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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Income inequality is a touchy subject. Its 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 Credit Availability Underpins Recovery in Commercial Real Estate Prices, But Also Poses Risks to CMB by Bryan Tsu of PIMCO

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

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

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

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

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

2014-04-15 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 US Stock Markets Surprisingly Steady - First Quarter Review by David Edwards of Heron Financial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-04-12 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 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 were witnessing the bursting of an equity bubble. Russ explains that while U.S. equities overall are not in a bubble, valuations have started to become an issue, particularly for certain segments of the market.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-04-04 Bob by Bill Gross of PIMCO

PIMCO recommends overweighting credit and to a lesser extent volatility and curve. Underweight duration. Although credit spreads are tight, they are not as compressed as interest rates, which are now in the process of normalization. While PIMCO agrees with Janet Yellen that such normalization will be a long time coming (the 12th of Never?), probabilities suggest that as the Fed completes its Taper, the 530 year bonds that it has been buying will have to be sold at higher yields to entice the private sector back in.

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

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

2014-04-04 PakistanReputation and Reality by Taizo Ishida of Matthews Asia

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

2014-04-04 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.

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

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

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

With April Fools Day behind us, its time to get serious about investing. Dont be fooled by this weeks non-farm payroll report; nor by the assertion that the U.S. may have the cleanest of the dirty shirts. And certainly dont be fooled into thinking the market has your interests in mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-04-02 Reforming Chinas State-Market Balance by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

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

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

With April Fools Day behind us, its time to get serious about investing. Dont be fooled by this weeks non-farm payroll report; nor by the assertion that the U.S. may have the cleanest of the dirty shirts. And certainly dont be fooled into thinking the market has your interests in mind

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

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

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

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

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

In our judgment, its 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 Reserves 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, Australias yields are more likely to gradually rise, particularly in the longer end of the yield curve, which isnt 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 Americas role as the unipolar superpower. We will begin by examining the economic challenges the next president will face, with a broad analysis of the issues of inequality and economic growth.

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

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

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

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

2014-03-31 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 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.

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

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

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

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

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

Johnson Controls (JCI) traces its roots back to an interesting bit of history. One hundred and thirty-one years ago, Warren Johnson was a professor in Whitewater, Wisconsin. It was here that he invented and installed the first electric tele-thermoscope known today as the thermostat in his classrooms. The invention served a dual purpose: it kept his students more comfortable and put an end to the hourly interruptions from the janitor checking the rooms temperature. Of course we cant confirm this, but it would be our guess that Professor Warren was a regular student favorite.

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 theyre not cheap, but theyre 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 Yellens 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 committees qualitative assessment of the economy. The change was a symbolically important step, but did not alter the broader outlook for policy rates, in our view.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-03-26 Unleashing Africas 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-03-18 Japans Rising Opportunity by Neil Hennessy, Masakazu Takeda of Hennessy Funds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-03-18 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 Frontier Markets Find Footing by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harold Evensky's quarterly letter to his readers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-03-12 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 10 Tax-Management Strategies to Consider in a Rising Tax Environment by of Eaton Vance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emerging markets are at that peculiar place where everyone likes them over the long term, but very few like them in the short term. Many well-publicized headwinds from 2013 remain going into 2014, accompanied by election uncertainty in Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey. And political uncertainty keeps surfacing in such places as Thailand, Turkey and the Ukraine.

2014-03-10 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 Googles $3 billion acquisition of Nest and Facebooks $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. Well 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 Cold War: Thoughts on Ukraine Based on a Month Spent in Latvia by Doug MacKay of Broadleaf Partners

I have been intensely more interested in the situation developing in Ukraine over the past few months than those that circled Greece, a country of similar size, or Libya and the Arab Spring a few years ago. For the most part, I've taken geopolitical flare-ups in stride in terms of their potential impact to the stock market and the economy. In general, this approach has been the right one.

2014-03-07 Ukraine at Crossroads by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

In February, the winter Olympic Games brought athletes from around the world together in Russia, but in Ukraine, Russia's neighbor to the southwest, the story has been one of division. Violent clashes between pro-EU (European Union) protesters and government forces in the past few months have focused the eyes of the world on the former-Soviet state after (now former) President Yanukovych had refused to sign an Association Pact forging closer ties to the EU and decided instead to accept funding from Russia.

2014-03-07 Inflation Blues: Is it Time to Start Worrying? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Inflation was revised higher in the latest GDP revision; while an increase in the minimum wage could push it higher still. But we remain sanguine about inflation risk as long as velocity and wage growth remain low. The key to watch near-term is bank lending, which is starting to accelerate sharply; signaling the possible return of "animal spirits."

2014-03-07 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.

2014-03-06 Evolution of SRI Leads Investors to a Sustainable Future by Chat Reynders of AdvisorShares

Its no secret that positive screening as an investment strategy is becoming increasingly popular as advisors seek ways to identify substantive investment opportunities. The practice focuses investors on the elements of a company that can make a positive impact both on the bottom line and on society, pointing to socially progressive companies that generate returns.

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

The cleanest of the dirty shirts doesnt 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. dollars long-term decline may be firmly in place and investors may want to buckle up to get ready for the ride.

2014-03-05 The US Economy - Back To The Slow Lane Again by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Late last year, President Obama predicted that 2014 would see breakout growth in the US economy. His optimism was not completely unwarranted since the economy grew by a healthy 4.1% (annual rate) in the 3Q of last year, driven largely by an unexpected surge in inventory rebuilding. Then in late January, the Commerce Department reported that the economy grew by a better than expected 3.2% in the 4Q.

2014-03-05 2014: A Transition Year - Back to Fundamentals by Lorenzo Pagani of PIMCO

The past several years have seen multiple regime changes in financial markets in Europe, each dominated by different factors and requiring a distinct approach to fixed income investing. As spreads tighten to pre-2008 levels, it is now time to ask whether a shift in investment style is due. Macroeconomic developments and inflation expectations are likely to be key determining factors in whether 2014 will be a good year for European bond investors.

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

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

2014-03-05 Active or Passive? Multi-asset Investing Can Turn Both Valves by Jeff Hussey of Russell Investments

Investors, whether institutional or individual, face a common challenge: how to get the return they need, at an appropriate risk level, and at a fee they can afford.

2014-03-04 Turmoil in Venezuela by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died about a year ago. In the year since his passing, elections were held and Chavez's handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro, won in what turned out to be an unexpectedly tight race. Since the elections, the Venezuelan economy and society have struggled. In this report, we will examine the underlying structure of Venezuela's political system and the divisions that exist. We will compare and contrast how Chavez was able to manage these divisions and how Maduro is struggling to replicate his success. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.

2014-03-04 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 A Consumer Releveraging Renaissance? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

After a long period of deleveraging, there are appearances that consumers are entering a stage of releveraging. The devil is always in the details, though, and this releveraging cycle is likely to play out vastly different than those of previous expansions.

2014-03-03 Casting a Wide Asset Net in a Volatile Sea by Ed Perks of Franklin Templeton

Its fair to say that investors will likely never be fully comfortable with market volatility. But actively managing the inevitable bumps that accompany equity investments, even in bull markets, can help make the ride a little less harrowing, according to Ed Perks, executive vice president and director of Portfolio Management, Franklin Equity Group. He explains how understanding the fundamental dynamics behind market selloffs is key to uncovering potential opportunities in the face of a rough market ride.

2014-03-03 The Long Road Back by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Five years ago, the economy appeared to be in freefall. Monetary policy and fiscal stimulus helped to halt the downslide, but a full economic recovery was still expected to take years. This wasnt your fathers recession that we went through; it was your grandfathers depression. We have made progress, but we still has very long way to go.

2014-03-03 Equities Rise Despite Mixed Fundamental News by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities increased 1.3% last week as the S&P surpassed the key 1850 level and pushed to new record highs. One favorable dynamic of the rally was the upside leadership from retail stocks, as earnings were largely ahead of expectations. Fed Chair Janet Yellen suggested concern about softerthan-expected spending in a number of recent data releases, but the bar for adjusting the tapering process has not been lowered.

2014-03-03 Bond Aid: Positive Outlook for High Yield in 2014 by Darren Hughes, Scott Roberts of Invesco Blog

While most fixed income asset classes tied to interest rates saw negative returns during 2013, high yield bonds returned more than 8%, according to the JP Morgan Domestic High Yield Index. While we anticipate slightly lower returns in 2014, it looks to be a positive year for high yield markets.

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

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

2014-03-01 Black Swans and Endogenous Uncertainty by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

John is in Florida and feeling a bit under the weather, so this week we’re bringing back one of his most popular letters, from December 2007. In the letter he discusses the work of Professor Graciela Chichilnisky of Columbia University, one of whose key insights is that the greater the number of connections within an economic network, the more the system is at risk. Given the current macroeconomic environment, it is important to remind ourselves of how complacent we were back in 2007 and how it all fell apart so quickly, just as John outlined in this rather prescient piece.

2014-02-28 Measuring the "Skill" of Index Portfolios by Jason Hsu, Vitali Kalesnik of Research Affiliates

Investors devote huge resources to deciding whether a manager is skillful. When it comes to passive investing, they appear to lose their critical faculties.

2014-02-28 Chinas Growth Puzzle by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

Though Chinas economy is now slowing, the significance of this is not well understood. The downturn has nothing to do with problems in other emerging economies; in fact, it is a welcome development.

2014-02-28 The Stock Market's Shaky Foundation by Chris Martenson of Whitney Peak

Martenson explains the headwinds that make the long-term case for lower valuations than we've seen in previous decades. But more urgently, he lays out the litany of short-term triggers likely to result in a vicious correction in stock prices this year. In fact, for the first time in years, he believes the time to actively short equities is arriving.

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

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

2014-02-28 What Areas of the Market Will Remain in the Limelight? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The current bull market has been five years in the making. Since the bottom on March 9, 2009, the S&P 500 Index has grown an incredible 174 percent. With this spectacular performance, investors are asking if U.S. companies will stay in the limelight or if it is time to draw the curtain on equities.

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

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

2014-02-27 Trading Secrets: The Godot Recovery by Tad Rivelle of TCW Asset Management

With this recovery, prosperity has always been just around the corner. It wasnt supposed to be this way. True, the massive fiscal and edgy new monetary measures enacted in the wake of the 2008 crisis kept the economys heart beating. The Fed deftly executed its role of lender as last resort, and for this we should all be grateful. What has become steadily less clear is why, five years after the crisis, the Fed remains committed to its zero rate policy. Are artificially low rates truly the secret sauce that takes a weak recovery and makes it strong?

2014-02-27 Corporate Credit Charting its Own Course by Eric Takaha of Franklin Templeton

At the start of the year, equity investors were fretting about possible emerging-market contagion, while bond investors were fretting about fallout from US Federal Reserve tapering. Meanwhile, the corporate credit market seemed to be charting its own course. Eric Takaha, director of the Corporate & High Yield Group and senior vice president, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group, takes a look at the corporate credit/high-yield market and explains why he currently sees supportive fundamentals.

2014-02-27 The Important Role of Country Funds in a Diversified Portfolio by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

As most investors know, foreign equity markets have had a rough time of things performance-wise for the last couple of years relative to domestic equity markets. While Quantitative Easing may or may not be to blame, after years of generally outperforming the US in the previous decade the new decade has been a different story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-02-26 EM and the Fragile Five: Separating the Wheat from the Chaff by Blaise Antin, David Loevinger, Anisha Ambardar of TCW Asset Management

The shift in capital flows triggered by former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s tapering remarks in May 2013 set off a cascade of market events that continues to this day. His comments also birthed a cottage industry of emerging market doomsayers, who now predict regularly: 1) the end of growth in emerging markets (EM), given that it was, in their view, all a mirage fueled by carry and leverage; and 2) a wave of defaults of the kind last seen in the 1990s that threaten to bring down not only emerging but developed markets as well.

2014-02-26 The Differences Between Gold Financed vs Gold Hedged Transaction by Ade Odunsi of AdvisorShares

Following on from our previous discussion piece on commodity fund taxation, this week we discuss the differences between a gold position financed in a (given) currency versus a gold position hedged into a currency. Broadly speaking the objective of a "currency financed" transaction is to give an investor the flexibility to choose the currency with which gold purchases are made.

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

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

2014-02-26 Weather-Beaten by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Harsh winter weather often shows through in the economic data. Large seasonal adjustment can magnify that impact. Snowstorms happen every year, of course the key is whether they are worse than usual. This year, bad weather has been relatively widespread, affecting many areas of the country and much of the economic data for December, January, and February. None of the bad weather has had a significant impact on the longer-term outlook and investors have begun to take the economic news with an appropriate grain of salt.

2014-02-25 Weekly Market Update by of Castleton Partners

Interest rates were relatively range-bound last week, despite a string of disappointing economic releases. With severe weather across the country having an outsized impact on the economy of late, market participants have been treating the weak data with a high degree of skepticism. We suspect there is further room for data to disappoint relative to expectations, believing a clear reading on the state of the economy cannot be determined until the spring.

2014-02-25 Time to Worry About Europe Again? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The European sovereign debt crisis has all but faded from investors minds since ECB President Mario Draghis famous pronouncement on July 26, 2012 that he would do whatever it takes to save the monetary union. Since that time, equity markets in Europe rallied sharply as accumulated risk aversion fell away.

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

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

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

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

2014-02-25 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 worlds most powerful printing press. We take a closer look at what her reign might mean for investors portfolios.

2014-02-24 Secular Bull Or Bear? by Doug Ramsey of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

At the January highs, the S&P 500 had gained almost 175% in just 58 months, while secondary stocks and equal-weighted market measures have gained considerably more. If its already over (and we dont think it is), this cyclical bull will go down as a memorable one. But is this move the first leg of a new secular bull market? We think the next cyclical bear market will drive the market to levels low enough that debate will rage over the true date of the secular bear market low: was it 2009, or 201X?

2014-02-24 Corporate Credit Charting its Own Course by Eric Takaha of Franklin Templeton

At the start of the year, equity investors were fretting about possible emerging-market contagion, while bond investors were fretting about fallout from US Federal Reserve tapering. Meanwhile, the corporate credit market seemed to be charting its own course. Eric Takaha, director of the Corporate & High Yield Group and senior vice president, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group, takes a look at the corporate credit/high-yield market and explains why he currently sees supportive fundamentals.

2014-02-24 Confusing Crosscurrents Result in Trendless Market by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished mixed after the shortened holiday week.1 The broad market narrative did not change, as additional disappointing economic data was largely attributed to the impact of adverse weather. Comfort that the recovery may be gaining traction was evidenced through Fed discussions and the January FOMC minutes, with consensus expectations for tapering to continue at a measured pace. Some renewed concerns about a growth slowdown in China surfaced but had little impact.

2014-02-23 The Worst Ten-Letter Word by John Mauldin of Mauldin Economics

A new word is achieving ubiquity. The word has always been with us and at times has been a beacon to attract the friends of liberty and opportunity. But now Im afraid it is beginning to be used as a justification for social and economic policies that will limit the expansion of both liberty and opportunity. The word? Inequality.

2014-02-22 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 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 American Industrial Renaissance Revisited by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

We first wrote about The "American Industrial Renaissance" in 2012, and it remains one of our favorite investment themes. We continue to implement this theme through small US-centric industrial companies and small financial institutions that lend to public and private industrial firms. It remains unlikely that the United States will be the manufacturing powerhouse that it was during the 1950s and 1960s, but many factors are suggesting that the US industrial sector will continue to gain market share.

2014-02-20 Bond Investors Need Not Feel Powerless by Jeff Hussey of Russell Investments

Jeff Hussey, global CIO, explains the strategies investors should be pursuing when considering fixed income investments in their portfolios and how additional yield cushion while opening a door to additional security selection returns from active management.

2014-02-20 Peer Group Analytics and Valuation, an Abstraction by David Kleinberg of Universal Orbit

Peer group analytics and valuation are essential components when assessing the optimal risk-return equation. As opposed to an efficient frontier populated with the regressed correlated expected future returns of conventional securities or asset classes perhaps one determined by business segment operations is more advantageous.

2014-02-20 The State of International Small-Cap by Francis Gannon of The Royce Funds

While some argue that domestic small-cap leadership in 2013 was a result of its heavy exposure to companies that tend to generate most of their income domestically, others contest that this greater focus on the U.S. may mean missing out on the benefits of faster-growing foreign economies. We, on the other hand, choose to focus our attentions on individual companies, particularly those in more cyclical areas of the market that are more closely tied to the global economy.

2014-02-20 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

We’re back, baby. (Well, at least, for a week.) Janet Yellen made her case to become the most revered Fed Chair (anyone even remember Maestro Greenspan?) by merely reiterating Dr. B’s prior remarks about the economy and the bond buying program. Investors felt the love this Valentine’s week as they shook off the past negativity and took the Dow to its best daily showing and back above the 16k level. Can Cupid (and Yellen) continue to work his (her) magic after Prez day and beyond?

2014-02-20 Stocks for 2014: Fairly Valued Dividend Growth Stocks with an Emphasis on Dividends - Part 4 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

I am a firm believer that common stock portfolios should be custom-designed to meet each unique individual’s goals, objectives and risk tolerances. With that said, I believe it logically follows that in order to create a successful portfolio, the individual investor must first conduct some serious introspection to be sure that they truly "know thyself." Therefore, I believe the first, and perhaps most critical step, towards designing a successful equity portfolio is to ask your-self, and honestly answer several important questions.

2014-02-20 Thanks Washington, But the Recovery Remains Soft by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While two events in Washington last week supported stocks and other risky assets, they overshadowed the release of some relatively disappointing economic numbers providing more evidence of still soft U.S. economic growth.

2014-02-20 Stocks for 2014: High Yield and Fairly Valued Dividend Stocks for High Current Income Part 5 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Retired investors seeking high income to live off of during retirement, face greater challenges today than almost ever before. The days of high yields available from bonds and other fixed income vehicles are long gone. Consequently, generating an adequate level of current income on retirement portfolios is difficult to say the least. This is especially tricky for those investors with a low tolerance for risk.

2014-02-20 The Fed: Yellen's Tapering Tightrope by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

In reducing quantitative easing, the Federal Reserve chairwoman faces a big challenge: preventing asset bubbles at home without pressuring developing economies.

2014-02-19 Checking in on Earnings by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Earnings season is nearing its finale, and the latest results show plenty of reason to be bullish, but the longer-term trend remains an outstanding question for markets.

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

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

2014-02-19 Interest Rate Outlook - \"Old Normal\" by Jerry Paul, Zach Jonson of ICON Advisers, Inc.

Contrary to a popular belief that interest rates are destined to rise significantly, at ICON we believe we may be re-entering the "old normal" where the U.S. Treasury 10-year yield remains between 2%-4% for an extended period of time. As can be seen in the following chart of interest rates since 1871, with a few exceptions this is where interest rates traded prior to the mid-1960s. From this perspective, the late 1970s appear to be unusual and the decline of the last 32 years is simply a return to normal, where rates can remain for many years in a setting of slower growth and low inflation.

2014-02-18 Puerto Rico\'s Double-Downgrade by Michael Taylor of Columbia Management

On February 4, Standard & Poor’s lowered its long-term credit rating on the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s (PR) general obligation (GO) debt making it the first rating agency to downgrade the Commonwealth to below investment-grade levels. Just three days later, Moody’s cut its GO rating by two notches to ’Ba2’; ratings that are capped by or linked to the Commonwealth’s GO rating were also downgraded two notches, with the exception of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) Revenue Bonds.

2014-02-18 A Time for Optimism in Europe? by Philippe Brugere-Trelat of Franklin Templeton

Volatile markets and an uneven recovery may appear to justify a cautious outlook for investing in Europe right now, while in the US the specter of higher interest rates might also be signaling a challenging market environment ahead. Philippe Brugere-Trelat believes the investment case for European equities favors a more optimistic outlook and despite a bumpy start to the year for equities globally, he still sees the market as rife with potential opportunities for selective investors, particularly undervalued segments of the market. One place where he thinks caution is likely warranted? Japan.

2014-02-18 Stocks for 2014: Growth and Income For Total Return - Part 3 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

When investing in common stocks, there is no one strategy that fits all investors. Some investors are focused on investing for income, some for capital appreciation and others for various combinations of both. Additionally, there is the issue of risk tolerance. Some investors are willing and capable of assuming greater risk if they believe it will lead to greater returns, while others are more risk adverse. These are just but a few of the many variations that apply to the individual investor’s own unique goals and characteristics.

2014-02-18 Congress Raises the Debt Limit: Is This the End of the Budget Battles? by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

Last week Congress - faced with an impending snow storm and a desire to get home for the Presidents Day holiday - hastily passed legislation permitting the federal government to continue to borrow funds through March 15, 2015. Coupled with the agreement reached last December to fund the government through September 30, 2015, this action eliminates the prospects of additional fiscal showdowns for at least the remainder of 2014.

2014-02-18 Global Growth Expectations Push Stocks Forward Despite Weather by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished sharply higher last week with the S&P 500 increasing 2.3% and all major U.S. averages up more than 2%.1 The rapid market recovery from the January pullback is a bigger surprise than the pullback that preceded it.

2014-02-18 Topping Patterns and the Proper Cause for Optimism by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

We would dismiss classic topping patterns we observe here if the recent market peak did not feature the "full catastrophe" of textbook speculative features, particularly the same syndrome of extreme overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising yield conditions observed (prior to the past year) only at major market peaks in 2007, 2000, 1987, 1972, and 1929. Meanwhile, we remain encouraged. Those who follow a historically informed, value-conscious, and risk-managed investment discipline should be among the most optimistic investors in the financial markets.

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

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

2014-02-14 Does a Down January Dog the Rest of the Year? Probably by Peter Nielsen of Saturna Capital

The bottom line for investors is that a negative January tends to herald lower (though not necessarily negative) returns for the subsequent 11 months.

2014-02-14 PepsiCo Dividend: Refreshing The Investor World by Team of Fast Graphs

PepsiCo is presently trading in line with its historical valuations and might be offering a reasonable - albeit not necessarily screaming - opportunity moving forward. However, as always, we recommend that the reader conduct his or her own thorough due diligence.

2014-02-14 These Gold Charts Will Make Your Heart Beat Faster by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

So while gold may correct over the next several months as the metal enters its seasonally weak period of the year, this looks promising for gold investors.

2014-02-13 Admit it: You were wondering, why hold bonds? by Jeff Hussey of Russell Investments

Jeff Hussey, global CIO, highlights the importance of holding fixed income investments within portfolios, even at a time when we are seeing exceptionally low and likely rising interest rates.

2014-02-13 A Time for Optimism in Europe? by Philippe Brugere-Trelat of Franklin Templeton

Volatile markets and an uneven recovery may appear to justify a cautious outlook for investing in Europe right now, while in the US the specter of higher interest rates might also be signaling a challenging market environment ahead. The investment case for European equities favors a more optimistic outlook and despite a bumpy start to the year for equities globally, he still sees the market as rife with potential opportunities for selective investors, particularly undervalued segments of the market. One place where caution is likely warranted? Japan.

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

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

2014-02-12 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 The Expanding Leveraged Loan Market by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

At the end of the day, a loan investor may be left with a security that has a low starting yield, little left in the way of capital gains potential, and with coupon income that is not at all increasing even if rates were to rise. While there are some selective opportunities for value in the loan space, broadly speaking we see high yield bonds as a more attractive market in the current environment.

2014-02-12 Grey Owl Capitals 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 years 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 Didnt Work by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

IN THIS ISSUE: 1. Why Feds Quantitative Easing (QE) Didnt 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?

2014-02-11 Equities Markets Start 2014 in Deep Freeze by Douglas Cot of ING Investement Management

By slowly normalizing policy, the Fed is passing the responsibility of pricing risk back to the markets, resulting in higher volatility. The health of the emerging markets is vital to global growth, as developing countries have doubled their contribution to global GDP over the past decade to nearly 40%. S&P 500 corporations derive half their revenue from overseas; support from global consumerism and manufacturing is on track to continue. Broad global diversification across equity and fixed income markets is the best way to protect against volatility.

2014-02-11 Leveraged Finance Outlook: Riding the Low Default Wave by Andrew R. Jessop, Elizabeth (Beth) MacLean of PIMCO

Following strong performance in 2013, we expect low (1%-3%) defaults in leveraged finance markets this year. Issuance should remain healthy, and continued slow but steady growth in the U.S. economy should offer further stability to these companies. However, careful credit selection and monitoring of sector trends remain imperative. Investors with low tolerance for volatility and more interest rate sensitivity may emphasize loans, while investors with greater risk tolerance and a more benign outlook for rates may look to high yield.

2014-02-11 Monthly Letter to Our Clients & Friends by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Although the rest of America may need a manufacturing revival, mutual fund manufacturing is not in need of help, as the business has been growing continuously for three decades. Because of the sheer number of funds and the amount of investment dollars they control, there is a very high probability that we are buying new positions and selling existing positions to one or more mutual fund companies.

2014-02-10 Bond Investing in a Rising Rate Environment by Kathleen Gaffney of Eaton Vance

After a transitional year like 2013, when a multidecade declining rate environment moved to a rising rate environment, we think it is important for investors to consider a multisector approach to finding value in the bond market. Finding bonds that can appreciate in price regardless of the interest-rate environment is what a multisector strategy generally seeks to accomplish.

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

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

2014-02-10 What Would a Stronger Dollar Mean for Global Markets? by Borge Endresen, Brent Bates of Invesco

As the world watches the progress of the US Federal Reserve’s tapering program, and anticipates the strengthening of the US dollar, We’re often asked how this affects our view of international markets and risk. The short answer is that it doesn’t. We’re long-term, bottom-up stock pickers , so we;re primarily concerned with currency impacts on a company-by-company basis. However, there are some broad trends that are worth noting.

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

U.S. equities closed with modest gains last week, as the S&P 500 overcame Mondays 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 Two Reasons for Value to Outperform in 2014 by Will Nasgovitz of Heartland Advisors

We’ve seen the longest period of growth outperformance since 1932, but the two catalysts could cause value to return to favor. First, tapering by the Fed should allow interest rates to normalize and thereby benefit the Financials sector. Second, there’s potential for a correction in the Consumer Discretionary sector, which appears overvalued: The group’s P/E is above the historical average and performance has tracked upward despite flat earnings revisions.

2014-02-10 What Would a Stronger Dollar Mean for Global Markets? by Borge Endresen, Brent Bates of Invesco

As the world watches the progress of the US Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) tapering program, and anticipates the strengthening of the US dollar, we’re often asked how this affects our view of the international market and risk. The short answer is that it doesn’t. We’re long-term, bottom-up stock pickers, so we’re primarily concerned with currency impacts on a company-by-company basis. However, there are some broad trends that are worth noting.

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

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

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

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

2014-02-07 What\'s the Game Changer for Gold? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

What will break gold of its losing streak? Will inflation, which is a lagging indicator, be stronger than expected? In one of my most popular posts last year, I said that based on the jobs market, the limited housing recovery and regulations slowing down the flow of money, the Fed would have no choice but to start tapering and raising rates very gradually to keep stimulating the economy.

2014-02-07 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 Investment Principles and Habits: Contrarian Value Investing in a Liquidity-Driven Environment by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks at how recent market performance, having been both driven down by and buoyed by liquidity, should cause asset managers to re-examine their investment principles. Though he cautions that the possibility exists that the recent market drivers might be an aberration, "stubborn aberrations are worth paying attention to."

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

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

2014-02-07 Dark Gold: Shedding Light on a Mysterious Market by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

Gold is the simplest of financial assets - you either own it or you don’t. Yet, at the same time, gold is also among the most private of assets. Once an individual locks his or her safe, that gold effectively disappears from the market at large. Unlike bank deposits or stocks, there is no way to tally the total amount of gold held by individual investors.

2014-02-07 American Bandstand by Ben Hunt of Salient Partners

Clark didn’t poll America to determine their taste in music. He told them their taste in music...not directly, but by creating common knowledge - ideas that a crowd believes that the crowd believes. It’s certainly the most potent force in the social world of markets, and every Central Banker today is playing the Common Knowledge Game just as hard as Dick Clark ever did.

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

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

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

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

2014-02-06 Will China Overtake the U.S. as World Leader and Reserve Currency? by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

Will China Overtake the US as World Leader and Reserve Currency? This has not happened yet, but it may not be far down the road if the US does not get its fiscal house in order. The United States has been the biggest national economy since 1871, but more than half of Americans have slapped an expiration date on its global reign.

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

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

2014-02-06 So Cruel: Pullback Could Become Correction by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

For now, the EM tail is wagging the dog, but the US remains the world’s big dog and should ultimately get through the latest turmoil. "January Barometer" has sent mixed signals for the remainder of the year historically. More technical and sentiment recovery is likely needed before a market recovery is likely.

2014-02-06 Health Care Holds Promise by Team of Janus Capital Group

Last year was a strong year for health care investing, as the sector was a top performer in a number of indices. Even after such a strong run, we believe the sector will continue to provide a shot in the arm for equity portfolios.

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

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

2014-02-06 Technology Leaders and Laggards by Paul Meeks of Saturna Capital

The technology sector includes several industries, such as semiconductors and semiconductor capital equipment, software and services, and technology hardware and equipment.

2014-02-05 Emerging Market Turmoil Creates January Decline by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished lower last week, as the S&P 500 ended January with the first monthly loss since August 2013 and the largest monthly decline since May 2012. A global retreat from risk has been sparked by unrest around the world, sell-offs in emerging markets led by a 20% decline in the Argentine peso, weaker than expected economic reports from China, U.S. economic growth concerns in light of frigid temperatures and anxiety over Fed tapering.

2014-02-05 2014 Market Outlook by Kevin Mahn of Hennion & Walsh

Some Bumps along the Road of Global Recovery

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

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

2014-02-05 A Decline in January Draws Attention to Portfolio Protection by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

January was a bumpy month for domestic equities as the S&P 500 declined by 3.5%. Perhaps the decline was influenced by the even larger decline in emerging markets, an earnings season that was viewed by some as disappointing or for no reason at all (markets don’t always have a reason for what they do).

2014-02-05 The Importance of Taking a Long-Term Perspective by Jeffrey Knight of Columbia Management

For asset allocation decisions, we find great value in maintaining a long-term outlook for major asset classes. Twice a year, in fact, we conduct an extensive update of our five-year return forecasts for several asset classes. The purpose of this exercise is two-fold. First, taking a longer term perspective helps us to set strategic asset allocations and design portfolios for diverse investment goals.

2014-02-04 Weekly Market Update by James Welch of Castleton Partners

Taking direction from a sharp sell-off in risk assets across the globe-especially in emerging market economies, Treasury yields continued their month long decline last week.

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

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

2014-02-04 Crisis in Ukraine by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Since November, Ukraine has experienced widespread civil unrest. In late November, Ukrainian President Yanukovych decided not to join an EU-sponsored trade pact. This led to protests from Ukrainians who desired closer relations with Europe. In this report, we will begin by discussing the geopolitics of the nations involved, examining how nations have adjusted their policies over time to changing conditions. We will analyze the risks to the region from current unrest, including a look at the impact on emerging markets. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.

2014-02-04 Challenging the Consensus by Niels Jensen of Absolute Return Partners

Investors are overwhelmingly bearish on bonds going into 2014. In this month’s Absolute Return Letter we challenge that view and look at various reasons why the bond market may surprise most people and deliver a positive return this year.

2014-02-03 NY Fed Models Forecasting Excess Returns Through 2018 by John Bougearel of Structural Logic CTA

The NY Federal Reserve has an equity research department. Their research department determined in 2013 that "stocks are cheap" and that investors should enjoy "excess high returns" in an abnormally low or negative real interest rate environment for the next five years through 2018. Before reviewing potential mean reversions, implications from the Year of the Horse, & George Lindsay’s bearish Three Peaks and Domed House model, let’s attempt to quantify the NY Fed models. How high the Dow Jones might climb if it is to enjoy "excess high returns" through 2018.

2014-02-03 A Secular Bull Market? by Juliet Ellis of Invesco Blog

Five years from now, I believe we will look back and see that 2014 was part of the early stages of a multi-year secular bull market for US equities, characterized by rising stock prices with only short, intervening market corrections.

2014-02-03 Pushing Luck by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Speculators have been luckier than they may realize, and are now pushing their luck. Quantitative easing has distorted not only financial markets, but financial memory. The awakening is not likely to be gentle.

2014-02-03 Stocks for 2014: Fairly Valued Dividend Growth Stocks with an Emphasis on Dividends - Part 4 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

I am a firm believer that common stock portfolios should be custom-designed to meet each unique individual’s goals, objectives and risk tolerances. With that said, I believe it logically follows that in order to create a successful portfolio, the individual investor must first conduct some serious introspection to be sure that they truly "know thyself." Therefore, I believe the first, and perhaps most critical step, towards designing a successful equity portfolio is to ask your-self, and honestly answer several important questions.

2014-02-01 Central Banker Throwdown by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The Federal Reserve is signaling that it is going to end quantitative easing at some point in the future; therefore, investors are trying to find the exits before the end actually comes.

2014-01-31 A Surprising Gift for Chinese New Year by Sherwood Zhang of Matthews Asia

Beijing-based China Credit Trust Company, a firm that operates as a non-banking financial institution in China, announced this week it reached an agreement to restructure a risky high-yield product that had earlier ignited worries over the health of China’s trust industry. Just in time for the Lunar New Year, investors in the troubled trust may receive a big (metaphorical) red envelope-a monetary gift traditionally given during Chinese New Year or other special occasions-or at least avoid a financial hit.

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

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

2014-01-31 Do Portfolio Diversifiers Belong in Client Portfolios? by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

The big idea is that the stock market goes up more often than not but when it does go down it scares the hell out of clients. During these large declines some advisors will use tools like gold, hedge fund replicators, absolute return, market neutral, funds that sell short or any other products that tend to not look like the stock market to try to spare clients from the full effect of the decline.

2014-01-31 The 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 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

This month, we sing happy birthday to Apple. It was 30 years ago that Apple introduced its first Mac computer. What was novel then is commonplace today and far less clunky. For those old enough to remember what that boxy looking thing was like, it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come. Carl Icahn bought another $500 million more shares of Apple stock, bringing his total investment to $3.6 billion. As an activist shareholder he is trying to force Apple to buy up to $500 million in a stock buyback program.

2014-01-31 High Yield: The Perfect Storm That Wasn\'t by Gershon Distenfeld of Alliance Bernstein

Investors should not focus on how rising rates may affect high yield. Instead, they should take a more thoughtful approach. This means they should not expect double-digit returns, nor should they reach for yield by buying triple-C bonds. At this point in the credit cycle, when concerns begin to develop disproportionally in lower-rated credits, investors are not getting compensated for taking this type of risk. Instead, investors should accept that single-digit returns are a realistic expectation in 2014. And in a relatively low-rate environment, we don’t think that’s a bad thing.

2014-01-31 The Super Bowl of Investing by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Here is our list of official National Football League penalties - as applied to investors. Don’t get penalized, think your way through today’s environment, or find a money management specialist who can.

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-01-30 US Pending Home Sales Falls Off A Cliff In December by Team of GaveKal Capital

Pending Home Sales Index fell by 8.7% month-over-month compared to expectations of only a -0.5% decline. Pending home sales have now dropped every month since making a four year high in May.

2014-01-30 High Yield in 2014: Where Can You Look for Upside in a \'Medium Yield\' Market? by Andrew Jessop, Hozef Arif of PIMCO

Default rates and credit losses in high yield markets remain below their long-term averages, and we believe default rates will remain low in 2014 and 2015 as well. Investors should consider positioning for better convexity via exposure to sectors with favorable industry dynamics and positive event risk from M&A or equity offerings, potential upside from price recovery in high quality bonds trading below par and exposure to select new supply from former investment grade companies.

2014-01-30 Getting Comfortable With Volatility by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen significant volatility in the markets, which has spooked some investors, but is also something we have become accustomed to. Markets generally (not only emerging markets) have become much more volatile during the last 20 years as a result of massive flows of money from not only institutional investors and long-only mutual funds but also hedge funds and high-frequency trading. We see such selloffs as potential opportunities to pick up bargains in select stocks if, in fact, the prices move low enough to draw our interest.

2014-01-30 The Path to Becoming an Emerging Market by Henry D'Auria, Morgan Harting of AllianceBernstein

Why have some equity markets in the developing world flourished more than others? It’s a pivotal question for investors hoping to stake an early claim to the potential emerging-market (EM) success stories of the next decade.

2014-01-29 How the Pioneer of Hydraulic Fracturing changed the MLP Landscape by David Chiaro of Eagle Global Advisors

A banner year for MLPs and the future looks bright.

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

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

2014-01-29 How to Retire at 30! by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

MarketWatch had a very thought provoking post about a couple in Colorado who retired when they turned 30 (they are 39 now). In 2011 they took their story to the blogosphere with the very popular blog Mr. Money Moustache.

2014-01-29 Fed Responsible for EM Crisis? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

From the bully pulpits in Sao Paulo to the blogosphere in cyberspace, the Fed is blamed for the turmoil in Emerging Markets (EM). That’s a bit like blaming McDonald’s for obesity. Blaming others won’t fix the problems in EM economies, it won’t fix investors’ portfolios and it is an unlikely way to lose weight. Investors and policy makers need to wake up and realize that they are in charge of their own destiny. Let us explain.

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

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

2014-01-29 A Few Concerns by Scott Brown of Raymond James

We’ve begun 2014 with widespread expectations that economic growth will pick up. Growth last year was restrained by tighter fiscal policy. With that out of the way and the housing sector recovering, the pace of expansion is poised to improve. However, there are a number of concerns. Weak growth in real wages may limit consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of Gross Domestic Product. Long-term interest rates could rise too rapidly, choking off the recovery in the housing sector. A continued low trend in inflation, a major concern for some Fed officials, could weaken growth.

2014-01-28 2013 - A Strong Year for ETFs by Ryan Issakainen of First Trust Advisors

US-listed ETF1 net inflows totaled $185.5 billion in 2013, setting a new record. While the largest percentage of net inflows remained concentrated among a relatively small group of the 1521 US-listed ETFs, investors broadened their horizons more in 2013 than in previous years, as 312 ETFs had net inflows exceeding $100 million.

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

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

2014-01-28 Bitcoin, QE, and Disintermediated Currency by Chris Richey of Neosho Capital

Though it may be financial sacrilege to link the emergence of Bitcoin, the $10 billion online currency, with the Federal Reserve’s 300x larger $3 trillion QE program, we believe the two have more in common than their 2008 birthdates. In fact, we think each represents a further extension in our human understanding, use, and possibly abuse of "currency", the lifeblood of our modern societies. Both Bitcoin and QE continue a process that began some 3000 years ago with the invention of coinage in the Greek Isles and, later, the invention of paper money in China.

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

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

2014-01-28 An Active Management Turning Point? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Active managers faced a difficult road in recent years, leading to many questions about the efficacy of active versus passive investment management. There are signs that the tide is once again changing in favor of active managers and the road ahead could offer happier times.

2014-01-28 The TTIP and the TPP by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a trade and investment treaty being negotiated between the European Union (EU) and the U.S. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a similar pact between the U.S. and various Pacific Rim nations. We will examine overall details of each, focusing on how they’re different from traditional trade agreements. From there, we will present an analysis of the controversy surrounding the proposals, followed by a look at the geopolitical aims and likelihood that these treaties will be enacted. We conclude with potential market ramificatio

2014-01-28 Winter Quarterly Commentary by John Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management

John Kenneth Galbraith was a force in the fields of politics and economics. He wrote into his 90s, with many of his 48 books covering economic history, a subject we find to be the oft forgotten friend of investors. His work made it clear that economics is not a hard science which can be reduced to simple trustworthy mathematical equations. Galbraith constantly challenged the "conventional wisdom", and in fact pioneered the term. Galbraith came to dismiss the then, and still now, common notion that individuals and markets always act rationally...

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

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

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

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

2014-01-27 Hasenstab: Standing One\'s Ground by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton

When the masses are against you, it’s hard to stand your ground. Going against the crowd is familiar turf for Michael Hasenstab, who manages Templeton Global Bond Fund and co-manages Templeton Global Balanced Fund, and certainly knows the virtue of patience. He has staunchly defended his investment theses over the years, tuning out the naysayers and market noise time and again.

2014-01-27 Attractiveness of Municipal Bonds Should Not Be Overlooked in 2014 by Municipal Insight Committee of Eaton Vance

After a challenging year for the municipal bond (muni) market in 2013, we believe the underlying strength of munis has improved, making the asset class an attractive proposition heading into 2014. In our view, challenges and headwinds will continue in 2014; however, more palatable yields and the relative attractiveness of munis versus other taxable alternatives may help investors limit the volatility and downside witnessed over the past year.

2014-01-27 Rummaging for Yield - The Case of the Insurance Investor by Eugene Dimitriou of PIMCO

Since the height of the global financial crisis in 2008, insurance companies have faced three key challenges: First, insurance companies urgently needed to address new critical risk management issues as banking sector and peripheral sovereign credit risks significantly increased in Europe. Second, the prospects of longer-term low yields forced insurers to identify alternative sources of meaningful yield. And third, insurance companies needed to prepare for pan-European insurance regulation Solvency II.

2014-01-27 Commodities: Is the Bear Market Near Its End? by Scott Wolle of Invesco Blog

On the surface, 2014 looks to be a tough year for commodities, as multi-year projects increase the flow of supplies to market even as demand has turned tepid, especially in emerging markets. However, a deeper look at the history of this asset class suggests that the outlook for commodities might turn around sooner than many expect.

2014-01-25 Why the Recent Lift in Junior Miners Will Likely Continue by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Junior venture companies in Canada are finally seeing a significant lift. In early January, the S&P/TSX Venture Composite Index rose above the 200-day moving average for the first time in three years. The index is also very close to experiencing a golden cross, which is when the shorter-term 50-day moving average crosses above the 200-day moving average. Historically, traders see this cross as extremely bullish.

2014-01-25 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 Stocks for 2014: Growth and Income For Total Return Part 3 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

When investing in common stocks, there is no one strategy that fits all investors. Some investors are focused on investing for income, some for capital appreciation and others for various combinations of both. Additionally, there is the issue of risk tolerance. Some investors are willing and capable of assuming greater risk if they believe it will lead to greater returns, while others are more risk adverse. These are just but a few of the many variations that apply to the individual investor’s own unique goals and characteristics.

2014-01-24 United Arab Emirates: An Emerging Market Melting Pot by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

The investable Middle East/North Africa region known as "MENA" encompasses 11 diverse countries, extending from Oman to Morocco, and also includes Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I recently had the pleasure of returning to Dubai, the largest city in the UAE, a truly striking and cosmopolitan city with a diverse population from around the world.

2014-01-23 EPV: Establishing Predictive Value (i.e., Demand Characteristics) by David Kleinberg of Universal Orbit

EPV: Establishing Predictive Value (i.e., Demand Characteristics) is designed as a complement to quantitative portfolio strategies and fundamental research. Continuing the thread from EPV:RO, tested is the premise of structural bias in performance benchmarks as determined by third party data vendors with implied effects on peer group analytics and valuation.

2014-01-23 What\'s Your 2014 Market View? by Robert Horrocks of Matthews Asia

U.S. monetary policy seems likely to continue occupying center stage as people fret about interest rates. Last year was a somewhat instructive year for monetary policy theory in that it seemed to show that policies can be effective even when interest rates have no further room to be lowered. Can the nominal GDP in the U.S. grow at faster rates in 2014, and what would that mean for Asia? This month Matthews Asia’s Chief Investment Officer, Robert Horrocks, offers his insights into how reforms planned for China could be a key factor to change and what could lie ahead for the region overall

2014-01-23 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.

2014-01-23 Ordem e Progresso by Michael Gomez of PIMCO

Amid stagnant growth and high inflation in 2013, Brazil’s equity market was one of the worst performers, the real was a chronic underperformer and the corporate sector struggled. Brazil needs to anchor economic policy around a stringent and credible primary surplus target rather than run the current mix of loose fiscal policy, subsidized public credit and ever tighter monetary policy. Valuations are attractive, but unless an effective policy mix is restored, the outlook for order in Brazil’s financial markets is less certain.

2014-01-22 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 Commodities Remain a Source of Frustration by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The environment following the global financial crisis has been a challenging one for asset allocators, as long held relationships shifted and traditional idioms were turned on their head. As we detailed last week in "The Diversification Obituary," investors have seen little work in their portfolios other than US stocks, while supposed diversifiers have offered little more than muted beta and unusually high correlations.

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

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

2014-01-22 Market Share: The Next Secular Investment Theme by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

It is well known that corporate profit margins are at record highs. US margings, developed market margings, and even emerging market margins are generally either at or close to record highs. A myopic focus on profit margins may miss an important investment consideration. Whereas most investors remain fearful of margin compression, we prefer to search for an investment theme that could emerge if margins do indeed compress. Accordingly, our investment focus has shifted toward themes based on companies who might gain market share.

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

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

2014-01-21 Upstream Companies Set to Benefit if US Allows Oil Exports by Juan Hartsfield of Invesco Blog

US crude oil production is booming, and controversy over possibly exporting some of this abundance has quickly heated up in early 2014. Most recently, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, spoke out on Jan. 7 in favor of easing US restrictions on oil exports, which were largely enacted in the 1970s when domestic energy was scarce and lines at the gasoline pump were long. The topic of crude exports is polarizing politically and, given the recent lack of collaboration in Washington, it’s poised to be a recurring headline for some time.

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

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

2014-01-21 Stocks 2014: Investing for Growth - The Power and Protection of High Compounding Earnings Growth by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

As I become more mature (translate: gotten older), my investment philosophy has slowly evolved into a more conservative posture. When I was a younger investor I felt I had time on my side, and therefore, was willing to take on greater risk as long as I believed that greater rewards could follow. In other words, if I made a mistake by investing in an aggressive and more risky growth stock that went badly, I felt I had adequate time to overcome or recover my losses. Consequently, as a younger investor I relished a good growth stock.

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

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

2014-01-21 Kansas by Jerome Schneider of PIMCO

In the coming year, traditional money market strategies, long viewed as safe havens, will be challenged by new regulations, near 0% returns and a lack of investable assets. Short-term bond strategies could provide the right balance between risk-taking and liquidity management, and offer the potential for positive returns. Active managers have a distinct advantage because they can manage interest rate volatility and potentially source assets by identifying underappreciated sectors.

2014-01-21 The Deflation Menace by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Dedicated readers of The Wall Street Journal have recently been offered many dire warnings about a clear and present danger that is stalking the global economy. They are not referring to a possible looming stock or real estate bubble (the paper sees few threats there). Nor are they talking about other usual suspects such as global warming, peak oil, the Arab Spring, sovereign defaults, the breakup of the euro, Miley Cyrus, a nuclear Iran, or Obamacare.

2014-01-21 Digging for Natural Resource Opportunities in 2014 by Frederick Fromm, Stephen Land, Matthew Adams of Franklin Templeton

The natural resources sector has been through a period of transition in the past year, one which has pushed many companies toward cost reduction and greater capital discipline amid an environment of rather sluggish global economic growth. Franklin Equity Group Analysts Fred Fromm, Stephen Land and Matthew Adams think an improving economic outlook could set the stage for potentially stronger commodity demand going forward, and see healthy potential demand growth for energy in particular. They share their outlook for the natural resources sector in 2014, and where they are finding opportunities.

2014-01-21 Emerging Markets 2014 Outlook: Shaping the Next Decade by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

As we embark upon a new year, the Templeton Emerging Markets Group believes 2014 could be an important year for many emerging markets, possibly establishing trends that could play out through much of the remainder of the decade. In particular, Chinese government reform initiatives announced in late 2013 could have far-reaching significance. And, major elections in a number of countries in 2014 could bring dramatic (or not-so-dramatic) changes. Here are a few themes and countries we’ve got our eye on in the new year.

2014-01-21 Brother, Can You Spare a Bitcoin? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The electronic currency has attracted attention from speculators and financial media, but it’s unlikely to upend the existing monetary order.

2014-01-18 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 Digging for Natural Resource Opportunities in 2014 by Frederick Fromm, Stephen Land, Matthew Adams of Franklin Templeton

The natural resources sector has been through a period of transition in the past year, one which has pushed many companies toward cost reduction and greater capital discipline amid an environment of rather sluggish global economic growth. Franklin Equity Group Analysts Fred Fromm, Stephen Land and Matthew Adams think an improving economic outlook could set the stage for potentially stronger commodity demand going forward, and see healthy potential demand growth for energy in particular. They share their outlook for the natural resources sector in 2014, and where they are finding opportunities.

2014-01-17 Getting Lucky by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

Sometimes these memos are inspired by a single event or just one thing I read. This one - like my first memo 24 years ago - grew out of the juxtaposition of two observations. I’ll introduce one here and the other later on. Contrary to my wife Nancy’s observation that my memos are "all the same," the subject here is one I’ve rarely touched on.

2014-01-17 Quarterly Letter by Ron Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp & Co.

Some of the things we’ve been talking/warning you about in recent years came to fruition in 2013. Specifically, medium- and long-term interest rates rose and commodity prices declined.

2014-01-17 Bonds and Rates by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

Right now the topic de jour in the fixed income space is interest rate risk. The traditional thought is that as interest rates rise, bond prices fall. But looking at history, the high yield market has defied this widely held notion. Let’s examine the four main reasons why high yield bonds have historically performed well during times of rising interest rates.

2014-01-17 What Does It Take to Be in the Top 1 Percent? Not As Much As You Think by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

You might be surprised to learn that the top 20 percent of income earners bring in a household income of just over $100,000. The top 10 percent of earners have a household income of more than $148,687. To be considered in the top 1 percent, household income is at least $521,411.

2014-01-16 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 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 Stocks for 2014: Something for Everyone: Part 1 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

My biggest pet peeve regarding common stock investing is how so many people have a tendency to over-generalize this asset class. Commonly held beliefs such as investing in stocks is risky, or that the stock market is overvalued, or that the fed is driving stock prices, etc., are just a few examples illustrating my point. In truth, common stocks are as individually different as people are individually different. When dealing with human beings, most reasonable thinking people would reject prejudicial statements. Personally, I believe we should have the same attitude about common stocks.

2014-01-16 Fiscal Policy: Nothing\'s Certain with Debt and Taxes by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

After the budget deal, markets will have to contend with two wild cards in Congress: the debt ceiling and tax reform.

2014-01-15 U.S. Inflation Outlook 2014: Signs of Life by Nicholas Johnson, Mihir Worah of PIMCO

We expect headline CPI to rise to around 2.0% year-over-year in 2014, with our base case oil forecast in the $105-$110 per-barrel range and expectations for food prices to be stable. PCE, in our view, will likely remain below the Fed’s 2% target, around 1.5%. Individuals will get some relief at the supermarket, but they will feel a pinch from landlords, who will likely raise rents.

2014-01-15 Positive Economic Surprises Are Back by Team of GaveKal Capital

Recently each day, especially in the US, it has felt as if the economic data has been a bit better than expected. The Citi Economic Surprise Index corroborates that feeling as it has now reached it’s highest level since February 2012.

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

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

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

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

2014-01-14 The Great Man or the Great Wave by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

One of the seminal debates among historians is how the process of history develops, characterized as the "great man versus the great wave" debate. In this report, we will begin by developing this debate with relation to America’s superpower role; specifically, we will examine whether the U.S. is struggling with the superpower role because of a lack of leadership (a great man position) or because the wave of history is aligned against the U.S. keeping that role. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.

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

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

2014-01-14 The Financial Fire Next Time by Robert Shiller of Project Syndicate

Just as most people are more interested in stories about fires than they are in the chemistry of fire retardants, they are more interested in stories about financial crashes than they are in the measures needed to prevent them. That is not exactly a recipe for a happy ending.

2014-01-13 Money Matters Part 2: China\'s Bitcoin Ban by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog

This second of a two-part series about bitcoin looks at the impact of China’s recent ban on the virtual currency. Part 1 examined the viability of bitcoins as a potential global currency.

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

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

2014-01-13 Chuck Royce on 4Q13: Abnormally High Returns Reinforce Our Absolute Bias by Chuck Royce of The Royce Funds

In a market that’s behaved far from normally, we are sticking with what we believe works best for our shareholders-finding quality small-caps at what we think are attractively inexpensive valuations that have the ability to generate strong long-term returns. President, Director of Investments, and Portfolio Manager Chuck Royce offers his thoughts on last year’s small-cap performance and the prospects for high-quality small-caps.

2014-01-13 \"New Bubble\" Talk, Premature by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

That was fast. A little over two years ago, we declared that housing had not only bottomed, but was about to start its first real growth spurt since the bubble (Housing At An Inflection Point 11/2/2011). While some agreed, others expressed polite disagreement or, in some cases, incredulity.

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

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

2014-01-13 Equity Bubble? No. by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

The US stock market performed very well during 2013. The S&P 500’s total return of nearly 33% far outpaced the returns of most asset classes. A growing contingent of market observers is fearful that the US equity market is in some sort of a bubble. We disagree completely with this notion. A strong market rally that many investors have missed is hardly sufficient grounds for a financial bubble.

2014-01-12 Forecast 2014: The Killer Ds by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

We’ll continue our three-part 2014 forecast series this week by looking at the significant economic macrotrends that have to be understood, as always, as the context for any short-term forecast. These are the forces that are going to inexorably shift and shape our portfolios and businesses. Each of the nine macrotrends I’ll mention deserves its own book (and I’ve written books about two of them and numerous letters on most of them), but we’ll pause to gaze briefly at each as we scan the horizon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-01-10 Risk Management: The Ability to Say No by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

Heather Rupp, Director of Research for Peritus Asset Management, the sub-advisor to the AdvisorShares Peritus High Yield ETF (HYLD), discusses the advantages of active management when it comes to credit risk.

2014-01-10 Hasenstab: Fed Tapering Was Inevitable by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton

The US Federal Reserve (Fed) announced its decision to reduce its $85 billion monthly asset purchase program by $10 billion starting in January 2014. What might the eventual end of the Fed’s policy of aggressive money printing mean for fixed-income investors? Michael Hasenstab, Ph.D, executive vice president, chief investment officer, Global Bonds, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group, believes there’s no reason for investors to panic. He outlines why he thinks that’s the case, and where on the map he’s spotting fixed income opportunities.

2014-01-10 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 The Leverage Buyout Overhang by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

While we are not opposed to leveraged buyouts, as they can often produce very supportive private equity partners, what does concern us is when the capital structure is levered up to a potentially unsustainable level due to these buyouts or large dividends to equity sponsors.

2014-01-09 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 A Great Time for Investors by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Last January, the global economy faced myriad headwinds, choppiness lay ahead, and we expected plenty of volatility. Nevertheless, I said then that risk assets were the best choice for investors. Now, the headwinds of 2013 have largely dissipated, and the outlook is benign for risk assets for the first three to six months of 2014, if not longer.

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

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

2014-01-08 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 When the QE Tide Recedes, Focus on What is Revealed by Robert McConnaughey of Columbia Management

While there is fierce debate on the ultimate effectiveness of monetary stimulus surging from the central banks, one cannot dispute the boost that it has given to asset prices. While we may be seeing some "green shoots" of overall growth pick-up in the developed world, the post-crisis recovery in asset values has not been primarily driven by economic or earnings growth. Instead, we have been in a high correlation environment where the rising tide lifted most diversified investor boats as repressed "risk-free" rates pushed money out into riskier asset classes.

2014-01-07 Dow 19,500, S&P 500 2,150 by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Last year was the best for equities since 1997. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 26.5%, the S&P 500 was up 29.6% and the Nasdaq was up 38.3%. Despite these outsized gains, and in spite of all the talk of a bubble, we still think stocks are cheap.

2014-01-07 The World of Thinking Machines by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

The New York Times recently published an article that discussed a new version of a computer chip that will be released later this year that is expected to automate tasks that currently require direct programming. In this report, we will open with an examination of the philosophy of learning. We will then discuss the potential dangers of such machines, including the ability to perform humanlike actions without a moral sense. We will also examine the potential economic and social side effects. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.

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

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

2014-01-07 Waiting for the Great Pumpkin by James Moore of PIMCO

Shortly before Thanksgiving, I had the privilege of being on an investor panel at Bank of America’s Debt Capital Markets and Derivatives Conference. On the panel before me was a trio of BofA’s chief strategists, among them Michael Hartnett, their chief investment strategist. Mr. Hartnett reminded the audience that he was the man who coined the phrase "The Great Rotation" and after much anticipation, at long last, it was here.

2014-01-07 Emerging Markets 2014 Outlook: Shaping the Next Decade by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

As we embark upon a new year, the Templeton Emerging Markets Group believes 2014 could be an important year for many emerging markets, possibly establishing trends that could play out through much of the remainder of the decade. In particular, Chinese government reform initiatives announced in late 2013 could have far-reaching significance. And, major elections in a number of countries in 2014 could bring dramatic (or not-so-dramatic) changes. Here are a few themes and countries we’ve got our eye on in the new year.

2014-01-07 The Big Transition: A Letter to an Entrepreneur Friend by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, presents a letter he has written to friend, a senior executive at a successful public company in the internet sphere. The friend has realized that 90% of his personal worth is tied up in his company. He is considering diversifying. Mr. Sicart’s letter posits that for his entrepreneur friend, the decision to diversify is not "primarily an investment question" but rather "a patrimonial question, which must be considered in a much longer time frame."

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

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

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

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

2014-01-06 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 Value Stocks Beckon in Emerging Markets by Henry D'uria, Morgan Harting of AllianceBernstein

Years of playing defense have left many emerging-market (EM) equity portfolios laden with pricey safe-haven stocks. We think they risk missing the big opportunity that’s brewing in value stocks, especially as EM economies begin to stabilize.

2014-01-06 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 Money Matters Part 1: Bitcoin as Global Currency? by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog

In 2009, bitcoin became the first cryptocurrency, or digital medium of exchange, to begin trading. Is it currency or a commodity? Is it a potential peer or a threat to existing currencies? Let’s take a closer look.

2014-01-04 Forecast 2014: The Human Transformation Revolution by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

It is that time of the year when we peer into our darkened crystal balls in hopes of seeing portents of the future in the shadowy mists. This year I see three distinct wisps of vapor coalescing in the coming years. Each deserves its own treatment, so this year the annual forecast issue will in fact be three separate weekly pieces.

2014-01-03 Municipal Bonds: Back to Basics in 2014 by Rafael Costas, Sheila Amoroso of Franklin Templeton

Municipal bonds faced some ups and downs in 2013, falling victim to Fed taper speculation and negative press that dogged Detroit and Puerto Rico and understandably scared off some investors. Sheila Amoroso and Rafael Costas, co-directors of our Municipal Bond Department, note that while there are still some issues to work through and even despite the sometimes-shocking headlines, not all news in the world of munis is bad news. They say investors need to get back to the basics and re-examine the reasons for investing in municipal bonds.

2014-01-03 A More Market-Friendly China by Henry Zhang of Matthews Asia

My last visit to Beijing happened to coincide with the Communist Party’s Third Plenum Meeting. General business sentiment was just as upbeat as it had been earlier last autumn. But through my discussions with different businesspeople, I came away with a distinct new optimism over the leadership’s more market-oriented stance on policies.

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

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

2014-01-03 2014 Outlook: The Emergence of a Global Expansion by Team of Loomis Sayles

After years of a global recovery characterized by fits and starts, we expect more synchronized global growth in 2014. Global GDP growth will accelerate modestly from 2.7% in 2013 to approximately 3.4% in 2014, primarily driven by larger advanced economies. In particular, we are optimistic that US growth will be sustainable. The fading economic drag from government policy and the ongoing housing recovery should help boost US GDP growth toward 3% as the year progresses. The UK is poised for a similar rate of expansion in 2014, and Europe will likely post positive growth in the coming year.

2014-01-02 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.

2013-12-31 Tech Bubble Circa 1999, or Something Different? by J.P. Scandalios of Franklin Templeton

Technology sector stocks have been investor favorites in 2013, pushing the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index to its highest level since 1999 and drawing comparisons to the "dot com" bubble which burst soon thereafter. Will we see a redux of the tech bust in 2014? John P. Scandalios doesn’t think so. Investor fever for anything "dot com" in the late 1990s was built more on promise than actual results.

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

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

2013-12-30 NYSE Margin Debt Is Fractionally Off Its Real All-Time High by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The New York Stock Exchange publishes end-of-month data for margin debt on the NYXdata website, where we can also find historical data back to 1959. Let’s examine the numbers and study the relationship between margin debt and the market, using the S&P 500 as the surrogate for the latter.

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

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

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

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

2013-12-27 A Look Back at 2013 Calls by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

It’s time again for Russ K’s annual look back at his economic and investment calls. Find out what he got right - and what he got wrong.

2013-12-27 Global Equity Outlook: Clouded by Uncertainty by Norman Boersma of Franklin Templeton

Global equity investors generally had reason to cheer in 2013, and seemed more willing to embrace risk as the year progressed. Will the bullish mood persist in 2014? Norm Boersma, Chief Investment Officer, Templeton Global Equity Group, says that while it’s clear global investors have been allocating more dollars toward equities in recent days (particularly US equities), there are still a number of unknowns that make it hard to be overly exuberant.

2013-12-27 The Risk Tolerance Paradox....And What You Can Do About It by Ken Mungan, Matt Kaufman of Milliman Financial Risk Management

The risk tolerance level many investors expect to achieve over the long-term rarely equals the same tolerance investors actually experience over shorter periods. This paper provides a brief introduction to this paradox, explores the main reason we think it exists, and introduces a risk management strategy that seeks to solve the problem.

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

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

2013-12-27 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 A Strong Finish for 2013 by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

For our weekly subscribers, we wanted to take an opportunity to look back on the year. We began 2013 with an outlook for the prospect of improvement for the global economy and risk assets. We thought global policymaker’s unprecedented attempts to reflate global growth would show some signs of bearing fruit, especially in the United States and China. In our forecast, equity markets would continue to be choppy in light of the fiscal cliff issues, but an inevitable political compromise would reduce the economic drag.

2013-12-26 Does the CAPE Still Work? by William Hester of Hussman Funds

We feel no particular obligation defend the CAPE ratio. It has a strong long-term relationship to subsequent 10-year market returns. And it’s only one of numerous valuation indicators that we use in our work - many which are considerably more reliable.

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

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

2013-12-24 How Much Should We Pay to Emit Carbon? by Michael Edesess (Article)

Many consider emissions of greenhouse gases to be what economists call a ’negative externality,’ meaning that they are likely to impose a cost on society through climate change and ocean acidification. The cost of that externality should, in principle, be borne by the emitters, who should pay a price to emit. But what should that price be?

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

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

2013-12-24 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Joe Tomlinson’s article, Optimizing Asset Location: Is It Worth the Effort?, which appeared last week.

2013-12-23 Risk Assets Take Fed Taper Announcement in Stride by Roger Bayston of Franklin Templeton

The US Federal Reserve (Fed) delivered an early holiday surprise to some market participants, announcing at its December 18 policy meeting it would start slowing its asset purchase program known as quantitative easing in January. For some thoughts on what this may mean for the markets in the new year, we turned just after the announcement to Roger Bayston. He believes the markets should be able to take the Fed’s tapering in 2014 in stride, although investors should prepare for the proposition of higher Treasury yields.

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

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

2013-12-23 China\'s Consumer Stocks: Opportunities Despite Slower Growth by Richard Flax of PIMCO

A weaker macro environment and curbs on spending by government bureaucrats have hit a range of consumer businesses and, in some cases, forced a reassessment of expansion plans. While Chinese consumption may be challenged in the near term, we think the impact will be felt most in the retail sector where slowing demand is compounded by oversupply. We see opportunity in other sectors that benefit from secular demand growth and constrained supply or strong brands, notably casinos and luxury sectors.

2013-12-23 401(k) Makeover: Future Trends by Jon Vogler of Invesco Blog

Retirement experts believe your 401(k) plan will take on a new look and focus over the next few years as the industry introduces changes aimed at getting participants to save more money and do more planning for retirement.

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

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

2013-12-20 Let\'s Get Physical: Gold Bullion and Bitcoin by John Hathaway of Tocqueville Asset Management

John Hathaway, manager of the Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX), discusses in his latest insights piece the disparity in price direction between gold bullion and Bitcoin, in spite of the strikingly similar rationale for holding the two. He notes that the "Bitcoin-Gold incongruity is explained by the fact that financial engineers have not yet discovered a way to collateralize bitcoins for leveraged trades."

2013-12-20 Celebrating Asia\'s Growth Past and Present by Taizo Ishida, Mark Headley of Matthews Asia

Today, Matthews Asia celebrates 10 remarkable years that have passed since we launched our Asia Growth strategy to U.S. investors. During this time, the region has evolved in many significant ways. In the early 2000s, only the "Asian Tiger" economies had managed to reach GDP per capita levels considered the tipping point for consumption growth. More recently, consumption has been on the rise in many of the region’s economies, laying the foundation for Asia’s ongoing prosperity.

2013-12-20 Staying Power by Kapish Bhutani of Diamond Hill Investments

In addition to reducing the risk of a permanent loss of capital, the staying power of a company allows for capital to compound over long periods of time. While the defensive and less cyclical nature of many consumer staples companies indicates an ability to survive, most are able to invest only a portion of earnings at historical rates of return.

2013-12-20 Five Resolutions for 2014 by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

Entering 2014, the global investment environment is as challenging as ever. After a super 2013 in returns, U.S. equities can no longer be considered inexpensive and yet still look attractive relative to the prospective returns on savings accounts and long-term bonds. Long-term bond yields are higher than a year ago but could still rise further as the Federal Reserve begins to reduce quantitative easing.

2013-12-20 A Surprising Way to Participate in Today\'s Tech Boom by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

China has become one of the best consumption stories out there, and looking over the next few years, local technology companies are almost certain to benefit. So while many U.S. investors are getting excited about the growing number of initial public offerings in the tech sector, they would be remiss if they didn’t look beyond Silicon Valley.

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

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

2013-12-19 The Great Experiment by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

After 100 years of the US central bank, does it deserve another try...?

2013-12-19 Coal in the Fed\'s Stock-ing by Tony Crescenzi, Lupin Rahman, Ben Emons of PIMCO

Forward guidance has become an increasingly common practice among global central banks. Communicating a possible change in the policy rate could have a large effect on long-term interest rates. Capital has moved literally around the globe as a result of central bank activism in developed countries. Looking ahead, we expect 2014 to be a year of increased differentiation across emerging markets in terms of economic fundamentals, policy reactions and market outcomes.

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

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

2013-12-19 Introducing Our Annual Global Outlook for 2014 by Jeff Hussey of Russell Investments

Jeff Hussey, global CIO, introduces Russell Investments’ 2014 Annual Global Outlook and explains why it will be important for investors to focus on risk premiums and precise exposures in 2014.

2013-12-19 Is Your Inflation Protection Really Protecting You? by Thomas Luster, Stewart Taylor, Kevin Dachille of Eaton Vance

Many investors who own Treasury Inflation-Protection Securities (TIPS) and TIPS mutual funds don’t realize that they may be taking a significant amount of interest-rate risk in exchange for their inflation protection, which may result in losses when rates begin to rise rapidly. Shorter-maturity TIPS carry the same inflation adjustment as longer-term TIPS, but have less sensitivity to interest rates, which may be helpful in times of rising interest rates like what investors experienced in spring 2013.

2013-12-19 Georgia on My Mind by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

My team and I recently traveled to Georgia, a small country in the Caucasus Mountains straddling the border between Europe and Asia. Why are we interested in Georgia? One word: reform. Georgia, which can be considered a frontier market, is on the cusp of burgeoning change.

2013-12-18 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 Australia Inc. by Adam Bowe, Robert Mead of PIMCO

In 2013, real growth in business investment in Australia outside the mining sector slowed to almost zero, in part due to the high exchange rate. While some sectors of the economy such as housing appear to be improving, we continue to expect sub-trend growth in 2014 due to the subdued outlook for business investment. The RBA will most likely have to keep interest rates low for an extended period to ease the transition away from mining-assisted growth and encourage a weaker exchange rate.

2013-12-18 Three Investments that Could Return to Favor in 2014 by Jeffrey Knight of Columbia Management

When investors lose confidence in an asset class, especially one that had been popular enough to attract outsized allocations, subsequent rebalancing generally leads to prolonged periods of underperformance. Technology stocks after 1999, for example, underperformed the S&P 500 in eight of the next 10 years and by a cumulative total of more than 40 percentage points. Today, many believe that interest rate sensitive bonds might have just begun a similar era of waning investor confidence, portfolio reallocation and underperformance.

2013-12-17 Optimizing Asset Location: Is It Worth the Effort? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Asset location - the choice of whether to hold stocks and bonds in taxable or sheltered accounts - is receiving increased attention as advisors seek more ways to add value. New research has challenged long-held beliefs. I’ll examine that research and answer a question that should concern every advisor and client: Does the value provided by asset-location advice justify the fees for the work involved?

2013-12-17 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 The 2014 Geopolitical Outlook by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

As is our custom, we close out the current year with our outlook for the next one. This report is less a series of predictions as it is a list of potential geopolitical issues that we believe will dominate the international situation in the upcoming year. It is not designed to be exhaustive; instead, it focuses on the "big picture" conditions that we believe will affect policy and markets going forward. They are listed in order of importance.

2013-12-17 The One Percent by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

I read the Pope’s words about inequality following a meeting of our newly formed Consumer Analysts Panel. The panel consists of our consumer analysts, our lodging/housing analysts, our economist, senior management of our institutional sales team, and me. Interestingly, the recurring theme over the course of said meeting was that the top 20% of wage earners are doing fine, but the bottom 20% are not.

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

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

2013-12-16 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 Debt Crisis Recovery: Bell Curves and Balance Sheets by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog

This three-part series examines the life cycle of a debt crisis and looks at where the US, UK and eurozone are in the recovery process. This second post looks at where the US stands in the deleveraging process. Part 1 explained the phases of a debt crisis, while Part 3 will focus on why the UK and eurozone lag the US in balance-sheet repair.

2013-12-16 The Power of the Platform: The Promise and Peril of Technology Investing by Ryan Jacob of Jacob Asset Management

Without question, technology’s rapid development during the past 20 years has played an incredibly powerful and largely positive role in furthering the progress and productivity of modern economies throughout the world. Technology’s track record as a profitable investment theme, however, is a bit cloudier.

2013-12-16 2014 Investment Outlook: Economic Growth Should Broaden by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

For the first time in several years, we approach the new year without big clouds on the horizon. In the United States, accommodative monetary policy has healed many of the wounds from the 2008-2009 crisis.

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

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

2013-12-13 Small (Cap) but Mighty by Michael McCarthy of Franklin Templeton

Despite a number of economic and political headwinds in 2013, US stocks have powered ahead, and not just the large-cap names that equity investors tend to gravitate toward during times of uncertainty. Small-cap stocks have also been looking pretty mighty overall this year. Michael McCarthy, portfolio manager for Franklin Small Cap Growth Fund, believes there are still reasons to be bullish in 2014, although careful stock selection could be even more important after 2013’s small-cap run.

2013-12-13 Where Have All the Savings Gone? by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments

The last six years have witnessed the most severe financial crisis since the end of World War II, with household earning capacity and saving ability experiencing significant changes due to the downturn in the real economies. This challenging economic situation definitely affected household saving behavior, although the impact has been different in various countries - for some, the impact on household earning capacity was more intense than others.

2013-12-13 The Future in Focus: Relieving Labor Strains by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Demographic trends point to an expanding population of retirees and a relative shortage of working-age people. Here’s how the U.S. economy can adapt.

2013-12-13 Stanley Black & Decker: Powering Its Way Toward Fair Value by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Stanley Black & Decker (SWK) is a machine tools company built on namesakes of - you guessed it - three individuals with the last names: Stanley, Black and Decker. Frederick Stanley started a hardware manufacturing company in 1843. Duncan Black and Alonzo Decker started a similar shop in 1910, becoming known for the world’s first patent for a portable power tool. In 2010 the two companies merged to form what is today Stanley Black & Decker.

2013-12-13 Float Research Bubble Watchers Should Set Their Sights on Corporate Bond Market by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

Insatiable Appetite for Corporate Debt Despite Poor Performance. Corporate Bond ETFs Issue Staggering $21.6 Billion (27.5% of Assets) Year-to-Date.

2013-12-13 A New Blueprint for China\'s Development by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

China’s government set out its plans for the rest of the decade in a document called "The Decision on Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening Reforms." Known as "The Decision," it emerged from the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee, which took place in early November. The document set out a series of planned reforms that assigned a more central role to markets as President Xi Jinping’s administration seeks to maintain China’s enviable record of long-term growth.

2013-12-13 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 Hedged Dividend Investing: The Best Strategy You\'ve Never Heard Of? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Our industry’s challenge: How to deal with that via creation of intelligent investment strategies that allow advisors and their clients to follow through on their desire to skirt both the bond and stock bubbles of the future, while still striving for a competitive yield for their retirement portfolios.

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

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

2013-12-12 The Fed, Inflation, and the Perfect Storm in Gold Miners by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group

Neither hopes of job creation nor fears of inflation (based on the massive expansion of the monetary base since late 2008) have thus far materialized. Total credit creation (i.e. money supply) during most of the last five years either shrank or barely grew despite massive growth in the monetary base. Nominal GDP (growth plus inflation) grows in response to total expansion of credit (both from the Fed and the banking system), not just the monetary base.

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

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

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

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

2013-12-11 What Will 2014 Bring for The Equity Markets? by Marco Pirondini of Pioneer Investments

As the year draws to a close, investors are searching for clues as to what may be in store for the economy and markets in 2014. What have we learned from the markets in the month of November? Honestly, not very much. The scenario has not changed much in the last 30 days.

2013-12-11 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 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 How Much Can Clients Spend in Retirement? A Test of the Two Most Prominent Approaches by Wade Pfau (Article)

In my last article, I described research-based innovations for variable withdrawal strategies from retirement portfolios. In this article, I put Guyton’s and Blanchett’s strategies to the test. My results provide planners with a better understanding about the potential spending paths generated by these different approaches.

2013-12-10 A Framework for Understanding Bond Portfolio Performance by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Investors are legitimately concerned that interest rates, after falling reliably for decades, are on their way up and that bond portfolio values are on their way down. Investors now seek interest-rate protection. I provide a framework for analyzing and, hopefully, predicting the returns on actively managed portfolios of bonds - a task different from analyzing the bond market itself.

2013-12-10 How Service Screw-ups Can Create Happier Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Companies mess up and let us down. And chances are at some point you’ve dropped the ball with your clients, where an unintended mistake caused frustration and inconvenience. But a recent conversation highlighted a four-step plan to turn service problems into client satisfaction success stories.

2013-12-10 2 Unconventional Options in a Low Rate Environment by Sponsored Content from OppenheimerFunds (Article)

This paper discusses how: Global interest rates could remain low for a long time, says Krishna Memani, CIO, Fixed Income; GDP growth and interest rates tend to track each other over time, and the expectation is for slow growth; Compelling opportunities for fixed income investors willing to look beyond Treasuries.

2013-12-10 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 The Myth of the Most Efficient Market by Patrick O'Shaughnessy of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management

Perception of the U.S. large cap value market is that it’s the most efficient in the world, and therefore the hardest category for managers to outperform the benchmark. As a result, index funds and ETFs have been gaining dramatic market share. Our latest whitepaper debunks conventional thinking with empirically-proven factors that have significantly outperformed in the U.S. large cap space.

2013-12-09 The Truth Does Not Change According To Our Ability To Stomach It by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The stock market is presently at valuations where not only cyclical but secular bear markets have started. A secular bear period comprises a series of cyclical bull-bear periods where valuations gradually work their way lower at each successive cyclical trough. The past 13 years of paltry overall total returns for the S&P 500 have unfortunately corrected very little of the excess in 2000, largely thanks to yet another round of Fed-enabled speculation. We should have learned how these episodes end.

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

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

2013-12-09 Debt Crisis Recovery: Bell Curves and Balance Sheets by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog

This three-part series examines the life cycle of a debt crisis and looks at where the US, UK and eurozone are in the recovery process. This first post explains the phases of a debt crisis. Part 2 will look at where the US stands in the deleveraging process, while Part 3 will focus on why the UK and eurozone lag the US in balance-sheet repair.

2013-12-09 Debt Crisis Recovery: Bell Curves and Balance Sheets by Team of GaveKal Capital

The purchasing power parity (PPP) theory basically states that the exchange rate between two countries should adjust so that a basket of goods in Country X costs the same as it does in Country Y when priced in the same currency. It is a useful theory in understanding the relative strength of a currency, especially for a reserve currency such as the USD. It is important to keep in mind that over/under valuation based on PPP can remain in place for years and that this is not at all a timing tool.

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

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

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

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

2013-12-07 Interview with Steve Forbes by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

For whatever reason, Steve Forbes seems to bring out the passion in me. When I think about what central bank policies are doing to savers and investors, how we are screwing around with the pension system, circumventing rational market expectations because of an untested economic theory held by a relatively small number of academics, I get a little exercised. And Steve gives me the freedom to do it.

2013-12-06 Like a Shakespearean Script by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Shakespearean plays follow a pattern. The underlying plots and storylines change from play to play, but the five-act construction is a common overlap. Market cycles tend to follow a similar pattern cycle after cycle. Like the different plots in various Shakespearean plays, the catalysts that begin and end each cycle, and the events during the cycle are always different. However, market cycles seem to follow a script and, so far, this cycle seems to be following the script almost perfectly.

2013-12-06 Vibrant Vietnam by Lydia So of Matthews Asia

I recently made my first visit to Vietnam and spent several days in Ho Chi Minh City. Considered by the investment community to be a frontier market, Vietnam has a low per capita income (approximately US$1,600), a relatively young population and less mature capital markets.

2013-12-06 Gold: Currency or Commodity? by Anthony Wile of J.P. Morgan Funds

Despite gold traditionally serving as a safe haven asset, investors should be wary of fear-inflated investments given the potential for improving global growth.

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

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

2013-12-06 Going Against the Grain, Again by Cindy Sweeting of Franklin Templeton

Going against the grain is never easy, particularly when it comes to investing. But if you don’t take the risk of moving out of the crowd and taking a different path, you can’t really stand out. Templeton has focused on bottom-up value investing, which often puts it at odds with the broader market consensus. We go back in history to describe how the strategy has persevered through different market cycles, and why the Templeton team has been going against the grain by investing in Europe at a time when other investors had lost faith.

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

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

2013-12-05 10 for \'14 by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Each December we publish a list of investment themes that we feel are critical for the coming year. We continue to believe the US stock market will continue its run through one of the largest bull markets of our careers. Our positive outlook extends to the following areas: US Equities, Japanese Equities, European small cap stocks, high yield municipals.

2013-12-05 Another Step Forward for US DC Plans: Managing Volatility by Daniel Loewy of AllianceBernstein

We’re seeing more US defined contribution (DC) plan sponsors looking at a variety of ways to help their participants manage volatility-and the accompanying anxiety and doubts that can often push participants to abandon their long-term investing goals.

2013-12-05 Running Out of Time by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Well, so far the Federal Reserve is winning out over my timing models that continue to suggest caution should be the preferred strategy in the short-term; and last week that strategy was wrong footed as the D-J Industrial Average notched another new all-time high.

2013-12-05 Gimme Three Steps...on the Path of Deleveraging by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Debt (and Fed policy) continue to be my biggest longer-term concerns; even with the progress made over the past few years by the household sector. The budget deficit is plunging; and that’s great news, but more is needed to bring overall debt growth down to more reasonable levels. The solutions stool is three-legged: spending, revenues...and growth!

2013-12-05 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 Why Investing in High Quality Companies is More Important Today than Ever by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

One of the first rules a new financial advisor learns is that success in the business has nothing to do with how well your clients do in creating or maintaining wealth. Success is measured by how much wealth the advisor creates for him or herself. The same rule extends beyond the local advisor to the great halls of institutional management.

2013-12-04 Patience in Asia by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Investing in a multitude of markets and companies as we do within the Templeton Emerging Markets Group means that at any given point in time it may appear to some that they are underperforming or outperforming any particular benchmark index or market. Such is the nature of global financial markets. Of course, we’d like all of our investments to go straight up, but at the same time continually like to find new bargains for investors.

2013-12-04 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

For the 7th year in a row, the US Postal Service lost money. After setting a record loss last year of $15.9 billion, it pared the losses to $5 billion in the current year. The USPS showed its first growth in revenue since 2008, rising 1.2% to $66 billion. In no surprise, the USPS asked Congress for help. Wonder how that is going to work out for them?

2013-12-04 Dramatically Dropping Deficits? Keep Dreaming by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

A smaller U.S. budget shortfall for fiscal 2013 will be largely due to transitory factors.

2013-12-03 Jeremy Siegel - The Market is 10% to 15% Undervalued by Robert Huebscher (Article)

According to Wharton’s Jeremy Siegel, ’the fair market value for the stocks today is 10% to 15% higher, and that might even be on the conservative side.’

2013-12-03 Active Share. Toward a Stock Picker’s Market? by Sponsored Content from ClearBridge Investments (Article)

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

2013-12-03 How to Keep Prospects from Stealing Your Ideas by Dan Richards (Article)

After multiple meetings with prospective clients during which you provided recommendations on their situation, at some point every advisor has walked away feeling that someone took their advice and implemented it on their own. How do you prevent this from happening?

2013-12-03 What Matters More When Investing: A Good Company or Good Price? by John Alberg and Michael Seckler (Article)

Which approach will serve you best in the uncertain periods ahead - investing in the best companies, or finding the lowest priced opportunities? How did value-oriented investment approaches, such as Joel Greenblatt’s "magic formula," perform when price-to-earnings multiples compressed in the past? A recent study we completed yields some perspective on those two questions.

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

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

2013-12-03 Fixed Income Markets Slog Forward by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The past five years have seen a dramatic influx of investor capital into corporate credit markets. As investors jumped into the market, there is growing concern that credit markets are nearing stretched valuations. Those concerns are likely premature, particularly with central bank intervention in place.

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

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

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

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

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

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

2013-12-03 From the Taj Mahal to Westminster Abbey: Notes from a Global Investor by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

I recently returned from India, a nation where an incredible 600 million people are under the age of 25. That’s nearly double the entire population of the U.S.!

2013-12-02 The Elephant in the Room by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Investors will do themselves terrible harm if they ignore the objective warnings of history based on our subjective experience in this unfinished half-cycle. That subjective experience is far more closely related to my 2009 stress-testing decision than many investors recognize.

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

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

2013-12-02 Investing in China? What You Should Know About Gaining Access to the Markets by Ted Samulowitz, Graham Day of Invesco Blog

Investors with exposure to China and those interested in gaining a foot into the country received some good news last month when it was announced that China’s GDP grew by 7.8% in the third quarter. The news was a sigh of relief for investors as China’s economy appears to have avoided the hard landing economists and investors had feared.

2013-12-02 China\'s Great Leap by Equity Investment Team of Janus Capital Group

China’s government just announced it would take a big step back...and let its economy take a giant leap forward. We believe China’s proposed economic reforms will transform the economy and should allay investors’ main concerns about Chinese markets. In Janus’ latest Equity Monthly, our equity team offers its perspective on China’s Great Leap.

2013-12-02 Consumers Doing Fine by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

According to the National Retail Federation, Thursday to Sunday holiday sales dropped 3% versus last year. No doubt, this will wake up some dozing bears. And, we are sure that when we say it’s not as bad as you think, many will argue we are perma-bulls, naive, or downright stubborn. You can think what you want, but we don’t believe sales are falling.

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

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

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

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

2013-11-29 ING Fixed Income Perspectives - November 2013 by Christine Hurtsellers and Matt Toms of ING Investement Management

Given rich valuations globally, we remain broadly neutral on interest rate risk with the exception of Japan.

2013-11-29 From the Taj Mahal to Westminster Abbey: Notes from a Global Investor by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

I recently returned from India, a nation where an incredible 600 million people are under the age of 25. That’s nearly double the entire population of the U.S.

2013-11-28 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 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 Housing Outlook 2014: Holding Our Breath by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting

As a kid, I remember the Apollo lunar module losing all communication for about one hour as it orbited around the back of the moon. We all held our breath for that hour, waiting to hear that all was okay.

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

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

2013-11-26 Second-Level Thinking: John Hussman Responds to Howard Marks by John Hussman (Article)

While I am a very great admirer of Howard Marks, his fairly sanguine view of equities here seems inconsistent with what he calls "second-level thinking" about how securities are valued, and is almost certainly inconsistent with his observation that "Rule number one, most things will prove to be cyclical. Rule number two, some of the greatest opportunities for gain and loss come when people forget rule number one."

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

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

2013-11-26 QE: Not That Big of a Deal by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

The most frequent question we get lately is "what happens to long-term interest rates when quantitative easing ends?" Many analysts argue that the Federal Reserve is buying and holding a huge share of Treasury debt and once QE ends other buyers will suddenly have to absorb more. This will cause interest rates to soar, bust the housing market, undermine stocks, and possibly cause a recession.

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

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

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

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

2013-11-26 Dig Deep - Then Dig Some More - to Uncover Risks in EM Corporate Debt by Shamaila Khan of AllianceBernstein

Emerging-market (EM) corporate debt returned big numbers for investors in recent years, as the sector rode a general wave of optimism about the future. But those days are gone. In 2013, successful investors have had to take a more painstaking path.

2013-11-26 For Whom the Nobel Tolls: Efficient Market or Irrational Exuberance? by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest essay, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks at the work of two of the recent recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economic Science. While the work of Eugene Fama and Robert Shiller might at first seem to be in direct conflict, Sicart explores how simultaneously recognizing Fama’s "efficient market hypothesis" and Shiller’s work on investor psychology may be "less of a contradiction than meets the eye."

2013-11-25 Recent Economic Trends Help Make Korea a Hidden Gem in Asia by Paul Chan and Simon Jeong of Invesco Blog

After more than two decades of financial setbacks, recent macroeconomic data is helping Korea overcome the negative economic stigma associated with its economy and equity markets.

2013-11-25 Solving the Income Puzzle by Christopher Remington, Michael Cirami, Kathleen Gaffney, Scott Page of Eaton Vance

Income needs may be as high as they’ve ever been, while the yield potential from many traditional investment classes has dwindled to generational lows. Investors who remain in high-priced, low-yielding core bond strategies could experience loss of principal (and mounting retirement shortfalls) if interest rates revert toward their mean. We advocate creating an integrated, multi-pronged income plan that may offer yield potential that meets investor needs, while managing key risks found in the typical core fixed-income allocation.

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

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

2013-11-25 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 Sir Isaac Newton by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

In 1711 the Earl of Oxford formed the South Sea Company, which was approved as a joint-stock company via an act by the British government. The company was designed to improve the British government’s finances. The earl granted the merchants associated with the company the sole rights to trade in the South Seas (the east coast of Latin America). From the start the new company was expected to achieve huge profits given the believed inexhaustible gold and silver mines of the region.

2013-11-24 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 What is the Current Market Reality? by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments

At this year’s Global Investment Forum, the discussion among Pioneer investment professionals was generally positive. Of course, everyone was conscious of the current market reality: that the major force behind recent positive, though benign, market trends is the unprecedented creation of liquidity and extremely loose stance of monetary policies around the world. Monetary policy alone cannot be the only conduit to a new economic model of income growth and job creation.

2013-11-22 Shifting Global Fortunes by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Most investors, particularly those who live in developed markets, probably aren’t aware of the influence emerging markets have on the global economy. I’m not just talking about China or just about governments. More and more large corporations are headquartered in emerging markets, a trend that I expect to continue. In addition, more of those companies that are located in emerging markets are also joining the ranks of the top companies in the world. In fact, some might be surprised to hear that some of the world’s largest initial public offerings (IPOs) have been in emerging m

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

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

2013-11-22 Float Research: Demand Indicators Point to Jolly Holiday Season for U.S. Equity Investors by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

Demand Indicators Point to Jolly Holiday Season for U.S. Equity Investors. ETF Flows Turn More Encouraging for Short Term.

2013-11-22 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.

2013-11-21 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Up, up, and away. Stocks surged for the sixth straight week, the S&P 500’s longest such streak since February 2013, as institutional investors welcomed remarked from the future Fed Chair (?) and "mom and pops" finally decided to join in the fun (better late than never). Suddenly Dow 16k, Nasdaq 4k, and, heck, even S&P 2k are well within reach. What financial debacle?

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

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

2013-11-21 Some Small-Caps Are More Global Than Others by Francis Gannon of The Royce Funds

How much of a contribution have overseas revenues made to this year’s dynamic domestic small-cap rally? Part of the answer lies in where portfolios invest and where they do not. Portfolio Manager and Principal Francis Gannon notes the emerging strength shown by those more economically sensitive sectors that are closely tied to global economic activity.

2013-11-21 Two Nobel Laureates...Two Tales of Value by Vitali Kalesnik of Research Affiliates

How can you build a better value stock portfolio? The key is discerning whether the value premium stems from mispricing or risk.

2013-11-20 Entrepreneurship in Asia by Jerry Shih of Matthews Asia

Using Silicon Valley as a yardstick to measure the success of Asia’s entrepreneurs is an interesting exercise. But it offers little insight into the development of more creative processes in Asia. Many policymakers in the region have declared innovation to be a national, strategic prioritycreating policies aimed at spurring growth to increase R&D expenditure, attract knowledge-intensive foreign direct investment and building more skilled labor pools. This month, Jerry Shih, CFA, takes a look at what changes are occurring around Asia to build more robust start-up ecosystems.

2013-11-20 Yellen's Testimony Not Surprising: Fed Has More Work to Do by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Janet Yellen’s Senate testimony in last week’s confirmation hearings was very dovish and offered no real surprises. She did not signal or hint at any change in Fed policy (it was a confirmation hearing), but suggested that the best way to achieve an exit from unconventional policy is to deliver a stronger recovery . . . and the Fed has "more work to do" to support that recovery. The risk that she will not be confirmed is considered negligible.

2013-11-19 Asset Class Allocation and Portfolios: Critique and Complication by Adam Jared Apt (Article)

In Part 1 of this essay, I explained that for asset class allocation to become an investment practice, it required a foundation of theory. And Modern Portfolio Theory was that foundation. But today, most financial journalists and investment advisors who proffer advice centered on asset class allocation areif I may judge from their writingsoblivious of this. And why shouldn’t they be? Theory is abstract and difficult to apprehend.

2013-11-19 Howard Marks: Equities are Under-owned and Un-loved by Robert Huebscher (Article)

According to Oaktree’s Howard Marks, U.S. equities are ’under-owned and un-loved, and I like to buy assets like that.’

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

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

2013-11-19 Confronting the Tax Drag by Tom Metzold, Jim Evans, Lew Piantedosi, Peter Crowley of Eaton Vance

The impact of the “tax drag” on investor portfolios can be significant over long time frames, potentially consuming a quarter or more of every dollar earned by the average investor. As federal tax rates have risen for many investors, so too has the risk of losing a larger portion of one’s returns to taxes highlighting the need for a tax-aware investment approach. Municipal and tax-advantaged bond strategies, tax-efficient equities and solutions for high-net-worth investors can all help improve investors’ after-tax portfolio performance.

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

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

2013-11-19 Ignoble Prizes and Appointments by Jeremy Grantham of GMO

Chief investment strategist Jeremy Grantham comments on this year’s Nobel Prize in economics and "the most laughable of all assumption-based theories, the Efficient Market Hypothesis"; candidates to succeed Chairman Bernanke at the Fed; the impact of commodity price rises and the housing bubble in the crash of 2008; and prospects for the U.S. equity market.

2013-11-19 France and the Iranian Negotiations by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Earlier this month, negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 failed to reach an agreement despite great hopes that one was near. In this report, we will examine the reasons behind French objections to a nuclear deal with Iran. We will begin with an examination of France’s relations with the Middle East, focusing on its relations with Israel. Using this history as a guide, we will analyze why the French scotched the potential agreement. A short discussion will follow of the impact of France’s objection on the evolution of U.S. policy with Iran. As always, we conclude with market ramif

2013-11-19 Levitate: Dismiss Bubble Talk for Now by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

It’s premature to be calling this market a bubble. Rolling 10 year returns haven’t even reached a long-term mean. Valuation still well below prior bull market peaks.

2013-11-18 Under the Spotlight, Pensions and “Damn it Janet” by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Recently, I spoke on a panel regarding the State of Illinois (our panel literally “Under the Spotlight”). Our panel touched on many topics affecting the State but, when all was said and done, it seemed that the panel uniformly recognized that Illinois needed to do something about their pension problem (we had an interesting discussion about one party rule and speculated as to why they can’t seem to get anything done on pension reform can you say re-election).

2013-11-18 Two Investments to Consider when You're Coming off the Sidelines by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

For investors on the sidelines of the equity market, Russ offers his take on which market segments to consider now and which to remain cautious of.

2013-11-18 The ECB Rate Cut - Too Little and Too Late by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog

The decision of the European Central Bank (ECB) last week to cut its main refinancing rate from 0.5% to 0.25% and the marginal lending facility from 1.00% to 0.75% is too little and too late -- and virtually irrelevant to financial markets. The decision came after published data showed the eurozone headline consumer price index slowing to 0.7% year-on-year in October. Of course the equity markets rallied temporarily in a knee-jerk reaction to the ECB’s move, but by the end of the day most of the gains were lost.

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

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

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

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

2013-11-18 Doing Well by Doing Good by Tara Thompson Popernik, Paul Robertson of AllianceBernstein

Charitable giving remains one of the few ways that US taxpayers can avoid taxes outright. If you’re philanthropically inclined, giving can be a win-win that benefits you and society at the same time.

2013-11-18 The Muddle-Through Economy and Grind-Higher Equity Market Continue by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished higher last week as the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at record highs, marking the sixth straight week of advances.1 Several macroeconomic themes are important as third quarter earnings season comes to an end. Fed Chairman nominee Janet Yellen spoke before the Senate in support of current monetary policy and suggested a similar path under her leadership. Economic data was mixed for the week, and any economic weakness continues to be perceived as supporting a delay in tapering. In turn, this can be seen as positive for equities.

2013-11-18 Schwab Impact Conference 2013 - Finally! Some Good News from D.C. by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Earlier this week my wife (who doubles as Sungarden’s Director of Operations) joined me for three days in Washington D.C. at the Schwab IMPACT conference for investment advisors. To me, this is the biggest show of the year in our industry and the Capital edition continued the traditional mix of new ideas, networking and a feeling at the end once described by David Letterman as “I’m tiredbut it’s a nice kind of tired.” Here are some brief highlights and what I think the implications are (if any) for what we are doing for our clients now and in the times ahead.

2013-11-18 Are You Managing Volatility or Is It Managing You? by Timothy Atwill, Richard Bernstein, Eric Stein, Bradford Godfrey, Chris Sunderland of Eaton Vance

Market volatility has caused investors to make emotional decisions, resulting in performance that may have hindered their ability to reach investment goals. Eaton Vance believes that sound investment strategy should provide investors with tools for managing volatility, so the market’s inevitable fluctuations may work on their behalf. We discuss four approaches to managing volatility: reducing, navigating, harnessing and monetizing.

2013-11-16 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 Has Washington Drama Taken Its Toll On MLPs? by David Chiaro of Eagle Global Advisors

“They did it! They blew it up!” shouts Charlton Heston in the iconic ending scene of the film Planet of the Apes when he finds out he has been living on a post-nuclear war planet Earth. Americans are probably having some of the same feelings about our current world resulting from the ongoing political “nuclear war” raging in our nation’s capital.

2013-11-15 “Great Rotation?” How About “Selective Rotation?” by Eric Takaha of Franklin Templeton

A few months ago there was a lot of buzz about a so-called “Great Rotation,” used to describe an investor exodus from fixed income and into equities, conjuring up images of a massive herd of wildebeest on the African plain racing for greener pastures. Oftentimes, when investors react to the market with a herd mentality, they can wind up losing sight of where they are going, and why. Eric Takaha, senior vice president and portfolio manager for Franklin Strategic Income Fund, says what he’s seen is more of a “selective rotation.”

2013-11-15 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 Dressed to the Nines with Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

While paper gold is getting the cold shoulder in the West, the Love Trade buyers in the East are wrapping their arms around all the physical gold they can get their hands on.

2013-11-14 No Man is an Island by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

When your territory spans hundreds of countries on just about every continent and time zone, the importance of teamwork cannot be underestimated. I am extremely fortunate to have the support of a tremendous team of currently 90 professionals in the Templeton Emerging Markets Group, including 52 analysts and portfolio managers, spanning 26 countries and speaking 24 languages. I couldn’t do what I do without them! For the past 25 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Tom Wu, whose research responsibilities include companies in Hong Kong and the Philippines, as well as the bank

2013-11-14 This May Sting Just a Bit: Global Diversification by Jeff Hussey of Russell Investments

Russell Investments’ global chief investment officer argues that times when global diversification falls out of favor might provide opportunities for investors.

2013-11-14 The Secret of the Euro\'s Survival by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Despite fiscal strains and political controversy, the common currency still enjoys broad support among member nations. Here’s why.

2013-11-13 Why I Sell the Dollar: From Dollar Strength to Dollar Weakness by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

To those that say the U.S. has the cleanest of the dirty shirts, we would like to point out that it hasn’t helped the greenback, as evidenced by the euro outperforming the dollar both so far this year, as well as last year. Yes, we have a mess in the Eurozone that won’t be resolved anytime soon. But we also have a mess in the U.S., Japan, and many other places around the globe.

2013-11-13 When Flexibility Meets Opportunity in the European Commercial Real Estate Market by Laurent Luccioni of PIMCO

The pace of asset sales by European banks has been slower than many anticipated due to the fragile economic, political and regulatory environment across the continent. A complex CRE landscape and the pervasive effects of cognitive bias, capital rigidity and the unintended consequences of regulation mean mispricing can occur frequently. Unlocking value in this environment requires a flexible approach to investing across the capital structure and the resources to source, underwrite, structure, service and operate commercial real estate assets.

2013-11-13 Twenty Five by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover, Mike Czekaj of Broadleaf Partners

I am not a particularly good salesman. From the time I first meet a prospect to when they become a full-fledged client, it can often take two years even when they initiate the first meeting. Fortunately, growing the firm isn’t one of my primary roles, a responsibility that does fall to Bill Hoover, my business partner. The beauty of our relationship is that while Bill devotes his time to our firm’s “outside” efforts, I am able to spend almost all of my attention tending to the portfolios of those who have already hired us. (View a printable version of this Economic

2013-11-13 GameStop and Our Long-Term, Contrarian Investment Approach by Jay Kaplan of The Royce Funds

Because our contrarian approach emphasizes a long-term time horizon, we tend to invest in companies that we believe have the financial wherewithal to withstand out of favor periods. GameStop used trying times to build conviction and expand its core business rather than abandoning its discipline to meet outside expectations.

2013-11-12 Beware of Financial Planning’s Misguided Rules-of-Thumb by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Lacking better insights, financial planners cling to rules of thumb, such as allocating a percentage of assets to fixed income based on a client’s age. More recently, those rules have been institutionalized through products like target-date funds, which maintain a fixed glide path for all investors. But new research has led to the development of software products that allow advisors to easily improve on the suboptimal outcomes to which clients were previously destined.

2013-11-12 The Bomb Shelter Portfolio: Maximum Income with the Least Risk by Geoff Considine (Article)

Conservative investors are faced with unappealing choices. They can reduce risk and accept low yields and high exposure to rising rates, or they can push the bounds of their risk tolerance to increase yield. My analysis shows a way out of this predicament: a “bomb shelter” portfolio of ETFs, which offers attractive yield with minimal volatility and exposure to rising rates.

2013-11-12 Three Ways to Turn Casual Contacts into Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Most advisors routinely cross paths with people who are attractive prospects, whether at their golf club, get-togethers with neighbors or through charitable activity in their community. The challenge is how to raise the possibility of working together without appearing to be one of those stereotyped hustlers who give salespeople everywhere a bad name.

2013-11-12 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 EPV: Establishing Predictive Value (i.e., Relative Outperformance) by David Kleinberg of Universal Orbit

EPV: Establishing Predictive Value (i.e., Relative Outperformance) is a linear narrative outlining general limitations in third party data provider presentations and implied effects on peer group analytics. Reconciling the modulation of data with nomenclature is one facet of the qualitative assessments associated with quantitative analysis.

2013-11-12 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 Tech in the Time of Twitter: From Growth to Value Play by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Despite the hype surrounding Twitter’s IPO, technology is a very different industry today than it was fifteen years ago. While a few high profile companies are making headlines, the sector is no longer a growth story. Nevertheless, tech still looks attractive as a value play.

2013-11-11 A Textbook Pre-Crash Bubble by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Despite the unusually extended period of speculation as a result of faith in quantitative easing, I continue to believe that normal historical regularities will exert themselves with a vengeance over the completion of this market cycle. Importantly, the market has now re-established the most hostile overvalued, overbought, overbullish syndrome we identify.

2013-11-11 Health Care: Rx for Growth and Defense by Ted Samulowitz of Invesco Blog

The Capital Asset Pricing Model, used to price risky securities, suggests growth and defensive investments are mutually exclusive because the more an asset can return, the higher its risk must be. But growth itself can provide defensive benefits when a secular growth story occurs regardless of the business cycle.

2013-11-10 What Would Yellen Do? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In advance of this week’s confirmation hearings for Federal Reserve Board Chairperson-nominee Janet Yellen, let’s pretend we are prepping our favorite Banking Committee senator for his or her few questions. What would you like to know? In this week’s letter I offer a few questions of my own.

2013-11-08 Manager Q&A: Tocqueville Gold Fund by John Hathaway, Doug Groh of Tocqueville Asset Management

In a new Q&A, John Hathaway and Doug Groh, the co-portfolio managers of the Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX), answer questions about the price of gold, the relationship between the price of the commodity and gold miner stock prices, and industry consolidation amongst gold miners.

2013-11-08 Asset Allocation: Pie in the Face? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

The typical approach to spreading one’s assets in order to diversify and conquer, is to have the client complete a risk tolerance questionnaire. That survey is important not only to establish guidelines for how the assets will be managed, but also because some form of it is required by securities regulators to make sure advisors know who their clients are. The magical conclusion usually includes a color pie chart, representing a variety of asset classes that are assumed to be a path toward asset growth and preservation of capital.

2013-11-08 Government Shutdown Doesn't Shut Down Markets in October by Karen Cavanaugh of ING Investment Management

The stage was set for an October selloff, but markets treated investors to another round of across-the-board gains. Headlines comparing today’s equity market with 1999 are way off; the current rally has been driven by solid corporate fundamentals, and the market remains compellingly valued. Global economic growth remains sluggish, and eventual Fed tapering is likely to introduce volatility into markets worldwide.

2013-11-08 Taking Stock in the Economy by Ken Taubes of Pioneer Investments

Now is a good time to take stock in the current macro environment from a market perspective. Here’s what we think could happen at the end of this year and next year.

2013-11-08 Should You Walk Away from a Fed that Prints Money? by Tad Rivelle of TCW Asset Management

Either the markets or the Fed itself will come to accept that financial repression is a “box canyon” whose only escape is by climbing out through higher rates and wider spreads on risk assets. Staying “risk on” requires the investor to underwrite the exacerbating risks inherent in an economy that is being given bad signals and is accumulating a menagerie of mispriced assets and bad loans. Yes, you should walk away from a Fed that prints money.

2013-11-08 Big Ideas in the Big Easy by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

This is likely a contrarian view to the folks in the White House, but I think investors benefit from being contrarian and thinking differently. In preparation for my presentations in New Orleans as well as for the Metals & Minerals Investment Conference in San Francisco and the Mines and Money in London in a few weeks, I’ve been pulling together this kind of research that we can all put to use now.

2013-11-07 Float Research: Investors Pour $54.2 Billion into All Equity MFs and ETFs in October by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

ETF flows suggest stocks will have a tough time moving much higher. Inflows into leveraged short ETFs stopped in the past week, which is a cautionary sign from a contrarian perspective. Even more worrisome, investors are pouring money into equities. All equity mutual funds and ETFs received $54.2 billion in October, the third-largest inflow on record.

2013-11-07 EM: The Growth Story That Isn't by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

We remain very concerned about emerging market stocks and bonds. The recent outperformance of EM stocks is again luring investors to once again touch the hot stove. Emerging markets seem to have some significant structural and cyclical issues about which investors seem unaware or seem to be ignoring.

2013-11-07 Global Forecast: Synchronized Growth - So Long as Governments Behave by Andrew Pease of Russell Investments

Russell Investments released its Q4 Strategists’ Outlook and Barometer report, a quarterly update to its Annual Global Outlook which helps inform the short to medium term asset allocations in Russell’s multi-asset strategies and portfolios.

2013-11-07 Upgrading Non-U.S. Equities by Jeffrey Knight of Columbia Management

Two performance trends have stood out across world markets during 2013. The first is the strong outperformance by equities over bonds. The second is the strong returns of the U.S. stock market relative to other stock markets around the world. The Table breaks down year to date performance for the S&P 500, Eurostoxx 50, FTSE 100, Topix and MSCI Emerging Market indices. Notice that as of the end of July, equity returns in the Unites States were handily outpacing all other regions except Japan.

2013-11-07 Welcome to the Two-Speed Economy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains why the U.S. economy is starting to look like a two-speed economy and what this means for investors.

2013-11-07 Absolute Return Letter: Euthanasia of the economy? by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees, Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

QE has had two noticeable and positive effects. It has saved the world from a financial meltdown not once, but twice, and it has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on asset prices, so in that respect QE has been a success. However, there are growing signs that QE may be beginning to impair economic growth and it may even cause dis-inflation, precisely the opposite of what was widely expected. For these reasons we believe it is time to call it quits and begin to tackle the root problem a banking industry still suffocating from bad loans.

2013-11-07 Putting Macro Trends in Context: What do They Mean to a Bottom-Up Investor? by Will Nasgovitz of Heartland Advisors

For some time now, we’ve had a generally positive economic outlook. The occasional setback is assured, but on the whole we believe that the U.S. economy is still in the early stages of a multi-year recovery.

2013-11-06 Thank The Fed For Big Stock Market Gains by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

My guess is that just about everyone reading my E-Letters would agree that the Fed’s massive “quantitative easing” (QE) program has had a bullish effect on the stock markets over the last few years. Several new reports conclude that the Fed’s unprecedented QE bond buying program is responsible for ALL of the stock market advance since the bottom in early 2009.

2013-11-06 Why Worry About a Melt-Up? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The risk of a melt-up in stocks is garnering more attention; and is something we’ve been discussing recently, too. Sentiment does appear stretched in the near-term and warns of a possible pullback. But there are few, if any, bubble-like conditions present and fundamentals ex-sentiment appear healthy.

2013-11-06 Welcome to the Two-Speed Economy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains why the U.S. economy is starting to look like a two-speed economy and what this means for investors.

2013-11-05 The Key Issues in Today’s Muni Bond Market by Hildy Richelson and Stan Richelson (Article)

Investing in high quality municipal bonds paying a predictable cash flow and returning your principal at the end of the investment is a well-trodden system for lifetime economic success. In this article we discuss some key issues in purchasing municipal bonds to help you make wise choices for your investing system.

2013-11-05 Combating Climate Change - And Responding to Skeptics by Michael Edesess (Article)

The climate-change threat is real, even if it is only a matter of probabilities. What action we should take, and how action should be brought about, are knotty problems. Harvard Business School’s Business and Environment Initiative (BEI) says they can be attacked with a business approach.

2013-11-05 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 The Saudi Tribulation by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

In this report, we will discuss the basic history of U.S. and Saudi relations, focusing on the historical commonality of goals between the two nations. We will detail how the aims of the two nations have diverged since the Cold War ended and use this to examine America’s evolving plans for the Middle East. We will discuss how the evolution of U.S. policy is affecting Saudi Arabia and the pressures these changes are bringing to the kingdom. As always, we will conclude with market ramifications.

2013-11-05 Don't Miss This Golden Cross in Resources by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

While investors have been focusing on the strengthening U.S. market, we’ve also kept our eyes on other improving indicators happening in resources, Europe, and emerging markets. These places may not be as widely popular, but we believe investors can benefit greatly from taking a view that’s different from the ones observed by the majority.

2013-11-05 Fed in Holding Pattern, but for How Long? by Christopher Molumphy of Franklin Templeton

At its October 29-30 policy meeting, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) again put off the so-called “tapering” of its $85 billion-a-month asset purchase plan, now over a year old, until some future date. In an official statement released at the conclusion of the meeting, the Fed cited fiscal policy issues as restraining growth and said it will continue its quantitative easing program (known as “QE”) until the job market improves “substantially.”

2013-11-04 Steve Jobs Didn\'t Give a *!@% About the Debt Ceiling by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital

A quick nod to Bloomberg columnist Caroline Baum from whom we lifted our title. Anything else you might have been (or will be) subjected to on the subject of how the government operates pales in materiality to the headline. And as miserable as our predicament seems to anyone over the age of 13, it really and truly is old and increasingly dull news. To wit, I present the following, highly curated list of quotes-please note the timeline.

2013-11-04 Sovereign Ambitions to Develop Infrastructure Benefit Emerging Asia's Utilities Sector by Raja Mukherji, Emily Au-Yeung of PIMCO

The scope for infrastructure development in emerging Asia is tremendous, and the utilities sector has potential to contribute to and benefit from that growth. In general, we have found that state-owned utilities benefit from a range of operational advantages, partly as a result of the government’s vested interest. PIMCO’s bottom-up research allows us to analyze evolving company- and sector-specific factors within the greater macroeconomic picture to identify the best investment ideas in Asia’s utilities sector.

2013-11-04 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 What Price for Growth? by Equity Investment Team of Janus Capital Group

Cloud computing and social media are bringing a level of disruption and innovation not seen in the technology sector since the dot-com era. The troubling aspect is that valuations for many of these companies seem just as stretched as Internet stocks were back then. We think investors may be paying too much for the growth inherent in these companies.

2013-11-04 More #PlowHorse in Q3 by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Despite the shutdown, the sequester, talk of tapering, and meteors in the night sky, the US economy just keeps plowing along. Reported later this week, we expect Q3 real GDP grew right on trend at a 1.9% rate another, #PlowHorse report.

2013-11-04 The Great Stall of China by Steve Cao, Mark Jason of Invesco Blog

While China is without question the growth driver and the outperformer among Asian emerging markets, it’s clear the country is transitioning toward slower growth because of demographic factors and domestic rebalancing. In our view, China is entering a multiyear period of slower growth, but we consider its future growth robust and sustainable when compared with overall global gross domestic product (GDP) growth -- albeit below the annualized pace of more than 10% China experienced from 2001 to 2010.

2013-11-01 4 Reasons Japan Could Continue to be the Land of the Rising Stock Market by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Japan has been the land of rising stocks this year -- Japanese equities are up nearly 40% year-to-date. Russ explains why he believes the market offers more upside potential and a near-term opportunity for tactical investors able to hedge the currency exposure.

2013-11-01 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 When Small is Big by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

There’s a popular saying in the US, “good things come in small packages,” which is generally a statement about gifts of jewelry. My team and I find this saying can apply to the investment world, too, as we often find companies that are small in size, but which may have big long-term potential.

2013-10-31 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 A Bit More Hawkish, All Things Considered by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Today’s statement from the Federal Reserve was almost a carbon copy of the last one in September. No changes to the pace of quantitative easing or interest rates, which is exactly as the consensus expected. The Fed made only minor changes to the text of the statement, making it slightly more hawkish in one spot and slightly more dovish in another.

2013-10-31 Fund Flows Shift Dramatically This Year as Investors Embrace Risk by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

The Federal Reserve has been trying for almost five years to coax savers and investors into stocks by printing money to inflate the prices of assets in general and U.S. stocks in particular. The Fed finally seems to be succeeding. We are witnessing the biggest shift in fund flows since the crash of 2008.

2013-10-31 Fed Outlook for the Short and Longer Run by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

One of the ironies of Ben Bernanke’s tenure is that he set out with a goal to improve Fed communication while in office. Immediately after his first meeting as chairman in March 2006, Bernanke set up a subcommittee tasked with facilitating debate around communication issuesincluding inflation targeting, post-meeting statements and minutes and public speeches by individual Fed officials.

2013-10-31 The Age of Experimentation (Global Economic Outlook for Fourth Quarter 2013) by Robert Scherfke of Hartford Funds

Macroanalyst Robert Scherfke, PhD discusses the progress global economies have made since 2008 and the challenges officials face as they normalize fiscal policies.

2013-10-31 What\'s Your Plan for Getting Punched in the Mouth? by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

Planning to win is where you should start. But what if your opponent hits back...?

2013-10-30 The S&P 500 Has Not Been Particularly Difficult to Beat by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

I know this statement is in direct conflict with the teachings of modern finance. Modern finance provides us with multiple studies that, if taken at face value, offer a pretty convincing case that the ability to earn better than average returns is a fool’s game. Yet, our human nature cannot accept being average.

2013-10-30 US Economy Mired in a Sea of Contradictions by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Consumer confidence has plunged over the last month, due in large part to the government shutdown and fear that the US might default on its debt because of the ineptitude of our leaders in Washington. Normally, when consumer confidence plunges, we would expect a significant slowdown in consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of GDP.

2013-10-30 Bernanke vs. Yellen: A Spooky Outlook? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

Fed Chair nominee Janet Yellen will take over where her predecessor Ben Bernanke leaves off. Not just operationally, but also philosophically. To understand where the Fed and the U.S. dollar may be heading, we take a closer look at where Bernanke and Yellen are coming from.

2013-10-30 Fed Tapering Could Be Off The Table Until 2014 by Michael Materasso of Franklin Templeton

Sometimes, hindsight is insight. The mystery of why the Federal Reserve didn’t start pulling back or “tapering” its prolonged quantitative easing program at its September policy meeting seems more clear now that we’ve experienced the fallout from the fraying of US fiscal policy soon thereafter, including a 16-day government shutdown in October. Given that the Congressional agreement reached in October only funds the government through January 15 and extends the debt ceiling through February 7, more political grandstandingand economic consequencescould lie ahead.

2013-10-30 Getting Back into Value Equities by Kevin Simms of AllianceBernstein

It finally feels like a great time to be a value investor again. After several challenging years, market conditions have become much more conducive to finding undervalued, controversial stocks with long-term payoff potential. Even after this year’s equity-market rally, we think the value rebound is just beginning.

2013-10-29 Defining the EM Corporate Bond Opportunity by Sponsored Content from Loomis Sayles (Article)

Finance is a numbers business. Investors study prices, yields, rates of return. However, when it comes to sizing up emerging markets, we think they should also pay attention to semantics. In the past, terming a country “emerging” made it synonymous with low credit quality and higher risk. But today, many emerging markets boast strong credit profiles while parts of the developed world buckle under heavy debt loads.

2013-10-29 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 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Readers respond to Michael Edesess and Kwok Tsui’s article, How Many Monkeys Does it Take to Find a Successful Strategy?, which appeared last week.

2013-10-29 India's Maoist Problem by Bill OGrady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

India has fought numerous wars with outside forces in its history and has also had several internal conflicts.The most notorious civil struggle has been the conflict with Kashmir insurgents, a border conflict between India and Pakistan that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.So it generally came as a surprise when the Indian Prime Minister Manmohn Singh declared the Maoist movement in the eastern part of the country to be the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by India.

2013-10-29 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 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

A very quiet week for stocks as earnings season kicked into high gear at last.

2013-10-29 Equities Reach All-Time HighsYet Again! by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities marked another all-time high last week as the S&P 500 increased 0.9%. (1) Global equities reached new cycle highs for the second week in a row. Many investors have concerns that the gains will not last since the world economy remains lackluster and the liquidity driving the current rally will eventually stop.

2013-10-28 Low-Volatility Strategies Challenge Conventional Ideas of Risk and Return by Joseph Becker of Invesco Blog

If asked to sum up in a single word their investing experience over the last 15 years, many investors would likely say, “volatile.”

2013-10-28 The Grand Superstition by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

One thing that separates humans from animals is the ability to evaluate whether there is really any actual mechanistic link between cause and effect. When we stop looking for those links, and believe that one thing causes another because “it just does” we give up the benefits of human intelligence and exchange them for the reflexive impulses of lemmings, sheep, and pigeons.

2013-10-28 For Maximum Total Return Go for Growth by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Not all investors are the same. Therefore, not all investors share the same goals and objectives. Consequently, there are numerous strategies and investing methods available to choose from. Moreover, it also goes without saying that the investment strategy that’s right for me may not be right for you. For that reason, it’s imperative that each individual looks for the strategy that is right for their own individual goals, objectives, risk tolerances and status. By status, I’m referring to how many years you have left before retirement.

2013-10-28 Beyond the Noise, More of the Same? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Delayed economic data reports have begun to arrive. The figures point to a disappointing 3Q13 (relative to expectations) and the partial government shutdown is unlikely to help in 4Q13. The recovery had been poised for improvement this year, but fiscal policy has been a major headwind. Economic figures will be distorted in October (due to the government shutdown) and in November (due to the rebound from the shutdown). Yet, beyond the noise, the underlying pace of growth is likely to remain disappointing in the near term. Is there hope for 2014?

2013-10-28 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 Fear of Debt Spiral Misplaced by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Now that things have settled down in Washington DC, politicians are focusing on a “grand compromise” to fix the budget. Without reform, growth in entitlements will eventually push federal spending back to levels last seen in World War II.

2013-10-28 Jobs, Jobs, Jobs by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Following an extended delay, investors were disappointed (sort of) to learn that the September payroll report was another dud. The headline figure was below expectations, but investors were largely comforted by knowing this likely extended QE3 further into the future.

2013-10-28 Healthcare Costs: Relief at Last? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Some observers believe medical cost increases have begun to abate amid the onset of the Affordable Care Act. The evidence isn’t there yet.

2013-10-26 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 The Deserted Island Portfolio by John West of Research Affiliates

What would a Deserted Island investment portfolio look like, managed without the distractions of cable news and short-term benchmark comparisons?

2013-10-25 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.

2013-10-25 Quarterly Review and Outlook by Van Hoisington, Lacy Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

When an economy is excessively over-indebted and disinflationary factors have forced central banks to make overnight interest rates as close to zero as possible, central bank policy has repeatedly proved powerless to further move inflation or growth metrics. Four considerations suggest the Fed will continue to be unsuccessful in engineering stronger growth and higher inflation with their continuation of the current program of Large Scale Asset Purchases.

2013-10-24 Trying to Stop a Bull Market Has Risks by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

U.S. stocks have been on a tear. The S&P 500 Index has climbed a surprising 20 percent so far this year, as a global synchronized recovery takes shape and funds flow back to equities. As I often say, investors take risks when they try to stop a bull run, and plenty of data suggest you might regret taking that action this year.

2013-10-24 Africa's “Glass With Attitude” by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Africa has been an area of interest to our team, for many reasons. One might say Africa’s biggest asset is its youthful population. With a median age of under 20 in many countries today, that means a very high portion of Africa’s population is dependent on the adult workforce. Tomorrow, however, it means that the workforce will be massive, and the ratio of dependents to workers (the dependency ratio) could be among the lowest in the world. This huge and youthful population is a key rationale for our interest there.

2013-10-24 Putting Tax-Deferred Accounts to Best Use by Kathleen Fisher, Tara Thompson Popernik of AllianceBernstein

The common wisdom about retirement planning is to fund tax-deferred vehicles such as 401(k) plans and IRAs to the maxand we agree. But how to put these accounts to best use is more complicated.

2013-10-24 Glory Days: Could They Come Back for US Equities? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

A "great rotation" may not be underway by individual investors; even amid record-breaking outflows from bond funds this summer. But fund flow data do show some shift in preferences and highlight the sensitivity of investors to any rise in longer-term interest rates. A more interesting place to look is at the fiduciary community; that has decidedly shifted its attention away from traditional equities (and fixed income) over the past decade.

2013-10-23 The Right Investment Vehicle by Craig French of WBI Investments

Remember your first car? You probably had some good times in it passing your driver’s license exam, going to the prom, driving to your first job. You most likely have a different car now that you’re older one more suited to your current lifestyle and needs. I’ll bet your current car is a lot safer and more reliable than that first one. A car is a motor vehicle you use to reach your destination. Like a car, an investment portfolio is a vehicle you use to reach your clients investment goals.

2013-10-23 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 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 Can Kicked Down the Road Once Again... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Donkeys 1, Elephants 0, Congress -535. The can was kicked down the road once again. We would all like to think that Congress will avoid another last minute battle in early 2014, but unfortunately we can’t put it past the current list of non-negotiators. The only thing that is certain in the future is that it will be many election cycles before a member of Congress makes it into the World Series of U.S. Presidential ballots.

2013-10-23 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.

2013-10-22 Is Your Website Sending the Wrong Message? by Dan Richards (Article)

Presenting yourself in a credible and professional manner is always critical, but never more than in the early stages of interacting with prospects, when they are forming their initial impressions. That’s why your website is so important after all, it’s the first contact many prospects will have with you.

2013-10-22 Revisiting the Debate Over the DFA Research by Scott MacKillop (Article)

DFA’s supporters have elevated that firm’s investment philosophy to the level of religious doctrine. The pitch and fervor expressed in the recent debate over its research suggest that Michael Edesess sinned mightily by questioning the faith. However, an examination of DFA’s approach to investing suggests a more measured reaction: The firm’s approach is sound, but it falls short of the magic that its disciples impart to it.

2013-10-22 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 Could US Issues Lead Investors to Emerging Markets? by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

The US government had been shuttered for more than two weeks, and investors around the world, including those in emerging markets, have been watching the impasse and beginning to plan in the event of a default of US government debt. Late Wednesday, the US Congress agreed to a short-term extension of the debt ceiling until February and set the stage for the government to reopen. However, a definitive, long-term solution to the nation’s debt issues was still not reached and we could see a repeat of the political dysfunction.

2013-10-22 A by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

State and local government revenues have finally started growing again. The resultant boost to spending and hiring should aid the economy.

2013-10-22 The Fiscal Follies, the Economy, and the Fed by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The deal reached last week does not remove uncertainty about the budget and debt ceiling. We could go through a similar crisis in three months. The hope is that lawmakers will learn from the recent experience and work together.

2013-10-22 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Last month, a Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of non-retired investors showed just how lingering the hangover is from the financial crisis five years ago. Much like the Great Depression financially scared their great grandparents and grandparents, the Great Recession is impacting investors’ expectations about the future.

2013-10-22 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

The gov is back in biz (so get back to work). Investors were pleased (for now).

2013-10-21 A Last Minute Deal Averts Default - For Awhile by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

With the deadline for the United States to avoid defaulting on its debt fast approaching, Congress reached another late night compromise to reopen the government and raise the nation’s debt limit. The deal also called for yet another bipartisan committee to try to set a budget for future government spending. Before discussing what that committee is likely to do, let’s compare the predictions I’ve been making since early this year against the reality of what ultimately occurred.

2013-10-21 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 Smaller Government Won! by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Well, New York City is not underwater, China did not sell bonds, oil did not stop flowing in the Bakken or Eagle Ford, the Cloud is still wherever it is, or was, the US stock market did not collapse, and the earth is still rotating on its axis. Democrats are still mad at Republicans, who are still mad at the Tea Party, who still fret about the path of fiscal policy.

2013-10-21 Did Monetary Policy Cause the Recovery? by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Much of the present faith in monetary policy derives from the belief that it was the central factor in ending the banking crisis during what is often called the Great Recession. On careful analysis, however, the clearest and most immediate event that ended the banking crisis was not monetary policy, but the abandonment of mark-to-market accounting by the Financial Accounting Standards Board on March 16, 2009, in response to Congressional pressure by the House Committee on Financial Services on March 12, 2009.

2013-10-21 Looking Past the Politics: What Does the Market Need to Grow? by Ron Sloan of Invesco Blog

As the tone of the debt ceiling negotiations in Washington wavered over the past several days, equity markets rose and fell in kind. While lawmakers were able to come to a last-minute agreement to raise the debt ceiling and end the 16-day federal government shutdown, the key to putting the markets on a solid foundation for the longer term is for corporations to generate earnings growth through increased revenues.

2013-10-21 Fourth Quarter Investment Outlook by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

The macro theme of the fourth quarter and early 2014 is monetary reflation and global growth resynchronization. The Fed’s surprising decision to postpone tapering its QE program will likely encourage further risk-taking. In the meantime, we observe increasing signs of a synchronized improvement among the four important economies - the United States, Europe, Japan and China.

2013-10-20 The Damage to the US Brand by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

There is no doubt that the image what I will refer to in this letter as the "brand" of the United States has been damaged in the past month. But what are the actual costs? And what does it matter to the average citizen? Can the US recover its tarnished image and go on about business as usual? Is the recent dysfunction in Washington DC now behind us, or is it destined to become part of a bleaker landscape?

2013-10-18 Just Like Yesterday by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest essay, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, with help from Chetan Parikh, of India’s Capital Ideas Online, provides excerpts from and commentary on a 1971 speech by iconic investor David L. Babson. He begins by noting: "It is eerie how timely this speech, delivered 42 years ago, remains today."

2013-10-18 Connecting the DOTs: The Role of North America's Emerging Markets' in Achieving Energy Independence by John Devir of PIMCO

The midstream energy sector is likely to grow more quickly than the overall U.S. economy over the next several years, creating the potential for attractive investment opportunities. North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas, or the “DOTs” for short, stand to disproportionally benefit from strong growth in onshore U.S. oil and gas shale development. PIMCO’s approach is to identify and invest in the companies, including pipeline operating companies, favorably positioned to benefit from prolific oil production.

2013-10-18 Despite Uncertainty, the Market Still Looks Strong by Charlie Dreifus of The Royce Funds

Although it was an ugly battle, on Thursday morning October 17 President Obama signed a bill that reopened the government into January 2014 and raised the debt ceiling until early February of next year.

2013-10-18 Consumer Confidence Plunging Recession Ahead? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The stalemate in Washington continues, the government remains in partial shutdown and the debt ceiling looms on Thursday. A bipartisan deal to fund the government until January 15 and raise the debt limit until early February is working its way through the Senate and could be voted on later today or tomorrow. It is unlikely that the Senate bill will pass in the House, which is reportedly working on yet another bill (see link below) that is unlikely to pass in the Senate.

2013-10-18 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 130.4, down from last week’s 130.3 (revised from 130.4). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, dropped to 2.8, down from 3.6 (a downward revision from 3.9).

2013-10-18 Fall is in the Air by Christopher Singleton of Kanawha Capital Management

Autumn has arrived, and many creatures have been making dutiful preparations to survive the winter months. But not all are so inclined, particularly our political leaders. Indeed, along with crisper air temperatures and more vibrant colors, it would just not feel like fall without the annual Washington squabbles to fund the federal government and increase its borrowing authority.

2013-10-18 Debt Limit Extended, Fed Policy in the Wings - What to Expect from the Markets by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments

Last night Congress reached an agreement to raise the debt limit and end the 16-day shutdown. After all the acrimony and tense negotiations, the deal passed by a comfortable margin with 81-18 vote in the Senate and 285-144 in the House.

2013-10-18 Trying To Beat The Market Is A Fool's Errand by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Proponents of indexing as the best investment strategy seemed to take great delight in reporting how the vast majority of professionally managed portfolios (mutual funds, separately managed accounts, hedge funds, ETFs, etc.) fail to outperform the S&P 500. Therefore, they argue, it is best not to even try. Investors should simply invest in index funds and forget about it.

2013-10-18 Trying to Stop a Bull Market Has Risks by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

U.S. stocks have been on a tear. The S&P 500 Index has climbed a surprising 20 percent so far this year, as a global synchronized recovery takes shape and funds flow back to equities. As I often say, investors take risks when they try to stop a bull run, and plenty of data suggest you might regret taking that action this year.

2013-10-18 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 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.

2013-10-17 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Last month, a Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of non-retired investors showed just how lingering the hangover is from the financial crisis five years ago. Much like the Great Depression financially scared their great grandparents and grandparents, the Great Recession is impacting investors’ expectations about the future. 41% indicated they were concerned about another global crisis during their retirement years, and 28% were convinced they would have a lower standard of living during retirement.

2013-10-16 Pacific Basin Market Overview - September 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

North Asian markets ended higher during the quarter after comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke appeared to infer that the Fed’s asset purchase program would be extended for a while longer. On the other hand, India and the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region underperformed along with weakening currencies and continued fund outflows. In China, Premier Li Keqiang’s statement that China would meet its gross domestic product (GDP) growth target this year, coupled with better-than-expected economic data, brought some relief to the equity markets.

2013-10-16 Equity Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

As we write this outlook, our political leaders once again have succeeded in holding the U.S. government budget, and by extension the financial markets and the broader economy, hostage to their respective political agendas. We believe it is important to avoid getting caught up in the drama on Capitol Hill and remain focused on the slow but continued healing taking place in the U.S. economy.

2013-10-16 Two More Reasons to Like Equities: Growth & Inflation by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ offers more evidence supporting his preference for equities over bonds: Historically equities have tended to outperform bonds on a monthly basis in a growth and inflation scenario like the one we’re in today.

2013-10-15 Why Customized Content Beats Canned Content by Neil Rhein (Article)

If you’re communicating syndicated (“canned”) content that is similar (or identical) to what every other advisor is saying, you’re just adding to the noise.

2013-10-15 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Readers respond to Robert Huebscher’s article, The Futility of the Endowment Model, which appeared last week.

2013-10-15 Bond Market Review & Outlook by Thomas Fahey of Loomis Sayles

Flip-flopping Federal Reserve (Fed) policy defined the third quarter. Last quarter, the Fed threw the markets a curve ball by announcing possible tapering of its large-scale asset purchases beginning this year. That “taper talk” set off a mini-riot in global bond markets. Many emerging market (EM) countries, like Brazil, India, Indonesia and South Africa, were the biggest victims, as their bond yields rose and their currencies crashed.

2013-10-15 The Science of Forensic Accounting by Sudarshan Murthy of Matthews Asia

The financial reporting of corporations in Asia is complex, and having a solid grasp of all the nuances involved in these accounting practices is critical when making investment decisions. This month Research Analyst Sudarshan Murthy, CFA, kicks off the first in a series of commentaries on the science of forensic accounting. This first issue focuses on “the numbers,” and examines what is considered in order to understand a company’s accounting decisions and the implications they can have on financial reports.

2013-10-15 US Default: How Bad Would It Be? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has publicly declared October 17 this Thursday as the date when the US government would no longer be able to pay its bills, should Congress not reach a budget resolution.A once unthinkable outcome is becoming all too close to reality due to brinksmanship in Washington.For the second time in two years, investors have had to contemplate just how such a situation would shake out for financial markets.

2013-10-15 The Turmoil in Washington by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

At the time of this publication the budget situation has not been resolved, although it appears that both parties are backing away from the default abyss. However, given that these crises seem to come once or twice a year, it seemed appropriate to weigh in on the geopolitical impact of the intractable problems of American government.

2013-10-15 A Degree in Debt: Student Loans and the Economy by Team of Manning & Napier

Recent times have drawn concerns about student loan debt and rising delinquencies. Anecdotes of unfortunate individuals struggling financially to cope with massive student loans raise fears of broader risks to the US economy and financial markets.

2013-10-15 Equity Markets to Congress: “What, me worry?” by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

President Obama said he was willing to have discussions, though he said he wouldn’t engage in negotiations. (Comment: I guess it depends of what the meaning of "is" is.) So far, those discussions haven’t produced a deal, but at least they’ve started talking.

2013-10-14 Equity Market Review & Outlook by Richard Skaggs of Loomis Sayles

Equities generally performed well across the board in the third quarter. The S&P 500 Index’s solid 5.24% return built on strong gains from earlier in the year. The Index has returned more than 19% through September, surpassing expectations at the start of the year. Slow but steady economic growth in the US, support from the Federal Reserve (the Fed), and more recently, signs of potentially better growth in Europe and Asia have been important positive catalysts.

2013-10-14 House Republicans Determined to Burn Country to the Ground (In Order to Save It!) by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

Whenever our financial markets commentary strays into the realm of politics, we’re guaranteed to offend at least half of our clients and readers. So let us state up front that our job is NOT to choose sides but to evaluate how politics will affect the US economy and by extension corporate earnings, which are the bedrock of stock market performance. By that measure, the current tactics of House Republicans to shutdown the “non-essential” parts of the federal government and block raising the debt ceiling is an unmitigated disaster. Businesses crave predictability and reliabi

2013-10-14 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 What Uncle Sam Taketh Away, You Can Give Back (and Get a Tax Deduction) by Kathleen Fisher, Tara Thompson Popernik of AllianceBernstein

The government shutdown, now in its second week, has temporarily stopped the flow of government funding for many worthy organizations and may strain the resources of others. Federal grant administration is being delayed. For example, the grant administration staff at the National Institutes of Health has been furloughed; that may stop or slow grants for medical research.

2013-10-14 Me and My Horse by Jim Goff of Janus Capital Group

This is not a story about getting back on the horse that throws you. It is about just staying on the horse. It is also a market story.

2013-10-14 Move Along, Market: It's Only a Gaper's Delay by Rick Golod of Invesco Blog

After several days of stalemate between the White House and Congress, House Republicans have offered a six-week debt ceiling extension conditional on negotiating a package of fiscal concessions. The debt ceiling offer is straightforward, but the shutdown would continue until the fiscal concessions are agreed on. While this may dampen the economy and equity market, at least in the short run, I believe long-term investors should stay put and be patient.

2013-10-14 Can Markets Remain Resilient in Light of Political Dysfunction? by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Equities were mixed again last week, and the markets remain focused on the budget impasse in Washington, D.C., after the second week of the partial government shutdown. The S&P 500 closed the week in positive territory, increasing 0.8%.1 It is hard to ignore headlines and market volatility, but the real issues for markets are the debt ceiling debate and third quarter corporate earnings announcements.

2013-10-14 No Sign of Economic Problems by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

With the federal government partially shut for the past couple of weeks, the normal steady stream of economic indicators has slowed to a trickle. We’ve missed reports on employment, construction, retail sales, international trade, and inventories.

2013-10-12 A Special Note on Potential Government Debt Default by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

We find it incredible that the government is, once again, on the verge of a default on US debt. Although we doubt that the US will actually default, it is unfathomable that elected officials would even consider such an event. Worse yet, some officials apparently believe that a default might benefit the US.

2013-10-12 These Could be the Most Lucrative Energy Plays by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Sometimes the most attractive energy assets aren’t found in the ground. Rather, at times like today, they are listed on the stock exchange.

2013-10-12 Sometimes They Ring a Bell by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Three items have come across my screen in the past month that, taken together, truly do signal a major turning point in how energy is discovered, transported, and transformed. And while we’ll start with a story that most of us are somewhat aware of, there is an even larger transformation happening that I think argues against the negative research that has come out in the last few years about the reduced potential for growth in the world economy.

2013-10-11 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 Can You Hear Me Now? by Marie Schofield of Columbia Management

Under normal circumstances, I provide insight and analysis on the monthly jobs report at the beginning of each month. This month Washington politics has interrupted my routine with the partial government shutdown postponing several important data releases this week and pessimistically next week as well. Not only that but several agencies have completely shut down their websites denying access to already released data and historical databases, which is completely unnecessary.

2013-10-10 Economic and Market Overview: Third Quarter 2013 by Team of Envestnet

The economic environment in the third quarter was one of growth, albeit at a slower pace than most economists, and the Federal Reserve (“Fed”), believe can be self-‐sustaining. The slow but steady gains the economy made were enough to buoy the stock market, but likely only because the Fed has seen it necessary to maintain its aggressive monetary policy. While employment gains were anemic during the quarter, the unemployment rate actually declined to 7.3%, largely due to a contraction in the labor force.

2013-10-09 Little Visible Progress on the Budget Shutdown, but Some Inside Baseball In Play by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

President Obama canceled his planned visit to Asia and participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summitciting the inconvenience caused by the government shutdown (“the difficulty in moving forward with foreign travel in the face of a shutdown), sending John Kerry in his place, and reiterating his unwillingness to negotiate with Republicans.

2013-10-09 Equity ETF Flows Send Bullish Signals by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

U.S. Equity ETFs gave up $4.3 billion in the week ended October 1, reversing a $3.4 billion inflow in the previous week. This week’s outflows signal low demand for stocks, a bullish short-term indicator from a contrarian perspective.

2013-10-09 The U.S. Can\'t Default On Its Debt. Right? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The Treasury Secretary has warned that his agency will exhaust the “extraordinary measures” it has used to fund the government on October 17. On the Sunday talk shows, he warned of “catastrophic consequences” if Congress doesn’t raise the statutory debt ceiling by then. So, over the next nine days, you’ll be hearing ominous forecasts of what will happen if the US defaults on its nearly $17 trillion national debt, or even some of it. Sound familiar?

2013-10-09 The Squeeze Play by Jerome Schneider of PIMCO

Reductions in Treasury bill and commercial paper issuance compounded by developments on the demand side mean the “squeeze play” is on for many short-term portfolios. Investors should consider the potential for substantive changes to liquidity conditions as banks contend with increases in capital requirements due to updated Basel III regulations. Active management of short-term investments is important: Don’t rely on static regulatory frameworks or traditional indexes to determine a portfolio’s unique liquidity needs.

2013-10-09 Getting Serious About Investing Responsibly by Luke Spajic, Josh Olazabal of PIMCO

To date, much of ESG-related investing has focused on negative screening, but we believe there is a better approach. This approach rests on three pillars: identifying and analyzing key ESG issues facing a given investment sector, engaging with the issuers of securities, and supporting the development of markets for ESG investments.

2013-10-08 Forecasting Bond Returns and Evaluating Bond Funds by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

While past performance is not a guarantee of future alpha, it sure is a hint the skills needed to generate alpha in a given market are likely to be as valuable in one period as in another. This principle is the basis of selecting active managers. How can we adapt it to bond funds, given the larger market forces at work?

2013-10-08 Four Lessons from Sport’s #1 Overachiever by Dan Richards (Article)

A New York Times article pointed out that this year’s baseball playoffs have more teams from the bottom 10 in payroll than from among the top 10 spenders. Here are four ways you can do more with less, drawing lessons from a baseball team that has outperformed despite being consistently outspent.

2013-10-08 Is Your Website Like a Toothbrush? by Wendy Cook (Article)

Like your website, a toothbrush is essential and comes in a range of sizes and options. Just as you should regularly replace your toothbrush well before its bristles have frayed, you should treat your website to a regular refresh to keep it relevant in the face of ever-advancing technology.

2013-10-08 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 The Death of Fixed Income? Not so Fast . . . by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments

Recent market movements have reminded investors that the fixed income market is facing a secular change, after a 30-year-long bull market driven by a continuous decline in interest rates. I believe the announcements of the death of fixed income as an asset class are greatly exaggerated, and in order to face the new reality, fixed income investors and asset allocators need to adopt a significant change of approach.

2013-10-08 Q3 Brings Plot Twists; Volatility to Continue in Q4 by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ reviews how the third quarter shaped up vs. his expectations, noting which calls he got right and which he got wrong, and he updates his outlook for this quarter.

2013-10-08 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 A Decade of Low Volatility with High Dividends by Ryan Issakainen of First Trust Advisors

Over the past few years, both “low volatility” and “dividend” strategies have resonated with ETF investors, many of whom were seeking more conservative approaches by which to increase exposure to stocks. Adding further demand for these strategies is a growing body of evidence that suggests an association between both factors and improved risk-adjusted returns.

2013-10-07 Defining the EM Corporate Bond Opportunity by Elisabeth Colleran, Peter Frick, Peter Marber, David Rolley, Edgardo Sternberg of Loomis Sayles

Finance is a numbers business. Investors study prices, yields, rates of return. However, when it comes to sizing up emerging markets, we think they should also pay attention to semantics. In the past, terming a country “emerging” made it synonymous with low credit quality and higher risk. But today, many emerging markets boast strong credit profiles while parts of the developed world buckle under heavy debt loads.

2013-10-07 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.

2013-10-05 The Road to a New Medical Order by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I will aim to dwell simply on the economic ramifications of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, as it exists today. We are changing the plumbing on 17.9% of the US GDP in profound ways. Many, if not most, of the changes are absolutely necessary.

2013-10-04 Nowhere to Hide: Navigating Rising Rate Risk in High-Yield Markets by Gibson Smith, Colleen Denzler of Janus Capital Group

Over the past few years, investors have flocked to high-yield credit, many believing it a good way to mitigate their interest rate risk as well as capture additional yield. However, they may not realize the level of rate risk that has followed them. High-yield indices, negatively correlated to five-year Treasury bond yields over the past 15 years, have been positively correlated for the past year.

2013-10-04 After Detroit: Rigorous Research and Credit Selection Is the Key to Investing in Municipal Bonds by David Hammer, Sean McCarthy of PIMCO

Detroit recently declared bankruptcy, setting off the largest municipal Chapter 9 proceeding in history. There has been and will continue to be a lot of noise in the media, underscoring challenges but also presenting opportunity for experienced investors. PIMCO has long favored special revenue essential service bonds over GO bonds. Detroit Water and Sewer bonds are payable by a pledge of and statutory lien on net revenues of the water or sewer system, and as such benefit from provisions in the federal bankruptcy code ensuring that the pledge is not affected by the petition.

2013-10-04 The New Normalization of Fed Policy by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

The Fed is sending a message that the unwinding of its extraordinary accommodation will be done with great care and patience, and will take time - a long time. In delaying a taper, not only did the Fed show markets it has little tolerance for any tightening of financial conditions, it also strengthened its forward guidance considerably. The Fed’s decision to delay a taper will likely relieve some of the upward pressure on longer-term interest rates.

2013-10-04 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 How Markets May Deal with D.C. Dysfunction by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

A brief government shutdown would likely have only a modest impact on markets and the economy, and may even create buying opportunities in risk assets. A longer-term stalemate could be a far different story.

2013-10-04 The Debt Ceiling Drama is Heating Up by Team of Northern Trust

The debt ceiling drama is heating up. Threatening default is reckless, but long-term budget issues require attention. Measures of policy uncertainty show a link to economic performance

2013-10-04 Much Ado About Fed Tapering by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton

In the past few months, the global markets seem to have been fixated on the US Federal Reserve’s words and actions (or lack thereof). Will the Fed wind down its longstanding quantitative easing (QE) program, and when? Will the money tap dry up, and, with it, global liquidity? In more recent days, US markets in particular have been focused on a looming government shutdown, adding a dose of uncertaintyand volatility.

2013-10-04 Is the Pump Primed for Emerging Markets Investors? by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

The vulnerabilitiesor rather, perceived vulnerabilitiesof emerging markets have been the focus of heightened discussions over the past few months. Concerns about the health of emerging markets came on the heels of political upheavals in Egypt, economic deceleration in China and protest demonstrations in Brazil and Turkey this summer.

2013-10-04 Washington's Prolonged Saga and the Market's Reaction by Josh Timmons and Libby Cantrill of PIMCO

The federal government shutdown represents yet another self-inflicted wound to already modest growth. While the market seems to be mostly sanguine about the government shutdown, a breach of the debt ceiling which we feel is highly unlikely would be incredibly negative for financial markets.

2013-10-04 The Malfunctioning United States Government by Gene Goldman of Cetera Financial Group

Overall, we are entering a potentially volatile period for the financial markets. Increased uncertainty combined with below-trend economic growth will likely lead to sharp market fluctuations. To mitigate the risk of volatility, we remain committed to increased diversification. Within equities, we would begin reducing exposure to U.S. stocks and instead focus on better areas of opportunity international developed markets. Within fixed income, we would maintain a bias toward spread product, such as corporate bonds, which generally pay a higher yield compared to similar Treasuries.

2013-10-04 Introducing the Tortoise Economy by Sam Stewart of Wasatch Funds

All things considered, large U.S. companies that operate globally appear to be particularly attractive right now. Because many of these companies are generating significant portions of their sales outside the U.S., investors are effectively getting some international exposure with what I consider to be more-quantifiable risks.

2013-10-04 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.1, down from last week’s 132.9. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, remains unchanged at 4.8% (with last week’s number revised downward from 4.9).

2013-10-04 The Fire Fueling Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

For patient, long-term investors looking for a great portfolio diversifier, a moderate weighting in gold and gold stocks may be just the answer. And, today, when looking across the gold mining industry, you’ll find plenty of companies that have paid attractive dividends, many higher than the 5-year government yield.

2013-10-03 More Heat Than Light by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Following their surprising decision to maintain the current pace of quantitative easing (QE), Fed officials provided more detailed reasoning last week in public remarks and interviews with media outlets. Unfortunately, the latest comments added more heat than light to the QE debate in our view. Much like Chairman Bernanke’s post-meeting press conference, officials expressed contradictory views on several major policy questions.

2013-10-03 Survival of the Fittest? by William Gross of PIMCO

I hate crows and my wife Sue hates bugs, but like most married couples we have learned to live with our differences. Crows eat bugs though, and bugs eat bugs, and that scientific observation sets the context for the next few paragraphs of this month’s Investment Outlook.

2013-10-03 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 Handing Down Your Legacy - A Special Gift For Readers by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

No one likes to talk about death. Many people put off planning for this contingency because it’s just not pleasant to think about. Additionally, most young people think that death is a long way off, so they have plenty of time to plan for it. But as we all know, accidents happen and no one knows exactly when their time will come.

2013-10-02 Weak Credit Growth Main Reason for Lackluster Economic Recovery by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

The U.S. economy is a credit-based economy. Economic expansion is fueled mostly by borrowing and consuming rather than saving and investing. A continuous expansion of credit is needed for the economy to grow. The main reason the economic recovery has been so lackluster is that credit growth has remained weak despite the Federal Reserve’s continuing liquidity injections.

2013-10-02 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Effective October 1st, the health exchanges are open for business and enrollment can occur over the next 90 days. It will be interesting to see just how many people feel compelled to sign up under the individual mandate. While the premiums are not inexpensive for most of the eligible people, many will receive tax credits to help offset the cost. Nonetheless, others will find it a significant burden to the budget, and there is great debate over just how this will affect the economy long-term.

2013-10-01 The Looming Threat to China’s Economy by Marianne Brunet (Article)

The debate over China’s economic prospects centers on its real-estate bubble, excessive leverage and rising labor costs. But regardless of its short-term fate, China’s economic growth will ultimately be limited by the availability of a key resource. China ranks second lowest in the world for water availability per capita. Water-scarcity poses a threat to its future growth. The challenge is determining how severe this will be.

2013-10-01 The Eight Principles of Value Investing by Scott Clemons and Michael Kim (Article)

In any environment, but especially one characterized by uncertainty, eight principles of investing are critical. These bedrock beliefs help guide our thinking at the levels of asset allocation, security selection and identification of the third-party managers we engage to help manage our clients’ assets.

2013-10-01 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Raul Elizalde’s article, Why Bond Funds are Toxic for Your Portfolio, which appeared last week. In addition, a reader responds to Michael Edesess’ article, William Bernstein “Stocks for the Long Run,” which appeared last week.

2013-10-01 Corporate Bond ETFs Attract Steady Inflows Amid Bond Market Sell-Off by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

Corporate bonds remained popular with investors amid the bond sell-off in recent months, while Foreign and Municipal bond funds experienced the steadiest and heaviest redemptions.

2013-10-01 Europe Pokes Its Head Out From the Shadows by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

With all the focus on affairs in the US, China and developing nations, Europe has largely been given a free pass in recent months. The lack of attention gave Europe the opportunity to fix some of its troubles, but challenges remain and are likely to surface in the weeks ahead.

2013-10-01 The Federal Government Shuts Down: Now What Happens? by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

Washington insanity reached new heights yesterday as Congress failed to agree on an appropriations bill to keep the federal government running, even though it had known the September 30 deadline for over six months. This inaction brings Washington dysfunction to a new high (or low). Up until now, Congress had arrived at each fiscal precipice and averted catastrophe with a compromise. Now, finally, Congress has gone over the edge.

2013-10-01 The Most Predictable Economic Crisis? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

Forget about a government shutdown. The quibbling over concessions to keep the government funded distracts from what might be the most predictable economic crisis. We have problems that may affect everything from the value of the U.S. dollar to investors’ savings, but also to national security.

2013-09-30 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 The House at Main and Wall by Justin Speer of Invesco Blog

This four-part series tracks the recent US housing recovery and explains why investors should be both encouraged and cautious. Part 4 looks at pockets of investment opportunity on Main Street. Part 1 traced the recovery’s trajectory against the backdrop of the overall US economy. Part 2 examined affordability and interest rates, while Part 3 discussed why homebuilders’ stocks may potentially be overvalued.

2013-09-30 The Global Sea Change Continues by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Most investors will readily admit the global credit bubble is deflating, yet continue to favor credit-based asset classes within their portfolios. Whereas many investors still believe that the emerging markets are a growth story, the data tell us that U.S. investors can find growth in their own backyard.

2013-09-30 Investing In Corporate Bonds: The Compelling Case For Active Management by Ed Devlin, Michael Kim of PIMCO

Passive investment returns in the Canadian corporate bond market have been unimpressive because of the way corporate bond indices are constructed and factors unique to the Canadian market. Unconstrained by these limitations, active managers with global reach may provide superior returns. The current environment presents an attractive opportunity for Canadian investors to implement a wide discretion, active approach to managing corporate bonds.

2013-09-30 Shutdown: A Good Thing? by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

It looks like House and Senate won’t come to a budget agreement by midnight and, as a result, the federal government is going to partially shut down starting Tuesday morning.

2013-09-30 Sitting Ducks by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Stocks are a claim on a very long-term stream of future cash flows that will be distributed to shareholders over time, and P/E ratios are simply a shorthand. P/E ratios are useful only to the extent that the earnings measure being used is reasonably representative and informative about the long-term stream of cash flows what might be called a “sufficient statistic.”

2013-09-30 Investing in a Fairly Valued World by Herb Abramson, RJ Steinhoff, Randall Abramson, Anthony Visano, Jeff Sayer of Trapeze Asset Management

For several years we have been arguing that global equity markets are undervalued and represent the best investment alternative given growing corporate profits (S&P 500 Index earnings have nearly doubled in the last five years), a favorable monetary backdrop and a recovering economy.

2013-09-30 DC Follies, Puerto Rico and A Report on Defaults and Bankruptcy by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

I start this week with some observations on the follies taking place in our nation’s capital, then provide some data around Puerto Rico and, finally, a look at a recently released report around municipal defaults. One might argue a common thread just might run thru this commentary. Be on the lookout for a special release later this week as the Geo Score is updated for States, Counties and over 330 Cities.

2013-09-30 Congress Holds Equities Hostage by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equity advances ended last week and the S&P 500 declined -1.0%.1 Markets appeared concerned about overbought conditions from a strong run up over the past three weeks and uneasy about Federal Reserve (Fed) monetary policy normalization as well as the credibility of its communication strategy. Other widespread reasons for the downturn included increased focus on the fiscal battles in Washington, D.C., heightened worries about a possible near-term government shutdown and the contentious debt ceiling debate.

2013-09-28 The Renminbi: Soon to Be a Reserve Currency? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Contrary to the thinking of fretful dollar skeptics, my firm belief is that the US dollar is going to become even stronger and will at some point actually deserve to be the reserve currency of choice rather than merely the prettiest girl in the ugly contest the last currency standing, so to speak. But whether the Chinese RMB will become a reserve currency is an entirely different question.

2013-09-27 Inflow into Equity Funds in September Fourth-Highest Ever by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

Although the S&P 500 sits just below a record closing high, we think the path of least resistance for stock prices is higher. The Federal Reserve seems as determined as ever to inflate asset bubbles by funneling $85 billion per month in newly printed money to the primary dealers, and our demand indicators continue to turn more favorable for the intermediate term.

2013-09-27 How to Strengthen Your Portfolio Core by David Fabian of Fabian Capital Management

In strength training and investing, your core is everything. It’s the foundation or base from which you build upon to reach new levels of success. Without a solid core, you are doomed to underachieve because you don’t have the right balance needed to attain your goals. By starting from the ground up using concrete core holdings, you can add additional tactical positions from which to enhance your returns. That way you will have a well-rounded portfolio strategy that is easy to understand.

2013-09-27 Give Me Tapering... Just Not Yet by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Last week Federal Reserve (the Fed) officials surprised investors by choosing not to begin slowing the pace of quantitative easing (QE) despite months of setup in their public comments. Instead, the latest iteration of the Fed’s bond buying strategy will continue at $85 billion per month. At this point our best guess is that the decision was a path of least resistance among a divided committee: there seemed to be a number of officials who were concerned about downside risks to growth from fiscal policy uncertainty and higher interest rates.

2013-09-27 Bridging the Gap: Global Listed Infrastructure by Wilson Magee of Franklin Templeton

Simply spreading your investments across a smattering of asset classes with the idea that diversification should automatically produce a positive result is an approach that’s maybe a little too similar to a roll of the dice. For investors hunting for classes to diversify into, Wilson Magee, Director of Global Real Estate and Infrastructure Securities, Franklin Templeton Real Asset Advisors, and co-manager of Franklin Global Listed Infrastructure Fund, has one word: infrastructure.

2013-09-27 Illinois and California: Similar Challenges, Different Approaches by Joseph Rosenblum, Neene Jenkins, John Ceffalio of AllianceBernstein

Every state faces challenges when it comes to balancing the books, but not every state is equally effective at tackling them. The responses of California and Illinois to post-2008 difficulties show how different the approaches can beand how much is at stake.

2013-09-27 Calculating A Stock's Fair Value Based On Future Growth Expectations: Part 2A by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

In part one of this two-part series I focused primarily on calculating the intrinsic value of a common stock based on an analysis and review of historical information and data. Although I strongly believe that there is much that investors can learn by studying the past, I even more strongly believe that since we can only invest in the future, that it is also implicit that we embrace a rational method of forecasting.

2013-09-27 How to Profit from a Changing China by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

We believe China’s rebalancing is positive for investors who selectively invest in its stocks. As Jim O’Neill puts it, “When a country is embarking on a significant compositional change to its economy, stock-pickers rather than index-trackers have the upper hand.”

2013-09-27 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.9, up from last week’s 132.3 (revised down from 132.4). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 4.9% from last week’s 4.5%.

2013-09-26 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 Secular Trends in Asian Credit Markets Shape Long-Term Investment Themes by Robert Mead, Raja Mukherji of PIMCO

The next several years will likely see many Asian corporate issuers to come to the market for financing, whether to pursue long-term business plans or to employ traditional corporate finance and leverage strategies. Rigorous credit research, flexible resources, experienced local portfolio management and strong relationships with local stakeholders are all crucial to uncovering attractive opportunities while monitoring volatility in Asia’s credit markets.

2013-09-25 Fiscal Policy: Once More, with Ceiling by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Will the upcoming congressional debate on interim financing and raising the debt limit lead to a government shutdownand market turmoil? Not likely.

2013-09-25 How To Calculate The Intrinsic Value Of Your Common Stocks: Part 1 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Every investor in common stocks is faced with the challenge of knowing when to buy, sell or hold. Additionally, this challenge will be approached differently by the true investor than it would by a speculator. But since I know very little about speculation (trading or market timing), this article will be focused on assisting true investors desirous of a sound and reliable method that they can trust and implement when attempting to make these important buy, sell or hold investing decisions.

2013-09-25 After the Fed's Surprise: 4 Asset Allocation Implications by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

The Fed’s surprise no-taper announcement confirmed Russ’ expectation that the global recovery remains soft and that interest rates are likely to remain contained this year. What does this mean for investors? There are four implications for asset allocations, says Russ.

2013-09-25 More Than a “Sugar High” by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors

The recent decision by the Fed to delay any tapering may be a preview of what to expect by a “Yellen Fed”. As the Fed appeared to remove “virtually every yardstick or goal post” that they have provided recently, one thing is certain, “they seem determined to keep the accelerator nailed to the floor as they drive the economy at full speed.” According to Cornerstone Macro, based on the Fed’s move, it appears increasingly likely that “growth is more likely to reaccelerate.”

2013-09-24 ENERGY MLPs: A Suitable and Sustainable Asset Class by Sponsored Content from ClearBridge Investments (Article)

Key Takeaways: MLPs have provided income with little correlation to other asset classes and little sensitivity to interest rates, commodity prices or economic cycles. The market for MLP stocks has expanded greatly and offers liquidity which appeals to long-term institutional investors. The renaissance in U.S. energy production is driving sustainable growth in the infrastructure that MLPs own and operate

2013-09-24 Four Ways to Attract Affluent Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Attracting HNW clients is all about credibility as a result, it’s typically lower key, takes longer and requires an upfront investment of time and effort to position yourself to interact with HNW prospects.

2013-09-24 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%.

2013-09-24 Has the Fed Lost Its Credibility? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Any economics student will tell you central banks must achieve three things to effectively implement monetary policy: (1) independence; (2) credibility; and (3) transparency.For most of the Fed’s history, the first two characteristics were arguably well attained.However, the group was never well known for clarity into its thinking.

2013-09-24 The U.S. Economy: Poised for Growth? by Jeremy Boynton of Laureate Wealth Management

The Federal Reserve decided to delay the beginning of the end of quantitative easing (QE). The markets were very surprised by this as nearly all Fed watchers were expecting at least a small reduction in QE. In explaining its course of action, the Fed cited economic conditions that are currently too weak and/or fragile to begin removing QE. Ironically, the bond and stock markets rallied on this news.

2013-09-24 Lehman Five Years LaterLessons and Threats by Dean Curnutt of Macro Risk Advisors

The five-year anniversary of the Lehman bankruptcy and onset of financial crisis is here and so too is the raft of opinion pieces around what caused the meltdown and how it is different this time.In a recent interview with Charlie Rose, when asked about the risk of another 2008 event, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said, “The probability of it happening again in our lifetime is as close to zero as I could imagine.”

2013-09-23 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 Enhanced Dividend for Income by Jim O'Shaugnessy of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management

It is axiomatic in the financial planning canon that investors searching for a steady source of income should rely heavily on bonds. Stocks are for capital appreciation and bonds for income. The practice is so ingrained, that I have not heard of many investors who would make the case for using an equity portfolio to generate income. Bonds also appeal to advisors because of their inherent principal protection advantage. As a bond owner, you are a creditor, not an owner.

2013-09-23 Credit Rating Agencies: Can They Get It Right? Part 3: Five Years After the Fall by Michelle Shwarzman of Invesco Blog

This three-part series takes a critical look at the growing role of credit rating agencies (CRAs) in the global financial system. This post reports on the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) debate about the role of CRAs in the international financial system. Part 1 focused on the involvement of CRAs in recent financial and economic crises in the US and Europe, while Part 2 described post-crises attempts to reform CRAs.

2013-09-23 Shake & Bake and Pension Woes, One Man's “Thoughts From the Frontline” by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week I take a departure from form. After a few brief words around the Fed’s Shake and Bake maneuver and a very quick look at Food Stamp data, I return you to the capable hands of John Mauldin to dive into the Pension woes. We are honored that Mr. Mauldin based his work on DIVER’s data and some of our tools. If you decide to follow John’s advice around your city, let us know if we can help. Be sure to check out the “Data Released this Week” as our data team was hard at work.

2013-09-23 Loose and Looser by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Larry Summers took his name out of the hat and won’t be considered for the top spot at the Federal Reserve. And while nothing is a slam dunk, it looks very much like current Vice Chair Janet Yellen is going to get the call from President Obama to step up and replace Bernanke.

2013-09-23 Happy Anniversary? Perspectives on the Financial Crisis Five Years Later by Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson of Hartford Funds

Since 2008, there’s been slow but steady improvement in the global economypolicy makers’ unconventional tools have helped stabilize financial markets and bought time for economies to rebalance. Expectations are too low for developed-market growth and inflation, in our view. As such, we think this environment will be positive for developed-equity marketsparticularly in Europe and Japan.

2013-09-23 Fed Inaction Lengthens Reflationary Economy by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities advanced last week as the S&P 500 increased 1.32%.1 The Federal Reserve (Fed) delivered a big surprise by leaving intact the current $85 billion monthly purchase program. The Committee appears nervous about the resiliency of the economy. Chairman Bernanke pointed to three factors for postponing tapering: 1) the need for more labor market data to be confident in the outlook, 2) a desire to assess the degree to which tighter financial conditions, particularly mortgage rates, are affecting the real economy and 3) an interest in gaining clarity on “upcoming fiscal debates.̶

2013-09-23 Psychological Ether by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

In my view, the problem with quantitative easing is that its entire effect relies on provoking risk-taking by those who would otherwise choose not to do so; that the FOMC has extended and amplified financial market distortions without regard to the rich valuations and dismal prospective returns that financial assets are most likely priced to achieve; and that this distortion of financial asset prices has precious little to do with the presumptive goal of Fed policy, which is greater job creation and economic activity.

2013-09-23 Aberdeen Global Investment Outlook: September 2013 by Mike Turner of Aberdeen Asset Management

The point of maximum policy accommodation may now be in sight: Markets volatile as investors forced to contemplate U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) exit strategy. Slowing growth in China is putting pressure on Asian and emerging markets to develop domestic led demand. This time really could be different for Japan - however reflating the economy was never going to be easy.

2013-09-21 Rich City, Poor City by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we will conclude our look at pension plans for the nonce with a 30,000-foot overview of the states and then take a deeper dive into one city: mine. This will give you at least one version of how to do your own homework about your own hometown. But fair warning, depending on your locale, you may need medical help or significant quantities of an adult beverage after you finish your research.

2013-09-21 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%.

2013-09-20 Rising Interest Rates Must End Soon by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury bond has risen by more than 84 percent from May to early September, one of the most violent and rapid increases on record. This spike has caused severe convulsions in the bond market, leading many investors to wonder how long the torment can last.

2013-09-20 U.S. Commercial Real Estate: Will the Good Times Last? by Devin Chen of PIMCO

The CRE market has experienced a gradual recovery in asset pricing since the 2008 financial crisis. Despite the duration of the recovery, there continues to be dislocation in the CRE market that astute investors can capitalize on. We believe certain properties in non-major markets look attractive for acquisition, and have been acquiring residential land on an opportunistic basis.

2013-09-20 Q&A: Emerging Markets Powerhouses China and India by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Given their heft in the emerging markets world, China and India are among the countries I get asked most often about, particularly when they show market distress signals like economic slowing.This past week, the Templeton emerging markets team and I have been in China as part of a large research trip, doing further analysis on the market and key company prospects. I thought it would present a good opportunity to share a few of my answers to recent questions on both China and India.

2013-09-20 5 Years Later: The Crisis We Haven't Tackled Yet by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Five years after the Lehman bankruptcy, the proximate causes of the 2008 crash are no longer threats. But while the risk of another imminent financial system crisis has abated, there are two major issues that foretell a coming retirement funding crisis.

2013-09-20 Growth and Rising Stars by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

While developed market growth in several regions is picking up cyclically from low levels, overall global economic growth should remain subdued over the next several years. We believe credit spread tightening and rating upgrades are most likely for specific companies in industries and areas with strong growth. We see these "rising star" companies in the U.S. and European auto sector, the gaming, energy and chemical industries and in sectors tied to the U.S. housing market.

2013-09-19 Time to Taper? by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

The Fed debate this year has largely revolved around a single question: When will the FOMC begin to slow the pace of quantitative easing (QE)? At the start of the year, most analysts thought that the committee would continue its bond buying program at full speed all year, and only taper its purchases in early 2014. However, we began to hear hints from Fed officials as earlier as January that they may stop short of consensus expectations.

2013-09-19 Will Healthcare Reform Raise the Economy\'s Pulse? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The prognosis is by no means clear. Ambiguity surrounding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act will create further uncertainty for the economy in the years ahead.

2013-09-19 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 White Noise by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Most recently, I have been in a cautious mode, believing we were involved in a short-term pullback that would carry the S&P 500 (SPX/1687.99) down about 10%. That strategy was working until the Syrian compromise wrecked the rhythm of the decline. Bear in mind, however, the anticipated decline was always couched within the context of a longer-term secular bull market.

2013-09-18 Bernanke Gets Another Chance to Communicate by Scott Brown of Raymond James

It seems clear that most Fed policymakers have not decided whether to begin reducing the pace of asset purchases. Officials will review a wide range of data and anecdotal information this week. It’s generally (but not universally) expected that this will lead the Federal Open Market Committee to begin tapering, but modestly, while signaling a wait-and-see attitude on further action. The Fed should continue to stress that short-term interest rates will remain low for some time. The economy is still far from being fully recovered, but we’re well on our way.

2013-09-18 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks rallied last week as military options in Syria no longer look likely given the disapproval of the American people and Congress. Additionally, this embarrassing agreement reached with Russia is an admission that the USA will not intervene.

2013-09-18 Smart Beta and the Pendulum of Mispricing by Vitali Kalesnik of Research Affiliates

The Research Affiliates approach to equity investment management is based upon the insight that stock prices are “noisy” and “mean-reverting.”

2013-09-18 Larry Summers Helps Clarify the Future Path of Fed Policy by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Last Monday, at a London press conference, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry responded to a reporter’s question about what might avoid a military move against Syria by ad-libbing that Assad could give up his chemical weapons. As you probably know, Russia promptly endorsed the idea and Assad promptly agreed. The long-term implications of this development are unknowable; what matters now is that the risk of a U.S strike declined sharply last Monday. Over the most recent weekend, the U.S. and Russia have apparently agreed on key details, further reducing the probability of an attack.

2013-09-18 The End Times for Strategic Ambiguity by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Strategic ambiguity is defined as a condition where various parties say something similar but believe something entirely different. A good example of this is U.S. and Chinese policy toward Taiwan. Both nations say Taiwan is part of China. The U.S. believes that Taiwan’s democratic government should become the model for the mainland, whereas China believes Taiwan should be part of its nation as it is currently structured. Because both nations say the same thing, the policy difference is not publicly obvious and thus not a problem, at least as long as the ambiguity lasts.

2013-09-18 Is the Commodity Supercycle Dead? by Nicholas Johnson, Greg Sharenow of PIMCO

While commodity price appreciation won’t likely mirror the supercycle, this shouldn’t necessarily imply a negative view on commodity returns going forward. We believe commodity prices are at reasonable levels from a long-term valuation perspective. In addition, the roll yield from investing in commodities is the highest it’s been since 2005. The outlook for commodity returns today seems broadly consistent with historical returns, and commodities remain an important tool for hedging inflation risk.

2013-09-18 Dow Changes as a Contrary Indicator by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

The folks who select the companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) came out with their latest changes on Monday, September 9, 2013. They removed Bank of America (BAC), Hewlett Packard (HPQ) and Alcoa (AA) from the DJIA. Added to the index were Visa (V), Nike (NKE) and Goldman Sachs (GS). At Smead Capital Management, we are always looking for important psychological clues to human behavior as it pertains to the popularity of common stocks.

2013-09-18 Stock Funds' 5-Year Track Records Set to Double by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Many investors focus on the previous five years annualized return when analyzing which mutual funds to buy. We also pay a good deal of attention to the 5-year performance number when analyzing mutual fund and ETF returns at Halbert Wealth Management. And currently the 5-year average returns for most equity mutual funds are not all that attractive.

2013-09-18 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Last week, total AUM in all active ETFs increased by over $68.76 million. Assets in “Short Term Bond” active ETFs increased by nearly $140 million. The second largest increase in AUM came in the “High Yield” ETF category, which rose by about $20.366 million, largely due to creation units. “US Equity” active ETFs also saw a significant increase in AUM of over $8.68 million. The biggest decreases in AUM came in the “Global Bond” and “Foreign Bond” categories, which fell by $58.85 million and $44.3 million respectively.

2013-09-17 The Fiduciary Pyramid: Demystifying the Fiduciary Landscape by Seaborn Hall (Article)

The term ’fiduciary’ is at once accessible, familiar and confusing. We hear it often and think that we know what it means. But do we? Consider this assertion: A fee-only registered investment adviser (RIA) is at the top of the fiduciary pyramid. Is this a valid, provable statement?

2013-09-17 How One Advisor Attracts HNW Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Recently, a California-based advisor explained how she shifted her practice to focus on affluent clients. Her success was the result of a simple but thoughtful five-step plan.

2013-09-17 Charles de Vaulx: “We Have Never Been as Cautiously Positioned” by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Charles de Vaulx is the chief investment officer and a portfolio manager at International Value Advisers. In this interview, he discusses his outlook for the market and the economy, and why his fund has never been as cautiously positioned as it is today.

2013-09-17 The Debate on DFA’s Research by Various (Article)

We received many responses to Michael Edesess’ article, Why DFA’s New Research is Flawed, which appeared last week. We provide the responses from individuals who disagreed with Edesess’ findings, followed by Edesess’ response and then by responses in agreement with his findings.

2013-09-17 “Risk-On” Resumes as Uncertainty Subsides by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Equity markets rallied last week with the hope of a diplomatic solution to the crisis between Syria and the United States. The S&P 500 advanced 2.03% for the week.1 Broadly, the S&P 500 is in a churning phase after witnessing an all-time high of 1709 on August 2 and then stalling.1 We believe the market has been on hold while waiting for lower oil prices, progress on Syria, further global growth and successful Federal Reserve tapering.

2013-09-17 Doesn\'t Government Lie? by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Like a Plow Horse, the US economy keeps plodding along GDP and payrolls keep growing. This confounds many pessimistic, debt-focused, perma-bear investors, who fall back on the belief that anything good must simply be a lie.

2013-09-17 Consumers Face An Economy at a Crossroads by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

As the Federal Reserve prepares to debate the merits of tapering its asset purchase program this week, a key area of the economy that will be closely analyzed by Bernanke and Co. is the health of the American consumer. There are tenuous signs that consumers are spending more, but attitudes towards the economic recovery are hardly encouraging. Consumers will find it difficult to stay the key cog of economic growth in the U.S., but at the very least, their participation in the recovery is imperative, and leaves much to be desired.

2013-09-16 U.S. Equity ETF Flows Send Bullish Signals Despite Recent Inflows by Minyi Chen, TrimTabs of AdvisorShares

Minyi Chen, CFA, Chief Operating Officer of TrimTabs Investment Research and Portfolio Manager of AdvisorShares TrimTabs Float Shrink ETF (NYSE Arca: TTFS) shares recent fund flow trends.

2013-09-16 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 The Next Big Challenge to Investors: Rising Rates by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

Many investors were conditioned to accept that the economy would be in the rehabilitation ward for the foreseeable future, rates would remain low, and monetary stimulus would continue unabated. It was an increasingly dangerous mindset. Now that’s changing with the slow but steady recovery of the economy and the Federal Reserve’s announcement in August that it may begin “tapering” its billions in monthly bond purchases designed to keep rates low and boost asset prices.

2013-09-16 Baby Steps by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Our view is that the Federal Reserve will taper its program of quantitative easing this week, in the range of a $10-15 billion reduction in the pace of monthly debt purchases. The Fed really has no “communication problem” about this the economic impact of further quantitative easing has had diminishing returns, and the economic drag from fiscal reductions has thus far been smaller than the Fed feared when it justified QEternity on the basis of those concerns last year.

2013-09-16 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.

2013-09-14 Nothing But Bad Choices by John Mauldin of Mauldin Economics

Crises in government funding don’t simply arrive on the doorstep unannounced. Their progress toward the eventual Bang! moment is there for all the world to see. The root cause is almost always the same: debt. And whether that debt is actually borrowed or is merely promised to the populace, when the market becomes worried that the ability of the government to fund its promises is suspect, then the end is near. Last week we began a series on what I think is an impending crisis in the unfunded pension liabilities of state and local governments in the United States.

2013-09-13 Trumping Cheap Labor by Teresa Kong of Matthews Asia

Wages in China have surely risen, and some pundits argue that this growth will eventually make the country less competitive. But more nuanced and recent theories suggest that manufacturing centers can cluster around pools of more skilled labor, transportation networks and economies of scale. This month, Teresa Kong, CFA, examines the reasons why China is about more than just low-cost workers.

2013-09-13 Pacific Basin Market Overview August 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Asian equity markets ended lower in August, chiefly due to concerns about currency weakness in India and Indonesia, while improved macroeconomic data from China contributed to this market’s outperformance. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index including Japan fell by 1.3% while the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Free Index closed 0.71% lower during the month. (All performance figures are based on MSCI indices in U.S. dollar terms with dividends included unless otherwise stated.)

2013-09-13 What's Developing in Emerging Markets by Gene Goldman of Cetera Financial Group

Despite strong returns in United States equity markets, a different story has played out in the emerging markets. The MSCI Emerging Market Index, a proxy for emerging market equity returns, has fallen 9.94 percent year-to-date through Aug. 31, 2013. In contrast, the S&P 500, a proxy for U.S. equity markets, has risen 16.15 percent over that same span.

2013-09-13 Waiting for Clarity From the Fed and Congress by Team of Northern Trust

U.S. economic growth averaged roughly 2.0% in the first half of the year and the average gain of real gross domestic product (GDP) during the entire 16-quarter economic recovery is 2.2%. Real GDP is projected to grow close to this trend in the second half of the year.

2013-09-13 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 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 The Best Time to Own Cash: No Return is Better than a Negative Return by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest essay, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, writes about "the best time for an investor to own cash," which somewhat counter-intuitively, he believes is when that cash pays nothing.

2013-09-12 Rates Update: Rationale for the Continuing Sell-off and Distinctions between 1994 & 2003 by Brian Smith of TCW Asset Management

The bond market continues to struggle to find support, with 10-year Treasury yields touching 3%, a sell-off of roughly 140 bps in the last 4 months! While reduced dealer risk capacity and impaired investor loss tolerances are two underlying factors contributing to recent rates volatility, this violent move to higher yields has been primarily led by expectations that the Fed will begin to taper asset purchases in their upcoming meeting on September 18th.

2013-09-12 Brave New World by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms of ING Investment Management

If the monotony of high school lulled you into a catatonic state the semester you were supposed to read Brave New World, here’s the CliffsNotes summary of what you missed. Aldous Huxley imagined a futuristic utopia in which the government promotes economic and emotional stability through the plentiful use of a soporific opiate called “soma”. Soma allows the mind to take a holiday from worldly problems via a gram, or two or three. Imagine the chaos into which this fictional world would descend were the government to abandon its role as pharmacist to the masses.

2013-09-12 Unemployment, Participation and the Fed by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Despite a mediocre August jobs report, we still expect the Federal Reserve to announce a slowing of the pace of bond purchases when it meets next week. One reason for this view is that Fed officials care more about the level of the unemployment rate than the pace of job creation. We often write that monetary policy is about “gaps” not growth: the Fed is trying to reduce spare capacity in the economy, not bring about a rapid expansion per se.

2013-09-12 Opportunity Out of Uncertainty: Finding Investment Ideas in a Rising Market by Jay Kaplan of The Royce Funds

Portfolio Manager and Principal Jay Kaplan talks about investing in a slow-growth, high-price environment and discusses where we are in the current retail cycle, companies in which he has high confidence, and his experience with a long-term holding.

2013-09-12 2 Unresolved Issues Challenging the Case for European Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains the two key unresolved issues that are keeping his view of European stocks somewhat cautious, and he gives the next signposts to watch to gauge whether any near-term resolutions are likely.

2013-09-11 Underwriters Lose No Time Pumping Out New Shares after Labor Day by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

The monthly flows of Mutual Fund and ETF volatility continued as a roller coaster trend was apparent in the last three months. Read this investor insight by Minyi Chen, CFA, Chief Operating Officer of TrimTabs Investment Research and Portfolio Manager of AdvisorShares TrimTabs Float Shrink ETF (NYSE Arca: TTFS) to learn about the variable trend flows.

2013-09-10 A New Tool to Calculate Long-Term Care Needs by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Health-care crises can destroy retirement plans, yet advisors and clients often avoid discussing long-term care (LTC) insurance. Part of the reason aside from a natural reluctance to contemplate such tragedies is the lack of data needed to evaluate the LTC risk. That data deficiency can now be overcome, thanks to a pioneering product that provides customized projections for clients.

2013-09-10 Three Traps to Avoid When Advising Couples by Kathleen Burns Kingsbury (Article)

Advising couples is an art, not a science. As a couples-friendly advisor, you are required to mediate, facilitate and objectively observe your clients. Every couple has a unique dynamic regarding money and working with an advisor. You need to be aware of common emotional traps, often unconsciously set by partners, and how best to avoid them.

2013-09-10 The Party's Over. Why Own Commodities? by Jon Ruff, Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein

Commodity prices soared during the first decade of this century. But now the party’s over: new sources of supply are coming on line just as demand from China is slowing, leading to expectations of price declines. So should investors shun commodity-related investments?

2013-09-10 Capital Spending: A Double-Edged Sword by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Rising business outlays on equipment and technology will likely contribute to a subpar pace of hiringand help boost corporate profit margins.

2013-09-10 QE Tapering: Why Whether' or When' Doesn't Really Matter by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

We didn’t go to war last week what will happen is highly uncertain but the perceived probability of an imminent U.S. attack on Syria seemed to drop as the week proceeded.

2013-09-10 Investor Anxiety + Uncertainty = More Volatility Ahead by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

As Russ expected, both equity and bond market volatility have risen in recent weeks. Russ explains why this rocky road is likely to continue, and he provides two ideas for potentially insulating portfolios amid volatility.

2013-09-10 The August Employment Report Enough to Taper? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The August Employment Report was not as strong as expected, but it wasn’t terribly weak either, making the Fed’s decision to taper a bit more difficult. Still, QE can’t last forever.

2013-09-10 Raising the Bar on Target Date Due Diligence by Manning & Napier/Strategic Insight of Manning & Napier

Deeming whether target date fund investments are appropriate for a specific participant population is an arduous and imperfect task, made more complicated by a lack of full transparency. Fiduciaries should question whether the underlying securities of target date funds are appropriate to meet the retirement saving needs of plan participants. However, the question itself raises concern about what it would take to examine the funds in such detail.

2013-09-10 Municipal Bond Market: Tune out the Noise by Jonathan Chirunga of Pioneer Investments

Since Ben Bernanke’s misinterpreted comments on tapering, Detroit’s bankruptcy filing and the even more recent, well-publicized concerns regarding Puerto Rico, the municipal bond market has struggled mightily. Year-to-date as of September 5, the Barclay’s Municipal Investment-Grade Index is down 5.3%, and the Barclay’s Municipal High Yield Index is down 8.3%.

2013-09-09 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 First Friday Review, Opportunity Knocks, Pensions and Geo Score Bottom 10 by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week I go far and wide.Initially, we take a look at the relatively poor First Friday Employment Report (you know the one the media loves to harp on).We then turn to a quick look at what some view as a buying opportunity and wonder if it is really so.Hint: if you know the answer with certainty, please let all of our readers know.We then move on to revisit the latest Pension data and ask the question: what would these figures look like if some of our factors were normalized?

2013-09-09 Reasons for Optimism in a Sloppy Third Quarter by Ron Sloan of Invesco Blog

Investors are anticipating the day that we transition from a market dominated by monetary stimulus to an earnings-driven market. The problem is that earnings aren’t cooperating yet. In my view, we’ve still got a sloppy third and maybe fourth quarter to get through, but I think 2014 will likely be a much better earnings market.

2013-09-09 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 Market Technicals Signal Trouble Ahead by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Bear market enthusiasts have so far been disappointed in September after the sudden market rally last week. With equities up more than 1% on the month, many bears pointed to the historically poor performance of equity markets during this month as a reason to remain cautious. Bear enthusiasts need not fear, as markets appear to be converging toward an inflection point right around the Fed meeting in the middle of the month.

2013-09-09 Possible Shutdown, No Default by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Sometime in the next few weeks, Washington is going to turn its attention from Syria back to the budget.

2013-09-07 Unrealistic Expectations by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Two well-respected analysts of pension funds have produced reports this summer suggesting that pensions are now underfunded by more than $4 trillion and possibly more than $5 trillion. I would like to tell you that the underfunding is all the bad news, but when you probe deeper into the problems facing pension funds, it just gets worse.

2013-09-06 The Emerging Markets Debt Evolution by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments

My colleagues Mauro Ratto, Head of Emerging Markets, and Yerlan Syzdykov, Head of Emerging Markets Bond & High Yield, offered these thoughts on emerging markets.

2013-09-06 Four Interest Rate Scenarios We Could Face by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

I’ve written a lot lately on the subject of “duration” and its potential impact on investor portfolios, now that the initial goals of the Federal Reserve’s “Great Monetary Experiment” appear largely accomplished and tapering of its monthly purchase of Treasuries to keep rates low is on the table. The era of lowering interest rates and rising bond prices looks finally at an end, with no place for rates to go but up. It’s vital, then, that investors think about the impact that rising bond yields could have on their portfolios. Here are a few scenarios w

2013-09-06 Float Research: Fund Flows Swing Wildly for Third Consecutive Month by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

The monthly flows of Mutual Fund and ETF volatility continued as a roller coaster trend was apparent in the last three months. Read this investor insight by Minyi Chen, CFA, Chief Operating Officer of TrimTabs Investment Research and Portfolio Manager of AdvisorShares TrimTabs Float Shrink ETF (NYSE Arca: TTFS) to learn about the variable trend flows.

2013-09-06 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 The Good, The Bad and The Ugly by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

“Good” economic news in developed markets has been overshadowed lately by the “bad” (burgeoning Asian currency crisis) and the “ugly” (Syria). Unwinding central bank support from the markets will be arduous; it is already contributing to destabilization of certain emerging market currencies. News out of Washington this autumn tapering, Fed leadership and the debt ceiling has the potential to add volatility and uncertainty. The U.S. equity market has been the place to be this year, but diversification remains key.

2013-09-05 Congress Returns from Recess to Face Fiscal Deadlines by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

Congress returns from its August recess facing two imminent deadlines.First, Congress has appropriated funds to keep the federal government operating only through September 30, 2013.If Congress does not appropriate additional funds during September, on October 1 the federal government will shut down.House Speaker Boehner has said he will propose short term “stop gap” legislation without conditions that would fund the federal government for a few more months at 2013 levels.If Congress adopts such a resolution, the funding deadline will be pushed later into 2013.

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 The Bond Bear is Waking Up by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

We’ve been bond bears for quite some time, and we still are. The good news is that the violent part of the bear market has passed. We expect a slower, but still painful and consistent, move higher in interest rates during the quarters ahead. The 30-year bull market in bonds is over.

2013-09-04 Fixed Income - Where to Now? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Since the end of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), investors moved aggressively into fixed income asset classes. They were quickly rewarded in the years following the crisis with a combination of falling interest rates and tighter credit spreads, which led to positive absolute returns. The easy money in fixed income is gone, however, and now is the time for careful asset class selection.

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 Abe Wins - Does Japan Benefit? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The Japanese seem willing to give Abe room to reform when he decides to act.

2013-09-04 4 Signposts To Watch for an Emerging Markets Turnaround by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

When will we see a significant and prolonged reversal in emerging markets (EM) stock performance? Russ says to watch for four signposts that could signify the EM underperformance tide is turning.

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 The Impact of Severe Drawdowns on Safe Withdrawal Rates by Lloyd Nirenberg, Ph.D. (Article)

A Google search for “safe withdrawal rates” produces 30 million results, but none answers a question that is critical to advisors and investors: How would a sudden market downturn a “return shock” impair a retiree’s forecast withdrawals?

2013-09-03 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

For those in college during the 60s the time of “sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll” it’s hard to believe that marijuana has become legal. It is currently legal in some form in about 20 states and more are considering it, at least for medical purposes. Even Florida has strong proponents for the medical use of marijuana. There are always people who are trying to take advantage of the situation and this is no exception.

2013-09-03 How to Find Value in Real Estate With “Risk On, Risk Off” Off Again by Walter Stabell, III of Invesco Blog

Recent trends, including falling stock correlations, have been strong indicators that the global economy is normalizing and the practice of “risk on, risk off” investing, in which investors enter and exit perceived riskier investments based on how they feel about the economy, is now off again after becoming a phenomenon in the post-financial crisis years.

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 Momentum in Europe by Janus Equity Investment Team of Janus Capital Group

We think now is a good time to be investing in Europe. European equity valuations are at the lowest level in more than 40 years, by some measures, and we are seeing green shoots in the region’s downtrodden economy. Meanwhile, European companies in several industries have right-sized their cost structures or refocused their businesses, setting them up to be more competitive on a global scale.

2013-09-03 As Uncertainty Abounds in September, Sideways Consolidation Continues by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Global equities struggled last week, with the S&P 500 declining -1.39%.1 Volatility rose from geopolitical uncertainty over the military strike in Syria.2 Oil prices spiked with concerns about escalation and tension but retreated due to dampened international support and expectations that a military campaign would be short-lived. The U.S. Treasury announced its borrowing capacity will be exhausted by mid-October, exposing contentious fiscal battles. Reports mentioned former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers may be leading the succession race for Fed Chairman.

2013-08-31 How Do I Hate Thee? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I will list a number of reasons why I hate this market and then suggest a few reasons why that should get you excited. We will look at some charts, and I’ll briefly comment on them. No deep dives this week, just a survey of the general landscape.

2013-08-30 The Unfriendly Skies by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

As if the federal government were not already doing enough to kill the U.S. airline industry with restrictive workplace rules, over-regulation, and a monetary policy that supports higher fuel prices, earlier this month anti-trust authorities at the Justice Department blocked the merger between American Airlines and US Air.

2013-08-30 Beware the Dangerous Stretch for Yield by Ashish Shah of AllianceBernstein

The US Federal Reserve talked in early summer about tapering its quantitative easing plan and raising interest ratesin part to stop investors from chasing yield into the arms of riskier loans. In the high-yield market, however, the conversation had exactly the opposite effect.

2013-08-30 Survey Says... What? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

During the past week, a survey caught my eye and dropped my jaw. It was published in Investment News, a leading online and print publication for the investment advisory industry last weekend. It covered a survey of individual investors by brokerage firm Edward Jones about the potential impact of rising interest rates on their investment portfolios. According to the article, written by award-winning columnist Jeff Benjamin, “two-thirds of the respondents don’t understand how rising rates will affect their investment portfolios.”

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%.

2013-08-30 An American Energy Revolution by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

In Texas these days, there’s a feeling of absolute and unwavering confidence in the concept of an American energy revolution. From the depths of reserves to the richness of the energy, an incredible transformation is taking place.

2013-08-29 High Yield Bond Market Mid-Year Check In by Matthew Pasts of BTS Asset Management

After a prosperous 30-year bull market, the prospect for the future direction of High Yield bonds would seem to hinge on not whether, but when their decline starts.Dan Fuss has been managing bonds for 55 years. His multi-sector bond fund, Loomis Sayles Bond Fund, ranks in the top 10% of its peer group over the last 15- and 10- year periods as of December 31, 2012. Fuss believes that bonds are currently “the most overbought market I have ever seen in my life in the business.”

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

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

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

2013-08-29 Have Emerging Markets Gotten Oversold? by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

At Templeton, we’ve repeatedly championed our value-driven philosophy by frequently buying at times others are most pessimistic. This is not easy to do, even for seasoned market veterans. During the past few months, emerging markets have been subject to such pessimism. These periods of short-term volatility are certainly not new to us, and don’t change our long-term conviction of the potential emerging markets hold.

2013-08-29 Middle East Tensions, Oil Prices and the US Economy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

A further escalation of violence in the Middle East will not only have a terrible human toll, it could also lead to rising oil prices, which in turn could hurt consumers and the global recovery. Russ explains the situation and shares how investors can prepare.

2013-08-29 Earnings: Just Good Enough by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Corporate profits aren’t exactly setting the world on fire, but the rate of growth should be sufficient to support further equity market gains.

2013-08-28 ING Fixed Income Perspectives August 2013 by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

While it’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, some pictures are just not that complicated. Take the current U.S. yield curve, for example, our interpretation of which can be boiled down to just a handful of syllables: “zero interest rate policy” and “taper”.

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 The Egyptian Coup: an Update by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In this report, we will update developments in Egypt and discuss how the military’s actions increase the odds of future problems. We will study the military’s goals for the coup. From there, we will examine the Obama administration’s difficult position and how the Egyptian coup has caused a divergence of responses from regional powers. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.

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

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

2013-08-27 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.

2013-08-26 Could Clarity Confuse? The Industry Strikes Back by Jon Vogler of Invesco Blog

The intention of the Department of Labor (DOL) proposal to illustrate lifetime income streams on 401(k) statements is to clarify retirement income status for participants. But according to industry and trade groups, the requirement may have the opposite effect, creating more confusion than clarity.

2013-08-26 Inflation Update by Team of North Peak Asset Management

As can be seen in the schematic above, most portfolios are effectively a bet on a low inflation environment due to their heavy reliance on mainstream equities and fixed income securities. In order to protect a portfolio from the damage that inflation can inflict, asset classes that are sensitive to increases in inflation need to be incorporated into the asset mix. These include Inflation Linked Bonds (TIPS), Precious Metals, Global Natural Resource equities and Commodities.

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 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%.

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

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

2013-08-23 Float Research: Is Fed Starting to Lose Control of Bond Market? by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

Bond yields hit two-year highs as investors pull an additional $19.7 billion from bond funds in August. Read this investor insight by Minyi Chen, CFA, Chief Operating Officer of TrimTabs Investment Research and Portfolio Manager of AdvisorShares TrimTabs Float Shrink ETF (NYSE Arca: TTFS) to learn what concerns may arise in the coming months if this trend continues.

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

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

2013-08-23 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 Float Research: Fund Outflows Surge Amid Bond Market Anxieties by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

Stock and bond funds have given up a net $32.4 billion in August thanks to strong outflows from ETFs and mutual finds alike. Read this investor insight by Minyi Chen, CFA, Chief Operating Officer of TrimTabs Investment Research and Portfolio Manager of AdvisorShares TrimTabs Float Shrink ETF (NYSE Arca: TTFS) to learn about the recent fund flow trends.

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 Buckle Up by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Caution is warranted near-term. For investors that have a solid strategy of dollar-cost averaging into the market, we don’t recommend deviating from that path. However, for investors who are more tactical, better entry points are likely yet to come. Longer-term, we remain bullish on US equities and prefer developed international markets over emerging markets.

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

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

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

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

2013-08-22 Summer Whale Watching by David Wismer of Flexible Plan Investments

One of our family’s most memorable and pleasant vacations took place years ago when we visited Cape Cod, Massachusetts for the first time. I thought of this trip in pondering some of the market news this week, where Wall Street was practicing its very own version of “whale watching.”

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 Asia Brief: On Economic Evolution in Cambodia by Edmund Harriss, James Weir of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management

Cambodia’s recent national Assembly elections offer hope that the country may be able to achieve a peaceful political transition in the coming years. The country’s political turmoil has held it back behind its neighbors, but tourism and gar- ment assembly are driving an acceleration in economic output growth. However, Cambodia is at risk from inflation through imported petroleum, and its youthful population will want to see improving GDP per capita feeding through into higher living standards, rather than a higher hydrocarbon bill.

2013-08-21 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 Five Ways to Get Families to Talk About Finances by Dan Richards (Article)

Every financial advisor sees clients’ lack of communication with family members as a problem. Here are five ways one group of successful advisors is addressing this gap.

2013-08-20 Which Crowd? Mulling the Investment Wisdom of the Masses by Steven Grey (Article)

With every investment or trade, the profits that accrue with the passage of time eventually prove one party the wiser. But of what practical value is the notion of collective wisdom if investors can’t consistently identify the ’wise’ crowd before the fact?

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 Change is Coming by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The summer months brought a period of calm to global markets and economies. Nearing the move to autumn, it is time to look ahead and see what resides on the horizon. Investors could be due for a renewed bout of volatility based on any number of events set to happen before year-end.

2013-08-20 The Embassy Closings by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In the first week of August, the Obama administration announced the closing of 22 embassies and consulates across the Middle East and North Africa. In this report, we will discuss the role of the embassy for a superpower, the return of al Qaeda, including its strengths and weaknesses, the nature of the terrorist group’s intelligence and an examination of other actions that may be behind activities in Yemen.As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.

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.

2013-08-19 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 What Triggers Would Make Japanese Equities Attractive? by Mark Jason of Invesco Blog

Through the second quarter of 2013, Japan remained Invesco International Growth Fund’s largest underweight versus the Custom International Growth Index because our EQV (earnings, quality and valuation) discipline criteria drive us toward high-quality companies at reasonable valuations, and those are scarce in Japan. Why? Because Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s success is being priced in, and overcoming two decades lost to stagnation is difficult.

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.

2013-08-19 Preparing Equity Portfolios for Rising Rates by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While Russ doesn’t foresee a bond market meltdown, he does expect that rates will rise in coming years and he offers three suggestions for positioning equity portfolios in preparation.

2013-08-19 The Tick-Tock on Tapering by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The Fed’s September 18 decision on whether to begin reducing the pace of asset purchases will depend on the economic data (the job market figures, in particular), but there’s a growing consensus that we’re likely to see a modest initial step, as a compromise between Fed officials who want to end the program sooner and those that want to see it continued. There are other things for policymakers to consider. One is the possibility of an adverse reaction in the financial markets. Another concern is the low underlying trend in inflation.

2013-08-16 Preparing for Rising Interest Rates: Bond Ladder vs. Bond Fund Ladder by BMO Tax-Free Fixed Income Team of BMO Funds

The last few years have seen interest rates hold steady or drift lower, causing investors to be concerned about how their fixed income portfolios will be affected when rates eventually rise. The question is, how can investors protect themselves from rising rates while still earning income while they wait?

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

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

2013-08-16 Fixed Income Investing In a Reality Star World by Kirk Moore of Columbia Management

Reality stars are famous for being famous. We should not begrudge them for recognizing an opportunity, seizing the momentum and exploiting it successfully. However, an approach that emphasizes form over substance can neither be consistent or highly repeatable.

2013-08-16 The Case for Global Dividends: Valuations and the Impact of Rising Rates by Ehren Stanhope of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management

The S&P 500 Index has risen over 150 percent since March 9, 2009 in what could arguably be deemed the most hated equity rally of all time. The MSCI All Country World Index, one of the broadest global indices, has risen “just” 110 percent since its March 2009 nadir. Evidence indicates that United States (U.S.) investors have not participated in this rallya truly sad state of affairs. It is worthy of noting that over the last several years a number of well known market pundits have viscerally rejected the equity rally due to macroeconomic concerns.

2013-08-16 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 Investing Rationally if Markets Get Erratic by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

It can be hard to invest rationally when markets are volatile, but Russ is expecting markets to be just that come September. Knowing that market volatility can lead to bad investing behaviors, Russ highlights three behaviors to avoid during the potentially rocky road ahead.

2013-08-16 The Telecommunications Services Sector Untethered and Poised to Grow by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Suffice it to say that the Telecommunications Services sector of today is not your grandfather’s Telecommunications Services sector. The explosion, and rapidly becoming ubiquitous implementation, of wireless technologies have been disruptive and game changing. As a result, the very nature of the established stalwarts within this industry have gone through an extraordinary metamorphosis.

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

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

2013-08-16 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 Once-a-Generation European Opportunity? by Cindy Sweeting of Franklin Templeton Investments

Sir John’s contrarian conviction was so strong, that in 1939 when WWII had investors fleeing the markets, he bought every stock on the New York Stock Exchange trading under a dollar. Cindy Sweeting, Director of Portfolio Management at Templeton Global Equity Group, espouses Sir John’s contrarian approach, although as a more selective bottom-up stock-picker today. As the markets have bumped along recently she has also echoed his money-where-your-mouth-is action, avoiding the same trend plays everyone else is making by the doing the far more difficult work of going against the grain.

2013-08-15 To Manage Rising Rates, Consider Benching Your Benchmark by Douglas Peebles, Michael Mon of AllianceBernstein

As we enter a period of rising rates, many bond investors are growing more aware of the risks of benchmark-oriented bond portfolios. It may be time to sit the benchmark down and consider more flexible, unconstrained approaches to fixed income.

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 Middle East Is A Looming Tinderbox - Think Egypt by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

We begin today by looking into the latest unprecedented embassy closures across the Middle East and North Africa. Did President Obama take the appropriate actions, or were the closures a sign of weakness to our enemies in the region? From there, we turn our attention to the worsening political tensions in Egypt. There is a real threat that Egypt could deteriorate into a full-scale civil war in the months ahead.

2013-08-14 Pause: Breather Needed Short-Term, But Longer-Term Still Looks Good by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Sentiment has gotten a little frothy ahead of a typically-seasonally weak period, but valuation remains attractiveoh, and don’t fret low volume.

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 Why Clients Don’t Give You Credit for Your Hard Work And What to do About it by Dan Richards (Article)

Advisors work incredibly hard, but clients take that effort for granted. How can advisors get credit for all they do for clients?

2013-08-13 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Wade Pfau’s article, Unlocking the Two Mysteries behind SPIAs, which appeared last week, and readers respond to the commentary, What’s Wrong With Indexes?, by Brian Evans of AdvisorShares, which was published on July 29.

2013-08-13 Quantitative Easing for Regular Folks: Three Lessons from the New York Times by Susan Weiner (Article)

Quantitative easing pops up regularly in economic and market commentary. The term conveys a lot to financial professionals who know the fine points of QE1 vs. QE3. However, it’s likely to make the average investor ask, “Huh?”

2013-08-13 A Better Way to Measure Systemic Risk by Michael Edesess (Article)

The economics profession has faced harsh criticism since the financial crisis of 2007-09 not least from its own membersfor relying on mathematical models that failed to foresee the crisis and in some cases abetted its onset. Is the criticism justified, and what can be done about it?

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 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 The Gordon Dilemma by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In this report, we will discuss Professor Gordon’s thesis, examine the geopolitical impact if he is correct and offer some criticisms of his thesis. We will conclude with potential market ramifications.

2013-08-13 China's Government Can't Stop the Bust by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

On a recent trip to Europe we participated in a forum in Milan of five stock picking organizations. Two were from Brazil, one was from Malaysia and one was picking stocks inside China via the Shanghai Stock Exchange. We believe what they said was an enticement to investors for the purpose of getting them excited about stocks in their country. To us, this reveals a great deal about where prices in emerging stock markets and commodities are headed over the next five to seven years.

2013-08-13 Europe\'s Queasy Status Quo by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The eurozone’s weaker members continue to falter, but the currency union will likely hang together. Make no mistake, though: Europe remains at the edge of crisis.

2013-08-12 Mixing Politics and Finance Is Bad News for Investors by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Investors have seen plenty of examples of governments defaulting on their sovereign debt for political reasons. This lesson is now being learned by domestic municipal bond investors. Detroit is bankrupt and its emergency manager is now trying to get concessions from investors in its water and sewer bonds, despite their separate revenue streams and independent status. No matter.

2013-08-12 Fight Over the Fed: Why So Ugly? by Michelle Shwarzman of Invesco Blog

When President Barack Obama let it slip in a June interview that Federal Reserve (Fed) Chairman Ben Bernanke had “already stayed a lot longer than he wanted or he was supposed to,” the quest for the next Fed chair was underway. But few anticipated it would devolve into a fairly brutal brawl - by economist standards - between two extremely competent and capable PhD candidates: Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who also served as Harvard’s president and chief White House economic advisor.

2013-08-12 Extreme Brevity of the Financial Memory by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The period of generally rich valuations since the late-1990’s (associated with overall market returns hardly better than Treasury bill returns since then) has created a tolerance for valuations that, in fact, have led to awful declines, and have required fresh recoveries to elevated valuations simply to provide meager peak-to-peak returns.

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.

2013-08-09 Charts for the Beach by Richards Bernstein of Richards Bernstein Advisors

Our basic positions are now famous (or infamous). We continue to favor US assets and to shield our portfolios from the on-going and broad problems in the emerging markets. In the spirit of August, we forego significant text this month to present a series of charts that outline a few of the opportunities and risks we see in the global markets.

2013-08-09 A Generational Selling Opportunity for the U.S. Long Bond by Jim O'Shaughnessy of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management

Because investors tend to extrapolate what their general experience in markets has been recently well into the future, it’s easy to see why investors are having a long-term love affair with bonds. Yet the data in this paper suggests that a crisis in long bonds is coming and, given this information, individual and institutional investors alike should reconsider the bond portion of their portfolios.

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 Myanmar Rising by Team of Matthews Asia

After three decades under this military junta, Myanmar has thrown open its doors to change. Areas such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing and tourism all appear to be bursting with potential.

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.

2013-08-08 Market Melt-Up Catches Defensive Investors by Surprise by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

Extraordinary returns in the fourth year of a bull market remind us that long-term defensiveness can’t be rationalized. July saw remarkable returns across global equity and fixed income markets, with the exception of U.S. Treasuries. Investors would be well served to ignore media drama and fear mongering and simply follow the fundamentals. Five years spent worrying about Armageddon is too long, but there’s still time to get back to a normal allocation.

2013-08-08 Bond Wars by William Gross of PIMCO

Adaptation is tantamount to survival in the physical world. So argued Darwin, at least, and I am not one to argue with most science and its interpretation of natural laws. Adaptation has been critical as well for the survival of countries during wartime, incidents of which I am drawn to like a bear to honey, especially when they concern WWI. Stick with me for a few paragraphs on this the following is not likely to be boring and almost certainly should be instructive.

2013-08-08 What is Risk? by Chris Engelman of Cedar Hill Associates

There are no rewards from investing without some measure of risk. Risk management, a process for recognizing, assessing and prioritizing a variety of risks, is an essential part of managing a portfolio successfully. Cedar Hill takes a holistic approach to risk management by identifying each client’s objectives, preferences and constraints, then creating specific asset allocation and implementation strategies to minimize the effects of negative events.

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 Investment Advice Technology and How to Lose Money in the Coming Years by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Adventures are good for my soul. They create wonderful memories, both of where I have been and all the effort it took to get there. All of us have memories, both good and not so good. I am a bit worried about the near term future.

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

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

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

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

2013-08-06 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 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A number of readers responded to Dan Richards’ article, Getting Past “Blah, Blah, Blah” When Talking to Prospects, which appeared on July 23. A reader responded to Michael Edesess’ article, The Great Debate on Inequality: Stiglitz versus Krugman, which appeared on June 25.

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 We Shale Rise by Janus Equity Investment team of Janus Capital Group

The U.S. oil and gas boom largely underpinned the country’s economic recovery, but this is only the beginning. Don’t underestimate what cheap oil and natural gas means for the U.S. economy, or how long this advantage could last.

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 China's Slowdown by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Over the past three decades, China has seen its economy grow significantly.

2013-08-06 The ABCs of ABS: Identifying Opportunities in Asset-Backed Securities by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

In the search for yield, ABS offers an opportunity to generate higher returns through rigorous analysis, unaccompanied by additional credit or interest-rate risk.

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

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

2013-08-05 Far More Money Pulled out of Bonds Flows into Cash Than into Equities by Minyi Chen, TrimTabs of AdvisorShares

Investors Pull Record $87.8 Billion out of Bond Funds in June and July, Breaking String of 21 Consecutive Monthly Inflows. Far More Money Pulled out of Bonds Flows into Cash Than into Equities.

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 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 Building Market Intelligence by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting

The US housing market can no longer be painted with one brush, as the housing recovery is playing out very differently across the country. Here are some anecdotes gleaned from our consulting team.

2013-08-02 The Shariah Appeal by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

For some, the only guiding rule they have for investing is to grow their assets. For others, the rules are more complicated. Specifically in the Muslim world, demand has been growing for investments compliant with Islamic law (Sharia or Shariah) which adhere to a set of religious beliefs and principles. Considering the global Muslim population is expected to grow to 2.2 billion by 2030, representing more than a third of the world’s total population1, I expect rising demand for Shariah-compliant investment vehicles to continue.

2013-08-02 Rising Rates? Keep the TIPS, Leave the Duration by Greg Wilensky of AllianceBernstein

Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) have been popular in recent years with investors worried about inflation, and returns have been strong. But TIPS have benefited from a long bull market for bonds and high interest-rate sensitivity. This could be a problem aheadunless investors do something about it.

2013-08-02 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.

2013-08-02 Three Reasons Why Money Market Yields Are So Low by Craig Bloodworth of Invesco Blog

I’m often asked why money market yields are so low today - even lower than they were a few months ago. My response generally begins with overnight repurchase agreements, or repo, which impact the price of term securities in the money market space.

2013-08-01 Alternatives for Today's and Tomorrow's Market Challenges by Jennifer Bridwell, Sabrina Callin of PIMCO

Investors should consider alternative investment strategies, which could enhance diversification and the potential for alpha, or risk-adjusted returns, because returns from traditional asset classes in coming years may be lower and more volatile than those realized historically.

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.

2013-07-31 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 New GDP Revisions to Boost US Economy by 3% by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

At the end of April, I pointed out that the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced it would be making some significant revisions to the way it calculates Gross Domestic Product on July 31. It will revise economic growth for all years going back to 1929. This change is somewhat controversial in that it is expected to add up to 3% to total GDP in one fell swoop tomorrow morning. That’s about $1,500 worth of extra goods and services for every person in the US!

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.

2013-07-31 Investors Pull $17.5 Billion from Bond Mutual Funds in July by Minyi Chen, TrimTabs of AdvisorShares

Investors keeping socking money into U.S. Equities while outflows from bond mutual funds continue. Read this investor insight by TrimTabs Asset Management to learn more about the recent fund flows and what other activity may be foretelling.

2013-07-30 Revisiting “The Cost of Socially Responsible Investing” by Paul A. Ruud (Article)

Endowments have been warned that socially responsible investing incurs a financial cost, based on research by two prominent academicians. But that research which has been presented and debated in this publication is based on a tenuous model that is highly sensitive to its assumptions. Change those assumptions reasonably, as I did in my research, and the cost of SRI becomes trivial.

2013-07-30 A Strategy for Reducing Volatility While Increasing Returns by Steven Farber (Article)

The product on every advisor’s wish list would have the low volatility of fixed income while providing equity-like returns. Although such a product does not exist, equity options, when used properly, will give you the ability to achieve pre-defined goals and objectives.

2013-07-30 Get Ready for a Wild Week by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Weeks with lots of data are always interesting; but this one will be more wild than most.

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 As Finances Mend, Will Consumers Spend? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The Federal Reserve recently released first quarter data on household finances. These show continued and welcome improvement. Stronger balance sheets reflect improved real estate prices, rising stock prices, and continued higher rates of household saving.

2013-07-30 The U.S. Energy Revolution by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In March 1971, the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC), which allocated oil production for the state of Texas, announced that producers in the state would be allowed a “full allocation.” This was the first time the TRC had allowed Texas producers to supply an unlimited amount of crude oil since WWII.

2013-07-30 Who Let the Ferrari Out of the Garage? by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

With just three trading days left in the month, July is in the running for the title of least volatile month of the year, with the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index averaging moves of just 0.39% this month through Thursday’s close. That is lower than the 0.41% and 0.42% averages of January and March, respectively, when stocks were grinding slowly, but steadily higher.

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 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 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 Baked in the Cake by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Once the risk premium is beaten out of stocks, there is no way out, and nothing that can be done about it. Poor subsequent returns, market losses, and the associated destruction of financial security (at least for the bag-holders) are already baked in the cake. This should have been the lesson gleaned from the period since 2000, but because it remains unlearned, it will also become the lesson of the coming decade.

2013-07-29 Why China Has Become a Value Play by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains why it’s time for investors to change how they think about China, and he explains why there’s a strong case for viewing the Chinese market as a value -- rather than a growth -- play.

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.

2013-07-29 Lessons from Detroit by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Detroit’s bankruptcy is a stark reminder that full faith and credit bonds of municipal jurisdictions can fail, despite their theoretically unlimited taxing authority. Full faith and credit bonds backed by taxing authority were always considered safer than special purposes bonds, with a specific, but limited source of funding. But full faith bonds also depend on willingness to pay, which sometimes runs short before the taxing ability.

2013-07-29 Detroit Bankruptcy Not Indicative of Credit Trends by Mary Jane Minier and Matt Nichols of Invesco Blog

Detroit filed for bankruptcy on July 18, making it the largest municipality to file for bankruptcy, as well as the first time a state’s largest city has filed. While this is a historic event, it’s definitely not unexpected - Detroit’s declining finances date back to the 1960s. A 50-year trend is a pretty telling metric.

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 Economic Value Approach to ROIC May Unearth Hidden Value by Team of Jacob Funds

Equity mutual fund managers employ a wide variety of investing approaches in an attempt to outperform the market, but very few stand out from the crowd. The approaches that do work over the long term tend to be very distinctive, focusing consistently on a specific methodology that is executed regardless of the market environment.

2013-07-26 Funds Get All-Time Record $36.8 Billion in July by Minyi Chen, TrimTabs of AdvisorShares

As Wall Street rejoiced at the succession of record highs with the S&P 500 on Monday, our demand indicators continue to turn less favorable. Traders who are still aggressively long should definitely consider paring their long positions.

2013-07-26 For A Healthier Portfolio - Look Here by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

The Health Care sector is comprised of many diverse companies, as can be seen from the list of subsectors provided below. Historically the Health Care sector has been comprised of a significant number of companies with above-average growth rates of earnings. Consequently, a majority of the companies comprising the Health Care sector could be thought of as growth stocks over dividend growth stocks.

2013-07-26 Municipal Bonds: Equipped to Weather Rising Rates by Guy Davidson of AllianceBernstein

Muni bonds suffered a rout recently when anxiety over the Fed’s taper of bond buying roiled fixed-income markets, leaving many investors wondering where to turn. As it turns out, munis have historically been effective shock absorbers. We believe that, given the right positioning, munis can help weather rising rates.

2013-07-26 Wedding Bells in Romania by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

I was invited to attend the wedding of one of our Romanian staff in June, and I jumped at the opportunity to celebrate with the happy couple, visit a different part of Romania, and talk to locals about life there. The celebration represented a microcosm of the juxtaposition of old and new in Romania, and this is similar for investors there as progress continues toward market reform.

2013-07-26 China Property: A Tough \"Bubble\" to Pop by Henry Zhang of Matthews Asia

Irecently came across an old newspaper article from February 1989 that described Beijing’s residential property "bubble," with average selling prices then of about US$430 to US$510 per square meter. The article went on to say that, given that the average college-educated worker typically saved less than approximately US$13 per month, at those prices, it would take a century or so to be able to buy a two-bedroom apartment. The writer concluded that a housing bubble was underway.

2013-07-26 Is Europe Ready to Take Off? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

After the U.S.’s huge run, is it possible the country will be handing off the baton across the Atlantic for the next leg of the relay race? Here are a few areas of strength that could send European stocks higher.

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%.

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

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

2013-07-25 A Midyear Update: 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. Today, the primary risk for investors to hedge is 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. Two consecutive quarters of S&P 500 earnings growth prompts a forecast update.

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?

2013-07-25 Retirement: The Vacation of a Lifetime by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

Most of us plan for our vacations with giddy anticipation. We pore over glossy travel magazines and surf web sites for the perfect place to pursue our passions, or to just put our feet up and relax. And, if we’re responsible, we save our pennies, sometimes years in advance, to make our dream a reality. But when it comes to the ultimate “vacation” retirement many people are far less prepared. You probably have a good idea of how to finance a week’s vacation, but do you have a viable plan for a vacation that can last decades?

2013-07-24 Average Gas Price Could Hit $4 by Labor Day... Or Not by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

With the recent jump in gasoline prices, several energy analysts are forecasting that prices at the pump will top $4 a gallon (national average) later this summer. On the other hand, some analysts feel that gas prices will only go up another 5-10 cents a gallon just ahead, and then move lower in the fall. Of course, no one knows for sure. Today, we’ll take a look at what’s driving gas prices higher.

2013-07-24 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 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 Earnings Acceleration Likely Needed for Next Upturn in Stocks by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished mostly higher last week. For a fourth straight week, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrials were up (returning 0.73% and 0.57% respectively for the week), while the NASDAQ underperformed at -0.34%. It was a busy start for second quarter earnings. More than 70% of the 100 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings have beaten consensus earnings per share expectations by approximately 3% in aggregate.

2013-07-23 Getting Past “Blah, Blah, Blah” When Talking to Prospects by Dan Richards (Article)

We’ve all had our eyes glaze over listening to someone who knows their topic well but goes on too long and gets into too much detail. A recent conversation at a backyard barbeque outlined how two successful advisors fell victim to the “blah, blah, blah” effect, but a third was able to clearly articulate her value and differentiate herself.

2013-07-23 The Price You Pay for Poor Management by Bob Veres (Article)

If you have 100 client meetings a year and could net an additional $65,000 to $70,000 out of them, how much effort would you be willing to put into achieving that?

2013-07-23 Taper Protection: Where to Go when Rates Rise by Casey Frazier, CFA (Article)

I have fielded a number of questions from advisors about the effects of rising interest rates on real estate values. The negative effect of rising rates is predictable for fixed incomes, but real estate returns vary and are dependent on a number of factors. I will start with a historical analysis that demonstrates the strength of real estate returns during periods of rising rates. Then I’ll outline the factors that drive changes in real estate values in a rising-interest-rate environment.

2013-07-23 The Limits of Flower Power by Amy Florian (Article)

It’s automatic: There’s a death in a client’s family, so you send flowers to the funeral home. Did you ever wonder whether that’s a good idea? Given that your aim is to be supportive and comforting to the grieving family, a lovely floral arrangement does not necessarily accomplish that goal.

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 U.S. Equity Fund Inflow in July Seventh-Highest Monthly Inflow by Minyi Chen, TrimTabs of AdvisorShares

Investors are piling into U.S. Stocks with July only a little half over. Read this investor insight by TrimTabs Asset Management to learn more about the recent uptick in U.S. Equities and other detailed supply and demand activity with the stock market at the start of Q3.

2013-07-22 More Plow Horse in Q2 by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Forecasting economic growth for the second quarter of the year is always precarious. The reason is that the initial report on the second quarter is when the government goes back and makes revisions to GDP for the past several years. This time around, it’s particularly iffy because the government for the very first time is going to start accounting in GDP for the value of R&D spending by companies.

2013-07-22 Can China Give Credit Where It's Due? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

June was a rough month for China’s economy and its financial markets. Old concerns about sustainable growth came to the fore, as reports surfaced and resurfaced, recounting liquidity shortages, misdirected and excessive credit growth, gyrating interest rates, and signs of weakness in manufacturing. Commentators and analysts alike voiced fears of a Chinese collapse on a par with America’s subprime crisis. For the second time in as many years, several in the global financial community have prophesized a “hard” landing for China’s economy.

2013-07-22 The Road to Easy Street by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The most important part of every studied investment discipline is the diligence to follow it even at points where it is frustrating to do so.

2013-07-22 What the *&%! Just Happened? by Ben Inker of GMO

In a new quarterly letter to GMO’s institutional clients, head of asset allocation Ben Inker highlights the period from May 22 to June 24 characterized by "the universality of the declines" across asset classes.

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 4 Reasons to Consider Investing in Frontier Markets by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

At a time when investors are worried about Chinese banks and Brazilian riots, investing in the riskiest areas of the emerging world seems counterintuitive. But according to Russ, there are four reasons why many investors should consider having a small allocation to frontier markets.

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

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

2013-07-19 Brazilians Demonstrate Their Right to be Heard by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Brazilians have demonstrated their right to be heard. The unprecedented chain of events that started with complaints about inflation (bus and subway tariffs) has led to mass protests over corruption, lack of public services, and taxes. As a result of the tension and uncertainty in the past few weeks, some investors have lost confidence in Brazil’s market. After talking with our analysts on the ground there I wanted to share some perspective on the situation.

2013-07-19 7 Things Investors Should Know Now by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Can stocks move higher? What are the best opportunities now in stocks and fixed income? Russ answers these questions and others in an update to his mid-year outlook.

2013-07-19 Are Blue-Chip Consumer Staples Worth Today's Premium Valuations? by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

The Consumer Staples sector consists of companies that provide essential products. In other words, Consumer Staples are products that people cannot or are unwilling to do without. As a result of the essential nature of Consumer Staples, there are several attributes that distinguish this sector from most others. First of all, the essential nature of the products that Consumer Staples’ companies produce, are for the most part, non-cyclical. Second, Consumer Staples tend to be very insensitive to economic cycles.

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 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 Opportunity in Europe by Team of Neuberger Berman

A striking feature of this year’s global stock market rally is that international markets have significantly trailed U.S. stocks. Nevertheless, Neuberger Berman’s Asset Allocation Committee (AAC) recently made the contrarian call of upgrading its view for international developed markets, particularly Europe. In this Strategic Spotlight, we provide an update on the European economy and lay out some reasons for optimism despite the dour growth outlook.

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 ASEANSeeking Further Integration by In-Bok Song of Matthews Asia

Southeast Asia is pushing ahead with an economic initiative analogous to the E.U. called the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). The 10-member bloc is striving to make this partnershipwhich envisions creating a single market and production base and developing closer economic ties both within the region and the broader global economya reality by 2015. In-Bok Song, takes a look at the benefits and hurdles that may be expected in this lengthy process for further integration of such aspects as liberalized trade, investment, skilled labor and free flow of capital.

2013-07-18 Submissions from Advisor Shares by AdvisorShares Team of AdvisorShares

Two submissions from the AdvisorShares team this week: Money Flowing into Savings Deposits and Money Market Funds by TrimTabs Asset Management and AdvisorShares Active ETF Market Share Update.

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 The Death of Disasterism by Steven Vincent of BullBear Trading

From late 2012 I have been gradually layering and developing the thesis that a secular bull market started in November of 2012 (with a possible revised start date of June 2012), ending the sideways secular bear market that started in 2000. Here are the basic components of that thesis through the last report.

2013-07-18 Powerful Case for Silver by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

I am a well-known "gold bug" because of my strongly voiced opinion that gold has been one of the best assets for protecting yourself from the US dollar’s prolonged decline.

2013-07-17 Men of Steel: How Retail Investors Saved the Muni Market by John Bagley of BondDesk Trading

It looked and felt to screen watchers late last month like the sequel to Man of Steel had arrived prematurely. This time, though, General Zod seemed to set his sights on the bond market, recruiting an army of bond fund managers to annihilate everything from 1-year Treasuries to 30-year corporate and municipal bonds. Over the three trading days following the June Fed meeting, yields on benchmark municipal bonds increased by 60 basis points, the largest move over a 3-day period in more than 25 years.

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 Is Your Firm Name Having an Identity Crisis? by Wendy Cook (Article)

How do you state your unique firm name in initial and subsequent references? Do you have guidelines that you’ve shared among your team? If not, establish and implement some today. Having firm-wide consistency on how you refer to your company is a small but potent way to add punch to your most memorable communications.

2013-07-16 Letters to the Editor by Advisor Perspectives (Article)

A reader responds to the ongoing exchange of letters regarding socially responsible investing, and a reader responds to Joe Tomlinson’s article, Retirement Portfolios: Fears over Rising Rates are Overblown, which appeared last week.

2013-07-16 Dealing with Over-needy Clients by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We have too many clients who are needy and require a lot of personalized service. I know we can expect to spend 80% of our time servicing 20% of our clients, but the 80% seem to demand more and more and more from us.

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 Don\'t Be Deceived by the Deficit Dip by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Recent budget reports have been encouraging. Revenues are rising faster than originally expected, and deficits are running lower. Some of this improvement is real, but, sadly, not all of it.

2013-07-16 Deficit? What Deficit? by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Hope that title caught your attention, but, you should know, we are only half joking. In June, the federal government recorded a $116.5 billion surplus! Yep, you read that right surplus! the largest surplus for any June ever. Government spending fell to $170 billion for June, 47% below last year.

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 The Philosophy of Tops by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

“Everyone kept saying a top is not in place yet.’ They persistently pointed to the normally reached’ levels of this or that statistic that were not yet there to reinforce their desire to remain bullish...I have used this quote from Justin Mamis (historian, author, and stock market guru), many times during the years. I use it again this week since we have arrived at my major timing point of July 19th, which for months I have suggested represents the best potential for the first meaningful decline of the year.

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 Investment Bulletin: Emerging Markets Equity by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

For the half year to end June the index was buffeted, falling 3.1%. In contrast, the portfolio managed a gain of 8.3%, more than 1,000 basis points better. During the month of June, the Emerging Market index was whacked by 6.4%; the portfolio’s value also fell, but by a lesser 6.2%. The relative year-to-date and longer term falls in some of the regional indices have been grim (Chart 1, p.4): for example, in the first six months of 2013, EM equities underperformed those in developed markets on a total return basis by 16%, and by 14% over the last 12 months.

2013-07-15 A Pivotal Point in the Markets by Meggan Walsh of Invesco Blog

Because the market is a forward-discounting mechanism, it’s not unusual for it to have led the economic recovery over the last four years. Today, I believe the market has already discounted a decent economy over the intermediate term and is approximately fairly valued. But that’s not the whole story.

2013-07-15 Mid-Year Outlook: Waiting to Move Beyond a Muddle-Through Economy by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

By focusing on current economic conditions while giving due importance to the uncertainty created by Fed actions we offer thoughts for consideration in evaluating “risk-on” investments.

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 China\'s Very Relative Malaise by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks at “China’s Very Relative Malaise”, an observation which he describes as “a vaguely uneasy feeling that seemed to be shared by most (Chinese) but not always for the same reasons.”

2013-07-12 Rising Rates: Time to Position, Not Panic by Douglas Peebles of AllianceBernstein

It finally happened. After endless discussion about the potential for rates to rise, they finally didin a big way. During May and June, the 10-year US Treasury yield soared by nearly one percent, and markets reeled. Instead of panicking, investors should make sure their portfolios are positioned effectively.

2013-07-12 Welcome Back Greece to the High-Potential World of Emerging Markets by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

In June, major international equity index provider MSCI confirmed Greece’s sojourn among the ranks of “developed markets” would end later this year as it will become the first-ever country to lose its “developed market” status in the MSCI universe. Interestingly, Greece was classified as emerging when I started with the Templeton Emerging Markets Group in 1987, and while the recent news might conjure up images of a significant turn for the worse for the country’s economic fortunes, MSCI’s explanation for Greece’s reclassification was actually mor

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 Even My 92- Year-Old Mom Questioned Me! by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

When I told Mom that I was buying gold bullion this week (7/8), she asked, “Are you sure you want to do that?”

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

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

2013-07-12 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 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 Global Markets at Mid-Year by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Most investors based in the U.S. are walking around thinking “the market has gone way up this year.” They are rightif they are talking about certain indexes within a big wide world of markets, including stocks, bonds, currencies and commodities. But the disparity (i.e. lack of correlation) among markets has been striking. I think that the best way to convey this to you is to simply show you how a small group of market indexes have done for the year-to-date yesterday along with brief commentary, in bullet point form.

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 TIPS Get Hammered in the 2013 Second Quarter by Stephen Percoco of Lark Research, Inc.

The beginning of the return to normalized interest rates took a big toll on straight Treasury securities in the 2013 second quarter, but TIPS got hit even harder. For the quarter, the average TIPS security lost 6.6%, worse than the average loss of 3.0% on comparable maturity Treasurys and by far the worst losses seen in the TIPS market since the 2008 financial crisis.

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 A Five Question Portfolio Check Up by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

If the stock or bond market has another panic attack and drops 25% to 50% in the next 1, 2 or 3 years, would this decline make you unable to pay off your mortgage, pay for college, or whatever else you planned on doing? If the stock or bond market has another panic attack and drops 25% to 50% in the next 1, 2 or 3 years, would this decline cause you to: panic, sell everything you own, or worse, jump off a bridge? Do you know what you own? How important is the result of your portfolio entrusted to us in light of your entire financial well being?

2013-07-10 Rising Rate: Challenge and Opportunity by Gibson Smith, Lindsay Bernum of Janus Capital Group

While the prospect of rising interest rates generally strikes fear into the hearts of fixed income investors, it’s important to remember that periods of rising rates are normal and can create opportunities for active bond managers. Since 1970 there have been 21 periods in which interest rates rose significantly. While each has had its own unique characteristics, over the past 20 years equities have rallied during these periods, which has tended to support corporate credit markets.

2013-07-10 What is Happening to Gold? by John Hathaway of Tocqueville Asset Management

John Hathaway, manager of the Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX), examines in his latest Tocqueville Gold Strategy Investor Letter the dramatic developments in the gold market over the last six months. The letter goes on to discuss the impact the Fed continues to have, and suggests that today’s valuations represent a “compelling entry point.”

2013-07-10 Remember Earnings? by Tom West of Columbia Management

With the ebbing of the quantitative easing taper debate, can we go back to our regularly scheduled programming of earnings driving the stocks? If so, where do we stand? There are certainly some areas where we think estimates are a little high and some where they are too low. But in order to get a better picture of earnings expectations and what is priced in, we need to look at both the earnings and the PE (price-to-earnings) ratio the market has placed on those earnings.

2013-07-10 Market Perspectives Q2 2013: Fed Fears by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

Investors have been hypersensitive to the inevitable reversal of the Federal Reserve’s bond purchasing economic stimulus program known as QE3. Signs of sustainable economic recovery have been closely monitored as a harbinger of a likely end of the program.

2013-07-10 Beware Of The Valuations On The Best Consumer Discretionary Dividend Growth Stocks by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

The Consumer Discretionary sector consists of businesses that sell nonessential, and therefore, discretionary goods and services. Companies in this sector include retailers, media companies, consumer services companies, consumer durables and apparel companies, automobiles and components companies. Since so much of what this sector offers is discretionary items, companies in the sector tend to do best when the economy is strongest. Unfortunately, as we will soon see, so do the prices of their stocks tend to perform best when the market is performing best.

2013-07-09 The Five Best New Investment Ideas: New Age Paradigms for the Post-MPT World by Bob Veres (Article)

Over the past four years, I’ve been collecting the most tangible, concrete post-Modern Portfolio Theory insights offered by professional investors.

2013-07-09 ENERGY MLPs: A Suitable and Sustainable Asset Class by Sponsored Content from ClearBridge Investments (Article)

Greater capitalization. More liquidity. The energy MLP market has grown steadily, with good reason: our constant demand for energy. While oil prices go up and down, volume has stayed consistent. Production is increasing. And the infrastructure is needed to support it. Add some risk, and you’ve got an investment which could fit in a diversified portfolio.

2013-07-09 High Yield Munis: Risky Business by Ryan Davis, Jingwei Lei of Fortigent

We shine a spotlight on the obscure market of high yield municipals this week. In the current fixed income selloff, the market has been among the worst performing with a drawdown of 6.1%. Investors could not get enough of the sector in 2012 as they chased yield; the Barclays high yield muni index returned over 18%. Investor sentiment has turned sharply, however, on this asset class. Funds experienced significant outflows over the last couple of months, which is especially troubling for a small and retail dominated market. Why did this onetime darling asset turn into a pariah so abruptly?

2013-07-09 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 Whitney George on 2Q13: Stocks Continue to Look More Appealing Than Fixed Income by Whitney George of The Royce Funds

In addition to detailing what sectors currently look attractive to him from a valuation standpoint, Co-CIO, Managing Director, and Portfolio Manager Whitney George discusses three stocks that exemplify his approach, the current case for active small-cap management, why stocks look more attractive than fixed income, and his opinions on the market’s decline in late June.

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.

2013-07-08 Widening the Search for Income: Beyond Traditional Bonds by Team of Forward Management

Multisector bond market strategies may provide an opportunity to capitalize on differences in relative value. A more refined and global approach may generate yield with dividend-paying stocks. Emerging market (EM) corporate bonds feature attractive fundamentals and have increased in popularity as an asset class.

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

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

2013-07-08 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.

2013-07-08 Emerging Markets Debt Remains Fundamentally Strong by Claudia Calich, Jack Deino of Invesco Blog

June’s massive bond sell-off, prompted by fears that the Federal Reserve would wind down its bond-buying program, has had a negative trickle-down effect on emerging market debt-dedicated assets, which were hit hard as part of the record $14.45 billion in outflows seen in the overall bond market for the week ending June 12.

2013-07-08 Obamacare and Stocks by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

For much of the past four years, we have felt like psychologists who constantly must help hypochondriacs over their fear of one thing after another. There is no reason to remind everyone of “the list” it’s been endless, but the stock market and the economy have moved consistently higher despite these fears.

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 Why Oil Has Proven Resilient by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Crude oil has proven more resilient and less volatile this year (depending on which benchmark you use, it is either up or down in the single digits) than most other commodities. There are three main factors behind this.

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 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 Long Train Running: Why Stocks Are Rebounding by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Why the June swoon occurred and why it might already be over. Fed’s move toward policy normalization may have a lot to do with pricking perceived asset bubbles; not a more hawkish economic stance. Sentiment has improved notably; but technical conditions may need a bit more repair.

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 “Taper Tantrum” Grips Muni Market by Rafael Costas of Franklin Templeton Investments

The markets have been in fits since mid-May, when Federal Ben Bernanke planted the seed that the central bank’s prolonged asset buying program would start winding down. Many investors were gripped with irrational panic, a so-called “taper tantrum” that roiled equity and fixed income markets. Rafael Costas, senior vice president and co-director of our municipal bond department, believes the early summer swoon sweeping the muni markets is unfounded and should be temporary, but the core reason for investing in the sector remains solid: long-term tax-free income potential.

2013-07-02 Becoming the Safe Choice for Your Target Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

When it comes to gaining clients, many advisors harbor this fantasy: Your phone rings and on the line is a qualified prospect with a million dollars, asking if you’re available to meet and talk about the possibility of working together. For most advisors, there’s only one way to make that happen, and that’s to become the recognized, go-to expert for people in a defined target community.

2013-07-02 The Practical Application of Behavioral Finance by Mitchell D. Eichen and John M. Longo (Article)

From the Dot-Com bubble onward, traditional investment models have repeatedly disappointed those who relied on them. When compared to mathematically based models, behavioral finance provides a superior foundation. Here is an alternative investment paradigm, grounded in behavioral finance, that is practical and effective over time periods that are relevant for a significant portion of investors.

2013-07-02 Bullish on Quality and Active Management Over the Long Term by Chuck Royce of The Royce Funds

While solid on an absolute basis, quality stocksas measured by returns on invested capitalhave lagged their lower-quality peers. Chuck Royce explains why shifts in Fed policy should help to complete a reversal that’s already begun.

2013-07-02 The 2013 Mid-Year Geopolitical Update by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

At mid-year, we customarily publish our geopolitical outlook for the second half of the 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 second half of the 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 upcoming weekly reports.

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

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

2013-07-02 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 Investors Dump Emerging Markets Stocks by TrimTabs Asset Management of AdvisorShares

Investors sold off bond mutual funds and ETFs at a record pace in June, while equity sell-offs were much more limited, with almost all of the selling occurring in the emerging market space. Surprisingly, despite a decline in price, US and developed equity ETFs had inflows in June. And investors in leveraged ETFs turned aggressively bullish last week, despite the recent sell-off. Read this investor insight by TrimTabs Asset Management to learn why these signs should be unsettling for contrarians.

2013-07-02 Preparing for the Second Half of 2013 by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

It’s halftime halfway through the year. That means Russ is looking back at what he got right and wrong in the first half of the year, and updating his expectations for the remainder of 2013.

2013-07-02 Finding Value In The Materials Sector Is A Material Thing by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

This is the third in a series of articles designed to find value in today’s stock market environment. However, it is the second of 10 articles covering the 10 major general sectors. In my first article, I laid the foundation that represents the two primary underlying ideas supporting the need to publish such a treatise. First and foremost, that it is not a stock market; rather it is a market of stocks. Second, that regardless of the level of the general market, there will always be overvalued, undervalued and fairly valued individual stocks to be found.

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 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.

2013-07-01 Watching Nominal GDP by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

One of the most important foundations of modern macroeconomics is something called the “equation of exchange.” It dates all the way back to John Stuart Mill but, in the past couple of generations, was popularized by free-market icon Milton Friedman.

2013-07-01 On the Radar: An Energy Boost for Stocks? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

This is the third in a series on longer-term market influences. Each has considered what developments could help or hurt the equity rally after some 1824 months, when, in all likelihood, stocks will fully realize their still attractive existing valuations and feel the last effects of the ongoing flood of liquidity provided by the Federal Reserve. The first number in this series took up monetary policy and the second fiscal reform. This last discussion looks at the prospect of energy abundance, due to fracking, among other sources.

2013-07-01 Consider Convertibles in a Rising Rate Environment by Walter Stabell III of Invesco Blog

The recent mass exodus out of bonds in which investors pulled more than $18 billion from funds that invest in bonds over a two-week period ending June 12 may have left you searching for the best opportunities in the bond market.

2013-06-28 All-Time Record Outflows from Bonds by TrimTabs Asset Management of AdvisorShares

Outflows of bonds aren’t just catching attention, they are setting new highs not seen since 2008. In contrast, stock buybacks are practically unchanged from the previous quarter. Read this investor insight by TrimTabs Asset Management to review timely fund flow activity that has taken place in the marketplace.

2013-06-28 Inflation Lags Monetary Expansion: Prepare to be Swindled by JJ Abodeely of Sitka Pacific Capital Management

In May 1977, the consumer price index (CPI), which measures a basket of consumer goods in the U.S. economy, had risen 6.7% from the year before. The indexes had doubled over the previous 15 years, and by 1977 investors were fully aware that the rate of change was increasingi.e. the inflation rate was spiraling higher. By then, this inflationary awareness had worked its way into every corner of the financial markets, as commodities, gold and interest rates rose, and the stock market remained in a deep funk.

2013-06-28 Does Fed “Tapering” Represent Fed Tightening? by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

It depends. On what? Whether a reduction in the amount by which Federal Reserve purchases of securities increases each month represents a tightening in monetary policy depends on how much loans and securities on the books of private depository institutions (i.e., commercial banks, S&Ls and credit unions) change each month. Whether Fed monetary policy gets more restrictive or more accommodative when Fed the Fed begins to taper the amount of securities its purchases per month depends on what happens to the growth in the SUM of Fed credit and depository institution credit.

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

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

2013-06-27 The Global Insider Country Focus: Turkey by Accuvest Global Advisors of AdvisorShares

As the antigovernment protests in Turkey continue, what’s next economically for a country that relies heavily on foreign investors and tourism, especially with summer approaching, the traditional tourist high season? Accuvest Global Advisors, a firm founded on the principle of thinking globally and investing globally, has prepared the following focused country review on Turkey, which analyzes current risks with Turkey and potential next steps in the crisis.

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 Mind the (Expectations) Gap: Demographic Trends and GDP by Rob Arnott, Denis Chaves of Research Affiliates

Demographics provided a tailwind to economic growth in the developed world during the past 60 years. Now, as a result of Boomers heading toward retirement and low birth rates of recent decades, demographics may present a headwind to future growth. This issue of Fundamentals, which is excerpted from a forthcoming article in The Journal of Indexes, explores the implications of such changes for economic growth around the world.

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 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.

2013-06-27 Turmoil Shouldn't Derail Turkey by Carlos von Hardenberg of Franklin Templeton Investments

In 2012, Turkey’s stock market rose more than 50%, posting one of the strongest performances of any global equity market last year. However, recent news of protests sweeping the nation has started scaring off some investors, at least in the short term. We consider turmoil to often be a natural part of change and development, and these short-term political disturbances likely won’t be the last. I’ve invited my colleague Carlos von Hardenberg, Managing Director, Turkey, based in Istanbul, to share some local insight.

2013-06-26 When I Suggested it May Be Time To Go Fishing... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

When I suggested that it may be time to go fishing, I didn’t think that everyone would sell their bonds, notes, and bills to buy a new boat...

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 June 2013 Float Shrink Review by TrimTabs Asset Management of AdvisorShares

Sharing some commentary from our friends at TrimTabs, which summarizes a few changes in the investment landscape that may give you an indication of what to expect following May’s “sell in May and go away” trading adage. TrimTabs research focuses on fund flows and float shrink. They believe the market is heavily influenced by what people and institutions are doing with their dollars. You can read more about the research behind float shrink at AdvisorShares.com.

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 Measuring the ROI of Advisor Marketing by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Our practice has grown by word-of-mouth. A couple of my advisors want me to advertise and spend on expensive marketing programs. No one can show me the ROI for this. Is aggressive marketing a predictable way for advisors to get new clients? I just don’t see someone answering an ad who has $2 million (our minimum) to invest.

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

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

2013-06-25 Back to Normal by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Market behavior especially since Fed Chair Ben Bernanke mentioned QE tapering has been relatively dramatic. Not unprecedented, but dramatic. By contrast, the reaction of the punditry has been way over the top.

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.

2013-06-25 Reframing Expectations by Aaron Reynolds of Baird Advisors

Even facing headwinds, bonds still serve important roles in a portfolio, including diversification and downside protection potential. As the heavy burden of total return falls on interest income, investors are being pulled toward higher-yield, higher-risk bond types. Investors can still benefit from the segmented bond market and the various strategies that are available. Expectations need to be reframed given the current environment of low yields and potential interest rate increases.

2013-06-25 Rates, Dividends and The Laws of Gravity by Don Taylor of Franklin Templeton Investments

The laws of gravity may dictate that what goes up must come down, but interest rates seem to have their own converse course of action what goes down eventually will go up. Although it seems like interest rates can stay stuck in low gear for years, (decades even, in the case of Japan) eventually they will creep higher, and talk is heating up about the timing and magnitude of such creep in the US. As the portfolio manager of Franklin Rising Dividends Fund, Don Taylor was quick to comment that higher interest rates don’t mean all dividend-paying stocks are doomed.

2013-06-25 Quality Can Deliver in Times of Rising Rates by Chris Marx, Kent Hargis of AllianceBernstein

As talk of an early Fed “tapering” triggered a sell-off in bonds, safe-haven equities have also suffered. Can low-volatility strategies survive rising rates and an unraveling of the safety trade, in which investors rushed headlong into safe assets no matter the cost? We say, yesbut you’ll need an active approach to navigate the near-term pitfalls.

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 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 The Case for Rotating into (Select) Cyclical Sectors by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Although defensive sectors are back to outperforming cyclical sectors amid June’s market volatility, Russ still believes there’s a strong case for preferring cyclicals or at least select cyclicals

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 On the Radar: Let\'s Get Fiscal by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

This is the second in a three-part series on longer-term issues that could either sustain or stall the current equity rally once stock prices fully capture their current, still-attractive values. The first in this series took up the prospective policy change by the Federal Reserve. This discussion considers future fiscal developments.

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

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

2013-06-21 Fed Tapering Won't Cause a Bond Market Armageddon by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Even if the Fed scales back its pace of bond purchases later this year, Russ explains why investors shouldn’t expect rates to finish the year much higher than where they are today.

2013-06-21 The Fear Factor in US Equities by Grant Bowers of Franklin Templeton Investments

Fear is a powerful motivator. Whether it’s a saber-toothed tiger or investment risks, it’s hard to stay calm when confronted with a perceived threat. Fear of a 2008 2009 downturn repeat, even in spite of strong performance in the US equity market in the first half of the year, has kept many investors sidelined. Grant Bowers believes fear itself could be the biggest issue holding back many investors right now, noting that in his view, short-term volatility aside, the recent US market rally is based on supportive fundamentals which he thinks should have staying power.

2013-06-21 Finding Great Value In The Energy Sector by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

This will be the second in a series of articles designed to find value in today’s stock market environment. However, it will be the first of 10 articles covering the 10 major general sectors. In my first article, I laid the foundation that represents the two primary underlying ideas supporting the need to publish such a treatise. First and foremost, that it is not a stock market; rather it is a market of stocks. Second, that regardless of the level of the general market, there will always be overvalued, undervalued and fairly valued individual stocks to be found.

2013-06-21 A Toast to Change by Hardy Zhu of Matthews Asia

In China, there is a distilled white liquor that is as revered as wine is in France. Known as China’s “national wine,” maotai, or "baijiu" in Chinese, has been celebrated for thousands of years. Having such a high-end branded white spirit on your banquet table is seen as a sort of status symbol or the hallmark of an auspicious occasion, such as a wedding or formal dinner. As recently as last year, some bottles were commanding more than US$300 each, with prices rising partly from the strong demand related to government and business sector events.

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 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 What\'s an Investor to do in Markets like These? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

What should an investor do after a day like yesterday? Stay calm and invest on, as I believe there is opportunity in picking up what the bears left behind. Here are a few ideas to ponder.

2013-06-20 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 The Best Time to Invest by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

I frequently speak at investment conferences around the world, and get questions ranging from my outlook for a particular market to highly sophisticated investment concepts. One seemingly simple question asked by a young lady years ago at a conference in Canada which I attended with the founder of Templeton Investments, the late Sir John Templeton, was particularly timeless. She asked: “I’ve just inherited some money from my grandfather. When is the best time for me to invest it?”

2013-06-20 Why Wellness Matters: The Real Cost to Employers of Unhealthy Employee Behaviors by Team of Manning & Napier

It is no secret that health care costs have ranked among the top concerns of employers for much of the last decade. There is good reason for this concern, as health care costs have outpaced inflation for years, and employers often bear the brunt of these costs for their employees and dependents. Employers looking for ways to stem the tide of runaway health plan expenses should investigate wellness programs designed to impact the source of the costs unhealthy behaviors.

2013-06-20 Searching for Super Small-Cap Companies Through the Macro Noise by Chris Clark of The Royce Funds

While market pundits tell us to worry about everything from currency concerns and environmental challenges to the ongoing threat of nuclear assault and resource depletion, these ominous obstacles and the endless possibilities of their potential fallout have a tendency to draw attention away from what we believe really matters: the companies that have the ability to survive, adapt, and grow stronger in the wake of uncertainty.

2013-06-19 Floating-Rate Notes: A New Frontier in Treasury Investing by Paul Reisz, David Linton, Mark Romano of PIMCO

For investors, Treasury floating-rate notes (FRNs) will likely offer a hedge against rising rates and a yield pickup over a T-bill. For the Treasury, FRNs could help reduce the risk that an auction could fail to attract customer interest, and also help diversify its investor base. PIMCO will evaluate the merits of these securities based on our macroeconomic top-down view and valuation-focused bottom-up analysis.

2013-06-19 Every Major Asset Class In The World Is Overpriced by TrimTabs Asset Management of AdvisorShares

We wanted to share a part of a report that TrimTabs sent out over last weekend that received some attention on CNBC on June 10, 2013. Please let us know if you would like to receive a full copy of the report. TrimTabs research focuses on fund flows and float shrink. As you know, they believe the market is heavily influenced by what people and institutions are doing with their dollars. You can read more about the research behind float shrink at AdvisorShares.com.

2013-06-19 The Art of Low Turnover by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

We have argued vociferously that active managers have given up their preferred position in the investing marketplace to passive indexes because of high turnover. A recent Wall Street Journal article referenced 78% turnover as being the average among large-cap US equity funds. Studies have shown that as much as 144 basis points each year in return is chewed up by trading costs. Explaining turnover and its impact is one thing, but it is more important to ask a question. How do you practice low turnover while seeking maximal long-term performance?

2013-06-19 Emerging Markets: Reasons for Optimism by Team of Janus Capital Group

Emerging market equities are lagging developed markets this year. However, the underperformance creates an opportunity in our view, and does little to change our long-term outlook for emerging markets, where we believe some of the strongest growth opportunities lie.

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 Efficient Pension Investing by Jared Gross of PIMCO

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

2013-06-19 Changes in our Asset Allocation by Gregory Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management

We believe that valuations in publicly traded securities are stretched, and, although we have seen a move higher in interest rates and stocks have sold off from their high levels, investors are faced with choices that offer generally lower expected returns based on historic measures of return. Today, with the S&P 500 hitting 1650 and the yield on the 10 year US Treasury Note moving abruptly from 1.70% to 2.15%, there are generally two schools of thought on the minds of investors.

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 Managing Equity Risk: Some Rules for the Road by Kurt Feuerman of AllianceBernstein

Under the surface of May’s strong equity returns were major shifts in sector leadership, notably a rotation from defensive to traditional cyclical sectors. Given the market’s tendency to change gears, it helps to be flexible in managing portfolio risk. In fact, it should be a daily exercise.

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.

2013-06-18 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 Retirement Income Designations Which Should You Choose? by Wade Pfau (Article)

With more than 50 certification programs based on the withdrawal phase of the planning lifecycle, advisors are faced with a paralyzing choice about which designation provides the most valuable curriculum. Here’s some guidance on choosing the right program for advisors.

2013-06-18 What Advisors Need to Know about Health-Care Planning by Dinesh Sharma (Article)

Guiding clients through the maze of the health-care choices retirees face is a way advisors can provide meaningful value. Here’s an overview of the Medicare and Medicaid programs to help advisors understand the key economic considerations that will impact their clients.

2013-06-18 Newsletter June 2013 by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

Do you remember hiding under the sheets listening to radio when your parents thought you were asleep? If so, I have an unbelievable collection of all the old-time radio shows we listened to when we were kids, if you have about six months’ spare time. Find your favorite, click on it, and it lists literally hundreds of episodes you can re-live.

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

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

2013-06-18 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 Taking Seniority: Looking to Bank Loans in Uncertain Markets by Elizabeth (Beth) MacLean of PIMCO

Bank loans are senior secured loans to non-investment-grade corporations. They are floating rate instruments, secured by the collateral of that company and senior in the capital structure. Bank loans can be a more defensive way for investors to move into the high yield space, due to the collateral and their senior position. While we have seen yield spreads tightening among loans, on a relative basis we do think loan valuations still look attractive. PIMCO’s investment process helps us seek these attractive opportunities while managing risk.

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 The Price of Distortion by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

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

2013-06-17 Submerging Markets: What the Emerging Market Selloff is Telling Us by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Investing at its most basic level is about one thing: the return you seek on your investment and the risk you take to get that return. I often emphasize that the biggest “risk” to investors is volatility, because it’s the occasional shakiness of markets or market segments that causes investors (whether they manage their money or have someone else do it for them) to react emotionally instead of logically. That plays out every day in markets around the world.

2013-06-17 2013 Midyear Economic Update -- Another False Dawn? by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

We’ve seen this movie before since midyear 2009, haven’t we? The pace of economic activity begins to quicken and it looks as though a full-throated cyclical expansion might finally be at hand, only to have the economy slip back into the doldrums. Nominal private domestic spending on currently-produced goods and services grew in the first quarter at an annualized rate of 5.5% compared to 3.4% in the previous quarter. Consumer spending accelerated, housing sales picked up and business spending on equipment and software continued to grow at a healthy pace.

2013-06-17 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.

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

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

2013-06-15 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 A Move Away from Defense by Ted Baszler of Heartland Advisors

It may seem a little counterintuitive, but as stocks have rallied to new highs since 2009, defensive sectors have led the way. This outperformance has been reflected in the relatively high forward price/earnings multiples among staid sectors like Utilities, Health Care, Telecom, and Consumer Staples.

2013-06-14 The Evolution of Emerging Market Corporate Bonds for U.S. High-Grade Fixed-Income Investors by Todd Kurisu, Thomas Brennan of William Blair

Emerging market (EM) investment-grade corporate bonds are an important and growing segment of the core fixed-income universe. These bonds have evolved to be more like U.S. investment-grade corporate bonds than high-yield or traditional emerging market debt (EMD) securities. This sector has demonstrated favorable risk, return, and diversification benefits in the context of a broad market fixed-income portfolio. Today’s fixed-income investors must have a framework for evaluating new opportunities subject to prudent risk management

2013-06-14 Searching For Value And Finding It In Today's Market - Sector By Sector by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

“I think the market is overvalued now,” is a common refrain that I’m hearing from most of the individual investors I have recently been coming in contact with. Consequently, many of these same investors are also currently eschewing investing in common stocks because of that fear. Although I do not agree that the market is currently overvalued, I believe I understand why so many people think it is. Individual investors currently believe the market is overvalued because of two common fallacies that at first blush appear to be logical.

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 Japan\'s Crossroads by Jesper Madsen of Matthews Asia

The tone on investing in Japan has changed. In the six months leading up to May 22, the Tokyo Stock Price Index rose 66% in local currency terms, prompting investors to ask themselves the unthinkablewhy have I not allocated more to Japanese equities? During the same time the yen depreciated about 20%, giving Japan’s exporters some much-needed breathing room. However, while the financial markets have given the nod of approval to the economic policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, or “Abenomics,” Japan may possibly be missing a learning opportunity.

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

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

2013-06-14 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 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 Pacific Basin Market Overview May 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

After a positive start, many Pacific Basin Markets ended the month lower amid concerns that the Federal Reserve (Fed) will soon begin to gradually scale back its quantitative easing measures by reducing the pace of central bank asset purchases. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index including Japan decreased by 4.8% while the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Free Index closed 4.3% lower in May. (All performance figures are based on MSCI indices in U.S. dollar terms with dividends included unless otherwise stated.)

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.

2013-06-12 5 Reasons Not to Flee Non-US Dividend Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

“As bond yields rise, is it time to flee dividend stocks?” Russ explains why the answer is, no, at least when it comes to international dividend payers.

2013-06-11 How Specialist Advisors Earn Twice as Much by Dan Richards (Article)

In any profession medicine, dentistry, law, accounting the average income for specialists is more than double that of generalists with the same years of experience. My experience with successful financial advisors who’ve built a niche practice confirms this, but first they had to overcome three common myths about developing a niche positioning.

2013-06-11 Bursting the Bond Bubble Babble by Andy Martin (Article)

Interest rates will eventually go up. The 50-basis-point spike in May on the 10-year Treasury bond may have been the beginning. But despite industry and media assertions, history shows that there is nothing to fear from rising rates.

2013-06-11 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 Managing the Odds: Overcoming Exit Strategy Biases with Tail Risk Hedging by Vineer Bhansali of PIMCO

Rather than making an exclusive choice we believe that rebalancing, options purchase and diversification should all be considered on the same footing. Is it better to dynamically de-risk if markets begin to fall to lock in gains, or is it better to purchase explicit tail hedges? Our tendency, as humans, to be time-inconsistent, with behavior changing as the situation changes, makes dynamic rebalancing prone to behavioral biases. At pricing levels of low option premia the purchase of options to prevent time-inconsistent behavior seems like a judicious decision.

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...

2013-06-11 How Asia's Growth Transitions and Policy Experiments Are Shaping the Global Outlook by Ramin Toloui, Tomoya Masanao, Robert Mead of PIMCO

Our view is that Chinese GDP growth will downshift, averaging 6%-7.5% for the next five years as net exports and investment are reaching their limits. In Asia, Japan is perhaps the economy closest to the “T-junction” described in PIMCO’s global secular outlook: The destination of Japan’s journey looks increasingly uncertain, with multiple potential outcomes that could stabilize or destabilize the global economy and markets.

2013-06-11 I Spy by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

It’s hard to tell which to be most worried about the Chinese spying on us through their computer hacking or the government spying on us through all our data providers! To paraphrase Jay Leno’s remark the other night, “Voters said they wanted a government that listened to them now they’ve got one!”

2013-06-11 The Root System by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

Last week my beloved peach tree inexplicably toppled over, destroying what was certain to be a bountiful crop. It was a favorite hobby of mine, to spend hours pruning, thinning, fertilizing, and spraying the height-challenged tree in order to produce a couple bushels of scrumptious peaches in early July. Yet this year I goofed. My plan for growth was flawed in that I failed to diagnose an infestation of peach borer which was weakening the root system. Once the internal strength of the tree was compromised, the tree was doomed.

2013-06-11 Detroit Municipal Bonds: Who'll Share the Pain? by Joseph Rosenblum, Neene Jenkins of AllianceBernstein

It could be several weeks or a few months. But before long, the city of Detroit is likely to default on some of its outstanding bonds and possibly file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. It would be a historic bankruptcy and is sure to create uncertainty in the municipal bond market. Some types of debt will fare better than others in the final restructuring.

2013-06-10 Emerging Market Opportunities by Patrick OShaughnessy, Ashvin Viswanathan of OShaughnessy Asset Management

Emerging market equities present both unique opportunities and also unique risks. Unlike more mature economies, emerging markets’ economies have the potential for impressive growth rates. But emerging markets also have the potential for damaging socio-economic and political instability. Equity returns in these countries are often impressive, but to earn these returns investors must deal with considerably higher volatility than in the developed equity markets.

2013-06-10 2009 vs. 2013 by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

One of the most strongly held beliefs of investors here is the notion that it is inappropriate to “Fight the Fed” reflecting the view that Federal Reserve easing is sufficient to keep stocks not only elevated, but rising. What’s baffling about this is that the last two 50% market declines both the 2001-2002 plunge and the 2008-2009 plunge occurred in environments of aggressive, persistent Federal Reserve easing.

2013-06-10 Dad\'s Rules: Timeless Wisdom From a Fallen Investment Hero by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Once I publish a blog post, I immediately start thinking of a topic for the next one. At this time last week, I decided to focus today’s blog on the concept of “trading turnover” that is, how long you hold something you bought, until you sell it. It seems that with the stock market on a four-year tear and the bond market threatening to fall apart at any moment, it is a great time for investors to prioritize the most basic investment rule: buy low / sell high.

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

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

2013-06-10 What\'s Capping Capital Spending? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Now that housing has at last begun to make a contribution to the economic recovery, the pace of capital spending seems to have ebbed. To some extent, the slowed pace of such spending reasonably reflects the economy’s still-more-than-ample production capacity. Reasonable as this seems, the slowdown does come as a disappointing change from the unusually strong growth earlier in the recovery. Now, looking forward, the prospect is for this slowed growth to continue, for a while at least.

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 Liquidity Markets Likely to Evolve Under Proposed Money Market Reforms by Jerome Schneider of PIMCO

We view the SEC’s proposed regulations on money market funds as a pivot point for cash and liquidity management. If the first proposal is adopted, prime institutional money market funds would convert to a floating net asset value share price. That conversion would likely cause some volatility in pricing. As we do not expect yields to increase in the near-to-medium term, in our view the risk-reward tradeoff would not be as attractive for investors.

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 3 Reasons Not to Turn Away from Emerging Markets by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Is it time to abandon underperforming emerging markets in favor of bets closer to home? Clearly “no,” says Russ and he explains why.

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 The REAL Great Rotation by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

The phrase "Great Rotation" has come to mean a sizeable shift in asset allocation from bonds to stocks. We, too, believe that stocks are likely to secularly outperform bonds, but we don’t think that is the "great rotation" about which investors should be concerned.

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 A Longer Time Horizon Can Be an Advantage for Value Investors by Mark Cooper of PIMCO

We believe that given challenging prospects for attractive investment returns, the value premium could become even more important in the years ahead. Even in an uncertain environment like we are currently experiencing, we believe the merit in owning equities for the long term is unchanged: We want to participate as an owner in a growing, profitable business.

2013-06-06 The Wisdom of Crowds by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

Are markets efficient? This is a debate that has been on-going for decades. In one corner you have the proponents of the Efficient Markets Hypothesis. In their world alpha does not exist, or at the very least it is not sustainable. In the other corner you have the supporters of behavioural finance who see investors as being mostly irrational and suffering from all sorts of behavioural biases which create alpha opportunities galore. Out of this long lasting stand-off a new paradigm is emerging called the Adaptive Markets Hypothesis which aims to reconcile the two.

2013-06-06 Omissions of the Omen: \"Hindenburg Omen\" and the Selloff Last Week by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Rising US Treasury bond yields and Fed "taper talk" not to mention a "Hindenburg Omen" sighting hit stocks last week. A look inside the Omen should calm fears of impending doom. The market is likely not out of the woods, but we don’t expect an overly sinister correction.

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 Driving with the Doors Off, Part II by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover, Mike Czekaj of Broadleaf Partners

About ten months ago, I wrote about my new bulldozer-yellow Jeep Wrangler, comparing the sensation of Driving with the Doors Off to investing in the New Normal, or as I like to call it, a “slow growth for as far as the eyes can see” environment. While the pavement had always been a mere twelve inches beneath my feet, Driving with The Doors Off made the experience far more real, far more alive, and far more aware of the risks that had always been there. In the New Normal it feels like we are always and everywhere just one small pothole away from the next economic disaster.

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 Harleys and Leather Jackets by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital

We are just about done with Proxy Season and with summer in full swing, there is nothing more that we would like to do than kick back and indulge in the 75 pages of shame, greed, ignorance, and political correctness-with only the occasional bright light of shareholder friendly corporate governance-that make up SEC Form 14A, aka the Proxy Statement. I would postulate that this document remains an underrated and under-read part of the investment puzzle as it is the factual record of management’s incentives.

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 Exposing False Claims about Socially Responsible Investing A Response to Adler and Kritzman by Adam M. Kanzer (Article)

When the Domini 400 Social Index was launched in 1990, the common wisdom said that if you limited your investable universe by anything other than financial factors, you would limit your returns. The performance of the index has proven that assumption to be false. Nevertheless, the assumption lives on.

2013-06-04 Bob Pozen’s Secrets for Managing Clients, Time and Productivity by Jeff Briskin (Article)

Too many employees define their professional worth by the number of hours they work rather than by the impact of their efforts. In a culture where people believe they have to do everything perfectly to succeed, they often spend too much time on details, rather than focusing on broader issues, according to Bob Pozen.

2013-06-04 The Role of Cash in Multi-Asset Portfolios by Ashish Tiwari, Andrew Spottiswoode of PIMCO

Determining the optimal allocation to cash is as challenging as ever in today’s unusually uncertain markets. When allocating to cash, investors should consider a multi-dimensional framework to assess the liquidity of the underlying cash instruments. In our view, the most attractive risk-adjusted opportunities for cash investors lie just outside the traditional money market space.

2013-06-04 The Threat to the Central-Bank Brand by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

For the last 30 years, Western central banks have used their "brand" to help maintain low and stable inflation: by signaling their intention to contain price pressures, they would alter expectations and behavior. But, as corporate executives know, brand management is a tricky affair, particularly when popular sentiment overshoots.

2013-06-04 Stocks: How Long Will the Bull Run? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Conditions appear favorable for the next 12 to 24 months. What could change the market’s prospects in the longer term? Here’s a look.

2013-06-04 Equities Hit Pause by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Stocks and other risk assets struggled last week, with the S&P 500 declining 1.11%.1 Equities finished lower on Friday, the final trading session of May. The decline trimmed May’s gains and sealed the second consecutive weekly decline for U.S. equities. The S&P increased 2.34% for the month and has gained 4.31% this quarter and 15.37% for the year.1

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 US Balance Sheet Repair: More Difficult This Time by John Greenwood of Invesco

In most developed economies, the post-war years since 1945 saw sustained business cycle expansions alternating with shorter recessions. At the end of each expansion, authorities dealt with inflation by raising interest rates and slowing credit growth. When inflation subsided, interest rates were lowered again.

2013-06-03 Treasury Bonds Are No Longer the Conservative Investor's Friend by Jeff Middleswart of Ranger International

For more than three decades, conservative investors have been able to count on Treasury bonds to deliver a consistent income stream, while providing a safe repository for principal. Further, Treasuries have anchored portfolios over their long bull run by limiting the damage when stocks declined.

2013-06-03 Does Sector Shift Spell A Continued Rally? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Unlike most robust equity rallies, however, 2013 performance was initially led by traditionally defensive sectors, such as health care, utilities, and consumer staples. Through the first quarter, those three sectors posted an average return of 14.5%, while traditional cyclicals averaged just 9%. While some speculated this trend was due to investors’ reach for yield amid a frothy fixed income environment, the magnitude of this sector leadership (in an up move) was certainly unusual.

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.

2013-06-03 Getting Better Returns from Dividend Stocks - Look for Growth by Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup

While some investors have begun to return to US Equity (funds) there is still a large amount of money on the sidelines. End of year 2012 data shows investors have trillions in money markets and savings accounts. While there is no guarantee all that money will make its way back into the market the matriculation has begun.

2013-06-03 Is QE Really THAT Important? by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

The punditry has decided that anything good happening is actually bad. It is all just a sugar high based on Quantitative Easing and government stimulus and that talk of winding down or tapering QE is negative. So the latest fear is that any good data on growth is actually bad, because it means the Fed will wind down QE. They say “the economy can’t possibly grow on its own without support from the Fed and Ben Bernanke.”

2013-05-31 This Is What Real Bubbles Look Like by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

With the stock market currently doing so well, numerous articles are popping up playing the bubble card. Personally, I don’t believe we are anywhere near bubble levels for equities, at least in the general sense. I do think there are certain stocks that are currently overvalued, but very few that I would describe as dangerously so. To me, the true definition of a bubble is when prices have become so ludicrously high, that the dangers of a catastrophic loss large enough to be considered almost permanent become imminent or at least quite obvious.

2013-05-31 Into the Woods by Tony Crescenzi, Tadashi Kakuchi, Ben Emons of PIMCO

Excess liquidity, falling net issuance and higher correlations among assets complicate the eventual exit that the Federal Reserve and other central banks must make from their extraordinary policies. The Bank of Japan’s ideology has completely changed to “tackling deflation” from “tolerating deflation.” The key focus in the coming months will be how private sectors react. Investors who depend chiefly upon central bank activism may put themselves at risk. They may need to hedge volatility by ensuring their investments are built more on solid fundamentals and reasona

2013-05-31 In an Era of Uncertainty and Lower Returns, It\'s Time for Alternatives by Sabrina Callin, John Cavalieri of PIMCO

The initial economic and capital market conditions of the 1980s set the stage for a multi-decade bull market for stocks and bonds. Times have changed, however, and traditional investment portfolios are unlikely to deliver returns as healthy as those enjoyed for much of the last 30 years. It’s time to think alternatively about asset allocation and index construction, sources of alpha and beta, and risk and return objectives to increase the probability of success in what we believe is a new era for investors and financial markets.

2013-05-31 Japan and the Euphoric Volatility Trap by Ashwin Alankar, Michael DePalma, Arnab Nilim of AllianceBernstein

When equity markets are buoyant and optimism abounds, fears of volatility tend to subside. But recent events in Japan remind us that euphoria itself can generate turbulence.

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 Just One Day Out of Life by Michael Han of Matthews Asia

During my visit to Korea a few weeks ago, a hot debate over an “alternative holiday” system caught my attention. When a holiday falls on a weekend in Korea, it is not generally observed by businesses on the prior or subsequent weekday. However, the government has recently sought to change this despite strong opposition from interest groups and the business sector.

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 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.

2013-05-31 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

As we approach 2014 and ObamaCare starts to kick in, many people are thinking that the healthcare issues in our country will be solved in short order. Only time will tell what the impact of ObamaCare will be. In spite of the Republican Party’s continued talk about repealing the law, in the unlikely event repeal were to occur, the aspects of ObamaCare that have already been put in place would continue. In other words, it’s hard to go backwards.

2013-05-30 Are We There Yet? by Vitaliy Katsenelson of Investment Management Associates

I started writing my first book, Active Value Investing: Making Money in Range-Bound Markets, in 2005; finished it in 2007; and published the second, an abridged version of the first (The Little Book of Sideways Markets), in 2010. In both books I made the case that there is a very high probability that we are in the midst of a secular sideways market a market that goes up and down, with a lot of cyclical volatility, but ends up going nowhere for a long time.

2013-05-30 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.

2013-05-29 Investors Shun Stocks But Cling To Bonds - Why? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

he Halberts are out of town celebrating our son’s graduation from college on the sunny beaches of southern Florida. In place of my usual writing, I have chosen to reprint an excellent article from The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Zweig on investor behavior. The WSJ writer keys in on a new investor survey from Blackwater, Inc., one of the largest money management firms in the world (almost $4 trillion in customer assets). Blackwater surveyed investors that have at least $50,000 in investable assets. The findings are almost sure to surprise you.

2013-05-29 Is the Fed in the Home Stretch? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Global equity markets stammered through a choppy environment last week following increased fears that certain central banks were considering the possibility of pulling stimulus sooner than anticipated. Markets have long been dependent on central banks, but the notion that policymakers could head for the exits leaves investors unsure how to react.

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 Solving the Public Pension Plan Funding Crisis by John T. Hausladen (Article)

Current proposals to address public pension underfunding will not provide any significant relief because of the continued assumption of investment and longevity risk by plan sponsors. I propose a combination of liability-driven investing and a risk-transfer mechanism to gradually eliminate plan liabilities.

2013-05-28 When Your Coworkers Don’t Measure Up by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I work in a large financial organization. I’m frustrated that many of my coworkers don’t pull their weight. I work hard and am very committed, but those around me run out the door at 5 p.m. I want to talk to those in charge, but I am not sure how to go about doing it.

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.

2013-05-28 Declaration of Not-So-Much Dependence by Brad Evans of Heartland Advisors

There’s been much discussion lately of how alternative energy sources like wind and solar power could lower the U.S.’s dependence on foreign oil. What’s often overlooked, though, is just how much this country is already meeting its energy needs with domestically produced oil and natural gas.

2013-05-24 Focus on What You Know and Can Control: Be Aware of Unexpected Risks in Bonds by Warren Pierson of Baird Advisors

While corporate bonds have seen improvement in credit fundamentals, similar improvement has not taken place for municipal bonds. Ongoing challenges in municipal credit could have a meaningful negative effect on municipal bonds. Many callable bonds with longer maturities face significant extension risk with an upward movement in interest rates. Durations currently pegged to shorter call dates could extend as issuers are less likely to call in bonds prior to maturity as interest rates rise. As callable bonds get re-priced to longer maturity dates, the resulting price declines could be profound.

2013-05-24 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 Ten High Yield Market Takeaways by Mark Hudoff of Hotchkis & WIley

Mark Hudoff, portfolio manager of the Hotchkis & Wiley High Yield strategy, shares his thoughts on the current opportunities and challenges in the high yield marketplace.

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 Investing in Gold: Does It Stack Up? by Team of Knowledge@Wharton

Gold has a timeless allure -- especially if you worry about stock market volatility, inflation, a decay of ordinary currency or the collapse of civilization. Yet not everyone agrees that gold offers the safe haven its promoters describe. How reliable can demand be for a commodity that very few people actually need? What is the proper role for gold in an investment portfolio? Why has its price been falling?

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 Asia Brief: China's Car Fleet The Largest in the World? by Edmund Harriss, James Weir of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management

Car sales in China have grown rapidly since 2009 and it is on course to outstrip the US in terms of the size of its car fleet by the end of this decade. This presents a major challenge to the Chinese government, which must balance its people’s happiness and political stability with economic development in an environment which has already been compromised. The momentum of demand for new passenger vehicles is likely to make air quality worse and Beijing has introduced emissions and efficiency standards to address the problem.

2013-05-22 How to Turn the ECB Straggler into a Central Bank Pacemaker by Myles Bradshaw of PIMCO

In our opinion, the ECB will be most effective if it can design a programme that helps banks deleverage more quickly to stimulate growth in the real economy. To have a meaningful impact on Europe’s broken transmission mechanism, any ECB programme needs to not only lower the cost of credit, but also be regionally tailored or big enough to be effective. Long-term investors should remain focused on the quality of issuers’ balance sheets rather than simply taking more risk because of lower prospective returns.

2013-05-22 China's IPO Drought: Will it Lift? by Eddie Chow of Franklin Templeton Investments

Following a flood of initial public offerings (IPOs) that lasted several years, China’s local A-share market has been in an IPO drought since late last year. There is some speculation China’s regulatory body, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), may allow some IPOs to trickle back into the market this year, but we don’t yet know exactly when or at what volume. I’ve invited my colleague Eddie Chow to share his perspective on why IPO issuance has been halted in China’s local market, and where we see potential opportunities in the current environment.

2013-05-21 Measuring the Cost of Socially Responsible Investing by Adam Jared Apt (Article)

Quite apart from its motivations, the consequences of socially responsible investing have intrigued analysts. The actual results, as distinct from the desired results, cannot be taken for granted. Mark Kritzman has written about the subject, but his research was little noticed until recently, when SRI achieved renewed prominence in the form of popular demands that institutional portfolios divest themselves of investments in fossil-fuel companies. Kritzman’s point, and the conclusion of his analysis, is that SRI, properly understood, incurs a cost to the portfolio.

2013-05-21 Social Media Best Practices: Slow and Steady Wins the Race by Wendy Cook (Article)

If a website is the center of your marketing universe, social media is the gravitational force pulling your audience into the world you’ve created for them. But social media is easily a full-time endeavor of its own. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ Where do you begin? Equally important, where should you leave off?

2013-05-21 (Yawn)...As Equities Advance Another 2% by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities advanced again last week, with the S&P 500 increasing 2.1%. Global stocks are reaching new highs in this cycle and the U.S. market is at an all-time high. Bonds were hurt in the move, dragging credit down, while commodities fell slightly on weaker manufacturing data. The unrelenting equity rally and an environment without positive news about earnings and the economy is making many investors uncomfortable.

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 As Energy Demand Outpaces Supply, Asia Looks Overseas to Refuel by Raja Mukherji, Taosha Wang of PIMCO

Many Asian countries are encountering growing energy shortages due to declining indigenous resources and domestic consumption growth. Oil companies in Asia frequently engage in overseas acquisitions. In many cases, these transactions help enlarge reserve base, access technological know-hows and enhance corporate profitability. Strong sovereign support is a key investment thesis in the Asian oil and gas sector. Through our bottom-up analysis, we are finding numerous investment opportunities.

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 Putting Cash to Work: 3 Ways to Enter the Market Today by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

With global equities up more than 25% since their bottom last June, many investors are wondering: “Is it too late to move cash from the sidelines to stocks?” No, says Russ, and he offers three ideas for where find value today.

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

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

2013-05-20 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

When the President put forth his proposed budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year which begins October 1st, he went out of his way to offer an olive branch to the Republicans on entitlement programs - especially Social Security and Medicare. The President proposed changing the cost of living adjustments in such a way that, over time, there would be significant savings to the government, but of course, take the money away from the recipients.

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 Not in Kansas Anymore by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Knowing where you are doesn’t mean that you’re leaving, but you should still know where you are.

2013-05-20 The President's Proposed Future Tax Changes and Some Questions About Past Ones by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

The United States government has once again hit its borrowing limit. The government is permitted to borrow through May 18, after which it can continue to operate without additional borrowing for about three months. By fall, Congress will have to raise the debt limit to prevent the United States defaulting on outstanding debt.

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.

2013-05-18 All Japan, All the Time by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we again focus on Japan. Their stock market has been on a tear, and their economy grew 3.5% last quarter. Is Abenomics really the answer to all their problems? Is it just a matter of turning the monetary dial a little higher and voila, there is growth? Why doesn’t everyone try that? And what would happen if they did?

2013-05-17 Making the Most of Equity Allocations by Andrew Pyne, Sabrina Callin of PIMCO

We believe slowing global growth and deleveraging are likely to result in lower long-term returns for equities. Traditional approaches to building equity portfolios may not be enough for investors to meet their return goals. We have found three complementary ways investors can enhance equity return potential: fundamental indexes, index-plus strategies and high active share stock selection approaches.

2013-05-17 Opportunistic Investing: Making the Most of Your Cash in Today's Market by Chris Engelman of Cedar Hill Associates

With the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index rising more than 20% since last June, some people are reluctant to invest now, fearful that stocks are poised to tumble again. By focusing on their long-term investment objectives rather than short-term market fluctuations, however, investors can plan for a sound financial future. Here, Cedar Hill Managing Director Chris Engelman offers strategies for building a portfolio that helps to limit market risks and increases the likelihood of achieving your long-term goals.

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 Investors Living in Emerging Markets are a Bullish Bunch! by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Part of my job involves putting myself out on a limb at times, and I have taken the risk of being subject to contrary (sometimes enthusiastically so) viewpoints. I’ve even been accused of being too optimistic about emerging markets, perhaps partly because my views often represent a stark contrast to dramatic news headlines. So when I took a look at the findings of Franklin Templeton Investments’ 2013 Global Investor Sentiment Survey (GISS),1 I was pleased to discover my longstanding optimism about emerging markets seems to be spreading among investors.

2013-05-16 Hold Your Houses: The Housing Recovery May Take Longer Than You Think To Reach Consumers by Joshua Anderson, Emmanuel S. Sharef, Grover Burthey of PIMCO

New residential construction needs to double from 2012 levels to meet long-run stable demand, and the pace of that increase is critical. Consumer credit growth is hindered by strict lending standards, continued deleveraging and limits to mortgage equity withdrawal. As a result, the balance of mortgage debt is unlikely to meaningfully increase in the next 12-18 months, delaying a return of the virtuous consumer cycle.

2013-05-16 The Dow Hits All-Time Highs, But The Truth Is It Remains Cheaply Valued by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

The Dow Jones industrial average sits above 15,000, an all-time high. But don’t be fooled, this doesn’t mean that stocks are expensive. I understand that it seems logical to assume that

2013-05-16 Where Are the Bears? Evidence vs. Anecdotes in Assessing Market Sentiment Over a Full Market Cycle by JJ Abodeely of Sitka Pacific Capital Management

Imagine the stock market as a national park with just three kinds of animals: bulls, bears, and pigs. The saying “bulls make money, bears make money, pigs get slaughtered” conveys the idea that one can be bullish or bearish and be successful depending on the market environment, whereas greedy pigs are almost always set up for catastrophe.

2013-05-15 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 Is Japan\'s Sun Rising Again? by Kenichi Amaki of Matthews Asia

Japan’s stock market continues to rise while its currency heads in the other direction. Its new leaders, now enjoying high approval ratings, are battling deflation and trying to jump-start its economy with a new determination. This month Kenichi Amaki takes a look at what, if anything, is different this time.

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.

2013-05-15 How to Take Advantage of the Great (Sector) Rotation by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

The real Great Rotation may just be a shift to cyclical sectors from defensive ones rather than a move to bonds from stocks. Russ explains and offers 3 ways to play this rotation.

2013-05-15 Pacific Basin Market Overview by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Pacific Basin equity markets continued to rally in April, led by Japan where the central bank announced that it intends to double the monetary base and inject liquidity into the markets. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index including Japan gained 4.9% while the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Free Index closed 2.6% higher in April. (All performance figures are based on MSCI indices in U.S. dollar terms with dividends included unless otherwise stated.)

2013-05-15 The Great Capitulation by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors

If you were to browse the virtual bookshelves of Amazon, some of the latest titles do not seem overly optimistic about the future. In Niall Ferguson’s The Great Degeneration, he examines why civil society is in complete “free fall”. Another recent “pick me up” entitled The Great Deformation, by former Reagan budget director David Stockman, discusses the negative impacts of Washington’s political dysfunction to our democracy.

2013-05-14 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 It\'s Not That Bad Out There by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Certain things, like the sun rising, or the tides shifting, can be counted on. It’s also true that when government shrinks as a share of GDP, things start to pick up.

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 Who is Henry Singleton? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

The year was 1974 and Teledyne (TDY/$77.56/Outperform), on a split-adjusted basis, was trading at about $0.05 per share. By 1986 it was changing hands around $75 per share. Unfortunately, back in 1974 I didn’t have enough money to buy more than 10 shares, having lived through the devastating bear market of 1973 1974 where the D-J Industrial Average (INDU/15118.49) lost 47% of its value.

2013-05-14 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 Whither Interest Rates and \"Safe\" Investments? by Charles Lieberman (Article)

It was an interesting week for comments from notables regarding the future direction for interest rates. Bill Gross suggested yields had bottomed recently. Warren Buffett "pitied" bond investors, (but not so much he was unwilling to supply them with more bonds issued by Berkshire.) High yield bond yields declined below 5% and risk spreads continued to erode. The "Great Rotation" from bonds into stocks has not really even begun yet. Still, it only seems like a matter of time before interest rates begin to rise, severely hurting investors looking for safety.

2013-05-13 Closing Arguments: Nothing Further, Your Honor by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Nothing further, your honor. I am resting my case.

2013-05-13 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.

2013-05-10 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 The Importance of Being Different by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest essay, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, writes about how superior investment managers outperform their market benchmarks -- by taking advantage of volatility, among other things -- as well as how to properly evaluate investment performance.

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 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 3 Reasons to Explore the Frontier by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Though frontier markets have outperformed developed and emerging markets so far this year, it’s not too late to explore the frontier. Russ offers three reasons to consider having a small strategic allocation to “pre-emerging” world equities.

2013-05-09 China's Building, but Will They Come? Ghost Cities by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Some of you may have heard or read about the current state of the real estate market in China, often covered in a sensationalistic way, with talk of “ghost cities” and “bubbles” ready to burst and so forth. These types of reports can cause quite a jolt in the market, which is what we saw happen, probably not coincidentally, after a popular US television newsmagazine aired a somewhat negative report in March. But as I’ve said many times before, there’s often more to a story; important parts can end up on the cutting room floor.

2013-05-09 Equity Market Distortions Create Big Payback Potential by Joseph Paul, Kevin Simms of AllianceBernstein

Even after this year’s equities rally, market imbalances created by the financial crisis in 2008 have not disappeared. When these distortions unwind, we expect deep value stocks to rapidly recover.

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 Deflation Is OverPlease Come Out by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

A blooper reel of 20th century history would likely include a feature on Japanese soldier Hiro Onoda. Posted to a small island in the Philippines during the waning days of World War II, when Onoda’s mission proved unsuccessful he was ultimately forced to flee into the woods, where he survived on a steady diet of coconuts and bananasfor almost 30 years after the end of the war.

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 Monthly Letter to Our Clients and Friends by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

It has been years since we have seen new highs on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500. Although the wait can be traumatizing, it’s nice to get proof that market prices ultimately recognize growth of business value.

2013-05-08 Is Your Investing One Dimensional? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

At the National Association of Active Investment Managers (NAAIM) Uncommon Knowledge Conference in Denver last week, a reporter from Financial Planning magazine asked us, “What is active investing’?” Many confuse the phrase with the simple act of running a mutual fund populated with stock picks within the strict guidelines of a prospectus, as opposed to running an index fund, where the manager simply buys and holds the shares making up a particular stock or bond index.

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 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 Navigating Opportunities in Senior Loan and High Yield Corporate Bond ETFs by Ryan Issakainen of First Trust Advisors

In this newsletter, we will consider how senior loan and high yield corporate bond ETFs may be utilized by investors to pursue a higher level of income while seeking to mitigate the impact of rising interest rates. We’ll discuss why we believe benchmark indices are flawed investment strategies for gaining exposure to these asset classes, and we’ll highlight how First Trust utilizes active management to seek better risk-adjusted returns than passive senior loan and high yield corporate bond index ETFs.

2013-05-07 Attractive Dividends? Earnings Growth? A Way to Get Both by Team of Lord Abbett

International equities provide broader opportunities for combining appealing divided yields and earnings growth.

2013-05-07 Syria and the Red Line by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

On Thursday, April 25, Secretary of Defense Hagel acknowledged that evidence that chemical weapons exposure occurred in Syria was probably accurate. This news dominated the Sunday talk shows, mostly because President Obama had indicated that Syrian military use of chemical weapons would be a “game changer” and a “red line” that would trigger a U.S. and international response. Now that it appears that somehow chemical weapons exposure did occur, the world awaits to see what exactly the president meant by a “response.”

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 Investing for Income and Capital Appreciation by Giorgio Caputo, Rob Hordon, Ed Meigs, Sean Slein of First Eagle Investment Management

A Q&A with First Eagle Investment Management’s senior members and their market views and strategic insights.

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 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.

2013-05-03 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.

2013-05-02 “Twin Peaks” Target Achieved, What\'s Left? by Doug Ramsey of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

Pithy sound bites aren’t our forte. So when we came up with the “Twin Peaks” idea (last decade’s S&P 500 highs of 1527 and 1565) a few months back, we hoped we’d stumbled on a market theme that might last a while. That wish was dashed on March 28th, when the S&P 500 exceeded its October 2007 peak of 1565.15.

2013-05-02 Fed Doesn\'t Budge by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

It would be hard to find a policy statement from the Federal Reserve with as few changes as the one issued today. The Fed made no changes to monetary policy and only minor changes to the language of its statement. Even the lone dissent, from Kansas City Fed Bank President Esther George, was a carbon copy from the last statement in March.

2013-05-02 Disconnect: Why Stocks and Economy Often Move in Opposite Directions by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The stock market hit all-time highs during the first quarter, yet the economy again underperformed expectations. Is the disconnect an aberration or the norm?

2013-05-01 US Economy to Get a Hollywood Makeover by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

You may have heard that the government is going to make some major changes in how our Gross Domestic Product is calculated later this year. Your first thought might be that this is no big deal. However, I will argue today that it is a very big deal, the biggest in a decade, and you need to know why. So I hope you read what follows with more than a passing interest.

2013-05-01 There Will Be Haircuts by Bill Gross of PIMCO

It has been the objective of the Fed over the past few years to make even more innovative forms of money by supporting stock and bond prices at cost on an ever ascending scale, thereby assuring holders via a “Bernanke put” that they might just as well own stocks as the cash in their purses. Gosh, a decade or so ago a house almost became a money substitute. MEW or mortgage equity withdrawal could be liquefied instantaneously based on a “never go down” housing market. You could equitize your home and go sailing off into the sunset on a new 28-foot skiff on any day but S

2013-05-01 Looking at Leverage Outside the Box by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

Yield-seeking investors have been boxed in by the near-zero US rate environment, and it seems like there are few ways out. But for those willing to set aside preconceived ideas about the word “leverage,” the lesser-known leveraged loans category may be an alternative to consider in the credit space. Mark Boyadjian, senior vice president and director of our Franklin Floating Rate Debt Group, spoke to us recently about what these often-misunderstood vehicles are and what yield-seeking investors need to know before they take the plunge.

2013-04-30 The Most Underappreciated Threat to the Advisory Business by Bob Veres (Article)

Financial advisors have often heard the warning that their investment management services are going to become commoditized so often, in fact, that you can forgive them for ceasing to pay attention. But if you don’t believe that an online algorithm can replace the sophisticated advice offered by a flesh-and-blood advisor, then check out the Wealthfront USA website.

2013-04-30 Electric Vehicles: The Devil is in the Battery by Michael Edesess (Article)

Electric cars are part of the vision of a clean energy society, in which Americans would use few fossil fuels, emit limited greenhouse gases and depend less on foreign sources of energy. Will that vision be realized and are electric cars even necessarily part of that vision? Are electric cars environmentally friendly? Are they an economical means of transportation now? How likely are they to capture the market in the coming years?

2013-04-30 Is the U.S. Housing Recovery Built to Last? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The sector’s comeback will continue, but the pace will likely moderate. Here’s why.

2013-04-30 Best Practices for Following Up After a Prospecting Event by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Based on your experience, what are the best practices for following up with prospects after an event that my firm sponsors?

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 Is May Really the Time to Go Away? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

As investors near the witching hour of May, the oft-asked question once again comes to the foreground is it best to sell in May and walk away? This year could prove the exception to recent history, but a number of trends are beginning to take shape inside the market’s inner workings.

2013-04-30 The Boston Marathon Bombing by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In this report, given the extensive media coverage of the event, we will not go into much detail on the attack itself except to illustrate points about the origins of the act. We will discuss why we think the Boston Marathon Bombing was the work of grassroots amateurs and what that means for the nation’s security. We will touch on how humans become radicalized and how managing that condition challenges democracies. As always, we will examine the ramifications of this event on the financial and commodity markets.

2013-04-30 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

With the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, a lot of people felt that things were set as it related to estate taxes. Apparently everyone believed that except the President, who has proposed several changes to estate tax law in his fiscal 2014 budget.

2013-04-30 Beyond Gold: 4 Reasons to Think Energy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While the sell-off in gold has dominated headlines lately, another commodity oil has also experienced price declines in recent months. But despite crude’s drop, Russ is still a fan of energy stocks for four reasons.

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 High Yield in a Rising Rate Environment by Team of AdvisorShares

We have all witnessed a major move in Treasury rates over the last couple months, causing concern for many that we may be in the early stages of a rising interest rate environment. The traditional thought is that as interest rates rise, bond prices fall. But looking at history, the high yield market has defied this widely held notion. This paper from Peritus Asset Management examines the main reasons why high yield bonds have historically performed well during times of rising interest rates.

2013-04-29 Economic Slowdown Has Not Weakened Share Prices by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities rebounded last week as the S&P 500 increased by nearly 1.8%,1 despite continued weak economic data. We believe recent data is not yet weak enough to change forecasts. The relative stability of data and forecasts - supported by stimulative monetary policies, an improving U.S. housing market and fading political polarization in the U.S. and Europe - sends a message of reasonably low volatility and manageable downside risks.

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 The Return of the Asian Tigers: Guinness Atkinson Asset Management Asia Brief by Edmund Harriss, James Weir of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management

Often overlooked by international investors, South East Asia encompasses some of the world’s best performing equity markets in recent years, putting the more established emerging markets in the shade. This performance is backed by good economic results and the favourable demographics of some of these countries, with youthful populations ready to improve productivity and increase consumption. One catalyst for future growth is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) free trade area, which will bring down trade barriers between the South East Asian nations.

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 Asia\'s Reverse Innovation Trend by Beini Zhou of Matthews Asia

In recent years, the rate of acquisitions of local Asian firms by multinational companies has generally increased, particularly in China. This has happened across many industries such as industrials, medical devices and consumer staples. In many cases, if the multinational firms are not acquiring an entire company outright, they are taking a controlling stake, rather than a minority stake as a passive shareholder.

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 Race of Our Lives by Jeremy Grantham of GMO

Our global economy, reckless in its use of all resources and natural systems, shows many of the indicators of potential failure that brought down so many civilizations before ours. By sheer luck, though, ours has two features that might just save our bacon: declining fertility rates and progress in alternative energy. Our survival might well depend on doing everything we can to encourage their progress. Vested interests, though, defend the status quo effectively and the majority much prefers optimistic propaganda to uncomfortable truth and wishful thinking rather than tough action.

2013-04-26 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Equilibrium by Ben Inker of GMO

The bedrock of GMO’s investment philosophy is reversion to the mean. We believe that capitalism should cause the return on capital to be in line with the cost of capital, and that assets that embody similar risks should offer similar long-term returns. These beliefs, in turn, guide our assumptions that equities should trade at replacement cost, that the long-term return to equities should be approximately the same as their normalized earnings yield, and that assets without long return histories should have similar valuations and equilibrium returns as related assets with longer histories

2013-04-26 Many Of My Dividend Growth Stocks Have Become Overvalued, What Do I Do Now? by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

To me, there’s almost nothing better than finding a great company that I truly want to own at a fair valuation, or better yet, undervalued. In the long run, it has been my experience that this usually leads to outsized future returns, especially if you buy stocks when they are undervalued at the time. But there is quite often a side effect that can prove very disconcerting. Once an undervalued stock starts moving to the upside, momentum will often carry it above what prudent fair valuation would dictate.

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.

2013-04-25 CASSHing-Out by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains why he’s no longer advocating the concept of investing in certain smaller developed countries known as the CASSH countries.

2013-04-25 Murkier Prospects for Merkel by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

An anxious German electorate may make it harder for the chancellor to continue her pro-cooperation approach to Europe’s fiscal crisis.

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?

2013-04-25 Like Air Out of An Untied Balloon... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Earnings hit the market like a ton of bricks this week. It wasn’t that the reported numbers were a disaster, but that the new data points did not change the trajectory of the current buying and selling patterns. Investors rewarded the defensive earners (bought more Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, and Microsoft) and sold their shares in more cyclical stocks (Industrials, Semis, and Oil Services). Financial stocks survived the week, but few owners went home Friday feeling better about their bank names than at the start of the week.

2013-04-25 Living in Lake Wobegon by Jim Goff of Janus Capital Group

Are we normal? For many quarters, I have counseled investors that we are going through extreme market conditions and that patience was the best strategy. As the panic fades in the rear-view mirror and the road ahead looks less bumpy, I stand by the advice. But I don’t need to repeat it.

2013-04-24 The 2030 Non-state World by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Several weeks ago we started looking at the alternative world scenarios as projected by the National Intelligence Council (NIC). The NIC issues a long-term strategic outlook every five years and projects a forecast from this analysis for the following 15-20 years. In the most recent report, Global Trends 2030, the NIC proposes four alternative world scenarios. We are now turning to the last projected outlook, the Non-state World. Under this scenario non-state actors aided by emerging technologies will have increasing influence, as the importance of traditional nation-states decays.

2013-04-24 An Awesome Gift For Your Kids, Grandkids, or You by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

This week, I veer from our usual economic and investment themes to tell you about what I believe is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give your children, grandchildren or others who are dear to you (or maybe even yourself). What I am about to describe is something that has literally changed the lives of dozens of my friends and relatives over the last 30+ years.

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 What's Behind China's Economic Slowdown? by Weili Huang of Columbia Management

China’s economy grew by 7.7% year over year (yoy) in the first quarter of 2013, against the market expectation of 8.0% yoy and a prior quarter’s 7.9% yoy. Gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 1.6% quarter on quarter (qoq), with an annualized growth rate of 6.6%, a step down from the 2.0% qoq and 8.2% annualized growth seen in 4Q 2012.

2013-04-24 Growth From the Ground up in Iskandar by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Our emerging markets team isn’t too keen on following crowds. Part and parcel of Templeton’s contrarian approach is traveling to places others aren’t, and thinking about the long-term potential in specific industries and companies that may not be on others’ radar screens. One place we’ve had our eye on for several years now is Iskandar, Malaysia, which has recently been attracting more investor attention. I think it could be viewed as an example of the potential we see in Southeast Asia.

2013-04-23 Looking Back at Peak Oil: The Coming Crisis in Energy Supplies by Richard E Vodra, JD, CFP (Article)

Peak Oil the maximum sustainable rate of global oil production happened in 2012. That’s one of the main conclusions of a new report, Fossil and Nuclear Fuels The Supply Outlook, released in March 2013 by the Energy Watch Group. This event will have profound long-term implications for how advisors should manage clients’ portfolios, and how clients should plan their future expenses.

2013-04-23 Investment Risk is the Chance of Underperformance by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)

The measures currently used within the investment industry to capture investment risk are really mostly measures of emotion. In order to deal with what is really important, let’s redefine investment risk as the chance of underperformance. As Warren Buffett has said, focus on the final outcome and not on the path travelled to get there.

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!

2013-04-23 Q1 Earnings Leave Much To Be Desired by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Following the strongest first quarter in 15 years, it is not surprising to see equity markets faltering in April. Last week’s decline of 2.1%, however, may reflect deeper concerns about corporate fundamentals amid a mixed earnings season.

2013-04-23 Dividend Growth and Stock Returns by Peter Nielsen of Saturna Capital

The compounding impacts of dividends have historically been significant in terms of market returns for long-term investors. The importance of these cash flows to investor returns can be seen across countries and industries.

2013-04-22 “Covenant-Lite” Loans: Credit Quality Is Still the Dominant Factor by John Bell, Kevin Perry of Loomis Sayles

As portfolio managers for bank loan products at Loomis Sayles, we are often asked about “covenant-lite” bank loans, and in particular whether they represent a dangerous trend that suggests loans are overheated and should be avoided. This paper describes our views on what covenant-lite loans are and are not; it is based more on reasoning and experience than proof, because covenant-lite loans have not been offered over a long enough period to establish a meaningful fact pattern.

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 The Endgame is Forced Liquidation by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Rule o’ Thumb: When the cover of a major financial magazine features a cartoon of a bull leaping through the air on a pogo stick, it’s probably about time to cash in the chips.

2013-04-22 Commodity Declines and Weak Data Startle Investors by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities declined last week as the S&P 500 fell by more than 2.0%, which came on the heels of a new all-time high the prior week. Led by gold, commodities experienced volatility and declined over the past two weeks. Other detractors included disappointing first quarter Chinese economic numbers and somewhat softer U.S. releases.

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 Fast Emerging Asia by Taizo Ishida of Matthews Asia

Over the past 20 years, Asia has come a long way to evolve into an asset class in itself. China and India have famously led the way as symbols of emerging nations. But when I think about seeking growth in Asia, I am particularly drawn to the region’s smaller equity markets as attractive hunting grounds for investment opportunities. Asia continues to change at a rapid pace, and this change is not restricted to China’s ever-changing landscape, but to many other areas that may see fewer media headlines.

2013-04-19 Quarterly Review and Outlook by Van Hoisington, Lacy Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

“The Federal Reserve is printing money”. No statement could be less truthful. The Federal Reserve is not, and has not been, “printing money” as defined as an acceleration in M2 or money supply. A review of post-war economic history would lead to a logical assumption that the money supply would respond upward to this massive infusion of reserves into the banking system. The reality is just the opposite. Printing money? No.

2013-04-19 F.I.R.S.T.: Bond Market Outlook by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

Amid heightened political uncertainty in Europe and subdued global growth expectations, global investors owe Hiroki Kuroda a big domo arigato for his pledge to inject about $1.4 trillion into the moribund Japanese economy by the end of 2014. The newly appointed BOJ governor’s unprecedented plan to buy Japanese government bonds,

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 India\'s Gas Sector Dilemma by Siddharth Bhargava of Matthews Asia

In India, the fertilizer sector has long depended on gas as a key input. Over the last decade, several power plants that run on gas have been set up as well. Demand has grown 10% each year since 2002 while supplies, largely managed by state-owned enterprises (SOEs), have failed to keep pace. Inefficient capital allocation, lack of incentives and populist policies aimed at maintaining low prices have led the country to import 25% of its gas needs. This has further exacerbated India’s current account deficit, which now stands at 6.7% of GDP.

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 Are Gold Stocks Oversold? by Steve Land of Franklin Templeton

Gold bugs have been bugging out over a sharp decline in the price of gold, which hit a two-year low in April. Many gold-related stocks felt the sting. We think gold-related stocks could be oversold, and that there are still compelling reasons to own them.

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.

2013-04-19 Gold Buyers Get Physical As Coin and Jewelry Sales Surge by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Even with the gold price dropping, why are gold coins selling at a premium? It’s Economics 101: The coin supply is limited and the demand is high. This buying trend isn’t only occurring in the U.S. In Bangkok, Thailand, for example, crowds of buyers were filling stores, eagerly waiting in multiple lines to purchase gold jewelry and coins.

2013-04-18 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 Fannie and Freddie Face the Future by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The mortgage finance giants are the subject of a new policy initiativewith significant implications for the U.S. housing market.

2013-04-17 In the Category of Sign Spinners by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

If you thought the plunge in Gold prices was tough on those long the precious metal, wait until you see the upcoming hit to the April Non-Farm Payrolls in the category of Sign Spinners...

2013-04-17 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.

2013-04-17 Present and Emerging Risks to the Gold Trade by Amit Bhartia, Matt Seto of GMO

The notion of gold as a hedge against systemic risks is flawed. We believe that the concept of gold’s role as an insurance policy needs to be narrowed significantly.

2013-04-17 What\'s Driving Emerging Markets? by James McDonald, Daniel Phillips, Phillip Grant of Northern Trust

Emerging market (EM) equities have historically outperformed as the global economy gained momentum, as shown in Exhibit 1. After a great catch-up rally in the second half of 2012, the stocks finished the year as global outperformers only to lose that momentum in the first quarter of 2013. What is behind the recent underperformance, and what does it say about the outlook? Our research points to a number of contributors to the recent weakness.

2013-04-16 All That Glitters Is Not Gold by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

This quote from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice is apropos given the nosedive in the gold markets today. In our 2013 Best Ideas piece we labeled gold a neutral as gold had not had a significant correction since 2008. Our research indicated a significant slowing of bullion purchases by gold Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) in 2012 versus 2011. We looked for a correction and now need to contemplate whether we are in the end of the commodity bull market or merely a pause that refreshes.

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.

2013-04-16 The Asian Economic Crisis and the IMF by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In May 1997, a speculative run against the Thai baht became the first clear signal that a problem was developing in Asia. Over the next three years, Asia and other emerging markets, including Russia and Brazil, were rocked by a historic financial crisis. These nations recovered strongly in the following eight years and generally made it through the 2007-09 global financial crisis in relatively good shape. However, the impact of the Asian economic crisis remains a major factor in the behavior of these emerging nations.

2013-04-16 2013 US Financial Markets by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group

In the fall of 2012 the S&P 500 came close to our forecast high (S&P- 1500) Last year we suggested that not only was the S&P likely to reach 1500, but also speculated that renewed bullish sentiment could take us back to the old highs of 1565. When the S&P touched 1563 a couple weeks ago, I started getting client calls complimenting my prescient forecast.

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

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

2013-04-15 The Counter-Inflation Playbook Part 1 by Jeffrey Jones of Cornice Capital

One of the most important lessons I learned during my days at UCLA came from my freshman philosophy professor. He told us that should you find yourself engaged in a debate, the surest way to defeat your opponent is to attack his base principles. If those base principles aren’t fundamentally sound, any case built on top of it, no matter how convincing, is at risk of crumbling all at once.

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

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

2013-04-15 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.

2013-04-15 The (Up) Beat Goes On, Part II by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

We wrote Part I of this theme on February 11 during the first quarter rally, when the S&P 500 closed the week at 1518. This past week the S&P ended at 1589, after increasing 2.3%. Global stock prices continue to push to new highs and thus provide support for a pro-equity bias. One nuance is that the composition of the equity rally has been abnormally defensive.

2013-04-15 Increasingly Immediate Impulses to Buy the Dip (or, How to Blow a Bubble) by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

A tendency toward increasingly immediate attempts by investors to buy every dip in the market reflects a broadening consensus among investors that there is no direction other than up, and that any correction, however, small, is a buying opportunity. As investors clamor to buy ever smaller dips at increasing frequency, the slope of the market’s advance becomes diagonal or parabolic. This is one of the warning signs of a bubble.

2013-04-12 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 The Truth About The Impact Of Dividend Reinvesting by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

What follows will be several examples of different kinds of dividend paying stocks offered in order to provide deeper insight into several commonly held notions. With each example, I will focus on how much return comes from dividends and how much comes from capital appreciation. I will also illustrate the precise benefits and effects of dividend reinvestment as it applies to different types of dividend paying stocks.

2013-04-12 How a Landslide Shifts Copper Supply by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The U.S. mining industry was dealt a devastating blow as Kennecott Utah Copper’s Bingham Canyon Mine experienced a pit wall failure causing a massive landslide with rocks and dirt covering the bottom of the mine pit. It’s a miracle no one was hurt due to the vigilance of its owner, Rio Tinto. The landslide is just one example of how quickly and unexpectedly the supply and demand factors facing the red metal can shift, which underscores the need for nimble active management.

2013-04-11 Patton, the Pope, and Skylar by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

In the powerful opening scene to the movie, "Patton," the famous general stands before his troops and boldly states, "Americans love a winner, and will not tolerate a loser." It’s hard not to stand a little straighter when you hear a line like that. We do like to think about ourselves as the greatest country in the world. Certainly in economic terms the United States has accomplished more than any other civilization known to man.

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.

2013-04-10 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 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 Pacific Basin Market Overview by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Supportive U.S. economic data drove most markets higher during the first quarter of 2013. China underperformed the region amid concerns that the economic recovery may not be as robust as previously expected, while the National People’s Congress in March failed to provide any incentives to the equity market given the absence of pro-growth policies. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index including Japan gained 5.5% while the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Free Index closed 2.0% higher during the quarter.

2013-04-09 Tips for Building a Compelling Web Site by Wendy Cook (Article)

Is your current website still living in the “online brochure” days or even non-existent? Don’t dwell on what’s been holding you up. Let’s move your site and you along with it into the 21st century.

2013-04-09 MLPs: Winning Streak Broken, Growth Story Intact by Sponsored Content from Legg Mason ClearBridge
by Chris Eades, Portfolio Manager (Article)

After an off year clouded by investors’ concerns about future tax policy, ClearBridge’s outlook for MLPs is again brightening. Oil and natural gas production are both ahead of estimates and the resulting infrastructure build-out is continuing.

2013-04-09 First Quarter Market Commentary by Mark Oelschlager of Oak Associates

After a strong 2012, the market continued its ascent in the first quarter, shrugging off macro issues like the Sequester and the Cyprus “bail-in.” The S&P 500 rose roughly another 10%, reaching a new all-time high. Normally when stocks are moving higher at a fast rate, it is the economically sensitive sectors that lead and the defensive ones that lag. But the first quarter saw the reverse, as the top three performing sectors were the three traditional defensive ones: healthcare, consumer staples and utilities.

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 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook for Asia: How Leadership Changes Are Shaping Asia's Outlook by Q&A with Ramin Toloui, Tomoya Masanao and Robert Mead of PIMCO

For Asia, “slow but not slowing” global growth will likely keep external demand neutral, and policy developments will therefore help shape the economic outlook. In Japan, we see a significant boost to aggregate demand coming from the concerted monetary and fiscal expansion of the new Abe government. In China, concerns about inflation, housing market excesses, and long-term financial stability are prompting policy restraint that should keep growth below 8% this year.

2013-04-09 The Return of the Ottomans by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Over the past two weeks, Turkey has taken two significant actions. First, while President Obama was visiting the region, Israeli PM Netanyahu offered Turkey an apology for the 2010 commando raid on the MV Mavi Mamara, a Turkish ship that was delivering aid to the Gaza Strip. The vessel was trying to run an Israeli blockade, which was put in place to prevent the region from receiving arms shipments. In the raid, nine people on the Turkish ship died, including eight Turks and one American. Ten Israeli commandos were wounded.

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 A Continuing Case for Dividends by Richard Skaggs of Loomis Sayles

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

2013-04-08 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 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.

2013-04-08 Europe Stumbles to a Cyprus Solution by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

After several late-night meetings and considerable angst, the members of the eurozone have settled on something for Cyprus that looks very much like a typical bankruptcy. It is comical in a way that people worked so hard to arrive at an already widely known, well-established process. Still, this result may have value. Because Europe through these four years of crisis has strived to tailor settlements for each new challenge, it has always left people in doubt about each outcome, particularly where the pain would fall.

2013-04-08 Can Something Good Be Cheap Too? by Charles Lahr of PIMCO

Over the last eight years, the least volatile components of the MSCI World Index tended to have lower valuations, higher profit margins and higher dividend yields. This anomaly, which appears to be among the most persistent in all of equity space, is rooted in speculative human behavior such as the “lottery ticket phenomenon.”

2013-04-05 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook for the U.S.: Back From the Brink by Josh Thimons of PIMCO

We expect the largest contributors to U.S. growth this year will be housing and related industries, increases in capital expenditures (albeit from very depressed levels), certain manufacturing sectors, such as the auto industry, and the energy sector. We see roughly 1.7 percentage points of drag on GDP coming out of Washington far less than the four to five percentage points of potential drag had there been no fiscal cliff resolution. We believe the Fed will continue with hyperactive monetary policy, which we now call “QE Infinity,” that does not have an explicit end date or progr

2013-04-05 What's Next for U.S. and European Markets? by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

I was asked recently to provide some color around the state of global fixed income markets as we close out the first quarter of 2013. Of course, one of the more watched situations in the global markets has been Cyprus’s banking crisis. I won’t go into too much depth on the subject here, as my colleague, Cosimo Marasciulo, has recently provided a comprehensive analysis.

2013-04-05 Ask Russ: All About Emerging Markets by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ answers more client and reader questions this time about emerging market equities and debt.

2013-04-05 Dodging Soccer Balls and Sharks in Recife, Brazil by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Recife, in Brazil’s northeast Pernambuco state, is known to many as the “Venice of Brazil” given its many waterways and bridges. A welcome winter stop for our emerging markets team, the city is blessed with a tropical climate that’s as warm and sunny as its people. While the residents in this area of Brazil are often regarded as being extremely laid back given the balmy weather, we found them to be very hard workers. We found this seaside and shipping hub was not only a hotbed of tourist activity, but of potential investment opportunities as well.

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 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.

2013-04-05 Every Gold Coin Has Two Sides by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Just as every coin has two sides, every data point that doesn’t meet expectations usually has an upside somewhere. For instance, although the gold price has fallen with the strengthening U.S. dollar, the yellow metal is appreciating in Japanese yen. So when negative news about the economy came out this week, along with the U.S. Labor Department reporting that the country added only 88,000 jobs in March, investors found reasons to be encouraged.

2013-04-05 Eye of the Beholder: Dissecting the Variety of Price-Earnings Ratios by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

There are many ways to value the stock market. Here, a look at several popular metrics, along with my view on the attractiveness of stocks.

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 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 Spring Economic Commentary by Larry Maddox of Horizon Advisors

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

2013-04-03 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.

2013-04-03 A Man in the Mirror by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Am I a great investor? No, not yet. To paraphrase Ernest Hemingway’s “Jake” in The Sun Also Rises, “wouldn’t it be pretty to think so?” But the thinking so and the reality are often miles apart. When looking in the mirror, the average human sees a six-plus or a seven reflection on a scale of one to ten. The big nose or weak chin is masked by brighter eyes or near picture perfect teeth. And when the public is consulted, the vocal compliments as opposed to the near silent/ whispered critiques are taken as a supermajority vote for good looks.

2013-04-03 Learning from Douglas H. Bellemore One Great Teacher and Investment Counselor by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Sometimes, I think those of us in the investment business strive to obtain the abilities of Star Trek’s Mr. Spock. Spock, the half-human half-Vulcan, learned to ignore the human emotions buried inside his self and use logic in order to solve the problems before him. Just think, what great investors we could be if we could simply control our human nature. As a Vulcan, we could construct an investment portfolio that would produce higher returns than any human could produce.

2013-04-02 The Most Important Practice Management Challenge by Bob Veres (Article)

The future of the advisory business is all about people, according to Philip Palaveev. No matter what happens with consolidation and pricing, he says, no matter what role technology plays, the most successful firms of the future will be those which excel at retaining, motivating and organizing their people.

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 New Research on Investor Behavior by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)

Market theory passed through two distinctly different paradigms in the past 80 years and is experiencing the rise of a third. Those transitions have marked the introduction of improved ways to explain price movements. The ascendant paradigm, based on new research in the field of behavioral economics, promises to offer superior guidance to investors and advisors who hope to exploit market inefficiencies.

2013-04-02 A Q1 Letter to Clients: Why Warren Buffett is Bullish on Stocks by Dan Richards (Article)

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. This quarter’s letter draws on Warren Buffett’s most recent letter to shareholders, and why he is bullish on the US equity market.

2013-04-02 The Online Advantage: Findings from the Advisor Perspectives Mutual Fund-Site Survey by Nina Eisenman and Jeff Briskin (Article)

New research from Advisor Perspectives shows that offering outstanding online research and due-diligence capabilities is key for fund companies that wish to win the competitive battle for the time and attention of financial advisors.

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 Chuck Royce on 1Q 2013: Conditions Remain Favorable for Equities by Team of The Royce Funds

In stark contrast to what we saw in 2010, 2011, and most of the first half of 2012, the market tuned out a lot of seemingly ominous political news and enjoyed a strong first quarter.

2013-04-02 The Crisis in Cyprus by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Over the weekend of March 16, Cyprus announced it was taxing deposits in order to recapitalize its banking system. The proposal, which levied a tax of 9.9% for deposits under 100k and 12.5% for amounts over that level, caused a severe political backlash. The Cypriot legislature would not approve the measure. In the days following, a banking holiday was put in place to prevent banking runs. The Troika (the EU, the IMF and ECB), who approve bailouts for the Eurozone, negotiated into late Sunday, March 24, before reaching a deal.

2013-04-02 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

As we began 2013 America was looking ahead to President Obama’s second term, the passage of a tax bill that raised government revenue significantly, discovering that fourth quarter growth was virtually flat, corporate earnings that had only a few mild surprises to the upside and several to the downside, and finally, an increase in Social Security taxes of 2%. Then the sequester kicked in in early March, a band aid was used to patch the government together until the end of September, and we saw the nervousness the European markets, highlighted by Cyprus.

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 The Discipline of Buy and Sell Decisions by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

The thought of giving up a once-treasured possession can be an emotional exercise for anyone, even if the object of affection has outlived its use. As investors, we can find it difficult to sell a once-favored holding even more difficult than the decision to purchase it. But sometimes, you just have to let go.

2013-04-01 Look Beyond the U.S. Budget Bluster by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Believe it or not, prospects for better fiscal developments out of Washington appear positive. Here’s why.

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 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 Emerging Markets Investment Bulletin by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

The increases in the portfolio’s net asset value continue easily to beat the hardly exacting returns from the index. The fund has gained 10.4% gross for the year to date (to 22 March), vs. a 3.0% rise for the MSCI Emerging Index. This outperformance (replicated over rolling 1- and 3-year periods) has been achieved by choosing investments irrespective of index country or sector weightings or where they are listed, so long as they derive the majority of income and profits from developing countries.

2013-03-28 2 Factors Keeping a Lid on Interest Rates by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Investors have been expecting interest rates to rise, but with the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond back below 2%, Russ explains two structural factors that are slowing the rate rise.

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 Call Him Ishmael by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital

One of the hardest things to conquer as a value investor is the concept of "price." The industry remains mired in fascination with abstract prices like 100, 1,000, 14,000, previous highs, new lows, etc. The stock is up x% from x dollar price; it is down x% from x price. There is also much in print and general fretting in regard to "price action," with lots of attention paid to where the stock has "been" and how this move relates to other "moves," as in "the largest move since last December 12th."

2013-03-27 You Can't Be Serious by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I admit to being surprised by Cyprus. Oh, not the banking crisis or the sovereign debt crisis or the fact that its banks were eight times larger than the country itself or even the fact that the banks were bloated with Greek debt that had been written down. I wrote about all that a long time ago. What surprised me was that all the above was apparently a surprise to European leaders.

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 Adapting the Yale Model for Clients by C. Thomas Howard, PhD and Lambert Bunker (Article)

The Yale University endowment fund is one of the most successful in the country, with a 10-year return besting the endowment universe average return by 300 basis points and the Wilshire 5000 return by 400 basis points. David Swensen is the architect of this program, and his guiding principles are widely used to manage large endowments. They are equally useful for client portfolios.

2013-03-26 When Employees Get Too Friendly with Clients by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

One of my employees has become overly friendly with one of our larger clients. This concerns me because I know when people are friendly they can share too much information, or if the relationship turns sour we might lose the client or the employee. I value this employee but if I let her go, the client could pull their $5 million account. What advice do you have?

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 North Korea's Problem by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

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

2013-03-25 Congress Avoids a Government Shutdown; Up Next, the Debt Limit by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

Congress cleared another hurdle last week, passing a bill (a “continuing resolution”) to keep the federal government operating for six months past its current funding deadline of March 27.

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 Energy: Perilous Present, Promising Future by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

For oil and gas, an era of abundant supplies and lower prices awaits. But investors will have to weather a tricky geopolitical situation before it arrives.

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 Housing Recovery Still Young by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Into early 2012, conventional wisdom argued that the odds of a robust housing recovery were lower than the odds of New Mexico and Georgetown losing to Harvard and Florida GC.

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 ING Fixed Income Perspectives March 2013 by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

Developed sovereigns are still broadly unattractive, but global central banks appear poised to ease. We prefer EM currencies that will continue to benefit from positive global growth and tolerate further upward pressure on the U.S.

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

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

2013-03-22 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 The Importance of Women Leaders: From Margaret Thatcher to Sheryl Sandberg to Park Geun-hye by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

I have always admired former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose strong leadership and perseverance made her one of the most influential and respected political figures in recent history. She once said of her ability to persevere that she has the “woman’s ability to stick to a job and get on with it when everyone else walks off and leaves it.”

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.

2013-03-21 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 PMI What Does It Really Tell Us? by Adam Peck of Heartland Advisors

Recently we’ve been seeing positive readings from the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), news that may seem as though it would be good for all stocks. In fact, though, a look at the performance of the S&P 500 and the PMI since 1995 shows that this is not necessarily the case.

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.

2013-03-20 Is The Government Lying To Us About Inflation? Yes! by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

On Friday, the Labor Department reported that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped an unexpected 0.7% in February. This was above pre-report estimates and was the highest monthly reading since 2009. We should be very concerned, right? Let’s take a closer look.

2013-03-20 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!

2013-03-20 Global Real Estate StocksTime to Get Out? by Eric Franco of AllianceBernstein

Real estate stocks have now rebounded from the crash during the global financial crisis. But we think valuations are still reasonable, especially as property fundamentals continue to improve in key markets.

2013-03-20 Investors Need to Pivot by William Benz of PIMCO

Fixed income investors need to think differently in the current environment. Investors may want to consider pivoting to strategies that are less focused on traditional benchmarks and more oriented to generating income and providing greater flexibility to hedge against rising rates, widening credit spreads or higher inflation.

2013-03-19 Putting GMO’s Ideas to Work: Protected Leveraged Investing by Geoff Considine (Article)

Fears of market overvaluation lead many advisors to seek to protect against downside movements while retaining as much upside potential as possible. Recent research from GMO illustrates a low-cost way to accomplish this: decreasing equity exposure and concentrating that allocation in high-beta securities.

2013-03-19 Five Steps to Demonstrate Your Value Today by Dan Richards (Article)

Of the broad trends facing the financial service industry, the most powerful will be greater transparency. It will force everyone and advisors in particular to clearly demonstrate the value they provide. How advisors respond to this shift to a value-driven world will determine whether they succeed or fail.

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 How My Firm Hires Great Employees by Teresa Riccobuono (Article)

Adding a team member is a big decision. If you are thinking the time is right to add to your roster, here are a few things to consider.

2013-03-19 Rising Political Risk and Ongoing Economic Weakness Challenge a Difficult Journey to Recovery by Andrew Balls of PIMCO

Looking ahead, it will continue to be a very bumpy journey as we anticipate economic contraction in the eurozone by -0.75% to -1.25% over the next year, hampered by growing political risk and fiscal tightening. Although we expect the pace of contraction in the eurozone to diminish over 2013, the duration of the recession is likely to be longer than consensus forecasts.

2013-03-19 The Outlook for Equities by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital Management

It doesn’t take much to get me started on a memo. In this case one sentence was enough, in an article from the February 4 online edition of Pensions & Investments, as described by FierceFinance on February 28: “The long-term equity risk premium is typically between 4.5% and 5%.”

2013-03-19 A Tired Equity Market Crawls Higher by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities rose again last week as the S&P 500 increased 0.66%, with an overall gain for the year of 9.96%.1 The remarkable resilience of the U.S. economy against fiscal cliff headwinds has boosted equity investor sentiment. The U.S. macroeconomic outperformance has also helped U.S. equities outperform global counterparts. Investor preference toward the U.S. has largely been confirmed by rising flows into U.S. equities.

2013-03-19 Why Are Emerging Markets Struggling in 2013? by Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Despite one of the sharpest rallies in US equities in recent memory, emerging market equities have been left curiously behind in 2013. Through last Friday, the market segment was down 1.0%, compared to an S&P 500 index that was up 10.0%. This seems to violate the regime that investors have gotten used to over the past 10 years, whereby the emerging markets equity index served as a high beta proxy for the US equity market.

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 The Dow Marches On by Gene Peroni of Advisors Asset Management

The stock market has demonstrated tireless resiliency in the face of challenging headline news and geopolitical events since its bottom in March 2009. Now, some four years later, the burden of some of these once gripping issues has been lifted.

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 Don’t Forget About Emerging Market Equities by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While emerging market stocks are underperforming US stocks, Russ explains why longer-term investors may want to give EM markets another look.

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 UK Budget: No Fiscal Consolidation, but Looser Money Ahead by Darren Williams of AllianceBernstein

We expect little change in UK fiscal policy in Wednesday’s budget. Instead the Chancellor George Osborne may try to nudge the Bank of England towards more aggressive monetary easing, putting further pressure on the pound.

2013-03-18 In-Plan Roth 401(k) Conversions Part 2 by Jon Vogler of Invesco

In Part 1, I cited a recent Aon Hewitt survey indicating many employers are considering adding a Roth option to their retirement plans. In this second part, I’ll explore who might want to consider taking advantage of this conversion opportunity.

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 Washington May Be Ready to Take a Break From the Brink by Josh Thimons, Libby Cantrill of PIMCO

With Washington’s dysfunction not in the forefront, the economy could be more unencumbered to grow, with markets trending in a similar direction. The Fed’s proactive policies should continue to favor overweight positions in the five-year through 10-year part of the Treasury yield curve and support interest-rate-sensitive sectors of the economy most notably housing. In the longer term, however, we would advise investors to be cautious: Without meaningful long-term structural deficit reform, real growth will inevitably lag in the U.S.

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 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 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

In the latest edition of his client newsletter, Harold Evensky highlights a number of interesting bits of news, including a must-see destination for your friends, your kids and your grandkids, some advice from Warren Buffett, a tip from Albert Einstein and the latest data on hedge fund performance.

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 Tightening the Noose: Can the SEC and Its New Chairman Be Tougher on Wall Street? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

Although the SEC has always been the federal government’s chief guardian of integrity in the financial markets, critics have a long list of grievances, including claims that the agency is too unsophisticated and too soft on wrongdoers. Assuming she is confirmed as the new SEC chairman, Mary Jo White will need almost superhuman skills to make the SEC more effective. Can she -- or anyone, for that matter -- accomplish this?

2013-03-14 3 Reasons It's Not Too Late to Consider Emerging Market Bonds by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

After the recent rally in emerging market bonds, is it too late to allocate to this asset class? Not for long-term investors, says Russ and he offers 3 reasons why.

2013-03-13 Who Cares if There's a High-Yield Bond Bubble? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

High-yield bonds, or "junk bonds" as they are widely known, have received a lot of attention in recent months. Is there a high-yield bond bubble? Certainly a ton of new money has gone into high-yield bond funds over the last few years. Millions of Americans who would have never considered high-yield bonds have bought in due to near zero returns on traditional savings vehicles.

2013-03-13 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.

2013-03-13 Yield Opportunity in a Low Yield Environment by Troy Johnson of Westcore Funds Denver Investments

The Fed’s aggressive monetary policy teamed with its inability to jump-start the anemic economic growth pattern has challenged investors’ quest for yield entering 2013. We offer investors the following for consideration as they seek yield in this environment.

2013-03-12 Bill Ackman on What Makes a Great Investment by John Heins (Article)

In addition to commenting on his high-profile current investments, Pershing Square Capital's Bill Ackman in a recent interview with Value Investor Insight describes the general company traits he looks for in both active and passive investments, why a high public profile is an important element of his strategy, whether his thesis on J.C. Penney has evolved, what lessons he's learned from a few prominent mistakes, and why his short conviction on Herbalife is as high as ever.

2013-03-12 Americas Criminal Crony Capitalism by Michael Edesess (Article)

Charles Ferguson believes that every prosecutorial tool at our disposal should be used to indict, fine severely, and imprison those whose transgressions contributed to the recent financial crisis not just their companies, but the executives as individuals.

2013-03-12 Musings of a Psychopath by Mariko Gordon (Article)

Let's look at the positive characteristics of psychopaths (yes, I said 'positive'). In particular, we explore their uncanny ability to remain calm when others can't and the positive impact this has when making investment decisions.

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 Pacific Basin Market Overview February 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Monthly returns for February 2013 were somewhat mixed, but the Pacific Basin regional markets generally ended in positive territory this month. Outside of Asia, political instability in Italy and concerns that the Federal Reserve might begin to scale back its monetary stimulus in the U.S. led to weaker investor sentiment. Economic data from China was weak, largely due to the effect of the Chinese New Year.

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 U.S. Dominates World Markets for the Trifecta by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

While large-cap indices get all the headlines, mid and small caps have continued to excel. Frontier markets have picked up the slack as major emerging markets stumble. Global risks persist, though U.S. fundamentals appear solid. The move toward U.S. energy independence should soon result in a trade surplus, boosting GDP.

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.

2013-03-11 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 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 Italy: Welcome to the Bungle by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Results of the recent election increase the likelihood of a eurozone breakupand disruptions to financial markets.

2013-03-11 Forecasting Bond Returns in the New Normal by Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

PIMCO has a detailed framework for deriving a forecast for secular bond returns based on our most current expectations of policy rates and the inflation-adjusted (or real) bond risk premium. We start by defining the expected secular real policy rate as the expected average rate of the fed funds rate after adjusting for inflation over the next 10 years.

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

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

2013-03-08 Our Five Year Forecast by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

We believe that predicting short term swings in the market is an exercise in humility. Longer-term market predictions can have some value, but they should be based on a form of valuation methodology of the underlying securities which make up the market of choice, and a consideration of the current mood of the market participants should also be included.

2013-03-08 ECRI "Recession" Update: Lakshman Achuthan Stands his Ground by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The big news this week is the ECRI's Chief Operating Officer and spokesman, Lakshman Achuthan, returned to the media circuit with interviews yesterday on Bloomberg, CNBC and Yahoo's Daily Ticker. In addition, ECRI has published a new commentary available to the general public.

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

2013-03-07 Guanxi, Mianzi, and Business: The Impact of Culture on Corporate Governance in China by David Smith of Aberdeen Asset Management

There are two key cultural and sociological issues of particular importance when evaluating Chinese companies: guanxi (relationships and networks) and mianzi (face). When analyzing the potential of a Chinese company, it's important to understand how guanzi and mianzi affect transactions, board composition and deliberations, and shareholder engagement, among other issues.

2013-03-07 80's Bull Redux by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

We have thought for some time that the current bull market might be one of the strongest of our careers, and could potentially rival the 1980s bull market. Although this current cycles construction is quite different from the 1980s bull market, there are many aspects of this market that are curiously similar.

2013-03-07 Animal Spirits: F.I.R.S.T. by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

Call it what you will a dog-eat-dog world in which you're wearing Milk-Bone underwear or an example of capitalism at its finest an M&A cycle is heating up. This activity may be signaling the rebirth of what British economist John Maynard Keynes originally referred to as "animal spirits", much to the delight of fictional corporate barbarian Gordon Gekko and his real-life analogues, who require little prompting to act on Keynes "spontaneous urge to action".

2013-03-07 New Highs by Team of Janus Capital Group

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a new record high the first week of March, breaking its previous closing high reached in October of 2007. The new record is symbolic more than anything else, but it still has some positive implications for equity markets.

2013-03-07 Capex Revival by Francis Gannon of The Royce Funds

For some time now, we have been noting the defensive nature of the investment environment, one in which fear and uncertainty continue to be the major forces driving markets. Interestingly, this trend has held true for both investors and corporations alike of late. Even after a powerful move from the low of last November, for example, investors remain fearful about cyclical or economically sensitive sectors while at the same time embracing those very sectors that benefit from easy money, are defensive by nature, and are supposedly riskless.

2013-03-07 Three Dimensions of Discipline by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

As New Year's resolutions fade into guilty memories, it's a bitter reminder that maintaining discipline, in life and investing, is just plain hard. Despite best intentions, bear markets can tempt investors to sell everything, while bull markets can whip people into a buying frenzy, both courses of action that rarely end happily.

2013-03-07 After the Dow Record Close: What Comes Next? by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

After Tuesday's record setting Dow Industrials close, are US stocks still cheap? Can the market move higher? Russ answers these questions and more.

2013-03-06 A New Yen for Japan by Team of Janus Capital Group

In Japan, a little inflation could go quite a long way. After stepping down six years ago, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned in November with a platform promising to put an end to the deflationary cycles that have plagued Japan for decades.

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

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

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

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

2013-03-06 An Infinite Amount of Money by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The three major blocs of the developed world are careening toward a debt-fueled denouement that will play out over years rather than in a single moment. And contrary to some opinion, there is no certain ending. There are multiple paths still available to Europe and especially the US, though admittedly none of them are bright and carefree.

2013-03-05 Selecting Truly Active Equity Funds by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)

In a recent Advisor Perspectives article, Joe Tomlinson reported evidence showing that 401(k) plan sponsors add value in selecting funds, but their risk-adjusted alpha is not enough to beat a comparable index portfolio. Tomlinson then pointed out the need for additional research to help advisors improve upon the fund selection process. As a step in this direction, I will report on research conducted by my firm and other academics.

2013-03-05 Increasing Center-of-Influence Referrals by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I'm frustrated by the lack of success my advisors are having with centers-of-influence (COIs). I know all of the supposed tips but nothing works in practice. I was led to believe that if we follow the right process we will get referrals from them. It doesn't work this way. Do you have any ideas for increasing COI referrals?

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.

2013-03-05 The Sequester: A Second Quarter Worry by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Now that March 1 has come and gone, what will the sequester mean for the US economy and markets? Maybe not much in the near term, but Russ explains why the second quarter will be a different story.

2013-03-05 Currencies: The Winds of War by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

In this conflict, the collateral damage could include asset bubbles and accelerating inflation.

2013-03-04 Living in the Past: Investors Finally Putting Away the Rear-View Mirror? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

With a very strong January in the books for stocks, and hefty inflows into stock mutual funds, are we finally seeing the investor class become believers?

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

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

2013-03-04 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 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.

2013-03-04 Forecasting Bond Returns in the New Normal by Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

PIMCO has a detailed framework for deriving a forecast for secular bond returns based on our most current expectations of policy rates and the inflation-adjusted (or real) bond risk premium. We start by defining the expected secular real policy rate as the expected average rate of the fed funds rate after adjusting for inflation over the next 10 years.

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 Seeking a Fixed Income Fix by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

While governments worldwide continue to struggle with debt and budget issues, for the most part, corporations have turned lemons into lemonade and have become lean and mean. While not without risk, corporate credit actually looks to be in fairly good shape, according to Eric Takaha who, as senior vice president and portfolio manager of Franklin Strategic Income Fund spends a good deal of time analyzing the space.

2013-03-01 ECRI "Recession" Update: Proprietary Indicators Slip Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

ECRI adamantly denied that the sharp decline of their indicators in 2010 marked the beginning of a recession. But in 2011, when their proprietary indicators were at levels higher than 2010, they made their recession call with stunning confidence bordering on arrogance.

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 3 Reasons Market Volatility Has Returned by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

In the last week, stocks have pulled back and volatility has once again spiked. Russ outlines the 3 factors that hindered the rally and explains the implications for investors.

2013-03-01 Is China's Health Care on the Mend? by Sherry Zhang of Matthews Asia

Despite the many challenges facing Chinas health care sector, I believe the recent initiatives and the markets continued growth could create many future investment opportunities in areas ranging from medical device manufacturing, insurance, pharmaceutical and a range of general and specialized care facilities.

2013-03-01 Greetings from Istanbul! by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

As I travel around Turkey, I am reminded how vital good government policies are to the health of a nation. Following a decade of fiscally responsible actions, Turkey is the picture of a growing prosperity. Perhaps Americas elected officials could take a tip from this vibrant country overseas.

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.

2013-02-28 Jeremy Siegel on Why Stocks Are -- and Will Remain -- the Best Bet by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

Though stock market volatility continues to rattle investors' nerves, the future looks bright for equities in the U.S. and many emerging markets, according to Wharton finance professor Jeremy Siegel. That's not so for bonds, which could become money-losing investments as rising interest rates drive bond prices down. In an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, Siegel says that investors should think about reducing their bond holdings, buying more stocks and keeping just enough cash for a rainy day and other liquidity needs, since interest rates on cash are near zero.

2013-02-27 Understanding the Sequester by David Kelly, David Lebovitz of J.P. Morgan Funds

A recent survey conducted by The Hill found that only 36% of likely voters even knew what the term "sequester" meant. For the record, sequester in our current fiscal lexicon, refers to the $1.2 trillion of spending cuts spread out over the next 10 years that are set to commence on March 1, 2013. These cuts have the potential to impact both the markets and the economy. Although time still remains for a deal to be reached, it seems increasingly unlikely that this will actually occur, making it more likely that the effect of these spending cuts will be felt, at least temporarily.

2013-02-27 The Difficult Transition to Democracy by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

The Arab Spring has turned into something of a disappointment. In Tunisia, the recent assassination of Shokri Belaid, a secularist opposition leader, has increased tensions. S&P recently downgraded the countrys sovereign risk due to rising political turmoil. In Egypt, protests have returned, this time against the Muslim Brotherhood-led government. Yemen remains in chaos. Syria is essentially in a civil war. Unrest continues in Bahrain but the minority Sunni leadership remains entrenched, mostly due to military support from Saudi Arabia.

2013-02-27 Potential Threats to Equity Rally by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Equity markets started a third consecutive year in rather impressive fashion, gaining more than 6% to date. With so much optimism in the investment community, it is always worth keeping an eye open for risks possibly overlooked. By now, it is apparent that investors are increasing their exposure towards equities with arms wide open. Data from the Investment Company Institute (ICI) estimates $39 billion flowed into equity mutual funds this year through February 13. Following outflows of $153 billion in 2012, the sudden reversal has been impressive.

2013-02-27 "Abenomics" & the Weakening YenToo Far, Too Fast by Chun Wang of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

Japan's new Prime Minster Shinzo Abe made more of an impact on the market than anyone else last month. In what the market has dubbed "Abenomics," Abe not only launched a new fiscal stimulus, but also pushed the Bank of Japan to raise its inflation target from 1% to 2% AND agree to a new open-ended QE program. The reluctance on the BoJ's part is clearly visible because the new open-ended QE will not start until 2014 and there is no commitment to asset purchases after 2014. Shortly afterwards, the BoJ governor said he would step down, a clear sign of disagreement.

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 Love, Money or Disappointment: What Will Asian Credit Investors Find in Their Red Envelopes? by Robert Mead, Raja Mukherji of PIMCO

Our cyclical economic outlook for Asia in 2013 is unusually dependent on breakthroughs in structural policies. Although we continue to favor select opportunities in key sectors, in general Asian credit spreads are trading historically tight. Bottom-up research is critical, along with careful top-down views on shifting economic conditions, and investors need adequate compensation for taking credit risk. Some sectors and companies can grow significantly faster than their respective economies.

2013-02-26 Can Advisors Add Value Through Fund Selection? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Low-cost index funds will beat the average actively managed fund after expenses. But can advisors identify superior active funds to overcome this disadvantage? Advisors who believe they can choose those funds will be challenged by the results of two studies from the defined-contribution industry.

2013-02-25 We Expect High-Yield Defaults to Remain Low by Jeff Skoglund of AllianceBernstein

High-yield bond defaults are historically low today, even for troubled companies. Despite the worries we hear in some corners about looming high-yield defaults, we think default rates will stay low for at least the next few years. In the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown, US companies did the responsible thing and got leaner, reducing head count and overhead costs aggressively. When the recovery gained traction, they held the line on expensesand profit margins are at historic highs today.

2013-02-25 Fiscal Policy: The Same Old Drag by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Among the many fears shared by investors, concerns over fiscal drag have recently risen. Though no one yet can know the specifics of Washington's coming compromises, these will no doubt impose the anticipated tax hikes or spending cuts, and these will indeed hold back the pace of economic growth. Still, it would be a mistake to anticipate too much of a shock. The country, after all, has suffered fiscal drag for some years now. Even with failure in Washington, a moderation in cutbacks at the state and local level should allow government overall to offer the economy a measure of relief.

2013-02-22 Emerging Markets Outlook: Will Emerging Markets Continue Their Run in 2013? by Scott Klimo of Saturna Capital

A number of times we have been asked whether emerging markets will continue their run in 2013. Our response typically begins with the following clarification: "Emerging markets" may be a handy way to refer to the countries that constitute a generally recognized asset class, but this group is far from monolithic. Widely differing levels of development, economic drivers, opportunities to invest, and returns exist under the emerging markets umbrella. For this reason it's not entirely correct to imply that "emerging markets" had a run in 2012.

2013-02-22 Frontier Markets: Today's Models of Fiscal Prudence by Paul Herber of Forward Management

Say you are evaluating the markets of two countries in a search for investment growth opportunities. One country's sovereign debt is 120% of its gross domestic product (GDP), while the other has outstanding sovereign debt that represents only 11% of its GDP. Saddled with sovereign debt, the first country faces painful fiscal austerity measures, inflationary ones, or bothany of which will no doubt stifle economic growth.

2013-02-22 Finding What's Real in Real Estate by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

The U.S. financial crisis in 2008-2009 left many investors with a reluctance to take investment risks, particularly those related to any of the world's wilted housing markets. However, as your local real estate agent would likely tell you, the market in one location can be vastly different than it is in another. Wilson Magee, co-manager of Franklin Global Real Estate Fund would agree that the adage "location, location, location" applies not only to individual home buyers and sellers, but to investors seeking opportunities in the commercial real estate sector, too.

2013-02-22 UK Equities Reach Inflation Tipping Point by Jon Ruff, Patrick Rudden of AllianceBernstein

As UK inflation surges ahead, equity investors should be concerned. With yields on inflation-linked bonds at extreme lows, we think real assets offer a better way to combat the risk of rising prices.

2013-02-22 ECRI "Recession" Update: Proprietary Indicators Slip Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

ECRI adamantly denied that the sharp decline of their indicators in 2010 marked the beginning of a recession. But in 2011, when their proprietary indicators were at levels higher than 2010, they made their recession call with stunning confidence bordering on arrogance...

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 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 The 4 New Defensive Strategies by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Waiting for a market correction? Wondering how to potentially protect your gains? Forget merely opting for traditional defensive sectors. Instead, consider Russ' four suggestions.

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.

2013-02-22 Understanding the Sequester by David Kelly, David Lebovitz of J.P. Morgan Funds

A recent survey conducted by The Hill found that only 36% of likely voters even knew what the term sequester meant1. For the record, sequester in our current fiscal lexicon, refers to the $1.2 trillion of spending cuts spread out over the next 10 years that are set to commence on March 1, 2013. These cuts have the potential to impact both the markets and the economy. Although time still remains for a deal to be reached, it seems increasingly unlikely that this will actually occur, making it more likely that the effect of these spending cuts will be felt, at least temporarily.

2013-02-21 General Dynamics Corp: Fundamental Stock Research Analysis by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

This article will reveal the business prospects of General Dynamics Corp through the lens of FAST Graphs fundamentals analyzer software tool. Therefore, it is offered as the first step before a more comprehensive research effort. Our objective is to provide companies that have excellent historical records and appear reasonably priced based on past, present and future data and expectations.

2013-02-21 Tapping China's Growth via Dividends by Yu Zhang of Matthews Asia

When the long-term historical performance of global equity markets is considered, investors can see that the contribution of dividends to total return is significant. In this regard, China has been no exception. Between 1999 and 2012, 46% of the total return of the MSCI China Index was derived from dividends received and reinvested. This month, Yu Zhang, CFA, explores the ways in which a dividend-investing approach can be an effective investment strategy in China.

2013-02-21 Gold Miners- Back in the Abyss- An Update by JJ Abodeely of Value Restoration Project

Back on May 18th, 2012 I wrote a piece titled Jumping Into The Abyss: A Bull Case for Gold Mining Stocks. The miners had declined 40% from their August 2011 highs and for a variety of fundamental reasons like valuation and the relationship between mining costs and the price of gold and technical reasons, like sentiment, I felt the case to buy was compelling. The stocks subsequently rallied more than 30% over the following 4-5 months.

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 Event Driven Investors Receive Their Wish by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

For several years, investors have wondered why M&A activity has been so benign.Corporate management teams cited uncertainty about the economic outlook as a primary reason for the depressed activity.With the latest round of tax increases and revenue cuts determined, companies finally appear willing to free their animal spirits and embark on the path of acquisition.

2013-02-20 Taxes: Living Off the VAT of the Land? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The country has renewed its conversation about the way it should tax itself, whether to rely on income taxes or replace them with sales taxes. This latest buzz springs from plans by several Republican governors to reduce or eliminate their state income taxes. It has extended to talk about change at the federal level, including speculation about the introduction of a value-added tax (VAT) in addition to existing federal income taxes. Similar proposals surfaced in the 1990s and earlier in this century.

2013-02-20 The 2030 Most Likely Best Case Scenario by Bill O'Grady Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

Two weeks ago 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 these expected trends. Last time, we presented the most likely worst case scenario. This week, we will explore the most likely best case scenario.

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 Two New Country Views for a Two-Speed Global Economy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

The global economy is stuck in a two-speed regime: Developed markets like Europe, Japan and the United States are stalling, while China is re-accelerating. Russ explains what this divergent growth landscape means for his country outlooks.

2013-02-19 Tough Times for Classic Value Investors by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

While the U.S. equity market has performed exceptionally well since its bottom in March 2009, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has trailed the index by nearly 6%. Buffett is among a number of prominent classic-value investors who have fared poorly over this period. Over long time horizons, value investing has consistently outperformed growth strategies and the broad market index. So what is causing this recent phenomenon?

2013-02-19 Alan Greenspan on the Market and the Global Economy by Adam Jared Apt (Article)

During his six-decade-long career in financial services, Alan Greenspan was a central figure in seminal events that drove investment markets, from the savings-and-loan crisis to the dot-com bubble to the housing crisis. Now, nearing 87, he rarely speaks in public. But he did so last week, offering his forecasts for the U.S. and European economies.

2013-02-19 Kyle Bass on Inflation and How to Protect Against It by Mark Quam (Article)

Kyle Bass, the founder of Hayman Capital, foresaw the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage bond market in 2008 and the foreign sovereign debt crisis in Greece. Bass' latest warning is about looming Inflation and he advises how to protect against it.

2013-02-19 Asset Class Allocation and Portfolios by Adam Jared Apt (Article)

Asset class allocation has been so thoroughly absorbed into the culture of investing that today, most investment guidance is built around it, and you may even have heard that it is the foundation of an investment plan. And like nearly all respectable investment ideas, it is misunderstood and abused. One misconception is that asset class allocation and portfolio management are the same thing. I'll explain why they aren't later, but let's start by considering another misconception.

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 Expanding the Toolkit for Monitoring Your Equity Managers by Markus Aakko, Andrew Pyne of PIMCO

Investors may want to consider active share when assessing whether and how their active equity managers add value beyond a passive benchmark. The methods for monitoring investment managers are well established. But given the importance of getting portfolio allocation right in a low-growth, low-return world, it's worth examining new ways to assess risk and value added. While tracking error has been held as a key measure for active risk, it may include elements that reflect market conditions rather than managers' actual decisions on risk.

2013-02-19 Sequester and Pension - Two Topics We Can't Get Enough Of! by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week we take a look at which States may be hit hardest by the imposition of the sequester. We then turn our attention to pensions and focus in on funded status, annual required contributions and just who may be left holding the bag (hint, it is who you think).

2013-02-19 The Siren's Song of the Unfinished Half-Cycle by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

If there is one fatal siren's song of investing, it is the belief that an unfinished half of the market cycle will remain unfinished.

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

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

2013-02-19 Jesse Livermore by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

"There were times when my plans went wrong and my stocks did not run true to form, but did the opposite of what they should have done if they had kept regard for precedent." So said Jesse Livermore, as chronicled in the brilliant book Reminiscence of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefever; and, stock market historians will recall that Jesse Livermore is still considered one of the most colorful market speculators of all time.

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 When It Comes to Gold, Stick to the Facts by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

During short-term gold corrections, its much more important to focus on the facts, including the fact that gold is increasingly viewed as a currency. Rather than buying real estate, lumber or diamonds, central banks around the world are buying gold. According to the World Gold Council (WGC), over 2012, central bank demand totaled 534 tons, a level we have not seen in nearly 50 years.

2013-02-16 The Squeeze: Reassessing the Japan/Korea/China Manufacturing Nexus by John Longhurst of PIMCO

If the yen settles between 95 and 100 to the dollar, it could be a game changer for Japanese companies which have restructured to become profitable at 75 yen to the dollar. Some Korean companies, especially those in heavy industry, may be squeezed by intensified Japanese and Chinese competition. We expect Korean firms to fish in profit pools in businesses related to their core competencies, chiefly to the detriment of Asian and European competitors.

2013-02-16 How To Remain Solvent Longer Than The Market Is Irrational by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

I believe it is extremely important that investors focus on the value of what they own more than they do on the day-to-day machinations of price volatility. However, I also believe, and even recognize, that very few investors are capable of ignoring volatile stock price movements. When the price of a stock that they own is rising or falling, especially when the swings are large and/or violent, it is very difficult for people to maintain a steady head and hand. Instead, emotions take over reason which often cause otherwise rational investors to make irrational decisions.

2013-02-15 ECRI "Recession" Update: Propietary Indicators Take a Pause by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped fractionally in today's update. It is now at 129.6 versus the previous week's 130.2.The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) also eased, now at 8.3, down from last week's 8.9. WLIg has been in expansion territory since August 10th of last year, but is is fractionally off its interim high set last week.

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 All is Not Well Down Under by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

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

2013-02-15 Thailand: Land of the Smiles by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

China and India may be Asia's largest economies, but they aren't the only countries with growth potential on the continent. Southeast Asian countries can also offer compelling investment opportunities. Thailand, known as the land of the smiles because of the expression its natural beauty and friendly people inspire, is a country where we believe the economic prospects could give investors reasons to smile too.

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 Is Inflation Around the Next Corner? Then What? by Pete Sorrentino of Huntington Funds

As the Federal Reserve Board reiterates its intention to keep interest rates near zero into 2015, it appears that the markets and many investors are growing complacent about inflation. Ever since the Financial Crisis of 2007-08, "headline inflation," as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), has stayed low so far. Although it has threatened to break out at times, economic weakness has restrained the price growth that underlies inflation.

2013-02-14 Pacific Basin Market Overview January 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Improving expectations for global economic growth underpinned a solid start to 2013 for the Asia Pacific equity markets. In Asia, interest focused on China, as economic data showed further signs of recovery. On the other hand, the depreciating Japanese yen drew concerns that Asia's main exporters, which include Korea and Taiwan, will become relatively less competitive. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index including Japan gained 3.0% while the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Free Index closed 2.6% higher during the month.

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

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

2013-02-14 Pressure Points: Where Tax Reform Can Be Most Effective by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

The deficit deal that averted the fiscal cliff crisis at the start of the year raised taxes on the wealthiest and postponed -- for two months -- government spending cuts that threatened to derail the economic recovery. But the problem remains: Spending far exceeds revenue. So what's to be done? Five Wharton faculty members offer their views.

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 Understanding Derivative Overlays, in All Their Forms by Markus Aakko, Rene Martel of PIMCO

Passively managed overlays are typically based on a simple formula, while active approaches involve more complex algorithms or decision-making. Overlay examples include portable alpha, LDI, currency, completion, rebalancing, and tactical asset allocation overlays -- as well as tail-risk hedging and hedge fund replication. Potential benefits include the ability to effectively manage cash, reduce costs and risk exposure, simplify manager transitions and express tactical views.

2013-02-13 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 Trading Secrets: And All Our Yesterdays by Tad Rivelle of TCW Asset Management

Markets work. Not because they are perfect, but because they self-correct. Inherent to their functioning is the ability for buyers and sellers, borrowers and lenders, to freely express their predilection to engage in commercial transactions as proxied by the price mechanism. This is all utterly basic. So, why are the capital markets in general, and the credit markets in particular, not to be trusted to operate without the price and quantity guidance of the Federal Reserve? I

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 Can a Salesperson Help or Hurt? by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I just hired a successful sales guy. He has been in the industry for 15 years and knows what to do. Our advisors will not allow him access to their clients; they prevent him from attending meetings and are generally usurping his role. How do I get him integrated into our practice?

2013-02-12 Consumers Less Enthused to Bail Out the Economy by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Following recent recessions, it was commonplace to rely on American consumers to bail out the economy. The reliance on the American consumer was widely understood as the best remedy for an ailing economy. We are not as fortunate this time around and our dependence on consumers is one reason for the sluggish rate of recovery since 2008.

2013-02-12 Iran's Blues by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

When the last U.S. troops officially left Iraq on December 17, 2011, it seemed Iran was the big winner. Iraq was being ruled by a Shiite coalition. Its military was weak and no longer a threat to Iran. Along with its ally in Syria and its proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon, there was growing talk of a "Shiite Arc" that ran from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea. Although Western sanctions were in place, Iran had become adept in working around them.

2013-02-12 Sticking to a Long-Term Plan The Folly of a Short-Term Focus by John Buckingham of AFAM

It was an up and down week, though it managed to end in the black for just about all of the major market averages, save for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Of course, the big headline on CNBC.com after Friday’s close was, "Dow Logs First Weekly Loss in 2013." That’s fine by us, as we were happy with the 0.5% or so gains posted for the week across our four newsletter portfolios!

2013-02-12 Macroeconomic Risk? That's So 2012 by Tom West of Columbia Management

Fourth quarter earnings are modestly beating expectations, albeit by less than the amount expectations were lowered during the quarter. And while every sector and industry is different, the market seemed to give companies (even with their cautious outlook for 2013) the benefit of the doubt they can manage through a tough demand environment. This may be based on a general belief that the risk of extreme events is dropping.

2013-02-12 Fixed-Income Insights: When High Yield Loses Some Height by Zane Brown of Lord Abbett

If one sought an indication of how monetary policy and historically low interest rates can influence investor behavior, the high-yield bond market could provide some perspective. In 2012, investors' ongoing demand for income was reflected by the high-yield market's 15.6% return, the $32 billion that flowed into the asset class, andas several headlines pronouncedthe market's record-low yields of less than 6%.

2013-02-12 The Budget Outlook Why the Hysteria? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

President Obama will deliver his fifth State of the Union Address on Tuesday evening. These speeches tend not to be of much significance for the financial markets, although the topics discussed may be important for certain industries (healthcare, energy, defense). Obama is expected to repeat his request that the sequester, due March 1, be postponed to next year. Doing so would not result in less deficit reduction. Such a move would have to be "paid for" through an increase in tax revenues and cuts in other forms of spending. However, it would limit the economic damage that would follow.

2013-02-11 Investment Insights: Companies at a Crossroads by Ron Sloan of Invesco

Despite a lack of corporate earnings growth in 2012, a surge of investor confidence boosted US stocks. But we don't believe that type of market rally is sustainable for the longer term. Looking ahead, we expect the market environment to be tougher in 2013 as companies face a crossroads: continue to hoard cash at the long-term expense of future growth, or reinvest in their business at the shorter-term expense of profit margins?

2013-02-11 Distracting Dividends by John Petrides (Article)

With interest rates at historic lows, bonds have become a difficult place to find income (although paradoxically, in 2012, asset flows into bond mutual funds have outpaced that of stock mutual funds yet again), so investors have looked to other assets for yield, most notably high dividend paying stocks. Stocks continue to be attractively valued relative to fixed income and cash. In addition, high dividend paying stocks offer investors the ability to grow the income to help offset inflation, whereas in bonds, the income is fixed.

2013-02-11 Solving the Profitability Puzzle by Vadim Zlotnikov of AllianceBernstein

Companies around the world enjoyed especially high profit margins in late 2012. But can this trend be maintained or is profitability poised for a collapse that might threaten stocks this year?

2013-02-11 Shall We Dance? by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

My impression is that the worst investment outcomes have typically followed appeals to the idea that "this time is different," and "you've got to dance as long as the music is playing."

2013-02-11 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 Stocks: Why "Risk On" Rules by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Investors appear to believe the equity market will muddle through its many challenges.

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 High-Yield Bonds: Tackling the Tough Questions by Ivan Rudolph-Shabinsky of AllianceBernstein

With high-yield bonds at record high prices and interest rates so low they're barely visible in some parts, investors have a lot of anxious questions. Our opinion: we think high-yield bonds still offer more income and fare better in rising rate environments than other bond types.

2013-02-08 The Year in Review: 2012 by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Politicians crave the spotlight, but it is unfortunate that investors watch the show. 2012, like 2011, was another year in which Washington theatrics scared investors. As a result, investors largely missed out on above average equity returns. Corporate profits and valuations, and not Washington, continue to be the primary drivers of equity returns. We think there are several important points to consider when reviewing 2012 performance, and when structuring portfolios for 2013.

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 Unconventional Policies and Capital Flows by Ben Emons of PIMCO

Although quantitative easing has grabbed the headlines, a number of central banks around the world have enacted other extraordinary measures in attempts to manage their economies. The Swiss National Bank (SNB), for example, adopted an exchange rate peg versus the euro while increasing its foreign exchange reserves to almost 80% of Swiss GDP.

2013-02-08 ECRI "Recession" Update: Leading Index Growth Sets Another Interim High by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

First a flashback for those of us who have followed ECRI's media appearances: we know that the company adamantly denied that the sharp decline of their indicators in 2010 marked the beginning of a recession. But in 2011, when their proprietary indicators were at levels higher than 2010, they made their recession call with stunning confidence bordering on arrogance...

2013-02-08 Golden State Gets Upgrade by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The turbulent clouds that settled upon California's bond market are beginning to dissipate, as the state's general obligation debt was recently upgraded to 'A' by Standards & Poor's. It has been almost a year since the rating agency has had a sunny outlook on the Sunshine State, but a series of improving economic data and better fiscal position have been turning things around.

2013-02-08 Overcoming 3 Bad Investing Behaviors by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Do you avoid the stock market? Shun diversification? Trade inefficiently? Russ and guest blogger Nelli Oster an investment strategist on Russ' team examine three common bad behaviors among investors and provide tips for potentially mitigating their impact.

2013-02-08 A Different Playbook by Equity Investment Team of Janus Capital Group

Asia's handset market is developing quite differently than in Europe or the U.S., creating an entirely different playing field for Apple and other handset makers. Major brands are being challenged by the rise of cheap, but very capable generic smartphones. If major brands cannot innovate above and beyond the new offerings of these emerging cheap smartphones, they will not be able to command the high prices, and corresponding high profit margins, that have underpinned their success.

2013-02-08 Out With the Dragon In With the Snake by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Over 2013, we expect the Chinese government to continue its accommodative efforts, which should reinforce the equity rally. In addition, the new pyramid of power is focused on growth, as it seeks to improve and reform policies that will provide its residents with opportunities and social security, increase incomes and raise standards of living, which should encourage domestic consumption. Growth is set to be considerable over the next several years.

2013-02-07 From QE to Queasy: Fiscal Policy and the Risk of Inflation by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates

Quantitative easing does not directly cause inflation. Rather, by enabling the government to issue low-cost debt, it fosters undisciplined spending, says Jason Hsu, CIO of Research Affiliates, LLC in this commentary. This spending, in turn, generates inflation, transferring wealth from future taxpayers to the current generation. Hsu argues that Americans are more likely to follow the European model of insufficient saving than to imitate the Japanese practices of private sector belt-tightening, high savings rates, and international lending.

2013-02-07 Investing in a Low-Growth World by Jeremy Grantham of GMO

This quarter I will review any new data that has come out on the topic of likely lower GDP growth. Then I will consider any investment implications that might come with lower GDP growth: counter intuitively, we find that investment returns are likely to be more or less unchanged a little lower only if lower growth brings with it less instability, hence less risk. Finally I will take a look at the reaction to last quarter's letter, specifically about my outlook for lower GDP growth.

2013-02-07 We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us by Ben Inker of GMO

If modern portfolio management has a single defining urge, it is almost certainly diversification. We look for diversifying assets, strategies, and managers. A thoughtful investor can argue against almost any asset class stocks, bonds, hedge funds, private equity, commodities, you name it but arguing against diversification is like arguing against indoor plumbing. I dont want to sound like I'm calling for a return to chamber pots and outhouses, so I'm not actually going to argue against diversification.

2013-02-06 Too Active, Too Passive: Too Little Understanding by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

The wealth management and institutional consulting communities have allowed indexing to be called "passive" investing and stock-picking disciplines to be called active management. This implies a mindless approach to indexing and a great deal of busyness to stock picking. We at Smead Capital Management believe these labels are at the heart of a great deal of confusion about what works and what doesn't work in both equity mutual funds and separately managed accounts.

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 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.

2013-02-05 Comparing Advisors to Jim Cramer: Measuring your Professional Alpha by Bob Veres (Article)

Jim Cramer, Suze Orman and other so-called investment pundits and gurus are constantly telling consumers that they can do a great job of managing their portfolios on their own. Let's look at what the research has to say about the various investment performance benefits that advisors should be able to give their clients during the accumulation phase of their lives excess returns above what do-it-yourself investors could obtain on their own. I call those excess returns 'professional alpha.'

2013-02-05 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Joe Tomlinson's article, Predicting Asset Class Returns: Recommendations for Financial Planners, which appeared last week, and another reader responds to Dan Richards' articles.

2013-02-05 Australia in the Asian Century by Team of Thomas White International

Early in 2011, The Economist magazine ran a cover story titled 'The Next Golden State.' The title, incidentally, referred to Australia. Today, Australias citizens enjoy some of the highest standards of living anywhere in the world. With a real income of $62,000 per person in 2012, the country ranked 13th worldwide. Five of the ten best livable cities in the world are in Australia. But, for all its advantages, the country's contribution to the world economy in absolute terms is small. It accounted for just over 1 percent of world GDP in 2011.

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 Currency War or Something Altogether Different? by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

"Who is afraid of currency wars?" asks Gavyn Davies in the FT. I have known Gavyn for 25 years and have to confess that he is way out of my league intellectually. He is one of the smartest people I have ever met and, thankfully, also one of the humblest. He rarely gets things wrong so, when I occasionally disagree with him, it always makes me slightly uneasy.

2013-02-05 Ditto by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital Management

Anyone who reads my memos of the last 23 years will see I return often to a few topics. This is due to the frequency with which themes tend to recur in the investment world. Humans often fail to learn. They forget the lessons of history, repeat patterns of behavior and make the same mistakes. As a result, certain themes arise over and over. Mark Twain had it right: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." The details of the events may vary greatly from occurrence to occurrence, but the themes giving rise to the events tend not to change.

2013-02-05 When Is a Small-Cap Fund Too Big? by Bruce Aronow of AllianceBernstein

Asset managers of all types frequently grapple with capacity issues. These questions are even more acute for a small-cap growth manager. Since small-cap stocks are seldom widely held and are thinly traded, it can be tricky to trade quickly when you need to. And growth managers tend to be bigger "consumers" of liquidity, because they're often competing with others to buy companies that are in favor by virtue of their strong fundamental momentum.

2013-02-04 Our Outlook: Very Bullish for the Stock Market by Team of Sadoff Investment Management

The combined readings of these breakouts, volume strength, significant pivots by a long list of financial stocks and improving commodity prices evidence major trend improvements. Restated, the underpinnings for both the economy and stock market evidence significant strengthening ahead.

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 What's the Best Asset Allocation When the Business Cycle Moves to Stage IV? by Martin Pring of Pring Turner Capital Group

History shows that the business cycle, which has been with us since recorded economic history began, experiences a set series of chronological sequences. The calendar year progresses through seasons, one of which is literally ideally suited for making hay. The business cycle also has seasons or phases, where certain sectors of the economy fall in and out of favor. For investors, the key lies in the fact that the cyclical turning points of bonds, stocks and commodities are all part of the business cycle progression.

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 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 The Lost Decade...Found? by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital

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 2 Major Threats Facing the US Economy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While markets cheered the House of Representatives' recent vote to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling, the US economy isn't out of the woods yet. Russ highlights the two major risks it still faces.

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 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.

2013-02-01 Protests of the Common Man by Sunil Asnani of Matthews Asia

At times, some recent protests have been criticized for a lack of organization and demands that may seem irrational such as the death penalty for juvenile suspects of serious crimes. But for all their faults, Indias recent demonstrations are an essential step toward a more participative democracy, and may help to spur an overhaul of the countrys judicial and administrative machinery that I believe has not kept pace with its economic development.

2013-01-31 China's Market Ups and Downs by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

China's stock market was a roller coaster in 2012, and those investors with a weak stomach for unpredictability probably found the ride unpleasant. Its true that by many measures last year's weak market performance in China's A share market was disappointing, but in a market of this size the story isn't all good or all bad, so unlike the market masses, I remain confident about China's prospects and continue to search for long-term investment opportunities in China.

2013-01-31 Closed-End Fund Review: Fourth Quarter 2012 by Jeff Margolin of First Trust Advisors

Following a year (2011) when the average closed-end fund was up a respectable 5.37% on a share price total return basis, closed-end funds posted even better performance in 2012, with the average fund up 14.00% (according to Morningstar) on a share price total return basis. The strong performance was broad and deep with many categories posting double-digit total returns. There were many factors which contributed to the strong results posted in 2012 and while I have written and spoken about them before, I want to reiterate them here.

2013-01-31 Credit Supernova! by Bill Gross of PIMCO

They say that time is money. What they don't say is that money may be running out of time. There may be a natural evolution to our fractionally reserved credit system which characterizes modern global finance. Much like the universe, which began with a big bang nearly 14 billion years ago, but is expanding so rapidly that scientists predict it will all end in a "big freeze" trillions of years from now, our current monetary system seems to require perpetual expansion to maintain its existence.

2013-01-31 Fiscal Cliff: Making Decisions in Crisis Part II by Brian Singer of William Blair

Having set a framework using strategic decision theory to interpret the choices of US politicians in response to their incentives around the "fiscal cliff," we now similarly turn our attention to the incentives (or disincentives) around the choices facing investors. While the general rise of uncertainty around changes to the rules of a game slow down the decision making process of investors, we consider the implications of a shifting tax burden on longer run equity valuations.

2013-01-31 Making Sense of Low Volatility Investing by Feifei Li of Research Affiliates

Why do low volatility stocks outperform riskier ones over time? Dr. Feifei Li, our Head of Research and my long-time collaborator, has focused on understanding the theoretical foundation underpinning the low volatility anomaly and documenting the strategy's risk-return characteristics in developed and emerging markets. In this issue of Simply Stated, our newsletter focusing on investor education, she summarizes the literature on the low volatility effect as well as provides additional insights from her own research based on an expanded global data set.

2013-01-31 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.

2013-01-31 Hasenstab: Little Value in U.S. Treasuries Right Now by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

The financial markets may have let out a collective sigh of relief on January 1 when U.S. politicians managed to avoid falling off the fiscal cliff, but the fact is the fundamental issue plaguing the U.S. still hasn't been addressed mounting debt. As a result, Dr. Michael Hasenstab, co-director of the International Bond Department and portfolio manager for the Templeton Global Bond Fund, says he doesn't see much value in U.S. Treasuries right now. He does see it elsewhere in the world, though, including Ireland and select emerging markets where fiscal houses appear in much better order.

2013-01-31 Signs of a Solid 2013 for Stocks by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Yield spreads versus bonds indicate that stock valuations have considerable upside.

2013-01-30 The Complicated Case of Mali by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

On January 11, 2013, French President Francois Hollande announced the French military was intervening in Mali at the request of the government. The Mali military was reeling in the face of jihadist rebels from the north who were making rapid inroads toward the south. Although the U.N. Security Council had authorized an African-led military intervention in Mali to contain the rebels, it had been ineffective. Thus, France "piggybacked" off that resolution to justify its intervention.

2013-01-30 An Apple's First Worm by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover, Mike Czekaj of Broadleaf Partners

Writing about Apple is painful. Not because I have lost money in recent months or have no insight to provide, but because the media will likely report on it ad nausea for the next few days. It is perhaps human nature that the news which is most readily produced is also the news that is most easily consumed. If you want to be read, it's best to write words that people will read. While this makes for great entertainment and advertising, it hasn't typically been the best way to get new investment ideas.

2013-01-30 Fiscal Cliff: Making Decisions in Crisis Part I by Brian Singer of William Blair

Having lost touch with mainstream America, neither the Republican nor the Democratic Party enjoys much governing ability. Second, politicians struggle to function as leaders, regardless of competence, as a result of party disengagement. Third, left to their own devices, politicians will respond to their individual incentives. Bringing these observations together, neither party platform nor leadership vision will provide as much guiding force as the incentives of each politician, sometimes individually and other times in coalition.

2013-01-30 Rethinking IPOs by Ryan Issakainen of First Trust Advisors

In the wake of the Facebook IPO last spring, and the ensuing public relations debacle, many investors have become more wary of newly minted stocks. Even before this event, the public perception regarding IPOs was heavily influenced by the IPOs of the late 1990s that helped fuel the dot-com bubble. For many, the primary motivation for investing in IPOs has been the potential to receive a short-term surge in price, irrespective of a stock's longer term potential for success or failure.

2013-01-30 Expanding Horizons: The Most Difficult Environment for Generating Income in 140 Years by Ehren Stanhope, Travis Fairchild of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management

In the most difficult environment for generating income in 140 years, we survey the landscape of income-generating options, review lessons from the previous bond Bear Market, and demonstrate why we believe global, dividend-paying equities deserve a prominent role in investor portfolios.

2013-01-29 Emerging Europe: Regional Economic Review 4Q 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

As the 2012 year closed, the emerging economies of Europe joined their cousins in the developed world for their share of woes, and in particular, were impacted by the debt crisis in the Euro-zone, their primary trading partners. Though Russia, the biggest of these economies, finally managed to become a member of the World Trade Organization, the resource-dependent economy recorded slowing growth during the third quarter as both household consumption and state spending expanded at a slower pace.

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 The Term Premium: Past and Present by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Of the many possible explanations for the historically low level of government bond yields, near-zero central bank policy rates should be at the top of the list. However, government bond yields also appear low for reasons beyond central bank policy rates. In particular, todays low rate environment also reflects a depressed "term premium," or the compensation investors receive for taking duration risk.

2013-01-29 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.

2013-01-29 In Japan We Trust by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

In fewer than 60 days, one country has made a splash larger than all the others. No, we are not referring to the US, where Barack Obama was re-elected to a second term. Nor are we referring to China's recent transition of power. Instead, the country we reference is Japan. After decades of malaise, Japanese officials moved to embrace policies previously only accepted by Western officials.

2013-01-28 UK Threat to Exit EU: Much Ado About Nothing by Darren Williams of AllianceBernstein

In a speech last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron raised the possibility that the UK might push the nuclear button and leave the European Union. We think both the threat and consequences of such a move have been exaggerated. The most striking aspect of Mr Camerons much-postponed speech on Europe last week was his promise to hold a referendum on the UKs membership of the European Union (EU) by the end of 2017. Such a vote, he said, would follow a new settlement to hand powers back to national governments.

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 Economic Insights: Signs of a Solid 2013 for Stocks by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Yield spreads versus bonds indicate that stock valuations have considerable upside. Earlier in this recovery, when earnings were growing very strongly, consensus concerns about equities cited the danger of an earnings slowdown. Those expressing this concern pointed out, that such a slowdown would occur inevitably as the recovery matured, especially with economic growth proceeding at such a subpar rate. What seems to have escaped notice is that the slowdown already occurred in 2012 and that the stock market offered good returns despite it.

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 Defending Mickelson by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors

Top golfer Phil Mickelson became a social-media whipping boy last week for saying high taxes were forcing him to consider drastic changes, in his life. We suppose these could include moving away from California, or possibly quitting golf. Liberal bloggers had a field day, with some sarcastically saying we should all chip in to help the poor guy out with his burdens. But this criticism masks the facts.

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 Feeding the Dragon: Why China's Credit System Looks Vulnerable by Edward Chancellor, Mike Monnelly of GMO

Edward Chancellor and Mike Monnelly, members of GMO's Asset Allocation team, write to institutional clients in a new white paper about China's credit boom and outlines some worrying recent developments in its financial system. In GMO's view, "China's credit system exhibits a large number of indicators associated with acute financial fragility," including China's debt and real estate bubbles, the belief that the government is underwriting financial risk, the shadow banking system, a proliferation in credit guarantees, among others.

2013-01-25 Pension Liabilities Time to Get Real by Christian Stracke of PIMCO

Creeping pension liabilities are an increasing concern for credit investors. Companies should provide more granular information on both sides of their pension balance sheets, as well as use more realistic assumptions. A few companies have improved their disclosures in recent years, but in general the information available to investors is still far from what we need.

2013-01-25 Cliff Dwellers by Stephen Taddie of Stellar Capital Management

In the ensuing days and weeks there will be plenty of opinions about what passed and what will continue to be negotiated in the drama known as the fiscal cliff. The spectacle of across-aisle dealings makes for a well rated "Reality" show (Fiscal Riff?), but poor ratings for both effectiveness and efficiency in governance. With US-centric issues in the forefront, the focus has been taken off the ongoing Euro Zone talks, which continue to plod along.

2013-01-25 Truth vs. IgnoranceThe Impactful Investment Manager of Tomorrow by Katy Sherrerd of Research Affiliates

Ignorance in investing can have devastating consequences for individual portfolios and personal wealth. Too often, capital market participants have little knowledge of how markets work, how to make investment decisions, or how to manage their portfolios. This month's Fundamentals explains how investment managers can add value for their clients through insight and education combined with the quest for alpha.

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 Opine Less, Think More by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks at investing from a broad perspective and goes over in detail some of the macro themes he is examining as he tries to help the reader make sense of what 2013 will bring. He discusses potential "black swans" that he has his eye on, the bounceback of American and European stock markets, the sometimes overlooked lack of a correlation between economic growth and stock market performance, what P/E ratios tell us both historically and in the present, and where valuations can go from here.

2013-01-25 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 Searching for Growth in a Low-Growth World by Austin Graff of PIMCO

We believe corporate profit growth will fall short of sell-side consensus estimates. But companies with inflation-linked revenues and supply side advantages to drive revenue growth, and those with ample cost levers to improve margins, are positioned for sustained earnings growth in the New Normal.

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 Tail Risk Hedging: It Pays to Be Countercyclical by Vineer Bhansali of PIMCO

The cost of hedging in absolute terms is back to pre-crisis lows. Quiet markets, low volatility and a lack of visible risks on the horizon can lead to complacence and increasingly dangerous, leveraged positions. Many credit markets have been direct beneficiaries of the belief in seemingly lower tail risks in equity markets, and could also end up suffering if there is a re-emergence of widespread fear of, and upward repricing of, these tails. Investors should consider taking this opportunity to reload their hedges as soon as they can.

2013-01-24 Emerging Asia Pacific: Regional Economic Review 4Q 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

Emerging Asia Pacific economies showed strong signals of a rebound in economic activity amidst generally rising exports and stabilizing inflation. While some major economies like China, which had cut interest rates throughout 2012 to stimulate the economy, saw a mild resurgence in inflation, many countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Philippines saw inflation stabilize significantly during the quarter. Still, India, the region's second largest economy, continued to be troubled by rising prices despite high interest rates.

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.

2013-01-23 Ignore the GDP Headline by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Next week, Fourth Quarter Real GDP will be released. Our forecast of 0.9% annualized growth, if correct, will encourage the pessimists to continue fretting about the economy in the year ahead. But we will ignore that dour response. Beneath the surface of the report will be evidence that the plow horse economy is picking up some steam.

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 Gun Control & How To Play Upcoming Debt Battles by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Ever since the tragedy on December 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut occurred when Adam Lanza senselessly murdered 26 people (20 children and six staff) and then himself there has been a growing cry from millions of Americans for some kind of new gun controls. And the current occupant of the White House is all too happy to oblige. Last week, the president unveiled the most sweeping new gun control laws since the so-called Brady Bill was passed in 1993, requiring background checks on firearm purchasers in the US. Obama's proposals go much further as I will discuss.

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 The Washington Hurdles by Scott Brown of Raymond James

While President Obama is now beginning his second term, the new Congress isn't expected to "get down to business" until next month. There are three hurdles for Washington, which are likely to have significant implications for the financial markets.

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."

2013-01-22 Dylan Grice: Witch Hunts, Inflation Fears, and Why Im Bearish in 2013 by Michael Skocpol (Article)

For someone who started his remarks proposing to 'kill all the economists,' Dylan Grice can wax surprisingly sentimental, with a fresh, human take on monetary policy that leads him to some worrisome conclusions. Making a case for gold, cash, and other safe havens, Grice said the biggest threat to investors today is a problem that has plagued societies throughout history mistrust.

2013-01-22 Sunglasses and Cockroaches Six Rules for Surviving in a Bear Market by Michael Skocpol (Article)

After more than three decades investing in Japanese securities, Peter Tasker has little patience for other investors' self-pity and he doesn't want to hear your horror stories from 2008. Overcoming the challenges posed by bear markets requires the adaptive instincts of a cockroach, and Tasker identified six lessons investors can take away from those lowly insects.

2013-01-22 Wally Weitz on Value Investing in the Post-Crisis Era by Robert Huebscher (Article)

As the president and founder of Weitz Funds, Wally Weitz has spent nearly three decades putting his instinct for opportunity to work for shareholders. Influenced by the value-investing model of Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett, Wally manages the Partners III Opportunity Fund (WPOPX), which has had an annual return of 10.85%, versus 6.23% for the S&P 500. In this interview, he discusses his investment methodology and how it has evolved since the financial crisis.

2013-01-22 Shoulder Pads and Supply Chains by Mariko Gordon (Article)

As an investor, it's essential that you keep your eyes on the ever-swinging pendulum of "best practices," whether these relate to business models, client service, or something else entirely. Here's an example of a company whose "80s style" approach to vendor relations keeps it ahead of the profitability pack in the 21st century.

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 Quarterly Letter by Ron Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp & Company

2012 was a year of mixed results on the economic front, but generally good investment returns as measured by the S&P 500 Index. Some progress was made in Europe and China, and some clarification in direction was made in the U.S. We presented our thoughts on these topics at our December 6 seminar; an archive will be available on our website.

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.

2013-01-18 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 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 4 Sensational Facts About Gold Investing That You Might Not Know by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

1. Gold has been a consistent performer over the decades. 2. Gold should remain a hot commodity in 2013. 3. Gold is the least volatile commodity on the table. 4. The last four years were better than you thought.

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.

2013-01-18 Will This Risk-On Period Last? by Daniel Loewy and Brian Brugman of AllianceBernstein

The odds of the market staying in risk-on, risk-off mode are lower than they were a few months ago, in our viewbut still too high to take a highly aggressive stance.

2013-01-17 The Fiscal Cliff: Overview of Tax Implications by Team of Neuberger Berman

The fiscal cliff bill, formally titled "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012" ("Act"), was signed into law by the President on January 3. The Act extends certain tax relief provisions enacted in 2001 and 2003, and contains numerous other tax provisions.

2013-01-17 The Year Past, The Year Ahead by Michael Gomez of PIMCO

The multiyear run of performance by emerging market (EM) sovereign external debt has been remarkable but residual valuations look either just fair (investment grade) or expensive (high yield) versus other comparable credits. We still see abundant opportunities in EM local markets, while EM equities are poised to benefit from a relatively low starting point for both earnings and earnings expectations.

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.

2013-01-17 Investing in Africa: Misconceptions and Realities by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

It's easy to fall prey to misconceptions and generalizations about places we've never been: to assume everyone in the United States drives big cars, all the French love croissants and all Canadians play hockey. There are many misconceptions about investing in developing markets, and Africa certainly has its fair share, but it's dangerous to make sweeping generalizations.

2013-01-16 The Rise of Asia's REITs by Sherwood Zhang of Matthews Asia

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) in Asia are following in the footsteps of their U.S. counterparts as they become an increasingly important asset class attracting investors looking to gain exposure to a diversified pool of real assets and relatively high yields. In the past decade, REITs have become a growing force in the regions investment universe. This month Sherwood Zhang, CFA, takes a look at just how far Asia's REIT markets have come, and what new opportunities as well as risks may still exist.

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 3 Reasons the Stock Market Rally Could Falter by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Enjoy the US stock market rally while it lasts. Russ Koesterich has three reasons why investors should remain cautious in the near term.

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.

2013-01-16 The Trillion Dollar Trick by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The birth, and the apparent death, of the trillion dollar platinum coin idea may one day be recalled as a mere footnote in the current debt crisis drama. The ultimate rejection of the idea (which was to use a loophole in commemorative coinage law to mint a platinum coin of any denomination) by both the President and the Federal Reserve seems to offer some relief that our economic policy is not being run by out-of-touch academics and irresponsible congressmen. In reality, our government has been creating more than one trillion dollars out of thin air every year for the past five.

2013-01-15 Demographics and the Decline of Equity Mutual Funds by Paul Franchi (Article)

Until the last few years, mutual fund flows followed performance. Recently, however, money has flowed disproportionately into bond funds and out of US equity funds despite a strong rally in the equity markets. Changing demographics explain this shift, which has important implications for advisors and the mutual fund industry.

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 Courting Your Communications by Wendy Cook (Article)

How are your communications like a courtship? In both cases, it's crucial to proceed in the proper manner, at the proper time. Otherwise, like proposing marriage during a blind date, what might otherwise be a smooth move could flop fast.

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 The Markets and the Cult of Now by Joseph Paul of AllianceBernstein

Crisis-battered investors continue to favor the relative certainty of current income over the "maybe" of future capital appreciation. If you ask me, however, this hyperfixation on Now is creating some provocative opportunities in 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 The Year Past, The Year Ahead by Michael Gomez of PIMCO

While not immune to global economic headwinds, emerging market investments remain well positioned to outperform their developed world counterparts over time. The multiyear run of performance by emerging market (EM) sovereign external debt has been remarkable but residual valuations look either just fair (investment grade) or expensive (high yield) versus other comparable credits. We still see abundant opportunities in EM local markets, while EM equities are poised to benefit from a relatively low starting point for both earnings and earnings expectations.

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.

2013-01-15 What's Behind the Buyback Binge? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The pace of stock repurchases says much about equity valuationsand companies' expectations for economic growth.

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

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

2013-01-14 Facing the Truth is a Terrible Way To Be Happy. by Dan Ariely of Dan Ariely Blog

There are times when uncertainty is unbearable: waiting to hear about a school or job acceptance or pacing outside the operating theater of a loved one. But other times were a lot happier being in the dark or at least partially shaded.

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 Equity Market Review & Outlook by Richard Skaggs of Loomis Sayles

While the S&P 500 Index posted a slightly negative fourth-quarter return, the Index's 16.0% return for all of 2012 was notable in the face of a long list of global fundamental concerns. Midcap and small cap stocks performed better during the final three months of the year, posting gains of roughly 2.0%-3.0%. The fourth quarter outperformance of smaller stocks was enough to overtake the S&P 500 for the year, but just fractionally.

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 Crosscurrents and Contradictions: Which Way Will Municipal Bonds Go? by Tom Dalpiaz of Advisors Asset Management

The two possible scenarios outlined are quite different with very different outcomes for municipal bonds, and that is what makes any 2013 municipal bond outlooks difficult to offer with certainty. Scenario 1 will likely have a relatively benign impact on municipal bond values while the impact of Scenario 2 will be more negative. Of course, the possibilities municipal bond investors will face this year include more than just the two stark contrasts presented above.

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 On the Road in India by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

India appears to be on its way to becoming a major market for motor vehicles. Annual car and truck sales currently in India are roughly one third of the 15 million units produced in the U.S., but the pace of growth has been high. The total population of registered motor vehicles in India numbered more than 100 million in 2008- 2009, with consumer vehicles (passenger cars, motorcycles and scooters) accounting for about 4/5 of the total.

2013-01-11 New Year's Vantage Point: Norm Boersma by Norman Boersma of Franklin Templeton Investments

As we ring in a new year, it's a good time to gain some perspective on where we've been, and where we might be headed. Norm Boersma, CFA, chief investment officer of Templeton Global Equity Group, takes a look at the current headwinds facing the global equity markets, from fiscal imbalances to growth challengesand how market uncertainty can result in market mispricings.

2013-01-11 2 Reasons to Stick With Emerging Markets by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Think emerging markets equities have run their course? Not so fast despite recent strong performance, Russ explains why there's room for further EM gains in 2013.

2013-01-11 Abe's Return May Prod Japan Forward by Kenichi Amaki of Matthews Asia

Japan's politics have entered 2013 with a mixed freshness. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has clinched a rare second shot at the prime minister's post. His first term, which began in late 2006, lasted only about a year and ended with his sudden resignation. But following its landslide victory last month, his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has secured a two-thirds majority in the 480-seat Lower House, giving it the constitutional power to override Upper House opposition, where no single party holds a majority, on almost all issues.

2013-01-11 How the Platinum Coin Could Work (or Backfire) by Mohamed El-Erian of PIMCO

The unusual move of minting a large platinum coin might shock politicians into cleaning up the fiscal mess. But the rest of the world may see it as inflationary.

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...

2013-01-11 The Margin Debate by Mebane Faber of World Beta

One of the more interesting debates regarding stock valuations is the state of profit margins. One one side you have Hussman and GMO lining up, and on the other Jeremy Siegel and Redleaf. Im on the side of the former, and this is one of the reasons we have moved the majority of our equity allocations to foreign markets (valuations being another).

2013-01-10 Chuck Royce on Q4 2012: Quality Rising by Chuck Royce of The Royce Funds

Do you think the market's strength in the year's second half marks the beginning of a more historically normal period for equities? I do. Of course, we've been calling for a more typical market environment for a while now, so our recent forecasting has been less than stellar. However, the market's second-half results were telling. In the third quarter we saw many quality stocks keep pace with the small-cap market as a whole. Many of these businesses then went on to outpace the Russell 2000 in the fourth quarter, particularly in October, when the rally began to cool.

2013-01-10 A New Years Vantage Point: Michael Hasenstab by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton Investments

As we ring in a new year, it's a good time to gain some perspective on where we've been, and where we might be headed. In the first few weeks of January, Beyond Bulls & Bears will be featuring a series of investment commentaries from select Franklin Templeton investment management teams. These professionals provide their insights on the market ups and downs of 2012, and the potential challenges and opportunities that may lie ahead from their respective vantage points. Today we hear from Michael Hasenstab, portfolio manager and co-director of the International Bond Department.

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 Political Small Ball and Its Impact On Municipal Bonds by Tom Dalpiaz of Advisors Asset Management

In politics, making a grand bargain might be compared to the big inning where big things are accomplished in a big way. Given the serious issues we currently face regarding government spending, deficits, and the need for entitlement and tax code reform, it is not surprising many investors and the public generally have been feeling the need for a big inning or grand bargain from our political players.

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

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

2013-01-08 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 Six Lessons for Advisors from the Mayo Clinic by Dan Richards (Article)

The Mayo Clinic's world-renowned reputation as the preeminent provider of medical services was achieved through decades of refining and improving its core processes and by constantly reviewing whether the assumptions behind its mission were still valid. A visit to that clinic revealed six lessons for advisors.

2013-01-08 Energy and the End of Growth by Michael Edesess (Article)

Is economic growth coming to an end? That's been a hot topic of discussion, thanks to a paper by Robert J. Gordon. It had a simple but striking thesis: 'There was virtually no growth before 1750, and thus there is no guarantee that growth will continue indefinitely.' But before 1750 there were no fossil fuels either. Only once humans tapped the large deposits of coal and oil did economic growth truly awaken. The history of economic growth is, so far, the history of fossil fuels. This causes us to wonder whether economic growth will end when it is no longer powered by fossil fuels.

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 The Good Without The Awful by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Generally speaking, the very best times to be long are when a market decline to reasonable or depressed valuations is followed by an early improvement in market internals (breadth, leadership, positive divergences, price-volume behavior, and so forth). This is a version of a general principle: bullish investors should look for uniformly positive trends to be coupled with an absence of particularly hostile features such as overvalued, overbought, overbullish conditions. Put simply, we are looking for the good without the awful.

2013-01-08 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 Why China Won't Crack by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

For the world's second largest economy, a hard landing scenario looks increasingly remote.

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