More on Related Themes
2014-07-09 American Delusions Down Under by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate
For better or worse, economic-policy debates in the United States are often echoed elsewhere, regardless of whether they are relevant. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recently elected government provides a case in point.
2014-07-01 Chuck Royce on 2Q14: Fundamentals Reassert Their Importance by Chuck Royce of The Royce Funds
Since the May 2013 low for the 10-year Treasury, we have seen the market shift its focus to more fundamentally and financially stronger companies with attractive long-term prospects—qualities that we have always championed at Royce.
2014-06-26 Economic Update by Team of Northern Trust
U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) fell at an annual rate of 2.9% in the first quarter. However, forward economic momentum is intact.
2014-06-17 I Love Technology, but I Love LaFawnduh More by William Smead of Smead Capital Management
The first time I saw the movie, Napoleon Dynamite, I walked out of the theater before the final wedding scene. This caused me to miss Napoleon’s brother Kip singing "Always and Forever" to his new bride, LaFawnduh. The key line in the song was, "I love technology, but not as much as you, you see!" Kip found LaFawnduh "in a chat room," which indebted him to technology.
2014-05-29 A Stealth Recovery by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors
In the fall of 2010, I had written that several indicators suggested the U.S. was entering “stealth economic recovery” mode. This “stealth” recovery coupled with low interest rates and changing demographics were going to usher us into “the age of the Dividend Darlings -- companies that pay sizeable, sustainable, and growing dividends.” Investors would not only replace their income exposure to lower yielding bonds, but also focus on growing income in the equity market.
2014-05-13 John Hussman: Really Mean Reversion by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In his most recent commentary, GMO’s Jeremy Grantham said value investors are destined to endure pain in a market bubble, especially in its latter stages, as clients scorn them for missed opportunities. John Hussman is surely one such investor - indeed, Grantham’s commentary drew extensively on Hussman’s research. In a recent talk, Hussman explained why he, Grantham and other long-term value-driven investors should be worried, even if equity markets perform well in the short run.
2014-04-24 Apple: Can't Buy My Love by Team of GaveKal Capital
Yesterday Apple announced a whopping $90 billion stock buyback, to be completed by the end of 2015. This means they will be buying roughly $45 billion in stock this year and next. By way of comparison, this is $5-7 billion more than earnings that are expected this year or next. So, Apple will be using over 100% of its earnings to finance stock repurchases
2014-04-23 Highest equity returns may not deliver the best gains by Team of Eaton Vance
Many investors do not consider taxes when investing in equities, nor can they quantify the tax drag on their portfolios. Equities may wield an inherent tax advantage over many other asset classes, as long-term capital gains are taxed at lower rates than ordinary income. Employing the use of equity mutual funds managed for after-tax returns may further help exploit the tax advantages inherent in this asset class.
2014-04-23 Poker Mentality?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
have often stated that the rarest trait on Wall Street is ?patience.? I have also repeatedly reprised Charles Dow?s quote that, ?The successful investor/speculator needs to ignore two out of every three potential money making opportunities.?
2014-04-15 Running Backwards to Catch Up by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
Did you ever try to run backwards? I find walking backwards difficult enough. Running in reverse can send you tumbling.
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 Do You Think You Can Be Effective in Market Forecasting? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research
It is important to understand that no one can predict the future with certainty. Investors should take so-called expert forecasts with a grain of salt. Effective portfolio management is not about forecasting the future and then clinging to that forecast. It?s about continuously evaluating information and market conditions and then making adjustments when necessary to pursue the ultimate goal. To paraphrase long time market watcher Steve Leuthold, ?Predictions are for show, our decisions within the portfolio are for dough.?
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 Why I Sold - Part 5: Overcoming the Psychological Resistance to Merging by Jim Whiddon (Article)
Before I made the difficult decision to merge my RIA with a larger partner, I took one last look at the pros and cons. Despite all the positive aspects my research turned up, I hesitated over some lingering issues that were important to resolve. And while the bottom line was compelling, many of my concerns had to do with the psychological effects of the move, both for me and for my clients.
2014-03-28 The End of Chinese Central Planning by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate
Since Deng Xiaoping?s reforms of the early 1980?s, senior Chinese policymakers have paid less and less attention to central planners? numerical growth targets. Now they are close to taking the final step in the long journey to a market-based economy, by adopting a flexible framework in which GDP growth currently does not come first.
2014-03-26 Durable Goods Orders: The Disconnect Continues by Team of GaveKal Capital
This morning durable goods orders were released, and while the headline index exhibited a good bounce from January, the rest of the report was more mixed.
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...
2014-03-16 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.
2014-03-09 The Innovation Enigma by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate
Around the world, there is enormous enthusiasm for the type of technological innovation symbolized by Silicon Valley, with many attempting to replicate the ingenuity that they regard as America’s true comparative advantage. But there is a puzzle: it is difficult to detect the benefits of this innovation in GDP statistics.
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.
2014-03-04 Malthus, Marx, and Modern Growth by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate
The promise that each generation will be better off than the last is a fundamental tenet of modern society. But will future generations, particularly in advanced economies, realize such expectations?
2014-02-28 Drug Retail On A Roll by of GaveKal Capital
While the MSCI World consumer staples sector is not the source of scorching growth, there are some decent growth opportunities. Let's start by calibrating the drug retail industry within the consumer staples sector.
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.
2014-01-18 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.
2014-01-14 Investing Today with Long-Term Trends in Mind by Team of Manning & Napier
Short-term news may drive day-to-day market volatility, but over time the long-term trends ultimately matter. In this post, we examine the long-term trends that most investors are not focusing on today, and the potential risks and opportunities that lie ahead for those most affected - the Boomers (those commonly born between 1946 and 1964, and the Millennials (oftentimes those born between 1980 and 1999).
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.
2013-12-31 China\'s Policy Disharmony by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate
China was hardly lacking in policy pronouncements in the final months of 2013. Given the likely tradeoffs between strategy and tactics - that is, between long-term reforms and short-term growth - can Chinese policymakers really accomplish all of their objectives?
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?
2013-12-21 What Has QE Wrought? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Now that we have begun tapering, we will soon see lots of analysis about whether QE has been effective. What will the stock market do? The US economy seems to be moving in the right direction, but the Fed has forecast Nirvana (seriously) - do we dare hope they can finally get a forecast right? Or have they jinxed us?
2013-12-17 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 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.
2013-12-10 Best Practices for an Effective Teambuilding Exercise by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
I want to hold a teambuilding session. I don’t like to take everyone away from client calls for the day. Should we have this on a weekend? Or stay late one night? Do I include everyone, from our receptionist to senior advisors?
2013-12-10 Low Demand Will Depress Oil Prices by Patrick McVeigh (Article)
The U.S. - and indeed, the world as a whole - is approaching the threshold of peak oil demand, rather than peak supply. Prices will fall in the coming years, regardless of fluctuations in supply.
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.
2013-12-05 US Corporate Profit Margins Increase Again In The 3Q by Team of GaveKal Capital
US corporate profit margins are at their second highest level ever at 10.14%. The highest level was reached in the 4Q11 when profit margins spiked to 10.27%.
2013-12-04 US Economic Data Round-Up by Team of GaveKal Capital
ADP payroll data surprised to the upside today (215k vs 185k expected). It was the highest reading so far this year. Perhaps most encouragingly the gain was lead by small businesses.
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.’
2013-11-24 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.
2013-11-19 Asset Class Allocation and Portfolios: Critique and Complication by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
In Part 1 of this essay, I explained that for asset class allocation to become an investment practice, it required a foundation of theory. And Modern Portfolio Theory was that foundation. But today, most financial journalists and investment advisors who proffer advice centered on asset class allocation are?if I may judge from their writings?oblivious of this. And why shouldn’t they be? Theory is abstract and difficult to apprehend.
2013-11-19 Research from Yale on Commodities by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Many would consider the practice of placing assets in a commodity fund to be speculation rather than investing. That perception was amplified by a recent Bloomberg article, which reported the dismal performance of many managed-futures funds and commodity-trading advisors (CTAs). Contrary to that image, Geert Rouwenhorst, a Yale University professor, claims he has found a way to construct a commodity-based fund that earns a significant premium over inflation.
2013-11-19 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to Robert Huebscher’s article, Reflections on a Week in Cuba, which appeared last week, and a reader responds, to Bob Veres’ article, Why Deficits Don’t Matter, which appeared on October 29.
2013-11-17 The Unintended Consequences of ZIRP by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Two recently released papers make an intellectual and theoretical case for an extended period of very low interest rates and, in combination with other papers from both inside and outside the Fed from heavyweight economists, make a strong case for beginning to taper sooner rather than later, but for accompanying that tapering with a commitment to an even more protracted period of ZIRP. We are going analyze these papers, as they are critical to understanding the future direction of Federal Reserve policy. Secondly, we’ll look at some of the unintended consequences of long-term ZIRP.
2013-11-12 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.
2013-11-11 The Uncertain Future of Central Bank Supremacy by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate
Advanced countries’ central banks were among the first to warn that their ability to compensate for other policymakers’ inaction is neither endless nor risk-free. The trouble is that few outsiders seem to be listening, much less preparing to confront the limits of monetary policy’s effectiveness.
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.
2013-10-29 Why Deficits Don’t Matter by Bob Veres (Article)
Stephanie Kelton, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri/Kansas City, believes that the root of our deficit problems can be found in a fundamental misunderstanding ? shared by Democrats, Republicans and mainstream voters alike ? about the government’s balance sheet. She argues, plausibly, that the whole idea that we should control the deficit at all is costing our nation trillions of dollars in lost output. The result is lost income, savings, wealth and prosperity.
2013-10-29 Puerto Rico: “Always the money owing” by Hildy and Stan Richelson (Article)
We have not recommended or purchased Puerto Rico bonds for 12 years. This is not because we thought that Puerto Rico would imminently default. Rather, we did not like the low ratings and the Commonwealth’s ubiquitous and growing debt. We view an investment in bonds as a way to control risk, not to make outsized returns.
2013-10-29 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.
2013-10-28 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.
2013-10-22 Recession-Proof Your Marketing by Kristen Luke (Article)
The choices you make and actions you take today will influence how your business fares following the next market crash. Here are two marketing strategies you can implement now to prepare for the future.
2013-10-22 Bond Legend Dan Fuss on Rising Rates by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Having just celebrated his 80th birthday, Dan Fuss can claim a unique achievement ? his tenure in the fixed income markets has spanned a full market cycle, from the great bear market that began in the early 1950s through the equally great bull market that commenced in 1981. Fuss said today’s environment most closely resembles what he confronted in the late 1950s, when long-term rates were 3% and beginning their march upwards.
2013-10-21 Puerto Rico - What do you think of? by David Lieberman (Article)
The name should conjure up images of beautiful beaches, warm weather, and Old San Juan. But, for U.S. investors, it is increasingly conjuring up images of debt run amuck. Make no mistake, Puerto Rico has massive amounts of debt; nearly $70 billion, and that excludes their unfunded pension liabilities.
2013-10-17 The U.S. Budget Deal: Peace, for a Time by Team of Northern Trust
Less than 24 hours before the U.S. Treasury Department ran out of room to borrow, Congress arrived at an agreement to reopen the government and steer away from debt default. This news came as a great relief, but that feeling may only last a few months. Following are some highlights and an initial analysis of the accord.
2013-10-15 A Q3 client letter: Mike Tyson on Sticking to Your Plan by Dan Richards (Article)
Each quarter I post a template for a client letter, as a starting point for advisors who want to send clients an overview of the three months that just ended and the outlook for the period ahead.
2013-10-14 Waiting for the Fed by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The Fed is waiting for evidence of stronger economic growth before it tapers monetary policy, which requires new data that won’t be available until the budget and political impasse is settled. Measured GDP, when it becomes available, will be weakened by the shutdown, but workers will be paid and underlying trends remain fairly positive. The negotiations may be protracted and highly distracting while underway, but equities should rally as soon as the budget issue is either resolved or reduced in severity, as hinted by last week’s sharp rally in reaction to progress in the talks.
2013-10-12 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.
2013-10-08 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.
2013-10-07 Goose Bump Stuff... by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management
Scientific research and discovery has always been an important aspect of American life. This, in itself, should make us hopeful.
2013-10-07 Earnings Preview by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company
There’s an old saying on Wall Street: “The market never discounts the same thing twice.” With government-shutdown and debt-ceiling theatrics becoming an annual ritual, perhaps there’s something else behind the recent loss of market momentum.
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.
2013-09-28 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.
2013-09-25 Muni Market Resurgent by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management
In light of the recent recovery in fixed income markets and the outperformance of the municipal bond market in particular, I thought I would send a note to provide a brief update since we last sent our market observations in July and August. As you may recall, we stated in the clearest terms that we felt the recent rise in interest rates provided an attractive entry point for municipal bond investors.
2013-09-24 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.
2013-09-23 A Gross Failure of Communications by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Everyone was totally caught by surprise when the Fed announced it would maintain the $85 billion monthly rate of bond buying after Fed officials had carefully signaled for months that it would soon start tapering purchases. Moreover, the Fed’s justification was not compelling and the decision wrecked havoc with the Fed’s efforts to improve transparency. Investors are right to be confused. Still, bonds remain at risk, while stocks should continue to do well.
2013-09-17 Investing for Real People by Sponsored content by Oppenheimer Funds (Article)
Investor goals are the same, but solutions have changed. Today, aiming to meet basic needs requires new solutions. Laser focus on investor goals will help uncover appropriate investment opportunities. Expanding the opportunity set beyond the usual suspects will be critical to long-term success.
2013-09-16 Syria: Foreign Policy Turmoil is a Distraction for Investors by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The equity and bond markets have been buffeted by the turn of events in Syria, although incoming economic data is vastly more important than political developments. Syria remains a mess on many levels. But it is essentially irrelevant in affecting labor scarcity, inflation or possible changes in monetary policy. Many politicians and analysts consider the pace of growth unsatisfactory, but the moderate growth rate has been sufficient to bring down the unemployment rate, while corporate profits have increased.
2013-09-16 Time to Bench the Equity Benchmark Too? by Patrick Rudden of AllianceBernstein
While fixed-income investors are growing increasingly aware of the risks of benchmark-oriented bond portfolios in a period of rising rates, equity investors have recently also started to question the wisdom of cap-weighted indices. We would go even further and argue that the performance of a cap-weighted benchmark may be irrelevant for the long-term goals of many institutional investors.
2013-09-16 From the Fed to Congress: 4 Washington Issues to Watch by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
After the Fed announcement next week, market attention is likely to shift toward Congress for the remainder of the fall. According to Russ, four key issues up for debate have the potential to add to near-term volatility.
2013-09-10 Why DFA’s New Research is Flawed by Michael Edesess (Article)
DFA is a company with a laudable history, founded on solid principles and a valuable product concept. From its launch, the investment firm identified and filled a need at low cost to the client, based on elementary but sound theory and simple, compelling, transparent empirical research. It later increased its value to clients by pioneering passive trading strategies. I admire its founders and their accomplishments. But I am afraid the company has succumbed to a dreadful descent into scientism.
2013-09-10 Why Isn’t Our Practice Growing? by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
Our advisory firm has not grown much over the last five years. Except for death and divorces, we haven’t lost clients. But we haven’t obtained new assets. We have been to conferences and heard other advisors speak about their explosive growth, but I am dubious. Are advisory firms really growing so significantly or are we experiencing what most advisors have been over the last few years?
2013-09-09 Moving On - Five Years After Lehman by John Petrides (Article)
This month marks the fifth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers failure and the start of worst financial crisis in American history since the Great Depression, and yet to some investors, it seems like only yesterday. Investors still hold onto that period of volatility as if it will happen again tomorrow, paralyzing and confusing their investment decisions. Consequently, many investors have watched from the sidelines as the stock market has recovered solidly year after year.
2013-09-07 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.
2013-09-04 Money and Savings? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
I spoke to Ben Stein (American actor, writer, lawyer, and commentator on political and economic issues) a few weeks ago, and his parents sound a lot like my grandparents. My grandparents, and their peers, were just starting out in life during the depression. After experiencing those horrible economic times, saving for a rainy day became second nature.
2013-09-03 The Hidden Risk in Gold by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Since their introduction a little over a decade ago, gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have accumulated more than $500 billion in assets. Investors’ most common rationale for owning gold is that it acts as a hedge against financial instability or a sudden shock to the markets, such as the 9/11 attacks. But what if the flow of assets into gold ETFs plays a greater role in the price of gold than do investors’ fears of instability? Is gold the hedge investors believe it to be?
2013-09-03 Our Views as We Head into Autumn by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Economic growth prospects for the U.S. are slowly improving, implying that the unemployment rate will continue to work its way lower and corporate profits will keep rising. We expect the Fed to start tapering of its bond buying program in September. Interest rates should revert to more normal, higher levels, but stocks should also work their way higher. Nonetheless, investors will be focused on events surrounding Syria, at least over the near term.
2013-08-31 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.
2013-08-27 Five Essential Lessons from the Author of “Seven Habits” by Dan Richards (Article)
Who’s had the most impact on determining how businesspeople operate today?
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.
2013-08-20 Target-Date Funds: Why Higher Equity Allocations Work by Joe Tomlinson (Article)
Following the 2008 financial crisis, target-date funds (TDFs) were criticized for exposing investors nearing retirement to excessive equity allocations. Were those criticisms justified? How well do TDFs stack up against the venerable strategy of matching one’s bond allocation to one’s age? My research has yielded surprising answers to those questions and to the proper role of single-premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) alongside TDFs.
2013-08-17 Signs of the Top by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The investment media seems obsessed with the question of whether the Fed will taper. The real question should be not about "tapering" but about credibility. What happens when fundamentals become the narrative as opposed to what the central bank is doing? What happens if the Federal Reserve throws a liquidity party and nobody comes? Today we look at some of the fundamentals. The market is in fact overvalued, but that doesn’t mean it can’t become more overvalued. Is this August 1987 or August 1999?
2013-08-10 We Can't Take the Chance by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
What would it have been like to be a central banker in the midst of the crisis in 2008-09? You’d know that you won’t have the luxury of going back and making better decisions five years later. Instead, you have to act on the torrent of information that’s coming at you, and none of it is good. Major banks are literally collapsing, the interbank market is nonexistent and there is panic in the air. Perhaps you feel that panic in the pit of your stomach. This week we’ll perform a little thought experiment to see if we can extrapolate what is likely to happen in when the nex
2013-08-06 Three Steps to Make your Business Grow by Dan Richards (Article)
If you’ve got ambitious growth plans for your business, you need to track progress against three sets of objectives: three-year goals, one-year/quarterly goals and day-to-day goals. All three of these are essential for success ? but few advisors rigorously track progress in all of these categories.
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.
2013-08-05 Weak Job Growth? RX: Buy Stocks by Charles Lieberman (Article)
At dinner with friends on Saturday evening, I was asked if I’m still bullish. Another investment guy is now cautious, bordering on bearish. A discussion ensued. The case for being bearish remains weak and unconvincing, hardly even believable in my judgment. Much of the case seems to be driven by the notion that stocks have rallied a lot, so surely they must decline.
2013-07-30 The Power of Diversification and Safe Withdrawal Rates by Geoff Considine (Article)
When Bill Bengen published his seminal research in 1994, a 4% safe withdrawal rate (SWR) was clearly attainable with a variety of asset allocations. But bond yields are lower now than they were then, and equity returns for the next 20 years are unlikely to exceed those of the prior two decades. Indeed, a new paper by three highly respected researchers showed that SWRs for stock-bond portfolios are well below 4%. But as I will demonstrate, a 4% SWR is still possible with a more diversified portfolio ? and without subjecting clients to additional risk.
2013-07-30 Five Web Metrics Advisors Should Be Tracking by Kristen Luke (Article)
Do you look at your website analytics report and have no idea what it means? Don’t worry. Unless you are a professional web marketer, most of the data you see on those reports won’t impact your business in any significant way. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore your website statistics all together.
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.
2013-07-29 Misreading Chinese Rebalancing by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate
China’s economic slowdown has caused Western pundits to succumb, once again, to the “China Crash” syndrome. But, though the composition of Chinese GDP growth appears disconcerting, the rebalancing of any economy a major structural transformation in the sources of output growth can hardly be expected to occur overnight.
2013-07-27 A Lost Generation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
This week we will briefly look at why weak consumer spending is going to become an even greater problem in the coming years, and we will continue to look at some disturbing trends in employment.
2013-07-23 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?
2013-07-16 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.
2013-07-15 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.
2013-07-13 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.
2013-07-10 Stocks v. Bonds: What Happens When Prices Decouple? by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company
Are today’s falling bond prices a sign of confidence in economic growth and earnings power? Or might higher bond yields derail the current equity bull market? While the answer is far from clear, history teaches us to be cautious when bond prices decline sharply during an extended equity rally.
2013-07-09 Business Building for Advisors by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
I have received so many questions related to sales skills and business building that I will offer some basic tips for readers who want to energize their sales process and grow their firms. It’s no surprise that most advisors don’t sell naturally and in most cases think of selling as unpleasant. ’I want to clients to refer on their own ? I don’t want to sell them on doing so,’ is a refrain I hear over and over again.
2013-07-09 U.S. Stocks Continue to Dominate ? What’s Next? by Ron Surz (Article)
U.S. stocks earned 2.5% in the second quarter, bringing the year-to-date return up to a lofty 14%. By contrast, the EAFE index lost 1% in the quarter, bringing its year-to-date return down to 4%. In fact, as shown in the following graph, no other asset class comes even close to the return on U.S. stocks so far this year.
2013-07-08 What Really Matters by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke has made quite clear that the Fed’s decision to reduce its bond buying program is data dependent, so many people now wonder if some recent weaker data, such as the downwardly revised Q1 GDP, may signal that the Fed is likely to continue buying bonds at the $85 billion monthly pace for a while longer. To paraphrase George Orwell, some data is more equal than other data. Monthly employment data top the list, although monthly inflation reports, if they were to show any meaningful rise in inflation, would immediately trump the jobs report.
2013-07-02 Gundlach’s One-Word Explanation for June’s Decline by Robert Huebscher (Article)
According to Doubleline’s Jeffrey Gundlach, a single word explains the declines global capital markets experienced in June.
2013-07-01 \"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.
2013-06-25 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.
2013-06-24 Quick Takes by Charles Lieberman (Article)
One of the issues being hyped these days is over the uncertainty surrounding Fed policy, which quite candidly, I don’t get. Short of laying out precise dates and amounts, the Fed has provided exceptionally detailed guidance that it will ease off the accelerator over the coming months, as long as the unemployment continues trending down. Downside risks have receded, the economy is improving, and extraordinary measures for policy are no longer needed. On the economy’s current trajectory, the Fed suggests it will no longer be engaged in QE by next summer.
2013-06-24 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.
2013-06-18 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.
2013-06-17 Sector Distortions Can Be Costly in Passive Investing by Joseph Paul, Kevin Simms of AllianceBernstein
Passive investing strategies that emulate an index have become increasingly popular. But passive investing can go awry when sector concentrations leave investors exposed to unintended risks.
2013-06-17 Anecdotal Insights into the Housing Market by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The current obsession is over when the Fed will begin to withdraw some of its quantitative easing policy and how this will affect markets. This is adding some volatility back into the markets, even though this change in policy has been expected for a long time. Since Fed policy is likely to change only gradually and will do little to tip the valuation balance between stocks and bonds for quite some time, we see little reason to temper our fundamentally bullish stance towards stocks and bearish view of bonds.
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.
2013-06-10 Worry de Jour by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The current obsession is over when the Fed will begin to withdraw some of its quantitative easing policy and how this will affect markets. This is adding some volatility back into the markets, even though this change in policy has been expected for a long time. Since Fed policy is likely to change only gradually and will do little to tip the valuation balance between stocks and bonds for quite some time, we see little reason to temper our fundamentally bullish stance towards stocks and bearish view of bonds.
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.
2013-06-04 Vincent Reinhart on Debt and Growth in the U.S. and Japan by Robert Huebscher (Article)
High debt levels translate to slower growth, according to Vincent Reinhart. That conclusion will be disheartening to those who jumped on the errors several University of Massachusetts scholars found last month in Carmen Reinhart (Vincent’s wife) and Ken Rogoff’s research. But Vincent Reinhart is the author, along with his wife and Rogoff, of a study published in 2012 that documented the degree to which high debt-to-GDP levels correlate with slower economic growth in developed countries.
2013-06-01 Central Bankers Gone Wild by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
For the last two weeks we have focused on the problems facing Japan, and such is the importance of Japan to the world economy that this week we will once again turn to the Land of the Rising Sun. I will try to summarize the situation facing the Japanese. This is critical to understand, because they are determined to share their problems with the world, and we will have no choice but to deal with them. Japan is going to affect your economy and your investments, no matter where you live; Japan is that important.
2013-05-28 Economic Climate Change & the Long-Term View on Yields by Sponsored Content from Loomis Sayles (Article)
Will rates rise? It’s a logical question. US Treasury yields have been in a secular downward trend since the 1980s and almost frozen at historic lows for the last several months. While recent cyclical improvements suggest the US economy is heating up, we do not expect interest rates to start soaring to record highs. The interest rate environment will eventually undergo climate change, but the process will be gradual. There are secular headwinds cooling rates, and we expect them to persist for years to come.
2013-05-28 Corrections Remain Modest by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Many investors are waiting for the proverbial market correction, so they have an opportunity to get into the market rally. Many investors are holding back because they don’t want to buy at a market top after such a major run. This approach has been a disaster, since the market has given them no such buying windows so far. A correction must eventually occur of course, but quite possibly only from higher levels. Stocks remain the place to be.
2013-05-25 The Mother of All Painted-In Corners by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Japan has painted itself into the mother all corners. There will be no clean or easy exit. There is going to be massive economic pain as they the Japanese try and find a way out of their problems, and sadly, the pain will not be confined to Japan. This will be the true test of the theories of neo-Keynesianism writ large. Japan is going to print and monetize and spend more than almost any observer can currently imagine. You like what Paul Krugman prescribes? You think he makes sense? You (we all!) are going to be participants in a real-world experiment on how that works out.
2013-05-14 David Rosenberg ? My Love Affair with Bonds is Over by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The chorus of rate-spike-fearing inflationists has a new member. David Rosenberg, a stalwart advocate of fixed-income investing for the last quarter century, publicly declared on May 3 that his “love affair with the bond market has come to an end.” Prepare for a redux of 1970s stagflation, he said, and he advised investors how to construct portfolios to prepare for that scenario.
2013-05-14 Mohamed El-Erian: The Three-Speed Global Economy by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The global economy is operating at three distinct speeds, according to Mohamed El-Erian, and investors need to understand the implications of the divergent paths that key countries are following. Japan and most European countries are going backward, he said, and could continue in that direction for decades. The U.S. is “healing,” but not quickly enough to get to “escape velocity.” Certain emerging markets, meanwhile, are adapting technology and innovation and are growing rapidly.
2013-05-14 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to Robert Huebscher’s article, Niall Ferguson: Four Reasons Why the U.S. is Failing, which appeared last week.
2013-05-13 An Idea Around Disclosure and Something to Consider on Pension Reform by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis
A fair amount was written this week regarding the SEC Cease and Desist Order against the City of Harrisburg (“Order”) and, while certainly not privy to all that was said, we want to take a slightly different perspective. Before getting there, a very brief summation of the Legal Discussion from the Order and the SEC’s Report of Investigation (“Report”).
2013-05-07 Niall Ferguson: Four Reasons Why the U.S. is Failing by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Niall Ferguson is the champion of anti-Keynesian economists. Last week, he explained why America’s pursuit of Keynesian policies is leading to disastrous consequences.
2013-05-07 How to Construct a Low-Cost Conservative Portfolio by Geoff Considine (Article)
One of the greatest challenges for investors today is constructing low-risk portfolios that provide the best returns using low-cost funds or ETFs. Doing so requires advisors to define risk as the potential for retirees to fail to achieve their financial goals, instead of as volatility, as it is traditionally measured. I will show how to construct a low-cost portfolio that minimizes this definition of risk while generating a reasonable real return.
2013-05-07 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.
2013-05-06 The Narrative Changes Yet Again by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The April employment report suggests that the economy continues to expand at a moderate pace, as had been the common view prior to the March employment report. While sequestration and the hike in the payroll tax at the beginning of the year may have taken a bite out of growth, hindsight indicates the economy entered 2013 with enough momentum to overcome these new forms of fiscal drag. Growth should strengthen over the coming months, as lower oil prices and time overcome the negative influences.
2013-04-30 Implementing Behavioral Portfolio Management by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)
Behavioral portfolio management is based on the notion that if the advisor can redirect his or her emotions and mitigate the impact of client emotions, it is possible to build superior portfolios by harnessing market emotions. This article describes how this can be done and presents evidence of the superiority of focusing on investor behavior when constructing and managing portfolios.
2013-04-30 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A number of readers responded to Robert Huebscher’s article, The New Challenges to Reinhart and Rogoff, which appeared last week.
2013-04-29 Long Live China's Slowdown by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate
China doubters around the world have been quick to pounce on slower-than-expected GDP growth in the first quarter of this year. But slower growth is actually good for China provided that it reflects the long-awaited shift to an economic structure that draws greater support from domestic private consumption.
2013-04-29 Did You Blink and Miss the Correction? by Charles Lieberman (Article)
A stock market correction has been widely talked about for more than a month and the 2% decline in stock prices during the week of April 15 may have been it. Why so short and shallow? Many investors have not participated in the equity rally since it started in March 2009. They were too fearful of stocks because of the 2008 meltdown and they sought refuge in bonds. Despite the four year long rally, stocks remain cheap and many investors wish for a decline so they have a chance to get back in.
2013-04-24 The Road To Omaha by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
We have been discussing keys to the investment success of Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway as we approach the 2013 annual meeting. In this week’s edition, we are considering a company which might make a good “elephant” for Berkshire to buy.
2013-04-23 The New Challenges to Reinhart and Rogoff by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Advocates for debt reduction and austerity have had no more authoritative sources than Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff. But last week, these two professors had to defend claims that errors in their research ? ranging from a typo in a spreadsheet to the failure to include data from New Zealand ? invalidated their much-acclaimed findings.
2013-04-23 Venerated Voices? Q1 2013 by Advisor Perspectives (Article)
Advisor Perspectives, a leading publisher serving financial advisors and the financial advisory community, has published its Venerated Voices awards for articles published in Q1 2013.
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.
2013-04-09 John Hussman ? Why Prospective Returns Are Low by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Monetary and fiscal policies have driven our economy into an unstable equilibrium, pushing investors into higher-yielding securities, according to John Hussman. But those higher yields are illusory, he said, because corporate profit margins are too high to be sustainable.
2013-04-08 “Country Roads, Take Me Home,To The Place I Belong ” by David Lieberman (Article)
Recently, I was listening to a Pod Cast from This American Life about the increasing disability rolls in the United States. The story itself was excellent and I would highly recommend it, but the implications of the numbers are equally remarkable. In the past 20 years, the number of people on disability in the United States has soared, even recently when the unemployment rate has declined materially. Rather than focus on the policy decisions, causes of this phenomena, or even whether they are logical, good, or bad, I’m going to focus purely on the unemployment and economic ramifications
2013-04-02 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.
2013-03-21 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.
2013-03-18 Little Hope for the Government Budget by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The President spoke to Republicans this week to see if they could find common ground to overrule the budget sequester and form the basis for a new agreement over the budget, taxes and government spending going forward. Instead, the meeting crystallized how far apart the two sides are in their vision for a deal. Since there is no budget or broader economic crisis looming, there is nothing to force the two sides into an agreement.
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.
2013-03-07 Mexico Breaking Good? by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate
Mexico is enjoying a manufacturing boom that has boosted its exports to the US after a long secular decline. With China's wages soaring and rising oil prices driving up shipping costs, production in Mexico is suddenly looking much more attractive, even taking security concerns into account.
2013-03-07 Three Dimensions of Discipline by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments
As New Year's resolutions fade into guilty memories, it's a bitter reminder that maintaining discipline, in life and investing, is just plain hard. Despite best intentions, bear markets can tempt investors to sell everything, while bull markets can whip people into a buying frenzy, both courses of action that rarely end happily.
2013-03-05 Breaking Free from the Safe Withdrawal Rate Paradigm: Extending the Efficient Frontier for Retiremen by Wade Pfau (Article)
The traditional safe withdrawal rate approach that relies on a portfolio of only stocks and bonds produces among the worst possible outcomes for meeting spending needs and preserving financial assets for other uses. My research demonstrates there is a better approach.
2013-03-05 What Economists can Learn from Downton Abbey by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Economists warn that the U.S. economy could be heading toward one of two catastrophes: the two-decade long stagnation that has befallen Japan, or the hyperinflation that struck Zimbabwe and the Weimar Republic. Such cautionary tales alert policymakers to the failed efforts of their predecessors. But the most relevant comparison is rarely cited ? to Great Britain in the 1920s, as depicted in the highly popular PBS series Downton Abbey.
2013-03-05 Understanding the Risk in Bonds by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Treasury bond prices rallied this past week, as sequestration promised to act as a drag on growth, while a very messy election result in Italy also pushed safe haven investors into Treasuries. Both factors are likely to be short lived insofar as they support bond prices. Interest rates are likely to head higher even with Fed policy likely to remain highly accommodative. Initially, longer maturity bond prices will decline and the yield curve will steepen.
2013-02-27 Specializing in Tax-Friendly Investment Strategies by Jim Tillar, Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup
Since the turn of the century (2000) investors have not had to think much about tax-friendly investment strategies due to two major bear markets. But times have changed. The stock market is near all-time highs and many, if not all, of investors' loss carry forwards have been used up. More importantly, the Obama administration has already raised tax rates on the wealthy and the outlook is for tax increases to broaden as part of the solution to taming our debt and deficit problems. The bottom line is that investors need a new strategy for this environment.
2013-02-26 The Postman May Not Ring at All by Paul DiGiacomo of Columbia Management
United States Postal Service is technically insolvent. Last year, the agency exhausted its borrowing capacity and failed to pay $11 billion into its retiree health plan. This year, it will not make a $6 billion contribution. While the current cash balance of $2 billion is sufficient for 10 days of operation, management forecasts a $100 million deficit by October. When payments to employees and suppliers end, so too will the mail.
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 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 Ketchup vs Cash by John Petrides (Article)
Last week Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, along with 3G Capital, bought Heinz (ticker HNZ) for $28 billion, paying a 20% premium to the prior trading day’s closing price (as well as Buffet rewarding himself with preferred stock yielding 9%). Heinz is a mature company trying to reestablish growth by selling ketchup and other condiments in developing countries. However, Heinz is a classic "steady-eddy."
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 Ten Minutes that Uncovers What?s Really Important to Prospects by Dan Richards (Article)
It can be incredibly hard to get prospects ? and even some clients ? to let down their guard and talk openly about what really matters to them. That's why a 10-minute Priorities Exercise is an essential tool. Using a list of 20 possible priorities as a starting point, the exercise quickly homes in on the most important issues in people's lives in a comfortable, unobtrusive fashion.
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.
2013-02-06 Where Will Home Prices Rise the Most? Check the Law. by Adam Artunian of John Burns Real Estate Consulting
Inventories have plummeted in Western markets over the last year, helping to spur robust price growth. Our home price index (below) shows just how much price appreciation has occurred (the index is 5+/- months more current than Case Shiller and removes the mix-shift bias).
2013-02-05 Apple the Next Microsoft?We Could Be So Lucky by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)
Investors' fears over a sluggish future for Apple's stock are misplaced. Even as Apple's business succumbs to the same economic forces that humbled Microsoft a dozen years ago, the future for Apple's stock is vastly more hopeful.
2013-02-05 Why Cash Kills by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Many investors remain in cash, earning nothing, out of fear that the rally in the stock market may be unsustainable or that such issues as the fiscal impasse or Europe's fiscal problems may yet start another meltdown. But while they remain focused on potential adverse developments, they suffer from the near zero interest rate they are earning on cash. Even in today's low inflation environment, such investors are experiencing a persistent erosion in the purchasing power of their capital, which will impair their ability to grow their portfolios in the future.
2013-01-31 Investing in the Robot Revolution: Part 1 by Catherine Wood, Michael Shavel of AllianceBernstein
As robots increasingly take over processes currently performed by humans, we believe that an inflection point in manufacturing automation is imminent. Transport and healthcare will quickly follow, with enormous social, economic and hence investment implications.
2013-01-29 Predicting Asset Class Returns: Recommendations for Financial Planners by Joe Tomlinson (Article)
Developing reasonable estimates for stock and bond returns requires more than just historical data or the assumptions provided in financial software packages. Inappropriate assumptions can doom retirees to outliving their savings or forgoing a life style they could otherwise afford. There are better ways to forecast, and in this article I'll suggest a few of them.
2013-01-28 Conflicted Objectives by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Policymakers in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and elsewhere all seek to weaken their currencies to stimulate exports and domestic growth. It is not possible for all of them to succeed, since some currencies must rise in value, if others decline. Although their individual objectives may be in conflict, their efforts are actually mutually supportive. As each country runs an accommodative monetary policy to weaken its currency, they are also simultaneously promoting stronger domestic growth directly. Indirectly, they are also stimulating demand for their trading partners.
2013-01-23 Dissipating Gloom by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Investor confidence seems to be returning, as the economic outlook improves and policy concerns are addressed. The tone of media coverage and strategy commentaries has improved considerably. Nonetheless, investors are not positioned for a more optimistic view. Hedge funds and other professional money managers remain underexposed to equities and retail investors are dreadfully light in equities and badly overweight bonds. Stocks will enjoy a very nice tailwind as these portfolios are rebalanced to reflect the more positive view.
2013-01-22 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 Venerated Voices by Ranks Economic and Market Commentaries Most Read by Financial Advisors (Article)
Here are the winners of our 2012 Venerated Voices awards: the top commentaries, authors and firms for the past year, based on readership.
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 The Nothing That Is by Michael Lewitt (Article)
The world is awash in money. But money isn't what it used to be. I would point to two characteristics of modern money that should be keeping portfolio managers up at night (they certainly keep me up at night).
2013-01-08 2012: Resumption of the Stock Market Recovery by Ronald Surz (Article)
Let's take a close look at the details of what occurred in 2012 so we can assess the opportunities and prepare for the surprises that 2013 will bring. I'll give you my opinions, and you should form your own.
2013-01-08 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.
2013-01-07 Investments That May Keep Me Up at Night in 2013 by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The outlook for 2013 is quite improved compared with 2012. Domestic economic growth prospects are significantly less troublesome. The election is over. Europe has (painfully) slowly made progress in reducing its own budget problems. It is not all clear sailing, however. (It never is.) Europe remains a work in progress. All of the geopolitical risks of 2012, notably North Korea, Iran, and all of the rest of the Middle East, remain on the docket in 2013. And the battle over the U.S. budget will resume in the near future.
2013-01-02 How to Boost Your Team?s Morale by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
With the new year rapidly approaching, I want to instill enthusiasm and excitement for my team. We are concerned about the events in Washington and the price we will pay for inaction by our politicians. In the face of this, I want to remind my team of the value we provide for our clients. How can I instill the boost I'm seeking without seeming fake or forced?
2013-01-02 The Unstarvable Beast by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate
As US President in the 1980's, the conservative icon Ronald Reagan described his approach to fiscal policy as "starve the beast": cutting taxes will eventually force people to accept less government spending. So why has the cost of government not only in the US continued to rise inexorably?
2013-01-02 Pyrrhic Victory in the Budget Battle? by Charles Lieberman (Article)
President Obama kicked the Republicans' rear ends all over the ring in the budget battle and scored an overwhelming victory. He got pretty much everything he wanted, while giving up no more than token concessions. The lopsided mismatch between increased tax revenues from upper income households and the almost total absence of spending restraint implies that achieving real deficit reduction eluded negotiators to the long-term detriment of the economy.
2012-12-27 The Ten Best Articles You Probably Missed by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Great articles don't always get the readership they deserve. We've posted the 10 most-widely read articles for the past year. Below are another 10 that you might have missed, but I believe merit reading.
2012-12-26 Gundlach's High-Conviction Investment Idea by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Count Jeffrey Gundlach among those who expect Japan's currency to collapse because it can't service its debt. Japan's challenges may parallel those that the US faces, and Gundlach feels strongly that they have created a compelling investment opportunity.
2012-12-26 How to Develop Unsinkable Conviction by Mariko Gordon (Article)
In our tumultuous business, conviction is a necessary ingredient for ensuring clear decision making and success. Here are two unconventional techniques for boosting yours.
2012-12-18 Jeremy Siegel on 'Dow 15,000' by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Jeremy Siegel was one of very few individuals to have correctly predicted the strong performance of the equity markets over the last year. The Wharton professor and author of the renowned book, Stocks for the Long Run, forecasts continued strong performance for the year ahead.
2012-12-18 Comparing Long-Term Care Alternatives by Joe Tomlinson (Article)
Should clients buy expensive long-term care insurance they might never need, or go without insurance and risk a big hit to their life savings? For advisors whose clients face this critical dilemma, there's now a third option: life insurance and annuity products that also incorporate long-term care insurance.
2012-12-18 Three Takeaways from the Fed by David Rosenberg (Article)
The equity market likes the prospect of more money printing and the Fed's more forceful efforts to reflate the economy, and stocks are a far better inflation hedge than bonds.
2012-12-18 Better Angels by Michael Lewitt (Article)
If all else fails, President Obama should lock the members of Congress inside the Capital about a week before Christmas, post the military at the door, hang big-screen television in each chamber, tune them to CNBC, and turn up the volume up. Faced with listening to endless repetitions of the words "rising above" or "fiscal cliff" or "kick the can down the road," our legislators will have no trouble reaching a compromise quickly.
2012-12-18 The Case for Conservative Optimism by Clark M. Blackman II (Article)
Advisors should heed the wisdom from George Washington: Troubles pass. Tomorrow will be better. This kind of optimism is the key to finding success as an investor, as a businessperson, and in life.
2012-12-17 Growing Dividends by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Dividends are rising rapidly. I'm not referring to the surge in special dividend payments that are intended to get ahead of the expected hike in tax rates on dividends in 2013, although that's also significant. I am referring to the ongoing week after week hike in regular dividends being reported by companies, as firms cope with high level of cash flow that adds to their record cash position. Stocks are cheap and growing dividends will only make them appear even cheaper.
2012-12-11 Shared Sacrifice by David Rosenberg (Article)
Now that everyone is focused like a laser beam on Fiscal Armageddon, it may be more appropriate to look at what is happening on Main Street rather than Washington. Looking ahead, it is going to be more about the economy, and taking it a step further, at times like these, it is important to understand where the real economic power resides, and this is with the people.
2012-12-11 The Next Generation of Income Guarantee Riders: Part 3 (The Income Phase) by Wade Pfau (Article)
In this third and final installment in my series on guarantee riders, I'll focus on the post-retirement income supported by income guarantee riders for variable annuities (VA/GLWBs), stand-alone living benefit riders (SALBs), and an unguaranteed portfolio of mutual funds. I'll highlight how differences among these products affect their end results, while also investigating what roles guarantees can most appropriately play in a retirement portfolio.
2012-12-11 Fine Wine - Why it's for More than Just Drinking by Mark E. Ricardo, JD, LLM, AAMS (Article)
For many investors, an ideal asset class would combine superior long-term absolute and risk-adjusted returns with a hedge against inflation and stock market volatility. There's a way to get all of that, in an asset class you might never have thought of until now: fine wine. Investment-grade wine deserves careful consideration, particularly now that - unlike other collectibles, such as art and rare books - it can be traded on a regulated exchange.
2012-12-10 Food, Water, Electricity & Shelter by John Petrides (Article)
As investors continue to grapple with near term, well documented, uncertainties surrounding the fiscal cliff and global economy, the market continues to present some interesting long term investment opportunities, particularly in our Growth strategy.
2012-12-04 Nate Silver's Message for Financial Advisors by Ben Huebscher and Michael Edesess (Article)
By now you are likely aware that Nate Silver of the New York Times correctly predicted the results for all 50 states (plus DC) in this year's presidential election and all but two Senate races. Silver's predictive capabilities across a range of disciplines have made him a near-deity among those whose livelihood depends on accurate forecasting - from poker players to counter-terrorism units. It's clear why: His methods work - at least in some cases. And their strengths and limitations carry important lessons for financial advisors.
2012-12-04 The Big Picture by David Rosenberg (Article)
Our crystal ball says to stick with what works in an uncertain financial and economic climate - in other words, maintain a defensive and income-oriented investment strategy.
2012-12-04 Surprising Choices in the Search for Safety Near-Certain Loss of Purchasing Power versus Short-Term by Jason Petitte, CFA (Article)
Risk, in its many guises, is unavoidable, and investors today are taking on significant amounts of credit risk, duration, and leverage to obtain high yields from many presumably safe bonds. But certain types of risk are often mispriced. By overweighting one's portfolio to those sectors that currently offer attractive risk-adjusted returns, investors will be better positioned to meet their long-term goals.
2012-12-04 Cliff Diving by Michael Lewitt (Article)
While there may be compromise to avoid the self-inflicted crisis of the fiscal cliff, the course of fiscal policy is unlikely to alter significantly. There is a great deal of bold talk about tax reform, but the odds of our current leaders replacing our profoundly flawed tax regime with one that would breed economic growth and productivity are low. Congress will be lucky to avoid the fiscal cliff; asking it to alter the economy's DNA is unrealistic.
2012-11-27 The Superiority of Dividends: A Comparison of Value Strategies by Geoff Considine (Article)
Dividend-focused strategies have won the allegiance of many prominent investors, including Rob Arnott, Bill Gross and Jeremy Siegel. Others claim value-based strategies offer superior risk-adjusted returns. Both sides can claim a partial victory in this debate, but I will show that, when understood properly, dividend strategies offer a crucial edge - one that many investors will find attractive.
2012-11-27 Over the Cliff: Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles on the Looming Deficit Crises by Michael Skocpol (Article)
As President Obama and Congressional leaders hurtle Thelma-and-Louise-style toward a budgetary precipice, another deficit-tackling duo hit the road earlier this month to deliver a simple message: This all could have been avoided.
2012-11-27 A Critique of Grantham and Gordon: The Prospects for Long-term Growth by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
The vigorous global economic growth of the last two centuries is over, according to Jeremy Grantham and Robert Gordon. That prediction, if correct, has profound and worrisome implications for investors. And the short-term trend is indeed disquieting: Growth has been close to zero over the last decade in advanced countries. But the most likely outcome is that per capita GDP growth going forward will approximate its U.S. historical average of 1.8%, and it will grow faster in developing markets.
2012-11-26 Negativity Creates Value; What if the Mayans are Wrong? by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Being negative is easy and sophisticated, so it is attractive for pundits, analysts and the media to play the part. But, it also creates tremendous opportunity. The market seems to be discounting the possibility that the world will come to an end along with the Mayan calendar in near term. If the market is correct, investment strategy doesn't matter. But if the market is incorrect, there are tremendous investment opportunities.
2012-11-20 Kyle Bass on the Next Big Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)
If economics could be studied in a laboratory, scientists might concoct something like the circumstances now unfolding in Japan ? and policymakers should be paying close attention. According to Kyle Bass, Japan's currency ? and its bond market ? are about to collapse under the weight of the country's unsustainable fiscal deficit.
2012-11-20 President Obama?s Re-Election and the Impact on the U.S. Economy by Eaton Vance Distributors, Inc. (Article)
President Obama?s re-election resolves a major element of uncertainty that has hung over the political landscape. But what kind of impact will his victory have on the economy and the markets, especially with the House still in Republican control? We posed that question to a roundtable of five investment professionals from Eaton Vance Management, Hexavest and Richard Bernstein Advisors.
2012-11-20 Mad Max Rides Again by Mariko Gordon (Article)
It's been a sometimes gruesome, often fierce ride here in the New York area since Sandy hit last month. There's a parallel between the changes brought by the hurricane and those in today's investment environment.
2012-11-20 The Fallacies in Today?s Retirement Plan Assumptions: Putting the Hedonic Pleasure Index to Work by Bob Veres (Article)
Are you dramatically underestimating your clients' retirement lifestyle expenditures when you use Monte Carlo software? If you stop and look at a number of important assumptions hidden in the current models, you'll suddenly have a lot less confidence in the retirement plans you?re mapping out for your clients.
2012-11-19 Waiting for Godot by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Democratic and republican policymakers are actively negotiating over the fiscal cliff, as investors watch and wait with baited breath. They seem to be making progress, or so they suggest in their public comments. But until the situation is resolved, markets are likely to remain volatile. Other issues do seem to be moving towards resolution.
2012-11-13 David Rosenberg on Obama's Victory by David Rosenberg (Article)
The election is behind us. The Fed has spent its last bullet. We are at an inflection point of the earnings and sales cycle. The fiscal cliff, the Chinese political transition and the spread of the euro zone recession to the north lie ahead.
2012-11-13 Voyages by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Anything short of drastic entitlement reform, serious cutbacks in defense spending, and serious tax reform that alters incentives away from speculation in favor of production will leave this country stuck on the dangerous path it is on today.
2012-11-13 The Real Job Creators by Justin Locke (Article)
The election is behind us, but a politically charged phrase that took a starring role in the campaign lingers on: "job creators." Now that cooler heads are returning, it's time to get past the politics and acknowledge the facts: Capital, by itself, does not create jobs. Jobs are created by salespeople.
2012-11-06 Lacy Hunt on Our Economic Future by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Last week I spoke with Lacy Hunt, an unequivocal advocate of deficit reduction. Hunt defended ? as persuasively as few others can ? the need to address our fiscal imbalances. But equally respected economists are advocating for the other extreme, and he shares some common ground with them.
2012-11-06 ClearBridge Advisors - Market Commentary Q312 by Harry ?Hersh? Cohen (Article)
Vibrant end demand is missing, as consumers have neither the wherewithal nor the will to spend as they did in prior periods.
2012-11-06 David Rosenberg on Hurricane Sandy: Missing the Boat by David Rosenberg (Article)
As I read and digest reports estimating the damage from the devastating storm, I sense that there are far too many economists who are relying too heavily on past major hurricanes as they draw their conclusions from the current experience with Sandy.
2012-11-06 Asset Location: Nine Tips to Create ?Tax Alpha? by Glenn Frank (Article)
With campaign season finally over, taxes are going to dominate the debate in Washington in the months ahead ? however things shake out at the polls today. It's going to be confusing; it's going to be uncertain. But many of the most critical questions advisors will ask can be answered with an analytical approach to deciding where to 'house' assets ? in taxable or tax-sheltered accounts.
2012-11-05 Day of Reckoning by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Tomorrow's election is too close to call according to the polls, while Friday's jobs report was decent, blemishes notwithstanding. Super storm Sandy was and remains a severely disruptive force to the Northeast, particularly New Jersey. A few thoughts on these issues follow.
2012-10-30 Building Portfolios that Beat their Benchmark: Measuring Nanometers with a Yardstick by Bob Veres (Article)
Using tools he co-developed with the Nobel-prize winning economist Bill Sharpe, one advisor has found that he can reliably outperform an appropriate benchmark. His work proves it is possible to build a portfolio knowledgably. You just need the right tools to get the job done.
2012-10-30 The Yield Hunt by Michael Lewitt (Article)
The high-yield market is not in danger of imminent collapse as some have argued. As long as defaults remain relatively low, and interest rates remain invisible, investors will continue to chase yield. But a few things could cause a sharp sell-off in the near future.
2012-10-30 Finding Hidden Revenue with Existing Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Investor skepticism and an uncertain economy are challenging advisors to maintain revenue growth and practice profitability. That's why I was intrigued by an advisor who's used a simple strategy to achieve substantial growth in assets from existing clients, even though she already managed most of their money.
2012-10-23 She Turns Sea Shells by the Sea Shore by Mariko Gordon (Article)
I love the sea. Always have. I explain how my seaside search for shells while unplugging on the Gulf Coast of Florida led to some useful insights related to uncovering an investment manager's process.
2012-10-16 Stiglitz vs. Bremmer: What?s Next for the Global Economy? by Ben Huebscher (Article)
On October 3rd, the same night Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were clashing in their first debate, two equally polarized men met in New York City's Kaufmann Concert Hall to discuss the future of economics, both here and abroad.
2012-10-16 The New World of Credit by Michael Lewitt, Editor, The Credit Strategist (Article)
In an era in which economies are driven by the creation of fiat money by central banks, and where the base of hard money is dwarfed by the volume of outstanding debt, every form of capital is tied to credit. In 1919, William Butler Yeats famously wrote that 'the center cannot hold.' A century later, there is no center.
2012-10-09 Is Gluskin's David Rosenberg Right about Utilities? by Geoff Considine (Article)
They're not the sexiest property on the Monopoly board, but in today's market, there's plenty of evidence mounting that utilities are a great source of income. Indeed, Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg made the case for utilities in a recent commentary.
2012-10-09 Dividend Income: Music to Our Ears by ClearBridge Advisors (Article)
The hunger for income among investors is helping put dividends in the spotlight, say Hersh Cohen and Mike Clarfeld of ClearBridge.
2012-10-09 A Q3 Letter to Clients - Insights from a Wall Street Legend by Dan Richards (Article)
Here is a template for a letter to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients an overview of the past 90 days and the outlook for the period ahead. In it, I draw upon investing principles articulated by the legendary Barton Biggs, who passed away earlier this year.
2012-10-09 High-Dividend Yield Strategy under the Microscope by Michael Nairne (Article)
High-dividend yield stocks have become the favorite recommendation of a host of advisors, but an undue focus on income alone obscures the irreducible fact that long-term investment success is based on the total return of a portfolio including both income and capital growth. This raises two questions. How has the total return of a high-dividend yield strategy fared relative to the market? How does its total-return performance compare to the returns of other possible stock-selection strategies?
2012-10-09 The Yin and Yang of 2012 Stock Markets Through September by Ron Surz (Article)
Despite investor concerns about the economy, stock markets delivered substantial returns in the year-to-date, with the S&P 500 returning more than 16% and Europe, Australasia, Far East (the EAFE index) delivering more than 10%. This growth has been in the face of investor withdrawals from equity mutual funds. So if mutual fund investors are selling, who is buying?
2012-10-08 The Great Debate by John Petrides (Article)
The first of three presidential debates kicked off last week with each candidate portraying the core fundamentals of their respective party, neither of which backed down from their beliefs. As the candidates continue to jockey for sound bites, a debate among investors continues to rage: What will happen to the market after the election?
2012-10-02 Confronting the Unemployment Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Policymakers seeking a path to economic recovery must first answer one crucial question: Is our persistently high unemployment structural or cyclical? If it's cyclical, then monetary and fiscal measures designed to boost consumer spending will restore the US to full employment in due course. But if we face a structural problem, then quick fixes won't work until we correct deeper imbalances that have left 12.5 million Americans without jobs.
2012-10-02 Woody Brock on Why to Own Stocks Now by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Dr. Horace 'Woody' Brock is the founder Strategic Economic Decisions and the author of American Gridlock. In a recent talk, he explained why investors should own stocks - particularly those with stable dividends - and why bonds are very risky in today's environment. This is the transcript; a video of this talk is also available.
2012-10-02 When Centers-of-Influence Don?t Refer Clients by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
Everyone tells me I can sell more through relationships with attorneys and accountants. I have some that I know well. I refer to them, but they don't reciprocate. What am I doing wrong?
2012-10-01 Understanding the Equity Market's Valuation by Charles Lieberman (Article)
An excellent interview with a highly regarded value investor Bill Nygren in the latest issue of Barron's provides a good review of the math that demonstrates objectively that stocks remain cheap. At current valuations, stocks are sufficiently cheap that companies can use free cash flow to buy back shares at a pace sufficient to grow earnings per share by about 10% annually, consistent with the market's long-term historical record and dramatically above the 4% growth suggested by bond manager Bill Gross.
2012-09-25 Jim Bianco ? Markets Will Benefit From Disastrous Fed Policy by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The Fed's quantitative easing policy will be 'disastrous,' according to Jim Bianco, but prices for riskier assets will rise over the near term as a result. In remarks last week, Bianco, the head of the Chicago-based economic research firm that bears his name, also gave the US economy a near-failing grade of C-, and warned that inflation will be 'problematic.'
2012-09-25 Investing in a Resource-Constrained World by Richard Vodra, JD, CFP (Article)
The potential consequences of stagnant oil production and climate change for society are written about frequently, but here is a simpler question that is important to our community: How are these and related facts likely to affect investment returns going forward? How can we even frame such questions usefully?
2012-09-25 Value Investing in a Macro-Driven Environment by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The GoodHaven Fund (GOODX) is managed by Larry Pitkowsky and Keith Trauner. For most of the previous decade, Larry and Keith held research, portfolio management, and executive positions with the Fairholme Fund. I spoke with them last week.
2012-09-24 Some Parting of the Clouds by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The ongoing rally in the equity market and corresponding rise in Treasury yields mirror the slow improvement in financial market conditions in Europe and moderate gains in domestic economic data. This still leaves more progress to be made on both fronts, but uncertainty remains elevated over the fiscal cliff, the threat of military conflict in the Middle East, the upcoming election, and tax policy.
2012-09-18 The Trend is Your Friend by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)
John Hussman's recent market commentary, The Trend is Your Fickle Friend, highlighted the limitations of trend-following investment strategies that rely on moving-average crossover rules as a primary filter. But an extensive study conducted by our firm demonstrated that a simple moving-average crossover system outperforms buy-and-hold, while reducing drawdown risk and volatility.
2012-09-18 Campaign Rhetoric and Our Energy Future by Michael Edesess (Article)
At their respective conventions, both President Obama and Mitt Romney spoke to a centrally important topic for America and the world: energy. Their positions ? political posturing aside ? are broadly similar. But rather than a coherent, sustainable vision for the energy future of the United States, both men's rhetoric reflected the usual exercise in political base-touching, apple pie-polishing, and third-rail avoidance. And two important, perhaps crucial, pieces of the energy puzzle were hardly mentioned at all.
2012-09-18 Gundlach ? The End of the Bond Bull Market by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Likening bullishness on Treasury bonds to a 'mass psychosis,' Jeffrey Gundlach made his strongest statement yet that interest rates are about to rise. In a conference call with investors last Tuesday, he said that the rate on the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond could increase by 100 basis points by the end of the year.
2012-09-17 Ben Wants You To Spend Cash by John Petrides (Article)
This week the Federal Reserve launched its third round of monetary policy easing in as many years. Under QE3 (quantitative easing), the Fed will purchase $40 billion of mortgage backed securities on a monthly basis with the purpose of continuing to fuel the housing market. Under QE3, the Fed said it will keep its zero interest rate policy until mid-2015, with the goal of removing market assumptions of a rising rate environment. The Fed is and always will be data dependent, so all of these actions are subject to change.
2012-09-11 Ponzi Games by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Whatever schemes the European Central Bank may cook up over the next few months will only prove short-term liquidity relief to what are long-term insolvency problems. Like any Ponzi scheme, the last money in is going to be hurt the worst when the charade comes to an end. In the meantime, investors proceed at their own risk.
2012-09-04 Risks in the Search for Yield by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Interest rates are so extraordinarily low that investors have pushed up prices (and pushed down yields) of all the traditional investments used for income, so they have even forced into more esoteric or risky investments. This search for yield has created significant risks that may not be well appreciated. This Commentary discusses these risks.
2012-08-31 Risks in the Search for Yield by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Interest rates are so extraordinarily low that investors have pushed up prices (and pushed down yields) of all the traditional investments used for income, so they have even forced into more esoteric or risky investments. This search for yield has created significant risks that may not be well appreciated. This Commentary discusses these risks.
2012-08-28 The Key Obstacles to Succession Planning by Bob Veres (Article)
At every financial services conference, you hear complaints about all those clients who never managed to get around to implementing the fancy, creative, tax-saving estate plans that their advisor created for them. But are financial planners any better?
2012-08-28 Who?s Fooling Whom? by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Equity markets are exhibiting a remarkable degree of complacency. The VIX is currently at extremely low levels and it can maintain those levels for a long period of time. The worse things get in terms of the economic data, the higher the market goes on hopes of central bank stimulus. At this rate, the Dow will peak just as the world is coming to an end!
2012-08-21 The Profession's Faulty Assumptions: A Top Ten List by Bob Veres (Article)
In the financial planning profession, we make a lot of assumptions about the world in order to run spreadsheet models, retirement projections and sufficiency analyses, and generally determine how much a client should save and invest for the future. But many of the industry-standard inputs into our models are (how can I say this delicately?) garbage. Here are my top ten garbage inputs, with an explanation of how we might possibly improve on them.
2012-08-21 Hype and Reality in the Muni Bond Market by Hildy Richelson (Article)
Meredith Whitney's prediction last year of billions of dollars in municipal bond defaults stirred investors' fears. Earlier this summer, bankruptcies in three California cities reignited them, and last week a Federal Reserve study revealed that muni bonds have defaulted at a higher rate than previously reported. But no crisis has befallen the municipal bond market, and it is highly unlikely that one ever will.
2012-08-21 Is Too Much Vacation Bad for Your Business? by Dan Richards (Article)
Advisors face two big traps when it comes to vacations. The one that gets the most attention is not taking enough time off and burning out as a result; this is especially common in the early years of building a business. But there's a second, more subtle trap: Taking so much vacation that you compromise your ability to grow your business.
2012-08-21 Dealing with Gossip in a Small Firm by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
Is gossip bad in a small firm, or can it be useful? I like to have employees tell me what's going on in our eight-person advisory firm. For me, it's where I get my best information about what's really going on. Is there a better way for me to manage? I don't want to be destructive but I don't want to cut off my best sources of information.
2012-08-20 The Basis For Fear by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Last week, I wrote about how stocks are cheap historically and also with respect to other asset classes, such as bonds. This week, I want to focus on the reasons for this. Stocks are not cheap by accident. Investor concerns over Europe, renewed recession in the U.S., the fiscal cliff and the huge budget deficits provide ample reason for caution. However, not all of these concerns are well placed and some of the issues can be resolved favorably.
2012-08-14 An Imperfect Storm by Janus (Article)
Changing regulations have drained liquidity from the corporate bond markets, as growth in bond ETFs is distorting a shrinking market. These converging forces are likely to result in a more volatile environment, but we see opportunity for managers able to understand the fundamental risk and reward.
2012-08-14 Blind Faith by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Central banks are facing political and practical obstacles that will render it very difficult for them to deliver anything more than anodyne words and actions as summer moves into the always dangerous August holiday season. IPhones should be kept on alert at the beach through Labor Day.
2012-08-07 Robert Shiller on the Social Benefits of Finance by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
It's a bad sign for the finance industry that one of its leading minds - the distinguished Yale economist Robert Shiller - has felt compelled to write a book in order to defend the idea that finance itself is a constructive pursuit, worthwhile to modern society. Have things really gotten that bad?
2012-07-31 Expect Headwinds for Stocks If Hoisington is Right about Bonds by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)
Might today's historically low interest rates in the U.S. persist for years to come? The latest Quarterly Review and Outlook from Hoisington Investment Management forces readers to consider that possibility, refuting the reversion-to-the-mean mindset that causes many people to expect higher interest rates in the not-too-distant future. If the Hoisington model for the economy turns out to be right, the implications for the stock market are unfavorable.
2012-07-31 Beyond the Ultimate Death Cross by Georg Vrba, P.E. (Article)
Last week, I showed why the 'ultimate death cross' is not a bearish signal. But the methodology behind that signal - what's known as a 'golden-cross trigger' - can indeed offer a reliable guide to investors. And one can do even better with a simple improvement to the trigger that I have devised.
2012-07-30 The Central Bank by John Petrides (Article)
Global markets responded favorably last week to comments from Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, saying that he would do whatever it takes to save the euro (this reminded me of Fed Chairman Bernanke's comments in February 2009, when the Fed started its asset purchase program, and markets responded favorably soon after). Although the world awaits more details as to what Mr. Draghi's comments entail, equity markets rallied, and the yields on Spanish and Italian bonds came in.
2012-07-24 Optimal Strategies for Secular Market Cycles by Michael Kitces (Article)
With alternative investments and active management strategies growing ever more popular, an advisor recently told me, 'It's just a fad and will end with heartache as all investment fads do. I've watched it play out over and over during my 30-year career.' But I am not persuaded. The secular market cycle today is different from the bear market 30 years ago, and not all market cycles favor the same investment strategies.
2012-07-23 How Can the Market Possibly Do Well? by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Investors remain rightfully concerned that our leaders have been unable to address major domestic and international issues. Domestic growth is sluggish, job growth is weak, unemployment remains high, the fiscal cliff looms at the end of the year and our politicians can't agree on the time of day. Moreover, none of this is likely to become clarified until after the election, if then.
2012-07-17 Breaking Bad by Michael Lewitt (Article)
With our largest business and government institutions committing every conceivable act of legal or moral anomie, we have every right to ask who is going to protect the rest of us from those who have been entrusted with so much power and influence. The institutions that were supposed to be the lifeblood of our economy are the same institutions that inflicted the greatest harm on society. When the family has to be protected from the man who is supposed to protect the family, the family is in serious trouble.
2012-07-17 Gundlach ? Avoid Riskier Assets by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Since early this year, Jeffrey Gundlach has warned investors to avoid exposure to riskier assets ? among them, equities, non-dollar-denominated securities and sovereign debt. Still reluctant to move to a more aggressive position, Gundlach said on Thursday that 'substantial opportunities await,' but they may be as much as a year away.
2012-07-16 Pessimism Required by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Making sense of Friday's sharp stock market rally is not easy, certainly not on the basis of the incoming data. Rather, it seems like the rally was triggered by the absence of horrific news. There is so much pessimism rampant that anything not really awful may be received as good news. If we set the bar sufficiently low, it becomes possible that a slowdown of growth in China and an investment loss at J.P. Morgan of $4.4 billion looks like good news.
2012-07-10 Benchmarking Your Retirement Portfolio With a Risk-Free Strategy by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
Making the savings from 35 or 40 years of work pay for a retirement of the same length is a real challenge. At a zero real rate of return, you would have to save half of your income to enjoy a retirement that long without taking a cut in your living standard. There is, of course, a better way - judicious use of TIPS and annuities. A riskless strategy using those asset classes can safeguard one's retirement assets and can serve as a benchmark against which riskier portfolios can be measured.
2012-07-10 A Mid-Year Client Letter: Wisdom from Three Wall Street Veterans by Dan Richards (Article)
Here is a template for a letter to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients an overview of the past 90 days and the outlook for the period ahead.
2012-07-10 Recession is Not Imminent by Dwaine van Vuuren (Article)
Perma-bears are bombarding us with alarm bells, sounding the doom of the US economy. We find ourselves in yet another 'summer slowdown scare,' for the third year running. In 2010 and 2011, the purported slowdowns turned out to be soft landings. Investors who ran to the sidelines stared in disbelief as the stock market roared ahead, leaving them behind. We are likely in the same position now.
2012-07-10 Insights into the First Half of 2012 by Ron Surz (Article)
U.S. stock markets at mid-year have earned a respectable 9.5% return. A euphoric first quarter 12.6% gain gave way to a 2.8% minor setback in the second quarter. Foreign markets have not fared as well, earning only 3.4% over the first half of the year. The graph below provides the details, and adds a look at gold's performance.
2012-07-10 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Several readers respond to Bob Veres' article, The Profession's Faulty Assumptions: A Top Ten List, which appeared last week. Also, a reader responds to Joe Tomlinson's article, How Safe are Annuities?, which appeared on August 14, and a reader responds to Beverly Flaxington's column, Dealing with Gossip in a Small Firm, which appeared last week.
2012-07-09 Disappointing, but Not Terrible by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Job growth has slowed to a disappointing pace over the past three months, insufficient to bring down unemployment, but not so weak that recession is much of a threat. This mediocre performance also leaves the Fed in a quandary, neither making an obvious case to leave policy unchanged or a clear case to implement yet another form of policy accommodation.
2012-07-03 Bond Funds: You Get What You Don't Pay For by Michael Edesess (Article)
Innumerable studies have shown that it's well-nigh impossible to beat the averages consistently investing in equity funds. But what about bonds? Bonds, after all, have more structure - perhaps there are ways an expert fund manager could exploit that structure and gain an edge over other investors. Is it possible to predict how well a bond fund will perform relative to other funds?
2012-07-03 Don't Get Emotional by Michael Nairne (Article)
With the developed world mired in slow growth and the eurozone teetering on the brink of disintegration, to many investors the future seems bleak. Some are so disheartened they are abandoning the stock market as a hopeless endeavor. Yet, one of the abiding tenets of investing is that investor sentiment is rarely predictive of the future.
2012-06-26 Jeremy Grantham: US Stocks are Expensive and Bonds are Disgusting by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Jeremy Grantham, who has consistently identified overpricing in the US equity markets - he flagged both the Dot Com bubble and the irrational pricing that preceded the financial crisis, for instance - said last week that US stocks are 'a little expensive' and bonds are 'disgusting.' But his sternest warning to investors concerned the longer-term threat posed by global resource constraints.
2012-06-26 A Top Analyst: North America Heading to Energy Independence by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Ed Morse, a managing director of Citigroup Global Markets, said last week that by the end of this decade the US and Canada will have a surplus of oil, leaving it with 'no room for imports.' But the longer-term picture is far less certain, as extraction moves from conventional wells to newer sources, such as deepwater fields and shale-based oil.
2012-06-19 Retirement Floors and Implications for Evensky's Cash-Reserve Strategy by Wade Pfau (Article)
Does sensible retirement planning call for funding basic needs with less volatile assets and investing more aggressively for aspirational goals? Or, with client goals clearly defined and prioritized, does sensible planning call for a total returns approach? Multiple schools of thought have emerged, but there is not yet any consensus about what constitutes a proper retirement income floor. These lingering unresolved disagreements reinforce the benefits of Harold Evensky?s and Deena Katz? popular strategy.
2012-06-19 The 20 Rules for a Successful Study Group by Mike Walters (Article)
Study groups are a great tool, allowing advisors to exchange helpful insights - but they can run your business into the ground. For your study group to succeed, you must know what you're getting into, the parameters you want to live by, and how you're going to be sure to get the best of, not the worst of, the experience.
2012-06-19 Likelihood Ratios and their use in Recession Indicators by Georg Vrba, P.E. (Article)
In medicine, likelihood ratios improve patient outcomes and refine drug regimens by assessing the reliability of common diagnostic tests. In finance, likelihood ratios can quantify the reliability of an economic indicator such as one designed to identify recessions.
2012-06-19 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Readers response to Richard Vodra's article, Energy and the Wealth of Nations, which appeared on June 5 and to John Hussman's commentary, The Heart of the Matter, which appeared on June 11.
2012-06-18 What Happens In Greece Must Stay In Greece by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Greeks has seemingly elected a leadership to work with Europeans to help them balance their budget. Nonetheless, Greece is too dysfunctional a country for another round of credit to accomplish much. It must become a law abiding nation by paying taxes, it must severely reduce government spending by decreasing social programs, including employing far fewer Greeks, and it must restructure its restrictive labor and business laws to enable firms to grow.
2012-06-12 The Problems with Trying to Benchmark Unconstrained Portfolios by Ken Solow (Article)
Benchmarking unconstrained, 'go-anywhere' managers is difficult. Common methods to determine an appropriate benchmark - such as an ex-post regression of how the fund was invested - can obscure the actions of the manager. Is the only solution to simply select an arbitrary benchmark and proceed accordingly?
2012-06-12 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A number of readers respond to our article, Can Krugman Fix Our Economy?, which appeared on May 29.
2012-06-11 A Huge Step Forward by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The Europeans have taken a major step in resolving their credit crisis, although additional policy initiatives are still needed. Like the TARP program in the U.S. in 2008, the 100 billion euro bailout of Spanish banks should recapitalize those institutions sufficiently to cover their real estate loan losses and enable them to regain access to the credit markets. But the rest of Europes banks also need more capital. Greece still needs to choose a new government and that new government must decide how Greece will work towards balancing its budget. Europe still needs economic growth.
2012-06-05 Finding the Best Dividend Fund by Geoff Considine (Article)
Assets are flowing into dividend-stock funds. But many experts are warning that those investors are setting themselves up for significant losses. Using an objective methodology that assesses tradeoff between yield and risk, we can determine those funds that investors should prefer - and a few they should avoid.
2012-06-05 Daniel Kahneman on the Two Kinds of Thinking - Fast and Slow by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
When advisors want to understand why their clients make seemingly irrational financial choices, odds are they will find answers in the research of Nobel-winning behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman. But guiding clients toward a better financial future is only one way to apply behavioral finance. Kahneman says we solve virtually all problems, not just financial ones, with two distinct types of thinking.
2012-06-05 Energy and the Wealth of Nations by Richard Vodra, JD, CFP (Article)
It is time for a new and different approach to understanding the economy, according to ecologist Charles Hall and economist Kent Klitgaard, who together are pioneering the discipline of biophysical economics. They advocate a novel methodology that properly accounts for the realities of global energy supplies and consumption.
2012-06-05 The Father of Efficient Markets: Is Warren Buffett Smart or Lucky? by Dan Richards (Article)
Eugene Fama is generally regarded the father of modern finance. His research has expanded upon the capital asset pricing model to identify the value and small-capitalization contributions to risk. Dan Richards spoke with him on May 1, the day before his guest talk at the CFA Institute annual meeting. This is the transcript of the interview.
2012-06-05 In Whom Do We Trust? by Justin Locke (Article)
Confidence, either in the banking system or the markets, is really about trust. Metrics like consumer confidence answer nothing more than the question, 'How much do we trust the people running our institutions to create conditions for future growth?' That being the case, you would think our leaders in government and industry might do a better job of maintaining our trust.
2012-06-05 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A number of readers respond to our article, Can Krugman Fix Our Economy?, which appeared last week.
2012-06-04 More Muddling Along by Charles Lieberman (Article)
It appears that economic growth has slowed a bit once again, although a relapse into recession seems fairly unlikely. Consumer spending, business investment and a recovery in housing should support growth at a moderate pace. Europe remains a dark cloud hanging over better prospects. Budget deficits at the sovereign level and bank capital needs at the corporate level must be resolved before markets can breathe easily. So volatility in our markets is likely to continue. Since we can exert very little control over Europe, policymakers here must remain focused on maintaining growth domestically.
2012-05-29 Can Krugman Fix Our Economy? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Our economy faces depression-like conditions, according to Paul Krugman, in its alarmingly high unemployment rate. It needn?t be that way, though, Krugman says ? a few simple steps could quickly solve our problems.
2012-05-29 The Bargains in Europe's Great Oversell by Bob Veres (Article)
When was the last time we saw negative headlines drive valuations as low as they have in Europe? Evermore's David Marcus, who succeeded Michael Price as manager of the Mutual European Fund, says this period of obsession with Greek debt, bank restructuring and single-digit P/Es may be known as The Great Oversell.
2012-05-29 The Essential Ingredient for Exceptional Success by Dan Richards (Article)
Advisors often ask me what they have to do to truly excel. They expect an answer based on their value proposition, the prospective clients they focus on, how effectively they get in front of those prospects, or their discipline and work ethic. A talk I attended last fall provided a clear cut - and surprising - answer.
2012-05-29 What Does a Dividend Tax Hike Mean for Dividend-paying Stocks? by Steve Chun (Article)
The Bush tax cuts are due to expire at the end of this year, but owners of dividend-paying stocks need not be afraid. Historically, changes in tax regimes have had little effect on the value of the aggregate stock market. Historical data show that even vulnerable asset sub-classes - high-yield stocks, for example - have not lost value long-term as a result of similar tax increases.
2012-05-29 Unraveling the Mess in Europe by Charles Lieberman (Article)
There is considerable nonsense written about the European debt crisis. Greece must balance its books, whether they remain inside the Euro or not. There are major benefits and costs to both remaining inside the Euro and to exiting. There is no silver bullet that will solve their problems easily. More broadly, banks need to be recapitalized all across Europe. This has not been done as yet, perhaps for political reasons, which only compounds the economic problems and allows them to fester. It seems like the Europeans are working towards solutions, but painfully slowly.
2012-05-22 David Rosenberg - I am not a Permabear by Robert Huebscher (Article)
While most sell-side analysts are correctly classified as permabulls, Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg has been branded as the opposite - a permabear. He rejects that label. He recently said he's indeed bullish - on bonds and income - and has been so for quite a while.
2012-05-22 Life-cycle Finance and the Dimensional Managed DC® Pension by Wade Pfau (Article)
Pension plans are like cars, according to Nobel laureate Robert Merton. People want a car they can drive and a pension that will maintain their standard of living in retirement; they do not care about what goes on under the hood. Advisors, however, must care. So when a new pension-like option hits the market, as DFA's recently did, it's important to go beyond simply kicking the tires and carefully examine how it works as a retirement-saving vehicle.
2012-05-21 A Worthy Scapegoat by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The $2 billion trading loss reported by J.P. Morgan Chase has unleashed a torrent of comments suggesting an even greater need to impose Dodd-Frank, that bank trading operations need to be reined in, that banks managers are badly overpaid and suffer from hubris that gets them into trouble, that our largest banks are too big to fail and too big to manage, and that regulators need to do a better job of keeping banks from taking too much risk with depositor money.
2012-05-15 An Attack on Paul Krugman by Michael Edesess (Article)
A foundational principle of modern economics is that the creation of credit leads to economic growth. That precept underlies need for quantitative easing, and it is central to the question of what role monetary policy can and should play in stimulating a faster recovery from the Great Recession. It is also the subject of a debate between one of the world's most prominent economic scholars, Paul Krugman, and a feisty Australian economist, Steve Keen.
2012-05-15 Dividends: A Timeless Component of Equity Return by Loomis Sayles & Company, L.P. (Article)
With interest rates at historic lows and many dividend-paying stocks boasting yields comparable to or higher than US Treasurys, it is no wonder that dividends have recently been at the forefront of many investors' minds. But dividends have a long history as a significant component of total return, and today's buzz is just the most recent chapter.
2012-05-15 Lacy Hunt on Debt, Austerity and Recovery by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Global economies are experiencing unsustainable debt disequilibrium, according to Lacy Hunt. Economic textbooks preach that equilibrium, rather than transition, should be the predominant condition. But our attempts to reduce our indebtedness by taking on more ? and less productive ? debt are weakening our economy and creating unstable conditions.
2012-05-15 Ponzi's Children by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Europe, whose economic condition is nothing less than terminal, is about to receive what physicians refer to as a 'zetz' of morphine in the form of M. Hollande. A 'zetz' is the final dose that doctors give to dying patients to hasten their passage to the afterlife. In Europe's case, however, the medicine is not going to be painless, and its administration is not based on mercy but on resentment and stupidity.
2012-05-14 Time to Face Reality by Charles Lieberman (Article)
European markets remain in turmoil, even as these governments prefer to keep their heads buried in the sand. Sooner or later, reality intrudes. Greece and Spain are in the vanguard of being forced out of their fantasy world and a second default, following closely on the first, now appears likely. Greece is small enough so its problems will impinge little on markets, if Spain can handle its bank issues sensibly. Europe's attention will soon shift towards protecting Spain.
2012-05-08 Richard Bernstein: US Assets will Outperform over the Next Decade by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Prior to founding the firm that now bears his name, Richard Bernstein was the chief investment strategist at Merrill Lynch & Co. In this interview, he discusses why he expects US assets - both equities and fixed income - to be the outperformers among global markets over the next decade.
2012-05-08 Mohamed El-Erian and David McWilliams: The Key to Resolving Europe's Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Dealing with a crisis requires three things, according to Jack Welch, General Electric's former CEO. Define your reality - not as you would like it to be, but as it is. Do something about it. Then, third, acknowledge that the crisis wasn't half as difficult as you thought it was. Germany is the key player in Europe's crisis today, and it is still struggling to accurately define its reality.
2012-05-08 Three Qualities that Define Top Performers by Dan Richards (Article)
Regardless of market conditions or the business environment, some advisors inevitably expand their business at the expense of their peers. A new research report identified three common traits among those who were able to show sustained growth in their practices.
2012-05-01 A Proven Route to Business Breakthroughs by Dan Richards (Article)
Having ambitious goals is one thing - translating them into reality is another. And that's where most advisors stumble. Two recent articles provide insight on how to achieve progress towards lofty goals.
2012-05-01 The Asymmetric Value of Delaying Social Security Benefits by Michael Kitces (Article)
Despite a compelling body of research arguing that most retirees would benefit by delaying the onset of Social Security payments, the majority who are eligible still elect to begin receiving them as early as possible. But delaying Social Security benefits is one of the best triple-hedges available to any retiree - simultaneously protecting against poor returns, high inflation, and longevity.
2012-05-01 Another Story of Too Much Debt: Investing During Unsustainable Economic Conditions by Brian McAuley (Article)
US-based investors cannot ignore the macro environment, and therefore must consider the consequences of our increasing indebtedness and its impact on capital markets. We can gain valuable insights into our fiscal problems from the housing bubble and the European sovereign debt crisis - lessons which every value investor should heed.
2012-05-01 Congress Needs to Stop a Dividend Tax Hike by Richard McMahon (Article)
Bad news is lurking right around the corner for investors, businesses and the nation's economy. Unless Congress acts before the end of the year, dividend income will be taxed at individual tax rates instead of at the same rate as long-term capital gains.
2012-04-30 Housing Recovery Now Underway by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Many focused on the slower than expected pace of growth in first quarter GDP, but the stronger rise in housing activity merited little more than passing mention. However, housing construction is gathering steam, as inventories are now severely depressed and demographic trends require a resumption in new construction. Autos were another significant contributor to growth. We expect both sectors to continue as key sources of demand in the ongoing expansion.
2012-04-24 Bruce Greenwald on Structural Imbalances in the Economy by Eric Uhlfelder (Article)
Bruce Greenwald likes to say that he is constituted to disagree with everybody about everything, and he was true to his word at the recent Hyman P. Minksy Conference in New York. Taking immediate exception with the virtually unanimous characterization of the economic crisis as a balance-sheet recession, Greenwald, a professor of finance at Columbia University, argued that, far from being unusual, balance-sheet recessions can in fact be found at the heart of almost all business cycles.
2012-04-24 Gundlach - Two Dangers for Equity Markets by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Don't buy stocks ? for real, this time. That was the message Jeffrey Gundlach delivered to investors last Tuesday.
2012-04-24 65+5+Dividends: The case for quality dividend stocks in the first five years of retirement by Legg Mason ClearBridge Advisors (Article)
Retirees are living longer than ever before, and for many, outliving their money is a real concern. A good reason to consider quality large-cap dividend stocks in the early years of retirement - which have historically offered higher returns than fixed income with lower volatility than equities overall.
2012-04-24 Why a 60/40 Portfolio isn?t Diversified by Alex Shahidi (Article)
Maintaining a balanced portfolio is critical, especially when predictions of growth and inflation vary as widely as they do today. Investors are always better off spreading risk than aggressively betting on one economic outcome, and that's especially true when the range of possible economic outcomes is so wide.
2012-04-24 The Number One Priority for Advisors by Dan Richards (Article)
What's the single most critical need for advisors to succeed? There are lots of candidates ? investment knowledge, communication skills, the ability to sell, and attracting and motivating a strong team.
2012-04-17 The Real Reason to Worry about Oil by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Few question the prevailing wisdom that tensions with Iran have caused the recent rise in oil prices. But another possibility exists - and it's a much greater long-term threat to economic growth.
2012-04-17 Muppet Capers by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Investors enjoyed strong stock market and credit market gains during the first quarter of the year, but storm clouds may be forming on the horizon. Corporate profits have likely peaked. Stocks may be the best house in a bad neighborhood, but houses in that neighborhood appear to be fully priced for now. There are also some troubling signs in the bond markets, particularly the long end.
2012-04-17 The Unemployment Rate: A Coincident Recession Indicator by Georg Vrba, P.E. and Dwaine van Vuuren (Article)
For what is considered to be a lagging indicator of the economy, the unemployment rate provides surprisingly good signals for the beginnings and ends of recessions. We have developed a model that uses unemployment figures to produce these signals and to determine the probability of when a recession may start.
2012-04-16 The Politics of Oil by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Oil prices have given a bit of ground recently, as rising inventories suggest that any possible supply disruptions may be more limited in scope than had been feared. The Saudis have increased supply, even as Libya and Iraq increase production, offsetting reduced supplies of Iranian oil and increased stockpiling by China. It is a bit soon to be confident that oil supplies will be adequate should a conflict erupt with Iran, but the evidence is less one-sided now. So, gasoline prices have retreated, reducing the drain on household income.
2012-04-10 Allocating to Real Assets: Why Diversification Matters by Cohen & Steers (Article)
One way to extend the long-term purchasing power of a traditional stock and bond portfolio is through an allocation to real assets. But individually, categories like commodities, natural resource equities and REITs can be volatile. Cohen & Steers meets the challenge with a focus on broad asset-class diversification.
2012-04-10 Paul Kasriel's Parting Thoughts on the Economy by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Paul Kasriel, the chief economist at Northern Trust, will retire at the end of this month. In this interview, he explains why he is optimistic about the prospects for the US economy and why supposed headwinds - from the price of oil to the housing market - pose much less of a threat than most people believe.
2012-04-10 Super Macro - A Fundamental Timing Model by Theodore Wong (Article)
Rather than endure losses in bear markets - as passive investors must - I have shown that a simple trend-following model dramatically improves results, most recently in an Advisor Perspectives article last month. Now it's time to extend my approach by showing how this methodology can be applied to fundamental indicators to further improve performance.
2012-04-10 Advisor Networking for Fun and Profit by Wendy J. Cook (Article)
Over the years, I've seen what works well and what doesn't for advisors. I've noticed that even the best-intentioned, highest-minded advisor usually struggles if he or she operates in a vacuum.
2012-04-09 Still, Plenty Good by Charles Lieberman (Article)
March payroll employment was disappointing, although economic gains cannot be expected to move in a smooth ascending growth curve. Economic trends remain solid. There is little reason to expect monetary policy to change, although the latest figures reinforce the Fed's concern that job growth is insufficient to reduce unemployment as much and as quickly as they would prefer. So, there's every reason to expect policy to remain highly accommodative. A few months ago, this employment report would have been taken as good news. That it is now disappointing is a good measure of how far we've come.
2012-04-03 Fewer, Richer, Greener: Why Jeremy Grantham is (Partly) Wrong by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
Is the human experience getting better or worse? This is a big question investors are rarely asked to confront, yet its answer has profound consequences for market returns.
2012-04-03 A Q1 Letter to Clients: Bernanke, Buffett and Siegel on the Prospects Ahead by Dan Richards (Article)
Here is a template for a letter to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients a summary of what's happened in the past 90 days and the outlook for the period ahead.
2012-04-03 The Easy Money Saloon by Michael Lewitt (Article)
When two of the world's soundest central banks (Israel and Switzerland) start investing their reserves in stocks (the Bank of Israel is run by the highly respected Stanley Fischer for God's sake!), one has to wonder what the world is coming to. Apparently the global saloon is expanding its boundaries. No doubt we will soon hear the ECB is merging with the London Stock Exchange.
2012-04-02 It's All Data (Jobs) Dependent by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The performance of the economy has improved quite substantially over the past several months, with very significant implications for policy and politics. A healthier labor market is sufficient to insure a healthier economy, which supports the rally in the stock market, the decline in bond prices, and the rise of President Obama in the polls. Numerous issues will affect the political polls in the coming months, but the outlook for the economy remains one of continued improvement.
2012-03-27 GMO: Two Questions We Can't Answer by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Its reputation was built on stellar returns achieved with long-term bets on undervalued asset classes. Current market conditions, however, pose two unanswerable questions for GMO ? leaving the firm with an uncertain strategy for its equities and fixed-income allocations.
2012-03-27 The Top Three Myths about Women Investors by Lisa Kueng (Article)
Successful marketing requires an understanding of your target market. Too often, however, advisors are misled by outdated industry ideas and strategies that have shifted over time. Advisors who target women investors should avoid myth-based errors that others have made.
2012-03-27 Questions of Character by Michael Lewitt (Article)
As a long-time investor in leveraged companies, the character of management has long informed my decisions of where to direct capital. There is no margin of safety when you invest in a company managed by dishonest or reckless managers, or a management team that has a history of placing its own interests before those of its shareholders or creditors. The same is true of choosing an investment manager.
2012-03-26 Did Steve Jobs Despise Shareholders? by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Last week, Apple announced it will initiate a $2.65 per share quarterly dividend and a $10 billion share repurchase program. Clearly, since the passing of Mr. Jobs, management has focused more of its attention on shareholders, something uninteresting to Mr. Jobs. He wanted to make "cool things" and everything else was secondary. Mr. Jobs didn't have much patience for people, as revealed in his recent biography; I would imagine the same went for shareholders. For a man who seized on technological opportunities, Steve Jobs' ignorance for shareholders missed some great financial ones.
2012-03-20 Jeremy Grantham: This Time is Different by Michael Edesess (Article)
Jeremy Grantham is a paradox. A man who has said many times, 'This time it's different are the four most dangerous words in the English language,' is now saying - loud and clear - this time it really is different.
2012-03-20 Bob Rodriguez on the Dangers in Today's Markets by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Bob Rodriguez is the managing partner and chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based First Pacific Advisors. In this interview, he discusses how the challenges faced by the US economy will impact the capital markets.
2012-03-20 The Wages of Denial by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Europe is insolvent, and hopelessly so. Her procurer - the European Central Bank (ECB) - can front her some money for a while, but in the end she is either going to have to repay him or suffer a very rough consequence. In the meantime, however, she can continue to entertain her customers, in this case those willing to extend her credit in one form or another. Sooner rather than later, however, these creditors are going to grow tired of her tricks and turn their attention otherwise. At that point, she will be left to deal with the ECB because nobody else will have her.
2012-03-20 A Look Back at the Performance of the Holy Grail by Theodore Wong (Article)
Back-tested results often look good on paper because stellar performance could have come from curve-fitting. If that were the case, then my 'Holy Grail' model would not have withstood the test of time. But in the 32 months that have passed since its publication, investors who heeded its advice would have outperformed the market on a risk-adjusted basis.
2012-03-19 Did You See The 10-Year? by John Petrides (Article)
This week the US 10 year Treasury note spiked from 2% yield on Monday to 2.4% by the end of Wednesday. Around the office we were marveling at this move. Given the recent volatility in the equity market, that might not seem like much to stock investors, but to those in the fixed income world thats quite a change. The sudden spike in Treasuries has several implications: 1. Those investors who rushed into U.S. Treasuries over the past four months out of fear and panic (presumably not in hopes of achieving income) in search of safety, actually have an unrealized loss in their position!
2012-03-13 How Do Spending Needs Evolve During Retirement? by Wade Pfau (Article)
Most people's spending patterns change over the course of retirement - expenses look very different at 90 than they do at 65. Yet most research on retirement withdrawal rates relies on constant inflation-adjusted withdrawals to develop a client's forward-looking budget. Such an unrealistic, one-size-fits-all approach can be disastrous if a client inadvertently retires with insufficient savings. Is there a better way?
2012-03-13 Breakthrough Success Lies Outside your Comfort Zone by Dan Richards (Article)
Standout success is rare in every industry, including ours. That is the reality - by definition most companies are average performers. To achieve breakthrough results, you need to be willing to change your business model, as two top business strategists advocate.
2012-03-13 Concentrated Equity Triple Play Higher Returns, Lower Risk, Lower Correlations by C. Thomas Howard, Ph.D. (Article)
Concentrating a portfolio on a few choice assets dramatically increases an investor's chance of superior performance. Nonetheless, most advisors and investors shun portfolio concentration as unacceptably risky. To a great extent, this is driven by the myth that adequate diversification is impossible unless one holds many stocks - a myth I will debunk.
2012-03-13 The Gutenberg Economy by Michael Lewitt (Article)
As commentators near and far speculate on what 2012 will bring to the global economy and markets, there is little question that one factor will be decisive: the central banks' printing presses. Both the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank (ECB) will keep printing dollars and euros around the clock until their presses run out of ink.
2012-03-12 To Hell and Back In by Charles Lieberman (Article)
This past week saw the three year anniversary of the market low on March 9, 2009. The most crucial lesson that investors should have learned is that good investments recover, no matter how dramatically the market may decline, no matter how volatile it may be at times, and they should approach investing with a long-term plan in mind. Many investors were shaken out of the market over the past few years now have account values that are well behind where they would be if they had simply held on for the vicious ride.
2012-03-06 Why Invest? - Part 2 by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
Risk tolerance is a quality inherent in an individual or an institution. Whether quantified or not, risk tolerance is the amount of return the investor requires as compensation for the extra risk that comes with investing. It's a concept that is essential for making investment decisions, yet it is elusive and maddeningly difficult to specify. Even so, many investment advisors like to give the public the impression that they're proficient at determining it.
2012-03-06 Learn Long and Prosper by Mariko Gordon (Article)
Business and investing share many things in common. And as my recent talk to a group of MBA students reminded me, one of them is this: There's a downside to experience.
2012-03-05 Sound Fundamentals, Scary Geopolitics by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Data revisions indicate that household income grew more strongly than reported earlier, so consumers are far better able to sustain growth in spending, particularly as job gains are also increasing. Housing is recovering too, adding a new source of demand to the economy. Thus, the economic underpinnings to growth appear distinctly healthier. At the same time, the threat of conflict in the Middle East has pushed up oil prices, which eats into disposable household income. An actual conflict would chill discretionary spending, at least temporarily.
2012-02-28 Woody Brock on Healthcare Reform and Trade Relations with China by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Dr. Horace 'Woody' Brock is the founder Strategic Economic Decisions, an economic research and consulting service. In the second part of this two-part interview, he discusses his recently published book, American Gridlock, and focuses on how to fix two of our nation's most pressing problems: the crisis in health care - made worse by ObamaCare - and our trade relations with China.
2012-02-28 Globalization: Its Saboteurs and Its Chicken Littles by Michael Edesess (Article)
The word 'globalization' provokes both excitement and fear. The excitement has sold millions of Tom Friedman books and turned a drab annual business conference, the World Economic Forum, into one of the hottest events of the year. It is front-and-center in recent tensions between the U.S. and China, and makes the European Union's economic crisis a concern for the whole world. Should we fear or embrace globalization?
2012-02-21 Woody Brock on Solving America's Fiscal Problems by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Dr. Horace 'Woody' Brock is the founder Strategic Economic Decisions, an economic research and consulting service. In this interview, he discusses his recently published book, American Gridlock, and how America can grow its economy through 'good' deficit spending.
2012-02-21 David Rosenberg: "Searching for Certainty in a Sea of Uncertainty" by Katie Southwick (Article)
David Rosenberg is known for his bearish outlook, and he has not yet seen anything in recent economic news that persuades him to change his tune. Contrary to prevailing "bullish complacency" and the widespread belief that central banking systems "have the answers to the ongoing global debt deleveraging cycle," in the United States Rosenberg sees monumental deficits, flat growth, an underlying trend of deflation, and current fiscal policies that will limit future flexibility. In other words, trouble remains on the horizon.
2012-02-21 Gundlach: The Two Questions that Matter Most by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Two questions stand out amid the complexity of the current economic and market environment, according to Jeffrey Gundlach, both of which relate to critical elements of fiscal and monetary policy and should guide portfolio construction for investors.
2012-02-21 Evaluating Popular Recession Indicators by Georg Vrba, P.E. (Article)
Recessions are notoriously difficult to forecast. That, of course, hasn't stopped many high-profile analysts from predicting recessions in 2010 and 2011 - incorrectly, at least thus far. Given the wealth of often contradictory economic data that exists today on which to base such forecasts, this should come as little surprise. What's more surprising, however, is that they have based their predictions on models that were ill conceived and insufficiently tested.
2012-02-14 How to Measure Customer Loyalty by Dan Richards (Article)
Perhaps more than in any industry, advisors know the importance of customer loyalty and the role it plays in client retention and referral generation. But few advisors have ever tried to systematically measure the client loyalty in their practice. Here's a way to do that.
2012-02-14 The Dividend Yield Love Affair by Michael Nairne (Article)
Employee share-based compensation is now a significant expense deduction for public companies and hence, is already accounted for on the financial statements. Concerns that options-related stock issuance nullifies the impact of stock buybacks are accordingly overstated. This bolsters the view that you need to look at stock buybacks as an additional form of cash remittance to shareholders and not simply at dividends.
2012-02-14 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to Larry Siegel's article, Jeremy Siegel, Rob Arnott and Other Experts Forecast Equity Returns, and another reader responds to Joe Tomlinson's article, An Innovative Solution to Retirement Income, both of which appeared last week.
2012-02-13 Bill Gross vs. Warren Buffett and Larry Fink by Charles Lieberman (Article)
While bonds seem frightfully overvalued, stocks are cheap because investors are so hell bent for safety. Investors continue to shift capital out of stock funds and into bond funds virtually every month. This behavior suggests that they are fixated on the zero risk of default and fail to appreciate how they will be hurt by the loss of buying power.
2012-02-07 Jeremy Siegel, Rob Arnott and Other Experts Forecast Equity Returns by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
A forecast of the equity risk premium (ERP) tells you how much to save, how to allocate assets between equities and fixed income, and how much you can consume. Given its great importance, the CFA Institute recently convened a group of top-level academics and practitioners to forecast future ERPs - and to reflect on similar predictions they had made a decade ago.
2012-02-07 Neel Kashkari on PIMCO's Equity Strategy by John Heins (Article)
Bond titan PIMCO has been methodically building its equity-investing expertise. Here the architect of that effort, Neel Kashkari, and his first major hires describe their strategy and how they're uncovering value in today's market.
2012-02-06 The Coulds Are Parting by Charles Lieberman (Article)
It is fast becoming hard to dispute that an increasingly solid economic expansion is underway and that hiring is accelerating. The healthier economy has dispelled fears of recession and the stock market has been advancing at a strong clip, almost 16%, since the interim low at the end of November. With slow progress being made in Europe to contain the debt crisis, there should be fewer depressants holding back stocks and, with valuations still low, despite this sharp recent rally, there is still plenty of upside for long term investors.
2012-01-31 Lacy Hunt on the Roadblock to Recovery by Robert Huebscher (Article)
'The fundamental key to prosperity is not governmental financial transactions, or even private sector financial transactions,' according to Lacy Hunt, the widely respected economist at Hoisington Investment Management, with whom we spoke last week. 'The key to prosperity is the hard work and creativity of our individuals in businesses.'
2012-01-31 Bob Doll Believes the Recent Equities Rally Could Continue by BlackRock (Article)
Conditions have improved compared to last quarter, with the US economy showing signs of acceleration and European policymakers moving further along the path of progress. With the bearish tone receding, investors should consider moving into "risk" assets and out of "safe" assets, especially on pullbacks.
2012-01-31 Barry Eichengreen on the End of the Dollar by Dan Richards (Article)
Barry Eichengreen is a professor of economics and political science at the University of California, Berkeley and a former senior advisor to the International Monetary Fund. In this interview, he discusses the future of the dollar as the reserve currency and the role of the IMF in the Eurozone crisis. This is the transcript of the interview.
2012-01-31 Letters to the Editor ? Reinhart and Rogoff by Various (Article)
Several readers respond to Robert Huebscher's article, Beyond Reinhart and Rogoff, which appeared last week.
2012-01-30 Don't Fight The Fed, Part Three by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Growth is improving slowly, but insufficiently to satisfy the Fed. So Fed officials are reviewing new initiatives to promote growth, including buying mortgages in the market. The Fed's latest press release suggests that policy may remain unchanged for even longer than suggested earlier. But the Fed's willingness to remain so staunchly committed to growth remains "data dependent", as any significant increase in GDP growth could cause the Fed to backtrack. At the end of the day, the Fed is committed to an outcome, not to the calendar. And right now, it is committed to growth.
2012-01-24 Michael Lewis on the True Depth of the Crisis in Europe by Larry Siegel (Article)
Michael Lewis is a financial writer and author, most recently of Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, in which he reported on the European debt crisis from several of the affected countries. In this interview, he discusses a range of topics, including the future of Wall Street and the challenges of great financial writing.
2012-01-24 Beyond Reinhart and Rogoff by Robert Huebscher (Article)
My article two weeks ago, The Misreading of Reinhart and Rogoff, elicited a number of challenges, both from those who argued that excessive debt imperils our economic growth and from those who claimed that my proposed solution was unworkable. Among those challengers was Lacy Hunt, who raised several valid concerns. I will explain why I disagree with Hunt and others, and why the dollar's position as the reserve currency increases our borrowing capacity. But our ability to borrow cannot be a license to spend unwisely, and I will conclude by expanding on the policy choices the US must pursue.
2012-01-24 Must Bond Investors Fear Rising Interest Rates? by Andrew D. Martin (Article)
Thirty-one years ago, in 1981, the one-year Treasury reached its all time high of 14%. Today it hovers around 0.10%. Never before have interest rates fallen so far. Many economists and investment advisors, seeing nowhere to go but up, expect interest rates to climb from these historic lows. But that would not be the catastrophe that many bond investors fear.
2012-01-24 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Two readers respond to Robert Huebscher's article, The Misreading of Reinhart and Rogoff, which appeared on January 10, and a reader responds to Matthew Jarvis' letter to the Editor last week, which was in response to Wade Pfau's article, GLWBs: Retiree Protection or Money Illusion?, which appeared on January 10.
2012-01-23 The Path of Least Resistance Is Up by Charles Lieberman (Article)
There is so much skepticism with respect to stocks that most everyone who might be scared out of the market has already exited. Investors fear a credit meltdown in Europe following a Greek default. They also fear a weakening domestic economy. As a result, stock prices are depressed, despite solid earnings growth and a healthy corporate sector. If investor's fears are not fulfilled, stocks should move higher.
2012-01-17 Martin Wolf on the Eurozone and Beyond by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Martin Wolf is widely considered to be one of the world's most influential writers on economics. Since joining the Financial Times in 1987, where he is chief economics commentator, he has received numerous awards for excellence in financial journalism. In this interview, he discusses the Eurozone crisis and prospects for global economic growth.
2012-01-17 GMO: Something's Fishy in China by Robert Huebscher (Article)
A wide gulf separates the two most prominent views regarding China's future. Faced with slowing economic growth, one side says its leaders will deftly navigate a soft landing, while the other claims it will face an implosion similar to those that befell Japan 20 years ago and the US in 2008. Count GMO, a firm that has built its reputation on its ability to identify a bubble about to pop, in the latter camp.
2012-01-17 An Essential Client Conversation ?Will I be able to pay for my hip replacement at age 85?? by Dan Richards (Article)
Advisors face a big challenge in planning for boomers. Your assumptions about how long they'll live and the nature and cost of their lifestyle as they age will dramatically impact your planning decisions. Conversations with boomers about those topics and about the implications of funding health care are difficult but important.
2012-01-17 Further Improving the Use of the ECRI WLI by Dwaine van Vuuren and Georg Vrba (Article)
Last week, we described how best to use the growth figure of the ECRI's WLI to predict recessions, but we also highlighted an impediment to our research -an inability of outsiders to replicate the index. Last week, however, the formula to calculate the WLI growth figure was found. Armed with that data, we have made further progress to improving the recession-dating performance of the WLI.
2012-01-17 Letters to the Editor - the Misreading of Reinhart and Rogoff by Various (Article)
Many readers responded to Robert Huebscher's article, The Misreading of Reinhart and Rogoff, which appeared last week.
2012-01-17 Good News or Cheap Stock Prices, but Not Both by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Investors often fail to appreciate that they can have either good news or cheap stock prices, but not both. It is good news that provides confidence and elevates stock prices to high valuations. Bad news undermines confidence and depresses stock prices. This maxim, first expressed by Joe Rosenberg, Chief Investment Officer for Loews Corp., and repeated in Barron's, applies most appropriately to prevailing stock valuations and implies an exceptional buying opportunity for those who can take a longer term investment perspective.
2012-01-10 The Misreading of Reinhart and Rogoff by Robert Huebscher (Article)
If the cry for deficit reduction rests on an intellectual framework, it would be the work of Reinhart and Rogoff, whose book, This Time is Different, has been hailed for its historical study of financial crises. A key finding - that growth slows once the ratio of debt-to-GDP exceeds 90% - has been widely cited by those calling for decreased government spending. But those calling for deficit reduction have largely ignored a number of caveats that Reinhart and Rogoff gave with respect to their 90% threshold, and as a result many warn that the US faces a Greek-like sovereign-debt crisis.
2012-01-10 Safe Withdrawal Rates: A Do-It-Yourself Approach by Wade Pfau (Article)
Reconciling the assumptions that underpin safe withdrawal rate studies with one's own capital market expectations and constraints is a daunting task, since those studies rarely reflect the practical realities of an advisory practice. But new research now provides a generalized framework for determining a safe withdrawal rate for a given retirement duration, acceptable failure probability, asset allocation and capital market expectations. Advisors no longer must be constrained by the assumptions and choices of others.
2012-01-10 Gundlach on the Key Risk for Bond Investors by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Watch out if you own a bond fund that underperformed its benchmark by 2% or more last year, as most did. Rather than put their careers at risk by suffering a second year of poor performance, those fund managers will turn to indexation, according to DoubleLine?s Jeffrey Gundlach. And since the Barclay?s Aggregate Index holds nearly 35% of its assets in Treasury bonds with near-zero yields, its investors will endure poor returns.
2012-01-10 Using the ECRI WLI to Flag Recessions by Dwaine van Vuuren (Article)
In September 2011, the ECRI proclaimed a new U.S recession would begin sometime in the coming year. It based its prediction on a host of its own internal long-leading indexes, together with its widely followed weekly leading index (WLI). I want to focus on the proper use of the WLI and examine its accuracy in recession dating, in order to put this current recession call into context.
2012-01-10 2011: The Famine That Followed the Feast That Followed the Fiasco by Ron Surz (Article)
Ron Surz provides his award-winning commentary on the US and global markets.
2012-01-03 Ghosts of Christmas Past by Michael Lewitt (Article)
While Europe desperately needs the liquidity that the latest bailout scheme provides, nobody should mistake liquidity for solvency and think for a moment that the crisis is over. Much more work is needed to heal the wounds that European policy makers and business leaders have inflicted on their societies since the European Union was formed.
2012-01-03 US Recession - An Opposing View by Dwaine van Vuuren (Article)
A large number of reputable analysts and companies are forecasting a new U.S recession on the immediate horizon. Attracting the most attention is ECRI, which made a public recession call on September 30th and several television reaffirmations since. But an examination of a broader range of other composite economic indicators shows that sole reliance on ECRI's forecast would be misplaced.
2012-01-03 Thoughts About 2012 by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Major issues cloud the outlook for 2012. Fiscal policy remains in limbo, while the country revs up the presidential campaign. Finances in Europe remain a work in progress, yet the risk of a globally troublesome misstep remains. There is also no shortage of geopolitical risks around the world, including Iran, the entire Middle East, and a new regime in North Korea. Domestically, the economy is gathering some upward momentum. But will the economy be permitted to build on these trends, or will some external factors undermine the recovery? The answer is unclear, which is why market is so cheap.
2011-12-27 The Ten Most-Read Articles in 2011 by Robert Huebscher (Article)
As is our custom, we conclude the year by reflecting on the 10 most-read articles over the past 12 months.
2011-12-27 Vitaliy Katsenelson on Krugman?s Missed Call by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Vitaliy Katsenelson is the chief investment officer at Investment Management Associates, a Denver-based money management firm, and the author of two highly acclaimed books on value investing. In this interview, he identifies what Paul Krugman failed to see with regard to China, discusses the prospects for the European and domestic economies, and explains why Microsoft is a grossly undervalued stock.
2011-12-20 Dennis Gartman Explains His Call on Gold by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Dennis Gartman has been publishing his daily commentary, The Gartman Letter, since 1987. He's been in the news lately because of a call he made last week on the price of gold. In this interview, he discusses the reasons behind that forecast.
2011-12-20 Expectations Creep by Jamie Cornehlsen (Article)
Today's generation of college students have it easier, at least in one respect, than any of their predecessors. Over the years, college professors had made it easier for students to get good grades, a phenomenon known more commonly referred to as 'grade inflation.' The reasons for this erosion of expectations continue to be debated, but there is ample data showing that the trend toward more generous grading is real. Today, a similar phenomenon plagues economic expectations.
2011-12-20 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Readers respond to several articles: GLWBs: Retiree Protection or Money Illusion?, Did Congress Cash In on Insider Stock Trading?, and Can this be Serious?, all which appeared last week, and to John Mauldin's commentary, The Center Cannot Hold, which appeared on Saturday.
2011-12-19 AA Is the New AAA by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The U.S. was downgraded to AA some months ago. France, as expected, was downgraded to AA this weekend. China is AA. Europe's six remaining AAA countries are under review and will likely also be downgraded to AA shortly. It hardly matters. AA is the new AAA. The markets understood well before the rating agencies that European sovereigns were mismanaging their finances and rendered their judgment that these budget deficits need to be reduced. Europe must do so before its credit problems spread. Progress is being made, albeit painfully slowly.
2011-12-13 Has Financial Planning Made Itself Appealing Only To Risk Takers? by Michael Kitces (Article)
Financial planning advice may be so equity-centric, that people who don't want equity-style investment risk forgo the use of a financial planner altogether, as a recent Journal of Personal Finance article revealed.
2011-12-13 Harnessing the Power of Momentum by Michael Nairne (Article)
A market phenomena that we can harness on behalf of our clients is momentum - the propensity for price trends to persist in the short-term. I examine the origins of momentum, illustrate its return premium and consider how managers can leverage momentum on behalf of investors.
2011-12-13 Improving on Buy and Hold: A Buy Signal by Georg Vrba, P.E. (Article)
In my August 2010 article I advocated a market timing strategy, to sell or significantly reduce one's stock holdings in anticipation of a recession or slowdown in the economy and switch into cash or a low-beta Treasury bond fund, and then reverse the process ahead of a recovery. A type-A buy signal was generated on December 9, 2011.
2011-12-12 One Step at a Time by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Rising profits and cheap valuations make stocks very attractive, but concerns over Europe will offset these solid domestic fundamentals, particularly when developments increase the risk of widespread credit defaults. So, volatility should remain high, as investors respond these events. Stock prices will move higher, but it will remain a roller coaster ride. As Europe resolves its finances, risks of a meltdown should fade and volatility should decline, clearing the way for stocks prices to move meaningfully higher.
2011-12-06 Why Shiller and Soros May Be Wrong about Farmland Investing by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Earlier this year, Yale's Robert Shiller identified farmland as an asset class in the early stage of bubble formation. George Soros, Jim Grant and Jim Rogers have espoused similarly bullish views. But advisors - even those managing the assets of very wealthy clients - shouldn't bet the farm on these expert forecasts just yet.
2011-12-06 Two Simple Questions to Motivate Your Assistant by Dan Richards (Article)
High on the list of holiday wishes for many advisors would be a cheerful, motivated, efficient team, united in the common goal of moving your business forward. And while you have no control over many things, you have a great deal of influence over how well your team operates.
2011-12-06 The Quality Conundrum by J.J. Abodeely, CFA, CAIA (Article)
We are witnessing the end of a remarkable and confounding era for stocks, best described by the 'quality conundrum' investors faced for much of the last two years. During that time the combined outperformance of low-quality stocks alongside the underperformance of high-quality stocks was unprecedented in the last 30 years. Now, we are embarking on an era where high-quality stocks will likely significantly outperform low-quality stocks, resolving this conundrum.
2011-12-06 Small-Cap ETFs: Tail or Dog? by Mariko Gordon (Article)
Now that ETFs represent anywhere from 30% to 40% of small-cap trading volume, the creature that was created to shadow its master has become bigger than the index itself. Let's look at the impact of this rapid growth and the three important questions it raises.
2011-12-05 Solid Improvement by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The latest employment report showed significant improvement. Job growth is still not strong enough, but the gains are sufficient for the expansion to continue without faltering, as long as the financial crisis in Europe is addressed. And finally, it appears that the Europeans are closer to resolving their debt issues.
2011-11-29 Jeremy Siegel on Why Stocks are 'Extremely Attractive' by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Jeremy Siegel is the Russell E. Palmer Professor of Finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His book, Stocks for the Long Run, now in its fourth edition, is widely recognized as one of the best books on investing. We spoke to him last week about equity valuations and the prospects for the economy.
2011-11-29 The Investment Case for Israel by Jamia Jasper (Article)
What country went into the 2008-2009 recession in a stronger position and exited sooner than any western nation? Whose stock market has outperformed the MSCI EAFE over the past 10 years?
2011-11-29 Sometimes We Lose Perspective by Scott A. MacKillop (Article)
It's been a rough ride lately for investors. Looking back over the course of my lifetime, however, what has been particularly exceptional is not recent market swings - these come and go - but rather the return one would have earned if they had been continuously invested in the stock market over the past 60-plus years.
2011-11-28 Multiple Focal Points by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Europe remains the markets focus, but the domestic economy also merits attention, particularly with another payroll report due on Friday. The data have come in consistently better than expected, including Black Friday sales, despite the distractions of Europe and the inability of the Super-Committee to reach a budget deal. Left to its own devices, it seems entirely possible that the economic expansion would slowly gather momentum. Unfortunately, it seems like a sure bet that the market will remain highly sensitive to developments in these other arenas.
2011-11-22 Krugman versus Summers ? Will the US mirror Japan? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Larry Summers and Paul Krugman may share ideological leanings, but they disagree sharply about our economic prospects. Both agree that political gridlock is responsible for the failure to grow our economy, but is that impasse is so severe that the US is destined to endure the slow growth, high unemployment and deflation that has plagued Japan for the last two decades? It depends who you ask.
2011-11-22 Investment Trends in the Financial Advisory Profession by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Advisors are optimistic about the returns Treasury bonds will provide over the next decade, but they are less sanguine about the projected performance of US equities. Their inflation expectations are consistent with the historical data. These findings and many others arise from our study, Investment Trends in the Financial Advisory Space: Key Implications for the Investment Management Industry, a research report now available from Advisor Perspectives.
2011-11-22 A Bond-Based Financial Planning Framework by Stan and Hildy Richelson (Article)
Plain vanilla bonds have proven themselves to be the best investments available, and we wholeheartedly agree with Andrew Mellon's prescient late-1920s observation that 'gentlemen prefer bonds.' We believe that ladies should, too.
2011-11-15 Michael Aronstein on Today's Key Macro Trends by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Michael Aronstein is the president and chief executive officer of Marketfield Asset Management. Since its inception in 2008, his fund has returned 31% while the S&P has been down 15%. I spoke with him about the key macroeconomic and strategic issues facing investors today.
2011-11-15 A Strategy with a 25-year Record of 25% Returns by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Indiana-based SBAuer Funds launched its inaugural mutual fund in December of 2007, after having established a successful track record with a separately managed account business. I spoke with Bob Auer, who has employed the same stock selection system used by the fund for the last 25 years, over which time returns have averaged 25% annually.
2011-11-15 It's All Greek to Me by Michael Lewitt (Article)
As one who has written that there is little chance of a long-term solution to Europe's problems without a radical rethinking of global economic policy, the Europeans still have little choice once they peer over the cliff to realize other than to step back and buy some time before taking the inevitable leap. For, in the end, they have no other options than to jump.
2011-11-15 The Problem with Many Performance Charts by Christophe Gauthron (Article)
Performance information conveyed on return charts from many financial sources is misleading. Investors reading these charts will be unfairly biased against income-producing assets.
2011-11-14 Improving Recovery Prospects by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Europe is moving slowly towards resolving its financial issues, but the performance of the domestic economy is looking significantly better. A domestically originated recession is looking ever more unlikely. Europe may take a while to resolve its financial and budget issues, but the adverse effect of a recession in Europe, even a severe one, on our domestic economy should be negligible. So while tremors from Europes financial turmoil may disrupt our market temporarily, they are unlikely to derail our expansion. This suggests that the equity market should continue its recent recovery.
2011-11-08 Bill Gross' Revised Paradigm: The New Normal Minus by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Following the financial crisis of 2008, PIMCO articulated its 'new normal' forecast of slow growth and mediocre capital market returns. Appending the even drearier modifier 'minus' to that outlook, Bill Gross said that expectations now appear worse than even he previously feared. Gross was pessimistic in both the near and long terms, and he startled the audience with his premonition that 'capitalism is at risk.'
2011-11-07 Better in the U.S.; Worse in Europe by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Economic data show that the domestic economy has regained its footing after a weak performance early this year, even as political considerations in Europe delay resolution of its credit crisis. This is particularly frustrating because the basis for addressing the crisis is widely shared and agreed upon. Growth prospects have improved sharply over the span of just a few weeks. Economic growth forecasts were being downgraded at a rapid pace a month ago and forecasts of recession had become common. Instead, Q3 growth exceeded Q1 and Q2 combined and another solid advance in Q4 now seems likely.
2011-11-01 The Small Cap Falsehood by Michael Edesess (Article)
The supposed outperformance of small cap stocks is a foundational precept on which many respected asset managers have staked their expertise over the years ? foremost among them, Dimensional Fund Advisors. A growing body of research, however, shows no such advantage for the last 30 years and, now, a new study seems to have proven that the supposed small-cap advantage may have never existed in the first place.
2011-11-01 A Better Way to do Financial Planning by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Simplicity is dangerous when it comes to financial planning. Easy-to-use tools that project your retirement savings based on minimal inputs such as your income and savings rate amount to a ?bait-and-switch,? according to Larry Kotlikoff, a Boston University professor of economics. To properly prepare for retirement, one should focus on maintaining a constant standard of living throughout their life ? what economists call consumption smoothing.
2011-11-01 Why Invest? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
Investing has its rational justifications, but like any human activity, it's contingent upon history. American society has come to regard investing in stocks and bonds as a matter of personal responsibility and even an obligation, which in part explains why we invest.
2011-10-31 Not Quite Out of the Woods, Yet by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Progress was made as Europe outlined how it would defuse its credit problems and domestic growth was resoundingly non-recessionary. Critics pointed out the flaws and they are correct that more progress is needed. Europe's banks must now raise capital and the market must become more comfortable that financial support will be provided to sovereign borrowers while they make progress towards reducing their deficits. Domestically, more job growth is needed to provide the income gains needed to finance spending gains. All of the weaknesses in the economy would be addressed if job growth improved.
2011-10-25 A Jeopardy Champion and our Economic Future by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Several years ago, a group of IBM scientists watched the television quiz show Jeopardy at a local bar and decided that they could develop the technology to beat a human contestant. They succeeded, and the system they built, Watson, is situated at the leading edge of a wave of breakthroughs in artificial intelligence that will lower health care costs and accelerate economic growth.
2011-10-25 On Market Timing and Whiskey by J.J. Abodeely (Article)
Noah S. 'Soggy' Sweat, Jr. a Mississippi legislator, gave a famous speech addressing the controversial subject of prohibition. The consummate politician, Soggy tried to appeal to advocates on both sides of the issue, illustrating a lesson that advisors today will surely appreciate: In order to get at the substance of a contentious issue, sometimes you have reframe the question.
2011-10-24 Looking A Bit Healthier by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Important uncertainties remain, but our domestic economys performance appears to be improving. Third quarter GDP, which will be reported this week, is expected to be the strongest of the year, suggesting that growth held up despite battles over the budget that scared investors and induced a downgrade by S&P. Nonetheless, job growth remains anemic and Europe is still working to contain its sovereign debt crisis and the damage it could inflict on its banks. So, more progress is necessary to restore confidence and enable growth to pick up to more desirable levels.
2011-10-18 Gundlach: Markets Aren?t Cheap Enough Yet by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Prices for risky assets are straddling the extremes of two potential outcomes. A 'hurricane' may hit, in the form of a blow-up in Europe or a move to put the US federal government on an austerity program, driving prices lower. Or world economies will plod along, in which case optimistic pricing makes sense. But prices should be 'truly cheap' against those parallel problems, according to Jeffrey Gundlach, and that is not yet the case.
2011-10-18 Bob Doll: Why the US is Positioned Strongly by BlackRock (Article)
Investor unease has risen dramatically over the past quarter in the face of growing concerns about the world's economic and financial health. The focal point has been the intensifying debt crisis in Europe. The issues facing Europe are highly complex, but essentially are underscored by a single question: Is Europe facing a solvency crisis or a liquidity crisis?
2011-10-18 Dan Fuss on the Liquidity Problem in the Bond Market by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Each morning, the traders at Loomis Sayles' bond desk rate the degree of liquidity in the bond market, with a rating of one being the worst and 10 the best. Ratings of one or two ? as corporate bonds have been receiving of late ? are an ominous sign, according to Dan Fuss. 'Liquidity is the God of the markets,' Fuss said, adding that he expects to deal with illiquidity for a while.
2011-10-18 An Insect's Guide to an Upbeat Market by Mariko Gordon (Article)
What's a chirping cricket got to do with the market? Plenty. Both have the ability to give off warning signals that cause you to lose sleep.
2011-10-11 A Critical Look at Obama?s Economic Team by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
Confidence Men is an exposé, by the reporter Ron Suskind, of what he claims is incompetence, infighting, and insubordination at the highest levels of economic leadership in the Obama administration during the global financial crisis. Those accusations are largely misdirected. After all, there was no playbook for the administration's economic thinkers to work from - the rapidly unfolding crisis forced them to improvise.
2011-10-11 Improving on Morningstar Style Boxes by Stephen Dodson (Article)
No one would ever confuse a short man with dark hair and a tall one with light hair. But this is precisely what investors do when they categorize stocks as either growth or value. Those style definitions, championed by Morningstar and others, are flawed, and I have a way to fix them.
2011-10-11 A Q3 Client Letter Drawing on Buffett?s Optimism 'The U.S. is coming back now' - and why three inves by Dan Richards (Article)
Since 2008, each quarter I have posted a template for a letter to clients; these are consistently among my most popular articles. This quarter's letter provides clients with perspective on the recent market turmoil.
2011-10-11 The Global ?Old Normal? by Michael Nairne (Article)
Amidst a torrent of dismal economic news and plunging stock prices, investment horizons have become increasingly short-sighted. The new normal of faltering growth and painful deleveraging appears to be only too true. However, investors capable of taking a long-term, global view will find forces at work that will likely drive resurgent world growth akin to that which occurred in the decades right after World War II.
2011-10-11 Market See-Saw Brings Us Back to April 2010 Double-Digit Third Quarter Losses Erase Previous Gains by Ron Surz (Article)
Stock markets around the world plummeted in the third quarter, with the US market losing 16% and foreign markets faring somewhat worse with 17% losses. This quarter's loss reverses the gains of the first quarter and brings year-to-date returns below water, with domestic markets losing 11% and foreign markets losing 13%.
2011-10-10 Recession Certainty - Oh, Never Mind by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Fears of a recession have been rampant, but the conditions that precede recession have been absent and recent data provides strong evidence that the expansion is continuing. While turmoil in Europe was expected to weaken consumer and investment spending, neither has retrenched. Rather, the economy remains on a slow growth path, with the pace of growth in the second half likely to exceed the pace of the first half of the year.
2011-10-04 Value Investing Lessons from Moneyball by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
Is baseball a metaphor for life, as many literati have suggested, or for value investing? Michael Lewis' 2003 bestseller Moneyball argues the latter. More recently, the book has been adapted to make a thoughtful movie that will be of special interest to investors who believe in trying to find hidden bargains.
2011-10-04 Jeffrey Gundlach: Preparing for the Coming Crisis by Katie Southwick (Article)
Speaking at a luncheon in New York last week, Jeffrey Gundlach, the founder and chief investment officer of DoubleLine Capital, gave investors advice on how to survive pending crises at home and abroad. After outlining the current state of U.S. debt and tax policy, Gundlach advised against European investments, favoring the U.S. dollar and owning U.S. government bonds as a hedge against credit.
2011-10-04 The Energy Expert You Shouldn?t Trust by Richard Vodra (Article)
Daniel Yergin, a self-described 'leading energy expert,' has written The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World, designed to provide information that policy-makers can rely upon in shaping energy policy for the decades ahead. This could be a dangerous reliance, for Yergin is an advocate for the fossil fuel community, not an honest broker of information.
2011-10-04 Moneyball Investing by F. Sean Bonner (Article)
In capital markets, emotions often rule the day, to the benefit of those who best remain well grounded in theory and math. The same holds true in baseball, as the new movie Moneyball reminds us.
2011-10-03 Prospects for Employment and Recession by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Concern is high that the U.S. economy may be close to or entering recession, yet the fundamentals lend little support to such a projection. There has been no decline in jobs, while corporate health is very strong. So the recession concerns appear to be driven more by the decline in stock prices than by economic developments. There can be no recession without job losses, although the data still report job gains. Fridays employment report will shed light if anything has changed.
2011-09-27 A Buying Opportunity in Investment-Grade Corporate Bonds by Chris Shayne, CFA (Article)
Given that yields on Treasury and high-quality corporate bonds are near 50-year lows, investors looking for relative value in fixed income should consider purchasing lower-rated investment-grade corporate bonds. As Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg said last Wednesday, 'if you have money to put to work, and are looking for a reward that more than compensates for the incremental risk involved at this juncture, credit is a good place to be looking.'
2011-09-27 When Greece Defaults by Keith Goddard (Article)
The Greek default is indeed inevitable, but there remain two possible ways the world may learn about it, and financial markets will react very differently depending on which of these two processes for default occurs.
2011-09-26 Full Twist, With 2.0 Degree of Difficulty by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The Feds new twist strategy applies a new (or very old) tool to lower long-term interest rates to promote easier financial market conditions and economic growth. The equity market sold off nonetheless. Investors seemed to be reacting to the Feds economic bearish assessment, which suggested that the risks of recession had increased. However, the Fed was merely acknowledging what most analysts had been saying over the past few months. The key message is that the Fed remains committed to doing whatever it can to promote a healthier pace of growth and that its actions speak louder than words.
2011-09-20 Counterparty Risk in Large Total-Return Funds by Robert Huebscher (Article)
We can add another to the list of concerns facing advisors: counterparty risk ? a potential loss from the failure of a bank or broker-dealer. Underscoring this threat, DoubleLine's founder and chief investment officer, Jeffrey Gundlach, recently warned advisors to avoid all funds with counterparty risk. Heeding his warning, however, is not easy; it is virtually impossible to gauge the extent of counterparty risk in most funds.
2011-09-20 The Power of Dividends ? And What They Say About Future Returns by Lance Paddock (Article)
The return on equities is driven by dividends, since companies must ultimately distribute their hard-earned cash to shareholders. Given that reality, recent history of dividend yields portends a disappointing future for equity investors, one of sub-par returns relative to historical averages.
2011-09-20 The Irrational Optimist by Michael Lewitt (Article)
'Most past bursts of human prosperity have come to naught because they allocated too little money to innovation and too much to asset price inflation or to war, corruption, luxury and theft,' writes Matt Ridley. These words hit the proverbial nail on the head. The misallocation of capital in today's economy is a severe threat to future prosperity and perhaps survival itself.
2011-09-19 Too Focused on Symptoms, Still by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Europe took a series of steps this week to ameliorate its credit crisis, although policy remains focused on symptoms and insufficiently willing to address underlying problems. Sovereign borrowers are paying higher interest rates, as credit availability has declined. These are the symptoms. Instead, Europe needs to lock in strong deficit reductions strategies to restore confidence that the sovereigns can manage their finances responsibly and to recapitalize its banks, so they can withstand defaults. Such actions must come eventually, although they are getting there painfully slowly.
2011-09-13 The Risks of Exchange-Traded Products by Dennis Gibb (Article)
Every major financial crisis has been foretold by timely but ultimately ignored warnings. At the end of mania, the rush to secure more fees, investment performance and status trumps common sense. In the last few months, the drumbeats of warnings from financial journals and regulators about exchange-traded funds have been sounding. Few seem to be listening.
2011-09-13 A Response to 'A Winning Endgame' by Guy Cumbie (Article)
A Winning Endgame, Robert Huebscher's review of John Mauldin's book Endgame, made some highly problematic claims about our energy usage. Moreover, Huebscher's claim is unfounded that an energy policy, such as the cap-and-trade policy he recommended, is the right step toward solving our economic crisis.
2011-09-12 Policy Issues, II by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The Presidents job proposals were a savvy mix of ideas, some of which were borrowed from Republicans, to avoid a wholesale dismissal of his initiative. Still, he left the problem of how to finance the ideas to the super-committee Nevertheless, the President will probably get some of his proposals approved, notably the reduction in payroll taxes for employees and employers. The Fed is likely to approve an operation twist initiative that may reduce lower interest rates slightly. But any near-term focus ought to remain on Europe and its efforts to avoid a Greek default.
2011-09-06 Byron Wien Reflects on His List of Surprises by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
Byron Wien is a senior managing director and vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Partners, the largest alternative investment firm in the world with $140 billion under management. Each year, for the last 26 years, he has published a list of 10 'surprises' investors should expect in the capital markets and the economy. In this interview, he reflects on his list for 2011 and what see sees ahead.
2011-09-06 No Way Out by Michael Lewitt (Article)
There aren't enough Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerbergs to innovate our way out of the Everest of debt we have built for ourselves (and will continue to build for the foreseeable future). The good news (a purely relative evaluation) is that astute investors will find enormous opportunities in today's markets as they increasingly reflect unsustainable fiscal and monetary imbalances.
2011-08-30 The Case for Active Management in a Volatile Market by Brandon Thomas (Article)
It's been an eventful few weeks, to say the least. The market volatility reminds us that active investment management is more crucial than ever.
2011-08-30 Why High-Yield Bonds Make Sense Today by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
None other than Gluskin Sheff's Dave Rosenberg, the widely followed analyst who was been consistently bearish in the current market cycle, said last week that high-yield bonds are 'a good place to be right now.' Recent price declines have made them attractive in the short term, and their risk-adjusted returns make them attractive to longer-term strategic investors.
2011-08-30 Scenarios for a Stock Market Bottom by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)
A probability-based forecast for the U.S. stock market between now and 2013 can be constructed using historical relationships between stock prices, earnings and dividends. This yields a matrix of possible outcomes for the S&P 500 Index over the next two years.
2011-08-30 Borking the Budget by Michael Lewitt (Article)
It now appears that the obstreperous approach that succeeded in the Bork nomination fight is being applied to the federal budget. Instead of treating this subject with objectivity and reason, both parties have borrowed the tactics that their most radical elements have historically applied to social issues like abortion.
2011-08-29 Warren Buffett Gets It by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Warren Buffetts decision to call the CEO of Bank of America to invest $5 billion in newly issued preferred shares reveals how a canny investor can take advantage of market psychology. The decline in bank stocks reflects latent fears. It was driven by the experience of 2008, when the credit markets froze up and banks suffered large, unknowable losses on their mortgage portfolios. The fear of today is that the same thing could happen. The credit problems in Europe are a major source of concern. Unlike US banks, European banks did not raise a lot of capital following the market meltdown in 2008.
2011-08-23 Strategies for a Rising Rate Environment by Jayant Kumar of Fisher Francis Trees & Watts (Article)
Shortening the duration of a fixed-income portfolio is often considered the default option, but it is not the only way to hedge against a potential rise in interest rates. This article provides investors with a framework to analyze and implement a range of fixed-income strategies, and highlights various investment considerations that should carefully be taken into account.
2011-08-23 A Fundamental Investment Strategy for Today\'s Environment by Robert Huebscher (Article)
We spoke with Tim Hartch and Michael Keller, who are co-managers of the Morningstar 5-star BBH Core Select Fund (BBTEX) from Brown Brothers Harriman. The fund's strategy is strictly bottom-up, with investments in established, cash-generative businesses that are leading providers of essential products and services with strong management teams and loyal customers.
2011-08-19 A Need For Leadership by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Markets struggle when there is a need for strong policy action and leaders respond reluctantly, slowly and behind the curve. Europe needs to help calm markets with regard to both its sovereign borrowers and its banks. Domestically, we need stronger economic growth. Market declines in Europe and at home are likely to push policymakers to make the policy decisions that are needed, but it doesn't inspire confidence that such market declines are necessary as a precondition.
2011-08-16 Gundlach - 'The Cusp of a Global Banking Panic' by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Don't interpret last week's volatility as merely a reaction to S&P's downgrade of US Treasury debt, according to Doubleline founder and chief investment officer Jeffrey Gundlach. Investors are actually fearful of a global banking crisis, he said, because many countries face a perilous choice - defaulting on their sovereign debt or inflating their way out of trouble.
2011-08-16 Matt Ridley Makes a Case for Optimism by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
Matt Ridley's new book, The Rational Optimist, uses powerful examples from history and compelling logic drawn from economic theory to remind us that human achievement is cumulative, and the future looks bright, particularly for the less fortunate in the world. It is especially welcome at this discouraging moment in time.
2011-08-16 A Commentary on the Correction by Michael Nairne (Article)
Market corrections are always painful and this one particularly so because of the lingering anxiety from memories of the 2008-2009 market crash. I explore the history of stock market corrections and examines the dynamics of the recent downturn as well as actions that may be warranted, depending on individual circumstances.
2011-08-16 Tapping into 'The Power of Three' by Dan Richards (Article)
One area on which there's a growing body of evidence is the optimum number of examples to use and alternatives to provide when talking to an existing or prospective client. You want to provide enough examples to communicate that you've done your homework without having people feel overwhelmed.
2011-08-15 Value vs. Volatility by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Stocks are cheap. Investors dont care, because they are mesmerized and fearful over the markets volatility. I am fearful that the markets volatility doesnt reflect legitimate economic issues, but reflect the influence of computer traded algorithms that seek to eke out small price gains from high frequency trading, regardless of economic values. This induced volatility scares investors right out of the market and could also turn them more cautious about spending. But it is the flight of investors from the markets that creates the depressed valuations which will attract bargain hunters.
2011-08-09 Does Government Intervention in Financial Markets Slow Economic Growth? by Michael Edesess (Article)
As we saw with the Dodd-Frank legislation and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the question underlying the debate over financial regulation is whether it stifles economic growth. Leo F. Goodstadt's book, Reluctant Regulators, provides useful insights from the experiences of Hong Kong and China. It also causes us to ponder whether our measurement of economic growth is fundamentally flawed.
2011-08-09 Can American Become Greece? by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)
Investors face four possible implications from the recent downgrade of America's long-term credit rating by Standard & Poor's: 1) Lower prices for financial assets; 2) Higher volatility in the asset markets; 3) Greater potential for trend-following investment strategies, and 4) Attractive opportunities in 'blue chip' stocks.
2011-08-08 Budgets and Ratings by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Governments are increasingly being forced by markets to become more responsible. Thus, S&P's downgrading of U.S. debt from AAA to AA+ is more a reflection of market reality than a key event. The efforts by the U.S. and European governments to reduce budget deficits, an inherently political decision that reflects conflicting values on how much to cut spending and how much to raise taxes, not to mention which spending categories and which taxes, is a highly contentious battle, of course. Each side is fighting for what it believes.
2011-08-02 A Winning Endgame by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Reducing our nation's debt burden is no longer only the rallying cry of Tea Partiers and fiscal conservatives. As the debate over the debt ceiling proved, it is now the goal of the president and many fellow Democrats. John Mauldin and Jonathan Tepper's book, Endgame, published earlier this year, makes a compelling argument as to why reducing the deficit is so critical and why we face a long, slow and ultimately painful period of deleveraging. I will explain their thesis and then provide the counterargument.
2011-08-02 Solving the REAL Debt Crisis by Michael S. Falk, CFA, CRC (Article)
Now that the debt ceiling impasse (circus) has been resolved, it's time to address this country's real debt crises. Our leaders need to conquer the far more daunting entitlement issues we face. Our choice is simple - either reduce costs and face austerity, or raise taxes. Those alternatives need not be as painful as you or they might think, as I will demonstrate.
2011-08-02 Survey Results: Advisor Use of 529 Plans by Paul Curley, CFA (Article)
With investor sales volume returning to the 529 industry, financial advisors have an opportunity to grow their business. However, they are missing out: Asset growth within the advisor-sold channel has not kept pace with the growth experienced by the direct-sold channel.
2011-08-01 Debt Crisis Averted, Now Back To Reality by John Petrides (Article)
Late Sunday night the US Senate reached a deal to effectively cut $2.4 Trillion from the US budget in a two stage process: about $1 trillion agreed upon now over a ten year period, and $1.5 trillion more to be decided by a special committee of lawmakers by November. This removes fear of a US default and helps stabilize confidence throughout the global financial system. Aside from congressional procedures, the deal appears done. We will see how the credit ratings agencies will react to the proposal. Now investor focus will shift from DC incompetence back to the macro and micro economy.
2011-07-26 Investing with a View of Significant Inflation by Bob Kargenian (Article)
Almost all the analysis we read has concluded that, with the Fed seemingly printing money out of nowhere, the inevitable consequence must be significantly higher inflation. We're not convinced, but we have identified which strategies are likely to best protect clients if inflation accelerates.
2011-07-26 Income Opportunities in Municipal Bonds and Stocks by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In this interview, Brian McMahon and Chris Ryon of Thornburg Investment Management assess the opportunities for income-oriented investors, particularly in the municipal bond market. They answer questions such as when a separate account is better than a fund, and why a barbell is inferior to a laddered portfolio.
2011-07-25 Down to the Wire, Of Course by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Investors are focused on three concerns: the financial situation in Greece and the risk of contagion, the pace of growth of the U.S. economy, and the risk of a default by the U.S. Treasury. It appears that Europe is getting control over its sovereign debt problem. The economic data is looking a bit better. Unfortunately, we have every reason to expect politicians to continue to squabble over budget issues until the very last minute, no matter how uncomfortable we might be over these negotiating tactics. Keep your helmets on and remain prepared.
2011-07-19 Gundlach: A Debt Ceiling Impasse Could Drive Rates Lower by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Failing to raise the debt ceiling would be a 'huge financial calamity,' according to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and the general consensus view. But that opinion is 'exactly wrong,' at least as far as the Treasury market is concerned, DoubleLine's Jeffrey Gundlach said in a conference call with investors last Tuesday.
2011-07-19 A New Approach for Forecasting Market Returns by C. Thomas Howard (Article)
I propose a method for predicting future market movements, which I call the strategy market barometer (SMB). The SMB is calculated by measuring the extent to which investors are rewarding specific investment strategies being pursued by active equity managers. My research reveals that equity strategy performance ranking is a useful predictor of future market returns, and tests confirm that market returns vary in line with SMB measurements.
2011-07-19 Retirement Planning and Worst-Case Scenarios by Wade Pfau (Article)
New research suggests that skepticism in a 4% safe withdrawal rate (SWR) is well justified. It is perhaps due to good luck that American retirees have not yet experienced a withdrawal rate below 4%. But a better approach than worrying about SWRs is to focus on the savings rate needed to meet your retirement spending goals, not on what the safe withdrawal rate is.
2011-07-12 Harold Evensky on the New Rules for Wealth Management by Robert Huebscher (Article)
If you don't have a copy of The New Wealth Management on your bookshelf, you should. From gauging the risk tolerance of your clients to measuring the performance of their portfolios, this book provides comprehensive guidance for virtually every aspect of a financial advisory practice. Harold Evensky, the lead author, spoke with me last week and highlighted some key themes in the newly released second edition.
2011-07-12 An End-of-Quarter Letter to Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Given recent unrest in Europe and uncertainty about economic growth, many clients are looking to their advisors for direction. This template for an end-of-quarter letter is a starting point for your own letter to clients, one that can be a catalyst for a conversation about how to position portfolios.
2011-07-12 The Titanic Has Sailed by Michael Lewitt (Article)
It was entirely predictable that the U.S. equity market would rally on the news that Greek would not default this month, but it does little to convince me that the long-term outlook for European sovereign debt or the global economy has improved. Markets - particularly the equity markets - are trying to pretend that the global economy is experiencing a self-sustaining recovery. A hard look at the economic numbers would tell an objective observer that no such recovery is occurring.
2011-07-12 Second Quarter Preserves First Quarter Market Gains: We're Still Above Water and Treading by Ron Surz (Article)
In his award-winning commentary, Ron Surz looks at how the US market performed and then how foreign markets fared. He concludes on a lighter note with a couple of videos that address key topics in the investment arena.
2011-07-11 The Logic of Stocks by Charles Lieberman (Article)
How can we reconcile weak economic growth with a stock market that managed to reverse much of its earlier loss on Friday? Investors understand that there is a soft patch and, despite June's disappointingly small number of new jobs, this period of slower growth is likely to prove temporary. Moreover should the economy weaken more than expected, there is little doubt that the Fed would implement a QE3 and fiscal initiatives would be implemented, such as an extension of the payroll tax. So it is hard to be too negative on stocks when the alternatives are bonds and cash with yields close to zero.
2011-07-05 Essential Summer Reading - Desperate Households and More by Michael Shamosh (Article)
Summer reruns don't have to be boring and predictable. If we use a little imagination, televised repeats can depict the problems facing our economy and markets, and the storylines can become tantalizingly uncertain.
2011-07-05 The Chinese Black Swan by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
Party rulers in China are trapped in a position that chess players deeply fear - zugzwang - where any move make puts you at disadvantage. In China, the cost of both action and inaction is potential economic collapse.
2011-07-05 Fox in the Henhouse by Joseph Calhoun and Douglas Terry (Article)
In 1971, President Nixon ended the Bretton Woods gold standard currency system. That move set us on a path of debauching our currency through inflation. Ever since, we have counted on the Federal Reserve to preserve the purchasing power of our money. We have depended on the fox to protect our hens.
2011-07-05 Momentum Investing Can Achieve Market-Beating Returns by Matthew Tuttle, CFP (Article)
In 2002 and 2008 the investment tide went out. And as Warren Buffett famously predicted, we learned who was swimming naked. Both times, it was the practitioners of Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT).
2011-07-05 Sentiment Whiplash by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The equity market rallied about 5% in a mere five days, reversing most of the losses over the prior eight weeks. What drove this turnaround? A whole slew of events suggest a less fearful future. The economic outlook improved, markets in Europe calmed down, as Greece got its capital infusion. Budget negotiations do seem to be making some progress. Incremental capital requirements on systemically important financial institutions were less than feared and the approved interchange fee was greater than expected. And commodity prices have weakened, notably including grain prices.
2011-06-28 The End of QE2: What Does It Mean for Investors? by BlackRock (Article)
The financial crisis sparked widespread flight from risk. Although the crisis is over and equity prices have rebounded, many investors have not yet returned to the capital markets. For them, the safe-haven appeal of money market funds remains strong. In this paper, American Century Investments® proposes a strategy of "smart risk taking," an active asset management approach that seeks to identify, understand, manage, and be consistently rewarded for risk.
2011-06-28 The Diversified Portfolio Index by Charles Fahy, Sr. (Article)
Investment rates of return that are average but consistent are the products of exceptional performance. Over longer time horizons, these returns become increasingly difficult to outperform. One such example is the Diversified Portfolio Index - a buy-and-hold strategy deployed across all major asset classes.
2011-06-21 Investing Based on Jeremy Grantham's Forecast for Diminishing Resources by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In his most recent commentary, Jeremy Grantham became one of the first mainstream investment professionals to publicly forecast a world economy threatened by diminishing natural resources. A survey of our readers showed that an overwhelming majority agree with Grantham's views. But constructing a portfolio positioned to capitalize on those themes is exceedingly difficult.
2011-06-21 The Toughest Question from Clients And How to Answer It by Dan Richards (Article)
Many existing and prospective clients wonder whether they're getting their money's worth on the fees they pay. They may not say it out loud - but it's often there, casting a cloud of doubt about the advisor they work with.
2011-06-14 Bruce Berkowitz - Ignoring the Crowd on Financials by Sam Parl (Article)
Bruce Berkowitz has said that his deep value and contrarian investing style will not guarantee short-term results, but he promises his shareholders will be rewarded for their patience over the long term. Last week, he explained why some of his positions - especially those in the financial services sector - are among the best opportunities in the market.
2011-06-14 What Fama and French?s Latest Research Doesn?t Tell Us by Michael Edesess (Article)
With the high name recognition and respect that the team of Eugene Fama and Kenneth French enjoys in the world of finance, anything they publish warrants attention. Their latest offering, Size, Value, and Momentum in International Stock Returns, offers some interesting data on global equity performance. But they fail to offer any insights that explain the reasons behind their findings.
2011-06-14 A Cautionary Tale from the World's Most Influential Economist by Dan Richards (Article)
Raghuram Rajan was recently cited by The Economist as having the most important ideas for the post-crisis world. In this interview, he identifies key policy issues the Obama administration must confront. This is a transcript of the interview.
2011-06-13 Does Slowdown Justify Sell Off? by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Bernanke described the pace of the economic expansion as unsatisfactory and suggested that stronger job growth for a sustained period is necessary. We expect policy to remain accommodative until the expansion picks up some steam. Stocks have reacted quite strongly to the ebbs and flows of the data. If they maintain this behavior, they may rebound strongly if the economic weakness proves temporary, as we think likely. It is clear the Fed is not willing at this point to consider a third quantitative easing program. Still, Fed officials understand that policy must remain highly accommodative.
2011-06-10 Why Bill Gross Doesn?t Like Stocks (or Treasury Bonds) by Sam Parl (Article)
Stocks have come to the end of a ?wonderful journey,? according to PIMCO's Bill Gross, and are now on their own, like ?a baby bird just released from the nest.? The journey Gross spoke of is the multi-decade decline in real interest rates, which have fueled bull markets across ?risk assets,? especially in equities and bonds.
2011-06-07 New Challenges for the Endowment Model by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The multi-billion dollar endowments of elite institutions like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are supposed to never be strapped for cash, but that's not how things played out during the financial crisis, when all those schools and many others were forced to raise liquidity under adverse market conditions. The endowment model, despite those failures, is still basically sound, according to Luis Viceira, but it needs several key improvements before institutions and individuals can rely on it.
2011-06-07 Why Jim Rogers is Bullish on Gold by Dan Richards (Article)
The veteran investor Jim Rogers explains why he is bullish on gold and the US dollar, and offers his thoughts on Asian economies why he chose to move his family to Singapore. This is the transcript of the interview.
2011-06-07 Improving on Buy and Hold: When is the Best Time to Sell by Georg Vrba, P.E. (Article)
My model, Improving on Buy and Hold: Asset Allocation using Economic Indicators, has been updated. A Sell-A type signal will be generated by the model in the second week of August and I advise reducing one's stock market investments then.
2011-06-07 Bathrooms, Speed Limits and Other Investment Artifacts by Mariko Gordon (Article)
Whether speculating on details of a lost civilization or evaluating an investment opportunity, cultural artifacts shed light on the people and institutions they represent. Let's look at a recent on-site visit, and the impact that certain clues had on our perceptions of the company involved.
2011-06-07 Letters to the Editor - Equity-Indexed Annuities by Various (Article)
A number of readers responded to Robert Huebscher's article, Fantasy-world Returns for Equity Indexed Annuities, which appeared last week.
2011-06-07 Letters to the Editor - On the WikiLeaks of the Economics Profession by Various (Article)
This is a follow-up to last week's exchange between Guy Cumbie and Michael Edesess, which concerned Edesess' article two weeks ago, Letter to the Editor On the Wikileaks of the Economics Profession.
2011-06-06 The Unexpected Expected Slowdown by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Job growth slowed sharply in May, as should have been expected. Disruption of global supply chains from the earthquake in Japan, a surge in oil prices, and severe weather combined to depress economic activity with adverse consequences for the pace of new hiring. It will take a couple of months for businesses to overcome the shocks and to resume normal activity, so a rebound should be visible soon enough. But investors remain very nervous, so they will wait until evidence of improvement becomes visible. Markets are likely to remain choppy before turning decisively higher in the third quarter.
2011-05-31 Fantasy-world Returns for Equity Indexed Annuities by Robert Huebscher (Article)
When research fails to meet the basic standards of academic rigor, its conclusions should be questioned. One such case is a recent paper, Real-World Index Annuity Returns, whose conclusions you should trust at your own risk.
2011-05-31 Hedging In an Inflationary World by Andrew Foster (Article)
These days, given the complex web of global financial transactions in which companies are enmeshed, it is unrealistic to expect management to avoid hedging. When I invest, however, I search for companies that follow simple, consistent, and short-term hedging policies ? and whose business models are strong enough to adapt to the inherent volatility and uncertainty of the marketplace.
2011-05-31 Our Four-Year Anniversary by Robert Huebscher (Article)
This month Advisor Perspectives marks four years of publication, and I?d like to share with you some of our accomplishments over the last year and our goals for the future.
2011-05-31 Just A Soft Patch by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Investors reacted to the production disruptions and rise in oil prices by taking less risk and reducing their exposure to equities. The stock market weakened, but only ever so slightly, falling by less than 3% off its prior highs. Bonds actually rose in value. That?s not much of a retrenchment, although it felt a bit worse than that. Fears of something worse, reflecting the trauma of 2008, are surely one major factor behind this behavior. However, these market movements may be just as temporary as the factors that slowed growth in the first half of 2011.
2011-05-24 Robert Shiller: I'm Betting the Farm by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Yale's Robert Shiller, the economist who foresaw the implosions of the tech bubble in 2000 and the housing market in 2007, is now closely watching a different asset class. This time, however, it is one that is in an early stage of bubble formation, not of collapse.
2011-05-24 A Washington Forecast for Advisors and Investors by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Only entitlement reform can bridge the federal deficit, and your clients should prepare for changes to Medicare and Social Security, according to Andy Friedman. Cost-sharing and means-testing are among the big changes that Friedman sees on the horizon. Don't expect much progress in the near term, though, as Friedman forecast continued gridlock on the budget at least until the 2012 elections are decided.
2011-05-24 Stop Making 'House Calls' by Kristen Luke (Article)
If a client or prospect isn't willing to come to your office and meet, find out why and develop a solution. Below are two common excuses advisors hear and solutions that avoid having traveling around town to meet someone.
2011-05-24 Ownership in an Operating Business by David L. Blain (Article)
There was a time when the three legs of the retirement stool were Social Security, pensions, and personal savings, but those days are gone for good, and the stool needs new legs. Paper assets and real estate are classic asset classes that can help fill the void, but where else can investors turn for the stable income they need?
2011-05-23 Fear of Uncertainty: Does QE2 = Y2K? by Charles Lieberman (Article)
QE2 was implemented because the slow pace of economic growth was generating new job growth too slowly to bring down unemployment at a satisfactory pace. Implicitly, QE3 was highly unlikely unless QE2 proved unsuccessful. And if QE2 proved a rousing success, there was a possibility of early termination. But by far, the likeliest outcome was that QE2 would contribute modestly to the recovery and it would end at the end of June. Market participants had every opportunity to monitor its progress and prepare for the end of Fed buying of market securities. There are no surprises here.
2011-05-17 Dylan Grice on Japan's Coming Hyperinflation by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The Japanese scenario haunts US policy makers, who recall that country's two-decade miasma of lethargic growth and escalating fiscal deficits with apprehension. What scares them most, perhaps, is the potential endgame Japan now faces: an insolvent government crippled by uncontrollable inflation. While Japan's current situation closely parallels the experience of other countries that went on to confront hyperinflation, according to Dylan Grice, we shouldn't expect a crisis in the near term.
2011-05-17 Pippa Malmgren on Inflation and its Geopolitical Impact by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The Cold War may have been over for a quarter century, but the inflation-driven challenges that characterized that historical era are heating back up. Today, global volatility is back, according to Pippa Malmgren, who says that commodity-driven inflation will lead to political instability in emerging markets.
2011-05-17 Four Steps to a Top-Performing Team by Dan Richards (Article)
Over the past 25 years, I've observed many high-performing teams and spent a lot of time talking to advisors and their support staff about the keys to their success. Here are four observations about what it takes to have a well-functioning team.
2011-05-17 Improving on Buy and Hold: An Initial Sell Signal by Georg Vrba, P.E. (Article)
I have updated the model described in my article, Improving on Buy and Hold: Asset Allocation using Economic Indicators. The ECRI U.S. Weekly Leading Index and its annualized growth rate published on May 13, 2011, together with the most recent values of the other indicators, have been incorporated in my model. A basic sell signal was generated last week.
2011-05-10 Howard Marks on the Human Side of Investing by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Howard Marks is widely regarded for his thought-provoking essays on the discipline and process of value investing. He is the chairman and co-founder of California-based Oaktree Capital, and he delivered the keynote address at the Value Investing Congress in Pasadena last week.
2011-05-10 Housing Outlook: Where Do We Go From Here? by John Burns (Article)
The housing market will struggle over the next several years, but longer term there is plenty of upside. That was John Burns' message when he recently spoke to a housing industry trade group. Burns is a leading expert on the housing industry, and he shared with us his presentation.
2011-05-10 Lessons from the Farm by Michael Nairne (Article)
Farmers know all about droughts. Droughts occur in nearly all climates and impair all types of crops. They are unpredictable, yet are recurring and can last for years. Likewise, performance droughts abound in the world of investing.
2011-05-10 What Return can we Expect from Stocks? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
What return can we expect from stocks over the long term? This sentence contains four problematic terms: 'return,' 'expect,' 'stocks,' and 'long term.' Intended for the educated laymen, this article considers each in turn.
2011-05-10 Something's Fishy in the Russell Rebalancing by Mariko Gordon (Article)
We humanoids think in words; it's just the way we're wired. As a result, the labels we assign to things affect our view of the world. I look at two frequently used investment labels: 'growth' and 'value.' I'll explain why both are high on my list of jargon pet peeves.
2011-05-09 Strong Job Growth, Finally by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Strong employment growth, the key missing link in this economy recovery, has finally arrived. This is absolutely crucial for a recovery in housing, which now ought to follow suit. The surge in oil prices may moderate the pace of growth over the next few months, but the economy?s momentum should now become more powerful and self-reinforcing. The economic recovery has been a bit tepid until recently, as the moderate gains in GDP simply did not translate into the kind of sizable increases in employment that are needed for growth to become well established and self-reinforcing.
2011-05-03 Gary Shilling - Five Things that can Derail the Recovery by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Die-hard deflationists - those who foresee a continued bull market in bonds - are so few in number these days they could all share an elevator, according to Gary Shilling. One is Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg, whose views are considered elsewhere in this issue. But the loudest such voice belongs to Shilling himself, who has advocated for a long position in Treasury bonds continuously since 1980, a stance that has always proved prescient so far.
2011-05-03 P/E: Future on the Horizon by Ed Easterling (Article)
Most people expect P/E to measure current valuation and to show historical patterns. But more features are available from some versions of P/E. The methodology behind the Crestmont P/E enables investors to anticipate the future. It may not precisely predict the market ten years away, but it frames within a relatively tight range the likely outcome. One component from determining the Crestmont P/E is a means to assess the future trend line for EPS using estimates of future economic growth (GDP).
2011-04-29 More Pot Shots at the Fed by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The sheer cacophony surrounding Fed Chairmans press conference and the Fed?s policy decision seems more focused on finding reasons to criticize the Fed?s stance than to understand why the Fed must position itself as it has. The pace of the recovery is too moderate to reduce the unemployment rate at a desired rate. And with unemployment still high, it makes little sense for the Fed to allow itself to be distracted by rising commodity prices. Thus, the Fed is properly focused on insuring a stronger expansion and it will turn its attention to inflation when economic growth is somewhat healthier.
2011-04-26 Why Demographics will Drive Global Growth by Sam Parl (Article)
When economic pundits trade heated predictions about the massive economic shifts we see internationally, it is easy to forget the subtleties that shade their forecasts. One such shadow overhanging any intelligent debate about our global economic future is global age demographics, according to Harvard Professor Richard Cooper.
2011-04-26 Long-term Failure with Short-term Bonds by Hildy and Stan Richelson (Article)
Fear of an impending rise in interest rates has many recommending short-term bonds. Such fears are misplaced, however, and investors can better position their portfolios by constructing a ladder of high-quality individual bonds, rather than moving assets into only short maturities.
2011-04-26 Cerulli Survey Results: Advisor Use of Tactical Allocation by Tyler Cloherty (Article)
Advisors have increasingly turned to tactical allocation to manage client risk. While there has been abundant discussion on how this approach should be executed in theory, our survey results show what advisors are doing today in their practices.
2011-04-25 Is the Stock Market Rally Justifiable? by Charles Lieberman (Article)
We begin with the U.S. Treasury budget, which is a mess, running a deficit of about $1.5 trillion this fiscal year, with huge deficits projected into the future. Politicians seem more anxious to shift blame rather than act to reduce these projected deficits. So, entities as blind as S&P are able to foresee a possible need to downgrade the credit rating. The U.S. is emulating the spending of Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal. None of these countries has its budget in order. Now, they must pay interest rates that are bringing the Greeks ever closer to default and a formal restructuring.
2011-04-19 Gundlach: Treasuries will Rally When QE2 Ends by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The bonds that PIMCO's Bill Gross sold to take a 3% short position in the Treasury market may have found a buyer in Doubleline's Jeffrey Gundlach. In a conference call with investors last week, Gundlach said that Treasury prices would rise in the near term, once QE2 expires on June 30.
2011-04-12 Ten Trends that will Reshape the Fund Industry by Robert Huebscher (Article)
For advisors scouring among thousands of mutual funds, bargains and inefficiencies will be harder to find in coming years. Intense competition among funds for shelf space will not translate to lower fees, and the new class of broad asset allocation funds is unlikely to live up to its marketing promises. Those were among the surprising forecasts from Geoff Bobroff, with whom I met last week.
2011-04-05 Two Critical Lessons from Japan An End-of-Quarter Letter to Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Given recent events in Japan and North Africa, many clients are looking to their advisors for direction on what they should do. This template for an end-of-quarter letter is intended to be a starting point for your letter to clients.
2011-04-05 A Trading System that Disproves Efficient Markets by Erik McCurdy (Article)
Efficient market adherents claim it is impossible to outperform the stock market over the long term. Although their principles are the foundation of modern investment theory, other compelling models, including the one I propose here, reveal that precisely the opposite is true, supporting the thesis that markets are highly inefficient.
2011-04-05 The Future of Investment Manager Due Diligence (and a Look Back at Q1 Performance) by Ron Surz (Article)
Despite the continuing global financial crisis, the uprisings in the Middle East and the Japanese disaster, global stock markets delivered positive results in the first quarter of 2011, as described in this capital market review. In the second part of the article, you'll discover what due diligence procedures need to change and why.
2011-04-04 Getting Stronger by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The expansion is getting stronger. Employment gains keep building, key to a sustainable lasting expansion. Adverse shocks could still hurt the expansion, but risks of the expansion faltering on its own are fading fast. This will enable the Fed to begin the lengthy process of unwinding the aggressive addition of excess liquidity into the financial system. The trend in job growth maintained its trajectory in March, strengthening consumers and businesses. Household income gains add to the ability of consumers to finance spending, which adds to corporate profitability and leads to more hiring.
2011-03-29 GMO's Market Outlook: 'Disappointingly Overvalued' by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Opportunities across US and foreign assets classes are unattractive, according to Ben Inker, the head of asset allocation at the Boston-based global money manager Grantham, Mayo, van Otterloo & Co. (GMO). Neither the equity nor fixed income markets hold the potential for investors to earn acceptable inflation-adjusted returns, Inker said.
2011-03-29 Is There More Room for Growth in US Equities? by BlackRock (Article)
There are risks to not being invested in today's improving environment. Given that equity valuations are fully supported by strong earnings, BlackRock believes that fundamentals argue strongly for an allocation to growth stocks. Read more to learn why.
2011-03-29 Inflation versus Deflation: Two Experts Disagree by Robert Huebscher (Article)
An important question for all investors is whether low inflation rates will persist or whether the economy is heading toward much higher inflation. The answer to that question will dictate asset class allocations, portfolio construction and ultimately the rates of return investors should expect.
2011-03-29 Are Financial Stocks Value or Growth? by Ron Surz (Article)
Financial stocks have been hit hard by the current economic crisis, causing most index providers to categorize them as deep value. But this categorization is arbitrary, potentially misleading and can distort reported performance calculations.
2011-03-28 Living with Turmoil by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Global political conditions remain a mess. The adverse effects on domestic economic growth and our prospects for recovery should remain limited. So, we remain positioned for ongoing economic expansion. Revolution is still spreading across the MiddleEast and is now enveloping even the most repressive regimes, including Syria. Japan is regaining control over its nuclear energy plants, while the disruptive economic effects, although concentrated in Japan, will have some global impact. Europe is still trying to address major fiscal in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain and governments are falling
2011-03-22 Consensus: Groundhog Decade for Stocks by Ed Easterling (Article)
Just as Bill Murray woke up to the same thing day after day in the movie 'Groundhog Day,' it's likely that your outlook foretells a groundhog decade for the stock market that will repeat its near-breakeven returns from the past decade.
2011-03-22 Gundlach Sets the Record Straight by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Jeffrey Gundlach corrects two inaccuracies in a recent interview that appeared in Barron's, and offers his assessments of valuations for the Japanese markets, municipal bonds and high-yield bonds.
2011-03-22 Statistical Insights into Everyday Problems by Sam Parl (Article)
You know that the volatility of an investment matters as much as its overall return. But you may not know that research into this fundamental investment principle has been applied in many other disciplines to explain phenomena as unexpected as waiting times in lines at Disney World.
2011-03-22 Dividend Dynamics: Assessing the Five Key Benefits of Dividend-Paying Stocks by RidgeWorth Investments (Article)
Increased market volatility has placed dividend-paying stocks back into the spotlight. These securities have been long valued for their defensive characteristics during down markets, but their attractive combination of steady income and capital appreciation potential has also delivered consistent, strong returns across full market cycles.
2011-03-21 Buy on the Cannons and Sell on the Trumpets by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Investors remain nervous over Libya and Japan, which has reduced equity valuations and driven some cash into the safety of sovereign debt. While risks remain, the worst possibilities now seem increasingly unlikely, presenting an opportunity to buy depressed equities. Even so, domestic economic growth should suffer some setback from the turmoil. A decline in GDP remains highly unlikely, but a few months of slower growth seems assured. If the market falters in the face of somewhat weaker data, another buying opportunity would be available.
2011-03-16 Economic & Investment Implications of Japan?s Tragedy by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Markets in Japan and elsewhere have sold off fairly sharply, as the full scope of the tragedy in Japan has unfolded day by day. We will focus on the economic and investments implications of the tragedy, strictly from the perspective of our largely U.S.-based investors. Domestic markets have overreacted somewhat, since domestic business prospects are more likely to be helped than weakened, at least in the short-term. Longer-term policies focused on energy policy will likely remain unclear until we can see how policymakers modify U.S. energy policies in response to the reactor problems in Japan
2011-03-15 Mason Hawkins and Staley Cates on Today?s Opportunities for Value Investors by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Southeastern Asset Management's Mason Hawkins and Staley Cates, two of today's most respected value investors, discuss their portfolio and the principles behind their Graham and Dodd methodology. They explain why they like certain commodity-based companies and why they disagree with Bruce Berkowitz on the opportunities in the financial sector.
2011-03-15 Margin Shrinkage - It Can Happen to You by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
Profit margins are a tick away from all-time highs and are creating the impression of cheap equity valuations. But that impression is a mirage, because today's generous margins are destined to shrink.
2011-03-15 Love Means Always Having to Say You're Sorry by Mariko Gordon (Article)
In practice, it's not a question of whether or not money managers will make mistakes, it's simply a matter of when. Mariko Gordon looks at why the way in which a particular firm handles mistakes is as important as the errors themselves.
2011-03-14 The End of QE2 by Charles Lieberman (Article)
This week's meeting of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee is sure to focus on whether to terminate its quantitative easing program early and when it will be time for overnight interests to be returned to more normal levels. While economic growth appears to be much healthier, higher oil prices and credit risks in Europe pose significant risks to the growth outlook. Therefore, we expect no change to policy, although it is our judgment that the Fed should begin to alter its language subtly to remind investors that changes in policy will be coming.
2011-03-08 Ed Hyman: The Key Threat to Economy Recovery by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Ed Hyman is not worried about China, quantitative easing or fiscal deficits. Equity market performance this year will be strong, he predicts, and the US economic recovery will proceed. But there is a caveat in his outlook ? and it is an immense one.
2011-03-08 The Sweet Spot by Michael Nairne (Article)
Today?s low interest rates and lackluster stock valuations suggest portfolio returns going forward will be modest. Investors in search of higher return opportunities need to consider small-company value stocks. We explore how this asset class can improve portfolio performance for long-term, patient investors and deal with its risks and limitations.
2011-03-08 Letters to the Editor and a Final Thought on VAs with GMWBs by Various (Article)
We received a record number of letters in response to Robert Huebscher?s article, Understanding Variable Annuities with GMWBs, and to Peng Chen?s response, The Real Flaws ? A response to 'Understanding Variable Annuities with GMWBs,' which were published last week. We also provide a final thought on this subject.
2011-03-07 Employment Growth on A Solid Trajectory by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Economic prospects continue to improve, although investors are distracted by turmoil in the Middle East and the risk premium being built into crude oil prices. The globe is highly likely to remain a dangerous place, but oil supplies are not likely to be disrupted sufficiently to undermine the U.S. expansion.
2011-03-01 Subsuming the Efficient Market Hypothesis by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)
A recent article highlighted important gaps in the efficient markets model (EMH) that limit its practical applications. It encouraged a search for a new theory of markets that builds upon EMH by rendering it as a special case within a broader, more general theory. Mordecai Kurz? Rational Belief Equilibrium is such a theory.
2011-03-01 Simon Johnson on the Unconscionable Risks We Face by Dan Richards (Article)
Simon Johnson is a professor of economics at MIT and was the chief economist for the International Monetary Fund. In this interview, he explains why the underlying factors which led to the financial crisis remain unresolved. This is the transcript; a video is also available.
2011-02-28 Bear Noise by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Markets reacted unfavorably to the turmoil in Libya, as the bears emerged from hibernation to suggest that global economies were at risk. In fact, this is a high frequency event, not the revolution in Libya, but the bears always seem to remind us every day that the global economies are at risk. Their conclusions don't change. However, their reasons evolve to reflect the latest news, so their arguments seem realistic, at least superficially.
2011-02-23 Coping with Volatility by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The decline in equity prices in reaction to the fighting in Libya is a typical example of how equity markets are vulnerable to stocks at almost any time. We handle such volatility by balancing stocks with less volatile securities, like bonds and preferred stocks, to varying degrees in different types of portfolios. If investors are matched up correctly with the portfolio that provides the correct blend of potential return, stability, and income, they need not flee the market at exactly the wrong time and they can stick with their longer term investment strategy to achieve their objectives.
2011-02-22 Toward an Understanding of Risk - Part 2 by Robert Huebscher (Article)
How should clients think about risk in their portfolios? Advisor Perspectives put that question to a cross-section of prominent advisors and academics. Their answers encompassed diverse opinions and underscored how crucial that question is to the investment process. In part one of this series, which appeared last week, we heard from seven practitioners in the financial planning community. This week, we hear from seven well-known academics, including two Nobel Prize winners.
2011-02-22 Winning New Business, Growing Your Firm by Michael Slemmer, CFA (Article)
How are advisors reaching prospects and winning new business today? What's working well for advisors as they seek to grow their businesses, and where are they finding challenges? To answer these questions, we conducted a survey in late November, 2010, aiming to learn the most common and successful business-building tactics for wealth managers, investment advisors and related professionals.
2011-02-15 Toward an Understanding of Risk by Robert Huebscher (Article)
How should clients think about risk in their portfolios? Advisor Perspectives put that question to a cross-section of prominent advisors and academics. Their answers encompassed diverse opinions and underscored how crucial that question is to the investment process.
2011-02-15 The Stuxnet Paradigm by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Michael Lewitt discusses the situation in Egypt, the economy, rising risk appetites in the market, sovereign debt and municipal bonds. 'It might be very easy,' he writes, 'to be impressed by the 'two years and thousands of man hours' that Ms. Whitney spent researching the fiscal condition of the 15 largest states. What in the world required so much time and effort? It shouldn't have taken nearly so long to determine that these states are in severe financial trouble and that their options for dealing with it are limited.
2011-02-15 Journey to the Center of the Average by Mariko Gordon (Article)
Averages, while comforting in their simplicity, often do more to hide the truth than reveal it. This article is inspired by a recent conversation with author and statistician extraordinaire, Kaiser Fung, who shares my suspicion of this often-abused mathematical construct.
2011-02-14 Bernanke on the Hot Seat by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Why is the Fed taking so much flak? Is this a subtle way to criticize the Administration indirectly? If so, the critics will get their due, since the Fed's policies appear to be helping the economy gather some momentum. The inflation outlook remains benign, while growth is picking up. The critics will be the ones with some explaining to do, while Bernanke is working to earn a reputation for the history books for dealing with the credit crisis and promoting recovery.
2011-02-08 Undoing Meredith Whitney's Damage by Hildy Richelson, Ph.D. (Article)
Meredith Whitney did the municipal bond market an immense disservice with her misguided comments on 60 Minutes when she predicted massive defaults. Two recent articles in this publication provided accurate rebuttals to her analysis, but they failed to clarify important reasons why muni bond investors do not face the imminent peril that Whitney predicted.
2011-02-08 The Key Ingredient to Effective Communication by Dan Richards (Article)
When it comes to communicating with clients, too often we revert to the habit of using words alone. To maximize the impact of your communication, you need to help others visualize your message.
2011-02-07 Inflation Noise by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Investors are being distracted by the rise in commodity prices, which is being taken as an indication that inflation pressures are building. Unfortunately, that's just not the case. Some rise in inflation would be welcomed by the Fed, but it remains somewhere off beyond the visible horizon, even as economic growth prospects continue to brighten.
2011-02-01 Can Economics Save the Economy? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Christina Romer, Greg Mankiw and Paul Krugman were among a group of thought leaders who spoke at a conference in Cambridge last week. They cited a lack of sufficiently powerful and politically feasible policy options, calling into question whether economists will be able to produce the clear path to the stronger recovery that the Obama administration seeks.
2011-02-01 Why Public Funding of Venture Capital Has Failed by Dan Richards (Article)
Josh Lerner is a professor at the Harvard Business School, with a joint appointment in finance and entrepreneurial management. In this interview, he discusses his research on why public-funded venture capital sometimes succeeds but other times fails. This is a transcript of the interview.
2011-01-25 The Power of Dividends by C. Thomas Howard (Article)
New evidence refutes long-held beliefs about the role of dividends. Research shows that the higher a stock portfolio's dividend yield, the greater its return. And just as surprising are new findings about the relationship of dividends to volatility.
2011-01-24 A Malicious Mix of Economics and Politics by Charles Lieberman (Article)
I suspect 2011 will continue to produce its ups and downs (much like the past few years). The European debt crisis is still a big issue. The US Municipal debt (particularly in Illinois) issue is lingering. Congress is still Congress. When and if these issues present themselves and the markets react, we could view those situations as continued buying opportunities since the underlying fundamentals of stocks improve. However, long term investors should not wait for dips to begin investing, but rather start a systematic plan of redistributing cash back into the market.
2011-01-18 Jeffrey Gundlach: The Greatest Investment Opportunity of 2011 and 2012 by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In June of 2007, against a backdrop of strong equity and corporate bond performance, Doubleline's Jeffrey Gundlach was one of the first to warn investors that sub-prime mortgages were 'a total unmitigated disaster, and they are going to get worse.' In an equally bold statement, last week he identified the asset class he considers the greatest investment opportunity for the next two years. Again, it was one for investors to avoid.
2011-01-18 Build Loyalty through Annual Client Reviews: Four Questions All Advisors Must Ask Their Clients by Ani Yessaillian (Article)
In today's highly competitive marketplace, you'll never be able to grow your business if you're losing clients. Trust fosters loyalty - but how do you build that kind of trust with your clients? The annual review is one of your best opportunities.
2011-01-18 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A number of readers respond to Nancy Opiela's article, Tactical Asset Allocation and Market Timing: What's the Difference?, and one reader responds to Michael Lewitt's article, The Wages of Growth. Both articles appeared last week.
2011-01-11 A Bold Forecast for Consumer Spending by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In a world where mainstream media has become overly fond of alliterative headlines, 'frugality fatigue' has emerged to characterize the view that consumers have loosened their belts and begun to spend some money. That's far from the consensus view. However, if it proves to be correct, as one prominent retail analyst claims, it would be the clearest indication that the economy is recovering strongly.
2011-01-11 Tactical Asset Allocation and Market Timing: What's the Difference? by Nancy Opiela (Article)
Why is it that the industry dismisses significant changes to portfolio allocations as "market timing" transactions but embraces the subtler "tactical shifts" many advisors are making in the current, transitional market? As advisors debate the nuances of that question, the more relevant question may be: How would you respond if a client asked you to explain the difference between market timing and tactical asset allocation?
2011-01-11 The Two Elephants Facing the US Economy by Michael Lewitt (Article)
The consensus has reached the conclusion that financial markets will enjoy a strong start to 2011. This is reason enough to approach the markets with caution as the year begins. When everybody is leaning to one side of the boat, the vessel is far more likely to tip over, particularly if it hits an unexpected wave.
2011-01-11 The Key to Scaling Your Practice by Bob Oros (Article)
Independent advisors who are ill-equipped to handle a large influx of business from retiring baby boomers will struggle to harness the swelling demand. To capitalize on this new wave of assets, advisors need an edge. Many forward-thinking advisors have already discovered such an advantage in model portfolios.
2011-01-11 2010: A Truth Odyssey by Ron Surz (Article)
I review some of the lessons learned in the last two years. I review the last year, discuss 2008's lessons, and conclude with my traditional review of the longer-term history of U.S. markets over the past 85 years.
2011-01-04 The Coming Decade of Sideways Markets by Robert Huebscher (Article)
'We are in the middle of a sideways market, and we still have another decade to go,' says Vitality Katsenelson. In this interview, Katsenelson shares his insights on the decade ahead and the many factors that may keep China from leading us out of the recession.
2011-01-04 Improving on Buy and Hold: Update December 31, 2010 by George Vrba, P.E. (Article)
I have updated the model described in my article Improving on Buy and Hold: Asset Allocation using Economic Indicators. The ECRI U.S. Weekly Leading Index and its annualized growth rate, published on December 31, 2010, together with the most recent values of the other indicators used, have been incorporated in the model.
2011-01-03 2011 Economic & Investment Outlook by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The outlook for economic growth has improved considerably over the past few months, lending support to our judgment that growth will be in the 3.5% to 4% range in 2011. Most importantly, this pace of expansion will require increased hiring by firms, so the unemployment rate should decline this year, falling below 9% by yearend. Interest rates should continue to rise, returning to more normal levels, while stocks should have another solid year.
2010-12-28 The Ten Most-Read Articles in 2010 by Robert Huebscher (Article)
As is our custom, we conclude the year by reflecting on the 10 most-read articles over the past 12 months. In decreasing order, based on the number of unique readers, those are...
2010-12-28 The Squam Lake Report: Reforming the Financial System by Dougal Williams (Article)
Ken French and Robert Shiller were among a group of leading economists who, in the fall of 2008, convened what was to become known as the Squam Lake Group. Their recently released and much-talked about book offers its authors' collective best answer to a defining question of our day.
2010-12-21 Gundlach: Are Taxes Too Darn Low? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
One way to avert the crisis posed by growing fiscal deficits is a significant tax increase, according to Doubleline's Jeffrey Gundlach. Although he did not advocate this policy, in his conference call with investors last week he said the strain of fiscal deficits poses as yet unanswered challenges to the economy and the markets.
2010-12-21 Ed Hyman: We Are Not Japan by Katie Southwick (Article)
Despite his worrisome outlook earlier this year, the ISI Group's Ed Hyman provided an upbeat forecast of the US economy, arguing that we are in the midst of an economic recovery that will lead to expansion. We are demonstrating that we are not Japan, he said.
2010-12-21 Challenging John Hussman?s Forecast by Georg Vrba (Article)
In a recent commentary, John Hussman listed 10 occasions which provided warnings of market declines. My model, Improving on Buy and Hold, does not confirm his current warning.
2010-12-21 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader asks a question in reference to the article, The Kings of Cash Flow - Investing in Tomorrow's Potential Winners Today, which appeared on November 16. The authors of that article respond.
2010-12-20 The New Normal, Anything But Bonds by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Pacific Investment Management, manager of the world largest bond fund, filed with the SEC to expand its holdings to include equity related investments as soon as the second quarter of 2011. Thus, the "bond king", Bill Gross, is trying to diversify away from bonds into stocks, which implies that Pimco's "new normal" may be more of a marketing slogan than an investment guideline. This is a good move for his investors, although it comes more than a year late for the rally in these assets and the plunge in bond prices, including Pimco's own bond funds.
2010-12-14 The End of the Asian Bull Market by Robert Huebscher (Article)
A broadly diversified emerging market investor would have earned nearly 12% annually over the last five years, far outpacing investors in the US and other developed markets. Over the next five or even ten years, investors relying on emerging economies will not be as fortunate, however, according to Louis-Vincent Gave, CEO of the Hong Kong-based research and investment management firm GaveKal.
2010-12-14 Year-end Letter to Clients: Investment Advice from Winston Churchill by Dan Richards (Article)
For the past 18 months, my draft letters have been designed to balance some of the extreme pessimism among many investors with an objective, positive outlook - the draft year-end letter for 2010 continues with that goal. In it, I borrow from Winston Churchill's insight into the difference between optimists and pessimists.
2010-12-14 Five 2010 Tax Tips for a Time of Uncertainty by Glenn Frank (Article)
While the posturing and political grandstanding continues in Washington over the fate of the Bush tax cuts, tax season is fast approaching. With the time for long-term planning long gone, here are five questions to ask clients that could prompt some smart tax moves in the closing weeks of 2010.
2010-12-13 Budget Battles by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Was this fiscal deal necessary? I think it is necessary for exactly the reasons given by the President. With the agreement, the expansion, which is building momentum slowly, gets another small booster shot at a crucial time. Along with the Fed's increased purchases of Treasury securities, policy remains highly supportive for growth. Moreover, uncertainty is eliminated over income taxes, estate taxes, and unemployment insurance, allowing businesses and households to plan.
2010-12-06 The Dangers of Rebalancing by Michael Edesess (Article)
Every portfolio should be rebalanced to its targeted asset allocation, we are taught. Indeed, there may be no other precept as routinely and studiously practiced among financial advisors. But does rebalancing either increase expected return or reduce risk? If so, why? The answers to those questions reveal that it may be prudent to rebalance, but not for the reasons you think.
2010-12-06 Research-driven Market Insights from Janus: 4Q Market Perspectives by Janus Investments (Article)
Offer clients research-driven market insights. Every quarter, Janus equity and fixed income teams share their insight and outlook on global market sectors and key macroeconomic indicators in Janus' Market Perspectives Series. We thank Janus Investments for their sponsorship.
2010-12-06 An Uncertain Future for Housing Prices by Robert Huebscher (Article)
A renewed decline in housing prices would surely impede economic growth. Yet that is a strong possibility, according to housing expert Laurie Goodman of Amherst Securities. Goodman was joined in Boston last week to discuss the housing market by Karl Case, who, along with Yale professor Robert Shiller, created the Case-Shiller index.
2010-12-06 Creating a Mirage of Economic Growth by Doug Carey (Article)
Bubble formation is not random. Some may believe it is, but bubbles are in fact a predictable byproduct of the fractional reserve system upon which our economy is built. By stimulating and amplifying lending through its fractional reserve system, the Federal Reserve systematically creates the mirage of growth, from which deception systemic crises inevitably result.
2010-11-30 Black Gold, Texas Tea by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The flow of money into gold-related funds is, at least in part, driven by good intentions - hedging against dollar debasement, inflation, and systemic risk. As investors drive the price of gold to record levels, though, they are overlooking an equally compelling commodity hedge, one that the Beverly Hillbillies once dubbed 'black gold, Texas tea' - oil, that is.
2010-11-30 QE2: Beware the Perils of its Success by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
QE2 is like a drug prescription that comes with a list of side effects that are often worse than the disease it was supposed to cure. It is difficult to know the unintended consequences of QE2, but it may result in a substantial decline in the dollar, stagflation, lower economic growth and much higher interest rates.
2010-11-30 Investment in Life Settlements: Certainty in Uncertain Times by J. Mark Goode (Article)
Life settlements are not directly correlated with traditional bond and equity markets and have the potential to yield above-market returns in the intermediate and long terms. Unlike the equity and bond markets, the returns on life settlements are uniquely tied to mortality.
2010-11-29 Plenty of Action, but Quiet Improvement by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Ireland gets all the headlines and attention, but the domestic data is coming in on a more positive note, suggesting that economic growth may be picking up. As always, the crosscurrents are strong, with unpredictable political distractions now including Korea. But despite it all, the economic outlook, strongly supported by policy, is improving.
2010-11-23 Why Three Top Bond Managers Like Equities by Robert Huebscher (Article)
You'll rarely - perhaps never - hear a fund manager say that market conditions do not favor investing in their chosen asset class. That's why it was so remarkable when several prominent managers recently admitted that they favored equities over their own discipline - fixed income.
2010-11-23 Ned Davis - Still Positive on Stocks by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Just over a year ago, Ned Davis correctly forecast a continuation of the cyclical bull market in stocks. In February of 2008, he foresaw that year's market upheaval, and a year later he predicted the rally that began in March of 2009. Today, Davis is moderately bullish on stocks, as long as the Fed maintains its policy of quantitative easing.
2010-11-23 Stop Front-Running the Fed by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)
A change of mindset is in order for bond investors, who must recognize that it is no longer wise to 'front-run' monetary policy by purchasing the same bonds the Federal Reserve is targeting with its latest round of quantitative easing.
2010-11-23 The Kings of Cash Flow: Investing in Tomorrow\'s Potential Winners Today by David Vincent and Kevin Collins (Article)
Companies generating a lot of free cash flow generally represent attractive investment opportunities over time. The 'Kings' - companies with the highest free cash flow yields - have historically outperformed companies with lower free cash flow yields and are currently experiencing what may be one of their longest and most drastic periods of underperformance in the last 50 years.
2010-11-23 Why Diversify? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
Although diversification is commonly regarded as a good thing, there are nonetheless those who regard it as a guarantee of mediocrity. It isn't, but there are right ways and wrong ways to go about diversifying a portfolio. Let's explore how diversification works.
2010-11-23 Seeking Beta in the Bond Market: A Math-driven Investment Strategy for Higher Returns by Georg Vrba, P.E. (Article)
Investors seeking permanent exposure to the bond market should invest in high-beta funds during up markets and low-beta funds during down markets. This simple strategy provides consistent long-term returns that are considerably higher than what a static investment in bond funds would achieve.
2010-11-16 Jeremy Siegel on the Upside for Equities and the Virtues of QE2 by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In our annual interview, Jeremy Siegel, the Russell E. Palmer Professor of Finance at the Wharton School, offers his forecast for equities - a 10% to 20% gain in 2011, along with a continued rally through the end of this year. He also explains why the current round of quantitative easing is exactly what is needed to stimulate the economy.
2010-11-15 Safety In Bonds? by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Investors routinely think bonds are safe, so the recent sharp decline in the municipal bond market should serve as an early warning. Interest rates remain exceptionally low and investors who have fled the stock market for the safety of bonds are likely to rue this decision. The risks are considerable, while the rewards are very low, hardly a good combination.
2010-11-09 New Strategies in Alternative Investments by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Alternative investments, broadly speaking, and hedge funds, more specifically, have performed as intended over the last 20 years, modestly increasing returns and significantly reducing risk when added to a traditional stock-bond portfolio. Selecting the appropriate vehicle is the challenge, and that task has been made easier by the introduction of new exchange-traded strategies.
2010-11-09 How Modern Is Your Portfolio Theory? by Direxion Funds (Article)
After 58 Years, is there Another Way to Conquer the Efficient Frontier? In the past, active or "tactical" investment management referred to jumping in and out of stocks and bonds - market timing. With the introduction of sophisticated funds that help the masses harness the power of institutional managers and alternative asset classes and strategies, today, tactical management may help to renovate your portfolios - and help you retain and attract assets.
2010-11-09 A Reading List for 2010 by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
Updated for 2010 and in time for the holidays, here is the latest installment of my recommended books. I originally wrote this list in 2008 and again last year. I intend to keep adding to and revising it every year. It contains seven sections: Selling, Think Like an Investor, Behavioral Investing, Economics, Stock Market History, Risk and Books for the Soul. The first three sections are presented below and the remaining four will be presented next week.
2010-11-09 Keynesian Confusion by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Keynesian policies are inflicting untold damage on the U.S. and global economies today. Keynes did not have to be misread. The reason that the current recovery is below par is that the economy is experiencing a massive paradox of thrift. We doubt that reducing already low rates is going to stimulate much of anything other than more frustration on the part of savers. Sooner or later, everything being earned on the upside of this liquidity-induced rally will be given back in spades - the only question is when.
2010-11-09 Serenity Now by Emilio Vargas (Article)
Hope has transformed into fear - not about making money but about the prospect of another bubble. The recent statements and actions of the Federal Reserve Bank may be laying the groundwork for the third massive asset mispricing in ten years.
2010-11-08 Increased Clarity Implies Increased Optimism by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Major events of last week clarified the outlook in a way that is consistently very positive for equities. Much of the weakness in the economy since spring was merely temporary fallout from the Greek debt crisis. Policy remains very expansion oriented and the political environment should improve for the corporate sector. The latest developments imply we should be even more circumspect over the outlook for bonds (if possible) and more optimistic with the equity market's prospects.
2010-11-02 Flaws in Vanguard?s Withdrawal Strategy: Income versus Total-Return Portfolios by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
Vanguard advertises that its mission is to simplify investors' retirement decisions. In a recently published study, however, it oversimplified the critical choices investors and their advisors face in constructing a portfolio for the withdrawal phase of retirement.
2010-11-02 A Top Economist's Nightmare Scenario by Charlie Curnow (Article)
Remember the 1970s? Stagflation like we saw then could return to the U.S. if unsustainable public debt levels trigger a selloff of government bonds and dollar-denominated holdings, according to a recent study by John C. Cochrane. Cochrane, a finance professor at the University of Chicago, is perhaps best known for his response to Paul Krugman's article in the New York Times on why mainstream economics failed to anticipate the financial crisis.
2010-11-02 Tax Location in Today?s Uncertain Environment by Glenn Frank (Article)
The tumultuous political climate in Washington has heightened anxiety around the country, and the uncertainty left when Congress adjourned without tackling any of the looming tax changes has left taxpayers and investors wondering just what is in store for 2011. Though the crystal ball remains cloudy, and while taxes may rise for no one, everyone, or just the wealthiest Americans, steps taken today can help tax planners and their clients be better prepared - no matter what the politicians do.
2010-11-01 Big Happenings by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Interest rates are at historically low levels because households are still pouring cash into bond funds, while stock market valuations are low because retail investors can't handle the volatility and they keep pulling cash out of equities. So despite all the uncertainty, much of which is normal anyway, stocks offer value, while bonds have very limited investment potential. While uncertainty remains, the bet seems highly asymmetric in favor of equities.
2010-10-29 Greg Valliere: The U.S. Political Outlook by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Three questions dominate the political landscape, according to Greg Valliere, and the big one is what will happen to the Bush tax cuts. Valliere is the chief political strategist at the Potomac Research Group. Despite significant challenges, Valliere said the fundamentals in Washington are "better than they have been in several years."
2010-10-29 Henry Paulson: An Inside Look at the Financial Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson candidly spoke about the details of his efforts to rescue the economy during the financial crisis, and offered some optimistic thoughts about the potential for growth in the US economy in the face of new financial regulation.
2010-10-29 BlackRock?s Rieder: The US Faces a Structural Dilemma by Roberth Huebscher (Article)
The U.S. economy faces a structural dilemma with high unemployment that cannot be addressed with conventional policy measures, according to Rick Rieder. Rieder is the CIO of Fixed Income for BlackRock. The 'bond bubble' will not burst, he said, and the high-yield market now offers attractive yields.
2010-10-29 Asset Allocation in an Uncertain Economy by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Advisors should not bet on whether the recession will be L-, V-, or W-shaped. Instead, Ron Albahary said they should use strategic asset allocation and overweight or underweight those asset classes that have historically done well at certain points in the economic cycle. Albahary is the CIO of Convergent Wealth Advisors, a Washington, DC-based wealth manager.
2010-10-29 Four Critical Investment Themes for the Next Decade by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Four investment themes will dominate market behavior over the next decade, according to Martin Murenbeeld, the chief economist at DundeeWealth Economics, a Canadian investment manager and financial advisor. Investors, he said, would be wise to overweight gold and other commodities.
2010-10-26 Improving on Buy and Hold: Buy by Georg Vrba, P.E. (Article)
Georg Vrba updated the model described in his article, Improving on Buy and Hold: Asset Allocation using Economic Indicators. The ECRI U.S. Weekly Leading Index and its annualized growth rate published on October 22, 2010, together with the most recent values of the other indicators used, have been incorporated and generated a buy signal.
2010-10-19 Developed Markets and Capitalism in Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)
We are not in a globalized world today, according to Ian Bremmer. "The state is back," said the 40-year old president and founder of Eurasia Group, a political consulting firm. Both in the U.S. and throughout the world, governments are exerting their influence through regulation, trade restriction, subsidies, and bailouts, and are threatening the nature of free markets.
2010-10-19 Allen Sinai: US at the Crossroads by Robert Huebscher (Article)
America is at a crossroads in a shifting global economy, and it's not just our economy that is in trouble. We have moved from a mindset of prosperity to a much gloomier self-conception, and dysfunctions within our government and society are pushing us downward. That sobering assessment was delivered by Allen Sinai, the president of Decision Economics, an economic research firm he founded in 1996.
2010-10-19 Harvard Experts: Economy is Like a Bus Winding Down a Mountain Road by Charlie Curnow (Article)
Five Harvard economists, including Ken Rogoff and John Campbell, emphasized the need for U.S. policymakers and households to cut down on borrowing and increase savings during a panel discussion on Tuesday, October 13 at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
2010-10-19 S.H.I.F.T.ing to a Successful Practice by Beverly D. Flaxington (Article)
It's not easy for advisors to do many things well at once. Consultant Beverly Flaxington has had success juggling competing challenges, and a client recently asked her to formalize how she manages multiple priorities and what works effectively for her clients. In response, she created the S.H.I.F.T. Model for Success.
2010-10-18 Thoughts About Bernanke and the Fed by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Conditions for stock market gains remain intact, even if the pace of recovery remains below preferred levels. Growth at a moderate pace will be sufficient for corporate profits to remain on a solid upward trajectory. Interest rates and inflation remain very low and are likely to remain so for an 'extended period of time,' so the pricing of bonds implies a meaningfully higher equilibrium valuation for equities. And if policy proves successful in increasing growth, fears of a double-dip would be vanquished and forecasts of rising profits would become more believable.
2010-10-12 Misconceptions in the Great Bond Bubble Debate by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Interest rates, many claim, have bottomed, making bonds the latest asset class worthy of the dreaded "bubble" label. Others counter that deflationary forces will prevail and that bonds offer the best risk-adjusted returns in the market. Which side of this debate you take matters profoundly, but making that call is not simply a matter of predicting the direction of interest rates, as is the typical focus of analysts.
2010-10-12 Why Warren Buffett is Optimistic: A Quarterly Letter to Send Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Dan Richard's quarterly letter is designed to balance some of the extreme pessimism among many investors. Negative sentiment is understandable given the real challenges facing the U.S. and European economies, but is also a function of the overwhelmingly negative media coverage to which clients are exposed. To balance today's disproportionately negative views, you need hard facts.
2010-10-12 The Perfect Storm: Threat or Opportunity by Dinesh Sharma and Michelle Goldstein (Article)
Our primary client base, baby-boomers, is quickly sliding into retirement, leaving us to question where our growth will come from. And now we have the uncertainty surrounding the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the anxiety that comes with it. Financial advisors can choose to see the convergence of these factors as a threat to their well-being or as an opportunity to prosper.
2010-10-11 Don't Fight the Fed, II by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The economic expansion remains disappointing, but stocks continue to rally. Why? Corporate profits remain on a strong upward trajectory, while financial conditions remain extraordinarily supportive, courtesy of a Fed committed to insuring a stronger economy. Both factors should contribute to continued gains over the coming months.
2010-10-05 The Information Risk Premium: A New Danger to Client Portfolios by Bob Veres (Article)
Michael Aronstein, who manages the Marketfield Fund, connected two dots that most of us are aware of intuitively, but may not have consciously considered. As Bob Veres writes, Aronstein says that the primary challenge for investment advisors, financial planners and money managers today, which is different from the challenges you faced in the past, is the sheer amount of attention that investors are now able to pay to the ups and downs in their portfolios.
2010-10-05 Charles Brandes on Investing Lessons from Benjamin Graham by Dan Richards (Article)
In this interview, Charles Brandes, the founder and Chairman of the Brandes Investment Management, discusses the lessons he learned from legendary value investor Benjamin Graham. Brandes also offers his forecast for equity market performance, as well as why he believes value stocks have an inherent, sustainable advantage over growth stocks. This is the transcript of the interview.
2010-10-05 Improving on Buy and Hold: Don?t Buy Yet by Georg Vrba, P.E. (Article)
According to Georg Vrba, all conditions for a type A buy signal have not as yet been satisfied. Exactly the same conditions exist now as those of 5/6/08. The past is not an indicator of the future, but it would not have been a good decision to enter the market in May 2008.
2010-10-04 Stocks Get No Respect by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The ink is hardly dry on September and discussions are already turning to the poor historical performance of October. As billionaire hedge fund manager David Tepper notes, however, forces are strongly aligned to move stock prices higher. Valuations remain low, policy remains focused on ensuring a solid recovery, corporate balance sheets have been repaired and are now flush with cash that continues to expand at a rapid pace, and key sectors are still operating below replacement rates.
2010-09-28 The Future of Oil by Robert Huebscher (Article)
No commodity impacts the global economy more than oil. When geopolitical threats loom, two questions often dominate discussion: Will the price of oil rise? And what will be the economic consequences? We review the key drivers of recent, current, and forecast oil prices, including a template for the necessary eventual alignment of supply and demand.
2010-09-28 Improving on Buy and Hold: The Updated Signals by Georg Vrba, P.E. (Article)
At the request of many readers, Georg Vrba updated the model described in his article Improving on Buy and Hold: Asset Allocation using Economic Indicators. The Economic Cycle Research Institute's (ECRI) U.S. Weekly Leading Index (WLI) and the index's annualized growth rate published on September 24, 2010, together with the most recent values of the other indicators he used, have been incorporated in the model.
2010-09-27 The Bubble in Bonds by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Bonds can play an important role in diversifying a portfolio. The current bubble in bond values, however, places excessive stress on that benefit. Today's yields don't make sense to investors. While the Fed needs to keep interest rates at low levels to strengthen the pace of recovery, investors who flee stocks for the 'safety' of bonds will get hammered. Those who are not distracted by the equity market's volatility and focus on its exceptional current value relative to its long-term prospects will be handsomely rewarded.
2010-09-21 America?s Demographic Advantages by Art Patten (Article)
Joel Kotkin's inherent optimism is a welcome antidote to the gloom and doom that's taken hold of so many in the wake of the great recession. In The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, he uses copious reference material and broad strokes to paint a relatively cheery vision of America's future, which he believes will be driven largely by people, place, and national character.
2010-09-21 The Housing Elevator: Going Up or Down? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Several prominent analysts have written recently that the bear market in housing is nearing its end. Writing with varying degrees of conviction and citing a range of statistical measures, they reach the broad conclusion that now is the time to buy a house. We provide a summary of those opinions - from James Grant of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, Dave Leonhardt of The New York Times, and Anatole Kaletsky of GaveKal Research - along with our own contrasting thoughts.
2010-09-21 Jeffrey Gundlach: No Double-Dip Recession ? but by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The economy won't suffer a double-dip recession, according to Jeffrey Gundlach. But that doesn't mean the DoubleLine co-founder, CEO and CIO expects strong economic growth. To the contrary, Gundlach said that we haven't yet recovered from the recession. "The people who are looking for robust and sustained growth are really kidding themselves," he said.
2010-09-21 Two Compelling Articles to Send Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
One of the most important roles for advisors is being an emotional anchor for clients ... preventing the highs from being too high and the lows from being too low. Dan Richards offers two recent articles that counteract the sense of pessimism about the economy ... driven in large measure by daunting headlines about housing prices, unemployment, deficits and political discord in Washington.
2010-09-21 The One-Sided Fallacy by Richard E. Cripps, CFA (Article)
The current tenor of political debate has amplified one-sided arguments as each party attempts to sell their view to voters. The same polarization has become evident in approaches to investment, and market bears are exhibiting all the classic symptoms of confirmation bias. But we know better than to let these slanted arguments sway our market convictions. As Richard Cripps explains in this guest contribution, there are plenty of reasons to remain invested in equities.
2010-09-20 Stay in the Pocket by John Petrides (Article)
Those with a long-term investment time horizon should be considering stocks right now, due to the market's long-term capital appreciation potential. With regard to fixed income, investors should first consider active management versus passive (bond funds), and should consider income sources from other areas, such as REITs and MLPs, rather than just bonds for income, as well as diversifying their holdings among corporate, high yield, convertible and floating rate bonds.
2010-09-14 The Centre Cannot Hold by Michael Lewitt (Article)
"A refusal to shed discredited monetary and fiscal policies and embrace creative and politically bold solutions is keeping our economy mired in high levels of structural unemployment and below-trend growth," writes Michael Lewitt in the latest edition of the HCM Market Letter. He also believes that "misguided faith in Keynesian solutions to debt crises, a near-religious belief that mild deflation must be avoided... and uninformed media hype about the alleged benefits of mergers and acquisitions" should be added to the list of bad ideas that lead economic policy and markets astray.
2010-09-14 Municipal Bonds : Much Healthier than Feared by Jim McDonald (Article)
Investors and advisors are growing increasingly concerned about investing in bonds. Historical levels of flows into the asset class have driven prices up significantly. The extended economic downturn continues to apply pressures to municipalities and states are struggling with their balance sheets. Despite these headwinds investment professionals maintain that municipal bonds should continue to play a role in client portfolios. We thank Northern Trust Investments for their sponsorship.
2010-09-14 Use Client Loyalty to Drive Profitable Growth by Ani Yessaillian (Article)
As a financial advisor, you simply can't afford to lose clients, writes Ani Yessaillian in this guest contribution. No matter how many new investors walk through your front door, you'll never be able to grow your business if you're losing dissatisfied clients out the back. Client loyalty is crucial to profitable growth.
2010-09-13 It's Time for Tax Cuts, Not Tax Hikes by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The Obama Administration is considering extending the Bush tax cuts except for families with income above $250,000, as well as offering some tax cuts for business to spur investment spending. The Administration's proposed extensions of the Bush tax cuts, especially if augmented by more favorable depreciation allowances to encourage capital spending, are pro-growth. It is therefore surprising that the Administration would undermine the benefits of such proposals by failing to extend the Bush tax cuts for all households.
2010-09-07 Responding to Clients who Drive You Crazy by Dan Richards (Article)
We all have them... clients whose emotions gyrate with markets, second guess decisions, and create grief and frustration for their advisors. In the perfect world, you'd part company with all of these clients. Dan Richards offers an alternative approach.
2010-09-07 It's the Economy, Stupid by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Stocks are so totally out of favor, any excuse will suffice to justify investing elsewhere. Such rationalizations can overcome depressed equity valuations and record low bond yields, at least until the market rallies and investors suddenly confront that new reality. But the key is the economy. If growth is sustained, stocks have enormous upside.
2010-08-31 The Riskiest Pension Assets (and the Implications for Muni Bonds) by Robert Huebscher (Article)
State finances are in trouble, in large part due to unfunded pension liabilities. To assess the depth of those problems, one can look at what is likely the riskiest component of states' pension assets - their exposure to alternative investments and, in particular, to private equity. We assess those risks and look at the larger question of whether unfunded liabilities can trigger municipal defaults.
2010-08-31 Why Mid-Cap? by RidgeWorth Investments (Article)
RidgeWorth Investments has published research detailing six distinct reasons why investors should consider a specific allocation to mid-caps. Specifically, it explores historical performance, evaluates current conditions that favor mid-caps as well as examines how mid-caps have performed during different points in market and economic cycles. Finally, the research looks at the incremental benefit of adding an allocation of up to 40% of mid-cap stocks to a portfolio of solely large and small cap stocks. We thank RidgeWorth Investments for their sponsorship.
2010-08-31 David Blitzer on How Indices Work by Dan Richards (Article)
Many investors read about the Dow Jones or S & P 500 index being up or down 200 points but don't really understand what this means. Today's interview with David Blitzer of S & P provides an explanation of how indexes work that can be shared with clients. This is a transcript of the interview.
2010-08-31 Evaluating Unconstrained Managers by Various (Article)
How can advisors evaluate an unconstrained asset manager, such as John Hussman of the Hussman Fund? In a follow-up to a recent article on research by Roger Ibbotson, we present views from several advisors on the role of returns-based style analysis and whether it can help identify whether managers such as Hussman deliver alpha.
2010-08-31 Five Steps to Choosing the Right Marketing Firm by Kristen Luke (Article)
Finding a marketing firm for your advisory practice can be a daunting task and hiring the wrong firm can be an expensive mistake. It is essential that you spend time doing due diligence to find the right partner for your growth. Kristen Luke provides five steps that will help you with this process.
2010-08-30 In Need of Reassurance by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Fed Chairman Bernanke's statement at the FRB Kansas City Jackson Hole conference didn't reveal anything new, or suggest any change in monetary policy, but it was nonetheless reassuring to a market fearful of a double-dip recession. Most importantly, Bernanke stated quite clearly that he remains committed to insuring an economic recovery, which should hardly be a surprise. And yet, this was taken as good news. Investors anticipate economic problems, despite the fundamentally stronger state of business and financial market conditions.
2010-08-24 Improving on Buy and Hold: Asset Allocation using Economic Indicators by Georg Vrba, P.E. (Article)
Most long-term stock market investors follow a buy-and-hold strategy, one that makes big losses unavoidable when major downturns strike the stock market. This strategy assumes that an investor cannot know when to switch from one asset to another and that if one avoids the bad days of the market, one is also likely to miss the best days. In this guest contribution, Georg Vrba presents a way to resolve this dilemma, based on various economic indicators that provide timely buy and sell signals for the S&P 500 index.
2010-08-24 This is No Way to Run a Railroad by Michael Lewitt (Article)
In the latest edition of the HCM Market Letter, This is No Way to Run a Railroad, Michael Lewitt says the railroad known as the United States economy is chasing its own tail these days. Driven by misbegotten fiscal and monetary policies that ignore the lessons of history in favor of discredited financial and economic theories, the economy is trapped in a cycle of boom and bust. Lewitt also comments on the bond market, the European stress tests, GM, and the private equity industry.
2010-08-24 Build America Bonds Power the US States by Hildy Richelson, Ph.D. (Article)
A skeptical attitude toward new products has long served the best interests of advisors and their clients, almost without fail. However, in this guest contribution, Hildy Richelson argues that advisors should not be afraid to embrace one of the market's most prominent recent innovations: the Build America Bond (BAB).
2010-08-17 Misconceptions about Risk and Return Uncovered by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
Our beliefs about risk and return determine how we construct portfolios and manage risk. Research over the last decade suggests that a number of the ideas on which many investors and advisors rely lead to portfolios that are too highly exposed to market risk. In this article, we review a number of ideas that determine how we select assets and how we determine what to expect from those assets.
2010-08-17 A Double-Dip Recession Remains Unlikely ? A Mid-Year Update by Bob Doll (Article)
The past couple of months have been difficult for investors, but we are holding to our view that the recovery will continue and stocks will gain ground. Bob Doll, Vice Chairman and Chief Equity Strategist for Fundamental Equities at BlackRock, discusses the current situation, the predictions he made at the beginning of 2010 and opportunity in the financial markets for the second half of the year. We thank BlackRock for their sponsorship.
2010-08-17 A New Framework for Retirement Income Planning by Manish Malhotra (Article)
In this guest contribution, Manish Malhorta proposes a new framework to solve many problems associated with retirement income planning, one that answers questions investors often ask, such as: "How much retirement income can I have with only a 10% chance of failure?" and "How much do I need to have now to draw $50,000 for 30 years with full certainty?"
2010-08-17 Refining Core-Satellite Investing by Ron Surz (Article)
Thanks in large part to the current crisis, investors are showing renewed interest in portfolio construction, and core-satellite investing is regaining popularity. So why the interest in core? It could be for either of two reasons - hedging or completeness - as Ron Surz explains.
2010-08-16 The Fear and the Flight of the Individual Investor by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Individual investors have abandoned the equity market to the greatest extent in decades, pushed out by poor returns, unfathomable volatility, and disillusion with the political and economic environment. Instead, investors have turned to bonds as they prioritize safety and return-on-capital over investment returns. This search for safety will prove counterproductive, however, and investors will get hurt down the road once the economy recovers. Their flight from stocks has made the equity market the place to be for the foreseeable future, but only those with staying power will reap the benefits.
2010-08-10 When Active Management Matters by Kenneth R. Solow, CFP and Michael E. Kitces, MSFS, MTAX, CFP (Article)
Financial planners have eagerly awaited any research that could finally, definitively prove - or disprove - the pesky notion that active management is effective. Though no one has yet risen to that challenge, past academic studies have been improperly interpreted to show that portfolio policy, or asset allocation affects portfolio returns far more than active management. As Ken Solow and Michael Kitces write in this guest contribution, the most recent study to tackle the active management debate, by Yale professor Roger Ibbotson, shares two weaknesses with previous research.
2010-08-10 Public Pension Showdown: Actuaries vs. Economists by Charlie Curnow (Article)
Public pensions are severely underfunded, at least according to the economists. Actuaries disagree, and at stake is nearly $2 trillion. We look at why these groups arrive at such different valuations, and which one is likely to be correct.
2010-08-03 Woody Brock: How to Achieve Growth without 'Bad' Deficits by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Of all the challenges facing our nation, none is as daunting as trying to achieve economic growth and reduce unemployment without adding layers of debt to our already bloated deficit. Legislators and economists have debated the merits of stimulus measures, changes in tax rates, and monetary policies, but they are no closer to a consensus than they were at the onset of the financial crisis. H. 'Woody' Brock, however, says a genuine solution is possible.
2010-08-03 Rebuilding Confidence in Stocks by Dan Richards (Article)
These days, there's a cloud of uncertainty over markets, with questions about economic growth, government deficits, the timing and impact of interest rates increases, unemployment levels and the housing market. As Dan Richards writes, this environment is when advisors can bring value, by providing perspective on both sides of the debate about the value that stocks provide at today's levels.
2010-08-03 Richard Koo: Lessons from Japan's Decline by Dan Richards (Article)
Richard Koo is the Chief Economist of Nomura Research Institute, and has served as an advisor to the Japanese government. In this interview with Dan Richards, Koo explains why Japan's recovery was thwarted by inadequate stimulus spending. This is a transcript of the interview.
2010-08-02 The Bubble In Bonds vs. Cheap Stocks by Charles Lieberman (Article)
It is disputed in a few corners, but more analysts and strategists view bonds as severely overvalued and stocks as symmetrically cheap. Advisors Capital Management shares this judgment and points to assorted different ways to reach this conclusion. Investors should be trying to inoculate their bonds holdings from losing value at some point and taking advantage of the upside potential in equities. The 'lost decade' in stocks could easily be followed by a lost decade in bonds, while stocks recover.
2010-07-27 Active Managers Add More Value in Bull than Bear Markets by Jane Li, CFA, CAIA (Article)
In this guest contribution, Jane Li of FundQuest argues that both active and passive investing have their strengths and weaknesses; it depends on the market segment in question and on the economic climate. Active managers tend to add value in bull markets, but their value is shakier in bear markets.
2010-07-26 Back to Even and Still Bullish by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The equity market has recovered to being even for the year to date, overcoming a possible credit crisis in Greece and Europe, as well as fears of a double-dip recession at home. While the economic outlook is 'unusually uncertain,' it is the pace of the recovery that is most subject to question, more than its sustainability. Notwithstanding these concerns, corporate profits continue to increase at a solid pace, cash is accumulating, and stocks have become cheap. This offers an excellent entry point for investors, who are able to hang in despite the market's volatility.
2010-07-20 Cash Investing: Considerations for Investing in a Low Interest-Rate Environment by Northern Trust Investments (Article)
Northern Trust's chief economist, Paul Kasriel, forecasts that interest rates will remain low for the remainder of 2010. Investors are looking for guidance on how they should best position their cash and fixed income portfolios to take this environment into consideration, and should consider the tradeoff between liquidity and yield. We thank Northern Trust for their sponsorship.
2010-07-20 Jeremy Siegel on Why Stocks are Undervalued by Dan Richards (Article)
The Wharton School's Jeremy Siegel remains an outspoken proponent of stocks for the long run, as he demonstrates in this interview with Dan Richards. In the transcript of this interview, Siegel explains why equity investors should not be deterred by sour economic forecasts or by signals of apparent overvaluation based on Shiller P/E ratios.
2010-07-20 Beyond The Stars: Improving Active Fund Selection Based On Manager Skill by Michael Ervolini (Article)
After a brief review of known shortcomings of common fund evaluation methodologies, Mike Ervolini introduces a new approach based upon analytics that his firm has developed. Rather than relying on non-predictive metrics such as past performance, his approach looks at investment processes in relation to deeper skills that managers possess regarding buying, selling, and position-sizing.
2010-07-20 The Opportunity in Build America Bonds by Jeff Westergaard (Article)
While the unique aspects of Build America Bonds (BABs) and recent Treasury Department actions are meaningful, the risks to investors have been over-emphasized. BABs remain an attractive vehicle for investors and issuers, and the market for them is likely to grow.
2010-07-13 Deficits Monetary and Moral by Michael Lewitt (Article)
"The word 'deficit' has come to epitomize not only our economic dilemmas but also our moral and intellectual failures to address them in an era that should be boasting of new breakthroughs in the social and physical sciences," writes Michael Lewitt in the latest installment of his HCM Market Letter, Deficits Monetary and Moral. "Instead, our ability to solve complex problems is weighed down by flawed and corrupted government processes and the lack of courage to forthrightly change them."
2010-07-13 Chronicle of the Quarter by Bob Veres (Article)
Bob Veres provides one of his Client Articles, which is a service for advisors to send to their clients; it's a daily blog about what it felt like to watch the market during the past fiscal quarter. It communicates several points: perhaps most importantly, that what seems clear in hindsight (the markets gave back their first quarter gains) is not at all clear as it is experienced.
2010-07-12 It's a Slow Grind by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Economic growth in the U.S. is only moderate, which is inadequate to bring down unemployment at a satisfactory pace, even as a double-dip recession remains highly unlikely. It's easy to recognize the problems with the economy, while overlooking the positives. But there's a critical distinction often lost between the unsatisfactory current state of economic affairs and the improving direction. Given time, economic growth should accelerate and lift the economy to a solid state of health.
2010-07-07 Lebron James and Earnings Season by Charles Lieberman (Article)
It appears that everyone is reducing their expectations for the economy. The stock market, a discounting mechanism, is responding accordingly and suggesting that analyst's 2011 earnings expectations are too high. However, the market is now trading at a price-to-earnings multiple near that of March 2009 market lows, when the structure of the global economy was in question, the credit markets were still frozen, and corporate balance sheets had not yet begun being repaired, a far cry from where we are today. This does not seem appropriate.
2010-07-06 The Ultimate Income Portfolio by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
Conventional approaches to constructing income-oriented portfolios use either bonds or high-yield stocks. In this article, Geoff Considine explores a compelling alternative to that approach: a carefully selected model high-yield portfolio consisting primarily of low-beta, high-dividend stocks, against which the investor sells call options.
2010-07-06 Stock Markets and a Sea of Change by Ron Surz (Article)
Ron Surz provides his award-winning market commentary, analyzing performance across global markets during the first half of this year. He also addresses several other topics, including the fiduciary standard, developments in target date funds, and distortions in style assignments created as a byproduct of the financial crisis.
2010-07-02 Employment Report: Just Fair by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Job growth continued in June, but not enough to support the idea that the economy is still gathering speed, but also not weak enough to indicate a double dip recession. One month?s data is insufficient to suggest the trend of accelerating growth is truly broken, but the economy ought to be getting stronger and this payroll employment doesn't show that.
2010-06-29 Timber as an Asset Class: If a Tree Falls in the Forest, Should you Buy It? by Charlie Curnow (Article)
"If the sun shines and it rains, the trees grow about on schedule," wrote Jeremy Grantham, chairman of Boston-based investment firm GMO, in his quarterly newsletter in April 2007. Grantham's enthusiasm for timber, which remains true to this day, may be excessive, despite the fact that, on the surface, historical data seems to support his optimism. If a tree falls in the forest, should you buy it?
2010-06-29 Jeff Gundlach: The US will 'Politely Default' on its Debt by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Jeff Gundlach's keynote address at last week's Morningstar conference documented the immensity of U.S. debt obligations and the lack of choices available for alleviating that burden. As he has stated in the past, he does not view inflation to be a threat in the capital markets today. He cited six options open to policy makers, but believes a seventh - some form of default - is most likely.
2010-06-29 Inflation Protection Investment Strategies by Vern Sumnicht (Article)
The value of the dollar is sure to erode, and investors will be left to grapple with the inflationary consequences. As Vern Sumnicht shows in this guest contribution, recent policies suggest steep inflation may be just around the corner. Fortunately, investors have some options to bolster their portfolios against the threat of inflation.
2010-06-28 Are We Greece or Are We Japan? by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Does the US economy have more in common with Japan, whose longstanding economic troubles have had disastrous results, or with Greece, whose lack of fiscal responsibility is causing the country to face an economic Judgment Day? Dr. Charles Lieberman argues that our situation is not as dire as either of these nations, as long as we continue to rein in the budget and see increasing job growth.
2010-06-22 Inexpensive Protection Against Rising Rates by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
As is too often the case, the biggest risks are those that we discount. The possibility of a surge in interest rates appears to be today's ignored risk, despite the warnings of many experts, including David Einhorn, Bill Gross, and Seth Klarman. We discuss an inexpensive strategy to protect your portfolios from the tail risk of rising rates.
2010-06-22 Getting Clients to Read Your Emails by Dan Richards (Article)
Today, we're seeing a sea change in how clients and prospects respond to information. Everyone is swamped by the sheer volume of email and communication. Dan Richards offers suggestions for how to get your emails read and your voice mail returned.
2010-06-22 Niall Ferguson on Japan, China, and the US by Dan Richards (Article)
Harvard's Niall Ferguson is arguably today's leading economic historian. In part two of this interview, Ferguson explains why he fears the future is bleak for Japan, why China may someday be the leading global superpower, and what all this means for the US. We provide a video and a transcript.
2010-06-15 Asset Allocation Matters, But Not as Much as You Think by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The market downturn has caused a rethinking of many core principles underpinning investment advice, chief among them the role of asset allocation. We talk with Yale's Roger Ibbotson about the impact of market returns and active management in explaining return variance and the role of asset allocation going forward.
2010-06-15 Today?s Top Economic Historian: The Path to European Stability by Dan Richards (Article)
Harvard's Niall Ferguson is arguably today's leading economic historian. In this interview with Dan Richards, Ferguson discusses the current troubles and future outlook for Europe. We provide a transcript and a video.
2010-06-15 Three Steps to Start Building a Powerful Center-of-Influence Network by Ani Yessaillian (Article)
In a time when multiple referrals sources are required for profitable growth, it's imperative that financial advisors accelerate their referral-building efforts by proactively creating a powerful center-of-influence network. Whether you're just getting started or have a network already in place that you want to develop further, Ani Yessaillian offers several initial steps can help you sharpen the focus and efficiency required to cultivate relationships with those who are most likely to provide coveted introductions.
2010-06-15 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)
In a letter to the Editor, a reader responds to our article last week, Five Strategies for a Rising Rate Environment.
2010-06-14 The Wisdom of Peter Lynch by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Peter Lynch once recounted how he was forced to stop reading the papers over the weekend because the doom and gloom depressed him so much that he was unable to make any investments on Monday. Charles Lieberman of Advisors Capital Management knows how he felt. If we believe the news, Greece will default and the euro is at risk of falling apart, while the housing market is about to weaken once again. Fortunately, none of these popular views holds up to scrutiny. Our recovery may be weak relative to prior recoveries following deep recessions, but it is still gathering momentum.
2010-06-08 Why Wall Street Won't be Reformed by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Michael Lewitt, author of the highly respected HCM Market Letter, has just released a new book, The Death of Capital. In this interview, he identifies the challenges facing those who seek to regulate Wall Street, and why most of the proposed reforms are likely to fail.
2010-06-08 Five Strategies for a Rising Rate Environment by Kane Cotton, CFA and Jonathan Scheid, CFA (Article)
The Federal Reserve can't accommodate forever, and the global stimulus effort will likely lead to inflation. Our growing indebtedness can only result in increased borrowing costs. That much we know. What we don't know is when and how quickly interest rates will rise. In this guest contribution, Kane Cotton and Jonathan Scheid examine five strategies for a rising rate environment.
2010-06-08 The First Thing We Do, Let?s Kill All the Quants by Michael Lewitt (Article)
In the latest issue of the HCM Market Letter, Michael Lewitt draws the parallels between the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and financial reform - both, he says, demonstrate our inability to learn from our mistakes. Lewitt also comments on quantitative trading strategies, economic recovery and the capital markets.
2010-06-07 Decoupling by John Petrides (Article)
The investment community is fixated on the tangled fiscal and monetary web within the European Union and losing sight of the recovery underway in the U.S. economy. One might say the U.S. and Asian economies are decoupling from European markets. In 2007 and 2008, decoupling allowed the global economy, led by Brazil, Russia, India, and China, to grow without the U.S. Now it appears that the European economy has decoupled and is mired in its own recession apart from the rest of the world.
2010-06-01 Europe: Value or Value Trap? by Dan Trosch, CFA (Article)
European equities seem much cheaper than in the US, says Dan Trosch of Fortigent in this guest contribution. Europe trades at a 26% Price to Book discount and a 20% Price to Cash Earnings discount to the US. Some European industries and stocks are deservedly cheap and value traps; other industries and stocks are attractive and will benefit from global growth in exports and other macro trends.
2010-06-01 Our Three-Year Anniversary by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Last month marked the three-year anniversary of our publication, and we'd like to share with you some of our accomplishments over the past year and our goals for the future.
2010-05-25 Seth Klarman is More Worried than at Any Time in his Career by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The concern that the dollars he earns for his clients will lose their purchasing power is always on hedge fund manager Seth Klarman's mind. The possibility that the government will continue to print money to solve our economic problems has left him more worried than at any time in his career. We report on Klarman's remarks at last week's CFA conference.
2010-05-25 Ken Rogoff Expects Slow Growth and Sovereign Defaults by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Among the crush of analysis devoted to the financial crisis, perhaps none has been as influential as that of Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart, co-authors of the book This Time is Different. Looking back at 800 years of data on emerging and developed economies, they showed that financial crises - and the recoveries from those crises - follow a highly predictable pattern, and the title of their book was a jab at those who suggest otherwise. Rogoff also spoke at the CFA conference.
2010-05-24 Driven By Psychology by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Memories of 2008 are still fresh enough to make fears of another meltdown high, even though economic conditions are considerably improved. Growth should slow as a result of deficit reduction efforts, but mostly in Europe. Domestic demand is still gathering momentum, reinforced by job growth, which is boosting disposable income and discretionary spending. Against this backdrop, domestic equities have become quite cheap once again. As conditions stabilize, stocks could experience another sharp upward surge.
2010-05-18 Jeremy Grantham Guarantees Gold will Crash by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Jeremy Grantham, the investor celebrated for his ability to spot and exploit bubbles in asset classes, guaranteed yesterday that the current bull market in gold will end. His proof? He bought some - for his own account - at the end of last week. That comment was tongue-in-cheek, but he went on to identify two asset classes likely to go into bubble territory.
2010-05-18 Spain: After the Bubble by Charlie Curnow (Article)
Today, Barajas Terminal 4 one of the most visible artifacts of the profligacy that fueled Spain's property bubble and led to the country's current financial crisis. Spain, like several other European states, has continued to spend rapidly over the past two years, even as its economy has contracted. As a result, the Spanish government's debt has skyrocketed, raising fears of a possible sovereign default.
2010-05-18 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
In a letter to the Editor, a reader responds to Niall Ferguson's thesis in last week's article, A Historical Perspective on the Slight Depression.
2010-05-17 Why Be Bullish? by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Investors are nervous that Greece and Europe's need to restrain fiscal policy could spill over and cause a double dip recession in the United States. While that isn't impossible, it is highly unlikely. The U.S. economy is building momentum and derailing the expansion is quickly becoming difficult. Fundamentals also strongly suggest an improving economy. Thus, rather than weakness in Europe undermining domestic growth, it is far more likely that a healthier economy in the U.S. and in Asia will spill over to help the Europeans.
2010-05-11 God Is Dead: The Implications of the Goldman Sachs Case by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Michael Lewitt provides us with the most recent issue of the HCM Market Letter, where his discusses the implications of the Goldman Sachs case. Lewitt says Goldman faces a terrible dilemma, and should heed the lessons of the downfall of Drexel Burnham two decades ago. Lewitt also comments on the private equity industry, public pension funds, and bank capital requirements and the ratings agencies.
2010-05-11 Inspire Client Trust by Delivering Clear, Insightful Investment Communications by Ani Yessaillian (Article)
One of the best ways to build trust with your clients is to consistently deliver clear, insightful investment communications. In this guest contribution, consultant Ani Yessaillian tells you how to make the most of your quarterly performance report and your off-cycle investment communications.
2010-05-11 A Historical Perspective on the Slight Depression by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Armed with textbooks and formulas, economists attack a problem by drawing lines, forming equations and trying to fit data to the real world. Niall Ferguson, a historian by training, thinks you can learn more simply by analyzing what has already happened. So what's a historian's take on the current crisis? Ferguson says it has yet to run its course.
2010-05-11 A Coming Wave of M&A? by Seth P. Hieken, CFA (Article)
In this guest contribution, Seth Hieken of The Colony Group says to expect M&A transactions to accelerate over the course of the year. If correct, there are several important guidelines investors may wish to follow.
2010-05-10 Europe Fires the Bazooka by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Greece's risk of default has the potential to disrupt markets globally, depressing stock and most commodity markets, while pushing the safest bonds, Treasuries, to artificially high values. With Greece as a possible disruptive force to global capital markets, the Fed will be hesitant to raise rates. Moreover, restrictive fiscal policies in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and the U.K. will weaken U.S. exports to Europe. While a less expansion oriented monetary policy will still be needed in the U.S., it will come later given the disruptive forces from Europe that will restrain global growth.
2010-05-04 Lacy Hunt: Keynes was Wrong (and Ricardo was Right) by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Underpinning the Obama administration's economic policies is the work of John Maynard Keynes, the legendary British economist who called for large fiscal and monetary interventions to counter the Great Depression. On this critical issue, Keynes was wrong, says Lacy Hunt, the internationally renowned economist with Texas-based Hoisington Investment.
2010-05-04 Timely market insights: Sector reviews and quarterly perspective on the financial markets by Janus (Article)
Janus provides sector reviews and reports on quarterly market performance in a new commentary. While economic recovery is in place, the firm says, its magnitude is uncertain. Topics covered include winners and losers in the energy sector, Chinese growth from within, the evolution of internet-related media and communications, and the financial impact of health reform. We thank Janus for their sponsorship.
2010-05-04 Iran, Iraq and Embracing the Devil by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Just as imbalances arise in economics, so they do in geopolitics. Its power weakened, the US now faces a difficult choice in the Mideast, where its best option is now to strike a deal with the regional player it most demonizes, Iran, according to George Friedman, founder and CEO of the geopolitical consulting firm STRATFOR.
2010-05-04 Four Words of Advice from a Top Advisor by Dan Richards (Article)
Last summer, Dan Richards talked to a thirty-year veteran of the business who's consistently ranked as a top advisor. The week before, he'd talked to a group of rookies just entering the business. In the question and answer period, he was been asked about the single most important thing he learned over the course of his career.
2010-05-04 How Much is that Investment Worth in Real Money? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
In the latest installment of his series of articles geared to the educated layman, Adam Apt looks at the topic of the time value of money, and how discount rates can be used to determine the value of a security. He shows the practical applications of present value calculations and its limitations.
2010-05-03 Is the Economic Recovery for Real? by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Friday's employment report will help shed light on whether the economic recovery is sustainable. The pickup in consumer spending and business investment so far is very good news, but unless that spending translates into job growth, the gains in GDP will not last. Without job growth, households will lack the income to increase spending and business will soon find that sales are weakening again. The early signs are excellent. But until we see a number of months of job gains, it is inappropriate to think the expansion is well-established.
2010-04-27 Gary Shilling: America?s Lost Decade by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The US faces 10 years of slow growth and deflation that could rival Japan's "lost decade" - two words which Gary Shilling did not utter but which unmistakably characterize his forecast. Shilling is founder and President of the New Jersey-based economic consulting firm A. Gary Shilling & Co.
2010-04-27 China: House of Cards or Emerging Superpower? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Few topics are as contentious as the fate of the Chinese economy. The bulls argue that its growth will propel the global economic recovery and that China will ultimately supplant the United States as the leading world superpower. According to the bears, the Chinese economy has been fueled by unsustainable fiscal stimuliand is a prototypical bubble poised to burst. Five panelists at the Strategic Investment Conference debated this question.
2010-04-27 The Four Horsemen of Growth: David Kelly?s Guide to Markets by Katie Southwick (Article)
With unprecedented volatility now largely behind us, J.P. Morgan's Chief Investment Strategist David Kelly believes that the economy is entering a period of recovery. To move forward, we must abandon our negative mindsets and focus on opportunities for expansion.
2010-04-27 Investing Insights from Doctors by Dan Richards (Article)
Dan Richards works out in the early mornings with a psychiatrist, who recently forwarded an article in the New York Review of Books by Jerome Groopman, a physician and frequent writer on the challenges of modern day medicine. As Dan read it, he was struck by the parallels between the things that cause doctors and investors to go wrong.
2010-04-27 The Hidden Risk in Target Date Funds by Ron Surz (Article)
Choosing the appropriate target date fund (TDF) for an investor is not easy, given the large number of products in the marketplace and the lack of tools to easily compare those offerings. That choice, however, is made a lot easier if one focuses on the component of TDFs where investors are exposed to the greatest risk - what guest contributor Ron Surz calls the "risk zone."
2010-04-26 Stocks Still Have Limited Downside by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Stock valuations are still reasonable and they are getting cheaper, despite the market rally. Profits are rebounding strongly and economic growth is still in the early stages of an expansion. With unemployment still at 9.7 percent, the economy and corporate profits have considerable upside and it will take some years for the economy to revert to a normal level. Any slide in stock prices would provide an opportunity for investors who have missed the rally a chance to get in, which implies only limited downside for stocks at this time.
2010-04-20 A Simple Step to Get More from Your Day by Dan Richards (Article)
Many advisors struggle to get everything done that needs doing. If you're in that category, consider following the example of one successful advisor Dan Richards talked to recently ... and put a dollar value on every hour of your time.
2010-04-20 Unconventional Wisdom: An Interview with Robert Shiller by John Heins (Article)
"Few macroeconomic prognosticators have been as publicly right as Yale's Robert Shiller,whose first and second editions of the book Irrational Exuberance laid bare, with remarkable timing, the speculative bubbles forming first in the Internet-crazed stock market and next in residential real estate," writes the highly regarded newsletter Value Investor Insight in its preface to this interview with Shiller and excerpt from his latest book. Value Investor Insight, which bills itself as the "Leading Authority on Value Investing, offers a no-obligation, one-month free trial subscription.
2010-04-20 A Short-Term Buying Opportunity for Long-Term TIPS by Michael Brennan (Article)
Fixed income investors should consider a short-term buying opportunity for Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) with maturities of ten or more years, writes Michael Brennan in this guest contribution. The 10-year TIPS should have a total return anywhere from 30 to 40 basis points greater than the comparable nominal Treasury bond.
2010-04-19 Goldman, as Scapegoat by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Goldman's crime, which appears to be more of a technicality than the kind of truly nasty crimes that were being committed by some financial market players, seems to be targeting the name, not the crime. This suggests it is more of a show event, perhaps in anticipation of the elections, than a real effort to punish miscreants, such as lenders at Countrywide or New Century. This show may fill the media over the coming months and quarters, but fortunately, it will not derail the economic recovery.
2010-04-13 Today?s Number One Way to Demonstrate Your Value by Dan Richards (Article)
Advisors provide the greatest value by being an emotional anchor for clients- keeping the highs from being too high during times of untrammeled optimism, such as we saw in 2000, and the lows from being too low during periods of absolute pessimism, such as we saw a year ago and in many cases still see today. Playing that role takes more than just having an opinion - you need credible evidence to back you up, which Dan Richards offers.
2010-04-13 Shameless by Michael Lewitt (Article)
The fiscal train wreck in the United States has not been set back on the tracks, and the global imbalances that led to the financial crisis have not gone away. Quite to the contrary, writes Michael Lewittin Shameless, the latest edition of his HCM newsletter. In fact, if progress isn't made with respect to these issues, and if intelligent financial reform is not enacted, future instability is guaranteed.
2010-04-06 Liz Ann Sonders on the US Economic Recovery by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Liz Ann Sonders is Senior Vice President and Chief Investment Strategist at Charles Schwab & Co. In this interview, she discusses her positive outlook for the US economy, which she believes has been recovering since last summer.
2010-04-06 A Q1 Letter to Send Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Dan Richards provides the latest in his very popular series of quarterly letters for advisors to send to their clients. This Q1 2010 article combines the attributes he considers essential: a balanced outlook, candor, short enough for clients to get through yet long enough to be substantial, fact-based, and customizable to your own voice.
2010-04-06 Emerging Markets: High Growth does not mean High Returns by Dan Richards (Article)
Recent research explores the return payoff of investing in emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, writes Dan Richards. Contrary to popular beliefs, investing in high-growth emerging markets has produced inferior returns to those obtained from slower growth economies.
2010-04-06 Insights and Foresights into 2010 by Ron Surz (Article)
Ron Surz provides his award-winning market recap and analysis for the first quarter of 2010. The first quarter of 2010 did not start well, with US stocks experiencing losses in excess of 3% in January, but then we recovered most of those losses in February, setting the stage for 6%+ returns in March. All of the first quarter return was earned in March.
2010-04-06 Ten Steps to Get Started with New Media Marketing by Kristen Luke (Article)
For advisors not familiar with social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Viddler, BlogTalkRadio, and YouTube), Kristen Luke provides a 10-step plan to get started.
2010-04-05 Houston, We Have Ignition by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The final and most important missing link in the economic recovery is now falling into place. Job growth has resumed. While we should not jump to strong conclusions based on a single economic report, the underlying trends and supporting data all reinforce the same inference that the economy is back on a growth track. The economic recovery trajectory is likely to further improve in the coming months as job growth feeds into household income and confidence in order to support more spending. This month we have ignition. Next month, we may have liftoff.
2010-03-30 Making the Sale by Michael Ervolini (Article)
Because investors are "hard-wired to like buying more than selling," writes Cabot Research CEO Michael Ervolini in this Value Investor Insight article, the sell decision-making process is typically less rigorous and analytical than the decision to buy. Ervolini explains the problems that can cause and offers a framework for how make better, return-enhancing sell decisions.
2010-03-30 Your Clients? Lives Are NOT a Game by Dave Loeper (Article)
The dialog between Roger Schreinerand Dave Loeper continues, with Loeper responding to Lance Paddock's article last week, Game On!. Loeper refutes Paddock's charges, and offers data demonstrating his key point: superior returns and lower risk do not necessarily lead to greater wealth accumulation for clients.
2010-03-30 Not a Lost Decade for Diversified, Balanced Portfolios by Joni L. Clark, CFA, CFP (Article)
Did the last ten years really demolish the foundations of Modern Portfolio Theory and classic investing principles? How did portfolios that stuck to the principles of effective diversification and buy-and-hold investing actually perform during the so-called "Lost Decade?" The answers to both questions is an unqualified "no," writes Joni Clark of Loring Ward in this guest contribution, based on her analysis of a DFA-based strategy.
2010-03-26 Macro Effects of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at 30,000 Feet by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust
The macroeconomic effect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will depend on whether the $900 billion shift of resources from the private sector to the government over the next ten years it brings will adversely affect labor productivity and technical progress, and by how much. On one hand, PPACA could result in a healthier and more productive workforce. On the other hand, increased government spending associated with PPACA may also have been spent by the private sector on health care, only in a less efficient manner: in the emergency room rather than on preventative care.
2010-03-26 narrative power by tom brakke of the research puzzle
The investment world illustrates the power of narrative. People up and down the informational food chain use stories to enlighten and deceive. For stock investors, many stories originate with companies and their officers, who learn that crafting a narrative that puts everything in the best light is part of their leadership role. Sell side analysts sometimes reinforce those messages by making the telling of certain stories part of their brands. Investors must therefore read widely and read well, and realize that understanding comes from taking nothing for granted and questioning everything.
2010-03-23 Game On! by Lance Paddock (Article)
Advisor Lance Paddock comments on the exchange between Wealthcare's Dave Loeper and SCM's Roger Schreiner. Paddock lauds Loeper's focus on managing assets based on client goals, but says Schreiner's challenge is nonetheless fair, and urges Loeper to accept Schreiner's terms.
2010-03-22 Sex Sells... And So Does Fear by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Household confidence remains low, despite evidence that the economy has been growing for three quarters. Negative interpretations of data are given too much credibility and attention, and investors continue to pour money into bonds while avoiding stocks. Markets, however, tend to move ahead of perceptions. Just as the stock market began to recover in March 2009 before the economic recovery was evident, the market will now continue to recover in anticipation of the resumption of job growth and a self-sustaining expansion. Confidence surveys will follow suit.
2010-03-16 The New Investment Paradigm: Graham Meets Markowitz by Bob Veres (Article)
Broadly speaking, the financial services industry has been divided into two competing paradigms since roughly 1950. One, articulated by Harry Markowitz, suggests advisors add value through diversified portfolios optimized along the efficient frontier. The other, advocated by Benjamin Graham, says advisors add value by purchasing assets at prices less than their fair value. Bob Veres reconciles those views and describes the New Paradigm that has emerged.
2010-03-16 Greeks Bearing Gifts by Michael Lewitt (Article)
We are again privileged to publish the most recent edition of Michael Lewitt's HCM Market Letter, Greeks Bearing Gifts. Lewitt comments on Goldman Sachs' derivative transactions that helped Greece hide its debt and its larger implications for the financial system, for the European periphery and for Spain in particular. Lewitt also addresses the state of decline of the US economy and other topics.
2010-03-16 Paul Romer: What Drives Economic Growth? by Dan Richards (Article)
Paul Romer is a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and the focus of his research is the drivers of economic growth. In this interview with Dan Richards, Romer identifies what sets apart fast growing countries, and which policies best stimulate economic growth. We provide a transcript and a link to a video of the interview.
2010-03-16 No Shell Game? Then What Is It? by Dave Loeper (Article)
Wealthcare's Dave Loeper responds to Roger Schreiner's recent article, It's No Shell Game. Loeper contends that the rules of Schreiner's challenge ensure that Schreiner will win and, from a larger perspective, active management advocates sacrifice their clients' wealth by exposing them to risks those advocates cannot control.
2010-03-09 A Looming Lack of Liquidity by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Headlines warn that the rapid buildup in the money supply, caused by the Federal Reserve's efforts to confront the financial crisis, is destined to result in inflation. That may be the case, but a more ominous signal from the money supply warns of impending economic contraction.
2010-03-09 Healthcare, Unions and the Next Bull Market by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In order to reduce health care costs, consumers must be empowered to shop for and select health care services in a competitive environment, according to Jack Ablin. Ablin, the chief investment officer of Harris Private Bank, delivered the keynote address at last week's Boston Security Analysts Society market forecast event, where he also spoke of the need to reform labor practices in the public sector.
2010-03-09 Modeling the Active versus Passive Debate by William Rafter (Article)
If you knew the returns for every stock one month in the future, you could construct a very impressive portfolio from the top performers. What's less obvious, as William Rafter shows in this guest contribution, is that you can improve on your results by holding those securities for less than a month. Rafter examines the implications of his finding for the active versus passive debate.
2010-03-09 The New Rules of Marketing - A Roundtable by Dan Sommer (Article)
Given the ever-shifting landscape of information consumption and consumer behavior, financial advisors have been forced to change their thinking about the way they market themselves. In this guest contribution, Dan Sommer speaks with two investment professionals who answer a series of marketing-related questions for advisors.
2010-03-09 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
In our letters to the Editor, readers respond to a number of recent articles, including the charity challenges posed by Roger Schreiner and Dave Loeper, the active v. passive debate, Morningstar ratings, and our article on the PIMCO Total Return fund.
2010-03-08 What a Difference a Year Makes by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Many investors are dismayed they missed out on the dramatic market rebound off the lows of March 9, 2009. Many investors are now looking to sell their stocks, if they hadn't already bailed out a year ago. Equity valuations seem quite reasonable, however, despite the sharp rise in stock prices over the past 12 months. Lieberman predicts GDP growth of 3.5 to 4 percent in 2010, implying profits of more than $80 for the S&P, and possibly as high as $85, compared to the consensus estimates of 2.5 percent growth and $75 in earnings.
2010-03-02 Asset Allocation for Grantham?s Seven Lean Years by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
Followers of Jeremy Grantham know his consistently accurate long-term forecasts well, as well as his ability to identify and avoid asset bubbles and steer clients into high-performing asset classes. Grantham's prescience is remarkable but not irreplicable. Geoff Considine shows that his Monte Carlo simulations nearly match Grantham's forecasts, and he reviews the implications for asset allocations.
2010-03-02 Robert Pozen on the Financial Crisis, Social Security, and the Mutual Fund Industry by Dan Richards (Article)
Robert Pozen is the chairman of MFS Investment Management and a senior lecturer at the Harvard Business School. In this interview with Dan Richards, he discusses the financial crisis, Social Security, and the mutual fund Industry. We provide a transcript and a video replay of the interview.
2010-02-23 An Analysis of the Risk and Return of Small/Mid-Cap Growth by David Vincent (Article)
In this guest contribution, David Vincent of Fred Alger says investors interested in gaining exposure to the small-capitalization growth equity style should consider the small/mid ("SMid") capitalization style as a way to capture the benefits of small-cap growth.
2010-02-23 Rethinking the Fundamentals of Client Communication by Dan Richards (Article)
Dan Richards says advisors need to fundamentally rethink both the information they communicate and - just as importantly - how they communicate. Changing these two key dimensions of your communication strategy - what you send clients and how you send it - will be critical to future success.
2010-02-23 Jason Zweig on Protecting your Wealth by David Raileanu (Article)
Jason Zweig is a senior writer and columnist for Money magazine and frequently writes for the Wall Street Journal. In this interview, he discusses strategies for protecting client wealth, proper asset allocation, and the role of advisors in a fiduciary relationship.
2010-02-22 Getting Back to Normal by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The Federal Reserve's hike of the discount rate was a message that economic and financial conditions are returning to normal, and that interest rates must follow suit. Real rate hikes will not occur for another few quarters, and policy should remain accommodative for a long time. Economic growth should continue to build, and the outlook for stocks remains very positive. Bond yields should also rise gradually over time.
2010-02-16 It's the Budget, Not the European Union at Risk by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The Greek government will likely use continued membership in the European monetary union as an excuse to raise taxes or cut spending, while the rest of Europe will help Greece stay in the common currency. Restrictive fiscal policies in Greece, as well as Ireland, Portugal and Spain will lead Europe to lag behind the global economic recovery.
2010-02-16 Boom and Bust by Michael Lewitt (Article)
The US and global economies are "trapped in a cycle of boom and bust as a result of fiscal and monetary policies from which there is no easy escape," says Michael Lewitt of Harch Capital Management. Lewitt believes the S&P will rally to 1,200-1,250, but says the long-term prognosis is "somewhere between grave and terminal." We are privileged to provide this excerpt from Lewitt's monthly newsletter and encourage our readers to subscribe to it directly.
2010-02-16 How Professionals Select Investments by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
In this guest contribution intended for the educated layman, advisor Adam Apt discusses the process by which investment managers select individual securities, contrasting the disciplines of fundamental and technical analysis.
2010-02-16 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)
In this letter to the Editor, an advisor addresses a recent commentary which took issue with John Mauldin's views.
2010-02-09 Transforming Your Business with an Integrated Solution by Marie Swift (Article)
Marie Swift evaluates the various systems and processes that are kicked-off at a typical firm from one of the most common client interactions - an inbound call. Many firms work with disparate software systems and utilize far too many manual tasks - resulting in duplicate data entry and poor customer service. Conversely, Marie evaluates this same scenario utilizing an integrated software and services solution, Tamarac Advisor 9, and finds dramatic gains in efficiency, accuracy and overall firm profitability. We thank Tamarac for their sponsorship.
2010-02-09 China?s Quest for a Shortcut to Greatness by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
The Chinese economy must be getting out of control, because the Chinese government is doing the unthinkable: It is desperately trying to put the brakes on its economy. Author and fund manager Vitaliy Katsenelson looks back at how China got into this trouble and looks forward to China's prospects.
2010-02-09 The China Conundrum by Dan Richards (Article)
Few issues divide investors today more than the investment merits of China, despite that country's tremendous potential. China's strong economic performance through the global financial crisis has reinforced this divide. Dan Richards looks at the cases for and against investment in China, and offers his own opinion.
2010-02-09 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Our letters to Editor include two responses to our article about Joseph Stiglitz and one in response to Keith Goddard's article about asset allocation using Shiller P/E ratios.
2010-02-08 Another (Half) Step Forward by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The economy continues to gain momentum as GDP grows and inflation stays low, says Charles Lieberman of Advisors Capital. Households will resume spending as real incomes rise and businesses will hire to meet rising demand, but turmoil in Greek markets could signal trouble ahead in Europe.
2010-02-05 Discounts and Relative Performance by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates
Arnott reviews the methodology behind fundamental indexing. Over the short term, fundamental indices take on much greater exposure in volatile markets to companies which underperformed relative to their economic size. This article explores the performance implications of the difference in relative valuation multiples.
2010-02-02 Stiglitz: U.S. Economy Will Falter without More Stimulus by Susan B. Weiner, CFA (Article)
The U.S. government has botched its handling of the economy over the last eight years, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. He explained how the U.S. created the global recession - and how we can get out of it - in a public presentation on his new book, Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy.
2010-02-02 Chuck Akre on the Akre Focus Fund by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Chuck Akre is the Managing Member and Chief Executive Officer of Akre Capital Management, which he founded in 1989. He has a track record of above-average performance over the last 20-plus years managing mutual funds, separately managed accounts and partnerships, and he discusses the strategy he employs in his new Akre Focus Fund.
2010-02-02 More Government in the Financial Sector to Save Capitalism by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
In this article, Vitaliy Katsenelson argues that, despite his free market bias, the "too big to fail" banks will benefit from tighter regulation.
2010-02-01 Well, Better Late than Never by John Petrides (Article)
The author supports the reconfirmation of Bernanke as Fed Chairman, but warns that investor unease about policy decisions is justified.
2010-01-29 GDP Rises to Highest Levels Since 2003 by Team of Bespoke Investment Group
Bespoke comments on the higher-than-expected GDP announcement. They note that earnings announcements so far this season have been strong and ?based on what we\'ve seen so far in terms of guidance,
2010-01-26 The Potemkin Market by Michael Lewitt (Article)
We are again privileged to publish the current issue of Michael Lewitt's newsletter, titled The Potemkin Market. Lewitt updates his forecast for the S&P 500, criticizes the current financial reform efforts and the ongoing GSE bailout and Fed Chairman Bernanke. Lewitt argues that risk is overpriced in many segments of the market.
2010-01-26 Buffett?s Gold by Emilio Vargas (Article)
Warren Buffett's valuation of Burlington Northern and his use of arguably cheap Berkshire Hathaway stock to purchase it have created a bit of a cacophony among analysts. It seems to some very un-Buffett-like to pay top dollar for an asset and to use precious equity currency to get a deal done. What does Buffett see that others do not? Oddly, the argument made by gold bugs for their asset of choice may hold the answer.
2010-01-25 Keep Focus on the Recovery by Charles Lieberman (Article)
?... we must keep close tabs on the machinations in Washington to see if the political turmoil undermines the economic recovery or investor confidence in the market. It is distressing that we must do
2010-01-19 Steve Leuthold: The Market will Rally This Year by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Steve Leuthold is chairman of the $4.5 billion Leuthold Group and one of the most widely-followed market analysts. In his keynote presentation at last week's Fortigent conference, he offered an upbeat forecast for the first half of 2010.
2010-01-19 John Cochrane on the Dangers of Current Economic Policies by Dan Richards (Article)
John Cochrane is a professor of finance at the University of Chicago and the incoming president of the American Finance Association. Cochrane is also author of the widely-circulated article, How did Paul Krugman get it so Wrong?. In this interview, Cochrane identifies the shortcomings and dangers of current economic policies.
2010-01-19 A Market for Contrarians by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Along with Steve Leuthold, Rob Arnott, Doug Kass and DoubleLine co-founder Joe Galligan were among the speakers at Fortigent's conference. These three speakers' bearish sentiment extended across a wide range of asset classes, opening lots of possibilities for those who prefer contrarian bets.
2010-01-12 Bruce Berkowitz on the Keys to Success for the Fairholme Fund by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Bruce Berkowitz, manager of the Fairholme Fund, was just named Morningstar's US fund manager of the year. In our interview, he discusses current market conditions, the thesis behind several of his largest positions, his views on health care reform, and the elements of the macro environment that concern him most.
2010-01-12 The True Cost of Insuring the Uninsured by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Let's say your spouse sends you out to buy a quart of milk and you take along a bag of soda cans to return. You use the deposit from the cans to buy the milk. Was the milk free? Of course not. But that's essentially the argument the government is using when it claims universal health care will reduce the deficit by $132 billion over the next decade.
2010-01-12 The Financial Crisis Post-Mortem: Suicide, Accident or Murder? by Michael Skocpol (Article)
Since the stunning collapse of America's financial system in 2008, questions have swirled around how we got here and who's to blame. The subsequent finger-pointing has yielded few answers, but now one economist has taken a cue from CSI's Gil Grissom and Law and Order's Jack McCoy. He performed an autopsy.
2010-01-12 Olivier Blanchard on Global Stability by Dan Richards (Article)
Olivier Blanchard is the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, a position he has held since September 1, 2008. In Dan Richards' interview, Blanchard discusses the steps being taken to revive the global economy and what he believes is in store for beleaguered debtor nations - particularly Greece.
2010-01-11 Low Expectations Are Made to be Exceeded by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Is the equity market overpriced and vulnerable after its sharp rally off the March 2009 lows, as suggested by the bears? While the economy has many problems to overcome, equity valuations are actually
2010-01-05 Paul Krugman on Deficits, Taxes, Inflation, and Recovery by Dan Richards (Article)
Dan Richards' interview with Paul Krugman, the 2008 Nobel prize winner in Economics, covers his views on the size of the next stimulus package, how high marginal tax rates should go, and lessons from the Japanese experience. Whether or not you agree with him, Krugman is highly influential and his views may presage future policy decisions.
2010-01-05 The Falling Dollar: Should We Worry? by Elisabeth L. Talbot, CFA (Article)
Over the past several months, it has become increasingly fashionable to refer to the decline of the U.S. dollar as another financial "crisis." Yet, given the current state of the global markets, declaring that the dollar's recent losses amount to a "crisis" is an overstatement, says Elisabeth Talbot in this guest contribution. To the contrary, current conditions surrounding the dollar are arguably supportive of - if not integral to - economic recovery.
2010-01-05 Perspectives on 2009 and Beyond by Ron Surz (Article)
We are again privileged to provide Ron Surz' award-winning market commentary. Surz examines global performance in Q4, 2009 and the prior decade.
2010-01-05 Capture Ratio as a Tool to Measure Investment Performance by David Vincent and Ray Pinelli (Article)
In this guest contribution, David Vincent and Ray Pinelli of Fred Alger examine the correlation of traditional up- and down-capture ratios to investment performance. They show that combining these two measures results in a metric with much higher correlation.
2010-01-04 2010: The Year of Economic Recovery by Charles Lieberman (Article)
2009-12-29 Jeremy Siegel on the Undervaluation in US Equities by Robert Huebscher (Article)
"I think that earnings growth next year will be stronger than anticipated and will break the all-time high for the S&P, which was in the second quarter of 2007, when earnings for the trailing 12 months were in the low 90s," says Siegel. "In 2011 or 2012 we will break that amount. With $90 in earnings and a 15 P/E ratio, you get 1,350 for the S&P."
2009-12-29 The Top 10 Articles You Didn?t Read (But Should Have) by Robert Huebscher (Article)
We closely monitor which articles draw the most readership. This allows us to fine-tune our content to the preferences of our audience. Reflecting on those articles that were most popular over the last year, however, we believe other articles also deserved your attention. We provide the "Top 10" articles you didn't read - but should have.
2009-12-29 Diversification is Not Enough by Roger J. Schreiner (Article)
The mainstream financial services industry, the media and academia - virtually everyone - has overestimated the value of diversification in risk management. The recent crisis has shown that investors need more than simple diversification to protect them from both the known and the unknown risk that they will eventually encounter. In this guest contribution, Roger Schreiner, says that when it comes to risk management, diversification simply is not enough.
2009-12-28 I'll Get Back in When the Market Corrects by John Petrides (Article)
2009-12-22 ECRI: Recovery and Jobs Growth are Underway by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Lakshman Achuthan, the managing director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI), provides an upbeat forecast in our interview. He says the economic recovery has been underway since the summer and he expects to see jobs growth in the coming quarters. ECRI is a global research firm serving buy- and sell-side institutions and Fortune 500 companies.
2009-12-15 Barton Biggs on Undervaluation in the S&P 100 by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Barton Biggs, the former Chief Global Strategist for Morgan Stanley who now runs the hedge fund Traxis Partners, says the high-quality, large-capitalization stocks in the S&P 100 are now undervalued by one standard deviation. In our interview, Biggs also discusses his fears and how investors should protect themselves from the worst-case scenarios.
2009-12-15 The Next Black Swan? Underfunded Public Pensions by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The plights of California and other states reveal an ominous threat our economy faces: underfunded public pension liabilities. We examine the size and scope of this problem, focusing on whether the underlying assumptions used to calculate liabilities are realistic.
2009-12-15 A Template for a Year-end Letter by Dan Richards (Article)
Many advisors have told Dan Richards they receive a positive response from the quarterly review letters they've sent over the past year based on the templates he has provided. Here's a template that can be a starting point for a year-end review letter.
2009-12-15 Investing in Range-bound Markets by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
Vitaliy Katsenelson, a frequent contributor to these pages, reviews his thesis for secular market cycles, why the US markets remain locked in a range-bound state, and what it will take for them to exit from that state.
2009-12-08 The 529 Dilemma by Mary Ann Lambert (Article)
The recent market decline coupled with, tax, custodial, management fees and estate planning issues make the decision to use a 529 plan less than straightforward. In this guest contribution, advisor Mary Ann Lambert briefly reviews the history of college savings plans and shows how the current landscape favors 529s for some clients but not for others.
2009-12-01 Allen Sinai: Jobless Recovery and the Failure of Current Economic Policies by Robert Huebscher (Article)
As the Democratic leadership in Congress has looked for ways to simultaneously create jobs and reduce the deficit, a key person they have turned to and continue to rely on is Allen Sinai. Sinai now fears the US is in the "mother of all jobless recoveries" and that the economic policies of the Obama administration are not working.
2009-12-01 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
In our letters to the Editor, one reader comments on Dan Richards' article last week, Tapping into Today's Number One Client Concern, and another comments on our article two weeks ago, Bruce Greenwald on Positioning First Eagle's Funds.
2009-11-24 Gary Shilling's Version of the New Normal by Robert Huebscher (Article)
A dramatic reduction in consumer spending has doomed the US economy to slow growth and deflation, according to Gary Shilling. America's 25-year spree of profligate spending is over, and it will be supplanted by a decade-long retrenchment that will ultimately bring the consumer savings rate from 4% to double-digits, where it has not been since the mid-1980s, he said.
2009-11-24 Dan Fuss and the Long-Term Outlook for Interest Rates by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Dan Fuss, the highly respected bond manager at Loomis Sayles in Boston, says we are in the early stages on a long-term rise in interest rates. His view was shared by two other panelists, Carl Kaufman of Osterwies and Margie Patel of Evergreen. If you accept this consensus, you must ask whether your fixed income allocation is appropriate.
2009-11-24 Interview: Brian McMahon of Thornburg Investments by Robert Huebscher (Article)
We speak with Brian McMahon, CEO and CIO of Thornburg Investment Management about the Thornburg Income Builder Fund (TIBAX) and the challenges of finding income-producing securities in today's markets.
2009-11-24 Buy Bonds and Not Bond Funds by Hildy and Stan Richelson (Article)
Record inflows into longer-term bond funds in the last six months have provided investors purported relief from the near-zero returns in money market funds. Do not mistake those inflows or rising prices for an endorsement of bond funds, write Stan and Hildy Richelson in this guest contribution. Bond funds are inferior to individual bonds, as those who are now buying bond funds may soon discover.
2009-11-17 Ned Davis: The Cyclical Bull Rally is Not Over by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In February of last year, Ned Davis, president and senior investment strategist of an eponymous Florida-based institutional research firm, correctly forecast last year's market decline. In February of this year, he called the market rally that began in March. Now, he says, that cyclical bull rally is not over.
2009-11-17 Bruce Greenwald on Positioning First Eagle?s Funds by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Bruce Greenwald is a professor of finance at Columbia, the Director of Research at First Eagle Funds, and a leading expert on value investing. Last week we published part one of our interview, where he discussed the structural problems in the economy and his forecast for higher unemployment. This week he discusses the positioning of First Eagle's investments, and why Warren Buffett's purchase of Burlington Northern was a mistake.
2009-11-17 Our Steroidally Challenged Economy by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
Vitaliy Katsenelson writes that the US economy is like a marathon runner who, after suffering an injury, takes steroids in order to return to racing. His performance is fine, but what don't see are the risks, just as our economy is now "steroidally challenged."
2009-11-17 Disheartened by Michael Lewitt (Article)
We are again privileged to publish an excerpt from Michael Lewitt's HCM Market Letter. In this issue, titled "Disheartened," Lewitt argues that the powers-that-be are making limited progress addressing the structural problems in the economy, and that the greatest challenge is to achieve budgetary discipline.
2009-11-17 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
We have two letters to the Editor - one responds to last week's interview with Bruce Greenwald and the other responds to two recent articles which argued that advisors should avoid active management.
2009-11-10 Bruce Greenwald on Structural Problems in the Economy and Unemployment by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Bruce Greenwald is a professor of finance at Columbia University, the Director of Research at First Eagle Funds, and perhaps the foremost expert on value investing. In part one of our two-part interview, he discusses the structural problems facing the economy, the parallels to the Great Depression, and the implications for the unemployment rate.
2009-11-10 Roubini: Fed Policies are Destabilizing the Financial System by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Nouriel Roubini, the once-obscure economist who gained celebrity and the title "Dr. Doom" after correctly forecasting the financial crisis, believes that current Fed policies are destabilizing the markets and pushing the economy toward another collapse.
2009-11-10 Letters to the Editor ? The ?V? Points Downward by Various (Article)
In a letter to the Editor, a reader responds to our article, The "V" Points Downward.
2009-11-03 Absolutely ? Maybe by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Since Putnam introduced its absolute return funds earlier this year, over 4,200 advisors and $650 million in assets have flocked to the new financial products. Putnam's four funds seek to beat inflation by 100, 300, 500 and 700 basis points, and their performance over their first nine months (3.1%, 6.4%, 8.4% and 12.2%, respectively) was encouraging for their investors. Impressive as those results may be, the question is whether they are sustainable.
2009-11-03 Alpha or Wealth? by Sam Bass (Article)
It is widely accepted that ETFs offer significant advantages over mutual funds, especially lower costs and taxes. But, as advisor Sam Bass argues in this guest contribution, the mutual fund industry may be all the more concerned that increasing numbers of investors are accepting the view that ETFs, and passive strategies in general, are better for wealth accumulation than active management - even if one assumes active strategies can generate positive alpha over extended periods of time.
2009-10-27 Stay the Course or Plot Another? by Ted A. Ponko, CFA (Article)
Is it reasonable for investors' objectives to change along with major fluctuations in their wealth? In these instances, sticking with the current portfolio may not be the best option - even for long-term investors. In this guest contribution, Ted Ponko of Klein Decisions argues advisors need a reliable way to determine when to stay the course and when to plot another.
2009-10-27 The ?V? Points Downward by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Long-term equity investors face a critical juncture. They can believe a V-shaped economic recovery is imminent, if not underway, and valuations for broad-based equity indexes properly reflect an end to the "decrepit decade" of return-less risk in US markets. Or they can believe true economic recovery - growth, not just stability - is still a long way off and US equity valuations are in bubble territory, not reflective of the rough terrain ahead. We provide our thoughts.
2009-10-20 Don?t be Misled by Morningstar?s Box Score Results by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Morningstar has published its latest Box Score Results, showing the performance of active managers across each of the nine style boxes. We report these results, along with those of another study by William Thatcher of the Hammond Group, which explains why Morningstar's results can be highly misleading.
2009-10-20 Letters to the Editor - Fama-French and the Active-Passive Debate by Various (Article)
Last week's article, Luck vs. Skill in Mutual Fund Alpha Estimates, on the latest research from Ken French and Gene Fama drew plenty of responses. We publish two of them, both in support of active management.
2009-10-20 Finance After Auschwitz by Michael Lewitt (Article)
We are again privileged to provide an excerpt from Michael Lewitt's HCM Market Letter. In this installment, Finance After Auschwitz, Lewitt examines the dangers posed by Iran, whether the market is overvalued, the future of securitization, and what should be done about the private equity industry.
2009-10-20 Letter to the Editor - Leveraged and Inverse ETFs by Various (Article)
Responding to Tom Lydon's article last week, In Defense of Leveraged and Inverse ETFs, a reader says leveraged and inverse ETFs are not aspirins to be sold over the counter; instead, they are prescription drugs that may cause serious adverse effects and thus warrant a black-box warning.
2009-10-19 Yet another Quarter of Better-Than-Expected Earnings Growth by Charles Lieberman (Article)
2009-10-12 Is There A by Charles Lieberman (Article)
2009-10-06 A Quarter-End Letter to Send Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Last fall, Dan Richards began posting quarter-end letters that advisors could adapt for their own use. Many advisors have told him that they have received an outstanding response to the letters they sent as a result, and Dan provides a template for a third-quarter letter.
2009-10-06 Retailers Face the New Frugality by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Whether they sell high-end designer clothing or tractors and pet food, retailers across the country are girding for leaner times. Consumer spending has dropped to 10% below its historical trend line, creating a landscape with far too many stores and far too much merchandise for consumers' thinning wallets to support. Along with the CEOs of Fortune 500 retailers, we attended a conference in New York last week looking at trends in consumer behavior, and we file our report.
2009-10-06 So Far so Good: The Decrepit Decade Winds Down by Ron Surz (Article)
Ron Surz provides his award-winning market commentary, covering performance in the US and global markets, broken down by style, sector, and other dimensions.
2009-09-29 The Case Against Inflation by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Investors should expect extremely low inflation - just slightly above zero - for the indefinite future, according to Connie Everson, the Managing Director and co-founder of the Capital Markets Outlook Group, a Boston-based economic consulting firm that serves institutional investors throughout the world. Everson delivered her remarks to an audience of financial analysts in Boston last Thursday.
2009-09-29 Taste Testing Investment Style Sausages by Ron Surz (Article)
Equity indexes, like those offered by Russell and S&P are the investment-world equivalent of sausages - chopped up pieces of meat in tightly wrapped packages. Most shoppers buy sausages based on brand name, as do investors when they choose their benchmarks. In this guest contribution, Ron Surz dissects these index sausages and explains the real differences in their ingredients.
2009-09-29 Interview: Jeff Mortimer, CIO of Charles Schwab Investment Management by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Jeff Mortimer is Senior Vice President and Chief Investment Officer-Charles Schwab Investment Management, Inc. (CSIM). Mortimer has overall responsibility for approximately $240 billion in Schwab Funds and managed accounts. We spoke with Mortimer two weeks ago about the economy and why he believes the market has already priced in the bad news trumpeted by the media.
2009-09-29 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
In our letters to the Editor, a reader responds to our article last week, The Financial Market Solution to Carbon Emissions, and another to our article two weeks ago, Mohammed El-Erian: We Have Not Reached Escape Velocity.
2009-09-22 Will Momentum Move Your Portfolio? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Instead of mixing value and growth stocks, investors would be far better served by combining value and momentum stocks, according to Cliff Asness, co-founder and Managing Principal of AQR Management. In fact, momentum has "kicked butt" when compared to growth over the last 80 years, Asness said.
2009-09-15 Mohammed El-Erian: We Have Not Reached Escape Velocity by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Kicking off this year's Schwab Impact conference in San Diego, Mohammed El-Erian told an audience of nearly 1,000 advisors on Sunday night that the US financial system has not fully emerged from the financial crisis. El-Erian and his co-presenter, Larry Fink of Blackrock, addressed a range of topics, including the safety of the financial system, the future of regulation, and the outlook for inflation.
2009-09-15 The 'Cash For Clunkers' Economy by Michael Lewitt (Article)
We are once again privileged to offer the latest edition of the HCM Market Letter, edited by Michael Lewitt, titled The 'Cash for Clunkers' Economy. Lewitt examines the drivers behind the current market rally, the health of the banking system and the housing industry, the the future for derivatives regulation. If you enjoy this newsletter, we encourage you to subscribe directly though the link provided with our article.
2009-09-15 Five Reasons to Avoid the Gold Rush (Updated) by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
The reasons why one should sell the cat, pawn the mother-in-law, and use the proceeds to buy gold are well known. However, in this guest contribution, Vitaliy Katsenelson offers arguments why one should think twice before jumping in bed with the gold bugs, or at least remain sober while determining gold's weight in the portfolio.
2009-09-15 Theoretical Support for the Moving Average Crossover by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)
In this guest contribution, Keith Goddard matches an appropriate descriptive theory about how asset markets work with recently published normative theory using Ted Wong's moving average crossover as an indicator for timing portfolio changes in active portfolio management strategies. He proposes that the theory of "Rational Belief Equilibrium" in asset markets, developed by Stanford professor, Mordecai Kurz, helps to explain why moving average crossovers have demonstrated predictive value in the stock market, and why they might continue to offer predictive value in the future.
2009-09-08 Advisor Survey Shows Best Ways to Business Growth by Michael Slemmer, CFA (Article)
Many investment advisory and wealth management firms have struggled to increase assets in the recent difficult markets. In order to understand how advisors feel they are faring - and the keys, and obstacles, to success - we partnered with Advisors Trusted Advisor to survey advisors on the state of their business-building efforts.
2009-09-08 Infrastructure Investing by Michael D. Underhill (Article)
With global markets improving, liquidity returning to the credit markets, and valuations improving, the infrastructure market looks promising. In this guest contribution, Michael Underhill argues that infrastructure assets,when chosen correctly, can diversify an investor's portfolio because of their low correlation with other asset groups, their consistent returns coupled with lowered levels of risk, and their potential for inflation-linked returns.
2009-09-01 Additional Thoughts on the ?New Normal? by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
A number of readers responded to Geoff Considine's article three weeks ago, What the New Normal Means for Asset Allocation, including Larry Katz, Director of Research at Merriman, whose response we published last week. Katz criticized Considine along a number of dimensions, and in this guest contribution Considine defends his New Normal asset allocation.
2009-08-25 Jim Cramer Exposed: Does He Generate Alpha? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
Paul Bolster and Emery Trahan, professors of finance at Northeastern University, were curious about the Mad Money phenomenon, and applied the full force of their analytical powers to a study of Jim Cramer's advice. They published their analysis earlier this year, and it reveals answers to key questions - such as whether Cramer's picks move the market or whether Cramer can legitimately call himself a skillful stock picker.
2009-08-25 Building a Practice in America?s Fastest Dying City by Robert Huebscher (Article)
While many - perhaps most - advisors use client appreciation programs as part of their marketing efforts, Mo Young has embraced this idea and made it his sole marketing focus. Young's practice is based in Youngstown, Ohio - which has the distinction of losing population more rapidly than any other city in the US - yet Young has added several hundred new clients over the last four years with his strategy.
2009-08-25 The New Normal and Asset Allocation Merriman?s Response by Larry Katz, CFA (Article)
Larry Katz, Director of Research at Merriman, Inc., responds to Geoff Considine's article two weeks ago, What the New Normal Means for Asset Allocation. He has multiple objections concerning much of Considine's logic, and would not recommend his alternative portfolio to their clients.
2009-08-25 The Case for Optimism by Dan Richards (Article)
Only a few months ago, economist's doomsday scenarios caused widespread concerns that we were about to revisit the Great Depression. That consensus view on the economy has shifted remarkably quickly, with a much more positive outlook for the immediate period ahead. Dan Richards cites two recent articles making a persuasive case for optimism.
2009-08-25 Beating a Dead Dragon by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
The last thing you may want to read is another article about China - how many ink cartridges have been exhausted writing about its phenomenal growth numbers in the past decade? - but what Vitaliy Katsenelson has to say may surprise you: China's economy is hardly as vibrant as everyone thinks it is.
2009-08-18 Turbulence Can Improve Portfolio Diversification by Susan B. Weiner, CFA (Article)
Classic diversification has failed, Mark Kritzman says, because traditional, independent measures of volatility and correlation don't provide enough information to indicate which portfolios will deliver the lower risk or higher returns that, at least theoretically, should come with investing in imperfectly correlated asset classes. Kritzman offers the concept of turbulence as an alternative way to approach diversification, and provides his latest research on the subject.
2009-08-18 New Rules of Growing Your Book of Business: Microblogging with Twitter by Dan Sommer (Article)
Twitter has quickly become one of the fastest-growing and most talked-about marketing channels on the web. In this guest contribution, Dan Sommer explains how this rapid growth and wide adoption across many demographics makes it ideal for financial professionals looking for new ways to reach potential clients and build thought leadership.
2009-08-11 What the New Normal Means for Asset Allocation by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
Bill Gross of PIMCO forecasts a New Normal - slow economic growth, higher inflation, and increasing correlations among asset classes. If this view is correct, what should investors do? Geoff Considine examines the implications for asset allocation and financial planning by stress-testing some well-known asset allocations to see how well they will serve investors in the forecast environment.
2009-08-11 The Business You Don?t Want: 401(k) Plans by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Wealth managers who are considering managing 401(k) plans need to re-think those plans, according to Brian Murphy. Murphy, who runs Pathways Financial Partners, a Tucson, AZ-based investment advisory firm, says the 401(k) business has become a highly commoditized industry that makes it easy for clients to switch to an alternative, lower-cost provider.
2009-08-11 At the Risk of Repeating Ourselves by Michael Lewitt (Article)
We have said before that Michael Lewitt's newsletter is a must-read, and this edition is no exception. Lewitt questions whether we are witnessing a summer calm before the storm, comments on the secured and unsecured debt asset classes, and opines on the abuses of unregulated dark pools of capital. We encourage you to subscribe to this valuable publication through the link we provide.
2009-08-11 Letters to the Editor ? Paul Krugman by Various (Article)
Our interview last week with economist Paul Krugman drew an unprecedented number of responses - all of which were critical of Krugman's proposed policies. Read our letters to the Editor.
2009-08-04 Paul Krugman on the Prospects for Recovery by Eric Uhlfelder (Article)
Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman tells Eric Uhlfelder that massive government spending is essential for generating growth, but fears the first stimulus package will not be enough to keep the economy from slipping back into recession nor reducing unemployment.
2009-08-04 How to Think about Return and Risk at the Same Time by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
In this guest contribution targeted to the educated layman, Adam Apt discusses the relationship between return and risk. Only when you can keep in mind at one and the same time these two concepts can you properly understand how to invest. And you will also understand why you should invest. Without the marriage of the concepts, you will be playing the market-or shunning it-as if it were a casino.
2009-08-04 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
In our letters to the Editor, readers respond to last week's article, How Long is the Long Run?, Geoff Considine's article, The Retirement Portfolio Showdown: Jeremy Siegel v. Zvi Bodie , and Ted Wong's article, Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 3.
2009-07-28 Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 3 by Theodore Wang (Article)
Buy-and-hold remains deeply entrenched in the financial planning community, despite many of the flaws Ted Wong's previous articles have illustrated. Although many financial advisors suffer dearly from their buy-and-hold practices, they are reluctant to change their approach. Who dares to challenge investment sages like Bogle, Siegel, and Malkiel who emphatically support this long-standing investment principle? Academic research studies overwhelmingly endorse buy-and-hold. How can they all be wrong?
2009-07-28 Flaws in the Case Shiller Methodology by Robert Huebscher (Article)
To forecast economic growth, it's essential to understand the trajectory of the housing market. Most observers rely on widely publicized data like the Case Shiller index, but those metrics can be very misleading if you don't understand how they are calculated. If you don't understand that there are factors beyond Case and Shiller's control that impact the data, according to John Burns, the founder and CEO of John Burns Real Estate Consulting, a 20-person firm based in Irvine, California.
2009-07-21 Change or be Changed by Bob Padgette, CFA, CIMA and Ted Ponko, CFA (Article)
New financial services regulation will touch on many areas, and mutual fund evaluation and monitoring is one likely candidate. Over the past two decades, screening has been at the core of most mutual fund evaluation processes. The advisor picks the criteria, sets a minimum or maximum level for each, and comes up with a list of funds that survive all screens. Bob Padgette and Ted Ponko of Klein Systems demonstrate several inherent flaws in this process.
2009-07-21 Q2 2009 Performance among the Most Popular Mutual Funds in the Advisor Perspectives Universe by Robert Huebscher and Mary Pitek (Article)
Each quarter we analyze changes in the Advisor Perspectives database - a $50+ billion universe of high- and ultra-high net worth assets managed by Registered Investment Advisors. Our analysis has three parts. We look at changes in asset allocation, the performance of the most popular mutual funds, and the mutual funds that showed significant gains or losses in popularity during the quarter.
2009-07-21 Letter to the Editor Compelling Evidence that Active Management Really Works by Various (Article)
In a letter to the Editor, a reader challenges some of the findings reported several weeks ago in an article, Compelling Evidence that Active Management Really Works.
2009-07-14 Beyond Grantham: Politics and Investment Strategy by Jerry Minton (Article)
Jeremy Grantham, the chairman of GMO, believes strongly in what he describes as market "inefficiencies" within the "Presidential Cycle." He is referring to the fact that stock market returns are not distributed randomly across the four-year presidential election cycle, but rather are strongly skewed to favor the pre-election year. Grantham believes - and guest contributor Jerry Minton agrees - the evidence is incontrovertible: the behavior of the political class over the election cycle effects the distribution of stock market returns.
2009-07-07 Marty Whitman: The Outlook for Distressed Securities by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Marty Whitman is the founder, Co-Chief Investment Officer, and Portfolio Manager of the Third Avenue Value Fund and a veteran value investor with a long, distinguished history as a control investor. In our interview, he discusses the opportunities in distressed securities created by the financial crisis.
2009-07-07 Gary Shilling: Recovery is a Year Away by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Among economists, Gary Shilling owns one of the most prescient forecasting records, having accurately predicted the credit crisis and the performance of key asset classes over the last several years. Now, he says, the chances that the current wave of "green shoots" will be the finale to the recession are "pretty low."e
2009-07-07 Burton Malkiel Talks the Random Walk by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Passive investing has no more outspoken advocate than Burton Malkiel. At age 72, Malkiel remains every bit as committed to the efficient market hypothesis as when he wrote A Random Walk Down Wall Street in 1973. Malkiel, who has taught finance at Princeton for the last 20 years, was a featured speaker at the Forbes Advisor Conference last week. He insists that investors should buy and hold index funds and defended his position against a series of challenges put to him.
2009-07-07 Riding the Stock Market Wave in the First Half of 2009 by Ron Surz (Article)
Ron Surz provides his award-winning market commentary, reviewing the first half stock market performance around the world. He looks at the past decade, to set expectations accordingly. Have markets become cheap enough yet? He concludes with a realistic and sobering look at our current debt problems - a cause for concern for both young and old.
2009-06-30 In Search of Unconventional Thinking by Dan Richards (Article)
Astute investors search out insights that aren't reflected in stock prices. For this to work, though, you have to be prepared to differ from the pack and defy conventional thinking - once an idea enters the mainstream, it no longer gives you an edge. Dan Richards discusses some important positive ideas that unconventional thinking elicits from the news and analysis presented in traditional media.
2009-06-30 Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 2 by Theodore Wong (Article)
Many renowned financial experts declare that passive investing in a diversified index like the S&P500 is the only sensible way to manage money. In a follow-up to his article two weeks ago, Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 1, Ted Wong says that he respects their opinions but is unable to verify their claims. By examining the evidence, he shows that the Moving Average Crossover (MAC) system offers a superior risk-return profile to a buy-and-hold strategy.
2009-06-30 Letters to the Editor: The Road to Zimbabwe by Various (Article)
In the second set of our letters to the Editor, we publish responses to to our article, The Road to Zimbabwe.
2009-06-23 Compelling Evidence That Active Management Really Works by Ken Solow (Article)
The majority of academic studies conclude that active management does not add value for investors. However, a closer look at how many studies were conducted reveals several flaws in their methodology that are not as well-known as the accepted conclusion about active versus passive management. Guest contributor Ken Solow revisits work by two Yale researchers showing the value added through active management.
2009-06-23 The Road to Zimbabwe by Robert Huebscher (Article)
John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics is best known for exposing inaccuracies and biases in government reporting of data - most notably the understatement of the CPI index. Williams says the US economy is on the brink of hyperinflation which will render the dollar worthless, as happened recently to Zimbabwe's local currency.
2009-06-16 Seth Klarman: Why Most Investment Managers Have It Backwards by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In his keynote speech last week to the Boston Security Analysts Society, Seth Klarman discussed how he repositioned his portfolio last fall to capture opportunities created in the wake of the financial crisis. Klarman is the lead editor of the sixth edition of Graham and Dodd's Securities Analysis, and his fund, The Baupost Group, is among the top performing hedge funds over its 27 year history.
2009-06-16 Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 1 by Theodore Wang (Article)
Buying and holding a diversified portfolio works well during good times, but falls short when supposedly uncorrelated asset classes drop in unison in bear markets. Are there alternative investment strategies that work for all seasons? Ted Wong evaluates strategies using moving averages to determine their effectiveness.
2009-06-16 Tackling Today?s Number One Client Challenge by Dan Richards (Article)
Talk to advisors about the challenges they face today and you'll get a lengthy list - often headed by unhappy clients, reduced income and a struggle to stay positive and productive. While these are all serious issues, says Dan Richards, for most advisors they are dwarfed by the number one obstacle to getting business back on track - rebuilding investor confidence in our trust and integrity.
2009-06-16 Annual Style Index Reconstitution: Good or Bad? by Ron Surz (Article)
In just two weeks, at the end of June, the Russell style indexes will undergo their annual reconstitution. A lot has happened in the last year, especially to the finance sector. Ron Surz identifies the pressing questions for financial advisors.
2009-06-09 Bill Gross and the New Normal by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Nearly a half-century of global economic prosperity has ended, and investors must gird themselves for muted returns from the capital markets, according to Bill Gross, a Managing Director at PIMCO. Gross shared his outlook at the Morningstar Investor Conference.
2009-06-09 Jeff Gundlach: The Party is Over by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The easy money has been made in the credit markets, as investors have reaped strong year-to-date returns, topped by 17% in emerging market debt and 30% in high yield bonds. Now the markets are in a much riskier position, said Jeff Gundlach, Chief Investment Officer of the TCW Group, in his quarterly update to investors that he titled "It was Great While it Lasted."
2009-06-09 Changes in Asset Allocation by Robert Huebscher and Mary Pitek (Article)
Each quarter we review changes in the Advisor Perspectives (AP) Universe, which represents $50 billion in high-net worth assets managed by RIAs. Our analysis looks at changes in asset allocation, the mutual funds and ETFs that gained or lost market share, and the performance of the most popular actively managed mutual funds. This analysis focuses on changes in asset allocation.
2009-06-09 Changes in the Most Popular Mutual Funds by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Each quarter we review changes in the Advisor Perspectives (AP) Universe, which represents $50 billion in high-net worth assets managed by RIAs. Our analysis looks at changes in asset allocation, the mutual funds and ETFs that gained or lost market share, and the performance of the most popular actively managed mutual funds. This analysis focuses on the most popular mutual funds.
2009-06-09 Q1 2009 Performance among the Most Popular Mutual Funds in the Advisor Perspectives Universe by Robert Huebscher and Mary Pitek (Article)
Each quarter we review changes in the Advisor Perspectives (AP) Universe, which represents $50 billion in high-net worth assets managed by RIAs. Our analysis looks at changes in asset allocation, the mutual funds and ETFs that gained or lost market share, and the performance of the most popular actively managed mutual funds. This analysis focuses on performance across the most popular mutual funds.
2009-06-02 Jeremy Grantham's Warnings to Investors by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Of the thousands of investment letters penned in the industry, only one draws as much readership as Warren Buffet's annual letter to his shareholders: The quarterly commentary written by Jeremy Grantham. Grantham, the Chairman of the Boston-based investment firm Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo, was a featured speaker at Morningstar's Investor Conference last week, and he spoke at two breakout sessions. Those who, like me, attended both were richly rewarded, as he gave two distinctly different talks, addressing many subjects not covered in his commentaries.
2009-06-02 Helping Advisors Grow by Susan Weiner (Article)
George Tamer, Director of Institutional Sales at TD AMERITRADE Institutional, discusses the innovative strategies advisors are using to add clients and improve profitability. Tamer is also seeing an upturn in merger activities, and describes how advisors looking to buy or sell a firm can best position themselves. We thank them for their sponsorship.
2009-06-02 Market Perspectives from Janus' Seven Global Sector Teams by Janus (Article)
The last 18 months have challenged advisors, as they now wait for the market and economy to stabilize. Despite the generally bearish sentiment, Janus believes many individual investment opportunities in the market today offer compelling valuations and risk/reward profiles. We thank them for their sponsorship.
2009-06-02 John Bogle and the Lantern on the Stern by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In his remarks at the Morningstar conference last week, Vanguard founder and index fund pioneer John Bogle criticized many aspects of the mutual fund industry. Bogle, who turned 80 this year, is primed to fight his next battle - reducing investor reliance on past returns - which he likens to a lantern on the stern of a ship.
2009-05-26 Dan Fuss and the Eisenhower Recession Redux by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Those of us old enough to remember Studebakers and the military-industrial complex will recall the Eisenhower Recession, which began in 1957, lasted eight months and was followed by the 10 month "Rolling Adjustment" recession beginning in 1961. The W-shaped path of the US economy during this period is the correct analogy to today's crisis, according to Loomis Sayles and Company's Dan Fuss.
2009-05-26 What the ?Missing Out? Argument Misses by Theodore Wang (Article)
Market timing is discredited by passive investment advisors as a voodoo ritual. Buy-and-hold proponents argue most compellingly by citing the "missing out" scenario - they show a dramatic drop in return, to Treasury Bill levels, if investors are out of the markets for only a few good days. In this guest contribution, Ted Wong debunks the missing out argument, using 137 years of market data.
2009-05-26 Risk Control along the Glide Path by Craig L. Israelsen and Ron Surz (Article)
Timing matters, and it matters before and after retirement. In this guest contribution, Ron Surz and Craig Israelsen show that when money is being invested annually the sequence of returns matters,and it matters even more for portfolios in the distribution phase. The authors discuss the significance for target date fund and other retirement-focused investors.
2009-05-19 Five Ways to Cultivate Professional Referral Relationships by Kristen Luke (Article)
If you are looking to make professional referrals a key strategy for your business, you will want to develop dozens of relationships. Kristen Luke shows how to efficiently nurture these relationships with an action plan to touch your centers of influence throughout the year, just as you would your clients.
0000-00-00 Facing Reality by Questioning Some Common Beliefs by Ron Surz (Article)
I've decided to do something different in this quarterly commentary. I begin as usual with a review of first quarter market performance. Then I turn my attention to some commonly held beliefs that I regard as mistaken, as shown in the figure below.