comes to shove, country after country is being dragged into a negative dynamic of competitive depreciation.

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

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

2013-01-24 Get Your Funk Out by Jim Goff of Janus Capital Group

I manage investment professionals for a living. When an analyst gives me the positives on one hand and the negatives on the other hand, but offers no conclusion, I want to cut one of those hands off. The best analysts understand all the issues but come to well-founded views.

2013-01-24 Escape Velocity in the Economy by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The broad improvement in U.S. economic data indicates that the economy is likely to continue to expand, supporting earnings growth and pointing to an eventual return of leveraged buy outs.

2013-01-23 The Year of the American Consumer by Philip Tasho of TAMRO Capital

It was an above-average year for stock returns across the domestic market cap spectrum. Ultimately, unconventional and accommodative monetary policy trumped investor concerns over fiscal policy, the Presidential election and weakness overseas. The Federal Reserve (the Fed) entered uncharted waters when it announced open-ended quantitative easing through the ongoing purchasing of government securities. Importantly, other central banks globally waded in by mimicking the Fed in word if not deed and the global liquidity cycle continued apace.

2013-01-23 Inflated Expectations? by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Investors should prepare themselves for higher long-term inflation because the market may be ignoring it, a mistake that could come back to haunt. On the heels of encouraging economic data, central bankers are projecting only modest price increases for goods and services over the next 10 years. But history tells us that an inflation spike is inevitable when governments print money so aggressively. As such, investors with long-term time horizons should have substantial exposure to inflation-hedging asset classes. Now, more than ever, real returns matter.

2013-01-23 Is the European Crisis Over? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The European sovereign debt crisis that first erupted in 2010 and stoked almost three years of intense market volatility has all but faded from the front pages. Overshadowed by domestic policy issues and European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi's pledge to do "whatever it takes" to save the Eurozone, fears that the monetary union would crumble and unleash a maelstrom of financial distress appear to have dissipated.

2013-01-23 PIMCO's Secular Forum Preview by Mohamed El-Erian of PIMCO

It is almost time again for PIMCO's Secular Forum a critical part of the firm's investment process. This annual event, which takes place each May, brings together our investment professionals from around the world to debate and specify the key themes that we believe will affect the global economy and, consequently, our investment strategies over the next three to five years from asset allocation and relative value positioning to returns expectations and risk management.

2013-01-23 Avoid Disappointment, Aim Low by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

No, it's not a life aspiration. But it can work when it comes to investing. We had a rush of gains coming into the end of the year with the S&P up 22% over the year. But it's also one of the more relaxed markets and start we've had in years. The political agenda is still front and clear and we're in a lull until the debt ceiling arguments gain steam. The markets know this but seem comfortably complacent. They're probably right to be.

2013-01-23 It's What You Learn After You Know It All That Counts. by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

January is the time of year when strategists, economists, gurus, etc. all join in on the annual nonsense of predicting "What's going to happen in the markets for 2013?" For many, this ritual is an ego trip, yet as Benjamin Graham inferred forecasting where the markets will be a year from now is nothing more than rank speculation. Or as I have noted, "You might as well flip a lucky penny."

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

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

2013-01-22 Sunglasses and Cockroaches – Six Rules for Surviving in a Bear Market by Michael Skocpol (Article)

After more than three decades investing in Japanese securities, Peter Tasker has little patience for other investors' self-pity – and he doesn't want to hear your horror stories from 2008. Overcoming the challenges posed by bear markets requires the adaptive instincts of a cockroach, and Tasker identified six lessons investors can take away from those lowly insects.

2013-01-22 The Political Cliff by Lawrence Grossman (Article)

Cliff-dwelling politicians are sending our country toward insolvency. Averting this crisis requires unconventional yet bold thinking. I propose such a plan.

2013-01-22 2013 Investment Outlook by Jeremy Boynton of Laureate Wealth Management

I would like to focus this commentary on three trends which I believe will have a larger positive impact on the US economy going forward than the broader investment community expects.

2013-01-22 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Tragedy in Algeria brought another reminder about just how dangerous the world can be. Oil prices rose on the enhanced turmoil in the region as well as on news that supplies unexpectedly dropped in the recent gov report. Financials led earnings season in a mostly positive way, though several releases included reminders about the financial crisis and the greed factor of certain professionals. The favorable economic data was well received as S&P 500 index again hit a five-year high though even the optimists remain cautious as the budget negotiations yield little positive results.

2013-01-22 Equities Set to Break Out of the Bear Trap by Catherine Wood of AllianceBernstein

In the face of significant uncertainties, US and global equities rallied in 2012 and at the start of the New Year. We think there might be more to come as stocks break out of the bear trap.

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.

2013-01-22 Consumer Staples: Don't Overpay for Safety by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Many investors have flocked to the perceived safety of defensive sectors over the past few years, including consumer staples. But Russ gives three reasons they might want to think twice about the sector now.

2013-01-22 Puppet Show by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

What's fascinating is that in the presence of what are not thin strings, but massive cables supporting the economy like a puppet, the only response that Wall Street can muster is "Hey! He's walking!" as if the puppet is capable of motion without being propped up to a nearly reckless extent.

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

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

2013-01-19 France and the UK Could Be the Lynchpins of Europe by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

While the problems of Europe appear to be contained, under the surface the problems are getting more dire by the day.

2013-01-18 Middle East/Africa: Regional Economic Review 4Q 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

According to the International Monetary Fund's Regional Economic Outlook report, countries in the Middle East and North Africa region are expected to grow at different rates. Oil exporting nations are cashing in on high energy prices and production, and are projected to expand 6.6 percent in 2012 before tempering in 2013. On the other hand, oil importers such as Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia among others are expected to clock growth just over 2 percent as the slowdown in the world economy and political tensions continue to hinder expansion for some of these countries in transition.

2013-01-18 2013 International Outlook by Colin Moore of Columbia Management

We continue our outlook for 2013 with a review of select international economies and financial markets. Similar to the U.S. the road to recovery will be bumpy and we expect financial markets to continue being affected by macroeconomic uncertainties. While the overall environment remains uncertain, some of the significant headwinds in 2012, e.g. the Chinese leadership transition and a complete disintegration of the eurozone, are perhaps less concerning for markets than they were a year ago.

2013-01-18 Quarterly Review and Outlook by Van Hoisington, Lacy Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

The American Taxpayer Relief Act has lifted the immediate uncertainty of the fiscal cliff. Nevertheless, tax increases that are already in effect from this act, as well as the Affordable Care Act, impose a major obstacle to growth for the U.S. economy in the first half of 2013. The result of these taxes is considerable, especially in light of the poor trend in household income. In addition, these tax increases will continue to act as a drag on economic growth until late in 2015 and are unlikely to produce the revenue gains advertised.

2013-01-18 ECRI's Public Indicators Continue to Undermine Their Insistance That We're in a Recession by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

For a few months, ECRI's indicators cooperated with their forecast, but that has not been the case in the second half of 2012 -- hence, I surmise, their switch to the traditional Big Four recession indicators. ECRI's December 7th article, The Tell-Tale Chart, makes clear their public focus on the Big Four.

2013-01-18 Equity Investment Outlook January 2013 by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

Despite many headwinds and amid great uncertainty, both the U.S. economy and stock market enjoyed a rather good year in 2012. Real Gross Domestic Product ("GDP") grew around 2%, and the stock market, as measured by the S&P 500 Index, returned 16%. At the risk of sounding complacent, we believe that the fundamental trends that produced such favorable results in 2012 are still in place and should support another good year in 2013.

2013-01-18 Are Central Banks Easing Off Prematurely? by Team of Northern Trust

Are central banks easing off prematurely? Washington is girding for another budget imbroglio; Inflation is contained, for now.

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.

2013-01-17 Is the US Consumer Back? by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Some market watchers are interpreting Tuesday's better-than-expected US retail sales report as a sign that the US consumer is coming back. But as Russ explains, a closer look at the numbers shows this much heralded return is likely to be delayed a bit longer.

2013-01-17 Rehab: An Update on Housing Recovery by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The National Association of Home Builders' Housing Market Index has staged a record-breaking run higher. Home prices have been rising and are feeding into real mortgage rates, consumer confidence, household net worth...and pushing fence-sitters off the fence. Housing's contribution to job growth could push the unemployment rate down more quickly than many believe.

2013-01-16 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

By now you may have read more than you care to about the changes to income taxes. We avoided rushing to get you something as so many others did, so that we could provide you with some comprehensive and practical information. It is a long read, but we hope you find it to be worth your time.

2013-01-16 Haka Politics and the Slow Crawl by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

In the last few months we have seen the rise of Haka politics. Familiar to any All Blacks fan, this is the ritualistic Maori war dance, full of noise, bluster and theater. But it rarely intimidates and most opponents sit it out with some amusement. So it is with the political interventions last year. We saw countless announcements and intentions from EU leaders and solemn pledges with little follow-through. And in the US we had a soporific election and a squalid squabble over the fiscal cliff that caught the public but not the market's attention.

2013-01-16 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Retail Sales and Industrial Production Both Rise by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The charts don't all show us the individual behavior of the Big Four leading up to the 2007 recession. To achieve that goal, I've plotted the same data using a "percent off high" technique. In other words, I show successive new highs as zero and the cumulative percent declines of months that aren't new highs. The advantage of this approach is that it helps us visualize declines more clearly and to compare the depth of declines for each indicator and across time (e.g., the short 2001 recession versus the Great Recession). Here is my own four-pack showing the indicators with this technique.

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 Land of the Rising Dead by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Yes, you knew we were going to talk about Japan. It's all the rage and the big standout in market performance in the last few weeks. Since November the broad Nikkei-225 average has risen 24% because there's new thinking in town. It's hard to describe Japan's 20 year malaise. Once proud companies shaken, the shattering of a property market and total collapse of stocks. Even if the market rises at the same level of the last few months, it will take six years to re-reach its peak. A more reasonable 10% growth rate will take 14 years. Weird things happen when economies enter deflation.

2013-01-15 Forecast 2013: Unsustainability and Transition by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

As we begin a new year, we again indulge ourselves in the annual rite of forecasting the year ahead. This year I want to look out a little further than just one year in order to think about the changes that are soon going to be forced on the developed world. We are all going to have to make a very agile adaptation to a new economic environment (and it is one that I will welcome). The transition will offer both crisis and loss for those mired in the current system, which must evolve or perish, and opportunity for those who can see the necessity for change and take advantage of the evolution.

2013-01-15 Are Investors Buying into the Equity Story? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Last week we discussed the debate over active versus passive management. We believe active managers can add tremendous value in particular segments of the market, despite recent challenges. Outside of the active management discussion, many investors are deciding whether equities are a prudent place to allocate capital at this point in the market cycle. The first week of the year answered investors' opinions on that question loud and clear.

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

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

2013-01-15 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.

2013-01-15 Inflation, Still Not Taking Off Anytime Soon by Scott Brown of Raymond James

A few years ago, amid exceptionally large federal budget deficit and extraordinarily accommodative Fed policy, a number of pundits warned of impending hyperinflation. Instead, inflation has stayed low. That hasn't stopped the inflation worrywarts. It's just a matter of time, they say. Inflation "has to show up at some point." That's not an argument. There are a number of reasons to expect inflation to stay low.

2013-01-15 It's Not What Happens That Matters by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Late in 2008 and in early 2009, a group of what we like to call "brilliant pessimists" hit the airwaves with their economic theories. The prognosticators' vision of the future was and is predicated on the history of similar situations and the mathematical realities of the huge debt overhang from the prior ten years of profligate economic behavior. They put very effective names on their visions like "new normal" and "seven lean years". They marketed their visions incredibly well to the point of shaming anyone who might disagree with their theories.

2013-01-15 Declaring Victory at Halftime by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Present overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yield conditions fall within a tiny percentage of market history that is associated with dismal market outcomes, on average. Its true that we've observed extreme conditions since about March 2012 with little resolution aside from short-term declines. But the S&P 500 remains only a few percent from its March 2012 high, and if history is any guide, the extension of these unfavorable conditions is not likely to reduce the depth of the market loss that can be expected to resolve them.

2013-01-14 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Finally, a week not totally dominated by "fiscal cliff" discussions (though politicos now have their hands full with a gun control debate...what are the chances of compromise there?). Alcoa kicked off earnings season as usual and the early results lend credence to the thought that China will again be relied upon to lead any global recovery. Major banks announced major settlements as they continued to try to close the (negative) books on the financial crisis. Oil rose on Saudi production cuts.

2013-01-14 The More Things Change... by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

One crisis averted...another one on the way? Of course, but we're still positive on the US economy and stock market.

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.

2013-01-14 Population Trends, The Labor Force and a Look at the Muni Index by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

We start this week with a look at the DIVER Muni Index and then jump into a discussion about population trends, employment and wages. If you get no further than this opening, the short of it is that you really need to look closely at the data and where things are getting better really and where things are perceived to be better. This is especially so as some pundits suggest the higher tax rate on the wealthy will be beneficial to muni-land as more wealthy people seek to offset the increased tax burden.

2013-01-14 The 'Dark Continent' is Shining Bright by Team of Thomas White International

From a recipient of aid, Africa has transformed itself into a magnet attracting capital and investment.

2013-01-14 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Another quiet week in early January as the earnings season is about to gear up.

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.

2013-01-11 Charting the U.S. Employment Situation by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

The continuing jobless claims relative to past measurements has been a chart we like to detail to show the more psychological impact of where we stand and the sentiment about the employment situation. As we have shown, the current level is just below the high points of past recessions (recessions denoted by gray rectangles). Although we are approaching the long-term average, currently 6.7% above the 30-year average, the negative sentiment is understandable.

2013-01-11 ECRI's Imaginary Recession: Now in Its Seventh Month by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose in the latest public data. It is now at 128.3 versus the previous week's 126.6 (which is an upward revision from 126.4). Likewise the WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose, now at 5.1, up from last week's 5.0. WLIg has been in expansion territory since August 24th, although it is off its 6.0 interim high on October 12th.

2013-01-11 Fed Policy Update: Waiting for Clearer Criteria for Open-Ended Asset Purchases by Alan Levenson of T. Rowe Price

The FOMC's shift from dates to economic conditions as the basis for policy rate guidance clarified the criteria for beginning rate hikes. The criteria for ceasing open-ended asset purchases are not clear, and may reflect not only the evolution of the labor market recovery but also concerns about financial stability and the size of the Fed's balance sheet. We expect the Fed to try to clarify these criteria in the months ahead. Asset purchases will end a "considerable time" before policy rate hikes commence, and rate hikes will commence before asset sales.

2013-01-11 Pacific Basin Market Overview - December 2012 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Equity markets ended the year on an upbeat note, shrugging off concerns over the impending "fiscal cliff" while focusing on better economic data from the U.S. and China. In Japan, expectations of a higher inflation target and a depreciating yen brought some overseas investors back to the Tokyo stock market. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index including Japan gained 5.6%, while the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Free Index also closed 5.6% higher in the October-December quarter of 2012.

2013-01-11 Special Edition: The Outlook for 2013 by Team of Northern Trust

At this time of the year we typically get warm and generous wishes for the New Year and, of course, numerous questions about what our crystal ball has in store for 2013. While many economists publish their perspectives prior to January 1, we opted to wait in the hope of having a clear fiscal picture for the United States. A lot of good that did us...

2013-01-10 Market Perspectives Q4 2012: Politics vs. Economics by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

The major news of the quarter was that a fiscal cliff deal passed in the final hours of the 112th Congress and was signed by President Obama. The deal averts tax increases on most Americans and prevents large indiscriminate cuts in spending in many government programs. It also averted, by nearly universal consensus among macroeconomists, tipping the American economy into recession with attendant global implications.

2013-01-10 Finally, a Solution to the Income Investing Dilemma by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

There's an endangered species in the investment industry today and it goes by the name of "yield." With continued downward pressure from the Federal Reserve, both short-term and long-term interest rates have been held to artificially low levels. And each new announcement from the Fed seems to extend the outlook for low interest rates farther into the future.

2013-01-10 A Brighter Picture for Jobs and the Economy by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Promising fundamental developments suggest that U.S. economic expansion is likely to continue and equities will rise in the first quarter.

2013-01-10 Defense as a Good Offense by Brian Frank of Frank Capital Partners

Oddly, defensive names that ordinarily trade at premiums to the market are trading at big value discounts. These companies that have the ability to grow in any economic environment are a part of the portfolio, as well as companies riding pockets of growth around the globe. There is a lot to be excited about in 2013 for value stocks.

2013-01-09 Waiting for Godot by Sam Stewart of Wasatch Funds

Like the enigmatic title character in Waiting for Godot, clear signals of U.S. economic health remain much anticipated but elusive. The year 2012 saw consumers and businesses mimicking the Samuel Beckett play   - with optimists waiting for things to get better and pessimists waiting for things to get worse.

2013-01-09 Ten Acts for Chairman Bernanke in January 2013 by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernankes term ends in January 2014, and it is unclear whether he will stay on for another. We expect Bernanke will muster every means he can over the next year to help the U.S. and indeed the world emerge from a gloomy time.Here, then, are 10 items we suggest for Ben Bernankes to-do list in 2013.

2013-01-08 Should Bonuses be Tied to Performance? by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We do performance reviews for our staff every year. I do not believe performance should be directly linked to bonuses – they are different topics. But my COO says that we should divvy up the profit pool based on everyone's performance. Who is right?

2013-01-08 The Forecast for Risk in 2013 by Geoff Considine (Article)

With the new year upon us, pundits are issuing their forecasts of market returns for 2013 and beyond. But returns don't occur in a vacuum – meeting clients' goals requires an asset allocation that appropriately balances return and risk. So what follows are my predictions for risk across major asset classes, based on a theoretically sound approach that has proven to be reliable in the past.

2013-01-08 Crystal Ball Gazing by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

Several recent government announcements are likely to impact the global economy and equity markets over the medium term. In order of importance these are: the Federal Open Market Committee pledge to target zero interest rates until unemployment reaches 6.5%; the new government in Japan, under an increasingly monetarist LDP leadership; commitments by the new Chinese leadership to boost domestic infrastructure and consumption; and finally, the softening line of the Republicans on the fiscal cliff.

2013-01-08 Brave New Start to the Year by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Well that was fun. Negotiations went to the brink, we had politicians dropping the "F" bomb a few steps from the Oval Office, the Senate described as "sleep deprived octogenarians" by a congressman and an all around feeling that it was better than nothing. Welcome to the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which actually, er...raises taxes for everyone. That's right. No one in 2013 pays less than they paid in 2012. This is our best estimate of the fall out. It's definitely better than what was at risk back in November but it's still a net drag on the economy of around 1.0%.

2013-01-08 The Cliff, the Fed, and the Economy by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The budget deal removes a major uncertainty for the financial markets. We now know what tax rates will be. However, the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) has a number of drawbacks. The December 11-12 FOMC policy meeting minutes showed a split among Fed officials, but that doesn't necessarily mean that asset purchases will end any sooner. The economic data reports have been mixed but generally indicate that the recovery is in reasonable shape.

2013-01-08 From Cliff to Ceiling: No Clear Signal for Investors by Libby Cantrill, Josh Thimons of PIMCO

We expect the last minute deal in the lame duck session to result in about 1.3% of GDP contraction, slightly less than our earlier prediction of about 1.5%. The compromise eliminated (or at least delayed) the possibility of the most damaging equity market outcomes. The deal failed to set up a framework for structural deficit reform in 2013. Almost immediately, Congress must address the debt ceiling, the sequester and the continuing resolution to keep the government funded.

2013-01-08 Early 2013 Looks to Feature Slow Growth and Ongoing Fiscal Drama by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

Stock markets started 2013 off with a bang, as investors expressed relief over the down-to-the-wire agreement on the fiscal cliff that came on January 1. For the week, the Dow Jones industrial average jumped 3.8% to 13,435, the S&P 500 index rose 4.6% to 1,466 and the Nasdaq composite advanced 4.8% to 3,101. Although the deal reached last week was good news for the markets, Washington's fiscal soap opera is far from over. Although the deal reached last week was good news for the markets, Washingtons fiscal soap opera is far from over.

2013-01-08 Another Lost Year for Active Management by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

There is no doubt that 2012 will be remembered by many investors, for reasons both good and otherwise. One group less likely to remember the good of 2012 is active managers. Across the universe of hedge funds and mutual funds, relatively few were able to outperform their comparative benchmarks. This continues a long running trend of active managers lagging their less active counterparts and raises many questions about the efficacy of active management.

2013-01-07 Restricted Room for Higher Rates by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Interest rates should rise through 2013, however, the level to which they can increase will be limited by the Federal Reserve's ongoing attempt to stimulate activity in the housing market.

2013-01-07 Jobless Claims, a Surprising Result, Philly Fed and Ambr by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week we provide some thoughts on the recent Cliff deal and plunge into some surprising data regarding jobless claims. We conclude with a look at the Philly Feds Leading Index.

2013-01-07 White Noise? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

"Investing in the financial markets necessarily involves one's ability to change perspectives over time... And there's more of the white noise than ever before."... The Contrary Investor.com. So said the Contrary Investor; and I could not agree more given my sense that the media remains "long" volatility. Indeed, every time volatility increases, so do my phone calls from the financial media as they feel "compelled to come up with rationales for daily movements in asset prices;" last week was no exception.

2013-01-07 Investments That May Keep Me Up at Night in 2013 by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The outlook for 2013 is quite improved compared with 2012. Domestic economic growth prospects are significantly less troublesome. The election is over. Europe has (painfully) slowly made progress in reducing its own budget problems. It is not all clear sailing, however. (It never is.) Europe remains a work in progress. All of the geopolitical risks of 2012, notably North Korea, Iran, and all of the rest of the Middle East, remain on the docket in 2013. And the battle over the U.S. budget will resume in the near future.

2013-01-07 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

The stock market has started the New Year in fine shape, relieved that President Obama's threat to raise taxes to the moon on capital gains and dividends were thwarted with the deal agreed to on New Year's Day.

2013-01-06 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Welcome to a new beginning, a new yeara new optimistic investor, a new bipartisan Congress, (well, maybe not). The more things change, the more they stay the same. While investors embraced the budget deal (that is less of a deal than a procrastination), the pragmatists realize that very little has changed other than the "fiscal can" has been kicked down the road for two months. Stocks skyrocketed; bonds plunged; politicos bickered. Welcome to 2013.

2013-01-04 Ring in the New by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

The "year of the dragon" in 2012 certainly didnt disappoint, as the global markets battled one financial dragon after another. From the Eurozone's sovereign debt crisis to persistently high unemployment in the U.S. and a mayday call from many who worried that China's growth rate was headed for a "hard landing," 2012 certainly was interesting. As we turn the calendar page to 2013, the Eurozone seems to be in less-critical condition and China's economic growth still appears to be flying but as of this writing, the U.S. debt problems still haven't been solved.

2013-01-04 In 2013, Resolve to Follow the Money by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

During these first days of January, many adopt an out with the old, in with the new, approach to shed bad habits or extra pounds. Washington opted for its same ol strategy when averting the fiscal cliff, as the addictive nature of can-kicking is a transatlantic sport, according to The Economist. The short-term fix did nothing to control the unsustainable path of entitlement spending on pensions and health care nothing to rationalize Americas hideously complex and distorted tax code... and virtually nothing to close Americas big structural budget deficit.

2013-01-04 The US Congress Kicked the Fiscal Cliff Down the Road by Team of Northern Trust

The US Congress kicked the fiscal cliff down the road. Holiday sales in the US were tepid. December's job report will not impress the Fed

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.

2013-01-03 Money for Nothin' Writing Checks for Free by Bill Gross of PIMCO

It was Milton Friedman, not Ben Bernanke, who first made reference to dropping money from helicopters in order to prevent deflation. Bernanke's now famous "helicopter speech" in 2002, however, was no less enthusiastically supportive of the concept. In it, he boldly previewed the almost unimaginable policy solutions that would follow the black swan financial meltdown in 2008.

2013-01-03 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Welcome to the end of 2012. Investors are hardly basking in the glow of a positive year for stocks. They are less than enthusiastic about the recovery in housing. They seem to be overlooking the actions of the Fed and the implications for the indefinite low rate environment. Two words remain firmly entrenched in the minds. FISCAL CLIFF. What say you (besides bickering and backstabbing)Prez O, Speaker Boehner, Senators McConnell and Reid? Time is running out and five straight down days proves that investors are growing more and more nervous. Happy New Year (I think).

2013-01-03 Grin and Bear It. by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Without question, the financial markets yielded better in 2012 than what most had believed possible at the beginning of the calendar year. At that time, embroiled in a U.S. Presidential election and ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, many analysts would have been happy if we simply avoided catastrophe.

2013-01-03 High Yield Market Overview December 1, 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 0.74% in November, as high yield investors focused on the fiscal cliff and the risk that the U.S. government fails to negotiate a resolution.

2013-01-03 2013 Forecast: Good Economy, Challenged Markets by Douglas Cote, Karyn Cavanaugh of ING Investment Management

We enter 2013 bombarded by conflicting signals. While fundamentals have been mixed of late, longer-term themes our "tectonic shifts" like the energy revolution are gaining momentum and promising to make positive contributions sooner rather than later. And while salutary measures taken by policymakers have eased global risks and lessened fears of Armageddon, there is considerable work yet to be done.

2013-01-03 And That's the Quarter that Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Politics ruled the day over the past three months (and beyond) and unfortunately the trend may very well continue as the averted "fiscal cliff" was merely postponed for another two months. For now, investors are happy, but what will tomorrow bring? (That's a question for you, Prez Obama and Speaker Boehner.) Happy New Year

2013-01-03 Korea's First Female President by Michael Han of Matthews Asia

South Korea's president-elect Park Geun Hye will become the country's first female leader when she takes office in late February for a single five-year term. The tight December race drew much attention as well as the highest voter turnout (over 70%) for Korea in over a decade. Park defeated Moon Jae In, a human rights lawyer who was once jailed for opposing the dictatorial regime of Park's father, Park Chung Hee.

2013-01-02 Washington Squanders its Gift of Time by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

As the clock winds down on 2012, the Fiscal Cliff is all anyone seems capable of discussing. Right now it appears that some sort of narrow deal has just emerged that will include raising tax rates on family income over $450,000 a year, increasing the estate tax rate, extending unemployment benefits for one year, and delaying spending cuts. But the prospect of higher taxes and the great uncertainty that has surrounded this fiscal fiasco has been acting like sand in the gears of the complex but sputtering U.S. economy.

2012-12-31 Brief Holiday Update by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Though our concerns still weigh heavily toward the defensive side, there are hints of progress toward the resolution of the lopsided market conditions we've seen.

2012-12-31 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Welcome to the end of 2012. Investors are hardly basking in the glow of a positive year for stocks. They are less than enthusiastic about the recovery in housing. They seem to be overlooking the actions of the Fed and the implications for the indefinite low rate environment. Two words remain firmly entrenched in the minds. FISCAL CLIFF. What say you (besides bickering and backstabbing)Prez O, Speaker Boehner, Senators McConnell and Reid? Time is running out and five straight down days proves that investors are growing more and more nervous. Happy New Year (I think).

2012-12-28 The Year's Surprises in Gasoline, Oil and Resources Stock Prices by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

On Wednesday, I talked about three of the top 10 commentaries that were popular over 2012. Here are a few more to highlights.

2012-12-28 Capitol "Cliffhanger": Thriller or Chiller? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Whatever the outcome of the last-minute jockeying in Washington, meaningful fiscal reform remains unlikely.

2012-12-26 Gundlach's High-Conviction Investment Idea by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Count Jeffrey Gundlach among those who expect Japan's currency to collapse because it can't service its debt. Japan's challenges may parallel those that the US faces, and Gundlach feels strongly that they have created a compelling investment opportunity.

2012-12-26 The Ten Key Benefits of Investment Committees by Bob Veres (Article)

In this first part of a two-part report, I'll identify ten core purposes that investment committees serve in different types of firms, ranking them in order of the number of responses I received. If your investment committee is serving all ten purposes, based on the survey, you're among a select minority - which means that many advisors may find new ways to use this versatile new tool in their RIA practices.

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

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

2012-12-26 Assessing ISG's "Ten for '12" by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman

Earlier this year, we offered a forward-looking view of 10 macro themes that we anticipated for 2012. These ideas were meant not to be "surprises" but rather guideposts within the context of a longer-term strategic allocation. At year-end, we are pleased to note that seven of our 10 themes fully materialized. We provide a brief look below.

2012-12-26 Why China is a Reason for Optimism by Robert Horrocks of Matthews Asia

"China has taught me how to think about growth. Consider its stable political environment: it has gone from revolutionary upheaval to smooth (almost boring) transitions of power."

2012-12-26 Over The Cliff by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Leaders in Washington failed to reach an agreement on the fiscal cliff. What does that mean for the 2013 outlook?

2012-12-24 Aspirin for a Broken Femur by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The Federal Reserve under Bernanke is like a bad doctor facing a patient with a broken femur. Being both unable and unwilling to restructure the broken bone, he announces that he will keep shoving aspirin down the patient's throat until the bone heals.

2012-12-21 Farewell to Inflation Targeting? by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

In a four-day period in mid-December, three seemingly unrelated developments suggested that modern central banking is in the midst of an historic change. To the extent that this shift gains momentum which appears likely it will affect economic performance, the functioning of markets, and asset-price valuations.

2012-12-21 Year-End Capital Markets Forecast by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates

What looks best for 2013? Given financial repression in developed marketspolicies that prolong negative real interest ratesemerging market local currency sovereign bonds are likely to outperform their developed market counterparts. For equities, both developed (ex-U.S.) and emerging markets offer more attractive valuations and better dividend yields than U.S. stocks.

2012-12-21 Egypt's Arab Winter by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

It's been almost two years since the "Arab Spring" swept North Africa and the Middle East, and with it, grand hopes for change. Sometimes, change doesn't happen as quickly as the people would like, and oftentimes it can be a messy process. That is certainly true in Egypt right now, a country that is still in the throes of shaping its future. The ousting of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 didn't instantly transform the nation into a model of democracy, and the country is currently deliberating the best way forward via public debates, protests and the election process.

2012-12-21 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Personal Incomes Improve Significantly By Doug Short by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The weight of these four in the decision process is sufficient rationale for the St. Louis FRED repository to feature achart four-packof these indicators along with the statement that "the charts plot four main economic indicators tracked by the NBER dating committee." Here are the four as identified in the Federal Reserve Economic Data repository. See the data specifics in the linkedPDF filewith details on the calculation of two of the indicators.

2012-12-21 Light at the End of the Tunnel for Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Intuition was telling me something was going on these past few days in the gold market. Our investment team was watching gold and gold stocks take a tumble for no obvious reason. It wasnt only us who felt this way: many analysts were caught off-guard. One comment from Barclays Research indicated that the week was unusually brutal with quite a few confused participants with some seemingly positive aspects of the market not having an impact.

2012-12-20 The Limits of Monetary Policy by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

With unemployment levels remaining stubbornly elevated, investors should not expect a reversal of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve in 2013.

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

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

2012-12-18 Jeremy Siegel on 'Dow 15,000' by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Jeremy Siegel was one of very few individuals to have correctly predicted the strong performance of the equity markets over the last year. The Wharton professor and author of the renowned book, Stocks for the Long Run, forecasts continued strong performance for the year ahead.

2012-12-18 Three Takeaways from the Fed by David Rosenberg (Article)

The equity market likes the prospect of more money printing and the Fed's more forceful efforts to reflate the economy, and stocks are a far better inflation hedge than bonds.

2012-12-18 What's Going Right? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Discussions of the fiscal cliff are capturing investor's attention, largely at the expense of trends pointing in the right direction. Year-end is synonymous with future prognostications, but current indicators suggest there is reason to be optimistic about the turn of the calendar this holiday season.

2012-12-18 The Fed's Giant Stride by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

FOMC: The news from this meeting was widely telegraphed (see Yellen, Evans, etc. last month) but produced some real and welcome developments. Here's the quick summary.

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

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

2012-12-17 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Time for some year-end window dressing (before investments fall off the fiscal cliff). With little to no progress to report on the budget, politicos continue trying to earn brownie points at home, while losing them in the press. Investors still seem to believe a deal will be reached, but with the holidays (and vacations) approaching, time is really of the essence. Retailers and manufacturers rebounded in November from superstorm Sandy, but the cliff still looms as a definite possibility.

2012-12-17 Roach Motel Monetary Policy by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Monetary policy has become a roach motel easy enough to get into, but impossible to exit.

2012-12-17 Fed Talks Louder, To Little Avail by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

When someone doesn't speak your language, yet you must communicate, funny things can happen. At first, most just talk normally, hoping the message somehow gets through with a hand gesture or two. If that doesn't work, some people start talking really slowly. And if all else fails, how about saying it REALLY LOUDLY, and emphatically, to finally get our point across. That's where the Federal Reserve is today. In its own collective mind, it has a very important message to convey: that monetary policy is going to be as expansionary as necessary to get this economic recovery off the ground.

2012-12-17 Growing Dividends by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Dividends are rising rapidly. I'm not referring to the surge in special dividend payments that are intended to get ahead of the expected hike in tax rates on dividends in 2013, although that's also significant. I am referring to the ongoing week after week hike in regular dividends being reported by companies, as firms cope with high level of cash flow that adds to their record cash position. Stocks are cheap and growing dividends will only make them appear even cheaper.

2012-12-17 The Fed's New Math and What It Means by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Central bankers are scrapping the use of a timeline to determine how long to keep interest rates at record lows. Rather, they will tie rate increases to specific unemployment and inflation targets. There is definitely more clarity around the Fed's decision making now than ever. The question is, will such "outcome targeting" really change the outcome? In looking at the last three economic recoveries, the average time it took for unemployment to fall from 7.7%, our current level, to 6.5%, was 26.6 months.

2012-12-17 2013: A Year in Global Emerging Markets by Allan Conway of Schroders Investment Management

We expect emerging market equities to deliver solid performance during 2013 and perform even better over the longer term. Emerging markets look extremely attractive in terms of valuations. We believe the Chinese economy has stabilised and will see a modest recovery next year and that tail risks in the developed world have been reduced for now by central bank policy.

2012-12-17 The Fed: Targets, Thresholds, Guideposts, and Goals by Scott Brown of Raymond James

As expected, Federal Open Market Committee announced that purchases of Treasuries will be added to QE3 in 2013 (the Fed will continue to buy $40 billion per month in mortgage-backed securities and $45 billion per month in long-term Treasuries). Fed policymakers also announced threshold guidance on the overnight lending rate, which will make the Fed's policy intentions clearer, and that's a good thing.

2012-12-17 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

It's not surprising that the markets responded with a resounding "so what" to Fiscal Cliff negotiations in Congress, and a Federal Reserve pronouncement that it intends to tie low interest rates to low unemployment for the foreseeable future, in order to maintain whatever stimulus effect low-cost borrowing might be having upon economic development.

2012-12-15 Looking Back to Look Ahead by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Markets have been more focused on short-term forces; not least being Washington and the fiscal cliff negotiations. But taking a step back and gaining some longer-term perspective can help investors better weather short-term volatility. Even beyond the fiscal cliff, Washington and fiscal policy will likely remain in focus next year. Monetary policy is also front-and-center with the Fed maintaining its extremely accommodative policy and targeting specific economic conditions instead of providing calendar guidance. Europe managed to make it through the year, but challenges and risks remain.

2012-12-15 A Face-Off Between Passive and Active Investing by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Exchange-traded funds continued to attract assets in 2012 while money has been exiting mutual funds. Still a majority of assets continue to be invested in actively managed products: As of the end of 2011, of the nearly $13 trillion invested in funds, index and exchange-traded funds comprise only about 8 percent, according to the Investment Company Institute.

2012-12-15 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

So help us understandwhere did 2012 go? While we know time really fly, it sure feels like it does when we think that 12 months have almost passed. We want to wish you and your family the happiest of holidays! Please remember the women and men serving in our Armed Forces, especially those overseas.

2012-12-15 Fed Announces QE4 Starting Next Year by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

I continue to believe that President Obama is willing to let the economy go over the cliff and blame the Republicans. Obama is hell-bent on raising taxes on those in the top two brackets; he campaigned on it; and I dont think he will back off. It remains to be seen if the Republicans will cave.

2012-12-14 FOMC Laying the Groundwork for an Exit Strategy? Investment Implications. by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments

Yesterday's FOMC meeting was a surprisingly eventful one that injected some volatility into financial markets. As expected, the Fed left its target rate of 0 - .25 percent unchanged and implemented more quantitative easing (QE). It announced additional monthly purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities of $40 billion per month and stated that "The Committee also will purchase longer-term Treasury securities after its program to extend the average maturity of its holdings of Treasury securities is completed at the end of the year at a pace of $45 billion per month."

2012-12-14 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Industrial Product and Retail Sales Brighten the Picture by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

This morning I've added two more of the Big Four for November: Industrial Production from the Federal Reserve, the purple line in the chart below and Real Retail Sales, the green line.

2012-12-14 No Way Out by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

By upping the ante once again in its gamble to revive the lethargic economy through monetary action, the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee is now compelling the rest of us to buy into a game that we may not be able to afford. At his press conference this week, Fed Chairman Bernanke explained how the easiest policy stance in Fed history has just gotten that much easier. First it gave us zero interest rates, then QEs I and II, Operation Twist, and finally "unlimited" QE3.

2012-12-14 Fiscal Friction is Taking a Toll on Confidence in Washington and Rome by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Fiscal friction is taking a toll on confidence in Washington and Rome. What inflation rate should be used to index entitlements? Our updated US forecast assumes a budget resolution before year end.

2012-12-13 FOMC: More of the Same on QE, But New Language to Guide It by Team of Northern Trust

The Fed's decision to increase the scope and size of the quantitative easing program following the two-day FOMC meeting was largely expected. Its choice of new wording to express its posture came sooner than expected.

2012-12-13 Decoupling From the Eurozone by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Recent positive data releases from the U.S. and Asia seem to indicate that global investors should not expect to be severely affected by the ongoing problems in the eurozone.

2012-12-13 The Fed and The Fiscal Cliff by Evan Schnidman of Fed Playbook

President Obama and Speaker Boehner are Thelma and Louise getting ready to drive the car off the cliff with the U.S. public locked in the trunk. While the Fed may not have the power to hit the breaks for them, they could simply refuse to fill the car with gas. Instead, the FOMC decided today to top off the tank and sup-up the engine in hopes that the President can floor it to clear the ravine.

2012-12-13 Rescuing the Bond Deer from the Bond Bear by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

It's the season to talk about the man who delivers presents. No, not Santa Claus, but Fed Chairman Bernanke who has been delivering the green stuff for the past four years in a helicopter, not a sleigh... My last installment introduced the Fixed Income Bond Deer the investor caught in the headlights confused about what to do. This week we contemplate the following: should "Bond Deer" be grateful for the green stuff or frightened by the possibility that it is fueling the next bond "bear" market? The answer: it depends on how long this experiment continues.

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

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

2012-12-12 Jobs Growth, Cliff Negotiations Continue Slow Pace by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

As Russ K has said in the past, the danger posed by the fiscal cliff is not solely whether we go over the side or not it also matters what shape our economy is in before the plunge. Last week's jobs report may have seemed like good news for the latter, but unfortunately a closer look at the numbers revealed a mixed bag.

2012-12-12 To QE Infinity, and Beyond! by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

The Federal Reserve made two big changes today, but changes that were mostly anticipated by the markets.

2012-12-11 Loomis Sayles' Matt Eagan on the Macro and Fixed Income Outlook by David Schawel, CFA (Article)

In this interview, Loomis Sayles' Matt Eagan discusses the fixed income universe, Fed policy and issues facing the global macro economy. Eagan is the co-manager, along with Dan Fuss, of the Loomis Sayles Bond Fund and he manages the Loomis Sayles Strategic Alpha Bond Fund.

2012-12-11 The Death of Managed Futures? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Managed futures strategies, or systematic trend followers, have long been an important component of diversified high net worth portfolios. Because of their ability to go both long and short in more than 100 global futures markets spanning equities, currencies, commodities, rates, and bonds managed futures have historically generated very uncorrelated performance to traditional investments.

2012-12-11 Tax Reform: A First Step by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group

I rarely use this space to rant about political issues, but the recent election made it obvious just how dysfunctional the American political process has become. The ongoing financial crisis in the US will never get fixed as long as both political parties remain focused on solutions that make the problem worse. The Democrats want to give people more money to spend, claiming this will grow the economy. The Republicans want to cut taxes, so that people have more to spend, claiming that will grow the economy

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

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

2012-12-11 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

The stock market continues to have one eye on Washington DC and the other on the various global concerns of slowing growth and European disintegration. The net result was another quiet and slow week of trading.

2012-12-11 Fiscal Cliff-Hanger by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The recent economic data are consistent with a moderate pace of growth in the near term. The manufacturing sector is mixed, but generally weak, reflecting a global slowdown and an inventory correction. The consumer appears to be hanging in there. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that Hurricane Sandy did not have a significant impact on the November employment data. However, other economic indicators did reflect weather-related disruptions, which appear to have been only temporary. Meanwhile, the economy heads toward the fiscal cliff.

2012-12-10 Secular Bear Markets - Volatility Without Return by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

There is enormous risk, in my view, in the temptation to accept zero interest rates and low single-digit prospective market returns as an enduring characteristic of the financial markets while ignoring the unsustainable distortions that have produced this environment.

2012-12-10 Dwelling on a "Cliff" Deal by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

After the brinksmanship runs its course, Congress will jury-rig a fiscal compromise.

2012-12-10 Have the New Paper Clips Arrived, Enid? by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

If there's one economic stat that spans the economic/political spectrum, it's jobs. Last week's NFPs had a headline of 146,000, way above estimates, and an unemployment rate of 7.7%, the best since December 2008 and a comfortable one point below a year ago.

2012-12-10 Is QE4 Really Coming? by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

The Federal Reserve meets this week. Analysts are supposing and predicting what the statement will say and if the Fed will change its economic projections.

2012-12-08 How Gold Miners Can Leverage the Price of Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Gazing into their crystal balls this week, Wall Street firms interpreted differing futures for gold next year. Morgan Stanley awarded gold the best commodity for 2013 while Goldman Sachs called the end of the metals hot streak. After seeing 11 consecutive years of positive performance from gold, one needs to be wary of research analysts price forecasts, as they have consistently underestimated the shifting dynamics driving the precious metal higher.

2012-12-08 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

What are the margins of monetary policy? The November job report showed only modest improvement. Japan continues to struggle, with a change of government on the horizon.

2012-12-07 ECRI Weekly Update: More Recession Flag Waving by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose slightly in the latest public data. It is now at 126.8, up from an upwardly revised 126.2 in the previous week. See the WLI chart in the Appendix below. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) also rose, now at 3.5 from last week's 3.4. WLIg has been in expansion territory since August 24th, althout it is off its high at 6.0 on October 12th.

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.

2012-12-06 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks continued to bounce back from their post-election sell off. In fact for the entire month of November the popular averages were virtually unchanged. For the past week one can see from the charts above that the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat and the NASDAQ Composite gained 1.5% as Apple starts to regain some of the ground it has lost since September.

2012-12-06 From a Fiscal Cliff to a Fiscal Speed Bump by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

More granular analysis of the line items in the fiscal cliff tells a less harrowing story than what Congress and the media are presenting. The official projections are showing scary numbers for the fiscal cliff, but when we dig into the details we see that the real impact will likely be materially less significant. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the fiscal cliff adds up to a total increase in tax revenue of $631 billion, which is approximately 4% of GDP. Going through the report line by line tells a different story.

2012-12-06 Questions and Answers Surrounding the Fiscal Cliff by Team of Northern Trust

There is no resolution yet to the US fiscal cliff. It is probably unfair to have expected one by now; the clock is too far from midnight. But as the negotiations continue, several questions have been raised that deserve some reflection. 1. The two sides seem to be making statements that reflect stark disagreement. Are talks failing? 2. Is our fiscal path a cliff, or a slope? 3. There is a proposal to limit the deductions claimed by high income taxpayers. How would these work, and what are the consequences? 4. The cliff has been in the news for a long time. Why isnt everyone prepared for it?

2012-12-05 Waiting for Signs on the Fiscal Cliff and From the Fed by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Investors are stuck between a rock and a hard place: Theyre trying to plan for the end of 2012, while also looking ahead to 2013. Its being reflected in the questions Im getting from clients right now, who are worried both about the fiscal cliff and the outlook for interest rates in 2013. As we saw last week, the markets are focused on every utterance out of Washington on the fiscal cliff. For better or worse, this is unlikely to change until we have a deal. And in terms of getting to one, the truth is we did not see much progress last week.

2012-12-05 Argentinas Trials & Trubulations by Chris Maxey and Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Equity markets climbed higher for a second straight week, extending a rally that began November 16. For the week, the S&P 500 rose 0.6% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2%. In the post-mortem on Q3 earnings season, much has been made of the first quarter of negative earnings growth in three years. However, analysis by Morgan Stanley reveals an even more disturbing picture of corporate America: just 10 companies in the S&P 500 delivered 88% of the indexs earnings growth. Of those 10, four accounted for more than half and Apple alone made up nearly one-fifth of the indexs growth.

2012-12-05 Headline Roulette by Christian W. Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

That Fiscal Thing dominated the week. Every twitch out of Washington was greeted with over analysis by the press and us. Less so the markets. Truth is, markets are not very good at discounting political uncertainty. Sure, a tax scare here and a debt ceiling impasse there might lead to a sell-off but ultimately it's about earnings, corporate health and outlook and on those metrics, nothing last week really upset the markets in a major way. The bond market tends to get this right.

2012-12-04 The Big Picture by David Rosenberg (Article)

Our crystal ball says to stick with what works in an uncertain financial and economic climate - in other words, maintain a defensive and income-oriented investment strategy.

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 And Thats The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Obama meets with the nations governors and speaks before the Business Roundtable to continue drumming up support for his budget deal. (Arent most governors counted among the countrys wealthy?) Expect the bickering and blame-placing to continue until finally a small deal is reached with the majority of the work tabled for later in 2013. (How will Moodys and S&P perceive that move?) The economic calendar heats up with critical news from labor and manufacturing and retailers share insight into the holiday shopping season thus far. And Europe is never far from the radar screen.

2012-12-04 Strawberry Fields Forever? by Bill Gross of PIMCO

As John Lennon forewarned, it is getting harder to be someone, and harder to maintain the economic growth that investors have become accustomed to. The New Normal, like Strawberry Fields will take you down and lower your expectation of future asset returns. It may not last forever but it will be with us for a long, long time.

2012-12-04 How to Build a Time Machine by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

With industrial production, capacity utilization, real disposable income, real personal consumption, real sales retail and food service sales, and real manufacturing and trade sales uniformly declining in their latest reports, coincident economic indicators having generally peaked in July are now following through on the weakness that weve persistently observed in leading economic measures. We continue to believe that the U.S. economy joined a global economic downturn during the third quarter of this year.

2012-12-03 Paintballs?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Alas, if only it was that easy to paintball the rapidly approaching fiscal cliff. For those of you traveling the North Yungas Road in Bolivia and unaware of the approaching dangerous cliff, let me explain. Before beginning, however, let me preface by recalling Bill Buckleys famous lament that he would rather be governed by folks listed in the Boston phone book than Harvard professors. To be sure, there are some good politicians inside the D.C. Beltway, but not many!

2012-12-03 Housing, GDP, Lumesis Muni Index & Federal $ to the States by Gregg L. Bienstock of Lumesis

While the media is fixated on the looming cliff and having everyone and their mother opine, information about the status of our economy is of as much importance. This week we take a look at housing prices, GDP, the Coincident Index, the DIVER Muni Index and how much of each States revenue comes from the Federal Government. We keep hearing how much better the housing market is. In this regard, we routinely remind our readers that better or worse depends on from where you start. Starting pre-recession to date, only Texas, Oklahoma and the Dakotas have seen positive housing price trends.

2012-12-03 Economic Insights: Is Capital Spending Spent? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Once an area of considerable relative strength, business spending on capital goods has weakened of late. When the spending pickup began earlier in this recovery, utilization rates of existing facilities were so low that many expressed surprise. Only little of the spending went for increased capacity, of coursemost of it aimed at labor-saving equipment. But though this concentration held back the pace of hiring, it did contribute to economic growth. Now, however, it looks as though this surge has run its course, and the capital spending sector, too, has fallen into the slow slog.

2012-12-03 Watching for Cliff to Fade, Jobs to Appear by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

Investors are likely to remain volatile as the focus on the fiscal cliff will remain intense. Progress on the cliff needs to happen quickly if a compromise is to be reached. Given the sluggish nature of jobs growth, we are unlikely to see the Fed change its stance anytime soon.

2012-12-01 A Fresh Start (Hopefully) by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

For years I kept these memos away from anything related to politics. But more recently I began to discuss issues facing the US, and this has required some mention of policy and thus of politics. Ive tried very hard to be non-partisan, with a goal of not having readers know my leanings. I hope Ive succeeded; at least no one has complained. Because I found Americas recent presidential election and especially the results so fascinating, Im going to move explicitly to the field of politics, but with the same goal of non-partisan expression.

2012-12-01 The Significant Impact of U.S. Oil Production by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The Eagle Ford shale formation lies south of our headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, giving the U.S. Global investment team a firsthand, tacit perspective on the oil and gas industrys growing natural resources phenomenon. Weve witnessed how the oil activity is boosting the local economy with solid-paying jobs, a healthy housing market and strong consumer sentiment, as oil giants such as Schlumberger and Halliburton take a bigger stake in the area.

2012-12-01 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

Many nations are being reminded that when times are tough, so is budgeting. Americas energy picture is changing for the better. The EU took an "extend and pretend" strategy with Greece.

2012-12-01 The How Matters by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Market focus has clearly been on fiscal cliff negotiations. An agreement that averts the cliff would likely ignite a further near-term rally, but the ultimate solution and its components could have longer term consequences that may not be as market-friendly. US economic data has been impacted by Hurricane Sandy, but it appears modest growth is continuing; although business investment has fallen off. Housing continues to provide support and the Fed is staying the course. There are some signs of growth stabilization globally, notably in some of the emerging economies, including China.

2012-11-29 Small-Caps Pack Big Punch in Emerging Markets by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

In October, the International Monetary Fund painted a gloomier picture for global investors, as it projected slower growth due to slumping world trade and uncertainty in the West. Despite the forecast, big gains can still be unlocked in the faster-growing emerging markets. We believe the smaller stocks are holding the key.

2012-11-29 Sizing Up the Fiscal Cliff by Team of Neuberger Berman

As year-end approaches, the U.S. is inching closer to a potentially defining moment in its post-debt crisis economic recovery. A series of expiring tax cuts, spending reductions and new taxes equating to over $600 billion (or 4% of GDP), popularly known as the "fiscal cliff," are slated to take effect in early 2013.

2012-11-29 42 Days to the Fiscal Cliff! by Michael Martin of Financial Advantage

On the morning of the election, U.S. stocks sported a year‐to‐date return of 15%. Seven trading days later that figure had shrunk to 9.7%. What's going on?

2012-11-28 How Low Can They Go? by Mark Newlin of Mesirow Financial

Mesirow Financial's Fixed Income team provides insight that can help bond investors put in perspective the current low interest rate environment.

2012-11-28 November 2012 Monthly Investment Bulletin by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

Equities have rarely been so attractive yet any investor acting on the perceived wisdom of the last 50 years would scoff and keep selling: the bad news will worsen for economic activity, growth in credit, wages, consumption, employment and in several countries, political stability. Few indices are glaringly cheap as measured by Cyclically Adjusted Price to Earnings multiples (CAPE: chart p.4) with many expensive, especially in many emerging markets.

2012-11-27 Capital Formation and the Fiscal Cliff by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In today's economic environment, we often complain about volatility and uncertainty, but there is one thing I think we can be fairly certain of: taxes are going up. I constantly try to impress upon my kids, most of whom are now adults, that ideas and actions have consequences. In todays letter we will look at some of the consequences of an increase in taxes. Please note that this is different from arguing whether taxes should rise or fall. For all intents and purposes that debate is over

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 Over the Cliff: Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles on the Looming Deficit Crises by Michael Skocpol (Article)

As President Obama and Congressional leaders hurtle Thelma-and-Louise-style toward a budgetary precipice, another deficit-tackling duo hit the road earlier this month to deliver a simple message: This all could have been avoided.

2012-11-27 A Critique of Grantham and Gordon: The Prospects for Long-term Growth by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

The vigorous global economic growth of the last two centuries is over, according to Jeremy Grantham and Robert Gordon. That prediction, if correct, has profound and worrisome implications for investors. And the short-term trend is indeed disquieting: Growth has been close to zero over the last decade in advanced countries. But the most likely outcome is that per capita GDP growth going forward will approximate its U.S. historical average of 1.8%, and it will grow faster in developing markets.

2012-11-26 Deja Vu All Over Again by Tony Crescenzi, Andrew Bosomworth, Lupin Rahman, Ben Emons of PIMCO

If the eurozone is to endure, it will require reduced economic differences among countries and larger common fiscal capacity. Emerging market central banks are likely to remain in wait-and-see mode while looking to the U.S. for clarity on the fiscal negotiations and domestic macro prints for signs of moderation in both inflation and activity. While central banks in advanced economies have not traditionally used explicit policies to target exchange rates, the European debt crisis may change all that.

2012-11-26 Median Household Incomes: The "Real" Story by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The traditional source of household income data is the Census Bureau, which publishes annual household income data each September for the previous year. Sentier Research, an organization that focuses on income and demographics, offers a more up-to-date glimpse of household incomes by accessing the Census Bureau data and publishing monthly updates.

2012-11-26 Employment, Jobs and the Next Generation by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Thanksgiving offers us a time to reflect on all we have to be thankful for and to share time with family and friends. There is so much to be thankful for while misfortune is evident when you check the news we live in democracy, the wealthiest country on the planet and have a resiliency that is demonstrated every time we, as a nation, are tested.

2012-11-26 Monetary and Fiscal Policy in Early 2013 by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The fiscal cliff refers to a substantial tightening of fiscal policy in 2013. Monetary policy cannot offset the cliffs negative effect on the economy. However, it would be surprising if a deal were not reached, if not by the end of this year, then in early 2013. Due to concerns about the long-term budget picture, some of the cliff is almost certain to get through.

2012-11-26 Buying Treasuries and Avoiding Stocks Not the Way to Go by John Buckingham of AFAM

While we know better than to make too much out of a low-volume rally, especially during a holiday-shortened trading week, it was interesting to hear what The Wall Street Journal had to say one week ago at this time. As the publication helped ready investors for the week ahead, one story advised folks to head toward the safety of U.S. Treasury securities: "Expect safe-haven Treasurys to draw demand at the expense of stocks in the coming weeks, bucking a seasonal trend that has often favored riskier assets."

2012-11-26 Fiscal Cliff: An Emerging Markets' View by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Now that the U.S. presidential election is over and President Barack Obama has been re-elected to serve a second four-year term, we're able to do what we always do after a major election or regime change, and that's examine the potential implications of policy changes on our investments. As our team sees it, there are two main factors for global investors to consider: the U.S. economy's future health, and President Obama's foreign policy stance toward key countries, particularly China.

2012-11-26 Overlooking Overvaluation by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Presently, on the basis of smooth fundamentals such as revenues, book values, dividends and cyclically-adjusted earnings, the S&P 500 is somewhere between 40-70% above pre-bubble valuation norms, depending on the measure. That's about the same point they reached at the beginning of the 1965-1982 secular bear period, as well as the 1987 peak.

2012-11-26 Japan: After the Quake, After the Floods by Richard Mattione of GMO

Japan's recovery from the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 has been so astounding that people rarely even think about the tsunami anymore. Even fewer remember that heavy rains in Thailand further disrupted the global production chain at the end of 2011. With so much accomplished, why do so few Japanese companies see bright days ahead?

2012-11-26 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Investors breathed a sigh of relief (perhaps temporarily) and expressed thanks in the form of the strongest week in the market in several months (though on light volume). Domestically, housing data confirmed strength in the sector and retailers opened their doors earlier than usual with the hope that "if you open, they will come." Overseas, Europe's struggles continued, though manufacturing in China looked to be on the mend. Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the weekend; after all, next week starts the home stretch for the end of the year...(and the fiscal cliff).

2012-11-23 Five Amazing Global Consumer Trends by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Fifth Avenue no longer the worlds most expensive retail location. China set to be the second largest luxury market by 2017. Viva Macau is gaming capital of the world. Inexpensive Indian Aakash 2 could revolutionize tablet industry. Emerging market residents don't need a bank account to pay with their mobile wallet.

2012-11-23 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Index Rises, Growth Diminishes by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose slightly in the latest public data (released Wednesday in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday). It is now at 125.7, up from 125.4 in the previous week. See the WLI chart in the Appendix below. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) declined to 3.8, down from last week's 4.3. WLIg has been in expansion territory for thirteen weeks, although it is now at a seven-week low, with the high at 6.0 on October 12th.

2012-11-22 Emerging Asias Rising Productivity by Robert Horrocks of Matthews Asia

Per capita GDP in China has tripled in purchasing power parity terms in the last decade yet Chinese workers still likely have their most productive years ahead of them. Asia as a whole has seen consumption increase by a third since the global financial crisis, even as the West has languished. This month, Robert Horrocks, writes about what is key to the emerging opportunities in Asia: Productivity.

2012-11-22 Economic Update by Carl Tannenbaum and Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

A look beneath the surface reveals a housing sector still struggling with post-crisis transition. The Federal Reserve is intent on promoting a broader recovery in this area.

2012-11-21 Reflections: Primate in Distress by John Gilbert of GR-NEAM

The enthusiastic response of the capital markets to the Federal Reserve's announcement of the third quantitative easing program is, of course, just what they intended. It recalls the even more ebullient response to the ECB's Long Term Refinancing Operation announcement late last year.

2012-11-21 ...'Til Debt (Limit) Do Us Part by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Last week I discussed the "fiscal cliff" and the political battle that entails. If lawmakers cant come together for a solution before the end of the year, the economy is almost certainly headed for a recession or worse in 2013 and beyond. But there's a potentially even bigger battle coming up in the next couple of months.

2012-11-20 Fix the Debt! by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

In the "normal" course of a U.S. election, investors typically breathe a sigh of relief when the results come in, with at least one layer of market uncertainty removed. This time around, the political squabbling hasn't ended with the close of the polls on November 6. The debate about the "fiscal cliff," a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes set to go into effect on January 1, 2013, has heightened. Market volatility since the election seems to have heightened, too.

2012-11-20 Companies Grapple With Pressure from All Sides by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

As we move closer to closing the books on another earnings cycle, it is time to look back at the hits and misses for the quarter. Unfortunately, this quarter brought more misses than investors have seen in quite some time, despite a greatly reduced bar. The outlook also leaves something to be desired, with companies cutting forward guidance and analysts ratcheting down estimates for the next two quarters.

2012-11-20 Where Will the Jobs Come From? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

For the last year, as I travel around, it seems a main topic of conversation is "Where will my kids find jobs?" It is a topic I am all too familiar with. Where indeed? Youth unemployment in the US is 17.1%. If you are in Europe the problem is even more pronounced. The basket case that is Greece has youth unemployment of 58%, and Spain is close at 55%. Portugal is at 36% and in Italy its 35%. France is over 25%. Is this just a cyclical symptom of the credit crisis?

2012-11-20 Bumpy End To The Year by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Europe would like to have America's problems. Here we have declining public spending, increasing receipts, falling debt to GDP ratios and unemployment 3% below the European average. This puts the Fiscal Cliff (and I was so hoping to avoid that clich) debate somewhat in context. It's serious enough to draw the attention of corporate CEOs, put a heavy dampener on business confidence, which we saw in the recent NFIB report, and postpone hiring plans and capital investment, which showed up in last week's Empire and Philly Fed surveys.

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.

2012-11-19 Q3 2012 Market Commentary by Jon Sundt of Altegris

Decisive actions by central bankers altered the course of global markets in the third quarter of 2012 at least temporarily.

2012-11-19 Monetary and Fiscal Policy in Early 2013 by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The fiscal cliff refers to a substantial tightening of fiscal policy in 2013. Monetary policy cannot offset the cliff's negative effect on the economy. However, it would be surprising if a deal were not reached, if not by the end of this year, then in early 2013. Due to concerns about the long-term budget picture, some of the cliff is almost certain to get through.

2012-11-19 On Wealth Effects of Fed Policies: Housing Is Likely The Bright Spot by Chun Wang of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

We've mentioned before the rapidly waning effect of the Fed policies. October was a good proof of that, with the S&P 500 index down about 2% (top chart). The stock market is no doubt part of the wealth effect the Fed was trying to create, but home prices, which represent the bulk of the average person's net worth, and personal income should also be considered a big part of the wealth effect.

2012-11-19 Will the "Cliff" Steal Christmas? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Probably not. Here's how a last-minute deal on spending cuts and tax hikes could work.

2012-11-17 Three Events That Sum Up the Week by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

India regained its title as the strongest performing market, overtaking the greater China area, as the country experienced a bounceback in demand due to improved sentiment during the festival season. The Federal Housing Administration reported that it has exhausted its reserves, possibly requiring a bailout from U.S. taxpayers for the first time ever in its nearly 80-year history. The global economic picture came into focus a little more this week with the announcement of Chinas new leadership.

2012-11-17 States and the Cliff, Todays WSJ More to Consider by Gregg L. Bienstock of Lumesis

Many State and local governments have already taken steps to trim the fat. Absent a practical and constructive solution from our elected officials, we face the prospect of businesses cutting back and the Federal Government using a hatchet when a scalpel is needed. The potential impact on our already fragile recovery is difficult to fathom.

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

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

2012-11-16 November Fundamentals by Chris Brightman of Research Affiliates

For the second half of the 20th century, U.S. gross domestic product growth averaged 3.3% per year. This growth was driven by a combination of rising population and employment rates and increased productivity. But all three of these factors are slowing or declining. What does this mean for future growth?

2012-11-16 China's New Guard by Robert Horrocks of Matthews Asia

The Chinese Communist Party has selected a new leader. Actually, it has anointed a new leader that it already selected some time ago. We have known for at least a year that the new leader would be Xi Jinping, son of a reformist-minded early communist revolutionary, who held power in China's southern state of Guangdong as it led China's charge to create a market-based economy open to the rest of the world. Xi's pedigree, therefore, is assumed to be pro-reformist.

2012-11-16 Central Bankers Take Steps Where Politicians Fear to Tread by John Remmert of Franklin Templeton Investments

In the past few years, many global central banks have enacted various measures to stimulate their respective economiesin some cases without the support of fiscal measuresand sometimes to little effect. John Remmert, senior vice president and senior portfolio manager for Franklin Equity Group, shares his insights on why central banks have acted in some cases where politicians seemed fearful to tread.

2012-11-16 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: The Slippage Continues by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined again in the numbers released today. It is now at 125.4, down from its interim high of 127.6 set five weeks earlier. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) also declined, now at 4.4, down from last week's downard revision to 5.0. WLIg has been in expansion territory for twelve weeks, although it is now at a five-week low, with the revised high at 6.0 on October 12th.

2012-11-16 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Retail Sales and Industrial Production by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Official recession calls are the responsibility of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which is understandably vague about the specific indicators on which they base their decisions. This committee statement is about as close as they get to identifying their method.

2012-11-16 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum, Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

The focus on the fiscal cliff cannot be overstated. It is very hard for the world's central banks to set rules governing monetary policy. The troika charged with addressing Greece has some internal disagreement.

2012-11-15 Too Low for Too Long by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The Federal Reserve faces the risk of inducing a sell-off in bonds similar to that which occurred in 1994 when Dr. Greenspan tightened credit conditions after maintaining an artificially low interest rate environment for an extended period.

2012-11-15 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Obviously, I am very discouraged with the outcome of the election. The main mistake Spencer and I made (and others including Gallup, Rasmussen, Pew, Rove, Morris, etc., etc.) in our pre-election analysis was to significantly underestimate the turnout rates among Democrats. The widely-held view that Democrats were unenthused and wouldn't turn out to vote, as suggested by numerous pollsters, was simply wrong. Obama won both the popular vote and the Electoral College comfortably.

2012-11-15 Nothing Changed by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover of Broadleaf Partners

Many events have transpired since our mid-September update, but not much has really changed. Economic growth should remain slow for as far as the eyes can see, as each region of the world struggles with its own version of the New Normal. Capitalistic animal spirits have gone the way of the modern American male and while not completely extinct, he's decidedly more metrosexual. Flannel has ceded ground to the skinny jean and ambition has given way to contentment. Save for the halls of America's top military brass, unbridled passion is simply no longer.

2012-11-14 U.S. Economic and Interest Rate Outlook - November 2012 by Carl Tannenbaum, Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

Our updated forecast anticipates some movement on the "fiscal cliff."

2012-11-14 Helplessly Hoping...That a Market Riot Isn't Needed for Fiscal Cliff Fix by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

A status-quo election puts the "fiscal cliff" front and center. The stock market's knee-jerk reaction was to sell; could further weakness light a fire under politicians? Good news has come from recent economic numbers, but sentiment will remain under pressure until the fiscal cliff is resolved.

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 Europe: Opportunity of a Generation by David Marcus of Evermore Global Advisors

A difficult political and economic backdrop is masking exceptional opportunities in European markets for discerning, long-term oriented investors. Evermore believes that there is a generational opportunity to build significant wealth by selectively investing in catalyst-driven, deep value European securities, trading at depressed valuations.

2012-11-13 Addressing the Fiscal Cliff by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The 2012 election put a major uncertainty behind us. We now know that Barack Obama will remain president and that Congress will be split. However, a major uncertainty lies ahead with the fiscal cliff. The danger is that a deal wont be reached soon and may get tangled with efforts to raise the debt ceiling

2012-11-13 Central Bank Insurance by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

"If you want to enjoy life, go to Buenos Aires. If you want to do business, go to Sao Paulo," the saying goes. It is hard to get an impression of a country by going to a city of 20 million people. It is like visiting New York City and thinking you can understand the United States. But I never fail to enjoy myself in Brazil.

2012-11-13 China's Transition Occurring at a Critical Time by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

While the presidential election in the U.S. was on the forefront of most investors' minds, current events in China could be equally important to the global economy. China is going through a political transition at the same time as it seeks to re-balance its economy. Whether those efforts will be successful remains a great unknown.

2012-11-13 Scotland: The Same, Only Better? by Bill O'Grady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

As the Eurozone countries are trying to find the functional balance between national sovereignty and Eurozone-wide central control on the national level, fractures are also appearing within the nation states themselves. Additionally, the Northern European countries are questioning the extent to which they should be expected to bail out the Southern countries, while the wealthier regions of the nation states reason that they would be more efficient in managing their internal fiscal budgets.

2012-11-13 Sequestration - What It Means for the Municipal Bond Market by Michael Taylor of Columbia Management

If Congress fails to quickly reach an agreement on deficit reductions, automatic cuts to federal discretionary spending (sequestration) are scheduled to take effect January 2, 2013. On September 14, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its report detailing how it would implement sequestration, as required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (Act). Designed to impact defense and non-defense (domestic) program budgets equally, most agencies are subject to cuts between 7% and 11% over the next decade. The exception is Medicare which is subject to a 2% cut.

2012-11-13 Argo and Ethel: America Has Never Been a "Rose Garden" by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

We recently had the pleasure of seeing a movie, Argo, and a documentary on HBO, Ethel. Argo is the story of the rescue of the six Americans from the Canadian Ambassador's residence at the time of the Iranian takeover of the US Embassy in Teheran. Ethel is a documentary which tells the story of Ethel Kennedy, the wife of Senator Robert Kennedy. It was produced, directed and narrated by Ethel Kennedy's youngest daughter, Rory. I rate both of these films highly and believe they tell US investors something they need to be reminded of.

2012-11-13 A Portrait of Two Presidents by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Last Friday, President Obama addressed the two topics that have been on many equity investors' minds since election night: the economy and the dreaded "fiscal cliff." In his speech, he delivered his familiar plan to combine spending cuts with increasing revenue by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. That's "how we did it in the 1990s, when Bill Clinton was president," says the president.

2012-11-12 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

"Four more years...Four more years." While those words may be music to the ears of Obama supporters worldwide, investors seemed less than impressed (at least initially). A second Obama administration brings plenty of question marks about the global economy, the tax code, the regulatory environment, Corporate America, and, of course, the financial markets. Stocks plunged on the first day post-election, but many analysts believe that is less a statement about the Obama victory and more a concern that the "fiscal cliff" is now clearly atop the news headlines.

2012-11-12 A Man Without a Plan by Robert Shiller of Project Syndicate

During the US presidential campaign, Mitt Romney accused Barack Obama of having no "plan to get the economy going." But Romney had no such plan, either, and the electorate was wise to resist the temptation to wishful thinking that his proposals represented.

2012-11-12 Can Housing Save the U.S. Economy? by Stephen Sheehan of Columbia Management

After leading the U.S. out of the Great Recession, the manufacturing sector has recently begun to show signs of sputtering. Uncertainty surrounding the election and fiscal cliff in the U.S., decelerating growth in China and a perpetually weak Europe have led to a soft patch in the third quarter. This global hiccup has caused some U.S. companies to catch a cold, most notably those in heavy machinery, transportation, metals and mining, and general industrials.

2012-11-09 Americas: Economic Review 3rd Quarter 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

Economic trends in most countries across the Americas region saw a moderate recovery during the third quarter, though the pace of growth remains subdued. Slower global demand due to the ongoing European recession and the slower expansion in Asia continues to restrict exports from the Americas. At the same time, domestic consumption growth has been relatively more robust than expected and has helped most regional economies prevent a deeper slowdown.

2012-11-09 The Election Ends and the Lame Duck Begins by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

The election. Billions of dollars spent, thousands of negative advertisements aired, scalding campaign rhetoric, a bitterly polarized electorate -- and we ended up where we started: President Obama in the White House, a Democratic-led Senate, and a Republican-led House of Representatives. Four more years of the same divided government.

2012-11-09 With the Election Over, Get Ready for the Fiscal Cliff by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ Koesterich discusses how the close election could translate into more gridlock on the fiscal cliff, as well as longer-term tax and entitlement reforms.

2012-11-09 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Off Its Interim High by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined in the numbers released today. It is now at 126.2, down from its interim high of 127.6 set four weeks earlier. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) also declined, now at 5.1, down from last week's 5.9. WLIg has now spent eleven consecutive weeks in expansion territory, although it is now at a five-week low.

2012-11-09 Looking Past the Election by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

The election results are in, removing at least one area of uncertainty from the equation. For the near term, economic data in the United States may take a back seat. Growth around the world appears soft, but some pockets are more encouraging than others.

2012-11-09 Two Policy Instruments, Two Labor Market Thresholds by Alan Levenson of T. Rowe Price

Despite understandable post-election focus on the resolution of the looming fiscal cliff, there is persistent interest in the conditions under which the FOMC will end the asset purchase program initiated in September ("QE3"). The economic projections and monetary policy expectations submitted for the September 12-13 FOMC meeting indicate that a consensus for rate hikes begins to build as the unemployment rate approaches 7.0%.

2012-11-09 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum, Asha Bangalore, Victoria Marklew of Northern Trust

Hurricane Sandy will impact the pattern of upcoming data, but is not likely to have a lasting economic impact. Our updated forecast anticipates some movement on the "fiscal cliff." France may be part of Europe's problem, not a source of Europe's solutions.

2012-11-09 A Portrait of Two Presidents by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

On Friday, President Obama addressed the two topics that have been on many equity investors minds since election night: the economy and the dreaded fiscal cliff. In his speech, he delivered his familiar plan to combine spending cuts with increasing revenue by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Thats how we did it in the 1990s, when Bill Clinton was president, says the president.

2012-11-08 Magic 8 Ball Knows All by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

The efficacy of 1980s technology turned out to be a real bummer, huh? Flying DeLoreans and flux capacitors are the ultimate heartbreakers, but the clairvoyance promised by those iridescent black and white Magic 8 Balls is definitely a close second. Give one a few shakes today and see for yourself. "Magic 8 Ball, [SHAKE] will financial markets rally post the U.S. election?" "It is decidedly so." "Magic 8 Ball, [SHAKE] are you lying?" "Yes definitely." "Magic 8 Ball, [SHAKE] seriously?" "Reply hazy, try again."

2012-11-08 Overcoming the Brake Light Shockwave by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Big democratic breakthroughs, say Egypt, Tunisia are halting and fall far short of the hopes they embodied. Technology is a race over mobility and brevity but hardly elicits the same wonder from years past. Governments are polarized. The US had almost no voting overlap in recent years so big ideas are on the wane. In Europe, the supra-national organizations like the EU are swift to talk and slow to act. No we're not reactionaries. We think all this is explained by the deepest drop in output in the post-war period and the slowest recovery.

2012-11-08 Make Way for Debt Mutualization in Europe by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Hurdles and hold-ups are inevitable but recent policy developments in Europe indicate that the ECB and the Bundesbank are cooperating and greater federalization is likely.

2012-11-08 Emerging Asia Pacific: Economic Review 3rd Quarter 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

Emerging Asia Pacific economies faced a challenging third quarter in 2012 as exports to key developed markets such as the Euro-zone came under pressure. As the austerity policies implemented by many of the countries in the Euro-zone caused a significant slump in demand, emerging market economies, which serve as the workshop of the world faced significant difficulties. Almost all major export-dependent nations like China, South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia faced pressure to export growth. Still, most of the economies possessed both monetary and fiscal ammo to overcome the slowdown.

2012-11-08 Imagine That... by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

Congratulations to President Obama for his reelection victory. My republican friends, I suspect, are in shock this morning, and understandably depressed. Meanwhile, my friends from the other side must be elated because last night was their night. I congratulate all on their months of hard work campaigning. But today is a new day and it is a test for all of us to come together. So, whatever you were yesterday, today you are only one thing, an American. Can you imagine that for a moment?

2012-11-08 Obama Wins: What's Next? by Team of Janus Capital Group

U.S. President Barack Obama has been re-elected for another four years, while Democrats will continue to control the Senate and Republicans the House of Representatives. We believe this outcome was largely anticipated by the markets before Election Day. However, U.S. Treasury markets likely will gain and risk assets could decline as investors remain concerned about sluggish economic growth, the impact of the impending "fiscal cliff" and the effects of continued Federal Reserve (Fed) intervention.

2012-11-08 November Economic Update by Team of Cambridge Advisors

During the month of October, the S&P 500 traded within a 5% range. By the end of the month, stock returns for the S&P 500 reflected a loss of 1.8%. This decline is surprisingly low when you consider the stock market closed unexpectedly for two days and reopened after a major storm that caused extensive damage in highly populated areas along the East Coast. Treasury yields also did not significantly move during the month.

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

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

2012-11-08 Developed Europe: Economic Review 3rd Quarter 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

Amid signs of a deepening economic slowdown in Developed Europe, three key events brought some cheer to the beleaguered region, raising hopes of a lasting solution to its debt crisis. In early September, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced its new Outright Monetary Transactions scheme, which is in effect a commitment by the ECB to buy unlimited quantities of sovereign bonds with up to three years in maturity, providing the bond-issuing member country agrees to a reform agenda.

2012-11-07 Job Market Improves, But Is It Enough? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The economy plays a critical role in voter decisions. However, historically, it's been more about the direction than the level. The October Employment Report was stronger than anticipated, suggesting that we're doing significantly better than just treading water in the labor market. However, we have a lot of ground to make up and the pace is not especially strong. Regardless of Tuesday's election outcome, the data suggest that the ground may be set for further improvement in 2013.

2012-11-07 Forecasts & Trends by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Last Friday's unemployment report for October had the headline rate rising from 7.8% to 7.9%, in line with expectations. However, the pleasant surprise was that the economy created 171,000 new jobs last month, well above the pre-report consensus of 125,000 and above the average monthly increase of 157,000 jobs this year. That's the good news.

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.

2012-11-06 ClearBridge Advisors - Market Commentary Q312 by Harry “Hersh” Cohen (Article)

Vibrant end demand is missing, as consumers have neither the wherewithal nor the will to spend as they did in prior periods.

2012-11-06 How the Election Will Affect the Fiscal Cliff by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

In the final hours before the election, Russ takes a look at potential outcomes and what they would mean for avoiding the fiscal cliff.

2012-11-06 Favorable Reports Post Sandy by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

The devastation of Sandy blighted the week. We were lucky in that most of our employees escaped the worst effects. We had some evacuations and plenty of lost power. But the images of devastation were overwhelming and we hope our clients and friends of the firm are safe. Perhaps, as a non-native, my perspective is warped but in the US we have an uncanny ability for industry, problem-solving, drive, inventiveness and optimism. Sometimes the very best of us comes out in these times.

2012-11-05 Three Men Make a Tiger by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In a few hours we will know the outcome of the US elections (hopefully without a repeat of 2000!). So, given that eventuality, why should we bother to explore the rather significant disparity in the models being used to create the polls to predict the outcome of the elections? Because doing so will help us understand why the models we use to predict the effects on our investments of market behavior and macroeconomics so often fail us, and why we should approach the use of such models with a full measure of wariness and skepticism.

2012-11-05 Stream of Anecdotes by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Analysts who interpret economic data as a stream of unconnected anecdotes are likely to find recent data encouraging, and will easily dismiss any concern about a U.S. recession on that basis. For our part, the internals of the economic picture new orders, backlogs, real income growth, and even the employment components of prominent economic surveys continue to deteriorate. Based on dozens of economic variables and methods that account for leading/lagging relationships (e.g. unobserved components estimates) our view remains that the U.S. economy has already entered a recession.

2012-11-05 Want to learn Mandarin and Hindi? Go to Australia by Team of Thomas White International

Australia has planned an ambitious 'Asian Literacy' program aimed at boosting cultural and economic ties with Asia.

2012-11-05 Americans Head to the Polls Tuesday to Decide Tight Presidential Race by Matt Rubin of Neuberger Berman

As the eastern seaboard continues to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, estimates for the economic cost of the storm continue to climb and currently stand in the range of $30 to $50 billion. In the near-term, economic activity in the region is likely to be negatively impacted by the storm; however, the rebuilding of infrastructure, housing and businesses should boost growth in areas most impacted by Hurricane Sandy over the longer term.

2012-11-05 A New Queen Bee by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

By the time a queen bee is five she is old and no longer reproduces, leaving her army of honeybees torn between loyalty and survival. Since the hive cannot survive without a productive queen, the beekeeper reached into the hive with a long-gloved hand and squashes the enfeebled queen. With the entire hive as witness, all know the queen is dead. Absent the scent of their leader, the honeybees panic. Something similar to that "queen bee" sequence may be happening currently. The "old queen," at least in the private sector, was driven by exports and manufacturing.

2012-11-05 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

A storm shortened trading week saw virtually no movement in the popularly followed stock market indices.

2012-11-05 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Superstorm Sandy overshadowed most all newsworthy stories during the week as much of the East Coast (and beyond) suffered some ill-effects and many will be fighting to overcome challenges for many days (weeks, months) to come. The stock market closed over consecutive days to start the week and uncertainty (volatility) ensued with investors enjoying the best single day performance in a month-and-a-half, only to give up those gains a day later as many set portfolios in advance of the election. Soon the campaign will be a distant memory (but the "fiscal cliff" will become a near-reality).

2012-11-05 Commentary and Statistics by Team of ING Investment Management

U.S. equity markets were mixed during an abbreviated trading week in which Hurricane Sandy forced the longest weather-related shutdown of U.S. stock trading since 1888. While the S&P 500 eked out a small gain, the DJIA and Nasdaq closed slightly lower.

2012-11-05 Election's Impact on Investors by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Next Tuesday's election will bring some clarity to the types of policies that will shape the fiscal and economic future of America. President Obama and Mitt Romney certainly share different visions on how the US should tackle middling growth, while addressing the longer-term issues of the US fiscal deficit and seemingly unsustainable entitlement programs.

2012-11-05 Day of Reckoning by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Tomorrow's election is too close to call according to the polls, while Friday's jobs report was decent, blemishes notwithstanding. Super storm Sandy was and remains a severely disruptive force to the Northeast, particularly New Jersey. A few thoughts on these issues follow.

2012-11-02 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Still Jogging in Place by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped fractionally in the numbers released today. It is now at 126.6, down from last week's 126.7 (revised from 126.8). Likewise, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) slipped slightly, now at 5.9, down from last week's 6.0. WLIg has now spent ten consecutive weeks in expansion territory, although it is off its interim high of 6.1. But for the past six weeks the WLI has been jogging in place in a narrow range (126.2 to 126.7).

2012-11-02 The Other Financial Crisis by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

Two variants of financial crisis are continuing to wreak havoc on Western economies: the sovereign debt crisis, involving governments; and a less visible one at the level of small and medium-size businesses and households. Until both are addressed properly, the West will remain burdened by sluggish growth.

2012-11-02 Of Varied States: Cyclical, Storm-Tossed and Swing by Alan Levenson of T. Rowe Price

The latest readings on employment growth and household formation show a firm underpinning for moderate growth, with the household sector gathering momentum toward the emergence of positive feedback loops. Despite the immense human cost of Superstorm Sandy, the adverse impact on measured economic activity is likely to be short-lived, with a compensating rebound to emerge before quarter-end. Next week's general election results should bring clarity to the route that policy makers will take to avoid the year-end fiscal cliff.

2012-11-02 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum, Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

The October employment report paints a favorable picture of the labor market.

2012-11-02 Who Will Lead America Over the Next Four Years? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

If President Obama is reelected, it could be a negative for certain energy companies involved in natural gas fracking, says International Strategy & Investment (ISI). Conversely, a Governor Mitt Romney win could be significant for energy companies. In its Romney Portfolio ISIs rationale is that Romney and the GOP will try to do more to promote traditional forms of energy, including offshore drilling, approving the Keystone pipeline, and exploiting the nations coal resources.

2012-11-02 What Would Happen at the Fed Under a Romney Presidency? by Josh Thimons of PIMCO

Between now and the election expect markets to continue to reflect the changing election probabilities. Expect Treasury yields to climb if Romneys probability of victory increases due to fear of what he will do when it comes to Fed nominations. However, any substantial rise in Treasury yields based upon a Romney victory is likely to be a buying opportunity, because Fed policy will be accommodative regardless of who controls the White House.

2012-11-01 The Fed and the Fiscal Cliff by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Prospects for this quarter's results are being very closely scrutinized. After healthy growth in Q1, Q2 results proved quite sobering, as sales decelerated and operating leverage proved hard to come by. Given continued disappointing global macro growth, Q3 results seem tracking to be close to flat year over year again. Implicit in the consensus S&P500 estimate of around $103 is a reacceleration in Q4. Implicit in the 2013 consensus of around $115 is renewed healthy growth continuing consistently through the year. Such reacceleration seems highly at risk, which raises a few questions.

2012-11-01 Time To Vote! by Bill Gross of PIMCO

So I pulled out my magic lamp that for some reason works only every October 22nd, and rubbed until the Genie appeared in his red and white checkered cloak with a 10-inch diameter Flavor Flav clock hanging ceremoniously around his neck. Being a rather forward, although not disrespectful Genie, he immediately said, "Mr. G, instead of the yield on the 10-year Treasury, perhaps this year you should wish to know who is going to win the Presidential election?"

2012-10-31 What Really Happened in Benghazi on Sept. 11 by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

I've been taking a lot of flak from the Obama supporters in this audience over the past few weeks. Some are demanding that I stick to economic and investment issues and stop criticizing the president. Sorry liberals, but I have long maintained that who we elect to run the country has a big impact on the economy and therefore investment trends.

2012-10-31 Macro View: Natural Disaster Economics by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

"Super-Storm" Sandy will distort economic activity and data over the coming months.

2012-10-31 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Hurricane Sandy rocked the East Coast on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, causing the stock exchange to be closed on Monday and Tuesday. It has re-opened today, October 31st. More importantly, however, given the strength and size of the storm, the loss of life was not nearly as great as it could have been. To all of our clients, colleagues, friends, family, and others in the region, we had you in our thoughts and prayers and we hope everyone is safe and that any inconveniences caused by the storm are not significant in nature.

2012-10-30 The Yield Hunt by Michael Lewitt (Article)

The high-yield market is not in danger of imminent collapse as some have argued. As long as defaults remain relatively low, and interest rates remain invisible, investors will continue to chase yield. But a few things could cause a sharp sell-off in the near future.

2012-10-30 Nice Speech, Tough Crowd by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Sandy is pummeling everything we know on the eastern seaboard. I hope everyone stays safe and we can ride this out without too much damage. Thankfully markets are closed. Meanwhile, here's our views on capital markets on Monday.

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 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Disgruntled investors took a look at the earnings reports and ran for the hills. With some industrial and techs issuing pessimistic reports (mainly in their outlooks), investors chose to take a hiatus. Election season is just a week-ish away and then the fiscal cliff looms in the not-so-distance future, so plenty of uncertainties and concerns remain for the time being. (And don't forget Spain.)

2012-10-29 The Quest for Certainty by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The last two weeks we have been looking at the problems with models. First we touched on what I called the Economic Singularity. In physics a singularity is where the mathematical models no longer work. For example, models based on the physics of relativity no longer work if one gets too close to a black hole. If we think of too much debt as a black hole of sorts, we may understand why economic models no longer work. Last week, in "The Perils of Fiscal Cliff," we looked at the use of fiscal multipliers by economists in order to argue for or against governmental economic policies.

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.

2012-10-29 The White Hurricane by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

I revisit The White Hurricane this morning because it potentially looks like another 100-year storm is heading pretty close to Manhattan. So in addition to dealing with the Benghazi scandal, Syrian atrocities, Euroquake, the "fiscal cliff," a stalled U.S. economy, softening earnings momentum, waning revenues, a dysfunctional government, the nastiest campaign I have ever seen, and who Taylor Swift should date next, Wall Street now has to contend with the potential of being flooded out.

2012-10-26 October 2012: Equity Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

Equity and other "risk" assets rallied in the third quarter in anticipation of further monetary easing by central banks around the world. The prospect of increased liquidity from the central banks appears to have focused investor attention, at least temporarily, away from the generally softer economic data that continue to emerge from Europe and Asia.

2012-10-26 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Running in Place by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose fractionally in the numbers released today. It is now at 126.8, up from last week's 126.6 (revised from 126.7). However, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) slipped slightly in expansion territory, not at 6.0, down from last week's 6.1. WLIg has now spent nine consecutive weeks of in expansion territory. But essentially the WLI has been running in place for the past five weeks.

2012-10-26 Will South Africa's Struggles Overshadow its Potential? by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Africa is a continent many investors bypass, but from my perspective as a long-term investor, I think that's a mistake. South Africa has faced some struggles recently, but I think they can be overcome, and a brighter future could be ahead there for its people. South Africa is the largest economy in Africa, and is the only country on the continent where I think the "frontier" market label doesn't apply. Some have added an "S" to the end of the "BRIC" acronym to include South Africa in the grouping of emerging market economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

2012-10-26 Don't Fear a Normal Gold Correction by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Dont let the short-term correction fool you into selling your gold and gold stocks. The dramatic increase in money suggests that monetary debasement will continue, and in addition to all the above drivers, these are the positive dynamics driving higher prices for gold and gold stocks.

2012-10-26 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum, Asha Bangalore and James Pressler of Northern Trust

Fiscal policy is a matter of multiplication. US GDP growth accelerated in the third quarter, but remains less than ideal. Recent reports out of China reassured the markets, but underlying trends are not so promising.

2012-10-25 Cheap Debt is Good News for Stocks by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The eventual return of leveraged buy-outs (LBOs) and an uptick in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) should give investors further reason to be bullish on stocks.

2012-10-25 In or Out? The Case for - and Against - the Stock Market by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

Given ongoing volatility in the stock market, it's no surprise that investors are increasingly bearish on the market's prospects, beset by a lack of confidence in its institutional underpinnings and a general pessimism about the direction of the economy. But is that distrust misplaced? Wharton experts are mixed about the future fortunes of the stock market, with some saying that investors are withdrawing at the worst possible time and others noting that many people had entrusted too much of their retirement savings to the fate of equity markets.

2012-10-25 Picking Up Nickels by Chris Richey of Neosho Capital

Those who pursue puny returns in the face of enormous risks to their principal are said to be "picking up nickels in front of a steamroller". You would think such behavior is limited to drunkards and fools, but you will be shocked to hear that our very own Federal Reserve has undertaken just such a strategy in their well-intentioned, but, by their own admission, futile pursuit of improved U.S. employment numbers.

2012-10-24 Policy at a Crossroads by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman

On September 13, the Federal Reserve announced a third round of quantitative easing, dubbed QE3, in the hope of providing an additional boost to the slow U.S. economic recovery. Although this latest policy action reinforces the notion that the U.S. is prepared to support its economy for as long as needed, some economists question whether the stimulus can really make a difference. In this issue of Strategic Spotlight, we consider the recent effects of loose monetary policy and whether the Fed has "reached its limit."

2012-10-23 Understanding the Central Issue behind Entitlements by Michael Edesess (Article)

How should our government assure that its citizens have enough to get by - enough food, enough shelter, good enough health, etc.? It is easy to forget that today's fiercest political battles ultimately revolve around this simple question.

2012-10-23 The Perils of the Fiscal Cliff by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In today's letter we'll peek over the Fiscal Cliff and see what economic models can tell us about government spending. And if we have time we'll quickly look at an interesting study that uses economics to predict the outcome of this US presidential election.

2012-10-23 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks remained sluggish last week as earnings guidance more than last quarter's reports put a damper on stock prices. In addition, the European summit was a failure and investors remain hesitant before the November elections.

2012-10-22 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Maybe a four day work week would make some sense? Well, at least, it would have been helpful this week. After a strong start in the equity markets (and a four-day winning streak), the anniversary of Black Monday brought horrid memories of past bearish times and stocks gave up all (most) of their early gains. Major techs reported poor earnings and the Nasdaq struggled more than most as weak PC demand continues to take its toll. Good news...one bad day does not a market make.

2012-10-22 The "Fiscal Cliff" and the Election by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The fiscal cliff looms large. It should. Unless Washington does something, the 2013 budget will face a sudden and automatic fiscal restraint. The shock would almost certainly drive this economy's already enfeebled recovery into recession. It is an alarming prospect, to be sure, but still, likelihoods suggest that even this partisan Congress will steer clear of such a "cliff."

2012-10-22 An Alternate Reality by Robert Stimpson of Oak Associates

The largest positive factor affecting the environment for stock prices this year has been the recovery in the housing sector. After years of struggle, the sector appears to have turned the corner. The housing market had been showing signs of improvement for some time, but the debate as to whether the recovery was legitimate weighed on the group and added to concerns over the economy.

2012-10-22 More traction...Just Look Through the Earnings by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Last week saw an important debate on how the US has fared in the post recession recovery. The short answer is, "not well" if measured by a return to GDP growth trends or per capita income. But the counter, as explained by Reinhart and Rogoff, is "faster than you would expect." We're in the second camp.

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

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

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

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

2012-10-19 Quarterly Letter by Ron Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp & Company

In his latest quarterly letter, Ron Muhlenkamp, president and portfolio manager of the Muhlenkamp Fund, re-examines Europe, China, and U.S. Politics as the major drivers of the markets. On September 7, 2012, Muhlenkamp published a Market Commentary, headlined "Threat of European Banking Crisis Recedes." In it, he discusses the Outright Monetary Transactions program, introduced by the European Central Bank. Mr. Muhlenkamp thinks this program makes credible the ECB's promise to do all it can to keep the Eurozone together.

2012-10-19 Muddling Down the Middle by Josh Thimons of PIMCO

PIMCO expects that the debate over the fiscal cliff will end in fiscal consolidation, but not a fiscal catastrophe. Unfortunately, while the Fed's monetary policy actions have been, by and large, successful in achieving its intermediate-term goal of increasing asset valuations, they have not been effective in influencing real economic outcomes. Our forecast for the drag on GDP from the fiscal cliff in the coming year is roughly negative 1.5%. Improvement in the housing market will only fill a small part in that hole.

2012-10-19 Monthly Investment Bulletin by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

In their efforts to support growth, governments and central bankers have steadily chipped away at the free market. Through increased regulation, financial suppression and monetary intervention they have accentuated the lack of supply in quality fixed income paper, driving bond yields down to previously unthinkable levels. Policy makers are almost pathological in their belief that the end justifies the means as they try to inflate away their debt by keeping interest rates below nominal growth.

2012-10-19 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Index Slips, But Growth Rises by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index of the Economic Cycle Research Institute declined in the numbers released today. It is now at 126.7, down from last week's 127.6 (revised from 127.7). However, the WLI growth indicator rose further in expansion territory to 6.1, up from last week's 5.7. WLIg has now posted sixteen consecutive weeks of improvement and is at its highest level since May 20, 2011. The divergence between the WLI and its growth derivative is probably attributable to apparent anomaly in the BLS's weekly unemployment data over the past two weeks.

2012-10-19 Global Overview: September 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

Aggressive policy action by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank (ECB) helped lift investor sentiment further in September, even as economic signals from across the world continued to be jaded. The Fed has committed to buy mortgage backed securities and keep interest rates low until U.S. economic growth becomes more vigorous and the unemployment rate declines to more comfortable levels.

2012-10-19 Not by Housing Recovery Alone by Team of T. Rowe Price

Strong August-September housing starts are a clear bricks-and-mortar response to reports of rising buyer traffic, confirming a broad-based cyclical recovery in new housing construction. This trend will contribute 0.4 percentage points (pp) to real GDP growth directly through in construction activity, and perhaps another 0.2 pp indirectly through the consumer purchases of those newly employed in housing-related industries and via wealth effects related to the nascent recovery in house prices.

2012-10-19 Stealth Mode by Stephen J. Taddie of Stellar Capital Management

After more than 30 years of declining rates, a reversal that started a longer term trend of higher interest rates, like that experienced from the late 50s to early 80s could be devastating to bond investors. In addition, interest rate increases have not treated many other income investments like fixed rate preferred stocks very well as many of these issues have extremely long maturities, and/or are perpetual. This makes stretching for yield in this type of environment both challenging and hazardous.

2012-10-19 Chinese Stocks Looking Like a Bargain by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

This appears to be a good time to be investing in China, as stocks are historically cheap. Chinese stocks are also cheap compared to emerging markets.

2012-10-18 Investment Outlook 2013: "ABCD" Investing: Anything Bernanke Cannot Destroy by Cliff Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors

The Ben Bernanke and Mario Draghi concert gave the markets a double shot of their love in the month of September by promising to print as much money as needed to finance the debts of their respective countries. Ever since the financial fraternity party ended in 2008 and the world began deleveraging its massive credit hangover, the global markets have been hooked on the next shot of love from the central bankers.

2012-10-18 Macro View: Europe's Glacial Move To Federalization by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Uncertainty continues to weigh on European markets but the continent is still drifting toward federalization. Recent trends and political developments are constructive for an eventual return to growth for the region.

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?

2012-10-17 Fuzzy Math from the Continent of Peace by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Whoops! The IMF made two announcements last week that caught our attention. But to set up the joke in all this, it's worth remembering that for decades the IMF preached austerity economics to any country that needed balance of payments assistance.

2012-10-17 Economics is Such a Drag by Fred Copper of Columbia Management

At least in Europe it is. Central bankers around the world are doing everything they can to try and pump up the global economy. Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, has been incredibly aggressive and creative in trying to rectify the imbalances plaguing Europe.

2012-10-17 Banks Punished For Central Bank and Political Errors by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

In recent decades politicians have increasingly followed the Keynesian prescription of economic growth through continued government borrowing and the creation of undreamt of amounts of fiat money by central banks. To facilitate this process, the larger commercial banks have acted as the central banks' de facto distribution system, and as a result have grown ever larger while accepting progressively greater risks.

2012-10-17 Q3 Investor Letter by Team of HORAN Capital Advisors

At the beginning of the third quarter, investors following the "sell in May" strategy felt vindicated as the S&P 500 Index declined over 9.0% from May 1st to June 4th. The June 4th date turned out to be the intra-year market low and the equity rally was almost uninhibited throughout the remainder of the third quarter. We have been experiencing mixed global economic data over the past several months and in response, the Federal Reserve announced a third round of quantitative easing. While the market initially responded favorably, it ultimately declined through the end of the quarter.

2012-10-17 Rise Up: US Soft Patch Appears to be Ending by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

By definition, inflection points are characterized by maximum weakness. Many US economic readings are again suggesting notable signs of life. Will the improvement be enough to offset the "fiscal cliff"?

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.

2012-10-16 The New World of Credit by Michael Lewitt, Editor, The Credit Strategist (Article)

In an era in which economies are driven by the creation of fiat money by central banks, and where the base of hard money is dwarfed by the volume of outstanding debt, every form of capital is tied to credit. In 1919, William Butler Yeats famously wrote that 'the center cannot hold.' A century later, there is no center.

2012-10-16 Inflation: Washington is Blind to Main Street's Biggest Concern by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Journalists, politicians and economists all seem to agree that the biggest economic issue currently worrying voters is unemployment. It follows then that most believe that the deciding factor in the presidential race will be the ability of each candidate to convince the public that his policies will create jobs. It seems that everyone got this memo...except the voters.

2012-10-16 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Updated Real Retail Sales and Industrial Production by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The latest updates to the Big Four was today's release of the September Industrial Production, which rose 0.4 percent over the previous month following a 1.4 percent decline the month before. Yesterday the Census Bureau's Retail Sales number was released, and with today's release of the Consumer Price Index we can calculate Real Retail Sales. The latest 0.6% increase gives us a strong three-month upward trend after four months of flat or contracting data. Both indicators beat analysts' expectations.

2012-10-15 The United States: Stability or Complacency? by Alan Levenson of T. Rowe Price

The International Monetary Fund's updated World Economic Outlook foresees a modest pace of U.S. economic expansion in 2012-2013, emphasizing significant downside risks emanating from the euro area crisis and from the domestic fiscal cliff. Weakness in the euro area and slower growth in a secularly-restructuring Chinese economy are weighing on U.S. export trends, but sturdier growth in Canada and Mexico is providing an important offset.

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 Lender of Last Resort Move Crucial to Regional Stability by Andrew Balls of PIMCO

While the ECB's engagement as a lender of last resort is crucial, Europe's big four governments must provide political commitments supportive of ECB policy to counter the lingering threat of a Greek exit, address convertibility risk, and build a more stable union. However, this will require sustained growth. Faced with capital flights from the periphery and lowered credit ratings, the key challenge remains crowding-in private and foreign official investors to buy peripheral sovereign debt.

2012-10-15 Seven Varieties of Deflation by A. Gary Shilling of Gary Shilling & Associates

Inflation in the U.S. has historically been a wartime phenomenon, including not only shooting wars but also the Cold War and the War on Poverty. That's when the federal government vastly overspends its income on top of a robust private economyobviously not the case today when government stimulus isn't even offsetting private sector weakness. Deflation reigns in peacetime, and I think it is again, with the end of the Iraq engagement and as the unwinding of Afghanistan expenditures further reduce military spending.

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.

2012-10-15 Economic Singularity by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

There is considerable disagreement throughout the world on what policies to pursue in the face of rising deficits and economies that are barely growing or at stall speed. Both sides look at the same set of realities and yet draw drastically different conclusions. Both sides marshal arguments based on rigorous mathematical models "proving" the correctness of their favorite solution, and both sides can point to counterfactuals that show the other side to be insincere or just plain wrong.

2012-10-15 Commodity Inflation Complicating Pro-Growth Policies by Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The return of commodity inflation raises several questions, primary among them being the impact it will have on emerging markets. While rising commodity prices are generally bullish for equity prices in emerging markets, it may also inhibit central bank flexibility at a time when many developing countries are experiencing decelerating economic growth. This issue was paramount in 2010, leading to underperformance in many EM stock markets. Since then, however, commodity prices have generally moved sideways, allowing those fears to subside.

2012-10-15 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Some recent research by InvesTech Research shows that the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average can indicate who will win the White House. James Stack, President of InvesTech recently released a study that showed in elections since 1900 90% of the time the Dow has correctly predicted the outcome of the election based on its returns from Labor Day until Election Day. If the Dow posts a positive return during this time period, the party in power keeps the White House and if the return is negative, they do not

2012-10-12 China's Thousand Talents by Christian Halvorsen of Matthews Asia

Employment is one of many paradoxes of mainland China. The country has been adding approximately 6 million new college graduates annuallymore than any other country. Despite the fierce competition for entry-level work, China faces the additional challenge of attracting enough skilled labor in many key industries. Compounding this problem is the fact that China has for years experienced a severe brain drain, often with Chinese citizens staying abroad after completing their overseas studies.

2012-10-12 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicators: Time to Recant the Recession Call? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) made a strong advance in the numbers released today. It is now at 127.7, up from last week's 126.2 (revised from 126.3). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) now marks its eighth week in expansion territory at 5.7, up from last week's 4.6. WLIg has now posted fifteenth consecutive weeks of improvement and is at its highest level since May 27, 2011.

2012-10-12 Teetering on the Edge? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Concerns about a possible US recession remain elevated in light of the pending "fiscal cliff," resulting in some lackluster stock market action. The fiscal cliff and uncertainty around tax and regulatory policy appear to be influencing business decisions to the detriment of economic growth. While worst-case scenarios for Europe may have been taken off the table by the ECB, Spain's reluctance to ask for aid is causing consternation. And although we see continued weak growth in China, signs indicate the global slowdown may be turning around.

2012-10-12 U.S. Economic and Interest Rate Outlook - October 2012 by By Carl Tannenbaum and Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

Budget negotiations in the US and Europe are attempting to balance austerity, prosperity, and posterity. US exports and imports are showing the strains of sluggish conditions overseas. Our updated economic forecast reflects some "cliff" effects, but not a renewed recession.

2012-10-12 The Golub Group Commentary by Team of The Golub Group

High-quality businesses that have the ability to pay and increase their dividends are even more attractive in this low yield environment and the valuations of these businesses are cheap on an historic basis and relative basis to the alternatives.

2012-10-11 Unemployment Surprise or Conspiracy? by Marie Schofield of Columbia Management

The blogosphere is overflowing with conspiracy theories about the household survey unemployment data in this pre-election period. I do not give any credence to these stories and believe the data is the data. But it needs to be interpreted carefully as it can be complex and volatile.

2012-10-11 Inflation Regime Shifts: Implications for Asset Allocation by Nicholas Johnson, Sebastien Page of PIMCO

Investors who are concerned about inflation should focus on increasing their exposure to asset classes that provide a positive beta to changes in inflation. We believe that asset prices are much more sensitive to inflation surprises than actual inflation levels themselves. Given the current macro environment, investors face the possibility that low growth and high inflation may coexist. Commodities provide a levered response to inflation. Investors can hold a relatively small amount of commodities to hedge a much larger portfolio.

2012-10-11 The New TIPping Point by Jeremie Banet, Rahul Seksaria, Mihir Worah of PIMCO

The Federal Reserve's QE3 program combined with more aggressive communication are likely to have implications for Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS).

2012-10-11 Macro View: China in Transition by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

With nominal growth rates falling faster than expected, the possibility of a hard landing for China country's economy appear to be increasing. More importantly, however, there is more to this situation than is immediately observable.

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.

2012-10-10 Will South Africas Struggles Overshadow its Potential? by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Africa is a continent many investors bypass, but from my perspective as a long-term investor, I think that's a mistake. South Africa has faced some struggles recently, but I think they can be overcome, and a brighter future could be ahead there for its people. South Africa is the largest economy in Africa, and is the only country on the continent where I think the "frontier" market label doesn't apply. Some have added an "S" to the end of the "BRIC" acronym to include South Africa in the grouping of emerging market economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

2012-10-10 The September Employment Report by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Nonfarm payrolls rose about as expected last month. However, figures for July and August were revised significantly higher. The unemployment rate fell sharply and unexpectedly, but one should take that with a grain of salt considering the seasonal adjustment issues (the start of the school year). Sifting through the details, the report suggests more of the same. Job gains have been roughly consistent with the pace of population growth. However, we're still not making up much of the ground that was lost during the economic downturn.

2012-10-10 A Kid's Market by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Last week a particularly wily Wall Street wag asked me, "Hey Jeff, do you know why everyone is underperforming the S&P 500?" "Not really," I responded. He said, "Because the S&P has no fear!" That exchange caused me to recall an excerpt from the book The Money Game. I like this story...

2012-10-10 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Don't bury Candidate Romney quite yet. The man looks to be in come-back mode and he has some experience in this area. Remember when Republicans preferred anyone but Mitt (Perry, Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Santorum) and yet he emerged victorious from the primary season.

2012-10-10 And That's the Quarter That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

The "quarter of Bernanke" left investors optimistic over the past three months despite the ongoing concerns at home and abroad (and a critical election).

2012-10-09 We Need a Bold Solution to Fix the Retirement System by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Our retirement system is broken. The average American isn't saving enough to comfortably retire, and the fault lies in our reliance on defined-contribution (DC) plans, such as 401(k)s. Tinkering with DC plans won't solve the problem, and the other extreme - a federally mandated guarantee - isn't likely to gain support. But a number of compromises that lie between those approaches offer a better way forward for future generations.

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 The Yin and Yang of 2012 Stock Markets Through September by Ron Surz (Article)

Despite investor concerns about the economy, stock markets delivered substantial returns in the year-to-date, with the S&P 500 returning more than 16% and Europe, Australasia, Far East (the EAFE index) delivering more than 10%. This growth has been in the face of investor withdrawals from equity mutual funds. So if mutual fund investors are selling, who is buying?

2012-10-09 A Small Business Complex by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Despite the release of the September labor report on Friday, small business owners seemed to take the biggest proportion of the spotlight last week. According to the Huffington Post, Romney and Obama mentioned the phrase "small business" a total of 29 times throughout the Presidential debate. The issues and importance placed on small business are unlikely to be as cut and dry as both candidates made them seem.

2012-10-09 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks advanced last week as the impact of the Fed's monetary easing combined with some better economic data persuaded traders to continue to buy.

2012-10-09 Expect Economic Sluggishness to Persist by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

Although the economy does seem to have improved a bit in recent months compared to where it was in the second quarter, growth levels in both the United States and around the world will likely remain subpar at least through the middle of next year. The base case for the United States appears to be the economy continuing to grow at around 2% (perhaps a notch higher) over the course of 2013. This growth level would be contingent on avoiding the full force of the fiscal cliff and would be underpinned by a recovery in housing and a pickup in capital spending levels.

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

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

2012-10-09 No Manipulation of US Jobs Data, but the Numbers Are Noisy by Joseph Carson of AllianceBernstein

In the heat of a US election season, the sharp drop in September's unemployment rate raised some eyebrows. I think it is blatantly wrong to argue that government statisticians manipulated the data. But the jump in household jobs that triggered the drop in the unemployment rate was indeed extraordinary and requires further scrutiny.

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

2012-10-08 Number Five by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Examine the points in history that the Shiller P/E has been above 18, the S&P 500 has been within 2% of a 4-year high, 60% above a 4-year low, and more than 8% above its 52-week average, advisory bulls have exceeded 45%, with bears less than 27%, and the 10-year Treasury yield has been above its level of 20-weeks prior. While there are numerous similar ways to define an "overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yields" syndrome, there are five small clusters of this one in the post-war record.

2012-10-08 Maybe the Wind Isn\'t Blowing.. by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

I begin this edition of Willingdon Views with a tribute to a great American, Neil Armstrong, who passed away last month at the age of 82. The first man to walk on the moon was from Wapakoneta, a small town in west-central Ohio. Despite his fame and extraordinary accomplishments, Armstrong maintained his small-town values throughout his life. In a statement released shortly after his death his family referred to him as "a reluctant hero who always believed he was just doing his job." Makes one wonder what they'll say about us after we're gone...

2012-10-08 Pliable Statistics by John Buckingham of AFAM

As Mark Twain once said, Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable. More examples emerged last week in support of that center box quotation from this months edition of The Prudent Speculator. Indeed, Fridays monthly jobs report provided plenty of fodder for both the Obama & Romney election campaigns as the former was able to trumpet the eyebrow-raising dip in the unemployment rate to 7.8% (calculated from a survey of 60,000 individual households) while the latter could point to the less-than-stellar creation of only 114,000 jobs during September.

2012-10-08 Easing Labor Pains for Europe? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The Continent sees the first stirrings of needed job-market reforms.

2012-10-08 Key Economic Metrics Strengthen Ahead of 3Q Earnings by Matt Rubin of Neuberger Berman

ISM Manufacturing Index expands for first time in 4 months. U.S. payrolls add 114,000; unemployment rate declines to 7.8%. Alcoa kicks off 3Q earnings season on Tuesday.

2012-10-08 The Unemployment Surprise by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The unemployment number surprisingly dropped to 7.8% last Friday, and the shoot-from-the-hip crowd came out in force. To say that the jobs report was met with skepticism would be a serious understatement. The response that got the most immediate airplay was ex-GE CEO Jack Welch (who knows a few things about making a number say what you want it to say) tweeting, "Unbelievable job numbers ... these Chicago guys will do anything ... can't debate so change numbers."

2012-10-08 Strong Employment But Still Lots of Slack by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

The ECB's dearth of tools came through loud and clear last week. Rates remained unchanged not because the economies have a ghost of a chance of recovery but because inflation, at 2.7%, scored well above the 2% target. There's a certain amount of in-built inflation in European economies not present in the US, for example, indexing across many industries and pensions, VAT and euro denominated commodity costs. The combination of higher oil costs and a weaker euro put some of the YOY increases in energy costs as high as 40%.

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 Election Preview by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman

Our Investment Strategy Group sizes up the approaching U.S. election and its potential impact on the "fiscal cliff."

2012-10-05 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicators: Mixed Signals in Latest Data by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped fractionally after eight consecutive weeks of growth. It is now at 126.3, down from last week's 126.6 (revised from 126.7). See the WLI chart below. However, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) now marks its seventh week in expansion territory at 4.7, up from last week's 3.8. WLIg has now posted fourteen consecutive weeks of improvement and is at its highest level since June 3, 2011.

2012-10-05 When Do You Ignore Your Gut? by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

Anyone who took an introductory psychology class probably remembers the classic study in which different people witnessing the same crime each report a different take on what happened. Though each presumably sane, sober person witnessed the events with his or her own two eyes, individual expectations and biases influenced how they perceived what happened. Sure, you say, but what does this have to do with investing? Well, it turns out that our individual expectations and biases influence how we view investments, too.

2012-10-05 Market Respite by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

In a period of looming macroeconomic risks and great investor uncertainty the quarter resulted in solid gains in most global equity markets. The Dow was up 4.3%, the S&P 500 5.8% and the NASDAQ 6.2% for the quarter. Year-to-date the Dow was up 10%, the S&P 14.5% and the NASDAQ 19.6%. The news internationally was encouraging though mixed with European indices up 8% for the quarter and 11.8% for the year while Pacific indices were up 2% for the quarter and 7.4% for the year.

2012-10-05 Keep up the pressure the US jobs crisis is not yet over by Mohamed El-Erian of PIMCO

The monthly US employment report has evolved steadily: once a lagging indicator of the underlying state of the economy, it is now seen more as a leading indicator of economic, political and social trends. Friday's data tell us, for once, rather good news.

2012-10-05 How Helicopter Ben Helps Jobs and, Inadvertently, Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The world's central bank leaders continue to spike the monetary punch bowl, with investors imbibing on gold once again. This flurry of gold buying prompts many curious investors and doubting media to ask me two questions: 1) How can demand for gold and gold stocks continue; and 2) How high can the precious metal go? To answer these questions, we need to look at the intentions behind the economic and political decision-making across several developed countries, analyze the causes, the effects, and the possible ramifications.

2012-10-04 Thrown in Over Their Heads: Understanding 401(k) Participant Risk Tolerance vs. Risk Capacity by Stacy Schaus, Ying Gao of PIMCO

Our analysis suggests as investors in target-date strategies near retirement they become more attuned to market swings. We believe 401(k) plans cannot succeed if participants jump out of markets at the bottom and possibly miss a rebound. Plans need to have tolerable downside risk, so participants can ride the market waves. The way to manage target-date assets, in our view, is to focus first on the risk capacity of participants relative to meeting an income goal. We ask, how much of one's final income will need to be replaced in retirement?

2012-10-04 Priming the Liquidity Pump by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

The global economy is often like a line of dominos. One piece tumbles, causing others to fall too. This year, weak economic growth and heavy debt burdens in many developed markets had a domino effect on emerging economies, and many investors lost confidence in both. In response, central banks have taken actions to boost economic growth and prime the liquidity pump.

2012-10-04 Market Dimensions by James Damschroder of Gravity Capital Partners

An interesting and perhaps volatile fourth quarter is upon us. We have elections and the fiscal cliff straight ahead. Markets dislike uncertainly, making asset prices potentially marginally lower.

2012-10-03 Understanding How "Debt Deleveraging" Works by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

For many years, I have warned that our massive explosion in federal debt (up 50% just since Obama took office) would one day stifle economic growth. Obviously economic growth is currently stifled, what with the weakest post-recession recovery in decades. But the question remains as to whether our massive national debt and trillion-dollar budget deficits are the main reason for the disappointing recovery.

2012-10-03 The Fed Plays All Its Cards by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

There never really could be much doubt that the current experiment in competitive global currency debasement would end in anything less than a total war. There was always a chance that one or more of the principal players would snap out of it, change course and save their citizenry from a never ending cycle of devaluation. But developments since September 13, when the U.S. Federal Reserve finally laid all its cards on the table and went "all in" on permanent quantitative easing, indicate that the brainwashing is widely established and will be difficult to break.

2012-10-03 Circle the Wagons on GLD by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

We spoke to two small groups in Spokane on September 21st, 2012. For better or worse, when I think of Spokane I think of my cousin Gary. It was 1981 and yours truly was a young stockbroker at Drexel Burnham Lambert. Gold had been in a wonderful bull market ride in the prior five to ten years. Gary was interested in participating in gold through a gold-mining stock traded on the Spokane Stock Exchange. Spokanes proximity to the Northern Idaho mining towns and closeness to the Canadian border made it a natural place for commodity traders and mining enthusiasts to gather to transact business.

2012-10-03 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Economic Armageddon by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

After the recent announcement by the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) that they would begin to engage in what has been deemed "QE3," there has been a lot of skepticism that such a plan could actually work. The Fed is attempting to carry out their dual mandate of price stability and full employment by engaging in a new round of asset purchasing targeted at the mortgage market.

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

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

2012-10-02 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.

2012-10-02 Lessons from Scandinavia by Kaisa Stucke, Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Scandinavian nations suffered through balance sheet recessions. Commentators have suggested that U.S. policymakers could use the Scandinavian response to their crises as a roadmap for resolving the current U.S. situation. As part of our own analysis, we have studied several earlier events to understand the underlying similarities and differences to develop insights into the current event.

2012-10-02 Pottersville by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

The excessive use of debt fueled by money printing was the pathway to the global debt crisis. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, an expert on the Great Depression, understands the ravages of debt deflation and his every action has been to prevent it from occurring. Greater care must be taken in the future to ensure that our fiat based, fractional reserve system does not run amok. This is why regulators are demanding that banks raise capital, reduce their proprietary trading activities, and shift their business models closer to a utility-style model.

2012-10-01 Leap of Faith by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Both the economy and the financial markets will do fine in the longer-term, but to imagine that there will not first be major challenges and disruptions is a leap of faith and a leap over a century of economic and financial history that screams otherwise.

2012-10-01 U.S. Economy Prints 32-month Low: Recession Risks Escalate by Dwaine van Vuuren of RecessionALERT.com

It's been 4 months since the 3rd "Summer Swoon" in this expansion when many commentators were trotting out recession scares and imminent collapses in the stock market. Since then the SP-500 has risen over 9%, peaking at 12% gains some weeks back. There is now an interesting divergence developing between the leading data (stock market, money supply, credit spreads etc.) that is implying positive expansion ahead and the co-incident data that is implying a drift toward possible recession.

2012-10-01 King Ludd is Still Dead by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

Since the dawn of the industrial age, a recurrent fear has been that technological change will spawn mass unemployment. By and large, neoclassical economists' prediction that people would find other jobs, though possibly after a long period of painful adjustment, has been proven correct but for how much longer?

2012-10-01 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Bad news from Spain (no good news, no bad news.) Investors spent the week trying to make heads or tails about the headlines out of Europe, while analyzing the news from a suddenly resurging housing sector and a suddenly ailing manufacturing sector. For the most part, however, many were booking profits from a successful third quarter, while reallocating positions for the final stretch of the year. (Surely the Prez election and the "fiscal cliff" must enter into their decision-making moving forward).

2012-10-01 Moral Hazard. by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Overall, equity market risk is dissipating. There appears to be a stronger momentum ameliorating a global tapestry of "ills." What may have been a domino effect when the credit crisis began has stopped short of a cataclysm and turned closer to equilibrium. As a result, equities might be poised to perform. The question is when?

2012-10-01 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks finally fell back last week. Weak economic data combined with concerns over Apple's new phone release hurt investor confidence.

2012-10-01 Typical Post-QE by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

We have typical post-QE market behavior. GTs sold off, then rallied. Equities rose, then flattened. The dollar sold off then strengthened. Gold crept up. Other commodities rose, yawned and gave up most of their gains. Earlier QEs took several months for this to play out. It now all happens in quick time.

2012-09-29 Uncertainty and Risk in the Suicide Pool by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave

Investors in the stock market, especially professionals, are obsessed with risk, your humble analyst included. We try to measure risk in any number of ways, looking for an edge to improve our returns. Not only do we try to determine probable outcomes, we also look for the 'fat tail' events, those things that can happen which are low in probability but will have a large impact on our returns.

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

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

2012-09-28 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Updated Real Personal Income Less Transfer Payments by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Official recession calls are the responsibility of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which is understandably vague about the specific indicators on which they base their decisions. This committee statement is about as close as they get to identifying their method. There is, however, a general belief that there are four big indicators that the committee weighs heavily in their cycle identification process.

2012-09-28 ECRI Weekly Leading Index Growth at Highest Level Since June 2011 by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose for the eighth consecutive week, now at 126.7, up from last week's 125.3 (revised from 124.7). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) now marks its sixth week in expansion territory at 3.8 (up from last week's 2.7). It has now posted thirteen consecutive weeks of improvement and is at its highest level since June 10, 2011.

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.

2012-09-28 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

The median household income adjusted for inflation is now around $50,000 for a "typical" American family. This is 8% below the all-time high, which was set in 2007. Driving these results, as reported by the Census Bureau, was the fact that 80% of Americans saw their household incomes decline, or at a minimum, remain the same, while the top 20% saw their incomes increase by 1.6%. Depending upon which side of the political spectrum you are on, an argument could be made for the policies of either President Obama or Governor Romney.

2012-09-28 Schwab Market Perspective: Disrespected RallyCan It Continue? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

US equities are trading near five-year highs but numerous measures show investors remain skeptical. The enthusiasm following the Fed's announcement of more quantitative easing was short-lived, although the summer rally in stocks could be at least partially attributed to anticipation of more stimulus. The enthusiasm following the Fed's announcement of more quantitative easing was short-lived, although the summer rally in stocks could be at least partially attributed to anticipation of more stimulus.

2012-09-28 Commodity Stocks: Improving Returns With No Extra Volatility by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Not every investment is the same. Even within the commodities space, when looking at measures such as correlation, performance and risk, two indexes can have very different effects on a portfolios results.

2012-09-27 Growing Pains in the BRICs by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman

The "BRIC" countries have been a focal point of investor interest since the early 2000s. Brazil, Russia, India and China account for about half of the world's population, boast vast natural resources and are among the fastest-growing economies in the world. That said, progress at times has been uneven. Since 2010, the MSCI BRIC Index has largely underperformed the S&P 500 as economic growth flagged. In this edition of Strategic Spotlight, we discuss current conditions and the outlook for these markets.

2012-09-27 Its the (REAL, not the financial) economy, stupid! by Kane Cotton of Bellatore Financial, Inc.

The Fed is relying on the wealth effect. It can't directly bring down unemployment (i.e., part of the "real" economy), so it is focusing on the areas that it can affect, the financial economy and asset prices. Since both PCE and Core CPI inflation measures have been fairly low and are unlikely to become uncomfortably high in the near term due to the slack labor market, low capacity utilization and stagnant incomes, the Fed is again taking aim at asset prices.

2012-09-27 Congress Adjourns Until November: Election and Lame Duck Session Update by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

Well over a year ago, I predicted that President Obama has the better chance of recapturing the Independent vote and winning the 2012 presidential election. I continue to hold that view.

2012-09-26 Bernanke Put: Beware of Easy Money by Alex Merk of Merk Funds

Central bankers around the world may be providing a backstop to the financial markets in much the same way Greenspan did during the "Goldilocks" years, but when the short-term euphoria wears off, will the negative repercussions be even more severe?

2012-09-26 Is China Becoming Less Competitive? by Dara White of Columbia Management

Concerns about the pace of economic growth in China and the imminent change in leadership have continued to escalate. At the beginning of the year, we highlighted the potential for the rate of economic growth to slow significantly. I recently visited Asia to get a clearer perspective on the situation in China specifically, and Asia generally.

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.'

2012-09-25 Bill Gross: Hedging Your Bet on Deflation versus Inflation by Ben Huebscher (Article)

Will deflation or inflation prevail? The answer to that one question determines portfolio construction, according to Bill Gross, founder, managing director, and co-CIO of PIMCO.

2012-09-25 Investing in a Resource-Constrained World by Richard Vodra, JD, CFP (Article)

The potential consequences of stagnant oil production and climate change for society are written about frequently, but here is a simpler question that is important to our community: How are these and related facts likely to affect investment returns going forward? How can we even frame such questions usefully?

2012-09-25 How to Build a Portfolio by Adams Jared Apt (Article)

This is the first of a set of three articles intended for the educated layman, in which I will combine the core ideas presented in my preceding articles into a comprehensive description of how to put together a portfolio. In this one, I'll explain what is often called Modern Portfolio Theory.

2012-09-25 Stocks Should Overcome Hurdles to Continue the Bull Market by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

Although global economic data has been relatively weak in recent years, risk asset prices have nonetheless advanced. We would attribute this trend to the fact that weak economic growth does not, by itself, limit the potential for risk assets. In our view, the liquidity-driven reflationary policies of the world's central banks have been a more important factor for asset prices than economic growth levels have been.

2012-09-24 South Korean Entrepreneurs Want Company by Team of Thomas White International

South Koreans, who have traditionally prized secure life-long employment at a chaebol, are increasingly setting out to establish their own companies.

2012-09-24 Clear Progress by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Two weeks into a new era of ECB and Fed policy and it is a tie between the gains in equities, with the US and European broad indexes up around 2.2%. But it's the lack of follow-through and opacity of the ECB moves which are perhaps the most disconcerting and so, probably, the more short-lived. While both central banks reported easing in the form of securities purchases they had very different origins and aims.

2012-09-24 Alice in Euroland by Giles Conway-Gordon of Cogo Wolf Asset Management

If you have a taste for make-believe, fantasy and unreason the shifts and contortions of the European elite in the face of the Eurozone (EZ) crisis, culminating in the latest plan for the European Central Bank (ECB) to purchase unlimited quantities of the bonds of EZ members in financial difficulties, have left you spoilt for choice over the last few months.

2012-09-22 QE Infinity: Unintended Consequences by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave

Last Monday an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, penned by five PhDs in economics, among them a former Secretary of the Treasury and an almost-guaranteed Nobel laureate (and most of them former members of the President's Council of Economic Advisors) minced no words in excoriating the current QE policy. We will look at that op-ed in detail below. The point is that there are grave reservations about the current policy among some very serious policy makers.

2012-09-21 ECRI Weekly Leading Index Growth at Highest Level Since July 2011 by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose for the seventh consecutive week, now at 125.4, up from last week's 124.7 (revised from 124.9). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) now marks its fifth week in expansion territory at 2.7 (up from last week's 1.9). It has now posted twelve consecutive weeks of improvement and is at its highest level since July 29, 2011.

2012-09-21 Reflections: Define Exigent by John Gilbert of GR-NEAM

The world is relying upon its central banks to work wonders. Having made a mess of their balance sheets, households and governments are faced with the long and unpleasant task of reducing indebtedness. The infinite supply of money in a paper money system is the obvious solution. The question is whether, with very liberal exercise of that privilege, there is some limit to its use.

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.

2012-09-20 QE n+1 What The Fed Is Really Up To by JJ Abodeely of Sitka Pacific Capital Management

As I survey the news stories and other analysis on the Feds recent announcement, most fall short of describing what the Fed is really up to. Here is a hint: it's not really about employment. It's not really about "price stability" or really about growth either.

2012-09-20 The Fed's "X" Factor by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

The most surprising element in last week's Federal Reserve (Fed) decision was not the announcement of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) purchases or the extension of its funds rate guidance to "mid-2015," both of which were signaled fairly clearly in advance. Rather, it was the fact that the aggressive monetary easing occurred alongside an upgrade to the central bank's economic forecasts.

2012-09-19 Global Investment Bulletin by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

If America's Federal Reserve Bank were a battleship, it is losing off every available piece of ordnance. The portfolio has been positioned for such an event. The USS Fed does not know who or where the enemy is, or whether its attack will hit anything for several quarters.

2012-09-18 Gundlach – The End of the Bond Bull Market by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Likening bullishness on Treasury bonds to a 'mass psychosis,' Jeffrey Gundlach made his strongest statement yet that interest rates are about to rise. In a conference call with investors last Tuesday, he said that the rate on the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond could increase by 100 basis points by the end of the year.

2012-09-18 Selling Your Practice – After Negotiations Fall Apart by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I was hoping to sell my firm to another financial advisor. When the time came to close the deal, he turned into a different person, trying to negotiate for all kinds of things and generally being very nasty. The deal fell apart. How do I find a suitable buyer who will treat me with respect and negotiate fairly?

2012-09-18 Shock and Awe by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

Almost twenty years ago, the US initiated a campaign of "Shock and Awe" with its bombing campaign on the Iraqi capital city of Bagdad. I bring this up because some commentators are comparing the Federal Reserve announcement made last week (not to mention the shocking new Arab unrest and murder of our Ambassador!) to the "Shock and Awe" of the first day of the Iraq War. What made it "Shock and Awe" was that the new Fed policy differed, according to John Carney at CNBC, in three ways from past Fed actions.

2012-09-18 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Last week the stock market got all it wanted from the Central Banks of Europe and here at home. The money presses have been put on full power. The result was a continuation of the stock market rally along with commodities while bonds suffered a setback as investors swapped out.

2012-09-17 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Dr. B. has spoken and investor are happy (though some Republican investors probably have mixed feelings). Though not all economists were on board with QE3, the policymakers looked at the labor market and took action. With promises of more bond-buying and low fund rates into 2015, investors went on a risk asset buying spree and stocks shot up to multi-year highs. So let the over-analysis (and political bickering) begin.

2012-09-17 The Fed to the Rescue? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Citing concerns about the pace of improvement in the labor market, the Federal Open Market Committee extended and amplified its forward guidance and started a third round of large-scale asset purchases (what most people call "QE3"). The FOMC said that economic conditions are expected to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate target through mid-2015 (vs. "late 2014" in the previous policy statement) and added that "a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the economic recovery strengthens."

2012-09-17 Charlie Dreifus on the Global Economy and Its Impact on Stocks by Charlie Dreifus of The Royce Funds

Portfolio Manager Charlie Dreifus examines the data from Europe, China, and the U.S. and discusses how it may affect domestic stock prices.

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

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

2012-09-17 "QE" Stands for Quality Employment by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The Fed's expansive and open-ended quantitative easing program centers on building up a depleted workforce and quickening the pace of the housing recovery, but higher inflation and tight credit could play the role of spoiler. Buying mortgage-backed securities and pushing interest rates lower is designed to boost the housing sector, help loosen lending standards, stimulate corporate spending and increase foreign demand for U.S. products. This is a tall order and there are many "ifs" in this scenario, but the flexibility and breadth of QE3 increases the likelihood of its effectiveness.

2012-09-17 Was QE3 Necessary? It Depends on Who You Ask... by Ken Taubes of Pioneer Investments

Last week Chairman Bernanke and the Fed launched another aggressive stimulus program, QE3, saying that they will buy $40 billion in mortgage debt per month and continue to purchase assets in order to boost growth and reduce unemployment. He also announced that the Fed is not likely to raise rates from the current rock bottom lows until at least mid 2015, vs. 2014 as previously stated.

2012-09-15 Truthiness and You by Dan Ariely of Dan Ariely Blog

The term truthiness gives us a way to identify certain kinds of behavior. Colbert mocks the truthiness politicians use to sell their ideas to the public; we can follow suit and mock the truthiness we use to sell rationalizations to ourselves.

2012-09-15 The Direction of the Compromise by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave

I think this election has the potential to be one of those rare times, at least in terms of economic outcomes. In Thoughts from the Frontline we cover economics and investments, money and finance. We only rarely stray into the political world, and then only glancingly. Today, we cross that gray line, but at a somewhat different angle, as we look at the economic consequences of the political decision that will come with the choices we make in November in the US.

2012-09-14 All In by Doug MacKay and Bill Hoover of Broadleaf Partners

Dissatisfied with progress on the jobs front, the Fed went "all in" yesterday in its much anticipated, most recent policy announcement. Unlike QE1, QE2 and Operation Twist, the latest addition to the monetary smorgasbord is open-ended, meaning that it has no pre-established termination date. Policy will remain stimulative for as long as it takes to see a substantial improvement in employment. Rather than keeping rates low well into 2014, it could now be well into 2015 before they tick back up.

2012-09-14 Open-Ended Easing by Carl Tannenbaum and Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) took a very forceful set of steps this week, designed to stimulate what officials have called a "frustrating" job market. Our updated forecast suggests that the growth trajectory of the US economy is positive but sufficiently sub-par for the Fed to have initiated additional monetary policy support. There are increasing signs that China's economy is slowing more than the official readings would suggest.

2012-09-14 ECRI Defends Its Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index of the Economic Cycle Research Institute rose for the 6th consecutive week, now at 124.9 from last week's 124.1. The WLI growth indicator now marks its fourth week in expansion territory at 2.1. It has now posted eleven consecutive weeks of improvement. The big news is yesterday's Bloomberg TV interview, in which Lakshman Achuthan, ECRI's COO, reasserted his company's recession call made a year ago on September 21st and his belief that the recession has already begun.

2012-09-14 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Updated Industrial Production and Real Retail Sales by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Official recession calls are the responsibility of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which is understandably vague about the specific indicators on which they base their decisions. This committee statement is about as close as they get to identifying their method. There is, however, a general belief that there are four big indicators that the committee weighs heavily in their cycle identification process. They are: Industrial Production, Real Income, Employment and Real Retail Sales.

2012-09-14 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group

It is a heads I wintails you lose - scenario for American farmers. Everyone has heard about the drought throughout the U.S. being the worst since the 50s. However, dont feel too badly for the farmers as their net income will hit a record $122 billion this year. How can that possibly be, given all of the crops drying up? Easy. Since the supply is down and demand remains the same, the price has jumped dramatically and has offset the loss of yield per acre.

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

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

2012-09-14 Dont Be the Equivalent of a Stock Market Racist by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Common stocks are very different and come in all assortments, sizes, shapes and flavors. Consequently, we encourage investors to think more specifically and rely more on the precise characteristics of the individual company or companies they are contemplating. Worrying about the general state of the economy or the stock market, or their future direction, is not only an exercise in futility, but an unnecessary exercise as well.

2012-09-14 All Signs Pointing to Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

So, gold investors, if you havent put in your orders, consider getting them in quickly, because the bulls are buying. Credit Suisse saw 'massive inflows' into gold exchange-traded products in August after experiencing significant outflows compared to crude oil and the broader market in March, April, May and July. August shows a clear preference toward gold.

2012-09-14 Central Banks Take Center Stage by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Accommodative central banks have traditionally been good for equities and stocks have responded positively to recent action. However, each market reaction to US Fed action has been shorter in length and challenges persist. Although recent economic data has been beating relatively low expectations, it is still not meeting the Fed's hopes. We appreciate the sentiment of wanting to stimulate growth, but the Fed's power is limited. It's down the street in Washington where the real power to stimulate growth lies.

2012-09-13 Back to the Future: What's at Stake for the Economy in the Obama-Romney Contest by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

To hear the two candidates tell it, the U.S. presidential election offers a dramatic choice on the economy: Vote for me, each says, if you want a robust recovery; pick my opponent, and we'll plunge back into recession. But given the huge problems the country currently faces, the future -- no matter who wins in November -- will look much like the present, according to several Wharton faculty.

2012-09-13 U.S. Dollar: Don't worry, be happy by Alex Merk of Merk Funds

May we suggest a Twitter version of today's FOMC statement: "Don't worry, be happy!" The Fed may want you to take a valium to stomach the ride ahead. Will the latest statement by the Fed put the U.S. dollar at risk of melting away under your feet?

2012-09-13 Fed Sets Sail on QE3 by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

They did it. The Federal Reserve today announced a third round of quantitative easing, making an open-ended commitment to buy additional mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month. The Fed said it also will "closely monitor" the economy and financial markets and continue these purchases and possibly expand them until they see substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market.

2012-09-12 Housing's 'Green Shoots' by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman

Headwinds in the housing market appear to be abating as the U.S. economy gradually heals.

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.

2012-09-12 Pacific Basin Market Overview - August 2012 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Pacific Basin equity market performances were mixed during August 2012 and generally underperformed markets in Europe and North America, largely due to the drag caused by concerns surrounding Chinas slowing economic growth rate. Numerous statements made by European leaders to support the Euro helped to allay fears and brought yields on sovereign bonds lower during the month.

2012-09-12 Will America Be Greece in Four Years? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The US national debt topped $16 trillion last week, and it was almost as if no one paid attention. At the rate we are going, the national debt will top $20 trillion just four years from now in 2016. In my August 21 E-Letter, I pointed out just how mind-boggling a trillion dollars is. Lets revisit that analogy of a trillion in terms of time.

2012-09-12 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook: Building Rickety Bridges to Uncertain Outcomes by Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

Without structural change aided by well-planned fiscal policy, we are afraid the nominal bridges of monetary policy will fail to reach their desired outcomes. The probability of a deflationary left-tail outcome emanating from the eurozone has declined substantially in the short run, yet outright economic growth in the eurozone will remain elusive in 2013.The much-publicized "fiscal cliff" is set to hit the U.S. economy on January 1, 2013, and could reduce U.S.

2012-09-11 Ponzi Games by Michael Lewitt (Article)

Whatever schemes the European Central Bank may cook up over the next few months will only prove short-term liquidity relief to what are long-term insolvency problems. Like any Ponzi scheme, the last money in is going to be hurt the worst when the charade comes to an end. In the meantime, investors proceed at their own risk.

2012-09-11 Ready, Set, Fed! Weak Jobs Report Raises QE3 Odds by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ says the US Federal Reserve Open Market Committee has more reason to consider quantitative easing at this week's meeting, after the latest payroll report suggests the US economic recovery is likely to remain weak into the end of the year.

2012-09-11 Fed Preview: Time to Forge Ahead by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

I got home at about 8 one evening last week, and it looked like a bomb had gone off inside my house. The shrapnel included empty pop cans, open bags of snacks, and scores of used napkins. The sink was filled with dirty dishes, and laundry (clean, or dirty?) was strewn about the floor. No one was home, leading me to suspect that the explosion had done them all in.

2012-09-11 Mondays! by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

In 1965, John Phillips penned Monday, Monday for the first album released by The Mamas and the Papas. The song was a melancholy downer. But it is perfect for summing up the experience for most investors over the last ten years. As you can see, if one had only invested on Mondays, the result would have fallen significantly short of investments for the full market period.

2012-09-10 Better Policy, Better Recovery by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Politicians always shift the blame. So, hearing them say that "no one" could have cleaned up the so-called mess and fixed the economy in just a few years is not surprising. What else do you say when after three years of recovery the unemployment rate is still at 8.1% -- down only 1.9 points since the peak almost three years ago and real economic growth has averaged a tepid 2.2% for three years of economic recovery?

2012-09-10 Late-Stage, High-Risk by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The market conditions we observe at present are very familiar from the standpoint of historical data, matching those that have appeared prior to the most violent market declines on record (e.g. 1973-74, 1987, 2000-2002, 2007-2009).

2012-09-10 The August Employment Report and the Fed by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The August job market report was disappointing. Nonfarm payrolls rose less than expected and previous figures were revised lower. The unemployment rate fell, but that was due to a decrease in labor force participation (dont read too much into that).

2012-09-10 Performance Anxiety?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

In last week's verbal strategy comments I suggested participants study the chart pattern of the S&P 500 (SPX/1437.92) and then think about what it would feel like if you were an underinvested portfolio manager (PM), or even worse a hedge fund that is massively short of stocks betting on a big decline. The concurrent performance anxiety would be legend because not only would you have performance risk, but also bonus risk and ultimately job risk.

2012-09-10 The Case for Real Estate by Jeff Kolitch, David Baron, David Kirshenbaum of Baron Funds

We believe we are in the early stages of a multi-year real estate recovery fueled by improving cash flows, rising demand, a scarcity of new development projects, improving credit availability, and generationally low interest rates. We believe the outlook is promising for both residential and commercial real estate.

2012-09-10 When Bad Is Good by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Faith in the Fed is growing more devout. Despite another disappointing jobs report, stocks drifted higher Friday to close out a strong week for the major averages as investors pinned their hopes to an imminent policy move from central bankers. It is becoming more apparent every day that the U.S. economy is sputtering. While housing appears to have stabilized, jobs and manufacturing are areas of concern.

2012-09-10 Are Labor Markets the Key to Fed Easing? by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

Widely reported last week was anemic labor market growth in August. Some talking heads took this news in stride, assuming this would guarantee further market intervention by the Fed, but there is a danger in assuming any form of quantitative easing will alleviate the intermediate-term concerns of the market.

2012-09-08 Debt Be Not Proud by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave

The unemployment numbers came out yesterday, and the drums for more quantitative easing are beating ever louder. The numbers were not all that good, but certainly not disastrous. But any reason will do, if what you want is more stimulus to boost the markets ever higher. Today we will look first at the employment numbers, because deeper within the data is a real story. Then we look at how effective any monetary stimulus is likely to be.

2012-09-07 The ECB: No Rest for the Weary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The economic picture in Europe is worsening, exposing flaws in the foundation of the euro compact. The European Central Bank is trying its best, but remains hindered by its charter. European policy makers should focus on stabilizing the situation first, and seeking retribution later.

2012-09-07 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Updated Nonfarm Employment by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Official recession calls are the responsibility of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which is understandably vague about the specific indicators on which they base their decisions. This committee statement is about as close as they get to identifying their method.

2012-09-07 Economic Data Continues to Undermine ECRI's Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose for the fifth consecutive week, now at 123.7 from last week's 123.5 (revised from 123.6). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) is in its second week in expansion territory at 1.0 (up from last week's 0.5). It has now posted ten consecutive weeks of improvement.

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%.

2012-09-07 The Fed's Campaign by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

This past Friday, as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke delivered his annual address from Jackson Hole - the State of the Dollar, if you will - I couldn't help but hear it as an incumbent's campaign speech. While Wall Street was hoping for some concrete announcement, what we got was a mushy appraisal of the Fed's handling of the financial crisis so far and a suggestion that more 'help' is on the way.

2012-09-07 Chinas Next Act by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

World markets may not have to wait much longer for Chinese policymakers to act, as the government recently announced new infrastructure projects. According to Bloomberg, China approved 25 new subway construction projects, with related investments estimated to be more than 840 billion yuan. Railway, subway and construction stocks in China increased on the news. China is in much better shape than the rest of the world. A powerful rebalancing strategy offers the structural and cyclical support that will allow it to avoid a hard landing.

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

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

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

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

2012-09-06 How to Unscramble an Egg by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward, Thomas Wittenborg of Absolute Return Partners

This month we take a closer look at the root problems behind the current crisis. Too often root problems are confused with symptoms and the wrong medicine is prescribed as a result. We identify five root problems, all of which must be addressed before we can, once and for all, leave the problems of the past few years behind us.

2012-09-06 August 2012 Market Commentary by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management

On a year-to-date basis the municipal bond market has, once again, delivered meaningful returns both on an absolute and risk adjusted basis. While the market yield and or cash flow of a bond is typically very important to investors, it is equally important to remember that the income a bond produces is only one component of a bonds return. Investors must consider several other essential elements of a security to properly quantify a bonds relative value.

2012-09-06 September: A Rough Month for the Markets? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

September is often a bad month for the stock markets, historically speaking, and this year it could be especially turbulent. In addition to all the uncertainty about the weak US economy, there is uncertainty about what the Fed may do just ahead and what, if anything, will be done to address Europe's recession and debt crisis. In addition, there is the looming presidential election which no doubt will go hyperbolic this month.

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

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

2012-09-04 Back-to-School Letter to the US Congress by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

What if members of the US Congress, now returning from their summer recess, were to receive a "back to school" memorandum from concerned citizens? At a minimum, it should call on Congress and the president to converge on a multi-prong, multi-year policy initiative that makes simultaneous advances in six critical areas.

2012-09-04 The Federal Budget Outlook and the Election by Scott Brown of Raymond James

With one month remaining in the fiscal year, the federal government appears to be on track to record a deficit of about $1.130 trillion, down from $1.296 trillion in FY11 and $1.294 trillion in FY10. Such large deficits can't continue indefinitely and this year's election should, in part, be about how, and how fast, the deficit will be trimmed in the years ahead. However, it's important to look at where the deficit came from.

2012-09-04 Civility by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Webster's defines "civility" as: civilized conduct; especially: courtesy, politeness. But, there was no civility last Friday afternoon. The place, CNBC; the time 3:05 p.m.; the anchors Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and Bill Griffith; the show "Closing Bell"; the guests were myself, Bill Spiropoulos, Lee Munson, and Matt McCormick. The interview started off well enough with each interviewee responding to the anchors' questions.

2012-09-04 Still No Recession in Sight by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Real GDP in the US has grown 2.3% in the past year, a mediocre rate of growth, little different than its 2.2% average since mid-2009, when the recovery officially began. It's what we call the Plow Horse economy and we expect it to continue plodding along, at least through this fall.

2012-09-04 All QE, All the Time by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

In a week of relatively light trading to wrap up the summer, equity markets trickled lower, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.5% and the S&P 500 Index fell 0.3%. It was a mixed week of economic data in the U.S., but markets were clearly locked in on Ben Bernanke's speech in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. News on housing seems to confirm that a bottom is in place, while manufacturing data continues to move in all different directions.

2012-09-01 Schwab Market Perspective: Back to Work by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

As summer winds down, we expect things to heat up as policymakers get back to work, resulting in a challenging investment environment.

2012-09-01 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Isaac vs. Romney vs. Bernanke. Each took their turn in the limelight this week. While the Hurricane dropped plenty of rain and brought damaging winds into Louisiana, the devastation didnt compare to Katrina. Romney humbly accepted his party's nomination, while still trying to prove to T-Partiers (and women) that he should be their guy (and he can bash his opponents with the best of them.

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?

2012-08-31 ECRI's Embarrassing Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose for the fourth consecutive week, now at 123.6 from last week's 123.3. See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) has risen into expansion territory at 0.6 after nine consecutive weeks of improvement.

2012-08-29 International Real Estate Securities: Review and Outlook by Jon Cheigh, Rogier Quirijns, Gerios Rovers, Luke Sullivan of Cohen & Steers

We would like to share with you our review and outlook for the international real estate securities market as of July 31, 2012. The FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed ex-U.S. Real Estate Index had a total return of 5.2% for the month (net of dividend withholding taxes) in U.S. dollars. By comparison, U.S. REITs returned 2.0% for the month, as measured by the FTSE NAREIT Equity REIT Index. Year to date, the indexes returned 21.3% and 17.2%, respectively.

2012-08-29 Is Inflation Returning? by Martin Feldstein of Project Syndicate

Inflation is now low in every industrial country, and the combination of high unemployment and slow GDP growth removes the usual sources of upward pressure on prices. Nevertheless, financial investors are increasingly worried that inflation will eventually begin to rise, owing to the large expansion of commercial bank reserves engineered by the United States Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank (ECB).

2012-08-28 Curious Repetition by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Greece had a bond payment in the middle of the week that was paid with no drama and then announced that it had enough cash to finance its needs through October. However, it is using cash set aside to recapitalize banks in order to meet general obligations. The bond buying proposals are still priced into the market.

2012-08-27 Still No QE3 by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

The Federal Reserve is clearly ready to do something. In recently released minutes from the 7/31-8/1 meeting and a letter from Chairman Bernanke to Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), the Fed argued that its actions had helped the economy already and that the Fed was ready to do more.

2012-08-27 Inside the Feds Head by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Now more than ever, investors are getting a glimpse into the minds of policy makers. While economic forecasts remain foggy, recent FOMC minutes reveal why the Fed is sharpening its tools and which ones it is likely to use.

2012-08-27 European Real Estate Securities: Review and Outlook by Rogier Quirijns, Gerios Rovers of Cohen & Steers

We would like to share with you our review and outlook for the European real estate securities market as of July 31, 2012. For the month, the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Europe Real Estate Index had a total return of 3.9% (in U.S. dollars, net of dividend withholding taxes). By comparison, U.S. REITs had a total return of 2.0%, as measured by the FTSE NAREIT Equity REIT Index. Year to date, the indexes had total returns of 14.0% and 17.2%, respectively.

2012-08-27 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

When Ben Bernanke talks...investors listen, Republican moans, Romney belittles, and markets react. For now, the jury is still out about any upcoming stimulus move as the policymakers appear far from consensus. Housing continued its rebounding ways, though manufacturing again raised concerns. Europe still appears to be in disarray as Greece takes direction (and a scolding) from its stronger brethren. Stocks ended their nice winning streak, though closed the week on a high note.

2012-08-27 FPA Crescent: Steve Romick's Semi-Annual Report by Steven Romick of FPA Fund

FPA Crescent Fund has released its Semi-Annual report on the state of the fund and its investments. The piece also delves into portfolio manager Steve Romick's market outlook and thoughts regarding the fund's positioning moving forward.

2012-08-25 Boomers are Breaking the Deal by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave

We look at the trends in employment as well as take note of a signpost we passed on the way to finding out that we cant pay for all the future entitlements we have been promised.

2012-08-24 Large Cap Value: Review and Outlook by Richard Helm of Cohen & Steers

We would like to share with you our review and outlook for the U.S. large cap value market as of July 31, 2012. For the month, the Russell 1000 Value Index had a total return of 1.0%, compared with a total return of 1.4% for the S&P 500 Index.

2012-08-24 Economic Data Continues to Refute ECRI's Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose slightly to 123.3 from last week's 123.0 (an upward revision from 122.8). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) is at -0.1, less negative than the -0.4 for last week, which is an upward revision from the previously reported -0.6.

2012-08-24 Economist Expectations for GDP and Unemployment Out to Q1 2014 by Team of Bespoke Investment Group

Economist Expectations for GDP and Unemployment Out to Q1 2014.

2012-08-24 Taking Stock of Corporate Earnings by Team of Neuberger Berman

The corporate earnings season for the second quarter of 2012 has just about ended. Investors entered this period with much apprehension as the global economic slowdown set expectations for disappointing earnings. However, U.S. numbers surprised on the upside, contributing to a rally in equity markets worldwide. Given the importance of the corporate sector to the current economic recovery, we take a deeper look at recent earnings data to highlight important trends.

2012-08-23 No Recession Now - But When? by Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live

There have been a few calls as of late (Hussman, ECRI, Shilling) stating that we are currently in the next recession. Then there is everyone else. While the "optimistic" outlook is always more enjoyable to listen to - the problem is that the current "no recession" view is primarily predicated on current quarter growth rates looked at in isolation. These data points are then extrapolated into continuous future economic expansion.

2012-08-23 Setting Up for Jackson Hole by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

I was once favored with an invitation to the Federal Reserve's annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was an amazing experience; the participant list was a Who's Who of global economic policy makers. I called my mother to brag, but all she wanted to talk about was the mischief that she and my father had gotten into while honeymooning in the area some fifty years earlier. Too much information.

2012-08-23 'Japanification' by Scott Mather, Dirk Jeschke of PIMCO

The same dark forces that Japan has been battling could continue to infect the developed world. During Japan's banking crisis deflationary expectations became embedded in the economy early on, preventing real short-term rates from remaining negative and thereby clogging monetary transmission. One of the chief explanations for the outbreak of deflation in Japan was the difference in the structure of the labor market.

2012-08-23 The Growth Factor by John Barr, Chris Retzler of Needham Funds

During July, the domestic economy continued to slow and Europe again appeared on the precipice of disaster. On August 3rd, the July employment report showed unemployment at 8.3%, essentially unchanged from June. We believe the real story is that the civilian labor force participation rate has fallen to 63.7%, which is down from a peak of 67.3% in 2000.

2012-08-23 Global Real Estate Securities: Review and Outlook by Jon Cheigh, Chip McKinley of Cohen & Steers

We would like to share with you our review and outlook for the global real estate securities market as of July 31, 2012. The FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Real Estate Index had a total return of 3.6% for the month (net of dividend withholding taxes) in U.S. dollars. Year to date, the index returned 18.9%.

2012-08-22 What Will it Take for the Rally to Continue? by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

One of the factors underlying the upturn in stock prices over the past couple of months has been a modestly improving trend in US economic data. Last week, retail sales advanced 0.8%, well ahead of expectations. This was the first increase in four months, which suggests that while households remain generally cautious, spending levels are beginning to tick higher.

2012-08-21 Hype and Reality in the Muni Bond Market by Hildy Richelson (Article)

Meredith Whitney's prediction last year of billions of dollars in municipal bond defaults stirred investors' fears. Earlier this summer, bankruptcies in three California cities reignited them, and last week a Federal Reserve study revealed that muni bonds have defaulted at a higher rate than previously reported. But no crisis has befallen the municipal bond market, and it is highly unlikely that one ever will.

2012-08-21 Anniversary Weaks by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

A couple of anniversaries last week: five years since the start of the credit crunch and one year since the US downgrade. The ramifications of both are still evident daily, of course. We're still living the consequences. So this is as good a time as any to take stock.

2012-08-21 Inflation Subdued, But Will It Last? by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

As the economy continues to grind along at a sub-optimal rate of growth, many pundits are calling for additional quantitative easing measures from the Federal Reserve. Recent inflation data keeps the door open for further easing, but pockets of higher prices exist, keeping the Fed at bay.

2012-08-21 Young Americans: The Death of Equities May be Exaggerated by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

PIMCO founder Bill Gross believes the "cult of equity is dying" let me take the other side. Mutual-fund flows suggest that we may have lost a generation of investors. However, demographics suggest there may be another generation that could be the stock market's savior.

2012-08-21 U.S. Equities After the Earnings Season: Is There Still an Opportunity? by Joseph Tanious of J.P. Morgan Funds

Now in its fourth year of recovery following the financial crisis, the S&P 500 is once again testing the 1400 level, having rallied over 100% from its March 2009 lows. Meanwhile, earnings have hit an all-time high, but it is becoming clear that earnings growth is slowing. All of this has occurred against a backdrop of global economic uncertainty, unprecedented central bank action, and the most polarized U.S. political landscape we have ever seen.

2012-08-20 The Outlook for Inflation and Fed Policy by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The odds of further accommodation from the Federal Reserve have decreased significantly in the last few weeks, as the level of fear has diminished. The financial markets now expect most of the fiscal cliff to be avoided. In Europe, leaders will still have to act against the region's crisis, but theyve also continued to express a strong resolve "to do whatever it takes" to keep the eurozone intact. Perhaps more importantly, U.S. economic data reports have generally improved.

2012-08-20 QE3: Tackling the Big Questions by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Will the Fed launch another round of quantitative easing? If so, when? Here are the factors that could influence the central bank's decision.

2012-08-20 The Basis For Fear by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Last week, I wrote about how stocks are cheap historically and also with respect to other asset classes, such as bonds. This week, I want to focus on the reasons for this. Stocks are not cheap by accident. Investor concerns over Europe, renewed recession in the U.S., the fiscal cliff and the huge budget deficits provide ample reason for caution. However, not all of these concerns are well placed and some of the issues can be resolved favorably.

2012-08-20 Europe's Unstable Hammock by Mohamed El-Erian of PIMCO

This summer I have been asked a lot about Europe -- not so much by economists but by others concerned that the lingering crisis there would make their daily economic life even more challenging. In responding to these questions, I have often struggled to summarize in a few sentences the causes of Europe's existential crisis, let alone what is likely to occur next (including elements of a solution) -- that is until I tried to use a hammock.

2012-08-20 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stock prices have been supported by strong profits permitting buybacks and rising dividends as well as the absence of negative news from Europe. In fact, with all the leaders there taking vacations it has allowed rumors and leaks of possible steps, which have produced lower borrowing costs in Spain and Italy. This has allowed for a reflex rally there that has served as a catalyst for the continued rally in our domestic markets.

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.

2012-08-17 Press Play by Liam Molloy, Bethany Carlson of Galway Investment Strategy

The Treasury has doled out approximately $10.5 billion on excess bank reserves over the last four years. The emergency Fed policy of paying 25 basis points on excess reserves was enacted on October 6, 2008 to incentivize banks to hold them in the midst of the financial crisis. It worked. But the policy also introduced another headwind to velocity of money.

2012-08-17 ECRI Weekly Leading Index Continues to Undermine ECRI's Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index of the Economic Cycle Research Institute rose slightly to 122.8 from last week's 122.5. See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator is at -0.6, less negative than the -1.1 for last week, which is an upward revision from the previously reported -1.3. As of today, the ECRI website continues to feature Lakshman Achuthan's July 10th Bloomberg TV interview, in which he reaffirmed his company's recession call and stated that we're already in a recession.

2012-08-17 Republicans Hope, but Don't Change by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

While I appreciate that Ryan has the courage to take a position at the vanguard of his party in the campaign for fiscal responsibility, the modesty of his plan is just the latest reminder of how utterly divorced from reality Washington politicians remain. Like all of his brethren, Ryan is pinning his budget battling plans on the pain free "grow your way out of it plan." But as long the government consumes so much of the nation's productivity, the conditions to create that growth will never occur. Hope is not a strategy.

2012-08-17 Love Trade Cools as Central Banks Gold Demand Heats Up by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Although the Love Trade (purchasing gold for coins or jewelry) is on ice for now, a relatively new gold buyer has been warming up to gold. Central bank purchases hit a record high since the official sector became gold buyers three years ago. If this trend continues over the remainder of 2012, central banks will be entering a new territory of gold buying that has not been seen since the early 1960s and since the end of the Bretton Woods System in 1971.

2012-08-16 The ECB Is Too Tight Absolutely and Relatively by Scott Mather, Dirk Jeschke of PIMCO

Looking at measures of the quantity of money and its transmission into the real economy reveals that ECB policy is quite tight. Growth hardly stands a chance under this scenario. Relatively tight monetary policy would perhaps be understandable if the eurozone were threatened by inflation. However, inflation is low and falling in the Eurozone. The ECB may be playing a game of chicken with European policymakers. If true, this is a dangerous strategy.

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.

2012-08-16 Monthly Investment Bulletin by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

A good month: a gross increase of 3.13%, over twice the index at .49%. Opinion polls the morning after the opening ceremony for the London Olympic Games estimated that 2.5% of the television audience (or 30m viewers) actually believed that the Queen and James Bond parachuted into the Olympic arena. Even if true (the poll was tiny and perhaps respondents had a better sense of irony), such gullibility is understandable on live TV. But naivety in financial markets is unforgivable.

2012-08-16 Searching for a Fiscal Ladder by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

As America begins to cool down after a long hot summer, the economy remains sluggish. Economic growth in the first half of the year is estimated to be less than 2%, reflecting continued business and consumer caution, tight lending standards and a shrinking government sector. This pace of growth, in turn, has produced a monthly average of just over 100,000 new jobs since February, leaving the unemployment rate marooned above 8%. For investors, however, the picture is not that bad.

2012-08-14 Blind Faith by Michael Lewitt (Article)

Central banks are facing political and practical obstacles that will render it very difficult for them to deliver anything more than anodyne words and actions as summer moves into the always dangerous August holiday season. IPhones should be kept on alert at the beach through Labor Day.

2012-08-14 Maybe This Time is Different by Andrew Redleaf of Whitebox Advisors

This Time Is Different, the catchy title of the popular book by economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, has also become a catchphrase summing up the world-weary wisdom of our time. Reinhart and Rogoff, in recounting eight hundred years of financial follies and investment bubbles, gleefully point out that in every case experts offered plausible arguments for dispensing with traditional rules of valuation, i.e., "this time it's different."

2012-08-14 Careful With That Beehive, Eugene by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

When you move a beehive, you must move it more than three miles or not less than three feet. Anything else confuses the bees. Markets can be the same. And that's why President Draghi's comments reverberate still after two weeks. No one seems to understand what he meant.

2012-08-13 Which Way Will the Pendulum Swing for Gold? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

One of the most fascinating aspects when watching a sporting event like the Olympics is the historical statistics highlighting the tremendous advances in athleticism over the years. In the spirit of the events this summer, BTN Research compared gold's advancement from the beginning of the games in Beijing to the London Olympics.

2012-08-13 Begging for Trouble by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Investors remain so addicted to the temporary high of monetary intervention that they are practically begging to be shot, mauled by dogs, and diced by a Veg-O-Matic so they can get their next fix of pain-killers.

2012-08-13 Driving with the Doors Off by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover of Broadleaf Partners

Two months ago I bought a bulldozer-yellow Jeep Wrangler, replacing my eight year old black Audi A6. While the A6 had been a wonderful car, I was ready for something new and a Jeep fit the bill. Driving with the doors off was a lot of fun, but certainly a different feeling than I was used to experiencing. The stock market over the last two months and perhaps even last three summers has been a lot like that, different, but ultimately rewarding.

2012-08-13 Double Dip? Doubtful by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The flow of economic news is hardly encouraging. Jobs growth remains disappointing. Recent readings on consumer spending and business activity show weakness as well. If the picture of the housing market has improved a bit, it still hardly portrays strength. Talk of an imminent recessionary dip has become common, for the third time now in as many years. While some recent economic reports have been discouraging, underlying fundamentals do not point to a return to recession.

2012-08-13 Commodities to Power Emerging Markets Higher by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Funds

In Latin America, Brazil leads as a natural supplier of copper and crude oil, which it is now able to extract and export on competitive terms. Nations rich with natural resources perform well during times of global economic expansion. In particular, countries rich with industrial commodities tend to outperform those without.

2012-08-13 Stocks Look Poised for Continued Gains by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

Although investor attention seems focused on a number of well-known downside risks (including the European debt crisis, hesitant US economic growth and the pending US fiscal cliff), stocks have continued to climb higher and last week notched their fifth consecutive week of gains.

2012-08-11 And Then There Is Disaster C by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave

I have contended for some time that Europe is faced with two choices: Disaster A, which is the break-up of the eurozone, or Disaster B, which is the creation of a fiscal union, which keeps the euro more or less intact. Over the last few months I have come to realize that there is indeed a third option, which now looks increasingly possible. European leaders might do nothing more than deal with the problem immediately in front of them, moving from crisis to crisis in a slow-motion drift toward fiscal union.

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

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

2012-08-10 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Improves, Growth Index Little Changed by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose slightly to 122.5 from last week's 122.1 (a tiny revision from the previously reported 122.2). See the WLI chart below. At one decimal place, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) is unchanged at -1.3 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through August 3. At two decimal places, WLIg is slightly less negative at -1.28 compared to last week's -1.35.

2012-08-10 Citius, Altius, Fortius by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Countries across the globe seek faster, higher, stronger growth. Central banks in the United States and Europe are both seeking new ways to stimulate economic activity. Recent news from the housing market has been encouraging, but the race to recovery is likely to be a marathon, not a sprint. Headwinds blowing from Europe and China will continue to present significant downside risks to U.S. economic growth.

2012-08-10 Dog Days by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

We now appear to be firmly in the dog days of summer. Low volume and little conviction may dominate but investors need to stay vigilant and now is a good time to prepare for the fall. The recent Fed meeting yielded no new action, but policy makers reiterated that they will act if necessary. We are skeptical that more stimulus measures will have a lasting impact. A waiting game has ensued in Europe as investors look for action following hopeful comments from various officials. But despite concerns over corn prices, central banks will continue to ease, helping to support global growth.

2012-08-09 Viva Reforma en Mxico by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Elections come and go, but the real test of a candidate might be whether the promises made on the campaign trail are actually put into place. Enrique Pea Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) emerged victorious in Mexico's July 1 presidential election on the promise of reform and the end to old, "undemocratic" ways.

2012-08-08 How Hoover Caused the Euro Crisis by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

There is a Burkean principle that many sorts of change must be regarded with skepticism. In the last few months in Europe we have seen new maxims, new ideas, new commitments, new resolves, lots of new acronyms, yet very little has changed from two years ago when Greece surfaced as the first casualty of the banking/sovereign crisis.

2012-08-08 Stock Pickers: "Somebody I Used to Know" by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Art has a tendency to express culture. One of today's catchiest songs does a great job of explaining the relationship between institutional/individual investors and US common stock picking. The song captures what has happened since the summer of 1999, when Warren Buffett warned investors about forward stock market returns because of a love affair that institutional and individual investors were having with US large cap stocks.

2012-08-08 Monthly Product Commentary: International Equity - July 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

International equities made modest gains during the month of July on repeated assurances from European policymakers that they will explore all possible steps to prevent a collapse of the monetary union and arrest further economic decline. Developed markets in Europe's Nordic region and the Asia Pacific, excluding Japan, as well as select emerging markets in Asia ended with healthy gains for the month.

2012-08-07 Robert Shiller on the Social Benefits of Finance by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

It's a bad sign for the finance industry that one of its leading minds - the distinguished Yale economist Robert Shiller - has felt compelled to write a book in order to defend the idea that finance itself is a constructive pursuit, worthwhile to modern society. Have things really gotten that bad?

2012-08-07 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Last week gave us quite a bit of information, but on balance the stock markets did not seem fazed one way or the other. Disappointment at a lack of policy initiative from the world's Central Bankers was offset by an employment report, which was very confusing at best, but certainly did not indicate a meltdown in the economy.

2012-08-07 The Not So Super Hero by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The past week provided clear lessons not just in how central bankers have a limited ability to positively influence the economy but also how they are limited in their capacity to deliver the shortsighted policy actions that investors currently crave. The developments should provide new reasons for investors and economy watchers to abandon their faith in central bankers as super heroes capable of saving the economy.

2012-08-07 Mixed Signals Color Downgrade Anniversary by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Two trouble spots for the economy, the job market and housing, generated some good vibes amid gloom over no action from central banks and manufacturing weakness. Unfortunately, it wasnt enough to push the stock market into positive territory for the week. But looking through a longer-term lens, stocks have been resilient since last year's debt-ceiling drama and Standard & Poors downgrade of U.S. debt.

2012-08-07 All That and Nothing To See by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

The ECB learned a tough media lesson last week. If you say, as Mr. Draghi did in a pre-Olympic euphoria, that you will do "whatever it takes to preserve the euro" then markets will take you at your word.

2012-08-06 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Action speaks louder than words. While the positive rhetoric coming from the mouths of center bankers brought optimism to the markets, their actions (or lack thereof) sent the indexes into a four day losing streak. Only a strong non-farm payroll release late in the week salvaged the market and a solid rebound left the major indexes in positive territory for the week (though the eternal pessimists believed the data was an aberration). Maybe Bernanke has more words of wisdom for them?

2012-08-06 From Resource Curse to Blessing by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

New discoveries of natural resources in several African countries including Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, and Mozambique raise an important question: Will these windfalls be a blessing that brings prosperity and hope, or a political and economic curse, as has been the case in so many countries?

2012-08-06 Global Overview: July 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

Global equity prices made modest gains in July, helped by strong gains in the developed markets in Europe's Nordic region as well as in the Asia Pacific, excluding Japan. Most major emerging markets in Asia also saw price gains during the month, while Spain, Italy, and select other markets in Europe lost further ground. U.S. GDP growth for the second quarter declined below the previous quarter's pace, but was marginally ahead of expectations.

2012-08-06 Why the Long Face? by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Back in early 2009, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Business teamed up to create the Financial Trust Index. The latest readings from July 2012 show that just 21% of Americans trust the financial system and only 15% trust the stock market. For many, this negativity is understandable.

2012-08-06 Job Outlook: Not Great, But Not Terrible by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Nonfarm payrolls rose more than expected in July, reducing fears that the economy may be headed back into recession. One shouldn't put too much weight on any one particular month, especially July. However, the figures are consistent with the broad range of data suggesting moderate growth over the near term - not especially strong, but not terribly weak either.

2012-08-06 Yogi Berra by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

"It's hard to make predictions, especially about the future." ... Yogi Berra. To be sure, "It's hard to make predictions, especially about the future," and last week was no exception. I began the week noting that there would be a trifecta of potentially market moving news events. The first was the two-day FOMC meeting where I thought the Fed would change its policy statement with a lean toward more accommodation. WRONG.

2012-08-05 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

One of the so-called potential benefits of a 401(k) plan is the ability of the participant to borrow money from the plan. Generally, a participant can borrow up to $50,000 from the plan and pay themselves interest. The loan must be repaid within a five year period of time.

2012-08-05 Erasers by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Moderate losses may be a necessary feature of risk-taking, but deep losses are erasers. A typical bear market erases over half of the preceding bull market advance. It is easy to forget - particularly during late-stage bull markets - how strongly this impacts full-cycle returns.

2012-08-03 GDP Report: "Good News" - You've Got to be Kidding! by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

We dissect last Fridays controversial 2Q GDP report, which most found disappointing but some in the mainstream media found encouraging (ie at least were not in a recession). From there, well discuss the Feds latest monetary policy meeting that ends tomorrow. The stock markets rallied strongly last week, partly on perceived good news from Europe, and partly because of renewed expectations that the GDP report would be weak enough to move the Fed to enact QE3.

2012-08-03 2nd Quarter Small Cap Newsletter by Team of 1492 Capital Management

The stock market posted a strong start for the year but quickly surrendered most of its gains as the macro environment (European debt concerns and China’s slowing economy) caused near-panic selling pressure until the last week of the quarter.

2012-08-03 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Slips But Growth Index Improves by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped to 122.2 from last week's 122.7 (a tiny revision from the previously reported 122.8). See the WLI chart below. However, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) improved, now at -1.3 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through July 27, an improvement over the previous week's -1.7, which was an upward revision from -2.3.

2012-08-03 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Updated Nonfarm Employment by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Official recession calls are the responsibility of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which is understandably vague about the specific indicators on which they base their decisions. This committee statement is about as close as they get to identifying their method.

2012-08-03 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Recession by Martin Pring of Pring Turner Capital Group

Every day it seems the media are filled with forecasts of dyer economic times ahead based on troubles in Europe, Asia, and the Fiscal Cliff. The list goes on. Indeed the latest unemployment and GDP numbers, reflect a declining growth rate that is on the verge of going negative. Consequently, a number of commentators have used a projection of these trends to forecast an imminent recession. This is typical of crowd behavior, which has a strong tendency to extrapolate the recent past.

2012-08-03 The Race for Resources by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The world watched in awe as American swimmer Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time. It's inspiring to see the incredible results of his tremendous sacrifice and commitment. Investing in global markets requires the same sort of stamina, especially at times like this week, when the month's reading on the manufacturing industry was not encouraging. The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI of 48.4 for July was the lowest since June 2009.

2012-08-02 Q1 GDP Revised Upward; Q2 Growth Remains Sluggish by Team of American Century Investments

The 1.5% rise in gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter was in line with market expectations, while growth for 1Q was revised up slightly to 2.0%. The major U.S. equity markets fared well, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing above 13,000 for the first time since may. In other news, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets this week, which could result in a third round of quantitative easing.

2012-08-01 What History Suggests About the Future of Stocks by Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein

Some experts today argue that the world has entered a New Normal condition in which stocks have permanently lost their return edge. We've heard this before. It was wrong then, and we think it's wrong now, too. In 1979, BusinessWeek published a cover story famously called The Death of Equities. now, stock market returns had lagged 10-year Treasury returns for a decade, although for somewhat different reasons.

2012-08-01 The Big Four Economic Indicators: What They're Telling Us About the Economy by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Official recession calls are the responsibility of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which is understandably vague about the specific indicators on which they base their decisions. This committee statement is about as close as they get to identifying their method. There is, however, a general understanding that there are four big indicators that the committee weighs heavily in their cycle identification process.

2012-08-01 The Vanishing Treasury Yield by Team of Neuberger Berman

Although Treasury bonds have performed well in recent years, investors should be aware of increasing risks as yields decline. Yields for 10-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities have been persistently negative since the fourth quarter of 2011 and continue to trend lower, implying that investors are paying increasingly higher prices for the relative safety these investments are supposed to provide.

2012-08-01 Remarks to the NBER-Sloan Conference on the European Crisis by Mohamed El-Erian of PIMCO

We believe that this intersection between what economists and policymakers know - is a critical one to get right, and not only for a long-term investor like PIMCO. You see, unless there is a strong economic anchor, policymakers (and their political bosses) will lack the conviction and foundation needed to take difficult decisions and explain them well to citizens. So it is crucial for both sides to know what is known - and also to recognize, to the extent possible, the known unknowns.

2012-08-01 America's Constrained Choice by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

By the time the next US presidential term starts in January 2013, the incumbent will have only limited room for maneuver on economic policy. The real choice concerns the social policies that should accompany a broadly similar set of economic measures; and, here, the differences between the candidates are highly consequential.

2012-08-01 Italy - The Next Chapter in the Eurozone Debt Crisis by Greg Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management

After recently returning from Italy and France and analyzing the economic data coming out of Italy, we have a higher conviction that Italy will be stuck in a severe recession and has an elevated probability of requiring a bailout. Our main theme, which is similar to our view of the United States, is that Italy has too much public debt and is lacking the political will to make the necessary expense cuts and stimulate its economy to successfully navigate the deleveraging that is required.

2012-07-31 Justice Roberts is Right: The Plan Won't Work by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Now that the Supreme Court has given its narrow blessing to the Affordable Care Act, the big question is whether it will deliver the benefits that its proponents promise. Unfortunately, as it is now constructed, the plan will backfire causing fewer healthy people to buy insurance, raise premiums for those who do, destroy employment opportunities, cripple the health insurance industry, and weaken the economy.

2012-07-31 Uncertainty Reigns Supreme by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

With the first half of the year in the rearview mirror, investors might be lulled into thinking the most active period of the year is also in the rearview. Fast forward to year-end, though, and investors may beg for a return to the sanguine days of early 2012. A range of events in the coming months will likely dictate market optimism for 2012, 2013 and possibly beyond.

2012-07-31 An ECB Rally by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

We remain dependent on European statements but what a difference a year makes. This time last year we saw softening economic data and increasingly poor news coming out of Europe. But then we had a diffident ECB president who had just finished a round of rate increases as Europe slumped. This time we have combative words from Mario Draghi to support the euro, apparently at all costs.

2012-07-30 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks bounced last week on the heels of earnings which were not so bad, and perhaps more importantly, indications that the European Central Bank was ready to take the plunge as lender of last resort.

2012-07-30 Legends of the Fall 2012 by Nicholas Field of Schroder Investment Management

Are there any lessons from history for global stock markets, including emerging markets? Despite strong economic fundamentals, emerging stock markets have been negatively impacted by the global financial crisis and the European crisis. The outcome for all stock markets, including emerging markets, significantly depends on how these problems are resolved. In this context can previous crises, including the 1930's, give us any clues regarding timing?

2012-07-28 Gambling in the House? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave

The problem that gave rise to the LIBOR scandal is the lack of transparency. Why would banks want to reveal how much profit they are making? The last thing banks want is transparency. This week I offer a different take on LIBOR, one which may annoy a few readers, but which I hope provokes some thinking about how we should organize our financial world.

2012-07-27 Demographic Headwinds for Housing by Mike "Mish" Shedlock of Sitka Pacific

Boomer demographics and postponement of marriage on account of student debt and poor finances are two of the key reasons that I long-ago stated the housing recovery would be slow for a decade. Declining birthrates now show that is indeed what is happening.

2012-07-27 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Improves by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose to 122.8 from last week's 121.8 (a tiny revision from the previously reported 121.9). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) also improved, now at -1.6 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through July 20, an improvement over the previous week's -2.3.

2012-07-27 FOMC Preview: Christening QE III by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Look for the Federal Reserve to embark on a new round of quantitative easing next week.

2012-07-27 Treading Water by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Stocks seem to be biding time until the action heats back up as summer winds down, but market-moving events can happen at any time. The US economy continues to slow and Bernanke had a relatively dour outlook before Congress. But it appears things would have to get worse before another round of easing is initiated; the effectiveness of which we continue to question. Yields in Spain and Italy indicate action may be needed sooner rather than later, but we did get positive remarks by the ECB, which led to market rallies and a big drop in yields, providing a measure of hope.

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.

2012-07-25 Economic Review: Americas - 2Q 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

Among the developed economies in the region, growth forecasts for both the U.S. and Canada have been revised lower. Though the U.S. outlook has weakened, the Mexican economy has so far remained unaffected, as manufactured goods from the country remain competitive in export markets. Brazil is yet to see a recovery even after a series of monetary and fiscal measures taken since the second half of last year to support the economy.

2012-07-25 Low Interest Rates Are Not Enough by Mohamed El-Erian of PIMCO

Welcome to what could be called "GGIRC," the great global interest rate convergence whereby interest rates steadily converge to zero in many countries around the world, both advanced (other than the crisis European economies) and emerging (other than the persistent financial basket cases). In theory this is a good thing for a global economy. In practice, however, the situation is much more complicated and not so benign.

2012-07-25 One More Dance by Neel Kashkari of PIMCO

We are witnessing a synchronized slowdown worldwide that is beginning to affect corporate profits. The most likely right-tail event is the Federal Reserve launching another round of quantitative easing. We dont believe liquidity alone can engineer sustainable, real economic growth in the context of a secular deleveraging cycle. But we acknowledge that equity portfolios would likely benefit should the Fed keep the music playing a little longer.

2012-07-24 Weaker Headlines by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Well, the whole Spanish banking solution from a few weeks ago was not destined to last. Back in late June, the EU welcomed, along with the ECB, EBA and IMF that the EFSF /ESM would provide around 50bn of capital, provided the financial sector gave certain conditions and horizontal restructuring plans. And, even better, the FROB would receive the funds and ensure at the time of the capital infusion, Spain would honor its Excessive Deficits Procedures. Got that?

2012-07-24 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

I want to dispel the notion that I am an investment bear. There is nothing wrong with expressing an opinion, bullish or bearish, particularly when the consensus says its alright. Proof of one's courage, though, lies at the margins, during undetectable inflection points, before the consensus has arrived. My track record versus the benchmarks demonstrates a successful delineation between bearishness and being opportunistic.

2012-07-24 Fed Outlook: An Itchy Trigger Finger by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Fed Chairman Bernanke's monetary policy testimony to Congress was not expected to be a big deal. The economic projections of senior Fed officials were already published and the minutes of the June 19-20 policy meeting showed the Fed in a wait-and-see attitude However, most of the economic data released since the Fed policy meeting were weaker than expected. While Bernanke did not signal that policy action was imminent, the tone of his testimony was clearly concerned.

2012-07-24 Wesbury vs. Krugman by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Today, on Bloomberg with Tom Keene, Brian Wesbury was asked about Paul Krugman. Wesbury said Krugman was wrong - government spending does not boost growth, if it did there would be no poverty in the world. This was reported on BusinessInsider...BusinessInsider then reported that Krugman fired back...quoting his New York Times blog. In it, he claims it all "depends on the situation."

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

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

2012-07-24 Litman Gregory Mid-Year Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory

High debt levels in developed countries create headwinds that are likely to hamper global economic growth in the years ahead. Europe's debt woes raise the risk of a damaging financial crisis, and global stock markets reflected these concerns in the second quarter. Why are we discussing this now? It is partly a reflection on having reached a quarter of a century in business and thinking about how we have conducted our business.

2012-07-23 Emerging Asia Pacific: Economic Review 2nd Quarter 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

Emerging Asia, which posted strong results during the first quarter of 2012 on optimism that Europe's sovereign debt problems would be solved quickly, returned to struggling ways during the second quarter of 2012 as prospects for Europe continued to wobble throughout the period. The uncertainty about Greece's fate in the European Union and the destiny of the single market itself kept industrial firms in Europe guessing for the most part of the second quarter.

2012-07-23 Economic Review: Developed Europe Second Quarter 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

Developed Europe remained on tenterhooks for the greater part of the April-June quarter, but ended the period on a high note. At their Brussels summit on June 28-29, European leaders chalked out two crucial policies. They decided that the monetary unions permanent bailout fund or European Stability Mechanism (ESM) would be allowed to provide capital to ailing banks directly rather than through the governments of the countries in which they are located.

2012-07-23 Slow in Q2, But No Recession by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

We estimate real GDP grew at only a 0.9% annual rate in Q2. The Plow Horse Economy hit a tough spot, but it hasn't hit the wall. In Q1-2011, real GDP grew at just 0.4% at an annual rate, but then accelerated again. In other words, this is not the end of the world. It's not a recession.

2012-07-23 How Can the Market Possibly Do Well? by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Investors remain rightfully concerned that our leaders have been unable to address major domestic and international issues. Domestic growth is sluggish, job growth is weak, unemployment remains high, the fiscal cliff looms at the end of the year and our politicians can't agree on the time of day. Moreover, none of this is likely to become clarified until after the election, if then.

2012-07-23 Housing, Profits Shine Amid Rain in Spain by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Despite continued crisis in Europes periphery pressuring stocks, a rebound in housing, surprisingly strong profits and a spike in M&A activity may point to a healthier U.S. economy. And institutional equity managers are more optimistic on the stock market. However, with employment still showing weakness and the euro-zone crisis remaining a critical concern, one has to wonder why these institutional investors are becoming more bullish. Heres some insight into why they may be keeping the faith.

2012-07-22 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Tragedy in Colorado overshadowed earnings and economic news and even the Prez candidates could find common ground in expressing sorrow. The earnings numbers remain confusing at best (often better than downwardly revised projections); economic data depicts ongoing consumer concerns; Bernanke is attacked and attacks right back; and the markets settle not far from where they began the week. Coming up in the week ahead: New Home Sales (Wednesday), Durable Goods Orders (Thursday), GDP (Friday).

2012-07-22 Extraordinary Strains by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

A broad array of observable evidence suggests extraordinary strains in Europe, and abrupt though expected deterioration in U.S. economic activity. The Federal Reserve certainly has policy options, but those options have no material transmission mechanism to the real economy.

2012-07-20 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Declines by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped to 121.9 from last week's 122.9, a downward revision from 123.2. See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) rose fractionally, now at -2.3 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through July 13, an improvement over the previous week's -2.7 (a downward revision from -2.2).

2012-07-20 How Fast is Slow? China\'s Recent Slowdown in Perspective by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, examines China and its perceived economic slow down. Mr. Sicart suspects that this slowdown has several causes, each of which could be considered more or less normal in isolation, but their concurrent timing certainly has aggravated the feeling of withdrawal from the usual state of affairs.

2012-07-20 Quarterly Letter by Ron Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp & Co.

Overall, on the negative side, European debt and banking problems, slowing Chinese growth, and U.S. fiscal challenges keep us cautious. On the positive side, dramatic shifts in energy production and use in the U.S. provide us some very interesting investment opportunities. We expect the summer and fall to remain volatile as Europe continues working through its problems and the U.S. political debate hea