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

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2014-04-16 Echo-Mania at The Fed by Cliff Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors

Greetings from a thawed out Savannah! Q1 of 2014 will be remembered for a number of things, but the most prominent were the erratic weather patterns and arctic-blast temperatures that most of the country experienced. I missed writing my Q1 letter for the first time in ten years due to a nasty bout with pneumonia in mid-January. For those of you who have never had pneumonia, I do not recommend it!

2014-04-14 The Default Outlook by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

On April 1st, TXU/Energy Future Holdings skipped their interest payment due that day, immediately triggering a default by some reporting mechanisms. While the company has a 30 day grace period to pay the coupon payment, most expect them to use the grace period to work further on a restructuring and ultimately file for bankruptcy at some point over the next 30 days.

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

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

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

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

2014-04-10 Financial Market Warning Signs by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

For those that are actually loving the rise in this U.S. financial market this past week, Warren Buffett has so me pretty cheeky advice to share in his annual letter to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-04-09 Management’s History of Shareholder Friendliness by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

Many years ago, United Airlines had the slogan, "Fly the Friendly Skies." At Smead Capital Management, we like to own companies for a long time which are "friendly" to their public shareholders. In this missive, we will define what it means in our eyes to be shareholder friendly and give a company specific example of this friendliness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-04-04 Pakistan—Reputation and Reality by Taizo Ishida of Matthews Asia

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

2014-04-04 Why Chinese Stocks May Still Make Sense Over the Long Run by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Many investors have been concerned about the Chinese market lately and are asking Russ whether they should abandon Chinese stocks. Russ explains why his answer is still no, at least for the long term.

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-04-01 Fundamental Tango by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

The economy and financial markets are forever sending out mixed, parallel, or confusing messages. Inflation or stagflation? Buy now, or take your profits? Proceed slowly, or go home? At this moment, the signals are hardly synchronized.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-03-14 Assessing the Impact of Financing Currency on Gold Price Performance by Ade Odunsi of AdvisorShares

In our weekly commentary we follow up our discussion from last week with a brief overview of the impact on performance of diversifying the financing currencies used to make gold purchases. We also compare "Gold/Basket" performance versus gold financed with a number of different, single currencies. For the purposes of this analysis we define the Gold Basket as a gold financed with an equally weighted basket of four currencies, the dollar, euro, yen and pound; the portfolio is also assumed to be rebalanced weekly.

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

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

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

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

2014-03-13 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook: A Steady Passage in 2014? by Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

PIMCO's baseline expectation is for 2.5% to 3% real growth in the U.S., thanks to trends toward growth and spending in the consumer, corporate and public sectors. In the eurozone, our baseline expectation of 1% to 1.5% real growth calls for a broad-based cyclical improvement in domestic demand amid steady external demand. We anticipate Japan will be the only major developed economy experiencing a slowdown this year, down to 0.5% to 1%, and we expect China's growth will continue slowing as well, with growth in the range of 6.5% to 7.5%.

2014-03-13 Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Five years into the U.S. bull market this remains a “risk on” environment, but with monetary tightening on the horizon now is a time to become more cautious and start thinking about what comes next.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-02-25 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

A quiet four days for stocks last week. Between the holiday, school vacations and winter weather; there just were not many catalysts for the stock marker.

2014-02-24 Wallflower Value Stocks Are Ready to Dance by Chris Marx of AllianceBernstein

Global equities are notching new highs, valuations are elevated and talk of market bubbles is increasingly common. Yet, by our measure, the potential for outperformance in value stocks has rarely been better. How can that be?

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

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

2014-02-19 If You Can’t Retire at 30 Then How About 38? by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

A couple of weeks ago we looked at an article from MarketWatch about a couple, now 39, who “retired” when they were 30. They live frugally, one way or another accumulated a pretty decent nest egg in their 20’s and took the time to become financially literate.

2014-02-19 Investor Refresher (An Intersection of Investing and Firefighting) by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time may recall my active involvement with the local volunteer fire department where I live in Northern Arizona. Occasionally my work in the investment industry intersects with some aspect of firefighting and one such intersection just occurred last week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-02-11 Focus on Income: The Illiquidity Premium: Opportunities for Investing in Credit Today by Jack Rivkin of Altegris

At a time when many investors are seeking income for their portfolios, traditional sources of fixed income - principally government bonds and high-grade corporate bonds - look less than compelling. Yields are low and there is an increasing risk that interest rates will rise, which would cause the value of existing bonds to fall.

2014-02-11 ‘Hot’ Money’s Fast Exit Cools Emerging Markets by of Knowledge @ Wharton

Capital flight from emerging markets has been accelerating in recent weeks ($6 billion alone in the week ending February 5). Turkey is the poster child, but the exodus is also happening in India, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa and others – mostly from equity markets. This “hot money” is moving out over concerns that asset bubbles have built up, and that emerging market economic growth is now slowing. The slowdown is partly a result of tighter money in the wake of the Fed’s tapering plans and a decelerating economy in China, many believe. To better understand the risks to the global financial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-01-31 The Trouble with Emerging Markets by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate

The financial turmoil that hit emerging-market economies in the spring of last year, following the Federal Reserve’s "taper tantrum" over its quantitative-easing policy, has returned with a vengeance. But the immediate trigger for these pressures should not be confused with deeper causes: Many emerging markets are in real trouble.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-01-21 Turning Asset Allocation Upside Down by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

After the second 50% drawdown of the US equity market in one decade, the investment industry began to reassess the idea of what asset allocation should look like. Unlike the 1980’s and 1990’s, financial professionals can no longer rely on an almost static 60/40 or 70/30, watch the equity portion triple in 15 or 20 years and then flip the whole thing to fixed income for a safe 6%.

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-01-14 Are Stocks On Thin Ice? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

I love the weather! Just as it is a reliable conversation starter (everyone has an opinion on it), it provides seemingly unlimited analogies to the financial markets for me to write about. That’s because while many attempt to forecast both, the weather and the markets are moved by an endless stream of random events.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014-01-06 Too Big to Pop by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Most economic observers are predicting that 2014 will be the year in which the United States finally shrugs off the persistent malaise of the Great Recession. As we embark on this sunny new chapter, we may ask what wisdom the five-year trauma has delivered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2013-12-30 Bitcoin Takes on Gold by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Ever since President Nixon broke the US dollar’s last link to gold, the world has been set adrift on a sea of fiat currencies that have been increasingly debased, serving the interests of governments and financial elites. For the last five years, central banks have imposed near-zero rates of interest that have helped push up stock, bond, and real estate prices, but have made it nearly impossible for savers to receive meaningful returns on bank deposits.

2013-12-30 Estimating the Risk of a Market Crash by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

A defensive outlook here does not presume, require, or rely on a market crash. Our ongoing discipline is to align our investment outlook with the market return/risk profile that we estimate on the basis of a broad ensemble of evidence that we can test historically and validate in out-of-sample data. That outlook will shift as that evidence shifts, period.

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

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

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

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

2013-12-24 The Price America Pays for Global Leadership by Bob Veres (Article)

America’s political debates inevitably default to finding ways to contain our federal deficits, and our investment debates focus on whether we’re facing a secular bear or bull market - and how to maneuver within that environment. I had never imagined that these two debates could be related until I heard a presentation by Bill O’Grady, of Confluence Investment Management in St. Louis, MO at the Insider’s Forum conference in Dallas.

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

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

2013-12-23 The Diva is Already Singing by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The bell has already rung. The diva is already singing. The only question is precisely how long they hold the note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2013-12-19 One of the Most Notable Stories of the Year: Energy Renaissance in the U.S.A. by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

As we come to the end of 2013, it’s a good time to reflect on some of the biggest resources stories of the year. One that immediately comes to mind is the U.S. energy resurgence and its tremendous effect on oil and gas.

2013-12-18 The Milken Rule and Wide/Sustainable Moats by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

This is my 34th year in the investment business. You might not be aware that I trained and worked at Drexel Burnham my first nine years in the business. Michael Milken was the driving force behind the success and profitability of my original firm. What happened to Drexel and Mike Milken in the late 1980s is a study in how to have a brilliant vision and how to handle a business with a very wide moat. Its demise has created what I call the Michael Milken rule and we believe it should be used in present day analysis, in particular when it comes to evaluating moats.

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

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

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

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

2013-12-17 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2013-12-05 Response to Gulliver Travails\' Comment on \"Unless the Fed Goes Cold Turkey...\" by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

Notice that my definition of TOTAL thin-air credit is the SUM of Fed credit and depository institution (bank) credit. This is important when analyzing the effect of a Fed purchase of securities FROM the banking system. So, let’s start with that scenario -- the Fed purchases $X of securities from the banking system.

2013-12-04 Why Investing in High Quality Companies is More Important Today than Ever by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

One of the first rules a new financial advisor learns is that success in the business has nothing to do with how well your clients do in creating or maintaining wealth. Success is measured by how much wealth the advisor creates for him or herself. The same rule extends beyond the local advisor to the great halls of institutional management.

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

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

2013-12-02 The Elephant in the Room by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Investors will do themselves terrible harm if they ignore the objective warnings of history based on our subjective experience in this unfinished half-cycle. That subjective experience is far more closely related to my 2009 stress-testing decision than many investors recognize.

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

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

2013-11-26 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Bob Veres’ article, Why Deficits Don’t Matter, which appeared on October 29, and a reader responds to Robert Huebscher’s article, Reflections on a Week in Cuba, which appeared on November 12.

2013-11-26 For Whom the Nobel Tolls: Efficient Market or Irrational Exuberance? by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest essay, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks at the work of two of the recent recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economic Science. While the work of Eugene Fama and Robert Shiller might at first seem to be in direct conflict, Sicart explores how simultaneously recognizing Fama’s "efficient market hypothesis" and Shiller’s work on investor psychology may be "less of a contradiction than meets the eye."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2013-11-19 The Quality that Predicts Success by Dan Richards (Article)

What predicts the chances that a new member of your team will succeed?

2013-11-19 Ignoble Prizes and Appointments by Jeremy Grantham of GMO

Chief investment strategist Jeremy Grantham comments on this year’s Nobel Prize in economics and "the most laughable of all assumption-based theories, the Efficient Market Hypothesis"; candidates to succeed Chairman Bernanke at the Fed; the impact of commodity price rises and the housing bubble in the crash of 2008; and prospects for the U.S. equity market.

2013-11-14 In a Real (But Uneven) Recovery: Where to Remain Cautious by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Last week brought evidence that while the U.S. recovery is uneven, it’s happening. For investors, the big takeaway is to remain cautious on interest-rate sensitive assets. Russ explains.

2013-11-14 The Secret of the Euro\'s Survival by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Despite fiscal strains and political controversy, the common currency still enjoys broad support among member nations. Here’s why.

2013-11-13 Why I Sell the Dollar: From Dollar Strength to Dollar Weakness by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

To those that say the U.S. has the cleanest of the dirty shirts, we would like to point out that it hasn’t helped the greenback, as evidenced by the euro outperforming the dollar both so far this year, as well as last year. Yes, we have a mess in the Eurozone that won’t be resolved anytime soon. But we also have a mess in the U.S., Japan, and many other places around the globe.

2013-11-13 Twenty Five by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover, Mike Czekaj of Broadleaf Partners

I am not a particularly good salesman. From the time I first meet a prospect to when they become a full-fledged client, it can often take two years even when they initiate the first meeting. Fortunately, growing the firm isn’t one of my primary roles, a responsibility that does fall to Bill Hoover, my business partner. The beauty of our relationship is that while Bill devotes his time to our firm’s “outside” efforts, I am able to spend almost all of my attention tending to the portfolios of those who have already hired us. (View a printable version of this Economic

2013-11-12 Three Ways to Turn Casual Contacts into Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Most advisors routinely cross paths with people who are attractive prospects, whether at their golf club, get-togethers with neighbors or through charitable activity in their community. The challenge is how to raise the possibility of working together without appearing to be one of those stereotyped hustlers who give salespeople everywhere a bad name.

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

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

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

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

2013-11-11 A Textbook Pre-Crash Bubble by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Despite the unusually extended period of speculation as a result of faith in quantitative easing, I continue to believe that normal historical regularities will exert themselves with a vengeance over the completion of this market cycle. Importantly, the market has now re-established the most hostile overvalued, overbought, overbullish syndrome we identify.

2013-11-10 What Would Yellen Do? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In advance of this week’s confirmation hearings for Federal Reserve Board Chairperson-nominee Janet Yellen, let’s pretend we are prepping our favorite Banking Committee senator for his or her few questions. What would you like to know? In this week’s letter I offer a few questions of my own.

2013-11-08 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.0, down from last week’s 131.4 (revised from 131.5). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, rose to 1.8, up from 1.7 last week.

2013-11-06 Why Worry About a Melt-Up? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The risk of a melt-up in stocks is garnering more attention; and is something we’ve been discussing recently, too. Sentiment does appear stretched in the near-term and warns of a possible pullback. But there are few, if any, bubble-like conditions present and fundamentals ex-sentiment appear healthy.

2013-11-05 The Key Issues in Today’s Muni Bond Market by Hildy Richelson and Stan Richelson (Article)

Investing in high quality municipal bonds paying a predictable cash flow and returning your principal at the end of the investment is a well-trodden system for lifetime economic success. In this article we discuss some key issues in purchasing municipal bonds to help you make wise choices for your investing system.

2013-11-05 Combating Climate Change - And Responding to Skeptics by Michael Edesess (Article)

The climate-change threat is real, even if it is only a matter of probabilities. What action we should take, and how action should be brought about, are knotty problems. Harvard Business School’s Business and Environment Initiative (BEI) says they can be attacked with a business approach.

2013-11-05 Stormy Weather by David Wismer of Flexible Plan Investments

Young and old alike celebrated Halloween last week, albeit in soggy fashion in much of the nation.

2013-11-04 Steve Jobs Didn\'t Give a *!@% About the Debt Ceiling by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital

A quick nod to Bloomberg columnist Caroline Baum from whom we lifted our title. Anything else you might have been (or will be) subjected to on the subject of how the government operates pales in materiality to the headline. And as miserable as our predicament seems to anyone over the age of 13, it really and truly is old and increasingly dull news. To wit, I present the following, highly curated list of quotes-please note the timeline.

2013-11-04 Mortgage REITs: Last Chance to Exit? by Keith Jurow of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

An online advertisement raises the following question often asked by your clients: Can you find me more income? In a nutshell, that is the dilemma facing high net worth investors.

2013-11-04 Leash the Dogma by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

It’s fascinating to hear central bankers talk about the economy, because in the span of a few seconds they can say so many things that simply aren’t supported by the evidence. For anyone planning to watch the confirmation hearings for the next Fed Chair, the evidence below is provided as something of a leash to restrain the attacking dogma.

2013-11-04 How I Explain Amazon's Stock Performance by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Amazon (AMZN) is a stock that seems to defy conventional wisdom about how a stock is, or should be, valued. Fundamental investors, like yours truly, recognize and respect the importance of the earnings and price relationship. Moreover, I will be so bold as to emphatically state that in the long run profitability (earnings) will be the primary determinant of a businesses’ fair value, any business. However, my bold statement is predicated on the longer run. In the short run it is often a truth that all bets are off.

2013-11-01 Bank Reform: Europe's Slow and Steady Progress Continues by Monty Guild, Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

When Spain’s real estate bubble burst in 2008, the country went into a recession. The country was returning to growth in 2010, just in time to be taken down by the continent’s emerging banking and sovereign debt crisis.

2013-11-01 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.5, up from last week’s 131.1. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, dropped to 1.7, down from 2.0 last week.

2013-10-31 Fed Outlook for the Short and Longer Run by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

One of the ironies of Ben Bernanke’s tenure is that he set out with a goal to improve Fed communication while in office. Immediately after his first meeting as chairman in March 2006, Bernanke set up a subcommittee tasked with facilitating debate around communication issuesincluding inflation targeting, post-meeting statements and minutes and public speeches by individual Fed officials.

2013-10-31 Scrooge McDucks by William Gross of PIMCO

With the budget and debt ceiling crises temporarily averted, perhaps a future economic priority will be to promote economic growth; one way to do that may be via tax reform. How to proceed depends as always on the view of the observer and whether the glasses are worn by capital, labor or government interests.

2013-10-30 The S&P 500 Has Not Been Particularly Difficult to Beat by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

I know this statement is in direct conflict with the teachings of modern finance. Modern finance provides us with multiple studies that, if taken at face value, offer a pretty convincing case that the ability to earn better than average returns is a fool’s game. Yet, our human nature cannot accept being average.

2013-10-30 US Economy Mired in a Sea of Contradictions by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Consumer confidence has plunged over the last month, due in large part to the government shutdown and fear that the US might default on its debt because of the ineptitude of our leaders in Washington. Normally, when consumer confidence plunges, we would expect a significant slowdown in consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of GDP.

2013-10-30 Bernanke vs. Yellen: A Spooky Outlook? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

Fed Chair nominee Janet Yellen will take over where her predecessor Ben Bernanke leaves off. Not just operationally, but also philosophically. To understand where the Fed and the U.S. dollar may be heading, we take a closer look at where Bernanke and Yellen are coming from.

2013-10-29 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 India's Maoist Problem by Bill OGrady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

India has fought numerous wars with outside forces in its history and has also had several internal conflicts.The most notorious civil struggle has been the conflict with Kashmir insurgents, a border conflict between India and Pakistan that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.So it generally came as a surprise when the Indian Prime Minister Manmohn Singh declared the Maoist movement in the eastern part of the country to be the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by India.

2013-10-25 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.1, up from last week’s 130.3 (revised from 130.4). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, dropped to 2.0, down from 2.7 (a downward revision from 2.8).

2013-10-24 The Pillars of Commodities Investing by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

As an advisor your job is to know the most secure places to invest one’s money. This difficult task only becomes more difficult when confronted with demands for an alternative investment.

2013-10-23 Shifting Gears: The Fed Turns from Tapering to Tempering Expectations by Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson of Hartford Funds

Federal Reserve (Fed) Chairman Ben Bernanke surprised markets on September 18 by announcing a continuation of the Fed’s $85 billion-per-month bond purchases and more muted expectations for economic growth and inflation. With this proverbial monkey wrench thrown into the gears of financial markets, investors are now asking how the Fed’s new course changes the investment outlook.

2013-10-22 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 Is Your Website Sending the Wrong Message? by Dan Richards (Article)

Presenting yourself in a credible and professional manner is always critical, but never more than in the early stages of interacting with prospects, when they are forming their initial impressions. That’s why your website is so important – after all, it’s the first contact many prospects will have with you.

2013-10-22 A Green Light for Gold? by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

It is rare that investors are given a road map. It is rarer still that the vast majority of those who get it are unable to understand the clear signs and directions it contains. When this happens the few who can actually read the map find themselves in an enviable position. Such is currently the case with gold and gold-related investments.

2013-10-22 Could US Issues Lead Investors to Emerging Markets? by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

The US government had been shuttered for more than two weeks, and investors around the world, including those in emerging markets, have been watching the impasse and beginning to plan in the event of a default of US government debt. Late Wednesday, the US Congress agreed to a short-term extension of the debt ceiling until February and set the stage for the government to reopen. However, a definitive, long-term solution to the nation’s debt issues was still not reached and we could see a repeat of the political dysfunction.

2013-10-21 Did Monetary Policy Cause the Recovery? by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Much of the present faith in monetary policy derives from the belief that it was the central factor in ending the banking crisis during what is often called the Great Recession. On careful analysis, however, the clearest and most immediate event that ended the banking crisis was not monetary policy, but the abandonment of mark-to-market accounting by the Financial Accounting Standards Board on March 16, 2009, in response to Congressional pressure by the House Committee on Financial Services on March 12, 2009.

2013-10-18 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 130.4, down from last week’s 130.3 (revised from 130.4). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, dropped to 2.8, down from 3.6 (a downward revision from 3.9).

2013-10-15 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 Equity Market Review & Outlook by Richard Skaggs of Loomis Sayles

Equities generally performed well across the board in the third quarter. The S&P 500 Index’s solid 5.24% return built on strong gains from earlier in the year. The Index has returned more than 19% through September, surpassing expectations at the start of the year. Slow but steady economic growth in the US, support from the Federal Reserve (the Fed), and more recently, signs of potentially better growth in Europe and Asia have been important positive catalysts.

2013-10-14 Short Horizon, Long Horizon by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

On all evidence, we’re far more inclined to view the position of stock prices as a temporary overextension of already extreme conditions than some durable change in the workings of the financial markets.

2013-10-14 Move Along, Market: It's Only a Gaper's Delay by Rick Golod of Invesco Blog

After several days of stalemate between the White House and Congress, House Republicans have offered a six-week debt ceiling extension conditional on negotiating a package of fiscal concessions. The debt ceiling offer is straightforward, but the shutdown would continue until the fiscal concessions are agreed on. While this may dampen the economy and equity market, at least in the short run, I believe long-term investors should stay put and be patient.

2013-10-12 Debt Ceiling Delusions by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The popular take on the current debt ceiling stand-off is that the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party has a delusional belief that it can hit the brakes on new debt creation without bringing on an economic catastrophe. While Republicans are indeed kidding themselves if they believe that their actions will not unleash deep economic turmoil, there are much deeper and more significant delusions on the other side of the aisle.

2013-10-11 Flying Blind: Forecasting with No Data or Endgame by Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial

Everything from the government shutdown to posturing regarding the lifting of the debt ceiling has heightened uncertainty about the economic outlook. Consumer and business confidence have fallen since the threat of a shutdown emerged, while the reality has taken a toll on communities where a large number of federal workers have been furloughed. Everyone, from cab drivers to restaurant owners, small retailers and (largely) defense manufacturers, were affected in the early days of the partial shutdown of government agencies.

2013-10-10 What Is Due Diligence? Here's How I Do It by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

The lexicon of the financial world is full of phrases and jargon that are often tossed about without considering that there may be those who are not exactly familiar with the true meaning of the terms. It recently came to my attention that due diligence may be one of those idioms. In my own writings, I routinely recommend that readers conduct their own due diligence and/or comprehensive research. However, I recently had a reader ask me exactly what due diligence was and how to do it?

2013-10-09 The U.S. Can\'t Default On Its Debt. Right? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The Treasury Secretary has warned that his agency will exhaust the “extraordinary measures” it has used to fund the government on October 17. On the Sunday talk shows, he warned of “catastrophic consequences” if Congress doesn’t raise the statutory debt ceiling by then. So, over the next nine days, you’ll be hearing ominous forecasts of what will happen if the US defaults on its nearly $17 trillion national debt, or even some of it. Sound familiar?

2013-10-09 The Squeeze Play by Jerome Schneider of PIMCO

Reductions in Treasury bill and commercial paper issuance compounded by developments on the demand side mean the “squeeze play” is on for many short-term portfolios. Investors should consider the potential for substantive changes to liquidity conditions as banks contend with increases in capital requirements due to updated Basel III regulations. Active management of short-term investments is important: Don’t rely on static regulatory frameworks or traditional indexes to determine a portfolio’s unique liquidity needs.

2013-10-08 Absolute Return Letter: Heads or tails? by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees, Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

Demographics captivate me. There are around 7.1 billion of us occupying planet earth today, going to 10 billion by 2050. I often think about how good old mother earth will cope with the additional 3 billion people we are projected to produce between now and 2050. More people translate into increased pressure on already scarce resources, but that is only part of the story and a story well covered by now.

2013-10-05 The Road to a New Medical Order by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I will aim to dwell simply on the economic ramifications of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, as it exists today. We are changing the plumbing on 17.9% of the US GDP in profound ways. Many, if not most, of the changes are absolutely necessary.

2013-10-04 Nowhere to Hide: Navigating Rising Rate Risk in High-Yield Markets by Gibson Smith, Colleen Denzler of Janus Capital Group

Over the past few years, investors have flocked to high-yield credit, many believing it a good way to mitigate their interest rate risk as well as capture additional yield. However, they may not realize the level of rate risk that has followed them. High-yield indices, negatively correlated to five-year Treasury bond yields over the past 15 years, have been positively correlated for the past year.

2013-10-04 The Debt Ceiling Drama is Heating Up by Team of Northern Trust

The debt ceiling drama is heating up. Threatening default is reckless, but long-term budget issues require attention. Measures of policy uncertainty show a link to economic performance

2013-10-04 Is the Pump Primed for Emerging Markets Investors? by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

The vulnerabilitiesor rather, perceived vulnerabilitiesof emerging markets have been the focus of heightened discussions over the past few months. Concerns about the health of emerging markets came on the heels of political upheavals in Egypt, economic deceleration in China and protest demonstrations in Brazil and Turkey this summer.

2013-10-04 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.1, down from last week’s 132.9. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, remains unchanged at 4.8% (with last week’s number revised downward from 4.9).

2013-10-02 The Math is Pretty Straightforward... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Congress and the White House must be pretty fired up that D&D2 started filming last week. The new movie might be the only thing more stupid than our elected leaders failing to negotiate and reach a deal. Most everyone either wants to spend our tax dollars like drunken professional athletes or hold our economy and financial markets hostage via a government shutdown and failure to raise the debt ceiling.

2013-10-02 Countdown to a Government Shutdown (Sept. 30) by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Unless an 11th hour deal is struck, the government will shut down at midnight tonight. Memories are fresh from similar "fiscal follies" in the summer of 2011 and we’ll compare and contrast. The last shutdown was 17 years ago and a look at that history may also be instructive.

2013-10-01 Bracing for a Beltway Bombshell by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

With Washington mired in a fiscal gridlock, investors need to be prepared for short-term volatility. But buying on the dip and boosting exposure to risk assets can keep their long-term goals from getting jammed up, says Kristina Hooper.

2013-10-01 The Key Succession Issues for an Advisory Practice by Bob Veres (Article)

Succession planning has moved to the top of the practice management priority list for tens of thousands of advisory firms. As the average age of founder/advisors creeps ever closer to traditional retirement age, the profession is asking itself a lot of hard questions about how to keep these businesses alive – and take care of clients – after the founder retires.

2013-10-01 Europe Pokes Its Head Out From the Shadows by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

With all the focus on affairs in the US, China and developing nations, Europe has largely been given a free pass in recent months. The lack of attention gave Europe the opportunity to fix some of its troubles, but challenges remain and are likely to surface in the weeks ahead.

2013-10-01 Breaking Bad? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

For most of the summer, the speculation was out there. How would it end? (BTW DVR users no spoiler alert necessary for this article.) Which main characters, if any, would survive? TV chat boards were filled with nervousness and lots of guesses.

2013-09-30 Congress Holds Equities Hostage by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equity advances ended last week and the S&P 500 declined -1.0%.1 Markets appeared concerned about overbought conditions from a strong run up over the past three weeks and uneasy about Federal Reserve (Fed) monetary policy normalization as well as the credibility of its communication strategy. Other widespread reasons for the downturn included increased focus on the fiscal battles in Washington, D.C., heightened worries about a possible near-term government shutdown and the contentious debt ceiling debate.

2013-09-27 Witch-Hunt Fails in Silver Futures Trading; CFTC by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

In 2008 the CFTC received a series of complaints about the silver market. According to their release today the most widely asserted complaint was that because silver product prices such as coins and bullion were higher that the price of silver futures should have also experienced an increase. The other complaint was that large shorts in the silver market were responsible for lower future prices.

2013-09-27 Decomposing Today's Record Profit Margins by Doug Ramsey of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

Again, the popular perception is that this cycle’s record margins stem from dramatic strides in corporate efficiency, driven in good part by the outsourcing of manufacturing/assembly operations to lower labor cost countries. But most margin expansion since the 1990s is attributable to a couple of other players -- specifically, the “Bond Bulls and the Bookkeepers” (we know, it sounds like a cheap romance novel).

2013-09-27 Calculating A Stock's Fair Value Based On Future Growth Expectations: Part 2A by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

In part one of this two-part series I focused primarily on calculating the intrinsic value of a common stock based on an analysis and review of historical information and data. Although I strongly believe that there is much that investors can learn by studying the past, I even more strongly believe that since we can only invest in the future, that it is also implicit that we embrace a rational method of forecasting.

2013-09-27 The Weekly Speculator by Michael Shaoul, Ranita Ragunathan, Timothy Brackett, Brendan Moynihan of Marketfield Asset Management

We wrote last week on the eve of the FOMC meeting which resulted in the surprising decision not to reduce the current program of treasury and mortgage security purchases. What was to our eyes equally surprising was the volume and strident tone of the commentary that was issued following this release, ranging from the arrogant to the outraged as if anything really meaningful had changed.

2013-09-27 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.9, up from last week’s 132.3 (revised down from 132.4). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 4.9% from last week’s 4.5%.

2013-09-24 Why Retirees Should Choose DIAs over SPIAs by Wade Pfau (Article)

Retirement portfolios can be constructed from a mix of asset classes, including stocks, bonds and annuities. In the past, I’ve shown that retirees achieve some of the best outcomes by allocating a portion of those assets to SPIAs. In this column, I extend my analysis to show that DIAs work even better than SPIAs, by providing more liquidity and better longevity protection at a lower cost.

2013-09-24 Lehman Five Years LaterLessons and Threats by Dean Curnutt of Macro Risk Advisors

The five-year anniversary of the Lehman bankruptcy and onset of financial crisis is here and so too is the raft of opinion pieces around what caused the meltdown and how it is different this time.In a recent interview with Charlie Rose, when asked about the risk of another 2008 event, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said, “The probability of it happening again in our lifetime is as close to zero as I could imagine.”

2013-09-23 Psychological Ether by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

In my view, the problem with quantitative easing is that its entire effect relies on provoking risk-taking by those who would otherwise choose not to do so; that the FOMC has extended and amplified financial market distortions without regard to the rich valuations and dismal prospective returns that financial assets are most likely priced to achieve; and that this distortion of financial asset prices has precious little to do with the presumptive goal of Fed policy, which is greater job creation and economic activity.

2013-09-23 Aberdeen Global Investment Outlook: September 2013 by Mike Turner of Aberdeen Asset Management

The point of maximum policy accommodation may now be in sight: Markets volatile as investors forced to contemplate U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) exit strategy. Slowing growth in China is putting pressure on Asian and emerging markets to develop domestic led demand. This time really could be different for Japan - however reflating the economy was never going to be easy.

2013-09-21 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.4, to one decimal place unchanged from last week’s 132.4 (revised down from 132.3). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 4.5% from last week’s 4.3%.

2013-09-21 Fifty Shades of Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Unlike many commodities, there are many shades to gold, such as the Love Trade’s buying gold for loved ones and the Fear Trade’s purchasing gold as a store of value. An additional “shade” investors need to be aware of is how the Fed interprets the recovery of the U.S. economy.

2013-09-20 The Fed's About-Face by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The Federal Reserve’s decision not to taper quantitative easing telegraphed a mixed signal to markets about policy guidance while tempering forward economic growth expectations. Dramatically lower interest rates can be expected.

2013-09-19 Will Healthcare Reform Raise the Economy\'s Pulse? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The prognosis is by no means clear. Ambiguity surrounding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act will create further uncertainty for the economy in the years ahead.

2013-09-18 Smart Beta and the Pendulum of Mispricing by Vitali Kalesnik of Research Affiliates

The Research Affiliates approach to equity investment management is based upon the insight that stock prices are “noisy” and “mean-reverting.”

2013-09-18 The End Times for Strategic Ambiguity by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Strategic ambiguity is defined as a condition where various parties say something similar but believe something entirely different. A good example of this is U.S. and Chinese policy toward Taiwan. Both nations say Taiwan is part of China. The U.S. believes that Taiwan’s democratic government should become the model for the mainland, whereas China believes Taiwan should be part of its nation as it is currently structured. Because both nations say the same thing, the policy difference is not publicly obvious and thus not a problem, at least as long as the ambiguity lasts.

2013-09-18 Newsletter September 2013 by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

SAY IT ISN’T SO... Investment News headline “Ex-J.P. Morgan broker: Firm pushed house funds.” The story went on to report: “Claims reps didn’t get commission on trades of outside funds. A former J.P. Morgan broker has filed an arbitration claim alleging that the bank’s securities unit encouraged sales of proprietary funds by withholding commissions from brokers on trades of outside funds.

2013-09-17 Where, Oh Where, is Ferdinand Pecora? by Martin Weil (Article)

Five years later, one would like to think that the fundamental conditions that led us to the precipice in 2008 have been corrected. One might presume that the individuals and companies who gamed a largely unsupervised bazaar of counterparty debt and derivatives for their own benefits have been charged and convicted. One would be wrong on both counts.

2013-09-16 Baby Steps by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Our view is that the Federal Reserve will taper its program of quantitative easing this week, in the range of a $10-15 billion reduction in the pace of monthly debt purchases. The Fed really has no “communication problem” about this the economic impact of further quantitative easing has had diminishing returns, and the economic drag from fiscal reductions has thus far been smaller than the Fed feared when it justified QEternity on the basis of those concerns last year.

2013-09-13 Invest In Stocks With A Margin of Safety To Reduce Risk And Enhance Returns by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Of all of the many sound investing principles that legendary teacher and investor Ben Graham put forward, he believed that his concept of “margin of safety” was the most important of all. This investment lesson was so deeply ingrained into the mind of Ben Graham’s most famous student, Warren Buffett, that he created his two most important rules of sound investing. Rule number one: Never lose money. Rule number two: Never forget rule number one. Clearly, both of these renowned sages understood the importance of minimizing risk, especially when investing in equities.

2013-09-13 September Investment Bulletin: Global Equity Strategy by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

Year-to-date end-August the strategy performed well with a gain of 22.2% vs. 14.6% for the benchmark. During the month, the index “tumbled” 3.9%, partly out of fear of foreign military action in Syria and partly that central banks would cease printing money to hold down interest rates commonly known as tapering. Even so, the portfolio held up in August, with a much lesser 2.4% fall, thereby further widening outperformance over the index to 760 basis points so far in 2013.

2013-09-13 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.3, an increase from last week’s 131.5. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 4.1% from last week’s 3.9%.... At this point the company is still featuring a commentary posted at the end of July, Becoming Japan, which highlights the decline in GDP growth for Japan and seven other major economies, including the US.

2013-09-12 2 Unresolved Issues Challenging the Case for European Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains the two key unresolved issues that are keeping his view of European stocks somewhat cautious, and he gives the next signposts to watch to gauge whether any near-term resolutions are likely.

2013-09-10 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 Capital Spending: A Double-Edged Sword by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Rising business outlays on equipment and technology will likely contribute to a subpar pace of hiringand help boost corporate profit margins.

2013-09-10 Taper Vs. No Taper - Let\'s Meet Somewhere In The Middle by John Rothe of Riverbend Investment Management

Volatility in the US equity and bond markets has risen since Ben Bernanke and the rest of the Federal Reserve Board mentioned the possibility of tapering its bond purchase program - in other words, a potential end to the "free ride" the Fed has been giving investors. However, economic data is still weak and a reduction in economic stimulus by the Fed may harm the US economy.

2013-09-09 Moving On - Five Years After Lehman by John Petrides (Article)

This month marks the fifth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers failure and the start of worst financial crisis in American history since the Great Depression, and yet to some investors, it seems like only yesterday. Investors still hold onto that period of volatility as if it will happen again tomorrow, paralyzing and confusing their investment decisions. Consequently, many investors have watched from the sidelines as the stock market has recovered solidly year after year.

2013-09-09 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

The Syrian war crisis has prompted another “moment in time” for the markets to reflect and digest both the near-term and long term consequences of our response from a political and economic perspective. What’s most worrisome is the precedent of previous actions the U.S. has taken in global conflicts, and the potential catalysts for negative consequences for the markets.

2013-09-09 Possible Shutdown, No Default by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Sometime in the next few weeks, Washington is going to turn its attention from Syria back to the budget.

2013-09-06 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Last year ECRI switched focus to their version of the Big Four Economic Indicators that I routinely track. But when those failed last summer to "roll over" collectively (as ECRI claimed was happening), the company published a new set of indicators to support their recession call in a commentary entitled The U.S. Business Cycle in the Context of the Yo-Yo Years (PDF format). Subsequently the company took a new approach to its recession call in a publicly available commentary on the ECRI website: What Wealth Effect?.

2013-09-05 Where to Draw the Line by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

Just before leaving on my recent road trip, I picked up a new pair of glasses. It was the first new pair in about three years. As many of you are probably aware, I wear (strong) prescription glasses, but you may not realize that the glasses are bifocals.

2013-09-04 How Syria Could Spark New Middle East War by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

What does the stand-off in Syria have to do with the investment markets? Potentially, a lot. As I have argued in recent weeks, if the Middle East devolves into another military quagmire, it could be quite bearish for the US stock and bond markets going forward. That’s why we will talk about the implications today.

2013-09-04 Abe Wins - Does Japan Benefit? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The Japanese seem willing to give Abe room to reform when he decides to act.

2013-09-04 4 Signposts To Watch for an Emerging Markets Turnaround by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

When will we see a significant and prolonged reversal in emerging markets (EM) stock performance? Russ says to watch for four signposts that could signify the EM underperformance tide is turning.

2013-09-03 Did Steve Jobs Really Build That? by Michael Edesess (Article)

The conventional wisdom is that only the private sector can marshal the entrepreneurial energy to create innovation and growth, while government can do little more than shift around the wealth that the private sector creates. But is that really true?

2013-09-03 Getting Prospects to Respond to Your Emails by Dan Richards (Article)

The chances that a prospect will open an email from someone they don’t know are slim. Advisors who rely on mass emails are increasingly challenged to find creative ways to get their message through. But a few advisors who are succeeding in attracting clients via email invitations told me of five ways they get past inbox filters.

2013-09-03 Forward Guidance Who Are You Going to Believe, the Fed or Your Lying Eyes? by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

Recently, a commentary published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, “How Stimulatory Are Large-Scale Asset Purchases?”, came to my attention.

2013-08-30 Beware the Dangerous Stretch for Yield by Ashish Shah of AllianceBernstein

The US Federal Reserve talked in early summer about tapering its quantitative easing plan and raising interest ratesin part to stop investors from chasing yield into the arms of riskier loans. In the high-yield market, however, the conversation had exactly the opposite effect.

2013-08-30 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.3, an increase from last week’s 131.0 (revised from 131.1). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) declined to 4.2% from last week’s 4.5%.

2013-08-28 America is Turning Into a \"Part-Time Nation\" by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Part-time work accounted for a whopping 77% of the jobs the US economy created from January through July, according to household survey data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last year during the same time period, part-time jobs were only 53% of the total versus 47% full-time jobs. This trend toward part-time, low paying jobs is accelerating rapidly.

2013-08-27 The Price Clients Pay for Worst-Case Forecasts by Bob Veres (Article)

Clients and the world at large give inordinate attention to downside scenarios, and nobody is calling our attention to the much larger upside of our business and investment landscape. The human brain amplifies this effect, because it is hardwired to notice threats much more than opportunities. I recently spoke with Dennis Stearns – an advisor who happens to be an expert in scenario planning – about the role planners need to play to counteract media-driven negativity.

2013-08-27 The Egyptian Coup: an Update by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In this report, we will update developments in Egypt and discuss how the military’s actions increase the odds of future problems. We will study the military’s goals for the coup. From there, we will examine the Obama administration’s difficult position and how the Egyptian coup has caused a divergence of responses from regional powers. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.

2013-08-27 Surviving a Road Trip by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

The earnings and economic news never seem to quit. And every position, and each action be it buy, sell or hold has commentators and gurus voicing an opinion on every side of the subject. For many investors, it is impossible to sort out the right direction to be heading in, let alone whether you should be on the entrance or the exit ramp for the investments making up your portfolio.

2013-08-25 France: On the Edge of the Periphery by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Charles de Gaulle said that "France cannot be France without greatness." The current path that France is on will not take it to renewed greatness but rather to insolvency and turmoil. Is France destined to be grouped with its Mediterranean peripheral cousins, or to be seen as part of the solid North Atlantic core? The world is far better off with a great France, but France can achieve greatness only by its own actions.

2013-08-24 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.1, a decline from last week’s 131.2. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) declined to 4.5 from last week’s 4.7%.

2013-08-24 Revisiting the USD Bull Market by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments

The USD bull market has begun with signs that the USD is transitioning to a cyclical currency. Monetary policy divergences in G4, slowing in USD diversification and a dramatic turnaround in the twin deficits, provide a strong fundamental underpinning to a USD rally going forward.

2013-08-22 Excess Cash in the Technology Sector: A Source of Underappreciated Value by Nate Palmer of Diamond Hill Investments

As analysts,we are constantly searching for opportunities to purchases hares of a business at a meaningful discount to our estimate of intrinsic value, or short shares of a business at a meaningful premium to our estimate of intrinsic value. While this premium or discount is often a function of our estimate of the value of the business’s future earnings power, it can also be the result of the current market price not properly reflecting the value of assets on a company’s balance sheet.

2013-08-21 The Big Secret Mutual Fund Companies Are Hiding by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Do you know that most (if not all) mutual fund and ETF sponsors are keeping vital information about their funds secret from you? We’ll start today’s E-Letter with a discussion about what that valuable information is and why fund companies don’t want you to know about it.

2013-08-20 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.

2013-08-20 Which Crowd? Mulling the Investment Wisdom of the Masses by Steven Grey (Article)

With every investment or trade, the profits that accrue with the passage of time eventually prove one party the wiser. But of what practical value is the notion of collective wisdom if investors can’t consistently identify the ’wise’ crowd before the fact?

2013-08-20 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Bob Veres’ article, Envisioning the Planning Firm of the Future, which appeared last week. A reader responds to Dan Richards’ article, How to Fix the Flaws in Financial Planning, which appeared on July 30, and a reader responds to Bob Veres’ article, The Price You Pay for Poor Management, which appeared on July 23.

2013-08-19 Your \"Needy\" Friend by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

You may have one. If you do, you know. A friend who is a joy to have in your life and you know that your world would be a bit less happy if they were not in it. But they are also one that needs a lot from you. Attention, advice, help with moving, your opinion on which dog to take home from the sheltermaybe even money.

2013-08-16 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.2, a decline from last week’s 131.5 (a downward revision from 131.8). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) declined to 4.7 from last week’s 4.9%.

2013-08-14 Middle East Is A Looming Tinderbox - Think Egypt by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

We begin today by looking into the latest unprecedented embassy closures across the Middle East and North Africa. Did President Obama take the appropriate actions, or were the closures a sign of weakness to our enemies in the region? From there, we turn our attention to the worsening political tensions in Egypt. There is a real threat that Egypt could deteriorate into a full-scale civil war in the months ahead.

2013-08-13 Why Clients Don’t Give You Credit for Your Hard Work – And What to do About it by Dan Richards (Article)

Advisors work incredibly hard, but clients take that effort for granted. How can advisors get credit for all they do for clients?

2013-08-13 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Wade Pfau’s article, Unlocking the Two Mysteries behind SPIAs, which appeared last week, and readers respond to the commentary, What’s Wrong With Indexes?, by Brian Evans of AdvisorShares, which was published on July 29.

2013-08-12 Share Repurchases Reward Everyone But Shareholders by Jeff Middleswart of Ranger International

In summarizing year-end results, company managements often boast about the cash they returned to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases. Certainly hiking the dividend by, say, 10% is something to crow about. But we fail to see why shareholders should applaud share repurchases. After all, they didn’t see any of that money. The beneficiaries of buybacks are sellers of the stock. These aren’t shareholders, they are former shareholders.

2013-08-09 Futures Markets Signal Gold Ready to Erupt by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

With gold recouping some losses in its most recent trading sessions, many are asking whether or not the bottom has finally formed for the yellow metal. Most of these gains have been simply chalked up to short-covering and dovish remarks by Bernanke during the recent Federal Open Market Committee meetings; however, there are some key indicators for gold which are overshadowed by the media hubbub. Two of them in particular are important to understand, because they reveal a renewed investment demand for physical gold over paper gold or fiat currencies.

2013-08-09 A Generational Selling Opportunity for the U.S. Long Bond by Jim O'Shaughnessy of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management

Because investors tend to extrapolate what their general experience in markets has been recently well into the future, it’s easy to see why investors are having a long-term love affair with bonds. Yet the data in this paper suggests that a crisis in long bonds is coming and, given this information, individual and institutional investors alike should reconsider the bond portion of their portfolios.

2013-08-09 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.8, essentially unchanged from last week’s 131.7 (a downward revision from 131.8). At the end of July the company posted a new commentary, Becoming Japan, which highlights the decline in GDP growth for Japan and seven other major economies, including the US. Also this week ECRI’s Lakshman Achuthan defended his company’s recession call on Bloomberg TV.

2013-08-09 The Calm Before the Storm? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Record highs in US equities have resulted thus far in only modestly elevated investor sentiment and it appears retail investors are returning to the market, which could fuel further gains. However, volatility is likely to increase with political and Fed issues on the horizon. Europe remains attractive, along with Japan, but we are watching the potential consumption tax increase closely, while China’s valuations are improved but concerns remain.

2013-08-08 Market Melt-Up Catches Defensive Investors by Surprise by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

Extraordinary returns in the fourth year of a bull market remind us that long-term defensiveness can’t be rationalized. July saw remarkable returns across global equity and fixed income markets, with the exception of U.S. Treasuries. Investors would be well served to ignore media drama and fear mongering and simply follow the fundamentals. Five years spent worrying about Armageddon is too long, but there’s still time to get back to a normal allocation.

2013-08-08 Investment Advice Technology and How to Lose Money in the Coming Years by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Adventures are good for my soul. They create wonderful memories, both of where I have been and all the effort it took to get there. All of us have memories, both good and not so good. I am a bit worried about the near term future.

2013-08-08 The Role of Confidence by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

The so-called wealth effect plays an important and well recognized part in the functioning of an economy. When assets appreciate in value, the owners translate their increased wealth into increased spending. While at first glance this is unsurprising, it should be noted that this is true even if the appreciation is unrealized, and thus the increased wealth exists solely on paper. The relationship can be stated as follows: the richer people feel, the more they spend. Changes in confidence have an impact on behavior similar to the wealth effect. That’s what this memo is about.

2013-08-07 Fear Capital Misallocation Not Market Cycles by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

A great deal of time and energy is spent trying to determine when the current bull market in stocks will end. We at Smead Capital Management make no effort to time the stock market because after 33 years in the investment business I’ve never found anyone who did it successfully. We do try to avoid capital misallocation and thought you might want to look at the history of the investment asset classes to see how periods of popularity lead to misery and periods of misery lead to above-average returns.

2013-08-06 Unlocking the Two Mysteries behind SPIAs by Wade Pfau (Article)

Two mysteries confound planners who purchase single-premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) for their clients: Why does the present value of a SPIA often exceed its cost, and why do equity allocations appear to increase when a SPIA is purchased? Unlocking those mysteries requires advisors to use a different framework – based on the household balance sheet – for the withdrawal phase of retirement.

2013-08-02 Second Half Challenges by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

One of the most challenging aspects of managing portfolios is to process the endless information flow and determine what impact it will have, if any, on the markets. Some information, while interesting to read about, has virtually no impact on the future direction of stock and bond prices. Other information may not have an immediate impact, but it may be impactful in the future. This, delayed-impact information encompasses the vast majority of information that surfaces on a daily basis.

2013-08-02 The Fed's Outlook and Leadership in Flux by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Many observers blamed a lack of clarity from the Federal Reserve (the Fed) for the sharp increase in interest rates after the initial signals about tapering. As a result, in recent weeks Fed officials have tried to calm nerves by stressing that the decision to slow the pace of quantitative easing (QE)now expected to begin after the September FOMC meetingdoes not signal anything about the outlook for the funds rate or their broader policy goals. Unfortunately for the Fed, the policy outlook looks increasingly fluid again.

2013-07-30 How to Fix the Flaws in Financial Planning by Dan Richards (Article)

Four-in-five financial planning recommendations don’t lead to action, according to a Forbes column. Our industry needs a fundamental reappraisal of how to create plans that translate into action and positive outcomes.

2013-07-30 Pennies from Heaven, Irrationality, and “Dys-information” by Chris Richey of Neosho Capital

If QE4 holds to course, ending, not just tapering, sometime in mid-2014, the U.S. will have spent 4+ years out of the past 6 living on monetary stimulus, all the while continuing to pile up ever more claims against future prosperity.

2013-07-29 Will a New Fed Chairman Derail the Stock Market Rally? by Kipley Lytel of Montecito Capital Management

Over the past two years, investor exuberance has poured over $150 billion into equity funds. The perception of market risk has been sharply lowered over the past years by the central bank’s supportive activities in the capital markets and the high octane fuel of near zero interest rates. Meanwhile, Bernanke’s buyback of treasury and mortgage back securities is at a pace of moving the Fed’s balance sheet to over $4 trillion.

2013-07-27 A Lost Generation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we will briefly look at why weak consumer spending is going to become an even greater problem in the coming years, and we will continue to look at some disturbing trends in employment.

2013-07-26 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.3, up slightly from last week’s 130.2. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) remains unchanged at 4.5%.

2013-07-24 Quarterly Review and Outlook by Van Hoisington, Lacy Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

The secular low in bond yields has yet to be recorded. This assessment for a continuing pattern of lower yields in the quarters ahead is clearly a minority view, as the recent selling of all types of bond products attest. The rise in long term yields over the last several months was accelerated by the recent Federal Reserve announcement that it would be “tapering” its purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities. This has convinced many bond market participants that the low in long rates is in the past.

2013-07-23 Dear Bernanke - You Can\'t Have Your Cake And Eat It Too by John Rothe of Riverbend Investment Management

The U.S. stock market continues its euphoric rise into record territory despite continuing weakness in economic data. Recent comments from Federal Reserve Board Chair, Ben Bernanke, indicating that the Fed does not have a predetermined plan to stop its stimulus plan has investors increasing their allocations to equities.

2013-07-22 Can China Give Credit Where It's Due? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

June was a rough month for China’s economy and its financial markets. Old concerns about sustainable growth came to the fore, as reports surfaced and resurfaced, recounting liquidity shortages, misdirected and excessive credit growth, gyrating interest rates, and signs of weakness in manufacturing. Commentators and analysts alike voiced fears of a Chinese collapse on a par with America’s subprime crisis. For the second time in as many years, several in the global financial community have prophesized a “hard” landing for China’s economy.

2013-07-19 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.2, up slightly from last week’s 130.1 (revised from 130.2). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 4.5% from 4.3% last week (revised from 4.6%).

2013-07-18 ASEANSeeking Further Integration by In-Bok Song of Matthews Asia

Southeast Asia is pushing ahead with an economic initiative analogous to the E.U. called the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). The 10-member bloc is striving to make this partnershipwhich envisions creating a single market and production base and developing closer economic ties both within the region and the broader global economya reality by 2015. In-Bok Song, takes a look at the benefits and hurdles that may be expected in this lengthy process for further integration of such aspects as liberalized trade, investment, skilled labor and free flow of capital.

2013-07-17 Men of Steel: How Retail Investors Saved the Muni Market by John Bagley of BondDesk Trading

It looked and felt to screen watchers late last month like the sequel to Man of Steel had arrived prematurely. This time, though, General Zod seemed to set his sights on the bond market, recruiting an army of bond fund managers to annihilate everything from 1-year Treasuries to 30-year corporate and municipal bonds. Over the three trading days following the June Fed meeting, yields on benchmark municipal bonds increased by 60 basis points, the largest move over a 3-day period in more than 25 years.

2013-07-17 Fed's Gobbledygook - What Do They Really Mean? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Recent communications from the Fed and comments by Chairman Bernanke cast a great deal of uncertainty on the equity and bond markets in late June. Specifically, Bernanke’s remarks in his press conference on June 19 where he discussed ending its program of quantitative easing prompted a huge global selloff in the stock and bond markets.

2013-07-16 Nassim Nicholas Taleb: To Prevail in an Uncertain World, Get Convex by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Investment professionals know the value of a convex bond – it gains more from falling rates than it loses from rising ones. According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, people and institutions can and should position themselves to be convex. Indeed, they should be antifragile – ready to gain from disorder or uncertainty.

2013-07-16 How a Teenager and Skype Deepened Client Relationships by Dan Richards (Article)

Successful advisors are always on the lookout for cost-effective ways to deepen relationships with top clients. Last week, an advisor told me how he hired his son for the summer, and the two created an impressive offering that exceeded the expectations of his key clients.

2013-07-16 Letters to the Editor by Advisor Perspectives (Article)

A reader responds to the ongoing exchange of letters regarding socially responsible investing, and a reader responds to Joe Tomlinson’s article, Retirement Portfolios: Fears over Rising Rates are Overblown, which appeared last week.

2013-07-16 Herbert Huebscher (1926-2013) by Robert Huebscher (Article)

My dad passed away on July 8. My eulogy is below.

2013-07-15 The Egyptian C#@P by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

From June into early July, the government of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was under pressure from widespread civil unrest. On July 3rd, the military, after warning the president that he had 48 hours to make changes or face an ouster, made good on their promise. The title of our report is “tongue in cheek” as the Obama administration and other officials are going to Orwellian lengths to say this isn’t a coup.

2013-07-15 Rock-A-Bye Baby by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

I’ve always thought that singing “Rock-a-bye baby” offers a bizarre lesson to our young, encouraging them to be lulled gently to sleep by describing a scene that should have them wide-eyed with terror.

2013-07-13 The Bang! Moment Shock by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we resume our musings about Cyprus, to see what that tiny island can teach us about our own personal need to engage in ongoing critical analysis of our lives and investment portfolios. Cyprus is not Greece or France or Spain or Japan or the US or (pick a country). I get that. No two situations are the same, but there may be a rhyme or two here that is instructive.

2013-07-12 The Fed's Circular Mess by Adam Thurgood of HighTower Advisors

Market volatility is back. The Fed put the end of QE in play, and as a result, big moves in risk assets have become the norm. The market’s reaction over the past several weeks has brought a disturbing question to the surfacehow is the Fed really going to get out of the mess it has put itself in?

2013-07-12 China\'s Very Relative Malaise by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks at “China’s Very Relative Malaise”, an observation which he describes as “a vaguely uneasy feeling that seemed to be shared by most (Chinese) but not always for the same reasons.”

2013-07-12 Welcome Back Greece to the High-Potential World of Emerging Markets by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

In June, major international equity index provider MSCI confirmed Greece’s sojourn among the ranks of “developed markets” would end later this year as it will become the first-ever country to lose its “developed market” status in the MSCI universe. Interestingly, Greece was classified as emerging when I started with the Templeton Emerging Markets Group in 1987, and while the recent news might conjure up images of a significant turn for the worse for the country’s economic fortunes, MSCI’s explanation for Greece’s reclassification was actually mor

2013-07-12 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

ECRI posts its proprietary indicators on a one-week delayed basis to the general public, but last year the company switched its focus to a version of the Big Four Economic Indicators I’ve been tracking for the past year. In recent months, however, those indicators have slipped below the fold, replaced by the mixed bag of whatever Indicator du Jour might look recessionary, as in the "Yo-Yo Years" commentary.

2013-07-12 Even My 92- Year-Old Mom Questioned Me! by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

When I told Mom that I was buying gold bullion this week (7/8), she asked, “Are you sure you want to do that?”

2013-07-10 A Five Question Portfolio Check Up by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

If the stock or bond market has another panic attack and drops 25% to 50% in the next 1, 2 or 3 years, would this decline make you unable to pay off your mortgage, pay for college, or whatever else you planned on doing? If the stock or bond market has another panic attack and drops 25% to 50% in the next 1, 2 or 3 years, would this decline cause you to: panic, sell everything you own, or worse, jump off a bridge? Do you know what you own? How important is the result of your portfolio entrusted to us in light of your entire financial well being?

2013-07-10 What is Happening to Gold? by John Hathaway of Tocqueville Asset Management

John Hathaway, manager of the Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX), examines in his latest Tocqueville Gold Strategy Investor Letter the dramatic developments in the gold market over the last six months. The letter goes on to discuss the impact the Fed continues to have, and suggests that today’s valuations represent a “compelling entry point.”

2013-07-10 Beware Of The Valuations On The Best Consumer Discretionary Dividend Growth Stocks by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

The Consumer Discretionary sector consists of businesses that sell nonessential, and therefore, discretionary goods and services. Companies in this sector include retailers, media companies, consumer services companies, consumer durables and apparel companies, automobiles and components companies. Since so much of what this sector offers is discretionary items, companies in the sector tend to do best when the economy is strongest. Unfortunately, as we will soon see, so do the prices of their stocks tend to perform best when the market is performing best.

2013-07-09 Retirement Portfolios: Fears over Rising Rates are Overblown by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

The second quarter saw increases in interest rates, losses in every category of bonds and investors abandoning fixed-income markets. The distress has been particularly acute among retirement investors who considered bond funds to be safe. But are fears of bond losses overblown? I will make the case that the rise in interest rates is actually good for retirement portfolios. To see this, one has to look beyond the quarterly statement losses and focus on overall retirement outcomes.

2013-07-09 The Fed\'s Bind: Tapering, Timetables and Turmoil by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

There are striking parallels between the dramatic recent sell-off in U.S. Treasuries and the Great Bond Crash of 1994. But the summer of volatility now facing financial markets is no doomsday scenario. Instead, it puts the U.S. Federal Reserve in a bind. Higher interest rates will reduce housing affordability, which is especially troublesome since housing is the primary locomotive of U.S. economic growth.

2013-07-09 Whitney George on 2Q13: Stocks Continue to Look More Appealing Than Fixed Income by Whitney George of The Royce Funds

In addition to detailing what sectors currently look attractive to him from a valuation standpoint, Co-CIO, Managing Director, and Portfolio Manager Whitney George discusses three stocks that exemplify his approach, the current case for active small-cap management, why stocks look more attractive than fixed income, and his opinions on the market’s decline in late June.

2013-07-09 The G8: Sorry, Maybe Next Time by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

While the recent gathering of the Group of 8 industrialized nations addressed worthy topics such as Syria and tax avoidance, it failed to tackle essential economic and fiscal issues.

2013-07-08 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.

2013-07-05 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 130.4, down slightly from last week’s 130.6. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) fell to 5.3% from 5.8% last week.

2013-07-01 \"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.

2013-06-27 Policy-Induced Volatility Continues by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The recent bond market collapse is reminiscent of the Great Crash of 1994. Further pressure on the economy due to rising interest rates could cause the Fed to revisit its timetable for QE.

2013-06-27 The Tipping Point by Bill Gross of PIMCO

I’ve spun a few yarns in recent years about my days as a naval officer; not, thank goodness, tales told by dead men, but certainly echoes from the depths of Davy Jones’ Locker. A few years ago I wrote about the time that our ship (on my watch) was almost cut in half by an auto-piloted tanker at midnight, but never have I divulged the day that the USS Diachenko came within one degree of heeling over during a typhoon in the South China Sea. “Engage emergency ballast,” the Captain roared at yours truly the one and only chief engineer.

2013-06-26 Perspective by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

When you look down the road of life, the items closest in time loom largest and seem most significant. But over a lifetime we learn that while items far away may appear small, they can actually be larger, and much more important.

2013-06-25 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 Strategies for the Retirement Red Zone by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

The retirement red zone is the critical years immediately before and after retirement, when financial plans are highly vulnerable to adverse market movements. In many previous articles, I have examined strategies to reduce risk after retirement, but here I will focus on the decade before retirement. I’ll compare strategies that rely on traditional stock-bond portfolios with those using various types of annuity products.

2013-06-25 The Price Your Clients Pay for Using Safe Withdrawal Rates by David B. Loeper (Article)

Safe-withdrawal rates (SWRs) are perhaps the most extensively studied topic in financial planning literature. But applying a single SWR-driven methodology to all clients neglects their unique and individual needs. A better approach is for advisors to assist clients in defining their ideal and acceptable goals and the relative priorities among them. Then they can demonstrate through Monte Carlo simulation the likelihood of the recommended plan becoming over- or under-funded relative to those goals.

2013-06-25 Three Simple Ways to Ensure Clients Retain Key Messages by Dan Richards (Article)

Today’s article outlines why client communication gets derailed – and three success stories from advisors who changed just one thing and saw their message stick with clients as a result.

2013-06-25 Stay the Course by Douglas Hodge of PIMCO

It is that time of the year again. As school schedules give way to summer vacations, many families will be packing up the SUV to head to one of this nation’s amazing national parks. Years ago, my young family traveled to Yellowstone National Park, home of Yogi Bear and Old Faithful. The requisite float trip down the Snake River was arranged and a good time was had by all a bit of spray but nothing too jarring. Only days later, I returned to the Snake River and had the ride of a lifetime.

2013-06-24 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

What is the Fed actually saying? The economy is recovering; the labor market is improving; short-term interest rates should remain low until at least 2015; the bond buying program will continue in its current form; any “winding down” (tapering) of purchases will be contingent on steady growth; the policymakers would be prepared to ramp up buying if conditions warrant. What have many investors been hearing/thinking?

2013-06-24 The Fed Unintentionally Lays an Egg by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities declined last week as the S&P 500 ended down 2.09%.1 The S&P suffered the first back-to-back one-day declines of more than 1% since last November. Global equities and bonds were also hit hard, with large sell-offs in emerging market assets, commodities and commodity currencies. Concerns about the fallout from dampened Fed policy accommodation are driving the weakness.

2013-06-21 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Ultimately my opinion remains unchanged: The ECRI’s credibility depends on major downward revisions to the key economic indicators -- especially the July annual revisions to GDP -- that will be sufficient to validate their early recession call. Of course, the July revisions will be quite controversial this year, with some major accounting changes and revisions in annual GDP back to 1929. So if we don’t get the downward revisions to support ECRI, they can always question the accounting changes in the revision process.

2013-06-20 The Best Time to Invest by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

I frequently speak at investment conferences around the world, and get questions ranging from my outlook for a particular market to highly sophisticated investment concepts. One seemingly simple question asked by a young lady years ago at a conference in Canada which I attended with the founder of Templeton Investments, the late Sir John Templeton, was particularly timeless. She asked: “I’ve just inherited some money from my grandfather. When is the best time for me to invest it?”

2013-06-18 Predictions by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

Last Tuesday night was a special night. I was having some out of state friends that I had not seen for over a year meet my wife and me for dinner. I picked out an outstanding restaurant with a wide deck perched on the tip of one of Michigan’s gorgeous fresh water lakes. I got the last table available for the 6:30 p.m. seating.

2013-06-17 The Price of Distortion by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Corporate profits have benefited in recent years from enormous fiscal distortions that have bloated margins 70% above their historical norms. Stock prices have benefited in recent years from enormous monetary distortions that have suppressed interest rates and encouraged investors to “reach for yield.” Combining those effects, investors have been encouraged to chase stocks, placing elevated price/earnings multiples on already elevated earnings. Investors who value stocks on the basis of these distortions are likely to discover in hindsight that they have paid a very dear price.

2013-06-17 On the Radar: Bernanke\'s Balancing Act by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

A recent analysis in this space made the case for equities. Pointing to the continued flood of liquidity from the Federal Reserve and still-attractive stock valuations, I argued that the rally would continue, despite the subpar economic recovery and continued policy muddles in Washington and Europe. In this column, I will take up one of those fundamental, longer-term considerations: Fed policy. The columns that follow will discuss two other major issues: fiscal policy and energy.

2013-06-14 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

For 13 days of every fortnight, my kids think that "floor" and "hamper" are synonyms. Stray shoes litter the entryway, used cups adorn the coffee table and spent contact lens packaging forms a grand pyramid on the bathroom vanity.

2013-06-14 ECRI Recession Watch: New Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.3, up slightly from last week’s 131.0 (revised from 130.9). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 6.6% from 6.4% last week (revised from 6.3%).... Two weeks ago the company took a new approach to its recession call in its most recent publicly available commentary on the ECRI website: What Wealth Effect? More...

2013-06-13 Securing a Lasting Economic Recovery by Team of Northern Trust

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, business expansions have averaged 59 months in the past 11 business cycles. June 2013 marks the fourth birthday of the current U.S. economic recovery, and this one seems very likely to be above average on this score.

2013-06-10 2009 vs. 2013 by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

One of the most strongly held beliefs of investors here is the notion that it is inappropriate to “Fight the Fed” reflecting the view that Federal Reserve easing is sufficient to keep stocks not only elevated, but rising. What’s baffling about this is that the last two 50% market declines both the 2001-2002 plunge and the 2008-2009 plunge occurred in environments of aggressive, persistent Federal Reserve easing.

2013-06-10 Dad\'s Rules: Timeless Wisdom From a Fallen Investment Hero by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Once I publish a blog post, I immediately start thinking of a topic for the next one. At this time last week, I decided to focus today’s blog on the concept of “trading turnover” that is, how long you hold something you bought, until you sell it. It seems that with the stock market on a four-year tear and the bond market threatening to fall apart at any moment, it is a great time for investors to prioritize the most basic investment rule: buy low / sell high.

2013-06-10 What\'s Capping Capital Spending? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Now that housing has at last begun to make a contribution to the economic recovery, the pace of capital spending seems to have ebbed. To some extent, the slowed pace of such spending reasonably reflects the economy’s still-more-than-ample production capacity. Reasonable as this seems, the slowdown does come as a disappointing change from the unusually strong growth earlier in the recovery. Now, looking forward, the prospect is for this slowed growth to continue, for a while at least.

2013-06-06 The Wisdom of Crowds by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

Are markets efficient? This is a debate that has been on-going for decades. In one corner you have the proponents of the Efficient Markets Hypothesis. In their world alpha does not exist, or at the very least it is not sustainable. In the other corner you have the supporters of behavioural finance who see investors as being mostly irrational and suffering from all sorts of behavioural biases which create alpha opportunities galore. Out of this long lasting stand-off a new paradigm is emerging called the Adaptive Markets Hypothesis which aims to reconcile the two.

2013-06-05 The Canary in the Coal Mine by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Ongoing monetary stimulus is leading to heightened volatility, and the bull market which has been in place since 2009 is becoming overextended. The recent string of surprise downside moves in markets may be the canary in the coal mine for global investors.

2013-06-05 Driving with the Doors Off, Part II by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover, Mike Czekaj of Broadleaf Partners

About ten months ago, I wrote about my new bulldozer-yellow Jeep Wrangler, comparing the sensation of Driving with the Doors Off to investing in the New Normal, or as I like to call it, a “slow growth for as far as the eyes can see” environment. While the pavement had always been a mere twelve inches beneath my feet, Driving with The Doors Off made the experience far more real, far more alive, and far more aware of the risks that had always been there. In the New Normal it feels like we are always and everywhere just one small pothole away from the next economic disaster.

2013-06-04 The Gold Bull vs The Paper Tiger by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

That’s all, folks. One look at the headlines will tell you the gold bull market is officially over: the stock market is booming, a modest recovery of the US economy is underway, and the dollar is dominating the forex. Time to sell your bullion and get back into US stocks!

2013-06-01 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.

2013-05-31 Austerity and Demoralization by Robert Shiller of Project Syndicate

Austerity, according to some of its promoters, is supposed to improve morale. But the kind of fiscal austerity that is being practiced now has the immediate effect of rendering people jobless and filling their lives with nothing but a sense of rejection and exclusion.

2013-05-31 Japan: Gauging the Stimulus Response by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The Japanese patient seems to be responding well to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s attentions. Equities have rallied strongly. The yen, as the government desires, has retreated from export-crushing highs. The economy has shown signs of a genuine cyclical pickup. The good news has buoyed spirits in Japan. It will likely continue for a while longer, too. But the picture for the country is not yet all joy, because Abe’s policies fail to address the country’s significant, longer-term, fundamental problems.

2013-05-28 Solving the Public Pension Plan Funding Crisis by John T. Hausladen (Article)

Current proposals to address public pension underfunding will not provide any significant relief because of the continued assumption of investment and longevity risk by plan sponsors. I propose a combination of liability-driven investing and a risk-transfer mechanism to gradually eliminate plan liabilities.

2013-05-28 You Now Have All of Our Attention by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Mr. Bernanke’s opening statement was just what the market wanted to hear... "Premature tightening of monetary policy could lead interest rates to rise temporarily but would also carry a substantial risk of slowing or ending this economic recovery and causing inflation to fall further".

2013-05-24 Recession Watch: ECRIs Weekly Leading Indicator Up Slightly by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

TheWeekly Leading Index(WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 130.6, up slightly from last weeks 130.1 (a downward revision from 130.2). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) dropped to 6.8% from 7.0% last week.

2013-05-23 Investing in Gold: Does It Stack Up? by Team of Knowledge@Wharton

Gold has a timeless allure -- especially if you worry about stock market volatility, inflation, a decay of ordinary currency or the collapse of civilization. Yet not everyone agrees that gold offers the safe haven its promoters describe. How reliable can demand be for a commodity that very few people actually need? What is the proper role for gold in an investment portfolio? Why has its price been falling?

2013-05-22 Waiting for the Great Rotation: Why Interest Rates Could Stay Low Even Longer by Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson of Hartford Funds

The number-one question I get from investors is, “When will rates go up?” While this concern has been top of mind for the last few years, investors’ anxiety and sense of risk has intensified amid the threat of the “Great Rotation”the anticipated en masse reallocation out of bonds into equities. But so far, rates have yet to rise, leaving many people to wonder where we stand now and what may happen next. To answer these questions, I’d like to make three points.

2013-05-22 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Once again stock prices moved higher last week despite mostly poor economic data and a background in Washington DC of multiple scandals. The latter begging the question as to whether substantive policy actions are now off the table for the year.

2013-05-21 Do Annuities Reduce Bequest Values? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

The widely held view that annuities reduce bequest values is too narrow. Adjustments can be made in retirement portfolios to reduce retirement risk without sacrificing the value of one’s bequest. Here’s how retirees can purchase annuities, adjust allocations in remaining assets and achieve improved retirement outcomes.

2013-05-21 Capitalism and Democracy by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In the Italian elections, the party that showed the strongest results was the Five Star Movement, led by the comedian Beppe Grillo. Despite this strong showing, the party failed to form a government and refused to participate in any coalitions. This decision not to participate in the political process has been exhibited by other protest groups, such as Occupy Wall Street, the Israeli Tent Movement, and the Spanish “Indignant” movement.

2013-05-17 A Matter of Perspective by Robert Horrocks of Matthews Asia

A Hong Kong investor once told me that he considered Asia’s capital markets to be like breaking waves; their rhythms often violent, but ultimately, they make a steady progression up the shore. It has often been noted that many Asia investors play these short-term rhythms. But ultimately the tide does come in and there is room for the long-term investor.

2013-05-17 Opportunistic Investing: Making the Most of Your Cash in Today's Market by Chris Engelman of Cedar Hill Associates

With the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index rising more than 20% since last June, some people are reluctant to invest now, fearful that stocks are poised to tumble again. By focusing on their long-term investment objectives rather than short-term market fluctuations, however, investors can plan for a sound financial future. Here, Cedar Hill Managing Director Chris Engelman offers strategies for building a portfolio that helps to limit market risks and increases the likelihood of achieving your long-term goals.

2013-05-17 Recession Watch: ECRI\'s Weekly Leading Indicator Declines by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Essentially ECRI is sticking to its call that a recession began in mid-2012, although the company calls it a "mild" recession, which is quite a shift from their original stance 19 months ago: "...if you think this is a bad economy, you haven’t seen anything yet."

2013-05-14 Curing Smartphone Addiction by Dan Richards (Article)

For some people, smartphones lead not only to distraction but to burnout and reduced motivation. Ultimately, they reduce productivity rather than increase it.

2013-05-14 Cyclical and Emerging Market Strength May Be Pointing to Better Growth by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Last week U.S. equities advanced as the S&P 500 increased by 1.3%. We have been amazed bythe market’s ability to continue to rally in an environment in which sales growth has been anemic and earnings gains have been largely based on companies’ abilities to manage margins and utilize financial engineering.

2013-05-13 Closing Arguments: Nothing Further, Your Honor by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Nothing further, your honor. I am resting my case.

2013-05-13 Americas: Regional Economic Review 1Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Weaker global demand and prices for energy and commodities, as well as softer than expected domestic consumption have restricted the growth outlook for most economies in the Americas region during the first three months of the year. Fewer monthly job additions in the U.S. have dented consumer confidence, and growth for the current year is now forecast to be moderately lower than earlier expectations.

2013-05-10 Recession Watch: ECRI\'s Weekly Leading Indicator Continues to Show Improvement by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Essentially ECRI is sticking to its call that a recession began in mid-2012, although the company calls it a "mild" recession, which is quite a shift from their original stance 19 months ago: "...if you think this is a bad economy, you haven’t seen anything yet."

2013-05-08 Monthly Letter to Our Clients and Friends by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

It has been years since we have seen new highs on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500. Although the wait can be traumatizing, it’s nice to get proof that market prices ultimately recognize growth of business value.

2013-05-08 6.7 Million “Missing Workers” Where Did They Go? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Today we will touch several bases. We begin with last Friday’s unemployment report which was hailed by the mainstream media, but had a lot of bad news to go with the good. From there we look at the estimated 6.7 million “missing workers” in this economy and ponder if they’re permanently gone from the employment rolls.

2013-05-07 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 Breakaway Brokers: What the Data Really Say by Bob Veres (Article)

For the past 15 years, and especially since 2008, few assumptions have been accepted as widely or confidently in the financial services world as the idea that brokers are leaving the wirehouse environment in increasing numbers – and taking their clients with them. Underlying that assumption is another: that the trend is accelerating, and will continue to do so until the brokerage industry’s retail footprint has been severely diminished. The more extreme projections see the entire brokerage asset gatherer/sales model following Lehman, E. F. Hutton and Bear Stearns into extinction.

2013-05-07 Eight Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Your Boss The Art of Managing Up by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Many advisors with whom I work want their employees to work with them more effectively – what I call “managing up.” Advisors are often at a loss as to how to motivate staff and get them to jump on board with new initiatives – and those problems can be addressed by helping your charges improve their working relationship with you.

2013-05-06 Aligning Market Exposure With the Expected Return/Risk Profile by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Some risks and market conditions are more rewarding than others. My objectives for this week’s comment are very specific. First, to demonstrate using a very simple model that investment returns do indeed vary systematically with market conditions. Second, to demonstrate that overvalued, overbought, overbullish conditions have historically dominated trend-following measures when they have emerged. Third, to demonstrate the impact of accepting investment exposure in proportion to the return/risk profile that is associated with a given set of market conditions.

2013-05-06 The Narrative Changes Yet Again by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The April employment report suggests that the economy continues to expand at a moderate pace, as had been the common view prior to the March employment report. While sequestration and the hike in the payroll tax at the beginning of the year may have taken a bite out of growth, hindsight indicates the economy entered 2013 with enough momentum to overcome these new forms of fiscal drag. Growth should strengthen over the coming months, as lower oil prices and time overcome the negative influences.

2013-05-06 Sell in May But Stick Around by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

A bit odd, perhaps, to worry about deflation as the S&P hits all time highs. But the whiff of deflation is in the air. The YOY PCE core (the one the Fed likes) came in at 1.1% which is the lowest it has ever been.

2013-05-04 The QE Sandpile by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Sell in May and go away? What about "risk off?" And ever more QE? Today’s letter is a quick note and a reprise of a popular letter from yesteryear (with a bit of new slant), as I am at my conference in Carlsbad.

2013-05-03 Pring Turner Approach to Business Cycle Investing by Team of AdvisorShares

Like the seasons of the year, the environment for bonds, stocks, and commodities progress in a repeatable and sequential fashion. A gardener understands it is difficult to plant in the winter because nothing grows. The same is true for the financial seasons in the business cycle, where investors can use knowledge of the sequence to create a financial market roadmap. This paper from Pring Turner Capital Group, one of our valued sub-advisors, takes you through the six-stages of the business cycle.

2013-05-01 Emerging Asia Pacific: Regional Economic Review by Team of Thomas White International

Major emerging Asia Pacific economies, which picked up growth momentum during the latter half of 2012, struggled to carry forward the economic pace during the initial months of 2013. China, India, and Indonesia, some of the most populous countries in the region and in the world, faced significant headwinds to growth as key engines of the economy investment, consumption, and exports came under strain.

2013-05-01 There Will Be Haircuts by Bill Gross of PIMCO

It has been the objective of the Fed over the past few years to make even more innovative forms of money by supporting stock and bond prices at cost on an ever ascending scale, thereby assuring holders via a “Bernanke put” that they might just as well own stocks as the cash in their purses. Gosh, a decade or so ago a house almost became a money substitute. MEW or mortgage equity withdrawal could be liquefied instantaneously based on a “never go down” housing market. You could equitize your home and go sailing off into the sunset on a new 28-foot skiff on any day but S

2013-05-01 Looking at Leverage Outside the Box by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

Yield-seeking investors have been boxed in by the near-zero US rate environment, and it seems like there are few ways out. But for those willing to set aside preconceived ideas about the word “leverage,” the lesser-known leveraged loans category may be an alternative to consider in the credit space. Mark Boyadjian, senior vice president and director of our Franklin Floating Rate Debt Group, spoke to us recently about what these often-misunderstood vehicles are and what yield-seeking investors need to know before they take the plunge.

2013-04-30 The Most Underappreciated Threat to the Advisory Business by Bob Veres (Article)

Financial advisors have often heard the warning that their investment management services are going to become commoditized – so often, in fact, that you can forgive them for ceasing to pay attention. But if you don’t believe that an online algorithm can replace the sophisticated advice offered by a flesh-and-blood advisor, then check out the Wealthfront USA website.

2013-04-30 The Best Solution for Protecting Retirement Portfolios: Put and Call Options versus GLWBs by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Retirees cannot be exposed to severe – or even modest – market losses. They need to protect their savings in a cost-effective manner. I will compare the projected outcomes for two types of strategies: options, which can reduce volatility, and products that guarantee lifetime income, such as variable annuities with guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits.

2013-04-29 When Rich Valuations Meet Poor Economic Data by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Given the full set of market conditions that we observe, including the persistent overvalued, overbought, overbullish syndrome that has developed in recent months, our concerns about stocks are not dependent on the direction of the economy over the coming quarters. An economic downturn would simply add immediacy to those concerns.

2013-04-27 The Cashless Society by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

A cashless future might be farther off than we either fear or hope. Not only is it farther away than some think, we are actually seeing an increase in the use of cash all over the world (and this is not just a US phenomenon). We will look at some interesting factoids that make for thought-provoking discussions, but when we couple them with research on the rise of the unreported economy (aka the underground economy) and the number of people who get some form of government assistance, we may find problematic consequences resulting from hidden incentives that work in unintended ways.

2013-04-26 Recession Watch: ECRI\'s Weekly Leading Indicator Rises Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Essentially ECRI is sticking to its call that a recession began in mid-2012, although the company now calls it a "mild" recession, which is quite a shift from their original stance 18 months ago: "...if you think this is a bad economy, you haven’t seen anything yet."

2013-04-26 The Race of Our Lives by Jeremy Grantham of GMO

Our global economy, reckless in its use of all resources and natural systems, shows many of the indicators of potential failure that brought down so many civilizations before ours. By sheer luck, though, ours has two features that might just save our bacon: declining fertility rates and progress in alternative energy. Our survival might well depend on doing everything we can to encourage their progress. Vested interests, though, defend the status quo effectively and the majority much prefers optimistic propaganda to uncomfortable truth and wishful thinking rather than tough action.

2013-04-26 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Equilibrium by Ben Inker of GMO

The bedrock of GMO’s investment philosophy is reversion to the mean. We believe that capitalism should cause the return on capital to be in line with the cost of capital, and that assets that embody similar risks should offer similar long-term returns. These beliefs, in turn, guide our assumptions that equities should trade at replacement cost, that the long-term return to equities should be approximately the same as their normalized earnings yield, and that assets without long return histories should have similar valuations and equilibrium returns as related assets with longer histories

2013-04-26 Changing the Conversation by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

It has been estimated that if the government used the same methodology to measure inflation that it used during the 1980’s, we would be currently dealing with official inflation that would be many times higher than today’s official 1.5% rate. But now the government appears ready to distort the figures even further.

2013-04-25 Q1 2013 Market Commentary by John Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management

The country now in the news is tiny Cyprus, which received a bailout for its banks from the European Union (EU), but only after agreeing to steep losses for those banks’ large depositors. Hitting up bank deposits represents a new dimension to the European debt crisis and illustrates how in a crisis, leaders can and often will resort to whatever means are necessary. When the Cypriots first requested a bailout from the EU and were told their depositors had to suffer, they balked and said that was unacceptable...

2013-04-24 The 5% Problem: Double Jeopardy for Traditional Bond Investors by Nathan Rowader of Forward Management

Investors have suffered with low yields, but profited from rising bond values during the 30-year bull market for bonds. We believe the bond market is moving into a bearish phase, putting the value of existing bond holdings at risk. A variety of income-producing options are available for those who want to diversify bond portfolios and seek better yields. Historical analysis shows that a diversified portfolio would have outperformed traditional bonds during the last bear bond market and in periods of rising interest rates.

2013-04-24 An Awesome Gift For Your Kids, Grandkids, or You by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

This week, I veer from our usual economic and investment themes to tell you about what I believe is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give your children, grandchildren or others who are dear to you (or maybe even yourself). What I am about to describe is something that has literally changed the lives of dozens of my friends and relatives over the last 30+ years.

2013-04-22 “Covenant-Lite” Loans: Credit Quality Is Still the Dominant Factor by John Bell, Kevin Perry of Loomis Sayles

As portfolio managers for bank loan products at Loomis Sayles, we are often asked about “covenant-lite” bank loans, and in particular whether they represent a dangerous trend that suggests loans are overheated and should be avoided. This paper describes our views on what covenant-lite loans are and are not; it is based more on reasoning and experience than proof, because covenant-lite loans have not been offered over a long enough period to establish a meaningful fact pattern.

2013-04-22 The Endgame is Forced Liquidation by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Rule o’ Thumb: When the cover of a major financial magazine features a cartoon of a bull leaping through the air on a pogo stick, it’s probably about time to cash in the chips.

2013-04-19 Quarterly Review and Outlook by Van Hoisington, Lacy Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

“The Federal Reserve is printing money”. No statement could be less truthful. The Federal Reserve is not, and has not been, “printing money” as defined as an acceleration in M2 or money supply. A review of post-war economic history would lead to a logical assumption that the money supply would respond upward to this massive infusion of reserves into the banking system. The reality is just the opposite. Printing money? No.

2013-04-19 Fed to End QE, Obama's Tax & Spend Budget by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Today I tackle several topics, each of which could take up an entire E-Letter. But these topics are very important, and I want to address them today. The first is the minutes from the March 19-20 Fed Open Market Committee meeting that were released last Wednesday. Those minutes definitively confirm that the Fed is ready to chart an end to quantitative easing.

2013-04-19 \"America Has Faced the Unknown Since 1776,\" So Says Warren Buffett by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

So wrote Warren Buffett in his March 1, 2013 letter to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stockholders. In the phrase before this quote, Mr. Buffett wrote: “Of course, the immediate future is uncertain ” And after this quote, he wrote: “It’s just that sometimes people focus on the myriad of uncertainties that always exist while at other times they ignore them (usually because the recent past has been uneventful).”

2013-04-19 Recession Watch: ECRI\'s Weekly Leading Indicator Rises by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Essentially ECRI is sticking to its call that a recession began in mid-2012, although the company now calls it a "mild" recession, which is quite a shift from their original stance 18 months ago: "...if you think this is a bad economy, you haven’t seen anything yet."

2013-04-19 Japan Steps into the Void by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

In the years following the global financial crisis, economists and investors have gotten very comfortable with very high, and seemingly persistent, government debt. The nonchalance may be underpinned by the assumption that globally significant countries that can print their own currencies can’t get trapped in a sovereign debt crisis. However, it now appears that Japan is preparing to put this confidence to the ultimate stress test.

2013-04-17 Is the Fed Eyeing an Earlier End to QE? by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Until September of last year, the Federal Reserve structured each of its bond buying programs in the same way: it announced a fixed amount of purchases and a specific target end date. This changed with the latest quantitative easing (QE) program launched last year. This time, instead of stating a specific dollar amount of purchases, Fed officials left the program open-ended: QE would continue as long as needed to ensure a stronger recovery in the labor market.

2013-04-16 The Asian Economic Crisis and the IMF by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In May 1997, a speculative run against the Thai baht became the first clear signal that a problem was developing in Asia. Over the next three years, Asia and other emerging markets, including Russia and Brazil, were rocked by a historic financial crisis. These nations recovered strongly in the following eight years and generally made it through the 2007-09 global financial crisis in relatively good shape. However, the impact of the Asian economic crisis remains a major factor in the behavior of these emerging nations.

2013-04-15 The Counter-Inflation Playbook Part 1 by Jeffrey Jones of Cornice Capital

One of the most important lessons I learned during my days at UCLA came from my freshman philosophy professor. He told us that should you find yourself engaged in a debate, the surest way to defeat your opponent is to attack his base principles. If those base principles aren’t fundamentally sound, any case built on top of it, no matter how convincing, is at risk of crumbling all at once.

2013-04-15 Increasingly Immediate Impulses to Buy the Dip (or, How to Blow a Bubble) by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

A tendency toward increasingly immediate attempts by investors to buy every dip in the market reflects a broadening consensus among investors that there is no direction other than up, and that any correction, however, small, is a buying opportunity. As investors clamor to buy ever smaller dips at increasing frequency, the slope of the market’s advance becomes diagonal or parabolic. This is one of the warning signs of a bubble.

2013-04-12 ECRI\'s Weekly Leading Indicator Shows a Small Improvement by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 130.1, up from 129.1 last week (revised from 129.2). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) remains unchanged at 6.2%.

2013-04-12 Everyone Wants More Financial Stability, But at What Cost? by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

For all the good intentions, there is no guarantee that the rush to re-regulate will be successful. The next crisis may look nothing like the one just past, and the political will to take tough preventative steps during good times cannot be taken for granted.

2013-04-09 Investment Bulletin: Global Equity Strategy by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

Another good month and a strong quarter, with the portfolio gaining by 3.5% and 15.2% (net) respectively, outperforming the rises in the index of 1.8% and 14.0%. Conspiracy theorists could be forgiven for believing that most political/central bank action is designed to support equity prices. The Cyprus fiasco is an example: whatever the legal frameworks, from government guarantees of bank deposits to the repayment of sovereign bonds, all are merely non-binding statements of intent, thus a wake-up call to buy real, income-producing assets.

2013-04-08 “Country Roads, Take Me Home,To The Place I Belong ” by David Lieberman (Article)

Recently, I was listening to a Pod Cast from This American Life about the increasing disability rolls in the United States. The story itself was excellent and I would highly recommend it, but the implications of the numbers are equally remarkable. In the past 20 years, the number of people on disability in the United States has soared, even recently when the unemployment rate has declined materially. Rather than focus on the policy decisions, causes of this phenomena, or even whether they are logical, good, or bad, I’m going to focus purely on the unemployment and economic ramifications

2013-04-08 Taking Distortion at Face Value by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The U.S. stock market presently reflects two unstable features. One is that extraordinary monetary policy specifically quantitative easing has created an ocean of zero-interest money that someone has to hold at each point in time, and that provokes a speculative reach for yield. The other is that extraordinary fiscal policy, coupled with household savings near record lows, have joined to elevate profit margins more than 70% above their historical norm, as the deficit of one sector has to emerge as the surplus of another.

2013-04-05 ECRI\'s Recession Indicators Decline from the Previous Week by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Today ECRI has added a new headline on the website, Employment Growth Hits New Low, based on data from today’s jobs report. Essentially ECRI is sticking to its call that a recession began in mid-2012, although the company now calls it a "mild" recession, which is quite a shift from their original stance 18 months ago: "...if you think this is a bad economy, you haven’t seen anything yet."

2013-04-03 First Quarter Recap by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

This past month marked the fourth anniversary of the global equity market bottom on March 9, 2009. U.S. stocks have clawed back all of the losses from the Great Recession and are near historical highs. Most other major markets are still well below their 2007 peaks, but have rebounded sharply since last June and look increasingly resilient. However, there is tremendous anxiety about the economic outlook, and many investors fear equities and other risk assets are floating on a sea of liquidity rather than solid fundamentals. We are more constructive and maintain a pro-growth investment stance.

2013-04-03 Learning from Douglas H. Bellemore One Great Teacher and Investment Counselor by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Sometimes, I think those of us in the investment business strive to obtain the abilities of Star Trek’s Mr. Spock. Spock, the half-human half-Vulcan, learned to ignore the human emotions buried inside his self and use logic in order to solve the problems before him. Just think, what great investors we could be if we could simply control our human nature. As a Vulcan, we could construct an investment portfolio that would produce higher returns than any human could produce.

2013-04-02 The Most Important Practice Management Challenge by Bob Veres (Article)

The future of the advisory business is all about people, according to Philip Palaveev. No matter what happens with consolidation and pricing, he says, no matter what role technology plays, the most successful firms of the future will be those which excel at retaining, motivating and organizing their people.

2013-04-02 New Research on Investor Behavior by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)

Market theory passed through two distinctly different paradigms in the past 80 years and is experiencing the rise of a third. Those transitions have marked the introduction of improved ways to explain price movements. The ascendant paradigm, based on new research in the field of behavioral economics, promises to offer superior guidance to investors and advisors who hope to exploit market inefficiencies.

2013-04-02 Flying High on Borrowed Wings by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

After selling off an astounding 56% between October of 2007 and March 2009, the S&P 500 has staged a rally for the ages, surging 120% and recovering all of its lost ground too. This stunning turnaround certainly qualifies as one of the more memorable, and unusual, stock market rallies in history. The problem is that the rally has been underwritten by the Federal Reserve’s unconventional monetary policies But for some reason, this belief has not weakened the celebration.

2013-04-02 Cypriots In The Streets by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

The news of the month comes from the large Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where Keynesian economic planning left the economy facing complete bankruptcy. The result was an unprecedented step forward in the financial collapse of the West: direct forfeiture of bank deposits. Despite official protestations to the contrary, this fallout will spread to a bank near you.

2013-04-01 We Should Already Have Learned How This Will End by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The bear market losses that complete each market cycle have different catalysts. Some feature recession, some feature inflation, some feature credit events, but nearly all feature a spike in risk premiums from levels that have become both low and complacent. That’s the underlying risk that overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yield conditions have reliably identified over time.

2013-03-29 ECRI Recession Indicator: Unchanged from Last Week by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) to one decimal place is unchanged from last week. It is now at 129.7, the same as last week’s downward revision from 129.8. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) has risen fractionally to 6.6%, up from last week’s 6.3%. Those of us who regularly follow ECRI’s publicly available data and commentaries understand that there is no logical connection between ECRI’s proprietary indicators and their "pronounced, pervasive and persistent" recession call of September 2011.

2013-03-29 Learnings From the Cyprus Saga by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

There are important differences between the situation in Cyprus and the challenges other southern European nations face that should limit the transfer of financial trauma. The hope remains that the ECB’s promise to do whatever it takes to solve the sovereign debt crisis will ultimately settle markets. But access to certain types of ECB support requires reaching agreement on restructuring with the same European officials who have handled the situation in Cyprus so maladroitly.

2013-03-27 Call Him Ishmael by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital

One of the hardest things to conquer as a value investor is the concept of "price." The industry remains mired in fascination with abstract prices like 100, 1,000, 14,000, previous highs, new lows, etc. The stock is up x% from x dollar price; it is down x% from x price. There is also much in print and general fretting in regard to "price action," with lots of attention paid to where the stock has "been" and how this move relates to other "moves," as in "the largest move since last December 12th."

2013-03-27 What Happened to That Export-Led Recovery? by Mike Amey of PIMCO

With nearly 50% of the UK’s total exports going to Europe, an economic area constantly flirting with its own recession, it is no surprise to see that UK trade performance has been challenged.As the US continues to re-heal, and trade becomes more geographically diversified, we should see exports start to grow once more, albeit off a modest base. The easing in sterling is undoubtedly welcome and will improve prospects for exports, but it is unlikely to be a “game changer”.

2013-03-26 In Gold, Not Cyprus, We Trust by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Global investors had to muster the courage to keep calm as news of Cyprus’ proposed partial theft of all bank deposits took Wall Street by surprise, closed the country’s banks and drove the price of gold higher.

2013-03-26 The Real Worry in Europe (Hint: It's Not Cyprus) by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Investors have enjoyed six months of relative quiet in Europe, but the situation has flared up again over Cyprus. While many investors are wondering why they should care about such a tiny part of Europe, Russ says the answer is because it is indicative of a bigger concern.

2013-03-25 The Little Bank That Did. by Dan Ariely of Dan Ariely Blog

Over the last few years, I’ve had some harsh words for bankers, banks, and the culture of the industry. In truth, I could have said worse, and it would have been justified.

2013-03-25 Cyprus Averts Disaster, but the Price is High by Darren Williams of AllianceBernstein

The European Union’s last-minute deal with Cyprus has headed off bankruptcy for now, but comes at a heavy price for uninsured bank depositors. Meanwhile, the move to impose losses on private creditors and growing complacency among policymakers could be storing up trouble for the future.

2013-03-25 The Hook by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

At the 2000 peak, Richard Russell observed "Every bull and bear market needs a hook.’ The hook in a bear market is whatever the bear serves to keep investors and traders thinking that everything is going to be all right. There is always a hook."

2013-03-25 Energy: Perilous Present, Promising Future by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

For oil and gas, an era of abundant supplies and lower prices awaits. But investors will have to weather a tricky geopolitical situation before it arrives.

2013-03-22 Cyprus Lifts the Curtain by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

This week financial analysts, economists, politicians, and bank depositors from around the world were outraged that European leaders, more specifically the Germans, currently calling many of the shots in Brussels and Frankfurt, could be so politically reckless, economically ignorant, and emotionally callous as to violate the sanctity of bank deposits in order to fund a bailout of Cyprus.

2013-03-22 ECRI’s "Recession" Indicators: Unchanged from Last Week by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The only new ECRI-related news since last Friday’s update is a CBS Moneywatch commentary, Can the stock market rise while the economy stalls? ECRI liked the commentary well enough to reprint it on the company’s website. It basically reiterates Achuthan’s point in the "Yo-Yo Years" essay that it’s possible for the market to rise during a recession, citing three such instances (of the 15 recessions) since the Roaring Twenties.

2013-03-19 Understanding the Role of SPIAs in a Retirement Portfolio by David B. Loeper (Article)

Wade Pfau’s recent article, Breaking Free from the Safe Withdrawal Paradigm, was well researched. Its goal was to accurately calculate the benefits of using SPIAs based on certain assumptions. I fear, however, that many readers may have not fully grasped the impact of a few key assumptions that drive his results.

2013-03-19 How My Firm Hires Great Employees by Teresa Riccobuono (Article)

Adding a team member is a big decision. If you are thinking the time is right to add to your roster, here are a few things to consider.

2013-03-18 Investment, Speculation, Valuation, and Tinker Bell by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The most important questions investors should be asking are these: what do they know that can be demonstrated to be true; and what do they believe that can be demonstrated to be untrue. It is best to make these distinctions deliberately, lest the financial markets clarify these distinctions for investors later, against investors’ will, and at great cost.

2013-03-18 Currencies: A 1970s Flashback? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Four decades ago, a currency war and significant Fed easing were followed by a bout of high inflation. Now investors are worried that history could repeat itself.

2013-03-15 ECRI’s Recession Call: Proprietary Indicators Still Not Cooperating by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose in today’s update. It is now at 129.9 versus the previous week’s 129.5 (revised upward from 129.3). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) has eased, now at 6.3, down from last week’s 6.4 (an upward revision from 6.2).

2013-03-14 Global Currency Battles: A Waiting Disaster or a Win for All? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

To many, Japan’s recent moves to devalue the yen looked like the spark that could ignite a global currency war -- a series of competitive devaluations that, last century, helped plunge the world into the Great Depression. Until now, central bankers have been resisting the urge to politicize exchange rates. However, while currency skirmishes can be dangerous and require monitoring, they are also necessary for establishing equilibrium in markets and will help in the global economic recovery, some experts say.

2013-03-13 Argentina on Sale by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

(From Cafayate, Argentina) There are some who worry whether the path that Argentina has taken to monetary ruin on multiple occasions (and that it seems intent on taking again) is one that the US may also find itself on. That worry has crossed my mind a few times, I must confess. Today we will look at Argentina more in depth. From a monetary perspective, it deserves attention. And once again there will be opportunity.

2013-03-12 Three Ways to Turn Referrals into Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

In the perfect world, every prospect who's been given your name would immediately call you. But the real world doesn't work that way, something I was reminded of by a recent email from a financial advisor. Here's how to address that situation.

2013-03-12 Bill Ackman on What Makes a Great Investment by John Heins (Article)

In addition to commenting on his high-profile current investments, Pershing Square Capital's Bill Ackman in a recent interview with Value Investor Insight describes the general company traits he looks for in both active and passive investments, why a high public profile is an important element of his strategy, whether his thesis on J.C. Penney has evolved, what lessons he's learned from a few prominent mistakes, and why his short conviction on Herbalife is as high as ever.

2013-03-12 We Made It. Now What? by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

What looks like a fairly settled policy in Europe is fast becoming a very dangerous situation, according to Christian Thwaites in his latest "Thought of the Week" -- "We Made It. Now What?" -- adding that the outlook for the world's second largest economic bloc is pretty week.

2013-03-11 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Stocks moved to record highs (Dow Jones) early in the week and never looked back. Some favorable economic data, particularly from labor, renewed investors' confidence and others jumped on as the week progressed to participate in the friendly trend. Even with the spending cuts from sequester threatening to weaken the economy, investors focused more on the present than the future. Though naysayers scoff at the recent moves and claim the economic strength is at least partially artificially Fed induced, their voices have been silenced for now.

2013-03-08 Our Five Year Forecast by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

We believe that predicting short term swings in the market is an exercise in humility. Longer-term market predictions can have some value, but they should be based on a form of valuation methodology of the underlying securities which make up the market of choice, and a consideration of the current mood of the market participants should also be included.

2013-03-08 ECRI "Recession" Update: Lakshman Achuthan Stands his Ground by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The big news this week is the ECRI's Chief Operating Officer and spokesman, Lakshman Achuthan, returned to the media circuit with interviews yesterday on Bloomberg, CNBC and Yahoo's Daily Ticker. In addition, ECRI has published a new commentary available to the general public.

2013-03-07 When Will the Music Stop? by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The investment environment is in transition, with uncertainty around policy moves contributing an increasing amount of uncertainty for asset prices.

2013-03-07 Guanxi, Mianzi, and Business: The Impact of Culture on Corporate Governance in China by David Smith of Aberdeen Asset Management

There are two key cultural and sociological issues of particular importance when evaluating Chinese companies: guanxi (relationships and networks) and mianzi (face). When analyzing the potential of a Chinese company, it's important to understand how guanzi and mianzi affect transactions, board composition and deliberations, and shareholder engagement, among other issues.

2013-03-07 Transatlantic Trade's Transformative Potential by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

A "Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership" between the US and Europe has the potential to transform global trade and multilateral organizations to the benefit of all. But this opportunity could be squandered, owing to the short-term mindset that now encumbers the West and the multilateral organizations that it dominates.

2013-03-06 Liquidity Tiering for Higher Yields in the Tax-Free Market by Duane McAllister, John Bortizke of BMO Global Asset Management

In today's low-yield environment, investors need a fresh approach to managing their portfolios for higher income. Liquidity tiering provides a framework that can help you achieve both principal stability and yields sufficient to meet your goals.

2013-03-05 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 The Sequester: A Second Quarter Worry by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Now that March 1 has come and gone, what will the sequester mean for the US economy and markets? Maybe not much in the near term, but Russ explains why the second quarter will be a different story.

2013-03-05 Currencies: The Winds of War by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

In this conflict, the collateral damage could include asset bubbles and accelerating inflation.

2013-03-04 Reminiscences of Marty Zweig: What I Learned From a Market Great by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Wall Street loses one of its greats. Remembering Marty's contributions to my career... and investors everywhere. Marty epitomized humility and civilityboth in short order today.

2013-03-01 ECRI "Recession" Update: Proprietary Indicators Slip Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

ECRI adamantly denied that the sharp decline of their indicators in 2010 marked the beginning of a recession. But in 2011, when their proprietary indicators were at levels higher than 2010, they made their recession call with stunning confidence bordering on arrogance.

2013-02-27 Potential Threats to Equity Rally by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Equity markets started a third consecutive year in rather impressive fashion, gaining more than 6% to date. With so much optimism in the investment community, it is always worth keeping an eye open for risks possibly overlooked. By now, it is apparent that investors are increasing their exposure towards equities with arms wide open. Data from the Investment Company Institute (ICI) estimates $39 billion flowed into equity mutual funds this year through February 13. Following outflows of $153 billion in 2012, the sudden reversal has been impressive.

2013-02-25 Fiscal Policy: The Same Old Drag by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Among the many fears shared by investors, concerns over fiscal drag have recently risen. Though no one yet can know the specifics of Washington's coming compromises, these will no doubt impose the anticipated tax hikes or spending cuts, and these will indeed hold back the pace of economic growth. Still, it would be a mistake to anticipate too much of a shock. The country, after all, has suffered fiscal drag for some years now. Even with failure in Washington, a moderation in cutbacks at the state and local level should allow government overall to offer the economy a measure of relief.

2013-02-22 ECRI "Recession" Update: Proprietary Indicators Slip Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

ECRI adamantly denied that the sharp decline of their indicators in 2010 marked the beginning of a recession. But in 2011, when their proprietary indicators were at levels higher than 2010, they made their recession call with stunning confidence bordering on arrogance...

2013-02-22 Central Banks Are Factoring Financial Stability into Their Decision Making by Team of Northern Trust

Central banks are factoring financial stability into their decision making. The FOMC is taking a critical look at its asset purchase strategy. Don't look now, but the sequester is coming.

2013-02-20 Sequestration Will Slow Real GDP Growth But Not Because of Demand-‐Side Effects by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

In my February 5, 2013 commentary "2013 Economic Outlook Bright Sunshine for the U.S., Some Cloud Abroad," I argued that changes in federal fiscal policy have no material impact on total spending on the economy, but rather affect the distribution or composition of a given amount of total spending. The crux of my argument was that other private spending would "crowd in/out" changes in demand emanating from changes in tax and/or government spending policies. In this commentary, I will amend that argument.

2013-02-19 The Three Minutes that Cost a Million-Dollar Prospect by Dan Richards (Article)

Small investments of time often pay big dividends. That message was agonizingly clear to an advisor who wasted several minutes having a coffee at a Starbucks, when he should have been preparing for the prospect he was about to meet.

2013-02-19 Six Recommendations for Working with Widows by Kathleen M. Rehl, Ph.D., CFP (Article)

Widows are a fast-growing segment of the U.S. population, with almost 12 million women currently widowed and another 800,000 joining their ranks each year. Working with a widow, especially in the early stages of her grief, requires a non-traditional approach to financial advising.

2013-02-19 Sequester and Pension - Two Topics We Can't Get Enough Of! by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week we take a look at which States may be hit hardest by the imposition of the sequester. We then turn our attention to pensions and focus in on funded status, annual required contributions and just who may be left holding the bag (hint, it is who you think).

2013-02-19 The Siren's Song of the Unfinished Half-Cycle by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

If there is one fatal siren's song of investing, it is the belief that an unfinished half of the market cycle will remain unfinished.

2013-02-16 The Squeeze: Reassessing the Japan/Korea/China Manufacturing Nexus by John Longhurst of PIMCO

If the yen settles between 95 and 100 to the dollar, it could be a game changer for Japanese companies which have restructured to become profitable at 75 yen to the dollar. Some Korean companies, especially those in heavy industry, may be squeezed by intensified Japanese and Chinese competition. We expect Korean firms to fish in profit pools in businesses related to their core competencies, chiefly to the detriment of Asian and European competitors.

2013-02-16 Euro Relief: The Epic Fail That Wasnt by Team of Franklin Templeton

What a difference a year makes! Early in 2012, the eurozone appeared to be on life support and market prognosticators were busy weighing the odds of a breakup. At the time, the proposition that European stocks would actually post a positive performance for the year seemed almost absurd, but of course thats just the sort of fertile environment value-hunters such as Philippe Brugere-Trelat like. Brugere-Trelat found select opportunities in Europe that were ripe for the picking. While the debt crisis in Europe is far from over, he thinks the picture looks brighter for Europe this year.

2013-02-15 ECRI "Recession" Update: Propietary Indicators Take a Pause by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped fractionally in today's update. It is now at 129.6 versus the previous week's 130.2.The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) also eased, now at 8.3, down from last week's 8.9. WLIg has been in expansion territory since August 10th of last year, but is is fractionally off its interim high set last week.

2013-02-14 How Not to Run a Pension by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

For all the focus on the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare, there is another unfunded crisis brewing, and this one is in your own back yard. It's coming to you even if you live outside of the US; it just might take a little longer to get there. I wrote ten years ago that state and local pension funds might be underfunded by as much as $2 trillion. It turns out that I was being overly optimistic. New government research suggests that the figure might be as high as $3 trillion. But what if you take into account that retirees are living longer?

2013-02-12 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 Shall We Dance? by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

My impression is that the worst investment outcomes have typically followed appeals to the idea that "this time is different," and "you've got to dance as long as the music is playing."

2013-02-11 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Earnings continued to roll in which combined with higher dividends in many cases continued to support stock prices.

2013-02-08 ECRI "Recession" Update: Leading Index Growth Sets Another Interim High by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

First a flashback for those of us who have followed ECRI's media appearances: we know that the company adamantly denied that the sharp decline of their indicators in 2010 marked the beginning of a recession. But in 2011, when their proprietary indicators were at levels higher than 2010, they made their recession call with stunning confidence bordering on arrogance...

2013-02-08 Out With the Dragon In With the Snake by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Over 2013, we expect the Chinese government to continue its accommodative efforts, which should reinforce the equity rally. In addition, the new pyramid of power is focused on growth, as it seeks to improve and reform policies that will provide its residents with opportunities and social security, increase incomes and raise standards of living, which should encourage domestic consumption. Growth is set to be considerable over the next several years.

2013-02-07 Investing in the Robot Revolution: Part 2 by Catherine Wood, Michael Shavel of AllianceBernstein

From manufacturing to services, a step change in automation is underway. Investors will want to get a share of a market that could be worth $400 billion by 2020 but, more than ever, they will need to be well advised.

2013-02-06 Focus on Fixed Income by Steve Van Order of Calvert Investment Management

Last week Administration officials, including the President, clearly ruled out using extraordinary legal measures to avoid defaulting on Treasurys financial obligations in the absence of a debt ceiling hike by Congress. The two legal measures most discussed, going back to the summer 2011, were invoking the 14th Amendment and minting a trillion dollar platinum coin. The coin idea was dismissed as Fed officials commented that the central bank would not honor the coin as a deposit, and the amendment idea has been shelved a number of times.

2013-02-05 Four Steps to Get in Front of Million-dollar Prospects by Dan Richards (Article)

Most advisors tell me that once you're face-to-face with a prospect, you have an excellent chance of signing them up. It's not the slam dunk that it might have been 15 or 20 years ago, but good odds nevertheless. The big challenge is getting that face-to-face meeting.

2013-02-05 In Uncertain Environment, Jobs Grow Tepidly by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

For the 35th consecutive month, private payrolls registered positive growth. It was hardly the robust report economists would prefer, but the labor market continues to mend. However, there are still plenty of reasons to be concerned, especially with sequestration on the horizon.

2013-02-05 Eurozone: Divorce, Italian Style? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The upcoming election may determine whether Italy continues its austerity and reform programs. The fate of the currency union may hang in the balance.

2013-02-05 Ditto by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital Management

Anyone who reads my memos of the last 23 years will see I return often to a few topics. This is due to the frequency with which themes tend to recur in the investment world. Humans often fail to learn. They forget the lessons of history, repeat patterns of behavior and make the same mistakes. As a result, certain themes arise over and over. Mark Twain had it right: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." The details of the events may vary greatly from occurrence to occurrence, but the themes giving rise to the events tend not to change.

2013-02-04 The Bernanke Shock by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

The financial world was shocked this month by a demand from Germany's Bundesbank to repatriate a large portion of its gold reserves held abroad. By 2020, Germany wants 50% of its total gold reserves back in Frankfurt - including 300 tons from the Federal Reserve. The Bundesbank's announcement comes just three months after the Fed refused to submit to an audit of its holdings on Germany's behalf. One cannot help but wonder if the refusal triggered the demand.

2013-02-04 A Reluctant Bear's Guide to the Universe by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

In recent years, I've gained the reputation of a "perma-bear." The reality is that I'm quite a reluctant bear, in that I would greatly prefer market conditions and prospective returns to be different from what they are. There's no question that conditions and evidence will change, unless the stock market is to be bound for the next decade in what would ultimately be a low-single-digit horserace with near-zero interest rates. For my part, I think the likely shocks are larger, and the potential opportunities will be greater than investors seem to contemplate here.

2013-02-01 Q412 Portfolio Commentary by Jay Compson of Absolute Investment Advisers

While much of the fundamental picture has played out as we expected over the past 18-24 months, the financial markets appear to be concerned solely with the existence or non-existence of macro headlines and events. There seems to be a disconnect between market movements and fundamentals which means doing real work based on intellectual honesty and logic puts you at a disadvantage. Chasing momentum and profiting from central bank market manipulation appear to be the current winning strategies.

2013-02-01 Crystallization at Davos by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The euphoria among my fellow Davos attendees was palpable, but short and long-term risks for the world's advanced economies, including competitive currency devaluation, remain concerning.

2013-02-01 The Lost Decade...Found? by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital

While much of the fundamental picture has played out as we expected over the past 18-24 months, the financial markets appear to be concerned solely with the existence or non-existence of macro headlines and events. There seems to be a disconnect between market movements and fundamentals which means doing real work based on intellectual honesty and logic puts you at a disadvantage. Chasing momentum and profiting from central bank market manipulation appear to be the current winning strategies.

2013-02-01 For All the Sad Words of Tongue and Pen... by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

"For all the sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: It might have been." ... John Whittier; an influential American Quaker poet. Certainly, American poet John Greenleaf Whittier's apothegm has stood the test of time, serving as a universal lament for what "might have been." I was reminded of this maxim last week as Wall Street heard increasing laments from investors on the Street of Dreams.

2013-02-01 2 Major Threats Facing the US Economy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While markets cheered the House of Representatives' recent vote to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling, the US economy isn't out of the woods yet. Russ highlights the two major risks it still faces.

2013-02-01 Fiscal Cliff: Making Decisions in Crisis Part III by Brian Singer of William Blair

The December 31 fiscal cliff was averted, but by the narrowest of conceivable margins. The resolution is consistent with our November analysis, but the narrowness leaves much to be resolved and prolongs uncertainty through March.

2013-02-01 ECRI "Recession" Update: Leading Index Growth Hits Another Interim High by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

ECRI posts its proprietary indicators on one-week delayed basis to the general public, but ECRI's Lakshman Achuthan has switched focus to his company's version of the Big Four Economic Indicators I've been tracking for the past several months. See, for example, this November 29thBloomberg video that ECRI continues to feature on their website. Achuthan pinpoints July as the business cycle peak, thus putting us in at the beginning of the eighth month of a recession.

2013-01-31 Credit Supernova! by Bill Gross of PIMCO

They say that time is money. What they don't say is that money may be running out of time. There may be a natural evolution to our fractionally reserved credit system which characterizes modern global finance. Much like the universe, which began with a big bang nearly 14 billion years ago, but is expanding so rapidly that scientists predict it will all end in a "big freeze" trillions of years from now, our current monetary system seems to require perpetual expansion to maintain its existence.

2013-01-30 Taking a Dip? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

In the cold Midwest in January, the only talk of dips tends to be at Super Bowl parties or during the annual Polar Bear Club celebrations when a few hardy, scantily clad individuals jump into the frigid winter waters. Of course, in the summer those dips are much more inviting, following which a double "dipped" cone from the ice cream parlor has plenty to recommend it. But tune in to any financial news program or pick up your favorite financial read and you'll see that dips are all the rage. In this case, the reference is to "buying on dips."

2013-01-30 Fiscal Cliff: Making Decisions in Crisis Part I by Brian Singer of William Blair

Having lost touch with mainstream America, neither the Republican nor the Democratic Party enjoys much governing ability. Second, politicians struggle to function as leaders, regardless of competence, as a result of party disengagement. Third, left to their own devices, politicians will respond to their individual incentives. Bringing these observations together, neither party platform nor leadership vision will provide as much guiding force as the incentives of each politician, sometimes individually and other times in coalition.

2013-01-29 Are Planners Worth the Fees they Charge? by Wade Pfau (Article)

Could financial advisors who offer comprehensive services be doing a better job? Two recent studies shed a positive light on the potential of the financial planning profession to do right by their clients.

2013-01-25 Truth vs. IgnoranceThe Impactful Investment Manager of Tomorrow by Katy Sherrerd of Research Affiliates

Ignorance in investing can have devastating consequences for individual portfolios and personal wealth. Too often, capital market participants have little knowledge of how markets work, how to make investment decisions, or how to manage their portfolios. This month's Fundamentals explains how investment managers can add value for their clients through insight and education combined with the quest for alpha.

2013-01-25 ECRI "Recession" Update: Leading Index Growth Hits a New Interim High by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

For a few months, ECRI's indicators cooperated with their forecast, but that has not been the case in the second half of 2012 -- hence, I surmise, their switch to the traditional Big Four recession indicators. ECRI's December 7th article,The Tell-Tale Chart, makes clear their public focus on the Big Four.

2013-01-25 Opine Less, Think More by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks at investing from a broad perspective and goes over in detail some of the macro themes he is examining as he tries to help the reader make sense of what 2013 will bring. He discusses potential "black swans" that he has his eye on, the bounceback of American and European stock markets, the sometimes overlooked lack of a correlation between economic growth and stock market performance, what P/E ratios tell us both historically and in the present, and where valuations can go from here.

2013-01-25 Prisoner of the Bureaucracy by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I wrote some time ago that Greece had a choice between Disaster A: staying in the euro; and Disaster B: leaving the euro. I have recently come back from four days in Greece, meeting with lots of people at all levels of society, and will share with you in this letter my analysis of their choices and the results. I'll also have a few things to say about what the developments in Greece might mean for the rest of Europe and the developed world.

2013-01-25 Japan: Another Season of Downturn Abe? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The returning prime minister is trying to spark the moribund economy with the same old remediesbut bolder action is needed.

2013-01-24 Emerging Asia Pacific: Regional Economic Review 4Q 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

Emerging Asia Pacific economies showed strong signals of a rebound in economic activity amidst generally rising exports and stabilizing inflation. While some major economies like China, which had cut interest rates throughout 2012 to stimulate the economy, saw a mild resurgence in inflation, many countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Philippines saw inflation stabilize significantly during the quarter. Still, India, the region's second largest economy, continued to be troubled by rising prices despite high interest rates.

2013-01-23 The Year of the American Consumer by Philip Tasho of TAMRO Capital

It was an above-average year for stock returns across the domestic market cap spectrum. Ultimately, unconventional and accommodative monetary policy trumped investor concerns over fiscal policy, the Presidential election and weakness overseas. The Federal Reserve (the Fed) entered uncharted waters when it announced open-ended quantitative easing through the ongoing purchasing of government securities. Importantly, other central banks globally waded in by mimicking the Fed in word if not deed and the global liquidity cycle continued apace.

2013-01-22 The Political Cliff by Lawrence Grossman (Article)

Cliff-dwelling politicians are sending our country toward insolvency. Averting this crisis requires unconventional yet bold thinking. I propose such a plan.

2013-01-22 Year-End Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory

Stocks shrugged off numerous worries to log a very good year in 2012, but can markets continue to climb? Certainly the worries remain. The most immediate has to do with the spending side of the fiscal cliff. The cliff deal made permanent the Bush tax cuts for all but high-income taxpayers but it did not address spending. So while the worst case of the cliff was avoided, the work is not nearly done. In this commentary we discuss our current assessment of the investment environment including a detailed look at what could go right, and tie it all back to our portfolio positioning.

2013-01-18 Quarterly Review and Outlook by Van Hoisington, Lacy Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

The American Taxpayer Relief Act has lifted the immediate uncertainty of the fiscal cliff. Nevertheless, tax increases that are already in effect from this act, as well as the Affordable Care Act, impose a major obstacle to growth for the U.S. economy in the first half of 2013. The result of these taxes is considerable, especially in light of the poor trend in household income. In addition, these tax increases will continue to act as a drag on economic growth until late in 2015 and are unlikely to produce the revenue gains advertised.

2013-01-18 ECRI's Public Indicators Continue to Undermine Their Insistance That We're in a Recession by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

For a few months, ECRI's indicators cooperated with their forecast, but that has not been the case in the second half of 2012 -- hence, I surmise, their switch to the traditional Big Four recession indicators. ECRI's December 7th article, The Tell-Tale Chart, makes clear their public focus on the Big Four.

2013-01-18 Are Central Banks Easing Off Prematurely? by Team of Northern Trust

Are central banks easing off prematurely? Washington is girding for another budget imbroglio; Inflation is contained, for now.

2013-01-18 Taking Stock of the Greek Issue by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investment Management

Euro zone officials have shown a lot of flexibility in dealing with Greeces efforts. As the crisis extended to other countries, EMU politicians have put the integrity of the euro area above all and are unlikely to give up on their efforts should further difficulties arise. A Greek exit from the euro area does not seem to be an option any longer, but Greece must continue its efforts to return its public finances to a sustainable path.

2013-01-17 End of An Era: 30 Years of Double-Digit Chinese Growth by Bryce Fegley of Saturna Capital

Slumping exports, lackluster domestic consumption, and slowing urban migration contribute to lower growth expectations for China. With Chinese manufacturing capacity now saturated relative to global demand, and developed economies facing the consequences of over-indebtedness, external tailwinds to China's growth have passed.

2013-01-16 Haka Politics and the Slow Crawl by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

In the last few months we have seen the rise of Haka politics. Familiar to any All Blacks fan, this is the ritualistic Maori war dance, full of noise, bluster and theater. But it rarely intimidates and most opponents sit it out with some amusement. So it is with the political interventions last year. We saw countless announcements and intentions from EU leaders and solemn pledges with little follow-through. And in the US we had a soporific election and a squalid squabble over the fiscal cliff that caught the public but not the market's attention.

2013-01-16 3 Reasons the Stock Market Rally Could Falter by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Enjoy the US stock market rally while it lasts. Russ Koesterich has three reasons why investors should remain cautious in the near term.

2013-01-15 Demographics and the Decline of Equity Mutual Funds by Paul Franchi (Article)

Until the last few years, mutual fund flows followed performance. Recently, however, money has flowed disproportionately into bond funds and out of US equity funds despite a strong rally in the equity markets. Changing demographics explain this shift, which has important implications for advisors and the mutual fund industry.

2013-01-15 Template for a Year-End Client Letter 2012 in Review: Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future by Dan Richards (Article)

Client concerns about whether you're on top of things can be reduced by sending regular overviews of what's happened in the immediate past and the outlook for the period ahead. That's why each year since 2008, I have posted templates to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients an overview of the year that just ended and the outlook for the period ahead.

2013-01-15 New Year's Vantage Point: Christopher Molumphy by Christopher Molumphy of Franklin Templeton Investments

For a view on the U.S. and global fixed income market and potential opportunities therein, we turn to Christopher Molumphy, CFA, chief investment officer of Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group.

2013-01-15 New Ice by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

Last week, the immediate snap-back reversal we were expecting lasted 3 days and then the rebound to new short-term highs that we also spoke about occurred as well. While it is always difficult in the very short term to tell if we are back on track, to me it looks like we remain pointing higher, expecting some short-term dips along the way.

2013-01-15 A Conversation With Warren Buffett by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Clearly, the stock market "thinks" something good can happen given the action so far this year. To wit, we ushered in the New Year with a 90% Upside Volume Day on December 31st followed by another 90% Upside Volume Day on January 2nd (90% of total volume traded came in on the upside). Such back-to-back Upside Days are pretty rare, especially at the beginning of the year.

2013-01-15 From Cliff to Ceiling! by Jim Tillar, Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup

When it was all said and done not much happened in the final quarter of 2012. Anxiety picked up immediately after the election as the bickering over the fiscal cliff escalated. In the end, the worst-case scenario was avoided at least for a couple of months and stocks ended about where they began the quarter.

2013-01-14 Equity Market Review & Outlook by Richard Skaggs of Loomis Sayles

While the S&P 500 Index posted a slightly negative fourth-quarter return, the Index's 16.0% return for all of 2012 was notable in the face of a long list of global fundamental concerns. Midcap and small cap stocks performed better during the final three months of the year, posting gains of roughly 2.0%-3.0%. The fourth quarter outperformance of smaller stocks was enough to overtake the S&P 500 for the year, but just fractionally.

2013-01-11 ECRI's Imaginary Recession: Now in Its Seventh Month by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose in the latest public data. It is now at 128.3 versus the previous week's 126.6 (which is an upward revision from 126.4). Likewise the WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose, now at 5.1, up from last week's 5.0. WLIg has been in expansion territory since August 24th, although it is off its 6.0 interim high on October 12th.

2013-01-11 Special Edition: The Outlook for 2013 by Team of Northern Trust

At this time of the year we typically get warm and generous wishes for the New Year and, of course, numerous questions about what our crystal ball has in store for 2013. While many economists publish their perspectives prior to January 1, we opted to wait in the hope of having a clear fiscal picture for the United States. A lot of good that did us...

2013-01-11 The Margin Debate by Mebane Faber of World Beta

One of the more interesting debates regarding stock valuations is the state of profit margins. One one side you have Hussman and GMO lining up, and on the other Jeremy Siegel and Redleaf. Im on the side of the former, and this is one of the reasons we have moved the majority of our equity allocations to foreign markets (valuations being another).

2013-01-10 Defense as a Good Offense by Brian Frank of Frank Capital Partners

Oddly, defensive names that ordinarily trade at premiums to the market are trading at big value discounts. These companies that have the ability to grow in any economic environment are a part of the portfolio, as well as companies riding pockets of growth around the globe. There is a lot to be excited about in 2013 for value stocks.

2013-01-09 Stock Market Rocket by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

I know that if you spent any time during the holidays around children eight or older, you probably saw some pretty amazing electronic toys, communication, and entertainment devices. But 50-some years ago one of the best toys in the world was...a rubber band. Today the snap of the rubber band holds a different meaning to me. It symbolizes what I believe has been happening in our stock market.

2013-01-08 Brave New Start to the Year by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Well that was fun. Negotiations went to the brink, we had politicians dropping the "F" bomb a few steps from the Oval Office, the Senate described as "sleep deprived octogenarians" by a congressman and an all around feeling that it was better than nothing. Welcome to the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which actually, er...raises taxes for everyone. That's right. No one in 2013 pays less than they paid in 2012. This is our best estimate of the fall out. It's definitely better than what was at risk back in November but it's still a net drag on the economy of around 1.0%.

2013-01-08 From Cliff to Ceiling: No Clear Signal for Investors by Libby Cantrill, Josh Thimons of PIMCO

We expect the last minute deal in the lame duck session to result in about 1.3% of GDP contraction, slightly less than our earlier prediction of about 1.5%. The compromise eliminated (or at least delayed) the possibility of the most damaging equity market outcomes. The deal failed to set up a framework for structural deficit reform in 2013. Almost immediately, Congress must address the debt ceiling, the sequester and the continuing resolution to keep the government funded.

2013-01-07 The Post-Crisis Crises by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

In the shadow of the euro crisis and America's fiscal cliff, it is easy to ignore the global economy's long-term problems. But, while we focus on immediate concerns, they continue to fester, and we overlook them at our peril.

2013-01-07 White Noise? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

"Investing in the financial markets necessarily involves one's ability to change perspectives over time... And there's more of the white noise than ever before."... The Contrary Investor.com. So said the Contrary Investor; and I could not agree more given my sense that the media remains "long" volatility. Indeed, every time volatility increases, so do my phone calls from the financial media as they feel "compelled to come up with rationales for daily movements in asset prices;" last week was no exception.

2013-01-06 Partial Deal: Perspectives on the U.S. Fiscal Policy Agreement by Team of Janus Capital Group

The U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama have patched together a deal that avoided the January 1 fiscal cliff. However, Washington has postponed a full resolution of fiscal and tax issues, creating continued uncertainty that can be expected to weigh on business and consumer spending and potentially keep U.S. gross domestic product growth below 2% in 2013.

2013-01-04 In 2013, Resolve to Follow the Money by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

During these first days of January, many adopt an out with the old, in with the new, approach to shed bad habits or extra pounds. Washington opted for its same ol strategy when averting the fiscal cliff, as the addictive nature of can-kicking is a transatlantic sport, according to The Economist. The short-term fix did nothing to control the unsustainable path of entitlement spending on pensions and health care nothing to rationalize Americas hideously complex and distorted tax code... and virtually nothing to close Americas big structural budget deficit.

2013-01-03 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!We don't know what you did on Monday night to ring in 2013, but the U.S. Senate was in session as they were attempting to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff".At 2:07 a.m. on New Year's Day the Senate passed a bill, 89 to 8, which does a number of different things.Then late that same morning, the House also passed the bill.We are going to touch on a few of the highlights in this opening Bullet and promise to give a more detailed analysis in our mid-month Bullets.

2013-01-03 The Deal is Done Observations on the Cliff, the Ceiling and Your Investments by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

I've been saying that December 31 was a media deadline, not a real deadline for a fiscal cliff resolution, since Congress could act retroactively.

2013-01-03 Congress Avoids the Cliff by Selling Us Down the River by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

With the possible exception of the New York Times' editorial board (and the cast of The Jersey Shore), everyone on the planet understood that the United States Government needs to cut spending, increase taxes, or both. Instead, after months of political posturing and hand wringing, the Federal Government has just delivered the exact opposite, a deal that increases spending and decreases taxes. The move lays bare the emptiness of budget legislation, which can be dismantled far easier than it can be constructed.

2013-01-03 Taking Care of Business, DC-Style, to Avert the Fiscal Cliff by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

No "grand bargain," but Congress got a deal done at the 13th hour to avert the fiscal cliff. The next two months will bring more DC wrangling and likely market angst, but we believe the outlook has brightened for the economy and market in 2013. The "wall of worry" is alive and well.

2013-01-02 Is Fracking a ‘Happy Solution’ to our Energy Needs? by Richard Vodra, JD, CFP (Article)

A few weeks ago, John Mauldin called fracking a 'happy solution' that will produce jobs, potentially solve our trade deficit and generate new tax revenue, though energy prices may rise in the process. But how excited should we be about the 'shale revolution'?

2013-01-02 Brian McMahon on Thornburg’s Investment Income Builder Fund by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Brian McMahon is the chief executive officer and chief investment officer for Thornburg Investment Management, where he the co-portfolio manager for the $11.4 billion Thornburg Investment Income Builder Fund (TIBAX). The fund's goal is income production, and it has outperformed its benchmark, the Morningstar Moderate Target Risk, over the last ten years (10.87% versus 2.88%). In this interview, he offers his views on the economy and the markets, and how he has positioned his fund.

2012-12-31 Brief Holiday Update by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Though our concerns still weigh heavily toward the defensive side, there are hints of progress toward the resolution of the lopsided market conditions we've seen.

2012-12-28 ECRI Update: Flunking Recession 101 by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose in the latest public data. It is now at 128.3 versus the previous week's 127.2. Likewise the WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose, now at 5.4, up from last week's 4.6. WLIg has been in expansion territory since August 24th, although it is off its 6.0 interim high on October 12th.

2012-12-27 The Ten Most-Read Articles in 2012 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…

2012-12-26 Putting Clients' Cash to Work by Dan Richards (Article)

A central challenge advisors face are is clients who need mid- to high-single-digit returns to achieve their long-term goals, but who have an overweight position in cash. A recent luncheon with a group of highly successful advisors highlighted this challenge and illuminated a way to overcome it.

2012-12-24 Skip the Surtax: A Tax-Saving Strategy for CRTs by Daniel Eagan, Steve Schilling, Tara Thompson Popernik of AllianceBernstein

A special provision buried deep in a recent set of proposed US Treasury regulations opens the door for charitable remainder trusts (CRTs) to protect gains from being subject to next year's 3.8% Medicare surtax. Here's how CRTs can reduce their beneficiaries' tax burden.

2012-12-24 Aspirin for a Broken Femur by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The Federal Reserve under Bernanke is like a bad doctor facing a patient with a broken femur. Being both unable and unwilling to restructure the broken bone, he announces that he will keep shoving aspirin down the patient's throat until the bone heals.

2012-12-21 ECRI Update: The Recession Call Is Further Undermined by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

TheWeekly Leading Index(WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped fractionally in the latest public data. It is now at 127.2 versus the previous week's 127.4. However, the WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose, now at 4.6, up from last week's 3.9. WLIg has been in expansion territory since August 24th, although it is off its high at 6.0 on October 12th.

2012-12-21 The Japanese Economy: The Result of the Lower House Election by Team of Nomura Asset Management

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) reclaimed power in a landslide victory. Together with coalition partner, the New Komeito Party, the LDP secured 325 seats giving it two-thirds of the total seats, which allows them to pass legislation by using the supermajority position in the lower house. This will enable them to overrule the upper house where no party currently holds an overall majority, otherwise requiring the LDP to consult with opposing parties. In addition, on an individual case by case basis, the LDP would be able to seek cooperation from the third party Japan Restoration Party.

2012-12-20 Don't Confuse Market Hiccups for Economic Heart Attacks by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

The daily bombardment of moving toward an agreement on the fiscal cliff only to see a hesitation on the advancement is symptomatic of the tango that we have been bombarded with over the last several years. It does appear though that we are becoming a bit desensitized to the two-steps forward to two-steps back pattern we have been accustomed to in similar debt ceiling deadlines or budgetary standoffs. In looking at the markets move and comparing statements from the two parties involved, it does appear we are at least in the same ball field for negotiations.

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 Central Bank Insurance by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Possibly, the question I am asked the most is, "What do you think about gold?" While I have written brief bits about the yellow metal, I cannot remember the last time I devoted a full e-letter to the subject of gold. Longtime readers know that I am a steady buyer of gold, but to my mind that is different from being bullish on gold. In this week's letter we will look at some recent research on gold and try to separate some of the myths surrounding gold from the rationale as to why you might want to own some of the "barbarous relic," as Keynes called it.

2012-12-17 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Time for some year-end window dressing (before investments fall off the fiscal cliff). With little to no progress to report on the budget, politicos continue trying to earn brownie points at home, while losing them in the press. Investors still seem to believe a deal will be reached, but with the holidays (and vacations) approaching, time is really of the essence. Retailers and manufacturers rebounded in November from superstorm Sandy, but the cliff still looms as a definite possibility.

2012-12-17 Fed Talks Louder, To Little Avail by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

When someone doesn't speak your language, yet you must communicate, funny things can happen. At first, most just talk normally, hoping the message somehow gets through with a hand gesture or two. If that doesn't work, some people start talking really slowly. And if all else fails, how about saying it REALLY LOUDLY, and emphatically, to finally get our point across. That's where the Federal Reserve is today. In its own collective mind, it has a very important message to convey: that monetary policy is going to be as expansionary as necessary to get this economic recovery off the ground.

2012-12-17 The Fed: Targets, Thresholds, Guideposts, and Goals by Scott Brown of Raymond James

As expected, Federal Open Market Committee announced that purchases of Treasuries will be added to QE3 in 2013 (the Fed will continue to buy $40 billion per month in mortgage-backed securities and $45 billion per month in long-term Treasuries). Fed policymakers also announced threshold guidance on the overnight lending rate, which will make the Fed's policy intentions clearer, and that's a good thing.

2012-12-14 ECRI Weekly Update: Walking the Recession Plank by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose in the latest public data to its highest level since early August of 2011. It is now at 127.7, up from a downwardly revised 126.7 in the previous week. See the WLI chart. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) also rose, now at 4.4 from last week's 3.5. WLIg has been in expansion territory since August 24th, although it is off its high at 6.0 on October 12th.

2012-12-14 No Way Out by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

By upping the ante once again in its gamble to revive the lethargic economy through monetary action, the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee is now compelling the rest of us to buy into a game that we may not be able to afford. At his press conference this week, Fed Chairman Bernanke explained how the easiest policy stance in Fed history has just gotten that much easier. First it gave us zero interest rates, then QEs I and II, Operation Twist, and finally "unlimited" QE3.

2012-12-14 Fiscal Friction is Taking a Toll on Confidence in Washington and Rome by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Fiscal friction is taking a toll on confidence in Washington and Rome. What inflation rate should be used to index entitlements? Our updated US forecast assumes a budget resolution before year end.

2012-12-13 Can The U.S. Afford Its National Credit Card? by Garritt Conover and Orhan Imer of Columbia Management

With U.S. national debt at all time highs and major Federal programs expiring within weeks, it is no surprise that the focus of investors following the election has quickly shifted back to the upcoming fiscal cliff. Fears of an insolvent government or a U.S. debt crisis have sparked heated debates regarding ways of tackling the budget deficit but just how imminent a threat does it pose?

2012-12-13 Conditional: Fed Drops 2015 in Favor of 6.5% and 2.5%185 by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The Fed announced it's adding $45 billion in US Treasury purchases to QE3s $40 billion in MBS purchases and moving to economic versus calendar targets.

2012-12-12 The Fiscal Cliff Doesn't Arrive on December 31 by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

The news media is breathlessly counting down the days until the arrival of the fiscal cliff on December 31. It may make for good television (tune in tomorrow) but it's not good economics...or good political analysis. Here's why.

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 The Muslim Brotherhood Consolidates Power by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

On November 22nd, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi issued a decree that effectively gave him unchecked power. The decree allowed him to unilaterally legislate without oversight by the judiciary. This action clearly rattled those opposed to the president and his political party. Demonstrations ensued and there were numerous threats from the judiciary to obstruct the president's newly declared power.

2012-12-11 Tax Reform: A First Step by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group

I rarely use this space to rant about political issues, but the recent election made it obvious just how dysfunctional the American political process has become. The ongoing financial crisis in the US will never get fixed as long as both political parties remain focused on solutions that make the problem worse. The Democrats want to give people more money to spend, claiming this will grow the economy. The Republicans want to cut taxes, so that people have more to spend, claiming that will grow the economy

2012-12-11 New York, New York by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

I have loved New York since working on Whitehall Street in the early 1970s. Every year I return around this time of the year to attend Minyanville's Festivus event to raise money for the financial education of underprivileged children. Last week I spent time attending said event, seeing institutional accounts, doing media, and renewing friendships. I was surprised, however, to see pumps still sucking water out of the subway.

2012-12-07 ECRI Weekly Update: More Recession Flag Waving by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose slightly in the latest public data. It is now at 126.8, up from an upwardly revised 126.2 in the previous week. See the WLI chart in the Appendix below. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) also rose, now at 3.5 from last week's 3.4. WLIg has been in expansion territory since August 24th, althout it is off its high at 6.0 on October 12th.

2012-12-07 The Keynesian Depression by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Five years have passed since the beginning of the Great Recession. Growth is slow, joblessness is elevated, and the knock-on effects continue to drag down the global economy. The primary difference between today and the 1930s, when the U.S. experienced its last systemic crisis, has been the response by policymakers. Having the benefit of hindsight, policymakers acted swiftly to avoid the mistakes of the Great Depression by applying Keynesian solutions. Like the last depression, we are likely to live with the unintended consequences of the policy response for years to come.

2012-12-06 Meet the New Boss by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

On November 14th, the new Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) was unveiled. The composition of this new group had been anxiously awaited for months. Although most of the members (all men, by the way) had been anticipated, there were some surprises. This committee is the most powerful group in China; it is essentially the legislative and executive branch of the country. And, given that the judiciary is not really independent, the PSC effectively rules China.

2012-12-06 Questions and Answers Surrounding the Fiscal Cliff by Team of Northern Trust

There is no resolution yet to the US fiscal cliff. It is probably unfair to have expected one by now; the clock is too far from midnight. But as the negotiations continue, several questions have been raised that deserve some reflection. 1. The two sides seem to be making statements that reflect stark disagreement. Are talks failing? 2. Is our fiscal path a cliff, or a slope? 3. There is a proposal to limit the deductions claimed by high income taxpayers. How would these work, and what are the consequences? 4. The cliff has been in the news for a long time. Why isnt everyone prepared for it?

2012-12-06 Ditching Before the Fiscal Clif by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Turn on the TV and this is what you'll hear: The US budget is heading for a fiscal cliff. If a deal isn't reaching in Congress by the end of this year, a combination of automatic tax hikes and budget cuts will sink America into economic depression. There is no escape. Of course, my readers know that the fiscal cliff is merely an example of the piper having to be paid. The problem isn't the bill, but that we ran it up so high in the first place.

2012-12-05 Resilient Markets Mask Greater Concerns in Real Economy by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

Though equity markets have been calm, the real economy tells a different story. If our leaders in Washington arent able to arrive at a compromise, January 1 will mark the beginning of the countrys first scheduled recession, though third quarter corporate earnings suggest a global slowdown is evident. Dont be surprised to see a Christmas rally should Congress kick the fiscal can down the road and the Fed extend Operation Twist.

2012-12-04 Intrinsic Value from Ben Graham to Anderson Griggs With an example; Emerson Electric (EMR) by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Ben Graham may not have been the first to use the term intrinsic value as a form of analysis for stocks and bonds. But, through his teachings and the successful application of this approach by his many students and practitioners (including Warren Buffett, John Templeton, Seth Klarman, Mason Hawkins, Howard Marks and yours truly) he is given the credit. Understanding the concept of intrinsic value is necessary for an intelligent investor. Without understanding intrinsic value, its offspring, margin of safety, has no meaning.

2012-12-04 How to Build a Time Machine by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

With industrial production, capacity utilization, real disposable income, real personal consumption, real sales retail and food service sales, and real manufacturing and trade sales uniformly declining in their latest reports, coincident economic indicators having generally peaked in July are now following through on the weakness that weve persistently observed in leading economic measures. We continue to believe that the U.S. economy joined a global economic downturn during the third quarter of this year.

2012-12-03 Watching for Cliff to Fade, Jobs to Appear by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

Investors are likely to remain volatile as the focus on the fiscal cliff will remain intense. Progress on the cliff needs to happen quickly if a compromise is to be reached. Given the sluggish nature of jobs growth, we are unlikely to see the Fed change its stance anytime soon.

2012-12-01 The Significant Impact of U.S. Oil Production by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The Eagle Ford shale formation lies south of our headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, giving the U.S. Global investment team a firsthand, tacit perspective on the oil and gas industrys growing natural resources phenomenon. Weve witnessed how the oil activity is boosting the local economy with solid-paying jobs, a healthy housing market and strong consumer sentiment, as oil giants such as Schlumberger and Halliburton take a bigger stake in the area.

2012-12-01 The How Matters by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Market focus has clearly been on fiscal cliff negotiations. An agreement that averts the cliff would likely ignite a further near-term rally, but the ultimate solution and its components could have longer term consequences that may not be as market-friendly. US economic data has been impacted by Hurricane Sandy, but it appears modest growth is continuing; although business investment has fallen off. Housing continues to provide support and the Fed is staying the course. There are some signs of growth stabilization globally, notably in some of the emerging economies, including China.

2012-11-30 Fiscal Cliff Countdown: Templeton Perspectives by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

The U.S. "fiscal cliff" clock is ticking loudly, and so far U.S. politicians havent been able to cooperatively silence it. A sweeping roster of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes remain set to go into effect at year-end with what could be detrimental economic consequences.

2012-11-30 Where Are We in the Boom/Bust Liquidity Cycle? by Thomas Fahey of Loomis Sayles

In an often cynical world, standard financial and macroeconomic quantitative models give people the benefit of the doubt. Fundamental economic theory assumes the best of us, supposing that human beings are perfectly rational, know all the facts of a given situation, understand the risks, and optimize our behavior and portfolios accordingly. Reality, of course, is quite different.

2012-11-30 ECRI Weekly Update: Beating the Recession Drum by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

TheWeekly Leading Index(WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose slightly in the latest public data. It is now at 126.3, up from 125.4 in the previous week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) declined to 3.4, down from last week's 3.6. WLIg has been in expansion territory since August 17th, although it is now at a six-week low, with the high at 6.0 on October 12th.

2012-11-28 China's Dream Team by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

China's recent leadership transition was widely depicted as a triumph for conservative hard-liners and a setback for the cause of reform a characterization that has deepened the gloominess that pervades Western perceptions of China. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

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.

2012-11-26 Illegitimum Non Carborundum by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

In my opinion Richard Fisher said in plain English what Ben Bernanke is trying to say in a much more politically correct way hey Congress, get your act together because I have done just about all I can do on a monetary basis, so it is up to y'all to make the tough decisions on fiscal policy that need to be made to get this economy going again. Surprisingly, I think Congress, and the President, will rise to the occasion because if they don't, and the country falls off the "fiscal cliff" for an extended period of time, it most assuredly will put us back into a recession.

2012-11-26 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Investors breathed a sigh of relief (perhaps temporarily) and expressed thanks in the form of the strongest week in the market in several months (though on light volume). Domestically, housing data confirmed strength in the sector and retailers opened their doors earlier than usual with the hope that "if you open, they will come." Overseas, Europe's struggles continued, though manufacturing in China looked to be on the mend. Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the weekend; after all, next week starts the home stretch for the end of the year...(and the fiscal cliff).

2012-11-23 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Index Rises, Growth Diminishes by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose slightly in the latest public data (released Wednesday in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday). It is now at 125.7, up from 125.4 in the previous week. See the WLI chart in the Appendix below. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) declined to 3.8, down from last week's 4.3. WLIg has been in expansion territory for thirteen weeks, although it is now at a seven-week low, with the high at 6.0 on October 12th.

2012-11-21 Reflections: Primate in Distress by John Gilbert of GR-NEAM

The enthusiastic response of the capital markets to the Federal Reserve's announcement of the third quantitative easing program is, of course, just what they intended. It recalls the even more ebullient response to the ECB's Long Term Refinancing Operation announcement late last year.

2012-11-21 Meet Cliff by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Oh, we had heard about Cliff. We were warned about this nefarious character many months ago. We knew he was lurking and we knew he was not going to just go away. Cliff had invited himself into our lives, and unless we dealt with him, he was not going anywhere. You, the hard-working financial advisor, have probably been wondering when everyone else would notice him. That time came when the sun came up Wednesday after the election. There he was, casting his extraordinarily long and potentially costly shadow. Fiscal Cliff finally entered the national spotlight. It is time to meet him.

2012-11-20 Are Inflation-Adjusted Annuities Right for Clients? The Product and Its Prospects by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Many economists and retirement experts favor inflation-adjusted SPIAs, but advisors and the investing public have never shared their enthusiasm. Detractors contend that the product is fundamentally flawed and will never gain broad acceptance. My own view is more optimistic, but significant obstacles will, nonetheless, continue to impede wider adoption.

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 America's Fiscal Cliff Dwellers by Simon Johnson of Project Syndicate

America's looming "fiscal cliff" is actually more of a "slope," with the full effect of the tax increases and spending cuts felt only gradually. But the choice of words matters, given the hysteria that has been whipped up in recent months, primarily by people who want to decimate America's social-insurance programs.

2012-11-19 Little Dutch Boy by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

In the Mary Mapes Dodge book titled Hans Brinker, there is a fictional story within the story of a little Dutch boy who, on his way to school, notices a hole in the dyke. Having nothing else to fix the leak, he plugs the hole with his finger and stays there through the night until workers come to repair it. We are now into the fourth year of efforts to print trillions of little Dutch boys out of dollars and euros in order to stop a tide from crashing through a fundamentally damaged dyke. All of this has bought time, but no workers have arrived, and no real repairs have been done.

2012-11-19 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Fortunately, no one is compelled to invest money. They do so in a climate of tranquility, or turmoil, in an attempt to utilize their specific discipline, their risk/reward tolerances, and their expectations in order to achieve capital gains. There is no "one size fits all" system, nor is everyone suited for an all-in, win or lose, paradigm.

2012-11-16 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: The Slippage Continues by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined again in the numbers released today. It is now at 125.4, down from its interim high of 127.6 set five weeks earlier. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) also declined, now at 4.4, down from last week's downard revision to 5.0. WLIg has been in expansion territory for twelve weeks, although it is now at a five-week low, with the revised high at 6.0 on October 12th.

2012-11-16 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum, Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

The focus on the fiscal cliff cannot be overstated. It is very hard for the world's central banks to set rules governing monetary policy. The troika charged with addressing Greece has some internal disagreement.

2012-11-15 New Leaders, Same Steady Hand on the Chinese Economic Tiller by Anthony Chan of AllianceBernstein

The media spotlight is on China's new president, Xi Jinping. But investors should be watching Li Keqiang, the new premier. It's Mr Li who will be responsible for combating the country's slowing economic growth and, with it, potentially the fate of the world's economy.

2012-11-15 3 Reasons Not to Flee Dividend Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

As the fiscal cliff approaches, investors are becoming wary of dividend stocks, unsettled by the potential for a near tripling of the tax on dividends. But Russ K explains why he remains comfortable with dividend paying stocks with one major exception.

2012-11-15 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Obviously, I am very discouraged with the outcome of the election. The main mistake Spencer and I made (and others including Gallup, Rasmussen, Pew, Rove, Morris, etc., etc.) in our pre-election analysis was to significantly underestimate the turnout rates among Democrats. The widely-held view that Democrats were unenthused and wouldn't turn out to vote, as suggested by numerous pollsters, was simply wrong. Obama won both the popular vote and the Electoral College comfortably.

2012-11-14 Euro Area Still in Denial about Failure in Greece by Darren Williams of AllianceBernstein

Despite the Greek government's best efforts, last night's meeting of euro-area finance ministers failed to approve the release of new funding. We think it's only a matter of time before Greece gets its money. But the latest delay reflects deep disagreement about how to reduce current unsustainable debt levels.

2012-11-14 The Sun Also Rises by James Hunt of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest "Insights" piece, James Hunt, portfolio manager of Tocqueville International Value Fund, explains why Japanese equities, despite the country's poor demographics, huge public debt and weak growth prospects, still harbor some excellent opportunities. Mr. Hunt writes: "Everyone thinks Japan is sinking into obscurity and this negative sentiment provides us with the opportunity to buy what I consider to be excellent global franchise businesses at knock down valuations."

2012-11-13 Quarterly Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital Management

The multiple hurricanes of fiscal deficits and monetary malfeasance are headed our way. Unfortunately, financial market models that seek to assess the magnitude, direction, and timing of economic tempests are far less precise than those of our scientific brethren. So, we prepare for the worst, but we dont immediately evacuate. There are still plenty of opportunities for solid investment returns and we will describe two new investments in the pages that follow. Yet, the risks are real, as we have discussed frequently in these letters, so our overall portfolio structure remains conservative.

2012-11-13 China's Transition Occurring at a Critical Time by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

While the presidential election in the U.S. was on the forefront of most investors' minds, current events in China could be equally important to the global economy. China is going through a political transition at the same time as it seeks to re-balance its economy. Whether those efforts will be successful remains a great unknown.

2012-11-13 Scotland: The Same, Only Better? by Bill O'Grady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

As the Eurozone countries are trying to find the functional balance between national sovereignty and Eurozone-wide central control on the national level, fractures are also appearing within the nation states themselves. Additionally, the Northern European countries are questioning the extent to which they should be expected to bail out the Southern countries, while the wealthier regions of the nation states reason that they would be more efficient in managing their internal fiscal budgets.

2012-11-13 Sequestration - What It Means for the Municipal Bond Market by Michael Taylor of Columbia Management

If Congress fails to quickly reach an agreement on deficit reductions, automatic cuts to federal discretionary spending (sequestration) are scheduled to take effect January 2, 2013. On September 14, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its report detailing how it would implement sequestration, as required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (Act). Designed to impact defense and non-defense (domestic) program budgets equally, most agencies are subject to cuts between 7% and 11% over the next decade. The exception is Medicare which is subject to a 2% cut.

2012-11-13 Seeking Shelter from the Storm? Consider Mega Caps by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ Koesterich discusses how mega cap stocks are attractively valued and may be more resilient to the impact of the potential fiscal cliff.

2012-11-12 Extend and Pretend by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Now that President Obama has been re-elected, the media is finally free to focus on something besides the clueless undecided voters in Ohio, Florida, and Colorado. The brightest and shiniest object that has attracted its attention is the "fiscal cliff" that we are expected to drive over at the end of the year unless Congress and the President can agree to turn the wheel or apply the brakes.

2012-11-12 Lopsided Risks by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The recent sequence of overvalued, overbought, overbullish, technically exhausted setups followed by a clear technical breakdown is of greatest concern here, because we often observe that sequence at the beginning of deep and extended market losses.

2012-11-12 Fiscal Cliff, US Economy and Election Results - What Happens Next? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Housing, manufacturing, and post-Sandy rebuilding could help offset the drag from the fast-approaching "fiscal cliff," but for now, uncertainty is front and center.

2012-11-12 President Obama Wins Reelection; Equity Markets Trade Lower by Matthew Rubin of Neuberger Berman

Congress remains split following Tuesday's vote (Democrat Senate, Republican House. DJIA and S&P 500 decline 2.0% and 2.3%, respectively, last week. European Central Bank and Bank of England maintain current monetary policy stances.

2012-11-12 Housing Recovery - A Dose of Realty Reality by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Media and the investment community have made much of recent good news on housing. Certainly, the recent upturn in sales, building, and real estate prices is welcome. But if the 1980's housing bust is any guide, popular references to strength and imminent recovery grossly overstate. That older experience suggests that health in the sector will return only slowly. Residential real estate may well have turned a corner, but major gains and price recovery will likely wait for some time.

2012-11-09 Fiscal Cliff, US Economy and Election ResultsWhat Happens Next? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Even if the United States falls off the "fiscal cliff," the hit to the economy will probably be gradual. And while the fiscal cliff probably figured into the recent market pullback, it's not the only contributor. Resolution to this issue, the continuation of positive trends in housing and manufacturing, and fundamental tax reform could help give the economy a boost.

2012-11-09 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Off Its Interim High by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined in the numbers released today. It is now at 126.2, down from its interim high of 127.6 set four weeks earlier. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) also declined, now at 5.1, down from last week's 5.9. WLIg has now spent eleven consecutive weeks in expansion territory, although it is now at a five-week low.

2012-11-09 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum, Asha Bangalore, Victoria Marklew of Northern Trust

Hurricane Sandy will impact the pattern of upcoming data, but is not likely to have a lasting economic impact. Our updated forecast anticipates some movement on the "fiscal cliff." France may be part of Europe's problem, not a source of Europe's solutions.

2012-11-09 Extend and Pretend by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Going over the fiscal cliff is not the problem, it is part of the solution. Our leaders should construct a cliff that is actually large enough to restore fiscal balance before a real disaster occurs. That disaster will take the form of a dollar and/or sovereign debt crisis that will make this fiscal cliff look like an ant hill.

2012-11-08 Make Way for Debt Mutualization in Europe by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Hurdles and hold-ups are inevitable but recent policy developments in Europe indicate that the ECB and the Bundesbank are cooperating and greater federalization is likely.

2012-11-08 A Delicate Balance by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who argues that balance is a bad thing, but in this time of austerity versus growth and political us-versus-them, you'd be equally hard-pressed to find agreement on how to achieve balance. Right now the U.S. economy is teetering on the edge of the much-publicized so-called "fiscal cliff," a one-two punch of automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to go into effect in 2013, and which threaten to tip the nation into recession.

2012-11-08 Developed Europe: Economic Review 3rd Quarter 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

Amid signs of a deepening economic slowdown in Developed Europe, three key events brought some cheer to the beleaguered region, raising hopes of a lasting solution to its debt crisis. In early September, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced its new Outright Monetary Transactions scheme, which is in effect a commitment by the ECB to buy unlimited quantities of sovereign bonds with up to three years in maturity, providing the bond-issuing member country agrees to a reform agenda.

2012-11-06 The Three Most Important Hours for Your Business by Dan Richards (Article)

Rocky markets mean that you can't rely on referrals alone. If you've built a significant client base, you want to continue to dedicate the bulk of your time to communicating with them. But for your business to stay healthy, you need to bring in new clients – advisors need to carve out three hours a week to focus on reaching out to prospective clients.

2012-11-06 Same Old Samba for Brazil by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The old saw for the last 80-plus years puts Brazil perpetually on the verge of becoming the next economic powerhouse, but never quite making it. It is easy to see the potential. The nation is large; rich in natural resources and arable land; has a sizable, active population; and has well-developed trade relations in the Americas, with Europe, and with Africa. Brazil has failed to realize its potential less for economic reasons than because of misguided government policies.

2012-11-05 How to Stop Illegal Downloads by Dan Ariely of Dan Ariely Blog

Three days after publication of my new book , The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, I was able to find electronic copies on a few websites that specialize in illegal content. These were high quality versions of the book, including the images of the cover, the references, andmy favorite partthe copyright notice.

2012-11-05 Stream of Anecdotes by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Analysts who interpret economic data as a stream of unconnected anecdotes are likely to find recent data encouraging, and will easily dismiss any concern about a U.S. recession on that basis. For our part, the internals of the economic picture new orders, backlogs, real income growth, and even the employment components of prominent economic surveys continue to deteriorate. Based on dozens of economic variables and methods that account for leading/lagging relationships (e.g. unobserved components estimates) our view remains that the U.S. economy has already entered a recession.

2012-11-05 A New Queen Bee by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

By the time a queen bee is five she is old and no longer reproduces, leaving her army of honeybees torn between loyalty and survival. Since the hive cannot survive without a productive queen, the beekeeper reached into the hive with a long-gloved hand and squashes the enfeebled queen. With the entire hive as witness, all know the queen is dead. Absent the scent of their leader, the honeybees panic. Something similar to that "queen bee" sequence may be happening currently. The "old queen," at least in the private sector, was driven by exports and manufacturing.

2012-11-05 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

A storm shortened trading week saw virtually no movement in the popularly followed stock market indices.

2012-11-05 Election's Impact on Investors by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Next Tuesday's election will bring some clarity to the types of policies that will shape the fiscal and economic future of America. President Obama and Mitt Romney certainly share different visions on how the US should tackle middling growth, while addressing the longer-term issues of the US fiscal deficit and seemingly unsustainable entitlement programs.

2012-11-02 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Still Jogging in Place by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped fractionally in the numbers released today. It is now at 126.6, down from last week's 126.7 (revised from 126.8). Likewise, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) slipped slightly, now at 5.9, down from last week's 6.0. WLIg has now spent ten consecutive weeks in expansion territory, although it is off its interim high of 6.1. But for the past six weeks the WLI has been jogging in place in a narrow range (126.2 to 126.7).

2012-11-02 Hiking the Fiscal Cliff by Denise Ferguson of Columbia Management

Consider the geology of the current fiscal cliff. It evolved from the confluence of challenging policy decisions built on constantly shifting layers of political sediment. It is the unprecedented stress among these colliding tensions which makes forecasting footing so slippery and challenging this year. Below are the key tectonic guideposts to understand how the interlocking tiers of political stratification could play out during the upcoming lame duck session.

2012-11-02 Who Will Lead America Over the Next Four Years? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

If President Obama is reelected, it could be a negative for certain energy companies involved in natural gas fracking, says International Strategy & Investment (ISI). Conversely, a Governor Mitt Romney win could be significant for energy companies. In its Romney Portfolio ISIs rationale is that Romney and the GOP will try to do more to promote traditional forms of energy, including offshore drilling, approving the Keystone pipeline, and exploiting the nations coal resources.

2012-11-01 A Value Recovery Is Long Overdue by Sharon Fay of AllianceBernstein

It's been a long, hard slog for value stocks lately. I'd say we're long overdue for a value recovery. But what would it take?

2012-11-01 Time To Vote! by Bill Gross of PIMCO

So I pulled out my magic lamp that for some reason works only every October 22nd, and rubbed until the Genie appeared in his red and white checkered cloak with a 10-inch diameter Flavor Flav clock hanging ceremoniously around his neck. Being a rather forward, although not disrespectful Genie, he immediately said, "Mr. G, instead of the yield on the 10-year Treasury, perhaps this year you should wish to know who is going to win the Presidential election?"

2012-10-30 The Next Generation of Income Guarantee Riders: Part 1 - The Deferral Phase by Wade Pfau (Article)

Clients no longer need to move their assets to a variable annuity with a rider to guarantee lifetime withdrawal benefits, thanks to the RetireOne stand-alone living benefit (SALB) rider from Aria Retirement Solutions, which can be applied to a portfolio of mutual funds and ETFs. Despite this enticing promise, however, the SALB may not offer as much downside protection as advisors and clients expect.

2012-10-30 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to a discussion from last week, which was in response to Joe Tomlinson's article, We Need a Bold Solution to Fix the Retirement System, which appeared on October 9.

2012-10-30 The Path Toward America's Energy Independence by Jonathan Mogil of Columbia Management

U.S. energy independence has become a front and center issue during the current presidential campaign. This should be no surprise as reducing our country's dependence on foreign energy sources has been discussed in every election since Richard Nixon introduced his "Project Independence" initiative, in the wake of the OPEC oil embargo and the resulting oil crisis.

2012-10-30 Bond Market Primer by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

For years, our tag line "Common Sense Portfolio Management for Intelligent Investors" has served us well. There are times, though, that "Common Sense" can steer us in the wrong direction. Take driving. When a teenager sits behind the wheel of a car for their very first attempt at driving they know, from years of watching Mom and Dad drive, that when they want the car to go to the right, they turn the steering wheel to the right. Even someone who has never driven an automobile knows this. It is common sense.

2012-10-29 The Quest for Certainty by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The last two weeks we have been looking at the problems with models. First we touched on what I called the Economic Singularity. In physics a singularity is where the mathematical models no longer work. For example, models based on the physics of relativity no longer work if one gets too close to a black hole. If we think of too much debt as a black hole of sorts, we may understand why economic models no longer work. Last week, in "The Perils of Fiscal Cliff," we looked at the use of fiscal multipliers by economists in order to argue for or against governmental economic policies.

2012-10-26 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Running in Place by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose fractionally in the numbers released today. It is now at 126.8, up from last week's 126.6 (revised from 126.7). However, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) slipped slightly in expansion territory, not at 6.0, down from last week's 6.1. WLIg has now spent nine consecutive weeks of in expansion territory. But essentially the WLI has been running in place for the past five weeks.

2012-10-26 How Can I Know If My Stocks Are Fairly Valued? by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

When the operating results of a business, i.e. its earnings and cash flows, do not represent an attractive rate of return on investment, it should be instantly obvious to the prudent investor that fair valuation is not present. Conversely, when the earnings yields are very high based on reasonable assumptions, the opportunities this represents should be readily apparent as well.

2012-10-26 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum, Asha Bangalore and James Pressler of Northern Trust

Fiscal policy is a matter of multiplication. US GDP growth accelerated in the third quarter, but remains less than ideal. Recent reports out of China reassured the markets, but underlying trends are not so promising.

2012-10-23 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Instinct tells us that a heightened focus upon negative influences yields a self-fulfilling prophecy, a result which is either negative or perceived to be negative. Conversely, an inordinate predisposition with "good news" yields a new normal, a world where everything piggy-backs upon unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately, markets fall victim, too, to this kind of either/or thinking and sometimes rupture the performance of investment portfolios built upon an "all-in" methodology

2012-10-22 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Maybe a four day work week would make some sense? Well, at least, it would have been helpful this week. After a strong start in the equity markets (and a four-day winning streak), the anniversary of Black Monday brought horrid memories of past bearish times and stocks gave up all (most) of their early gains. Major techs reported poor earnings and the Nasdaq struggled more than most as weak PC demand continues to take its toll. Good news...one bad day does not a market make.

2012-10-22 The "Fiscal Cliff" and the Election by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The fiscal cliff looms large. It should. Unless Washington does something, the 2013 budget will face a sudden and automatic fiscal restraint. The shock would almost certainly drive this economy's already enfeebled recovery into recession. It is an alarming prospect, to be sure, but still, likelihoods suggest that even this partisan Congress will steer clear of such a "cliff."

2012-10-19 Fall Quarterly Commentary by John Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management

It was a busy quarter for central bankers. A surprise statement during July by European Central Bank President, Mario Draghi, moved markets: "Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the Euro... and believe me, it will be enough." These words sparked an immediate and sharp turnaround in European bond yields (down) and world equities. Not to be outdone, Fed Chairman Bernanke announced QE3 on September 13th, promising to continue purchasing bonds, thereby increasing the money supply, until employment conditions improve.

2012-10-19 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Index Slips, But Growth Rises by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index of the Economic Cycle Research Institute declined in the numbers released today. It is now at 126.7, down from last week's 127.6 (revised from 127.7). However, the WLI growth indicator rose further in expansion territory to 6.1, up from last week's 5.7. WLIg has now posted sixteen consecutive weeks of improvement and is at its highest level since May 20, 2011. The divergence between the WLI and its growth derivative is probably attributable to apparent anomaly in the BLS's weekly unemployment data over the past two weeks.

2012-10-18 Quarterly Review and Outlook - Third Quarter 2012 by Hoisington and Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

Entering the final quarter of the year, domestic and global economic conditions are extremely fragile. Across the globe, countries are in outright recession, and in some instances where aggregate growth is holding above the zero line, manufacturing sectors are contracting. The only issue left to determine is the degree of the downturn underway.

2012-10-18 Municipal Debt Discipline by Tom Dalpiaz of Advisors Asset Management

The strong demand for municipal bonds has been a constant throughout 2012. That demand was a major factor forcing municipal bond yields lower by the end of the third quarter in spite of an increase in new issue supply compared to last year.

2012-10-16 Will Bonds Be ‘Burnt to a Crisp?’ by David Schawel, CFA (Article)

Bill Gross's recent monthly commentary painted a disturbing picture for investors - he foresees bonds being “burnt to a crisp.” This isn't just hot air. Such a conflagration is possible, and investors in bond funds, especially those that are constructed similar to the widely followed Barclays bond index, need to heed risks inherent in today''s market.

2012-10-16 A Partnering Approach for Women Clients by Tony DiLeonardi and Barbara Kay (Article)

You probably hear a lot of talk about 'landing' and 'retaining' clients – implying that a client is a passive object, for you to win and hoard. This terminology, which we are all guilty of using, casts advising as some sort of grand competition. Men may be comfortable with a competitive approach. But women are not!

2012-10-16 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Active investors like to think that it's alright to take risk as long as commensurate reward is a possibility. Further, they base this analysis upon whatever methodology they employ as long as the data, the systems and the game are fair for all who play. Thus, it is no surprise that last year more money was withdrawn from global equity markets than committed, and that more investors operate upon a short-term trading mentality than a longer macro-themed expression.

2012-10-15 Passed Pawns by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

I've long been fascinated by the parallels between Chess and finance. Years ago, I asked Tsagaan Battsetseg, a highly ranked world chess champion, what runs through her mind most frequently during matches. She answered with two questions "What is the opportunity?" and "What is threatened?" At present, I remain convinced that the key opportunity lies in closing down exposure to risk.

2012-10-12 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicators: Time to Recant the Recession Call? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) made a strong advance in the numbers released today. It is now at 127.7, up from last week's 126.2 (revised from 126.3). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) now marks its eighth week in expansion territory at 5.7, up from last week's 4.6. WLIg has now posted fifteenth consecutive weeks of improvement and is at its highest level since May 27, 2011.

2012-10-11 Macro View: China in Transition by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

With nominal growth rates falling faster than expected, the possibility of a hard landing for China country's economy appear to be increasing. More importantly, however, there is more to this situation than is immediately observable.

2012-10-10 Return to Bretton Woods by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The gold-convertible U.S. dollar became the global reserve currency under the Bretton Woods monetary system, which lasted from 1944-1971. This arrangement ended because foreign central banks accumulated unsustainably large reserves of U.S. Treasuries, threatening price stability and the purchasing power of the dollar. Today, central banks are once again stockpiling massive Treasury reserves in an attempt to manage their currency values and gain advantages in export markets. We have, effectively, returned to Bretton Woods.

2012-10-10 Third Quarter Surge Caps 12-Month Relentless Risk Rally by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

Despite the rally of the past year, equity markets still look cheap. Weakening manufacturing data suggest the 12-quarter streak of positive earnings growth may come to an end in the third quarter. Housing has turned the corner, providing consumers with cause for confidence. Though fundamentals have wavered a bit, we are constructively bullish on risky assets, as "successful investing demands a choice between prudent risk control and outright risk avoidance".

2012-10-09 We Need a Bold Solution to Fix the Retirement System by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Our retirement system is broken. The average American isn't saving enough to comfortably retire, and the fault lies in our reliance on defined-contribution (DC) plans, such as 401(k)s. Tinkering with DC plans won't solve the problem, and the other extreme - a federally mandated guarantee - isn't likely to gain support. But a number of compromises that lie between those approaches offer a better way forward for future generations.

2012-10-09 A Q3 Letter to Clients - Insights from a Wall Street Legend by Dan Richards (Article)

Here is a template for a letter to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients an overview of the past 90 days and the outlook for the period ahead. In it, I draw upon investing principles articulated by the legendary Barton Biggs, who passed away earlier this year.

2012-10-09 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?

2012-10-08 Number Five by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Examine the points in history that the Shiller P/E has been above 18, the S&P 500 has been within 2% of a 4-year high, 60% above a 4-year low, and more than 8% above its 52-week average, advisory bulls have exceeded 45%, with bears less than 27%, and the 10-year Treasury yield has been above its level of 20-weeks prior. While there are numerous similar ways to define an "overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yields" syndrome, there are five small clusters of this one in the post-war record.

2012-10-08 Pliable Statistics by John Buckingham of AFAM

As Mark Twain once said, Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable. More examples emerged last week in support of that center box quotation from this months edition of The Prudent Speculator. Indeed, Fridays monthly jobs report provided plenty of fodder for both the Obama & Romney election campaigns as the former was able to trumpet the eyebrow-raising dip in the unemployment rate to 7.8% (calculated from a survey of 60,000 individual households) while the latter could point to the less-than-stellar creation of only 114,000 jobs during September.

2012-10-08 Easing Labor Pains for Europe? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The Continent sees the first stirrings of needed job-market reforms.

2012-10-08 The Unemployment Surprise by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The unemployment number surprisingly dropped to 7.8% last Friday, and the shoot-from-the-hip crowd came out in force. To say that the jobs report was met with skepticism would be a serious understatement. The response that got the most immediate airplay was ex-GE CEO Jack Welch (who knows a few things about making a number say what you want it to say) tweeting, "Unbelievable job numbers ... these Chicago guys will do anything ... can't debate so change numbers."

2012-10-05 Economic Recovery and Debt Reduction: Faster, Please! by Chris Molumphy of Franklin Templeton Investments

It's tough to be patient in an age of instantaneous communications and instant gratification. We all want immediate answers to our questions and quick fixes to our problems. When it comes to real world tangles like the global economy, though, Chris Molumphy, CIO of Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group, reminds us that patience, not a magic pill, is the order of the day when it comes to European and U.S. struggles to cure their economic ailments. He's realistic about these problemsbut isn't waiting to act where he does spot investment opportunities.

2012-10-05 High-Yield Buys: There Is a Lot of Value In This Market: Part 3 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

In this part 3, we turn our attention to the highest yielding stocks that are constituents on the S&P 500. However, we submit that there are essentially two primary reasons that explain why these stocks offer such high yields.

2012-10-05 Election Preview by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman

Our Investment Strategy Group sizes up the approaching U.S. election and its potential impact on the "fiscal cliff."

2012-10-05 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicators: Mixed Signals in Latest Data by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped fractionally after eight consecutive weeks of growth. It is now at 126.3, down from last week's 126.6 (revised from 126.7). See the WLI chart below. However, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) now marks its seventh week in expansion territory at 4.7, up from last week's 3.8. WLIg has now posted fourteen consecutive weeks of improvement and is at its highest level since June 3, 2011.

2012-10-04 Monetary Mystification by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

Central banks on both sides of the Atlantic took extraordinary monetary-policy measures in September, sending stock markets soaring. But politicians and markets in both Europe and America are mistaken if they believe that monetary policy can restore economic growth and boost employment.

2012-10-04 Overtime, Then (not so) Sudden Death by Jerome Schneider of PIMCO

The FDIC's unlimited insurance coverage on demand deposits is set to expire on December 31. While the expiration by itself might not be a game changer, it adds to the uncertainty that looms over liquidity strategies as global interest rates continue to be squeezed. We believe that actively managed short-term strategies that dynamically adjust to market conditions are viable solutions, with more attractive risk and return characteristics than money markets.

2012-10-03 The Fed Plays All Its Cards by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

There never really could be much doubt that the current experiment in competitive global currency debasement would end in anything less than a total war. There was always a chance that one or more of the principal players would snap out of it, change course and save their citizenry from a never ending cycle of devaluation. But developments since September 13, when the U.S. Federal Reserve finally laid all its cards on the table and went "all in" on permanent quantitative easing, indicate that the brainwashing is widely established and will be difficult to break.

2012-10-03 Monthly Letter to Our Clients and Friends by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Warren Buffett, Ben Graham's most famous student has said, "[Ben Graham] also taught me to see a stock not as something with a ticker symbol that wiggles around but to think about it as part of a business. Dont get elated because something had gone up or depressed because it went down. If I knew the facts, and it went down, I bought more of it". Although these two forces of investment beliefs are in constant battle, there is one common belief; Both believe that any attempt to "time the market" is not an intelligent approach to investment management.

2012-10-03 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Economic Armageddon by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

After the recent announcement by the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) that they would begin to engage in what has been deemed "QE3," there has been a lot of skepticism that such a plan could actually work. The Fed is attempting to carry out their dual mandate of price stability and full employment by engaging in a new round of asset purchasing targeted at the mortgage market.

2012-10-02 The 2010, 2011, 2012 Corrections Were P/E Multiple Related; Earnings Were Sound by George Bijak of GB Capital

We had nasty stock market corrections in the middle of 2010, 2011 and 2012 caused by political uncertainty about Europe's debt. In times of market declines it is good to remind ourselves the difference between a correction and a bear market.

2012-10-01 Leap of Faith by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Both the economy and the financial markets will do fine in the longer-term, but to imagine that there will not first be major challenges and disruptions is a leap of faith and a leap over a century of economic and financial history that screams otherwise.

2012-10-01 Gaming US Fiscal Reform by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

The need to address America's fiscal situation has just been magnified by a warning from Moody's that the US could lose its top credit rating if Congress fails to make progress on medium-term fiscal reforms. But why didn't the imposition of a "fiscal cliff" in 2011 succeed in focusing US politicians' minds?

2012-10-01 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks finally fell back last week. Weak economic data combined with concerns over Apple's new phone release hurt investor confidence.

2012-09-28 ECRI Weekly Leading Index Growth at Highest Level Since June 2011 by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose for the eighth consecutive week, now at 126.7, up from last week's 125.3 (revised from 124.7). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) now marks its sixth week in expansion territory at 3.8 (up from last week's 2.7). It has now posted thirteen consecutive weeks of improvement and is at its highest level since June 10, 2011.

2012-09-28 No Free Lunch? The Real Impact of Lower Rates in Brazil by Maria (Masha) Gordon, Richard Flax of PIMCO

The Brazilian government wants to keep interest rates low but also guard against inflation; so the authorities have moved down a path of "macro-prudential" measures, with a broad range of implications for equity investors. In reality, as the cost of capital in Brazil falls, the returns and cash flows from regulated businesses are coming under pressure. In this environment, we find that consumer businesses are the most appealing, especially if growth accelerates.

2012-09-27 Reality Check for Europe by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Over the past two years, the markets have gone through cycles of escalating concern about Europe punctuated by brief periods of calm.

2012-09-27 Going Private in China by Henry Zhang of Matthews Asia

Over the last three decades, China's embrace of capitalism has benefited its socialist society. The country's foundation for capitalism has been based on private ownership, as it has been in other capitalist economies. For China, this privatization occurred in two stages: the first being the privatization of agriculture in rural areas as the government implemented a "household responsibility system" to align the economic interests of farmers directly with the output of their own plots of land.

2012-09-25 Investing in a Resource-Constrained World by Richard Vodra, JD, CFP (Article)

The potential consequences of stagnant oil production and climate change for society are written about frequently, but here is a simpler question that is important to our community: How are these and related facts likely to affect investment returns going forward? How can we even frame such questions usefully?

2012-09-25 How to Build a Portfolio by Adams Jared Apt (Article)

This is the first of a set of three articles intended for the educated layman, in which I will combine the core ideas presented in my preceding articles into a comprehensive description of how to put together a portfolio. In this one, I'll explain what is often called Modern Portfolio Theory.

2012-09-24 Eating the Future by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Every security on Earth works like this. The higher the price you pay for a given set of expected future cash flows, the lower your prospective future rate of return. Higher prices essentially take from future prospective returns and add to past returns. Conversely, lower prices take from past returns and add to future prospective returns.

2012-09-24 If youre a partisan Republican, skip this commentary by David Edwards of Heron Financial

In June after stocks slumped over concerns about Europe, we wrote "US stocks however, were a good value a month ago and a better value today. With the weak hands forced out by the recent 10% pullback, we are moving forward with investments in stocks." With two and half months remaining in the year, our "buying panic" forecast is starting to look prescient.

2012-09-24 Clear Progress by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Two weeks into a new era of ECB and Fed policy and it is a tie between the gains in equities, with the US and European broad indexes up around 2.2%. But it's the lack of follow-through and opacity of the ECB moves which are perhaps the most disconcerting and so, probably, the more short-lived. While both central banks reported easing in the form of securities purchases they had very different origins and aims.

2012-09-24 Who Deserves Blame (Or Credit) For Current Tax Policy? by Ryan Davis of Fortigent

U.S. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney received sharp criticism this week for his comments regarding the "47% of people who pay no taxes." Regardless of one's political stance, Romney's comments were instructive in highlighting a very real problem. The notion that Republicans or Democrats deserve blame for the current challenges is shortsighted, however, because both parties were contributing members to the current legacy.

2012-09-21 Short-term Gratification and Long-term Return by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

Over time, I have tried to learn from my investment experiences. As a result, my style has become influenced less by greed and fear and more by patience and realism. Here are a few of the lessons I have learned and passed along.

2012-09-21 ECRI Weekly Leading Index Growth at Highest Level Since July 2011 by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose for the seventh consecutive week, now at 125.4, up from last week's 124.7 (revised from 124.9). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) now marks its fifth week in expansion territory at 2.7 (up from last week's 1.9). It has now posted twelve consecutive weeks of improvement and is at its highest level since July 29, 2011.

2012-09-18 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 Your Clients' Toughest Retirement Decision by Wade Pfau (Article)

Want to trigger an impassioned debate? Ask a group of advisors about the choice between systematic withdrawal plans and single-premium immediate annuities. Fee-only advisors are loath to cede control of client assets to an insurance company that might someday default, while annuity advocates fire back that only their strategies provide a lifetime income guarantee.

2012-09-18 $4 Gas Could Put Brakes on Growth by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Reaction to the recent climb in gasoline prices appears surprisingly muted, but a sustained rise could result in a significant drag on U.S. growth.

2012-09-18 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Last week the stock market got all it wanted from the Central Banks of Europe and here at home. The money presses have been put on full power. The result was a continuation of the stock market rally along with commodities while bonds suffered a setback as investors swapped out.

2012-09-17 Low-Water Mark by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

As of Friday, our estimates of prospective return/risk for the S&P 500 have dropped to the single lowest point we've observed in a century of data. There is no way to view this as something other than a warning, but it's also a warning that I don't want to overstate. This is an extreme data point, but there has been no abrupt change; no sudden event; no major catalyst. We are no more defensive today than we were a week ago, because conditions have been in the most negative 0.5% of the data for months.

2012-09-17 The Philosophy of Tops by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

The call for this week: To me the only question is if the stock market is going to correct its current overbought condition by going sideways, or if it is going to correct back to the 1400 - 1422 support. In either event I have been pretty confident that the Fed has already begun printing money. That has been eminently evident by the overall action in the commodity markets, the dollar, and the fact that stocks were unable to correct in the normal timing band for a daily cycle low. Indeed, I actually expected an easing of monetary policy out of last month's Fed meeting.

2012-09-17 Main Street Policy...Seriously? by Jason Doiron of Sentinel Investments

In case you did not catch the press conference last week, Ben Bernanke believes that his latest round of quantitative easing will benefit Main Street. Seriously? The notion that Main Street will benefit from the Fed purchasing an additional $40 billion per month of agency-backed MBS is preposterous to us.

2012-09-14 ECRI Defends Its Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index of the Economic Cycle Research Institute rose for the 6th consecutive week, now at 124.9 from last week's 124.1. The WLI growth indicator now marks its fourth week in expansion territory at 2.1. It has now posted eleven consecutive weeks of improvement. The big news is yesterday's Bloomberg TV interview, in which Lakshman Achuthan, ECRI's COO, reasserted his company's recession call made a year ago on September 21st and his belief that the recession has already begun.

2012-09-14 Operation Screw by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The Fed will try to conjure a recovery on the backs of currency debasement. It will not stop or alter from this course. If the economy fails to respond to the drugs, Bernanke will simply up the dosage. In fact, he is so convinced we will remain dependent on quantitative easing that he explicitly said he won't turn off the spigots even if things noticeably improve. In other words, the dollar is screwed.

2012-09-13 Back to the Future: What's at Stake for the Economy in the Obama-Romney Contest by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

To hear the two candidates tell it, the U.S. presidential election offers a dramatic choice on the economy: Vote for me, each says, if you want a robust recovery; pick my opponent, and we'll plunge back into recession. But given the huge problems the country currently faces, the future -- no matter who wins in November -- will look much like the present, according to several Wharton faculty.

2012-09-12 On Uncertain Ground by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

I'm going to devote this memo to the uncertainty in the world and the investment environment and then offer my take on the appropriate strategy response. This will require me to touch on a large number of topics, but I will try to dwell less than usual on each of them.

2012-09-11 Can Our Retirement System be Fixed? by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Google 'Teresa Ghilarducci' and you'll find countless references to her as the most dangerous woman in America. That dubious distinction stems from her 2008 book, When I'm Sixty-Four, in which she advocated replacing voluntary 401(k) plans with government-mandated savings accounts. Ghilarducci was attempting to address a problem that thus far has eluded solution, so it's important to consider her arguments, which have drawn praise from some quarters, too.

2012-09-11 Ponzi Games by Michael Lewitt (Article)

Whatever schemes the European Central Bank may cook up over the next few months will only prove short-term liquidity relief to what are long-term insolvency problems. Like any Ponzi scheme, the last money in is going to be hurt the worst when the charade comes to an end. In the meantime, investors proceed at their own risk.

2012-09-11 Stalking the Wild Stock Pick by Mariko Gordon (Article)

Summer already feels long gone. Happily, I came away from my time on the shore last month with more than just sand between my toes. Here are four lessons learned from watching 'creatures eating other creatures!'

2012-09-11 The Winds of Market Change by Mark Mobius, Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton Investments

As we cross the mid-way point of the year, you might say the equity and fixed income markets have been a lot like the recent weather in much of the world: uncertain, and tending toward extremes. The perception of a stormy economic climate has driven some equity valuations to extremely low levels, particularly in Europe, and investors have been pouring into fixed income despite extremely low yields.

2012-09-07 Ending the Financial Arms Race by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

As finance has become more complicated, regulators have tried to keep up by adopting ever more complicated rules. It is an arms race that underfunded government agencies have no chance to win, which means that it is time to change the nature of the contest.

2012-09-07 Economic Data Continues to Undermine ECRI's Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose for the fifth consecutive week, now at 123.7 from last week's 123.5 (revised from 123.6). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) is in its second week in expansion territory at 1.0 (up from last week's 0.5). It has now posted ten consecutive weeks of improvement.

2012-09-06 How to Unscramble an Egg by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward, Thomas Wittenborg of Absolute Return Partners

This month we take a closer look at the root problems behind the current crisis. Too often root problems are confused with symptoms and the wrong medicine is prescribed as a result. We identify five root problems, all of which must be addressed before we can, once and for all, leave the problems of the past few years behind us.

2012-09-04 New Research - How to Help Clients Make Better Decisions by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Making decisions is not something human beings are very good at. We do a poor job of predicting what will make us happy in the future, we often misjudge our ability to handle risk, and our decisions are plagued by subtle biases that throw us unwittingly off course. Because the essence of financial planning is making decisions about the future, it's critical that clients and advisors understand how decision-making biases can be identified and overcome.

2012-09-04 Lessons from the Weight-Loss Industry: The Keys to Growing your Practice by Dan Richards (Article)

Why do most attempts at dieting result in failure? According to Weight Watchers - whose program has outperformed its competition over many years - it's because of a lack of a good methodology or the right combination of discipline and incentives. The same is true of successful client prospecting, as a recent conversation with an advisor illustrated.

2012-09-01 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Isaac vs. Romney vs. Bernanke. Each took their turn in the limelight this week. While the Hurricane dropped plenty of rain and brought damaging winds into Louisiana, the devastation didnt compare to Katrina. Romney humbly accepted his party's nomination, while still trying to prove to T-Partiers (and women) that he should be their guy (and he can bash his opponents with the best of them.

2012-08-31 ECRI's Embarrassing Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose for the fourth consecutive week, now at 123.6 from last week's 123.3. See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) has risen into expansion territory at 0.6 after nine consecutive weeks of improvement.

2012-08-28 Curious Repetition by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Greece had a bond payment in the middle of the week that was paid with no drama and then announced that it had enough cash to finance its needs through October. However, it is using cash set aside to recapitalize banks in order to meet general obligations. The bond buying proposals are still priced into the market.

2012-08-28 Behavior Modification by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

The last few years have caused a number of us to modify our financial behavior. It is hard to believe that the financial crisis is over five years old. According to S&P Case-Shiller, the good times ended in June of 2006 when home prices peaked. By April of 2007 the big subprime mortgage lender New Century Financial Corporation filed for bankruptcy.

2012-08-27 Municipal Finance - Some Positive Signs by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

State and local government finances remain precarious. The degree of trouble varies from place to place, of course, but generally it will take decades for states and cities to put their finances in anything like good order. It is, in fact, a good bet that no middle-aged person today will live to see such an event.

2012-08-24 Three Generations on One Fast Train by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest commentary on China, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, writes about the overall complexity of China and the vastly different attitudes and life experiences of the last three generations of its population, as well as some of the challenges facing the country and its economy today.

2012-08-24 Economic Data Continues to Refute ECRI's Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose slightly to 123.3 from last week's 123.0 (an upward revision from 122.8). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) is at -0.1, less negative than the -0.4 for last week, which is an upward revision from the previously reported -0.6.

2012-08-22 Dividends Provide A Return Bonus by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

With all things being equal, dividend paying common stocks provide their shareholders a return bonus, or what some might like to call a kicker, over an equivalent common stock that pays no dividend. Many investors do not see it this way, as they tend to think of the dividend providing them their return. However, the stock market capitalizes earnings whether a company pays a dividend or not.

2012-08-21 Take My Stuff. Please by Mariko Gordon (Article)

We're all familiar with the benefits of removing clutter from our personal lives. Here's why you should impose a 'decluttering regimen' on your portfolios and lose your attachment to the past and future that those investments represent.

2012-08-21 The Muslim Brotherhoods Long Grind by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Over the past two weeks, there has been an upswing in violence in the Sinai Peninsula. Last week, Egyptian President Morsi announced the forced retirement of several military leaders, the same men who ran the government after the ouster of the former president, Hosni Mubarak. It isn't completely clear that the two incidents are related, although it does appear that Morsi used the unrest in the Sinai as a way to remove the remnant Mubarak cronies.

2012-08-20 Europe's Unstable Hammock by Mohamed El-Erian of PIMCO

This summer I have been asked a lot about Europe -- not so much by economists but by others concerned that the lingering crisis there would make their daily economic life even more challenging. In responding to these questions, I have often struggled to summarize in a few sentences the causes of Europe's existential crisis, let alone what is likely to occur next (including elements of a solution) -- that is until I tried to use a hammock.

2012-08-20 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

In the common parlance of Wall Street, youre either a bull or a bear. It's difficult to be both at the same time, yet this market has as many agnostics as it does true believers. What you believe, however, is another story altogether.

2012-08-20 Lengthen the Debt by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

The U.S. national debt has exploded, doubling over the past seven years. Everyone agrees that this is unsustainable. Meanwhile, interest rates have touched historic lows: the yield on the 10-year Treasury Note dropped as low as 1.4% back in July; the yield on the 30-year Bond as low as 2.5%. Under these circumstances, one would think the US Treasury Department would be turning lemons into lemonade.

2012-08-17 ECRI Weekly Leading Index Continues to Undermine ECRI's Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index of the Economic Cycle Research Institute rose slightly to 122.8 from last week's 122.5. See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator is at -0.6, less negative than the -1.1 for last week, which is an upward revision from the previously reported -1.3. As of today, the ECRI website continues to feature Lakshman Achuthan's July 10th Bloomberg TV interview, in which he reaffirmed his company's recession call and stated that we're already in a recession.

2012-08-17 Republicans Hope, but Don't Change by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

While I appreciate that Ryan has the courage to take a position at the vanguard of his party in the campaign for fiscal responsibility, the modesty of his plan is just the latest reminder of how utterly divorced from reality Washington politicians remain. Like all of his brethren, Ryan is pinning his budget battling plans on the pain free "grow your way out of it plan." But as long the government consumes so much of the nation's productivity, the conditions to create that growth will never occur. Hope is not a strategy.

2012-08-15 "Curiosity" - Return of American Exceptionalism by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The IRS regularly issues something called Individual Tax Identification Numbers to people living in the US, but who are not eligible for a Social Security number. These illegal aliens working in the US received $6.8 billion in tax refunds last year by filing. A number of IRS employees recognized that this is/was tax fraud. We could end $2.5 billion in government waste like paying almost three times that much in tax refunds to illegal aliens to pay for invaluable missions like Curiosity.

2012-08-15 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

There are bears out there who are extremely disappointed that the U.S. has not entered another recession over the past three plus years. Certainly, the 18 months of downturn in the markets that began in October of 2007 and culminated in March 2009 gave them a lot to cheer about. But, since then, they have looked everywhere possible to come up with bad news.

2012-08-15 De, In, or Stag?" by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

So far, key data has been unable to answer conclusively whether we are in deflation, stagflation, or targeted inflation. I wrote several weeks ago that I saw no empirical statistics indicating inflation. I was partly right...and partly wrong. Indeed, I had been early in identifying targeted inflation in tuition, foodstuffs, energy and healthcare. These demographic price hikes are systemic, and mostly driven by consumer demand or ecological/climatological influences.

2012-08-14 How Safe are Annuities? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

For many advisors, the possibility that insurance companies will run into financial difficulties makes recommending annuities a nonstarter. But annuities are the best way to mitigate longevity risk, which may pose a greater danger, and advisors can take steps to help protect clients from insurers' financial problems.

2012-08-14 Maybe This Time is Different by Andrew Redleaf of Whitebox Advisors

This Time Is Different, the catchy title of the popular book by economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, has also become a catchphrase summing up the world-weary wisdom of our time. Reinhart and Rogoff, in recounting eight hundred years of financial follies and investment bubbles, gleefully point out that in every case experts offered plausible arguments for dispensing with traditional rules of valuation, i.e., "this time it's different."

2012-08-14 The Eurozone Drama Continues by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In this report, we will review the political and economic structure of the Eurozone. From there, we will discuss the critical event that caused the reversal in safety assets and what this reversal likely means for the geopolitics of the Eurozone. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.

2012-08-14 Careful With That Beehive, Eugene by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

When you move a beehive, you must move it more than three miles or not less than three feet. Anything else confuses the bees. Markets can be the same. And that's why President Draghi's comments reverberate still after two weeks. No one seems to understand what he meant.

2012-08-13 The Romney-Ryan Achilles Heel by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

When Mitt Romney chose Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate he guaranteed that the 2012 presidential race will be about two opposing economic philosophies. It will be clear to voters which side the candidates are on and, as a result, this election could determine the direction of the American economy for decades to come.

2012-08-13 The Fundamental Case for the 20,000 Dow by Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein

While some people deem stocks expensive relative to 10-year trailing earnings, we take a forward-looking approach. It starts with the premise that the stock market is not a casino and stock prices are not pulled out of thin air: they reflect the intrinsic value of companies' future earnings.

2012-08-11 And Then There Is Disaster C by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave

I have contended for some time that Europe is faced with two choices: Disaster A, which is the break-up of the eurozone, or Disaster B, which is the creation of a fiscal union, which keeps the euro more or less intact. Over the last few months I have come to realize that there is indeed a third option, which now looks increasingly possible. European leaders might do nothing more than deal with the problem immediately in front of them, moving from crisis to crisis in a slow-motion drift toward fiscal union.

2012-08-10 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Improves, Growth Index Little Changed by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose slightly to 122.5 from last week's 122.1 (a tiny revision from the previously reported 122.2). See the WLI chart below. At one decimal place, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) is unchanged at -1.3 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through August 3. At two decimal places, WLIg is slightly less negative at -1.28 compared to last week's -1.35.

2012-08-10 Could Tax Reform Hurt Municipal Bond Prices? by Douglas Peebles of AllianceBernstein

The "Bush tax cuts" are set to expire at the end of this year. At the same time, the annual federal budget deficit is unsustainably high and must be addressed. Of course, strong economic growth would help policymakers fix our budget shortfall, but that doesn't appear to be in the offing. The eventual solution may affect the value of municipal bonds, and that impact could be either positive or negative.

2012-08-09 Market Surge is Amplified by Low ExpectationsAs Expected by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

European fears have subsided a bit as the European Central Bank's (ECB) president continued to offer words of support for a more comprehensive solutionthough he appeared to dampen the statements with concessions about the ECB's ultimate subservient role to the governments.

2012-08-08 ECB Policy: Over-Promise and Under-Deliver, Investor Behavior: Over-Anticipate and Over-React by Colin Moore of Columbia Management

Last week was a good example. Investors anticipated a major announcement from Mario Draghi, President of the ECB on Thursday because of remarks he had made the previous week at a conference in London. When he did not announce any immediate monetary policy changes following the regular meeting of the ECB, the markets demonstrated considerable volatility, declining on Thursday and rising on Friday.

2012-08-07 Why Hedge Funds Destroy Investor Wealth by Michael Edesess (Article)

If all the money that's ever been invested in hedge funds had been put in Treasury bills instead, the results would have been twice as good. So claims Simon Lack - a former JPMorgan executive whose job was once to help steer billions into hedge funds - in his recent book, The Hedge Fund Mirage: The Illusion of Big Money and Why It's Too Good to Be True. You'd think hedge fund advocates would immediately pounce on this and refute it; but it's irrefutable.

2012-08-07 Robert Shiller on the Social Benefits of Finance by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

It's a bad sign for the finance industry that one of its leading minds - the distinguished Yale economist Robert Shiller - has felt compelled to write a book in order to defend the idea that finance itself is a constructive pursuit, worthwhile to modern society. Have things really gotten that bad?

2012-08-07 The Game-Changer for Attracting Affluent Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Until now I've been a skeptic on the value of social media for attracting affluent clients. You can use Facebook and Twitter to connect with investors in their 20's and 30's - but not the older, more prosperous clients advisors target. But last week, three separate conversations changed my mind on this.

2012-08-07 Mixed Signals Color Downgrade Anniversary by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Two trouble spots for the economy, the job market and housing, generated some good vibes amid gloom over no action from central banks and manufacturing weakness. Unfortunately, it wasnt enough to push the stock market into positive territory for the week. But looking through a longer-term lens, stocks have been resilient since last year's debt-ceiling drama and Standard & Poors downgrade of U.S. debt.

2012-08-06 Japan's Tax Hike Could Prove Costly by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Japan has been here before, and the outcome was far from pleasant. Yet it seems the wheels are in motion. The country will double its national sales tax, from 5% to 10%. Justified as a way to help the country deal with its precarious fiscal situation, the move has raised serious concerns. This kind of a tax hike, applied for much the same reason, has been widely blamed for the country's destructive late-1990s' recession.

2012-08-06 Why the Long Face? by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Back in early 2009, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Business teamed up to create the Financial Trust Index. The latest readings from July 2012 show that just 21% of Americans trust the financial system and only 15% trust the stock market. For many, this negativity is understandable.

2012-08-06 Job Outlook: Not Great, But Not Terrible by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Nonfarm payrolls rose more than expected in July, reducing fears that the economy may be headed back into recession. One shouldn't put too much weight on any one particular month, especially July. However, the figures are consistent with the broad range of data suggesting moderate growth over the near term - not especially strong, but not terribly weak either.

2012-08-06 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Markets are so fixated on anecdotal and factual imagery like jobs' reports and sentiment meters that they are experiencing mania and panic over the least things. While reaction to hype tends to lead to price exaggerations, I also see a "so what?" response to data that sometimes borders on boredom. I prefer to believe that analytics can be useful in cutting through the ambient noise, to place an identity upon sectors' trends and their probability of trend maintenance.

2012-08-05 Erasers by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Moderate losses may be a necessary feature of risk-taking, but deep losses are erasers. A typical bear market erases over half of the preceding bull market advance. It is easy to forget - particularly during late-stage bull markets - how strongly this impacts full-cycle returns.

2012-08-03 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Slips But Growth Index Improves by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped to 122.2 from last week's 122.7 (a tiny revision from the previously reported 122.8). See the WLI chart below. However, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) improved, now at -1.3 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through July 27, an improvement over the previous week's -1.7, which was an upward revision from -2.3.

2012-08-03 Time to Row, or Sail? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Earnings are a topic of great debate. At any given time, you can hear someone on TV talking about how "cheap" the market is, while the person on the next channel goes on about how expensive the market is. Today we look at the cycle of earnings, rather than a specific point in time. Let me give you a little preview. In terms of time, this earnings cycle is already longer than average, and in terms of magnitude it is projected to go to all-time highs.

2012-08-01 China's Growing Pains by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Many feel that China is the engine for the world economy and that if it slows down, we may be doomed to a recession or even a depression. Yes, China's growth is decelerating from the double-digits of recent years; various forecasters are predicting a possible GDP growth range of 7-8% this year. However, I think it's important to emphasize that would still represent an impressive pace, and remember that China isn't the world economy's only locomotive.

2012-07-31 The Alternative to AUM-Based Fees: The Total Profitability Retainer Formula by Bob Veres (Article)

Many - perhaps most - advisors are overcharging a few of their clients and undercharging the rest. In other words, a small number of investment advisor clients are subsidizing the services that the others are receiving. Here's a way to address that.

2012-07-31 Uncertainty Reigns Supreme by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

With the first half of the year in the rearview mirror, investors might be lulled into thinking the most active period of the year is also in the rearview. Fast forward to year-end, though, and investors may beg for a return to the sanguine days of early 2012. A range of events in the coming months will likely dictate market optimism for 2012, 2013 and possibly beyond.

2012-07-30 Legends of the Fall 2012 by Nicholas Field of Schroder Investment Management

Are there any lessons from history for global stock markets, including emerging markets? Despite strong economic fundamentals, emerging stock markets have been negatively impacted by the global financial crisis and the European crisis. The outcome for all stock markets, including emerging markets, significantly depends on how these problems are resolved. In this context can previous crises, including the 1930's, give us any clues regarding timing?

2012-07-27 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Improves by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose to 122.8 from last week's 121.8 (a tiny revision from the previously reported 121.9). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) also improved, now at -1.6 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through July 20, an improvement over the previous week's -2.3.

2012-07-26 Escalation in the Middle East by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Last week, the fighting in Syria escalated, with the Free Syrian Army, the rebel umbrella group, announcing an attack on Syrias capital, Damascus. Reports indicate that Alawites are starting to flee Damascus for sectarian strongholds on the coast. This information follows the news that the rebels successfully bombed a Syrian intelligence and security facility, killing at least four major figures within the Assad regimes security apparatus.

2012-07-24 Deciphering the Annuity Puzzle: Practical Guidance for Advisors by Wade Pfau (Article)

Economists love to try to explain why people may act irrationally; such 'puzzles' inspire numerous researchers to probe their possible solutions. The annuity puzzle, which ponders why retirees do not buy more annuities, is a classic example. After describing the basic theory behind why this is so puzzling, I will address a variety of potential explanations, and then turn to the practical guidance the puzzle offers for advisors and their clients.

2012-07-24 The Ultimate Death Cross - False Harbinger of Doom by Georg Vrba, P.E. (Article)

Skeptics and devotees of technical analysis took notice last week when Albert Edwards, the closely followed investment strategist at Societe Generale, warned the S&P 500 was 'on the verge of an ultimate death cross,' foretelling imminent major losses for the stock market. Edwards' sense of doom is misguided. An ultimate death cross is mathematically impossible unless the S&P were to suffer an immediate and precipitous decline. Moreover, the signal would provide a positive outlook, if it were to occur.

2012-07-24 The Upside of Low Interest Rates for Pension Plans: Issuing Debt to Fund Pension Liabilities by Jared Gross, Seth Ruthen of PIMCO

Issuing debt allows a sponsor to de-risk without waiting for market events or cash contributions to reach the level of funding that triggers a shift in asset allocation. There are a number of ways in which a sponsor may benefit from replacing inefficient debt (in the form of a pension deficit) with the tax and accounting advantages of marketable debt.

2012-07-24 A Growing Water Crisis Creates Investment Opportunities in Agriculture by Jon Brorson, Geoffrey Lutz of Mesirow Financial

Water is ubiquitous, the ultimate source for life and the most important commodity for human existence. No less importantly, water is a critical input for food. Yet only a small fraction of total global water less than 1% is usable for food production, due to salinity and glaciers. As a result, water represents one of the single most important determinants of the value of today's investment opportunities in food production and farmland.

2012-07-23 Economic Review: Developed Europe Second Quarter 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

Developed Europe remained on tenterhooks for the greater part of the April-June quarter, but ended the period on a high note. At their Brussels summit on June 28-29, European leaders chalked out two crucial policies. They decided that the monetary unions permanent bailout fund or European Stability Mechanism (ESM) would be allowed to provide capital to ailing banks directly rather than through the governments of the countries in which they are located.

2012-07-23 China's Economy - A Great Wall of Worry? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The population of China bears seems to keep growing. This already large colony of doomsayers can point to any number of legitimate troubles facing China today, and they glibly do so, from slowing exports growth to an aging population, from real estate excesses to a moribund consumer sector. Bears think China is in for a "hard landing," but their pessimism is overdone. Here's why.

2012-07-22 Extraordinary Strains by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

A broad array of observable evidence suggests extraordinary strains in Europe, and abrupt though expected deterioration in U.S. economic activity. The Federal Reserve certainly has policy options, but those options have no material transmission mechanism to the real economy.

2012-07-21 The Lion in the Grass by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave

Today we'll explore a few things we can see and then try to foresee a few things that are not so obvious. This is a condensation of a speech I gave earlier this afternoon in Singapore for OCBC Bank, called "The Lion in the Grass." The simple premise is that it is not the lions we can see that are the problem; but rather, in trying to avoid them, it is often the lions hidden in the grass that we stumble upon that become the unwelcome surprise.

2012-07-20 July 2012 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

FRANK SINATRA FAN? Mena chided me for starting my last NewsLetter on a negative note so I thought Id repent this time and start with something more positive. Even if youre not a Sinatra fan, this lovely and moving piece of music by Andre Rieu," a renowned Dutch violinist, conductor and composer, and his orchestra is a tribute to Frank Sinatra with My Way on his Stradivarius violin at Radio City Music Hall New York.

2012-07-20 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Declines by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped to 121.9 from last week's 122.9, a downward revision from 123.2. See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) rose fractionally, now at -2.3 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through July 13, an improvement over the previous week's -2.7 (a downward revision from -2.2).

2012-07-19 Europe Risk Preparedness by William De Leon of PIMCO

PIMCO's risk management process is dynamic and flexible, allowing us to evolve to understand, quantify and manage risks in broad scope and at the portfolio level. We are particularly focused on preparation for multiple potential scenarios, from a one-country redenomination to a full break-up of the eurozone into 17 separate currencies.

2012-07-18 Taking Short Cuts to Higher Returns with AQRs Capital Antti Ilmanen by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

On November 2-3 of 2011 the CFA Institute and CFA France sponsored the Fourth Annual European Investment Conference in Paris, France. Antti Ilmanen, Ph.D. was one of the presenters. The title of his Presentation was Understanding Expected Returns. This months letter is based on this presentation as it appeared in the June 2012 publication CFA Institute Conference Proceedings Quarterly.

2012-07-17 Should You Wait to Buy a SPIA? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Advisors may be reluctant to recommend single-premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) with interest rates currently so low. It may be better to wait for rates to rise, which will bring more attractive SPIA pricing. But that leaves the question about how long we will wait for better pricing. In this article, I'll show how the decision to delay can turn out well or poorly, depending on the timing and size of rate increases.

2012-07-17 The Mystery of Chinese Capital Flight by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

Capital flight is defined as the rapid withdrawal of assets out of a country for political, economic or geopolitical reasons. Since late last year, there have been steady reports indicating that capital flight has been occurring in China. China restricts its capital account; inflows of foreign capital are carefully regulated and private outflows face significant restrictions. Chinese citizens can legally transfer only $50k per year out of the country.

2012-07-16 The Third Law of Randomness by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Proper investing doesn't rule out randomness and unpredictability, particularly when it comes to individual events. It instead diversifies against randomness both across holdings at each point in time, and across time by repeatedly acting on the basis of averages instead of individual forecasts.

2012-07-13 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Improves Yet Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) again rose fractionally, now at 123.2 from last week's 121.9. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) rose fractionally, now at -2.2 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through July 6, an improvement over the previous week's -2.8 (a slight upward revision from -2.9).

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 Are You Ever Asking for It: Client Referrals by Wendy J. Cook (Article)

Are you in the habit of routinely asking for client referrals? If so, fantastic. Consider this a pep talk. If not, well, it's still a pep talk. But it's also a call to action.

2012-07-10 Investors fret about Europe, but US stocks up 8.6% on the year by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

Investors have flooded back to European and US stocks on the surprise announcement that a single Eurozone wide agency, somewhat akin to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), will be established to backstop European banks directly, rather than lending through the respective governments of troubled banks.

2012-07-06 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Again Improves by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Click to viewThe Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) again rose fractionally, now at 121.9 from last week's 121.7 (which was a slight upward revision from 121.5). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) rose fractionally, now at -2.9 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through June 29, an improvement over the previous week's -3.6.

2012-07-06 Mid-Year 2012 Economic Update by Team of Horizon Advisors

The questions we hear most often from our clients have to do with the Eurozone, U.S. politics, and closely related, the so-called fiscal cliff. We thought we would approach each of these in turn.

2012-07-03 European Summit - Something for Bulls and Bears by Fred Copper of Columbia Management

The European summit outcome was fascinating; it had something for everyone, both bulls and bears. The net result was a positive surprise with at least one major concession by Germany. In concurrent news, three of the four semifinalists in the Euro 2012 soccer tournament were PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) and the other was Germany. Spain won the competition on Sunday, symbolic of the PIGS power within Europe it isnt all about Germany.

2012-07-03 Q&A on Supreme Court Health-Care Decision by Michael Townsend of Charles Schwab

The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. How might this decision affect investors and businesses?

2012-07-02 Nightmare on Wall Street: This Secular Bear Has Only Just Begun by Ed Easterling of Crestmont Research

Secular bull markets are great parties. Investors arrive from secular bears really wanting to take the edge off. As the bull proceeds, above-average returns become intoxicating. By the time it is over, the past decade or two has delivered bountiful returns. In contrast, secular bears seem like hangovers. They are awakenings that strip away the intoxication, leaving a sobering need for an understanding of what has happened.

2012-07-02 This film is rated "R" by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

This is not your fathers stock market. Nor really is it yours, the one you envisioned two decades ago. Instead we may have leveraged, in a literal sense, all the financial details to our heirs. The bad news is that we have become marginalized. Our goals and expectations have been sequestered, postponed, for another time.

2012-07-02 Has Housing Stabilized? by Ryan Davis of Fortigent

In the past two weeks, several important indicators have illustrated a market that, while not quite in a state of recovery, appears to be stabilizing. This sentiment was echoed in the latest Beige Book released by the Federal Reserve, which reported, several Districts noted consistent indications of recovery in the single-family housing market, although the recovery was characterized as fragile.

2012-06-29 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Up Fractionally by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Click to viewThe Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose fractionally to 121.5 from last week's 121.2 (a slight downward revision from 121.3). See the chart below. However, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) declined fractionally, now at -3.6 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through June 22, down from the previous week's -3.5.

2012-06-28 European Leaders Play With Fire by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

The world economy today stands at the doorstep of great change. A gathering crisis looms in Europe, splitting the Continent into two competing blocs. While leaders there face off against one another in a high stakes game of chicken, the rest of the world powerlessly watches the train wreck slowly unfold.

2012-06-27 Reconnaissance: Strategy Notes by Douglas Clark Johnson of Codexa Capital

Without external support for Egypt, there are few choices for reconfiguring national output. The country is an oil importer; its agricultural industry fragmented and inefficient; private wealth is suspicious. We also look at the growth implications of the fiasco at the G-20 meeting. In Pakistan, foreign names could rally behind exceptional investment-return potential once an election is called and a new government is in place.

2012-06-27 Long-Term Investing in a Short-Term World by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

In this electronic age, news and rumors can spread like wildfire across the globe, heightening market volatility as markets react in real time. It can be difficult for investors to see the forest for the trees as they try to dodge the downdrafts immediately in front of them, sometimes making hasty missteps.

2012-06-26 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 Ensuring That Clients Feel Valued by Dan Richards (Article)

Ask advisors whether they value their clients - especially top clients - and care about their future success, and you'll get a funny look wondering what you've been smoking. The answer is so obvious that the question isn't worth asking. But ask clients the corresponding question and the response is often quite different.

2012-06-25 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

While the Dow Jones, S&P, and global bourses initially followed the EUs announcements about Spain and Greece with a rebound, the rally stalled last week because facts trumped suspicion. Short sellers and profit takers took control of the markets averting a weekend of being long in the face of more bad news.

2012-06-25 Market Breadth Pretty Good, Save for Thursday by John Buckingham of AFAM

It would have been a nice week if it wasnt for the big plunge on Thursday as that days 250-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average interrupted a solid stretch in which market breadth had been quite favorable. In fact, the other four days last week saw more advancing stocks than declining stocks, looking at the New York Composite Daily Breadth statistics from this weekends Barrons Magazine.

2012-06-25 Jilted Investors Unsure Where to Turn by Chris Maxey and Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Institutional and individual investors are at an uncertain juncture, waiting to see what the next shoe to drop is. With an important series of events occurring soon, such as the US Presidential election this fall and the fiscal cliff facing the US at years end, investors may need to wait to get more clarity on the market outlook.

2012-06-22 Its All a Big Mistake by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

Mistakes are a frequent topic of discussion in our world. Its not unusual to see investors criticized for errors that resulted in poor performance. But rarely do we hear about mistakes as an indispensable component of the investment process. Im writing now to point out that mistakes are all that superior investing is about. In short, in order for one side of a transaction to turn out to be a major success, the other side has to have been a big mistake.

2012-06-22 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Slips Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped to 121.3 from last week's 121.8 (a slight downward revision from 121.9). See the chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) also declined, now at -3.5 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through June 15, down from the previous week's -3.0.

2012-06-21 Will Quantitative Easing Lead to Higher Inflation? by Keith Wade, James Bilson of Schroder Investment Management

In certain circles, talk of Quantitative Easing (QE) immediately triggers thoughts of Weimar Germany and Zimbabwe. The only beneficiaries of turning to the printing presses, it is suggested, will be wheelbarrow salesmen. Whilst extreme inflation seems an exceptionally low risk event, there are legitimate concerns over the impact of the huge expansion of the monetary base on future inflation. In this Talking Point, we examine the key signals to watch out for in assessing future inflation risks.

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 Down and Out in Wenzhou by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Much like in the US in 2006, the Chinese government officials and the worldwide media need to believe that what is going on in Wenzhou is not the first domino in a series of dominos which fall over the next two years. The Chinese economy and its miracle of the last 30 years were originally driven by the competitive advantage of cheap labor.

2012-06-19 Cohen & Steers European Real Estate Securities Strategy by Team of Cohen & Steers

We would like to share with you our review and outlook for the European real estate securities market as of May 31, 2012. For the month, the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Europe Real Estate Index had a total return of 7.5% (in U.S. dollars, net of dividend withholding taxes). By comparison, U.S. REITs had a total return of 4.5%, as measured by the FTSE NAREIT Equity REIT Index. Year to date, the indexes had total returns of +3.0% and +8.8%, respectively.

2012-06-18 Greece Gains Some Breathing Space by Darren Williams of Alliance Bernstein

Today, New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras will try to form a government. If he succeeds, an immediate disaster scenario will have been avoided. The question is: for how long? Yesterday, the centre-right ND party narrowly defeated the radical left wing Syriza party in the second Greek election. A coalition between ND and the center-left Pasok party would command enough seats in parliament to give it a small working majority (a target that the two parties just missed in the May election).

2012-06-16 The Bang! Moment is Here by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

We know that money is simply flying out of Greek banks. A number of them are clearly insolvent, yet they are meeting demands for withdrawals. Where is the cash coming from? The answer is in the form of yet another acronym from Europe, called the ELA.

2012-06-15 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Up Slightly, But Growth Index Declines by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose fractionally to 121.9 from last week's 121.3 (a downward revision from 122.3). See the chart below. However, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) slipped, now at -3.0 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through June 8, down from the previous week's -2.2 (a sizable downward revision from -0.7).

2012-06-15 Cohen & Steers International Real Estate Securities Strategy by Team of Cohen & Steers

We would like to share with you our review and outlook for theinternational real estate securities market as of May 31, 2012. The FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed ex-U.S. Real Estate Index had a total return of 8.0% for the month (net of dividendwithholding taxes) in U.S. dollars. By comparison, U.S. REITs returned 4.5% for the month, as measured by the FTSE NAREIT Equity REIT Index. Year to date, the indexes returned +7.3% and +8.8%, respectively.

2012-06-14 The US Economy Sitting on the Threshold of a New Golden Age: Part Two by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

In part one of this multipart series on the US economy I offered the following basic opinion: The majority of the positive aspects underpinning the US economy are being mostly ignored by mainstream media in favor of the smaller, but more titillating, negative aspects. Consequently, I believe that many Americans, and since this is an investing blog, many investors, are holding a much more negative view of the strength of the American economy than is warranted. I offer massive outflows from equity funds into Treasury bonds as evidence supporting my thesis.

2012-06-14 Patient But Vigilant Fed by Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

Chairman Bernanke failed to offer broad hints about an imminent round of financial accommodation or an extension of Operation Twist (Maturity Extension Program) in his testimony on June 7. There were three key takeaways pertaining to the near term economic outlook from Bernanke's testimony and response to questions.

2012-06-13 Three Years and Counting by Neel Kashkari of PIMCO

In addition to muted economic growth, record low interest rates, and sustained high unemployment, extraordinary equity market volatility has been a repeated feature of the past three years. As heightened volatility persists, many equity investors remain on the sidelines. We think a better investment approach is to invest globally, across asset classes, reflecting the likelihood of the various outcomes. We believe managing against downside shocks is enormously beneficial to compounding attractive returns over the long term.

2012-06-13 The by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Today we revisit the subject of the so-called fiscal cliff that our country faces at the end of this year if a Lame Duck Congress fails to pass a number of new laws by December 31. (I last wrote about this subject on March 27.) Some analysts are arguing that nothing really bad will happen if the Lame Duck Congress fails to get the job done. I disagree and I will tell you why below.

2012-06-12 Investing for Retirement: SPIAs, TIPS, Stocks and the 4% Rule by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Relying only on stocks and bonds to fund a decumulation strategy may no longer be feasible, given today's low interest rate environment and the prospect of muted returns from the equities market. Investors should instead consider using single-premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) to fund at least a portion of retirement needs.

2012-06-12 Time Running Out for European Credibility by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

Mondays disappointing market reception to the bailout package for Spanish banks is a reminder to European policymakers of something that is more than familiar to veteran sovereign crisis managers in emerging countries: The greater the erosion of policymaking credibility, the harder it is to get the private sector to buy into your plans. As a result, rather than crowd in private capital, seemingly bold policy measures end up facilitating its exit. The answer is not to do less but, rather, to be more comprehensive and coherent in what you do.

2012-06-11 Profits for the Long Run: Affirming the Case for Quality by Chuck Joyce, Kimball Mayer of GMO

Low-risk investing is one of the hot topics in equity investing these days. This is a far cry from the environment that prevailed when we launched the Quality Strategy in early 2004. Back then, low-risk investing was a nascent concept. Arguing that risk was priced backwards was a rarity in our industry (although, oddly, it was more accepted in academia). With the passing of time, the benefits of low-risk investing have become more widely accepted. Today, a wide array of low-risk strategies is now available.

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.

2012-06-09 A Dysfunctional Nation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

European leaders launched the euro project in the last century as an experiment to see whether political hope could become economic reality. What they have done is create one of the most dysfunctional economic systems in history. And the distortions inherent in that system are now playing out in an increasingly dysfunctional social order. Today we look at some rather disturbing recent events and wonder about the actual costs of that experiment. What type of "therapy" will be needed to treat the dysfunctional family that Europe has become?

2012-06-08 The Default Delusion - Inevitable....and Desirable by Jonathan Compton of Bedlam Asset Management

The many tortuous what if articles on the eurozones financial problems address the risks of collapse and contagion together with the inchoate political responses. Inevitably they conclude catastrophic consequences. There is no gain in further exaggerating this fairy tale, which is repeated to frighten voters into submission. Every scribbler had got there apart from those for whom it became a quasi-religious cult. The current cacophony of commentary remains backward looking so will again miss the key issue: default is good.

2012-06-08 The US Economy Sitting On The Threshold Of A New Golden Age: Part One by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

In the past, Ive written numerous articles positing a long-term optimistic outlook for both our economy and the attractive future growth prospects of our great American businesses. Even though I hate to forecast the market in general, I have even presented evidence indicating that the general market as represented by the S&P 500 is currently reasonably priced and even slightly undervalued. My most recent contribution can be found here.

2012-06-08 ECRI Recession Call Update: Weekly Leading Index Declines Further by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) dropped to 121.6 from last week's 122.3 (a downward revision from 122.4). See the chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) also slipped, now at -2.0 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through June 1, down from the previous week's -0.7 (a downward revision from -0.6). The ECRI numbers are extremely close to the RecessionAlert estimates, posted yesterday, which anticipated 121.9 and -1.9% for the WLI and WLIg metrics.

2012-06-07 Spain & Weak US Economy Dominate Markets by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Stock markets around the world have been pummeled in recent weeks amidst the growing reality that were in a global recession, especially in Europe. Fears that the US will also fall into recession have intensified, particularly in light of last weeks very disappointing economic reports. At the same time, the European debt crisis has once again raised its ugly head, this time with the spotlight on Spain. Spains own Prime Minister has admitted that the country is in a state of emergency, and money is gushing out of Spanish banks.

2012-06-07 The Absolute Return Letter - First Mover Advantage by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Investment Advisers

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the eurozone crisis has always been a banking crisis. It only morphed into a sovereign crisis because of political incompetence. Given the rather stubborn approach of the German government to its beleaguered eurozone partners, the crisis is rapidly moving towards some sort of crescendo. It is only a question of time before one of the Southern European countries come to realise that they might be better off outside the eurozone, particularly if they are the first mover.

2012-06-06 Liquidity Lessons: The Critical Importance of Budgeting for Overlay Strategies by Markus Aakko, Jared Gross of PIMCO

One approach is to tier liquidity into current and contingent tiers, where some assets are kept in more liquid form and others are kept in higher-yielding investments. Quantifying how much of the immediate category is needed is a relatively straightforward risk-management exercise involving estimating the potential mark-to-market change in value of the overlay. Our view is that locating the liquidity pool internally has a number of potential advantages over an external model.

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.

2012-06-04 My Best Investment Advice - Watch Your Fellow Investors And Do The Opposite by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

In my opinion, the recent selloff in stocks defies commonsense and logic, but in truth and fact it usually does. In other words, its not uncommon to see investors selling at precisely the time they should be buying and vice versa. Moreover, when investor pessimism is at a high, like it is today, stocks become cheap causing people to panic and sell. Now when I review the data, I get optimistic and immediately began to suspect that all this pessimism is creating a great long-term opportunity for investors with a more optimistic view of the future.

2012-06-02 ECRI Recession Call Update: Another Weekly Leading Index Decline by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) dropped to 122.4 from last week's 123.0 (a slight downward revision of 123.1). The WLI growth indicator also slipped, now at -0.6 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through May 25, down from the previous week's 0.1. The latest data release to the general public continues to command focus in the wake of Lakshman Achuthan repeated reaffirmation of ECRI's recession call in live interviews around the major business networks on May 9th.

2012-06-01 Civil Disobedience Hong Kong Style by Robert Horrocks of Matthews Asia

Walking around Hong Kong a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by the citys own version of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Directly underneath the HSBC tower, in the center of Hong Kongs vibrant financial district, is a small paved area, a portion of which is home to Hong Kongs anti-capitalist, anti-Wall Street movement. In the skyscraper above, thousands of banking and financial employees toil away daily, not overly disturbed by the protesters directly beneath their feet. Why? Because the civil disobedience below is just sowell, civil.

2012-05-31 Wall Street Food Chain by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Soaring debt/GDP ratios in previously sacrosanct AAA countries have made low cost funding increasingly a function of central banks as opposed to private market investors. Both the lower quality and lower yields of such previously sacrosanct debt represent a potential breaking point in our now 40-year-old global monetary system. Bond investors should favor quality and clean dirty shirt sovereigns (U.S., Mexico and Brazil), for example, as well as emphasize intermediate maturities that gradually shorten over the next few years.

2012-05-31 Institutionalizing Courage by Robert Arnott of Research Affiliates

Most investors measure wealth in terms of the value of their portfolio. We believe it is better to measure wealth in terms of the portfolios ability to support sustainable spending. This months Fundamentals explores why this approach requires courage.

2012-05-29 The 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 Into the Great Unknown by Andrew Balls of PIMCO

Amid great uncertainty and huge challenges in Europe, it can be helpful to cut through all the detail and map out what we know and what we dont know. This is at best depressing and, at worst, terrifying. Taking together the known knowns and the known unknowns, it seems likely that the eurozones big four Germany, France, Italy and Spain as well as other German satellite countries will find a way to hang together in a smaller currency union backed by stronger regional co-ordination and financing mechanisms.

2012-05-29 Why We Lie by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational

We like to believe that a few bad apples spoil the virtuous bunch. But research shows that everyone cheats a littleright up to the point where they lose their sense of integrity. Not too long ago, one of my students, Peter, locked himself out of his house. After a spell, the locksmith pulled up in his truck and picked the lock in about a minute. The purpose of locks, the locksmith said, is to protect you from the 98% of mostly honest people who might be tempted to try your door if it had no lock.

2012-05-29 The Spending versus the Austerity Debate by Jim Tillar of Tillar-Wenstrup Advisors

There is a very important debate taking place on the best way to fix our economy between those who favor more spending versus those who favor austerity. Recently the spending camp has been very vocal in promoting their theory, including recent papers by Larry Summers, Brad DeLong and Paul McCulley, Zoltan Pozsar and a new book by Paul Krugman. What is not in dispute in the debate is that the private sector is deleveraging as an aftermath of the financial crisis, negatively impacting growth. What is in dispute is the appropriate response.

2012-05-26 ECRI Recession Call Update: Weekly Leading Index Declines Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) dropped to 123.1 from a slight downward revision of 124.4 (see the fifth chart below). The WLI growth indicator also slipped, now at 0.1 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through May 18, down from the previous week's 0.4. The latest data release to the general public continues to command focus in the wake of Lakshman Achuthan repeated reaffirmation of ECRI's recession call in live interviews around the major business networks on May 9th.

2012-05-25 China Gives Green Light to Car Buyers by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

China just made it a little more affordable to buy a car. Last week, the government announced a one-year, RMB 26.5 billion subsidy program devoted to energy-efficient products. About RMB 6 billion will be set aside for fuel-efficient cars, and the remaining incentives focus on LED lighting, high-efficiency motors, and air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines and water heaters that comply with energy saving standards.

2012-05-24 Europe's Tragedy Nears the End of Act One, but the Drama Continues by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

What a difference a year can make. When a group of European Union experts met at a workshop in Italy's Tuscan hills in the spring of 2011, the center of attention was Greece and its ever-growing sovereign debt crisis. Could it, should it, default on debt repayments? And what would happen then? The delegates wondered whether the result might be a meltdown not just of the Greek economy but of Europe as a whole.

2012-05-24 The Real Crash by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

I first came to national attention back in 2008 and 2009 when the housing and credit markets imploded. I became known as the guy that other market "experts" laughed at when I warned of trouble brewing in the seemingly indestructible American economy. After the wheels ground to a halt in mid-2008, people noticed that my bookCrash Proof, originally released in early 2007, read like a detailed preview of many of the events that eventually unfolded.

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 And Thats The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Dell (5/22), HP (5/23) and Costco (5/24) release earnings next week, but no one seems to care much these days. The Greek crisis and ongoing EU contagion will weigh on investors as G8 leaders head to Camp David to debate fiscal responsibility. (Any opportunities to compromise, Germany?) Talks of harsh financial regs continue to heat up in the aftermath of JP Morgan. Did you guys cash-out of any Facebook (as a hedge), Mr. Dimon?

2012-05-19 Dr. Frankensteins Europe by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

We explore the options that the eurozone faces in order to stay together, and what it all means for some of the countries involved. While I have written for a very long time about the probability of Greece exiting the eurozone, the actuality is fraught with risk, not just for Europe but for the world economy. What happens in the next few months will impact us all for a very long time. Indeed, this is one of those years, as Lenin noted, when decades happen.

2012-05-17 Avoiding a Cold Shower in the Cash Markets by Jerome M. Schneider of PIMCO

A concern for investors would be to vigilantly monitor the global marketplace for any changes in the liquidity markets, reviewing aspects and conditions in both the unsecured and secured markets. The second source is the capital market participants themselves. Reduced or reallocated dealer balance sheets have led to wider bid-offer spreads in the marketplace. The final evolutionary condition to monitor is the regulatory environment in the U.S. The SEC and the Fed have recently become critics of the current structure of 2a-7 money market funds.

2012-05-17 You should worry about EM inflation. Not US inflation. by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Investors seem overly concerned about US inflation. Both market-derived expectations and actual rates of US inflation remain very subdued, yet we are consistently asked about inflation and whether our investment strategies are adequately structured for high US inflation. Across the board, these data do not support structuring investment strategies for the US inflation that investors, oddly enough, feel is inevitable. The data do, however, suggest that investors recent rush into emerging market debt is much riskier than they anticipate.

2012-05-16 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group

If you listened carefully to the CEOs during their earnings announcements, they were tepidly upbeat but upbeat nonetheless, as they looked forward into the remainder of the year. On a day-to-day basis the markets will be driven by the headlines and emotions. We encourage you to refrain from getting caught up in that fray. At the end of the day it will be about an economy that moves forward creating jobs and not one built on the back of debt.

2012-05-16 The Facebook IPO: A Note to Mark Zuckerberg; or, With Friends Like Morgan Stanley, Who Needs Enemi by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational

I just received this letter from a friend in the banking industry. Dear Mark, Theres been a lot of ballyhoo recently about your IPO and your choice of investment bankers. Indeed, a war was fought by the banks to win your deal of the decade. As reported in the press, the competition was so intense banks slashed their fees in order to win your business. Facebook is only paying a 1% commission for its IPO rather than the 3% typically charged by the banks. Congratulations, Mr. Zuckerberg! On the surface it appears your pals in investment banking have given you a quite a deal!Or have they?

2012-05-15 Austerity Its All In The Timing by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

One problem with designing fiscal stimulus is determining how rapidly to move back toward fiscal balance. The U.S. economy has already faced some degree of austerity. According to the National Income and Product Accounts, government consumption and investment subtracted 0.6 percentage point from GDP growth over the last six quarters, where in normal times, it would have added about 0.3 percentage point (consistent with population growth). Real GDP averaged 1.8% growth over the last six quarters. It would have been nearly a full percentage point higher if not for the contraction in government.

2012-05-15 The Surprising Way to Deepen Client Relationships by Dan Richards (Article)

Among the countless ways advisors have attempted to increase client loyalty, I've found a simple approach that deepens relationships.

2012-05-15 Searching for Big Foot by Anwiti Bahuguna of Columbia Management

For the past few years, the sovereign bond markets have pushed peripheral European countries to reduce public debt. This has meant adopting austerity measures whereby government budgets are slashed and taxes are raised. Such measures meet investors approval. However, the immediate impact of such efforts is less economic growth which is intolerable to the people in Europe. The path to sustainable growth is complicated and requires long-term investments. We believe despite decades of research on the topic, academic efforts have not found a clear answer. Perhaps finding Big Foot will be easier.

2012-05-15 Sex, Money and Largesse: The Hidden Depression by Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live

"Sex" and "Money" are probably two of the most powerful words in the English language. First, those two words got you to look at this article. They also sell products, books and services from "How To Have Better Sex" to "How To Make More Money" ostensibly so you can have more of the former. Unfortunately, they are also the two primary causes of divorce in the country today.

2012-05-14 The Flaws of Finance by James Montier of GMO

Bad Models, or, Why We Need a Hippocratic Oath in Finance. The NRA is well-known for its slogan Guns dont kill people; people kill people. I have often heard fans of financial modelling use a similar line of defence. However, one of my favourite comedians has a rebuttal that I find most compelling. He points out that Guns dont kill people; people kill people, but so do monkeys if you give them guns. This is akin to my view of financial models. Give a monkey a value at risk (VaR) model or the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) and youve got a potential financial disaster on your hands.

2012-05-14 A Taste of Reality by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

There was nothing fun loving about the spoonful of bad news overseas last week that left investors with a bad taste in their mouths. New wrinkles to Europes debt crisis and slower growth in key emerging markets have shaken the stock market and put the U.S. recovery in doubt. The recovery may be weakening and there is a good chance we will see more negative surprises in the near term. This challenging environment calls for investors to be selective in choosing risk assets. Still, shunning stocks altogether could undermine long-term financial goals and, ultimately, is a recipe for disaster.

2012-05-11 Spring Quarterly Commentary by John G. Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management

U.S. GDP rose at a disappointing 2.2% annual rate during the first quarter of 2012; so far this recovery has been too weak to reduce relative government debt levels through growth. A step toward austerity is next years fiscal cliff which features automatic spending cuts and tax increases. We have been told one-third of the entire tax code is expiring at the end of this year, with payroll, income, capital gain and dividend tax burdens all set to increase. Simultaneously, automatic cuts to defense and other discretionary areas of the Federal budget are set to take effect.

2012-05-11 ECRI Update: Reaffirming the Recession Call ... Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 0.1 as reported in todays public release of the data through May 4. This is essentially unchanged from last week. However, the underlying WLI again rose fractionally from an adjusted 124.6 to 125.4 (see the fourth chart below). The big news this week, however, is not the weekly data update but ECRI's latest reaffirmation of its recession call in a Bloomberg interview with ECRIs Lakshman Achuthan earlier this week. Ive embedded a link to the nine-minute video on the Bloomberg website.

2012-05-10 Q112 Portfolio Commentary for the Absolute Strategies Fund by Jay Compson of Absolute Investment Advisers

It is no secret the structural problems and crises throughout the global economy stem from excess debt. This letter attempts to explain why we think the global economy is in this situation, why the process for creating the problems continues to this day, why financial markets are not out of the woods. We are extremely optimistic about the future investing climate, but only after we get through the final stage of the credit bubble. In our view, the root of the problem stems from the willingness of a broad swath of investors and money managers to bid up asset prices to extreme levels.

2012-05-08 Annuities versus Systematic Withdrawals: Understanding Tax Effects by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Given the complexity of most annuities, analysis of them typically only considers pre-tax results. But taxes matter. As we will see, tax impacts vary by the specific type of annuity you're considering, and will make the difference between annuities being cost effective or a drain on cash flow.

2012-05-05 Late Bull Stampede Turns Bears Into April Fools by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

April should have derailed the market, but it didnt; a temporary pullback was the best the bears could muster. The bears normally make money by betting against the crowded trade; by being on the sidelines, the bears now are the crowded trade and in foolish fashion. The bulls, meanwhile, find themselves in the odd position of being seen as contrarians, even though fundamentals are setting records and equity market performance over the last two quarters has been spectacular. Let the stampede continue!

2012-05-04 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator: Third Consecutive Decline by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 0.0 as reported in today's public release of the data through April 27. This is the third consecutive week-over-week decline since January 6th. However, the underlying WLI again rose fractionally from an adjusted 124.0 to 124.7.

2012-05-03 How Big is Almost? by Andrew J. Redleaf, Blaise Morton, an Richard Vigilante of Whitebox Advisors

For decades the fondest wish of the finance professoriate has been to prove that money managers who believe they earn alpha are kidding themselves and their customers. The latest attempt, titled Active Portfolio Management and Positive Alphas: Fact or Fantasy? is the work of Cornells Robert A. Jarrow, a prestigious name in mathematical finance. Jarrow, based on some previous work with Philip Protter, sets out to prove that the source of all (or nearly all) alpha must be a true arbitrage. Since true arbitrage is vanishingly rare, he then argues alpha must be as well.

2012-05-03 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

As markets regroup from their phenomenal start to the year, certain groups have transformed the conversational dynamic. Focusing as I do upon longer term demographics, I have noticed a shift from traditional consumer cyclical brands toward epic population issue sectors, such as agriculture, healthcare, energy and infrastructure. Beyond the obvious significance of these topics, trading machinations within those secular themes have transformed during the last year. One notices a steadier stochastic pulse to equities within these sectors, emblematic of a longer attention span.

2012-05-03 A Troika of Problems by Team of BondWave Advisors

The troika of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Union (EU), and European Central Bank (ECB) has continued to prescribe austerity. But at the end of what is now a lengthy cycle of agreements and ever-increasing austerity measures, the debt still remains significant and much of the region has either been plunged into recession or is heading that way. We discuss these ongoing problems and provide additional insight on the US Treasury, Corporate and Municipal Bond Markets.

2012-05-01 Making the Right Wager on Client Longevity by Manish Malhotra (Article)

Using annuities to fund retirement is anathema to most advisors, who view the loss of control over one's capital and impossibility of a bequest as nonstarters for their clients. But as clients reach the later stages of their retirement, those arguments no longer apply. A single-premium immediate annuity is superior to a TIPS ladder or a systematic-withdrawal portfolio for funding the last phase of retirement.

2012-05-01 A Wake-up Call on the Economy by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Economic statistics seem at times to have their own ebb and flow, sometimes overstating and sometimes understating the underlying fundamentals. Sadly, these often meaningless data variations can create false feelings about economic possibilitiesenthusiasm, when the statistical flow leans toward the strong side, or despair, when it leans on the soft side. Investors, in particular, succumb to such swings in attitude, but, to a lesser extent, so do businesspeople. So, it was with a string of insupportably good numbers late in 2011 and earlier this year.

2012-04-30 Release the Kraken by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

The problem for the stock market is that the 13-year journey of underperforming T-bills - with wicked collapses and break-even recoveries - is most probably not over.

2012-04-27 Yes, They Do: Low Interest Rates Do Make Stocks Cheap by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Im inspired to write this article because I am so frustrated by the plethora of all the so-called expert market prognosticators that continuously bombard the public with negative forecasts. I consider this to be both erroneous and irrational. When the markets are doing well, we are immediately inundated with articles talking about how the market has surely topped and a big drop is imminent. The real truth of the matter is that nobody really knows. Not the Fed, nor any of the so-called experts. Pessimism is pervasive, but optimism is, in fact, more accurate and rational in my opinion.

2012-04-27 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator: The Growth Index Slips Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 0.6 as reported in today's public release of the data through April 20. This is the second consecutive week-over-week decline since January 6th. However, the underlying WLI rose fractionally from an adjusted 123.8 to 124.1.

2012-04-25 Developed Europe: Economic Review 1st Quarter 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

The first quarter of 2012 witnessed several comforting developments in Europe. Greece fulfilled the pre-condition for securing its second bailout by convincing its private creditors to accept a 53.5 percent write-off on its debt. The deal eased concerns about a disorderly default by Greece on its sovereign debt. Following up on the liquidity-infusing program it introduced late last year, the ECB carried out another round of its Long-Term Refinancing Operation (LTRO), this time handing out to about 800 banks a total of 529.5 billion in 3-year loans at a very low interest rate of 1 percent.

2012-04-25 Impatience Will Lead To Our Demise by Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live

What is both disturbing and disappointing is the lack of foresight exhibited by the media and political leaders of not only Europe but the U.S. as well. It should not be a surprise to anyone that the austerity regimen, agreed to last month as a long term solution to Europe's sovereign debt crisis, is going to cause economic growth to slow. We have been very vocal about this point. Austerity measures cannot be imposed when an economy is saddled by rising debt costs and high unemployment. It will reduce economic output and therefore requires a strongly growing economy to offset the drag.

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 Chinas Growing Pains by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Among all the fears discussed in the financial community these days, worries over Chinas expansion loom large. The government in Beijing has revised down its growth expectations to 78% a year from the former breakneck pace of 1012%. Private groups, such as the American Chamber of Commerce in China, have made similar downward adjustments in their expectations. Though there is good reason to anticipate a slowdown in the pace of Chinese growth, it would be a mistake to exaggerate the risks, and especially to do so by drawing easy parallels to Americas real estate debacle.

2012-04-24 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

As markets regroup from their phenomenal start to the year, certain groups have transformed the conversational dynamic. Focusing as I do upon longer term demographics, I have noticed a shift from traditional consumer cyclical brands toward epic population issue sectors, such as agriculture, healthcare, energy and infrastructure. Beyond the obvious significance of these topics, trading machinations within those secular themes have transformed during the last year. One notices a steadier stochastic pulse to equities within these sectors, emblematic of a longer attention span.

2012-04-20 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator: The Growth Index Slip by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 1.2 as reported in today's public release of the data through April 13. This is the first week-over-week decline since January 6th, over three months ago. The underlying WLI contracted more dramatically from an adjusted 125.9 to 123.9 (see the fourth chart below). This is the largest decline, in percentage terms, since August 19th of last year.

2012-04-19 What to Do With the Daily Data Divulge? by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

Simply ignoring the immense amount of data would be foolhardy and we must use more corroborating data and scrutinizing the data among trends and the volatile monthly data. This has given rise to the more artistic aspect of viewing the markets than how we may have in the past. This is why ones prediction for the markets may differ completely from another while looking at the exact same data. As such, the importance of the rationale for why one may feel a certain way about the markets is as important as the actual conclusion.

2012-04-18 Quirky Tales and Waves of Change by Doug MacKay and Bill Hoover of Broadleaf Partners

While almost all commodities (ag, chemicals, and energy) have tended to move up and down together in price, oil has always beat to a different drummer, likely as a function of the ebb and flow of geopolitical concerns and the physical location of most known reserves. I would guess, however, if natural gas is in such abundance domestically, it could very well be the case around the globe. The prospect for $200 oil might be as remote as NASDAQ 5000.

2012-04-17 Two Words to Get in Front of Prospects by Dan Richards (Article)

Even advisors who are successful in every aspect of their business struggle when it comes to getting meetings with prospects. The key is to understand how prospective clients look at requests for action - and to frame anything you ask with two words in mind.

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 Mind the Gap by Liam Molloy and Bethany Carlson of Galway Investment Strategy

There is almost always a gap between price and value. Over the next few years price volatility is likely to be the source of the gap as sentiment waffles from overly exuberant to downright pessimistic. In the era of the 24-hour news cycle, high frequency trading, and an ever shortening investor attention span, prices move fast. Markets are emotional creatures and have a tendency to boom and bust. There have been occasions when underlying changes of value have gone unrecognized for sustained periods, and the gap was not primarily a function of price volatility.

2012-04-17 10 More Years of Low Returns by Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live

Ten more years of low returns in the stock market. If you are one of the millions of baby boomers headed into retirement-start saving more and spending less because the stock market won't bail you out. I will explain why this is the likely future ahead for investors. In this weekends newsletter I wrote that "If you put all of your money into cash today and dont look at the market for another decade you will be better off..."I realize that this statement is equivalent to heresy where Wall Street is concerned but there is one reason behind my apparent madness - the power of reversion.

2012-04-13 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator: The Growth Index Continues to Improve by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 1.4 as reported in today's public release of the data through April 6. This is the thirteenth consecutive week of improving data for the Growth Index and the highest reading since August 5th of last year. However, underlying WLI contracted slightly, decreasing from an adjusted 126.3 to 125.7

2012-04-12 Newtonian Profits by Neel Kashkari of PIMCO

Today many equity investors are asking whether corporate profit margins can stay strong. Stock prices today are anchored on strong profits, hence investors intense focus on the sustainability of those profits. If they fall, stock prices are likely to follow. No doubt individual companies and sectors will face margin pressure. But for the equity market as a whole, our central scenario is for corporate margins to remain strong in the near future. We are buying individual companies we like based on our analysis of their own fundamentals in the context of the economic environment they are in.

2012-04-12 Benjamin Graham's The Intelligent Investor: Chapter Eight by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

There are only five pages dedicated to bonds in Chapter Eight. But, these five pages had such major influence on my early years as an advisor. And once again, it is those pages that are sending me a reminder as to why I should not buy bonds today. Given the current interest rates, I would strongly suggest any and all bond investors read these pages. I can assure you that Mr. Buffett has.

2012-04-11 Will Baby Boomers Wreck the Market? (The Sequel) by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The basic premise behind the idea that Baby Boomers might lay waste to the stock market makes sense intuitively. The idea is that as Boomers retire, they will shift assets away from stocks to less risky alternatives such as bonds, annuities, CDs, etc. and begin living on the interest. All of this selling activity, the story goes, will put downward pressure on stock prices and lead to a major selloff.

2012-04-10 Flexible Strategies for Longevity Protection: Comparing Two Products by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Products that guarantee income for life can be useful for retirement planning, but many clients also want flexibility and control over their investments. Two products that can meet these objectives are variable annuities with guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits (VA/GLWBs) and deferred income annuities (DIAs).

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.

2012-04-09 How high is up? by Scott Brown of du Pasquier Asset Management

Europe hopes the latest (bailout and reg) moves will help it get its act together. (Good luck with that.) China applies the brakes. Labor looks strong, but can it continue? The Fed debates the need for more stimulus (without any consensus). Facebook moves closer to IPO (and investors beg to participate). The world lectures Iran and finally takes harsh measures (stand by to help Saudi). Investors hope to keep the mo going for another quarter, while being tempted to take profits along the way. Can we finally start focusing on Obama vs. Romney?

2012-04-09 How high is up? by Scott Brown of du Pasquier Asset Management

Although performance in our portfolios was good during the first quarter, it is likely that my defensiveness might be costing us during the current rally. Right now, my allocations reflect a lack of conviction that the rally can sustain, so while cash is king is a handy catchphrase, in our case it is our best defense against the kind of draw-down that ruins portfolios. Our methodology is not to have one or more security rupture the probability of continued portfolio progress, point A to point B. In that sense, we successfully continued our steady climb in valuation appreciation.

2012-04-09 Is the Fed Promoting Recovery or Merely Desperation? by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

What we've observed in the employment figures is not recovery, but desperation. Having starved savers of interest income, and having repeatedly subjected investors to Fed-induced financial bubbles that create volatility without durable returns, the Fed has successfully provoked job growth of the obligatory, low-wage variety. Over the past year, the majority of this growth has been in the 55-and-over cohort, while growth has turned down among other workers. All of this reflects not health, but despair, and explains why real disposable income has grown by only 0.3% over the past year.

2012-04-09 The Fed Shifts Gears by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The Federal Reserve, while continuing to hint at future quantitative easing (QE), seems at last to have also felt a need to address the longer-term inflationary risks of such policies. Accordingly, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke unveiled a new approach to quantitative easing, what he calls "sterilized QE." It, he claims, would both support markets (and the economy) and at the same time guard against any longer-term inflationary consequences. Though there is good reason to harbor skepticism about the technique he has outlined, this recent change in tone does offer encouragement.

2012-04-06 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator Growth Is Now Positive by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 1.0 as reported in today's public release of the data through March 30. This is the twelfth consecutive week of improving data for the Growth Index and the first postive reading since August 12th of last year. The underlying WLI also improved, increasing from an adjusted 125.8 to 126.5 (see the fourth chart below).

2012-04-02 The Hazard of Second Best by Mohamed A. El-Erian of Project Syndicate

The international community appears increasingly intent on settling for second best on two key issues to be discussed this month in global meetings in Washington, DC: the lingering (if currently dormant) European debt crisis, and the selection of the World Banks next president. It is not too late to change course.

2012-04-02 1Q 2012: Why The Rally Can Last by Chuck Royce of The Royce Funds

We're seeing one of those rare occasions when one of our predictions for the market as a whole worked out almost exactly the way we thought it would. For a while now, we have been noting the disjunct between the very negative and alarmist headlines and the more optimistic view our own analyses and contacts with managements were revealing. It seemed to us as early as last September that the economy was in better shape than the conventional wisdom was suggesting.

2012-04-02 When Will Corporate Cash Flow? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

One of the great constants in this otherwise inconstant environment is the strength of corporate finances. Financial excesses and the need to de-leverage concern governments and households, not the corporate sector, which actually came out of the 200809 financial crisis and recession with its finances in good order, and has only strengthened them since. The question now is how and when companies will deploy these impressive financial resourceswhether on capital spending, hiring, or, especially, on the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) that typically proceed from strong corporate finances.

2012-03-30 China's Family Planning by Elizabeth Dong of Matthews Asia

Family planning in China has become a complex topic of debate as the country feels increasing pressure due to its growing elderly population. Chinas current one-child policy, introduced in 1979, allows some exemptions, including those for ethnic minorities, rural farming families and parents who themselves are single children. But the social and economic costs of implementing the one-child policy have risen, and many are calling for change.

2012-03-30 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator Is Poised for Growth by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 0.0, the pivot point between growth and contraction, as reported in today's public release of the data through March 23rd. This is the eleventh consecutive week of improving data for the Growth Index and the highest level since August 12th of last year. The underlying WLI also improved, increasing from an adjusted 125.4 to 125.9 (see the fourth chart below).

2012-03-29 To QE or Not to QE by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

If the Fed does nothing, asset prices could fall, threatening Americas fragile economic recovery. But if the Fed decides to battle the forces of deleveraging, it could commit a classic error by acting during a turning point and thereby doing too much. During Operation Twist, the Fed will absorb the equivalent of all of the issuance of U.S. Treasury securities maturing beyond seven years. When Operation Twist ends, global investors will be left to shoulder the burden.

2012-03-28 Revisiting the Liquidity Cycle with the Minsky Model by Thomas Fahey of Loomis Sayles

Once an extreme event occurs, standard models offer limited insight as to how the ensuing crisis could play out and how it should be managed, which is why policy responses can seem disjointed. The latest policy responses to the European crisis have been no exception. To understand and respond to a crisis like the one in Europe, perhaps we need to consider some new models that include the human factor. Economic historian Charles Kindleberger can offer some insight

2012-03-28 Challenges and Change in Brazil by Team of Franklin Templeton

Brazils economy is grappling with some interesting challenges right now, such as shifts in monetary policy to cope with a possible economic slowdown and preparing to host two major events on the international stagethe 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and the Olympics in 2016. Marco Freire, Franklin Templetons CIO, Brazil Fixed Income for the Local Asset Management team based in Sao Paulo, isnt sharing any locals-only secrets about either event, but hes happy to share his insights on how Brazil is approaching these challenges, and to clear up some common misconceptions about Brazils markets.

2012-03-27 One Year Into the Arab Spring by James A. Pressler of Northern Trust

The last three months marked the first anniversary of events considered unthinkable before 2010. The past year saw the outbreak of protests throughout Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and beyond; an outbreak of democracy not imported from the industrialized powers but home-grown. And as each dictatorship fell, onlookers checked off another successful transformation from the Arab Spring. Such waves of change felt as unstoppable as they were inevitable, and a feeling emerged that it was only a matter of time before the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region stepped into the third era of Arab awakening.

2012-03-27 Caviar for the General by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital

The stock market as measured by the S&P 500 is up almost 30% over the last 6 months, and has doubled from the March 2009 lows and yet most investors remain underinvested. Despite this temporary risk aversion, we remain convinced that stocks remain a unique species: the higher the price and less compelling the value, the more they seem to be desired by investors. In addition to the number of reasonably valued assets that can be found in financial markets, this represents an anecdotally strong underpinning for a reasonable intermediate future in our opinion.

2012-03-27 The Great Escape: Delivering in a Delevering World by Bill Gross of PIMCO

When interest rates cannot be lowered further or risk spreads significantly compressed, the momentum begins to shift, gradually yields moving mildly higher and spreads stabilizing or moving slightly wider. In such a mildly reflating world, unless you want to earn an inflation-adjusted return of minus 2%-3% as offered by Treasury bills, then you must take risk in some form. We favor high quality, shorter duration and inflation-protected bonds; dividend paying stocks with a preference for developing over developed markets; and inflation-sensitive, supply-constrained commodity products.

2012-03-26 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Hard data hasnt been collected, but its a safe bet that we waste more food and energy resources than we think. A green boom is a common dialogue amongst some communities but, not universal. In fact, green technology is often a luxury that only wealthy nations can talk about. And yet with so much money being wasted, there are no permanent solutions for spreading the bounty. Alternative energy and agricultural science are in their gestational periods, historically, and far from being the immediate solution to environment mis-management.

2012-03-26 Postcards from the Edge: Central Banking in the Age of Policy Extremes by David Kelly, David M. Lebovitz and Brandon D. Odenath of J.P. Morgan Funds

Major developed world central banks have taken extraordinary action over the last few years, leaving us in uncharted territory, close to the edge with little experience or history to rely on. The move to todays extremes was forced by the impotence of conventional monetary policy tools, as well as the breadth and depth of the crisis-causing issues. Uncertainty about the probabilities and range of possible outcomes resulting from current extremes has, and will, impact both capital markets and decision making in the real economy.

2012-03-23 ECRI Indicators Improve, But Beware the ''Yo-Yo Years'' by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) came in at -0.4 in today's public release of the data through March 16th. This is the tenth consecutive week of improvement (less negative) data for the Growth Index and the highest level (i.e., least negative) since August 12th of last year. The underlying WLI also improved, increasing from an adjusted 125.0 to 125.7 (see the fourth chart below).

2012-03-22 Dont Wait Too Long to Inflation-Proof Your Portfolio by Kevin D. Mahn of Hennion & Walsh

Most media outlets, in addition to the Fed, focus on core inflation readings. We think that this could be very misleading because mainstream America does not have the luxury of excluding food and energy from their everyday lives. Hence, if food and energy prices are rising (and not being picked up by the core inflation readings), Americans are likely to have less disposable income, unless commensurate increases in wages occur to offset the price increases. Less disposable income generally leads to lower overall consumer sentiment/confidence which translates into lower consumer spending.

2012-03-21 Reflections: Expect the Unexpected by John Gilbert of GR-NEAM

The tides of financial returns ebb and flow, and for the moment, they are flowing. Since the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the deflationary forces of excessive indebtedness prevail for a while, and then are beaten back by the determination of popularly elected governments to reflate. The financial markets no longer reward skill, so much as they react to the relative strength of governments will to offset contraction.

2012-03-20 Economic Insights: Bernanke's Drama Strikes a Chord by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The chairman has shown clearly that all policyboth fiscal and monetaryfaces quite a balancing act. The Fed, which has already done a great deal to support financial markets and the economic recovery, has reason already to worry over longer-term inflationary pressures. But it cannot remedy matters if the federal government fails to do its job of fiscal reform while protecting the economic recovery. Bernanke has made it clear that there are no easy answers, because all the pieces of the puzzleeconomic growth, inflation, monetary policy, and fiscal policydepend on each other.

2012-03-20 Transmission Channels by Neel Kashkari of PIMCO

We believe the European debt crisis will likely flare up again, and equity investors should consider positioning portfolios to be more resilient against such a shock. A disorderly Greek default, if it occurs, would likely shock the eurozone and the globe via at least four transmission channels: the European banking system, European sovereign debt markets, corporate financing markets and regional trade. The shock of a massive Greek default would likely swing investor sentiment strongly toward risk off, putting pressure on equity markets globally.

2012-03-19 Western Medicine by Neel Kashkari of PIMCO

Liquidity is buying time for European countries, but their economies are growing too slowly to support their debt loads. Just as there is no reason to assume U.S. household debt levels will continue to climb, there is also no reason to assume companies that benefitted from that debt-fueled spending will grow at historical rates. Until we see sustainable, real economic growth in America, we believe equity investors should carefully scrutinize the assumptions underlying consumer discretionary stocks and consider global companies that are selling into higher growth markets.

2012-03-19 Emerging Markets Equity Product Commentary February 2012 by Team of Thomas White International

The renewed market optimism that surfaced towards the end of last year persisted in February as well, as emerging market equities again outperformed the developed markets. Though GDP growth forecasts for most emerging economies have been scaled lower for the current year and for 2013, it is widely expected that the risk of a further slowdown in economic activity is limited. Emerging markets in Europe and the Middle East continued to lead during the month, followed by Asia and Latin America. Egypt sustained its recovery during the month while Thailand, Russia, and Chile also outperformed.

2012-03-16 February Leaps to a Multi-Decade Market Open by Doug Cote of ING Investment Management

The markets YTD success has been fueled by a dramatic reduction in global risk and upbeat economic data. The fence to contain the euro crisis has been definitively established. Oil prices are a concern, but the real economy has the wind in its sails. Though equity fund outflows continue, its never too late for investors to do the right thing.

2012-03-15 Two Important Steps for the Economy by Greg Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management

The FOMC released a statement which showed a more positive tone from prior meetings. However, it is clear the Fed will continue to maintain a highly accommodative stance as they see downside risks to economic growth continuing to outweigh the upside risks to inflation. The Feds economic assessment differed from the last several meetings, in two important ways. First, the FOMC acknowledged recent improvements in the labor markets and forecast continued improvement in the jobs market with declines in the unemployment rate. The Second Step toward Progress is a Healthier U.S. Banking System

2012-03-14 No QE3 Yippee! by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The Fed made no major changes to its policy statement and announced a continuation of Operation Twist, but did not hint at or announce further quantitative easing. The Fed's assessment of the economy did improve somewhat. Richmond Fed President Lacker's dissent and Dallas Fed President Fisher's pronouncements ring true.

2012-03-13 Investor Communications: Are You Upbeat, or Upfront? by Wendy J. Cook (Article)

When discussing scary markets with your clients, how do you combine the upbeat inspiration they may want with the upfront, honest information they may need to hear? Striking the right balance makes all the difference.

2012-03-12 Unlocking Concentration Risk by Nick Reilly, Mark Bennett, and David Templeton of HORAN Capital Advisors

We contend the best time to seek portfolio protection is when its cheapest. This would be comparative to purchasing life insurance when premiums are least expensive. Similarly, one should evaluate stock concentration risk when markets are positive and sentiment is good. The intent of this report is to outline the challenges associated with concentrated holdings and to introduce potential solutions to help reduce the risks associated with such holdings.

2012-03-10 There Will Be Contagion by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The headlines are about Greece, but the real story is not Greece but who is next. European leaders were right to be worried only a short while ago about contagion effects of a Greek default to the entire Euro system, which of course they now say doesn't exist. This week we look at Europe, and sort through the ever more fascinating implications of the news in today's headlines.

2012-03-09 Investors In Common Stocks Must Get Valuation Right; Heres How by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Investors should be careful and willing to always run the numbers out to their logical conclusions. But, it all starts with knowing what you are buying (investing in) in the first place. True investors, like Peter Lynch, and many of the other renowned investing greats such as Phil Fischer, Warren Buffett, etc., all invest as owners in businesses with a focus on the strength of the business behind the stocks they buy. Therefore, these investor greats are always buying the earnings power of the respective businesses they are investing in, relative to their goals and objectives.

2012-03-07 The Truth Behind High Gasoline Prices by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

While the latest report on 4Q GDP came in a bit better than expected, most economists agree that growth in 2012 will not be as good as the 4Q of last year. Following that, we look at some remarks from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in his recent Senate testimony. While he defended quantitative easing, it doesnt sound like the Fed is going to do QE3 anytime soon.

2012-03-06 New Tools to Manage Longevity Risk by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

If you could guarantee yourself an inflation-protected stream of income for the rest of your life, would you take it? For many retirees, the answer is yes, and that is rightfully sparking new interest in deferred-income annuities (DIAs). By combining a DIA with a TIPS ladder or more aggressive equity-centric investments, retirees can obtain inflation-protected lifetime income. But they will face important tradeoffs, as I will explain.

2012-03-06 Five Business Tips from a Top Entrepreneur by Dan Richards (Article)

Financial advisors are classic entrepreneurs, typically starting a business from scratch with the goal of achieving financial security for themselves and their families. That's why lessons from entrepreneurs with a pattern of demonstrated success – even outside the financial industry – are tremendously helpful.

2012-03-06 Big Headlines...Not Much Action by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Bottom Line: Volume: There's still no major conviction in the rally. Too many cautious investors out there keeping a wary eye on their gains. Russell 2000: has broken down recently; the mega caps have overshadowed it. Employment: Still the most sensitive number. Anything above 150,000 is fine but confidence will be shaken if it's much below. AAPL: The most over-owned stock in the market and accounted for about 20% of February gains. The Fed is sticking to its script: and with the growth numbers, this means that GT10s are likely to remain exactly where they are today.

2012-03-05 Warning: A New Who's Who of Awful Times to Invest by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Last week, the estimated return/risk profile of the S&P 500 fell to the worst 2.5% of all observations in history on our measures. This is not a runaway bull market. Rather, it is a market that again stands near the highs of an extended but volatile trading range. Importantly, the market is again characterized by an extreme set of conditions that we've previously associated with a Who's Who of Awful Times to Invest.

2012-03-02 Will the Bond Bubble Burst This Year? by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

I dont know who first uttered this classic line The trend is your friend (until its not) but it is timeless. It seems especially appropriate today in light of the massive shift weve seen from stocks to bonds since the financial crisis and bear market of 2008-early 2009. Millions of investors have moved from stocks to bonds and consider themselves safe. Today, there are more people invested in US bonds (of all types) than ever before.

2012-03-01 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group

When helping people with retirement and cash flow planning, we often have some detailed conversations concerning the costs of health care. Some retirees have a misconception that somehow, because of Medicare, things are free. Anyone who is a part of Medicare knows that is simply not the case. Not only do you pay premiums for Parts B and D, but there are some significant co-payments and deductibles attributable to Medicare, as well. Health care costs are estimated to be over $325,000 over the course of retirement for a 65 year old couple.

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?

2012-02-28 Communication Skills to Outperform Your Competitors by Jack Singer, Ph.D. (Article)

To succeed as an advisor, it's not good enough to have the right products and the right clients. You need to understand your clients' underlying goals and constraints and to develop an atmosphere of trust and understanding. In the course of my work with numerous advisors, I have found that the 'T.R.I.U.M.P.H.S.' model effectively develops those skills.

2012-02-28 De-Fence by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Over the past 30 years, an offensively minded Federal Reserve and their global counterparts were printing money, lowering yields and bringing forward a false sense of monetary wealth. Successful investing in a deleveraging, low interest rate environment will require defensive in addition to offensive skills. The PIMCO defensive strategy playbook: Recognize zero bound limits and systemic debt risk in global financial markets. Accept financial repression but avoid its impact when and where possible. Emphasize income we believe to be relatively reliable/safe; seek consistent alpha.

2012-02-27 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks moved higher last week in anticipation of a deal over Greek sovereign debt, as well as evidence the economy is not falling into a double-dip recession. As the charts above illustrate, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained over one percent, while the NASDAQ Composite moved higher by 1.65% led by Apple, Inc.

2012-02-25 Tax That Other Guy by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Last week's letter on taxes drew more response than any letter I have written in years. Questions that were raised simply beg for an answer, and some of the replies were very thoughtful, well-written suggestions for alternatives. This week I am going to do something I can't ever remember doing, and that is to use the entire letter to involve and respond to my readers.

2012-02-24 The Outlook for the Overvalued Euro by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Now that a second Greek bailout deal has been reached, investors are asking whether Greece will remain in the euro bloc and how the euro will likely perform going forward. Russ answers these questions, explaining why the euro currently appears overvalued and how a weaker currency could be good for Germany.

2012-02-22 Abbondanza! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

Despite overbought conditions, a Dow Theory upside non-confirmation, the end of the buying stampede on January 26th, a stock market that has used up most of its internal energy in the short-term, a massive downside reversal from Wall Streets premier stock last Wednesday (AAPL/$502.12), saber rattling in the Hormuz Strait, a ~21% rise in the price of gasoline since mid-December, et all the stock market has trudged higher. Manifestly, the SPX has now gone 35 trading sessions in 2012 without suffering a 1% down day.

2012-02-17 Imaginary Problems Who really benefits from lower regulatory burdens? by Bill Mann of Motley Fool

Did you know that it is extremely hard for American companies to go public? Neither did I. Yet Congress, which has shown little ability to engage in serious discussion about the large problems facing our country, has taken on this dubious crisis as its cause du jour, and in this instance, its doing an absolutely great job. Of course, I learned a long time ago that if something isnt worth doing, it certainly isnt worth doing well.

2012-02-17 Assessing Performance Records A Case Study by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

What are the non-negotiable requirements for accurately assessing investment performance? Id say: a record spanning a significant number of years, a period that includes both good years, and a benchmark or peer universe that makes for a relevant comparison. The other day, at an event for alumni and other constituents of the University of Pennsylvania, president Amy Gutmann reviewed the performance of the university during the financial crisis. Thinking about it afterward, I realized that I should share with you the story of Penns endowment and its lessons.

2012-02-17 Economic Insights: Around the World of Investing Opportunity by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Europe seemingly creates new financial and economic concerns daily, while in the United States, fiscal questions and election uncertainties trouble the outlook. Still more dangerous issues surround the military and diplomatic maneuvering in the Persian Gulf. And these are just a sample of the sources of investment concern. But even as all this prompts people to hide in cash and the usual safe havens, such as U.S. Treasury bonds, these investment choices pay such poor yields that presumed safety comes at tremendous cost. Investors, then, must consider riskier investments.

2012-02-14 The Safety-first, Goals-based Approach to Financial Planning by Wade Pfau (Article)

Little of what is taught in traditional investment textbooks is of value in personal financial planning. Risk is not standard deviation; it is the probability and consequences of not meeting one's goals. That real-world perspective animates a new book by Zvi Bodie and Rachelle Taqqu that implores advisors and their clients to lock in the funding of their essential expenses before worrying about their discretionary goals.

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.

2012-02-14 Keynesians Jump The Gun on Inflation by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Regardless of what the triumphant Keynesians would have you believe, my analysis continues to be that the current combination of monetary and fiscal stimulus is driving us toward disaster. Instead of a real recovery, the US will experience an inflationary depression. Europe, on the other hand, will suffer much less, precisely because it was not seduced by the short-term appeal of stimulus.

2012-02-13 Around the World of Investing Opportunity by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Among those choices, credit-sensitive fixed-income instruments would seem to offer superior returns with reasonable security. Opportunities also present themselves in the equity markets. In the developed markets, North America seems to offer the best risk/reward balance. Though stock valuations are better in Europe and Japan, the former still needs to deal with its debt crisis and the likelihood of recession, while the latter faces the very fundamental matter of severely aging demographics as well as the immediate adverse impact of an expensive currency.

2012-02-12 Hot Potato by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

A hot potato has been repeatedly passed from speculatively overvalued, overbought, overbullish market conditions driven by massive central bank interventions, to credit strains and emerging economic weakness nearly the instant those interventions are even temporarily suspended. The same speculators who have historically accompanied major and intermediate market peaks have emerged, followed by the emergence of credit strains, economic pressures, and a flight to safe-havens. The market is in an extended game of hot potato which will be resolved by the eventual removal of both conditions.

2012-02-10 Western Medicine by Neel Kashkari of PIMCO

Liquidity is buying time for European countries, but their economies are growing too slowly to support their debt loads. In the U.S., household debt is declining, but remains high. There is also no reason to assume companies that benefitted from that debt-fueled spending will grow at historical rates. Until we see sustainable, real economic growth in America, we believe equity investors should carefully scrutinize the assumptions underlying consumer discretionary stocks and consider global companies that are selling into higher growth markets.

2012-02-10 Why We Really Are Distracted by Shiny Objects by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational

When making simple choices, consumers can spot and choose most of their preferred items in as little as a third of a second. Granted, the visual saliency bias may, in some instances, lead us to make suboptimal choices, but that may be a small price to pay in order to go about our daily lives making rapid, mostly good, decisions. After all, who wants to spend an entire afternoon in front of the store shelf choosing between Snickers and Sour Skittles?

2012-02-09 Our Budget Deficit and the Coming Elections by Team of American Century Investments

One week ago, the CBO released its latest federal budget and economic outlook for the U.S. In the associated report, they explain that their ten year baseline budget projection is not a forecast of future events. Instead, it is provided as a policy benchmark that reflects what will occur to the federal budget and deficits if the existing taxation and spending laws are kept intact without additional legislative actions. Of course, we are now within nine months of a major election where a key issue will be what changes are needed to address our present fiscal woes.

2012-02-07 An Innovative Solution to Retirement Income by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Generating lifetime income is the ultimate goal of retirement planning. Why is it, then, that two of the most compelling mechanisms for doing just that are shunned by the investing public, despite overwhelming support from experts? I'm talking about immediate annuities and delayed claiming of Social Security, both of which are remarkably effective at securing retirement needs.

2012-02-07 If Current Bank Credit Trends Continue, Bet Against the Feds Interest Rate Forecast by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust

A majority of FOMC members expect that the interest rate on federal funds, an interest rate controlled by the Fed, will not be increasing until late in 2014. If the current trend in the behavior of bank credit continues in 2012 and into 2013, I believe that the FOMC will be lifting its federal funds rate target early in the second half of 2013. Again, if the current growth trend in bank credit continues, a failure on the part of the FOMC to raise its federal funds rate target and shrink its balance sheet will sow the seeds of a rate of consumer inflation above the FOMCs 2% annualized target.

2012-02-06 Notes on Risk Management - Warts and All by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Presently, there seems to be an unusually wide gap between hindsight and foresight, both in the financial markets and in the economy. In both cases, forward-looking evidence suggests weak outcomes, but recent trends encourage optimism and risk-taking. Rather than sugar-coat these uncertainties and minimize the messy divergences in the data, I think the best approach is to review the evidence, warts and all, including economic risks, market conditions, and the strengths and limitations of our own investment approach.

2012-02-03 Global Markets Rally on Moderating Global Risk and Positive Fundamentals by Doug Cote of ING Investment Management

The so-called January Effect typically causes equity markets to explode out of the gates only to fizzle out after the second week of the month. January 2012 was different, however, as the equity market delivered four weeks of moderate but relentlessly positive returns on the back of easing global risks. Meanwhile, volatility broke below 20 for the first time since last May. Investors on the sidelines barely noticed the explosive performance, nor did a media that nonchalantly labeled it a stealth rally There is nothing stealthy about a 4.5% monthly return!

2012-02-03 Still Losing the War on Unemployment by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

The first Friday of every month, you will find me among those eagerly waiting for the release of the latest government data on jobs. Such eagerness, however, should not be confused with joyfulness. While the numbers have markedly improved over the past year, too much of the commentary has been overly partial and, sometimes, dangerously misleading a situation that is likely to grow worse in the run-up to the November elections.

2012-02-01 Life and Death Proposition by Bill Gross of PIMCO

When interest rates approach zero they may transition from historically stimulative to potentially destimulative/regressive influences. Recent central bank behavior, including that of the U.S. Fed, provides assurances that short/intermediate yields will not change, and therefore bond prices are not likely threatened on the downside. Most short to intermediate Treasury yields are dangerously close to the zero-bound which imply limited potential room, if any, for price appreciation. We can't put $100 trillion of credit in a system-wide mattress, but we can move in that direction by delevering.

2012-02-01 Investment Opportunities in the Changing Cash and Short Duration Markets by Jerome Schneider and Paul Reisz of PIMCO

Volatility has soared in the cash markets as the eurozone crisis has deepened, prompting many investors to pull cash out of prime money market strategies over the last year. With U.S. interest rates on hold until 2014 and regulations on 2a-7 money market strategies putting pressure on yields, cash investors will likely face near-zero yields for several years. In this environment, we believe investors should reassess their liquidity needs and consider putting cash that is not needed right away into short and low duration instruments instead of money market strategies.

2012-02-01 What is a Moat? by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Our investment committee talks about the moat of a business a great deal. We believe that a wide moat is provided by the aspects of the company and their business which prevent competition from damaging highly sustainable profitability. Wide moat is one of our eight proprietary criteria for selecting common stocks. We have seen a number of organizations begin to include logic associated with moats into their equity research formats. Unfortunately, we believe many market participants confuse the by-products of a moat with the actual moat itself. We think this spells opportunity.

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 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 Q4 2011 Market Commentary by John G. Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management

The proposed restructuring for private creditors of Greece has been called voluntary. Who voluntarily takes 30 cents on the dollar? The government authorities involved have insisted that any deal be deemed voluntary to avoid triggering credit default swaps (CDS) written on Greek debt. These CDS could accurately be called insurance contracts that are supposed to pay out if the Greek government defaults or changes the terms of its debt. The ISDA, the entity who decides these things, has more or less already said they wont consider the default a default.

2012-01-26 Questions and Answers About S&Ps European Downgrades by David Fisher, Michael Story and Olivia Albrecht of PIMCO

Sovereign downgrades will likely be another trigger for cuts in the ratings of European banks. Nearly all major eurozone banks are on negative watch. Even those securities guaranteed by eurozone sovereigns that were not downgraded are also in the ratings agencies crosshairs. The most significant downgrade for benchmark compositions was Portugal -- downgraded to below investment grade by S&P, consistent with Moodys and Fitch.

2012-01-25 Emerging Markets Real Estate Investment Commentary Full Year 2011 by Team of Cohen & Steers

Over the long term, we believe emerging market real estate securities are well positioned to benefit from secular trends such as expanding urban centers and the rise of the consumer class. In the near term, however, we expect volatility to continue as markets grapple with uncertainty about Europe and further deceleration in economic growth. In this challenging market environment, we continue to favor commercial landlords over developers.

2012-01-23 Dodging a Bullet, from a Machine Gun by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

The interpretation best supported by the data is that recession risk remains very high based on the leading evidence and the typical outcomes that have resulted, but that the rate of deterioration has eased significantly, and it is simply unclear whether this is a temporary pause or a reversal. Rather than overstating the case one way or another, we remain strongly concerned about recession risk, but recognize the recent stabilization and the potential for a low-level continuation of that.

2012-01-23 Debt and Deleveraging: A Five-Pronged Solution by Mike "Mish" Shedlock of Sitka Pacific Capital Management

Citing the latest report on "Debt and Deleveraging" by the McKinsey Global Institute, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard proclaims a light at the end of the tunnel and that America overcomes the debt crisis as Britain sinks deeper into the swamp. However, there is a big difference between alleged "light at the end of the tunnel" and "America Overcomes Debt Crisis" as Pritchard claims. US consumers may be one-third of the way through, but US debt-to-GDP ratios are low only because unsustainable government spending has taken up the slack.

2012-01-21 Staring into the Abyss by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Europe's leaders are committed to keeping both the euro and the eurozone as it is. But for it to do so, everything must change, as the wonderful quote from the 1958 Italian novel suggests. This is no easy task, as no one wants a change that will impact them negatively; and there is no change that will allow things to stay the same that does not impact all severely, as we will see. In the third part of a continuing series, we look at the actual options that are available on the menu of choices, or as one group called it, the menu of pain.

2012-01-19 Developed Europe: Economic Review Fourth Quarter 2011 by Team of Thomas White International

Germany: Unemployment fell to historically low levels. Exports grew in November, while businesses and consumers remained optimistic. U.K.: The services and construction sectors stayed buoyant. GDP grew 0.6 percent in the third quarter of 2011 France: The unemployment rate rose suddenly in the July after being in a downtrend for several quarters. Italy: The new government introduced the countrys third austerity package in 2011. Spain: Tax hikes and spending cuts were announced by a new conservative government.

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 Income Annuities versus GLWBs: A Product Comparison by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

The variable annuity with a guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit (VA/GLWB) has become the most popular form of annuity, as retirees seek income protection and equity-market participation. But VA/GLWBs are often costly, and the typical purchaser has few tools with which to assess the costs. Investors need a straightforward way to gauge the fees for VA/GLWBs versus other retirement income alternatives.

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 An Unhappy New Year in Europe by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Though the most intense pressure from Europes financial crisis will likely abate in the coming year, its lagged effects seem poised to put the continent into recession. Even if in the next few months the governments of the EU and the leadership of the ECB act with more resolve than they did last year, any favorable economic effect will take time to develop, leaving Europes economies to suffer in the interim. The most optimistic forecasts on Europe expect negligible growth. More pessimistic forecasters look for a 23% drop in the continents real GDP.

2012-01-14 The End of Europe? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The peripheral countries have no choices that allow them to grow and prosper without first suffering (for perhaps a long time) some very real economic pain. Leaving the eurozone has severe consequences; but the economic pain of leaving would go away sooner and allow for quicker adjustments, than if they stayed. However, the initial pain would be worse than the slow pain they'd suffer by staying in the euro. Their choice is, simply, which pain do they want or maybe, which pain do they think they want? Because whatever they choose, they are not going to like it.

2012-01-13 Spin City by Team of Dana Investment Advisors

The December jobs report was recently released and politicians are falling all over themselves to spin interpretations. It pays to look at these numbers in an objective way. As Mark Twain once said, Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. So here goes. The private economy created 212,000 net new jobs in December and the unemployment rate dropped to 8.5%. Most industry sectors added jobs, even construction added 17,000 jobs. The government lost 12,000 jobs, but that is good news as it indicates that government is paring back to better control their budgets.

2012-01-11 Bear Market Cycles and Valuations by Emil Zamarelli of Emil Zamarelli

The subject for this year's investment letter is long term bull and bear market cycles in equities. I will argue that these long term cycles repeat themselves and have similar characteristics in terms of their length and their excesses of optimism and pessimism. These excesses translate into exceedingly high and low market prices at their peaks and troughs. I believe that it is now a good idea to limit your exposure to the stock market. Cash and short term bonds issued by the highest quality governments and corporations are called for.

2012-01-10 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 Chaos Theory by Neel Kashkari of PIMCO

How developed nations address their fiscal deficits will have broad implications for equity markets. Debating a future of inflation vs. deflation is radically new territory for investors. The chaotic nature of the choice facing societies is whipsawing equity markets and dominating bottom-up factors. Equity investors seem to be pricing in a combination of outcomes, with the largest weighting going to a goldilocks, mild inflation scenario. But the markets large daily swings reflect jumps back and forth as investors update the probabilities of very different destinations.

2012-01-10 Bad Medicine, Bad Policies by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

We can see the results of sensible monetary policy and not so sensible fiscal policy: slow recovery of manufacturing and service jobs, decline in all government jobs and gradually lower participation rates. Expect these trends to continue. We find 30-year bonds with a near 20 duration very tradable. The YTD price swing is already over 4% and with a 3.0% yield; we must be careful that price changes not wipe our coupon returns. Stocks offer attractive entry points but we look at individual companies, balance sheets and management more than the overall asset class.

2012-01-09 Leading Indicators and the Risk of a Blindside Recession by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

The balance of leading evidence continues to indicate a very high likelihood of an oncoming recession. We respect the various marginal improvements in the data in recent months, which do take the probability to less than 100%, but that is a far cry from suggesting that recession risk is anywhere close to being "off the table." Recession is not a certainty, but it remains the most probable outcome at present.

2012-01-06 What Happened in 2011Whats up for 2012? by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

This all lends itself to a volatile, but nearly flat trend for stocks and bonds in 2012. Fundamentals dont yet support a run-up, but easy money may put a floor underneath assets over the short run. Unless the situation were to change, we believe aggressive dips in stock markets represent buying opportunities. We tend to think bonds will underperform equities in 2012, given their dramatic outperforming in 2011.

2012-01-05 Flight 2012, Cleared to Hold? by Mike Boyle of Advisors Asset Management

Commercial air travel can be pretty frustrating these days, but nothing compares to the call from the cockpit as you approach your destination that the flight is entering holding. Immediately many questions enter travelers minds including: Why? How long? Where will we land? Given the S&P 500 essentially experienced a holding pattern in 2011, many investors must be asking themselves similar questions right now. Specifically the S&P lost .04 points last year as it began 2011 at 1257.64 and ended the year at 1257.60.

2012-01-05 Europea Source of so Much Pain and Distortion by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The panic from the risk of default and the possible dismantling of the euro has gained the headlines and depressed most asset prices across the globe. The austerity measures, seemingly demanded by the situation and certainly by the EU and the ECB, have clearly set Europe on a recessionary path that threatens the pace of global growth. Europes problems have also distorted currency values across the world, creating problems in yet another way. These will linger even though the ECB seems to have overcome its former objections and has begun to provide the liquidity needed to quell market fears.

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 The Triumph of Optimism by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim

Over the course of history there is a certain triumph of optimism. Betting against the column of progress of human history and the innovation of mankind has always proven to be a losing proposition. In the short run, there are times to become cautious, as the past five years have exemplified. Broad-based economic expansion and its attendant outsize investment returns follow contraction and panic just as the day follows the night. As dark as the current environment may seem, the sun will come up tomorrow. When it does, I believe it will shine favorably on the optimists of today.

2012-01-03 The Right Kind of Hope by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

We enter the year with great hope. But our hope is not for continued speculation and the maintenance of rich valuations (that only look reasonable because long-term cyclical profit margins are at a short-term peak about 50% above their historical norms). Our hope this year is for a return to a proper investment opportunity set - where saving is encouraged and rewarded by sufficiently high prospective returns, and the cost of capital is high enough to discourage high-risk, low-return investments and unsustainable fiscal deficits.

2011-12-30 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Leave it to global austerity to bring confidence in markets to a grinding halt. Our global credit crisis allows for very little wiggle room in addressing both a moral and economic bankruptcy that has now engulfed the worlds financial markets for four years specifically, and nearly two decades, generally. In recent weeks, efforts to create multinational solutions worldwide, and bipartisan solutions domestically, have erased some doubt that the problem of overspending will be addressed, but only quenched an immediate taste for something positive to occur.

2011-12-22 Update on Korean Peninsula by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, escalated the uncertainty surrounding the regime change in Korea, which was preparing for a leadership transition in 2012. Little is known about Kim Jong-un, the young man who is taking on the role of dynastic head. Some analysts feel that the death of Kim Jong-il increases the risks and uncertainties from the secretive Pyongyang regime, which has consequences for security on the Korean peninsula and beyond. South Korea and Japan are most immediately threatened, but China and the U.S. are also deeply involved with stakes in North Koreas future.

2011-12-20 The Three Scrooges by Team of Dana Investment Advisors

Lawmakers are lining up to play Ebenezer Scrooge in the seasons production of A Christmas Carol. The backdrop for this years production is energy and the key players trying for the lead role are the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the Department of Energy, and Congress. They are each doing their best to stifle energy development thereby keeping gas prices high and curtailing job growth.

2011-12-19 The Volcker RuleAn Exercise in Confusion by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

This past October, a group of four regulatory bodies jointly released draft proposals of the so-called Volcker Rule. Part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation set to go into effect this coming July 2012, this rule would forbid banks any substantial interest in either hedge funds or private equity firms and also prohibit banks from doing any proprietary trading on their own account in securities of any kind. Apart from the legitimate concerns and arguments on both sides, the most threatening and dangerous aspect is the debilitating lack of clarity.

2011-12-19 Somali Sense of Humor by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

The fifth review on the Greek financing package makes grim reading: 1) bank deposit outflows equivalent to 15% of GDP 2) privatization sales proceeds revised down to less than 3% of GDP 3) GDP to fall more in 2011 than estimated and again next year, bringing the cumulative shrinkage to 15% but 4) debt to remain at over 140% for most of the next decade, assuming a 4% paid rate not the 34% market rate and 5) labor productivity deteriorating. In another sign of euro dysfunction, the Bundesbank refused to participate in a general IMF trust for the eurozone.

2011-12-19 The Three Rs of Investing by Marc Seidner of PIMCO

The inability to achieve sustainable levels of economic growth raises the risk of recession in many developed world economies. Under financial repression, market interest rates are kept very low for a very long time period with the hope of stimulating investment, but repression also starves savers to the benefit of borrowers. Increasing risk with an uncertain distribution of possible outcomes should lead to caution regarding traditional models and asset allocation practices.

2011-12-19 And Thats The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Time is running out for that Santa Claus rally and the less-than-favorable tones coming from the worlds key politicos (wont call them leaders) are giving investors little reason to remain positive. Still, the recovering labor market and (hopefully) strong holiday season offer some incentive to buy (if only they can overlook the never-ending EU problems). Investors dissect an array of data before heading out for the holidays and possibly not returning until 2012. Some late-year window dressing could help bring one final surge to the markets (or not).

2011-12-17 The Center Cannot Hold by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

We'll leave aside the politics of the payroll tax extension and look at the economic implications, and then go on to examine the deficit in the US. That will give rise to some thoughts about Europe and what would have to happen for a country to leave the euro. We'll finally close with some thoughts and graphs about the more controversial part of the tax cut extension, the Keystone XL Pipeline. Just how radical is it to build such a pipeline in the US? And what are the implications for the deficit?

2011-12-13 GLWBs: Retiree Protection or Money Illusion? by Wade Pfau (Article)

One of the most popular variable annuity riders is the guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit (GLWB), which offers downside protection through lifetime income, upside potential with step-ups based on market performance, and minimal surrender penalties. But, examining historical data, I have found that those riders carry a cost that will not be readily apparent to retirees: their cash flows rapidly decrease on an inflation-adjusted basis.

2011-12-13 Five Steps to Succeed in the Retirement Market by Dan Richards (Article)

We've all seen the statistics on the number of boomers entering retirement. And every advisor has been told of the opportunities as new retirees shift from accumulating assets to accessing those savings. Tapping into the retirement is too important to be left to chance - you need a plan. Here are the five steps to make this happen.

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 Hard-Negative by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

The present market environment warrants unusual concern, in my view. Based on a wide variety of evidence and its typical market implications over an ensemble of dozens of subsets of historical data, the expected return/risk profile of the stock market has shifted to hard-negative. This isn't really a forecast in the sense that shifts in the evidence even over a period of a few weeks could move us to adjust our investment stance, but here and now we observe conditions that have often produced abrupt crash-like plunges.

2011-12-12 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Markets continue to be whipsawed by headlines out of Europe which much of the time are confusing and contradictory. Overall, however, the stock market here in the United States continues to outperform other global markets, and as evidenced by the charts below showed gains for the week. Last week saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average gain 1.4% while the NASDAQ Composite moved higher by three quarters of a percent.

2011-12-10 A Player to Be Named Later by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

There are two main points to be taken away from this week's European summit. First, the Germans really took control. This has been coming for a long time, and it's not like we haven't discussed it in these letters. Second, Britain either opted out or was shown the door, depending on your point of view. That is the real game-changer, long-term, for more than the obvious reasons.

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.

2011-12-06 Adding Some Holiday Gloss to a Not-So-Super Month by Team of BondWave Advisors

November began with a European shakeup that did little to bolster the confidence of investors. Fear raged as Greece and Italy threatened to roll back efforts made by the ECB and IMF. In the US, all eyes were on the supercommittee, which was tasked with reducing the deficit over the next 10 years. BondWave Advisors discuss the US economic indicators that brought a coat of gloss to the pessimism and provide additional insight into the US Treasury, Corporate and Municipal Bond Markets.

2011-12-05 Engines of Doctrine by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

European leaders have a tough time stringing together a coherent sentence but the words go roughly like this: 1) drive down deficits 2) pummel inflation 3) encourage companies to invest more and 4) households to spend more and, thus, fingers crossed, 5) create employment. The problem with this is that output gaps drive down aggregate demand and prices. And no business executive will invest while demand is leaking. And so will not increase employment. This standard trap is exacerbated when there is no central bank that can do what central banks do.

2011-12-01 On Money and Confidence by Andrew Foster of Seafarer Capital

At this moment, the worlds central banks have undertaken what appear to be coordinated efforts at relief, easing liquidity by boosting money supply. This is a welcome move, as liquidity has been strained. My concern is that while this monetary stimulus is necessary, it is not sufficient to achieve financial stability. Unless confidence is restored specifically, by repairing balance sheet solvency growth will remain tepid, and markets range-bound.

2011-11-29 Do You Really Understand Rates of Return? Using them to look backward - and forward by Michael Edesess (Article)

The basic quantitative building block for professional judgments about investment performance is the rate of return. How well do we really understand it? And how can we use past rates to assess the prospects for future performance? You may be surprised to learn that 'expected return' may not be what you think.

2011-11-29 Should Germany Leave the Eurozone? by Colin Moore of Columbia Management

For the last few weeks, the debate over the European debt crisis has focused on the need to restructure the eurozone. And the question we keep hearing is how tenable is the position of countries such as Greece. Perhaps the better question is whether Germany should leave the eurozone. Last week Germanys failure to get bids for 35% of the 10-year bonds offered for sale pushed European bond yields higher and global equities and the euro lower. Investors appear to be having second thoughts about the relative safety of investing in German bunds.

2011-11-29 Playing \'What If?\' with Oil Prices and a Potential Strike on Iranian Nuclear Facilities by Greg E. Sharenow of PIMCO

The impact of a major disruption in the supply of oil from Iran would depend on the IEAs intervention, the duration and the degree to which any attack might be a surprise. The market has less cushion than it did earlier this year due to production outages and relatively strong non-OECD demand, leading to sharp draws on inventories. Excess capacity is virtually exhausted and we doubt other OPEC nations would be able to compensate for a reduction in Iranian oil production. In light of these possible price spikes, investors should evaluate how their portfolios might be affected by inflation.

2011-11-21 Why the ECB Does Not Bail Out Distressed Debt by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Investors are not likely to be treated with a "surprise" announcement that the ECB is going to expand its purchases of distressed European debt. Any significant ECB intervention would likely follow a formal revision of EU treaties that trades greater ECB flexibility in return for more centralized fiscal control.

2011-11-21 As the Spending Turns by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

So far in this painfully slow economic recovery, the government sector has made a mixed contribution to economic growth. State and local governments have cut back and have slowed the pace of the economys overall advance. Though federal spending has added to growth, it has followed an erratic pattern that has no doubt eroded confidence. Now, going forward, state and local spending, though still far from a contributor to growth, will have less and less of a restraining influence over time, while federal spending seems poised to turn from supporting economic growth to restraining it.

2011-11-18 Behavioral Finance (Why Watching CNBC Wont Make You Rich) by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

The current confluence of strong and rising earnings, low stock price valuations and exceptionally low interest rates presents one of the best stock buying opportunities in 50 years. Most Americans will not take advantage of that opportunity because most invest with their hearts, not with their heads, and right now their hearts are filled with fear! To help our clients invest with their heads, we present this commentary on behavioral finance.

2011-11-17 Not a Level Playing Field: How Big Investors Benefit from Selective Access to Top Management by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

The title of a research paper by Wharton accounting professor Brian J. Bushee and two colleagues is in the form of a question: "Do Investors Benefit from Selective Access to Management?" The answer, the paper strongly suggests, is yes. Bushee and co-authors Michael J. Jung and Gregory S. Miller define selective access as the opportunity to meet privately with management at invitation-only investor conferences. That access, the researchers say, can result in profitable trading opportunities for big investors.

2011-11-15 In a World Dependent on Crude, is Natural Gas the Savior? by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

It will be a busy week in the US with reports on inflation, retail sales, industrial production and housing starts. Inflationary pressure is likely to show further signs of easing in October, particularly as food costs continue to stabilize. Retail sales were quite strong in September, but gains for October are expected to be more muted. Earnings season is winding down, with quarterly reports expected from UniCredit, Dell, Home Depot, Walmart, Target, Vivendi, Dollar Tree and Gap. The only major central bank to meet this week is the Bank of Japan, which is unlikely to change rates.

2011-11-14 Hokey Pokey by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Sound monetary policy requires sound fiscal policy, coupled with a habit of the private sector to allocate resources productively so that the government isn't forced to compensate for bad decisions. That's where the global economy has failed.

2011-11-14 The European Stutter Step by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Markets have shown a mixed response to Europes agreement on sovereign debt. On the positive side, Germany, France, European banks, and other members of the eurozone have shown more direction, control, cooperation, and concerted action than previously, and in so doing, have taken a step to avoid panic and what could easily have become a global financial meltdown. But still, Europe and, consequently, the rest of the world remain far from out of the woods. This latest step is inadequate. To get a grip on the crisis, the ECB will need to add its financial resources.

2011-11-10 France, Germany have"Intense Consultations" on Smaller Eurozone: Breakup Inevitable, but How? by Mike "Mish" Shedlock of Sitka Pacific Capital Management

Realization the Eurozone is no longer tenable is at long last at hand. In fact, "intense discussions" have been underway for months but are just now admitted to by senior EU officials. The Eurozone is a failed experiment. A breakup is inevitable just as it has been from the beginning. Structural flaws were too great, built up over the years. No currency union in history has ever survived unless there was also a fiscal union.

2011-11-08 A Unique Way to Help Clients Close the Retirement Gap by Dan Richards (Article)

Clients facing a shortfall in retirement savings can bridge that gap in many ways. But one technique is often neglected: spending reductions - even small ones - in their everyday lives. A new web site gives clients the tools to quantify and manage those reductions.

2011-11-08 Troubles Not Shrinking by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

US employment was unequivocally better in October despite the headline NFP of 80,000. Revisions in recent months mean that since June, the economy created 466,000 new jobs against first estimates of 318,000. Since March in 2010, the private sector created 3.9m new jobs while the government sector lost 1m. The ratio of government to private jobs is back to where it was in 2002. This is not a jobless recovery. It is a slow recovery with the private sector doing well under contorted and aimless fiscal drag. Corporate Profits: Productivity rose again in Q3.

2011-11-07 Reduce Risk by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Nearly every traditional asset class is priced to achieve miserably low long-term returns. Meanwhile, our leading economic measures are negative, and the global economy has already begun to show overt signs of a new downturn. We can understand that investors are inclined to hold off any concerns until an economic downturn can be seen and touched in actual (not just leading) U.S. data, but that inclination comes with the prospect of trying to reduce risk when a hundred million other investors suddenly become interested in doing the same thing.

2011-11-05 Where Will the Jobs Come From? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

What is the role of government in creating jobs? To answer that, let's look at the data that shows us where jobs come from. And we find that net new jobs for the last 15 years came from new business start-ups. Big business is a net drag on job creation, and small businesses are a wash. Governments have seen job growth, but where does the money come to pay government employees?

2011-11-02 The Euro Zone of Denial Hits the Wall by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

The eurozones efforts to fence in Greeces debt problems have consistently lagged events. Last weeks summit addressed many key issues, but skeptics say potential pitfalls still lie ahead. The agreement also falls short of confronting longer-term root issues-underlying trade imbalances and an ultimate backstop role for the ECB. Another big worry: Creditors could lose all confidence in Europes ability to fix these problems, leading to a collapse in Europes banking system and other parts of the global economy. This commentary and video interview examines barriers to long-term solutions.

2011-11-02 Breathing Space in an Unhealthy Environment by Mark Burgess of Columbia Management

Within Europe, while breathing space has been achieved, the outlook is still very clouded. The crisis has highlighted the eurozones structural flaws; how does the system work without fiscal and political integration? Achieving this is going to be very difficult and may ultimately lead to a smaller eurozone. Whatever the politicians think about closer integration, winning public support is going to be impossible for many governments. According to reports, for Greece, even with the 50% debt haircut, they are still forecast to have net debt to GDP of 120% by 2020, not exactly sound finances!

2011-11-02 Could America Turn Out Worse than Japan? by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

There was a time when America looked down on Japan for the latters inability to deal with its economic problems. No more. Like Japan, America is now realizing how difficult a post bubble economy can be. The fear is that it will also find out that that it lacks some of Japans attributes needed to cope with long years of economic stagnation. The US has no time to waste to build on the important, albeit small progress that has been made in recent weeks. If it does not, there is a risk that the countrys economic fate could end up being even worse than what Japan has experienced.

2011-11-01 Five Tips from Accountants on How to Get Referrals by Dan Richards (Article)

Over a recent lunch, three partners in a small accounting firm told me how financial advisors should go about getting referrals.

2011-11-01 Regulatory Armageddon by Bob Veres (Article)

Suppose you were somehow able to convince 40 advisors, who are all well-known thought leaders in the profession, to gather in the same room for a six-hour brainstorming session. The goal: to identify the single most important thing that the financial planning profession should be thinking about now. What do you think they'd come up with? Fasten your seat belts, because this may be the most important report you'll read all year.

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.

2011-11-01 Feeling Better? by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

The European debt agreement puts the concerns about Greece off to the side for the present. However, its unclear exactly how much the European stabilization fund will be increased and how it will be financed. The agreement doesnt do much to head off potential problems for Italy and Spain. The government debt situation in the UK is worse than in Spain and Italy but borrowing costs for Spain and Italy are much higher. Thats because Spain and Italy do not have their own monetary policy. There is inherent fragility in the monetary union. TheECB and the EU will have to address this at some point.

2011-11-01 Will the U.S. and Europe Rise Again -- or Sink Together? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

In today's highly interconnected global economy, problems in one country often lead to difficulties in another. The United States and Europe are experiencing that reality up close as leaders try to deal with debt problems, investment-shy business sectors and seemingly intractable unemployment. At a recent presentation attended by Wharton board members, professors Franklin Allen, Richard Marston and Kent Smetters warned that a true recovery for either region will take time, and that conditions could get worse before they get better.

2011-11-01 Separate Tables by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

About two thirds of companies have beaten expectations and growth is around 16%. If the market holds at 1280 pixel-time level, we will have seen a 17% retracement of the 22% summer correction. Equities look well supported but NFLX, AMZN and GMCR [1] show how fragile is confidence. The ever-reliable Fed surveys from Richmond, Chicago and Kansas all showed improvements with very little sign of price increases. Bottom Line: Some worry that the sell off in bonds may be too rapid but we're comfortable with domestic stocks and, increasingly, international.

2011-10-31 Whipsaw Traps by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Current market conditions cluster among a set of historical observations that might best be characterized as a "whipsaw trap." Though last week's rally triggered several widely-followed trend-following signals, the broader ensemble of data suggests a high likelihood of a failed rally. In this particular bucket of historical observations, less than 30% of them enjoyed an upside follow-through over the next 6 weeks. So while the expected return/risk profile of the market remains negative here, we have to be somewhat more tentative about taking a "hard" defensive position.

2011-10-27 Eyes on the Prize by Richard Clarida of PIMCO

Before Nobel laureates Tom Sargent and Chris Sims developed their methods, economists and policymakers had no rigorous way to incorporate expectations into their statistical models. There is a limit to forward guidances effectiveness, which is why the Fed has pursued other policy options since hitting the zero lower bound. An uncanny correlation exists between the Feds preferred measure of the publics long-term inflation expectations and the timing or initial announcement of a quantitative easing or twist program.

2011-10-25 Miccolis, Bengen and Evensky on the New Challenges in Portfolio Construction by Michael Skocpol (Article)

Conventional wisdom about the best way to construct a portfolio has been discredited, according to three industry thought leaders – Jerry Miccolis, Bill Bengen and Harold Evensky. Each has distinct visions of the ways in which advisors should build portfolios in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, but all three agree that traditional methods must be scrutinized.

2011-10-25 Fed Outlook More Asset Purchases? by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

The Federal Open Market Committee, the Feds policymaking arm, will meet on November 2-3. Clearly, there are some differences of opinion among senior Fed officials regarding the appropriate path for monetary policy. However, the dissenters (those wanting to do less) are a small minority. The FOMC will come together with a somewhat less troublesome near-term economic outlook (no recession in the near term), but there are more concerns about growth in 2012.

2011-10-24 Penny Wise and Euro Foolish by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

The bottom line is a) Euro leaders will likely initiate a forced bank recapitalization within days; b) Greece will default, but the new hold-over funding may give the country a few more months; c) the EFSF will not be "leveraged" by the ECB; d) banks are likely to take haircuts of not 21%, but closer to 50% or more on Greek debt; e) much of the EFSF will go toward covering post-default capital shortfalls in the European banking system following writedowns of Greek debt; f) the rest will most probably be used to provide "first loss" coverage of perhaps 10% on other European debt.

2011-10-24 Greeks May Look North by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

If the citizens of Greece follow the Icelandic lead, a larger sovereign debt crisis will likely follow. In such a scenario all fiat currencies will likely suffer. However, those considerations will merit little concern from those throwing Molotov cocktails on the streets of Athens. In the end, Greek politicians will cater to their constituencies rather than their creditors. We should all prepare for that.

2011-10-24 Stocks on Sale by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

In this horribly uncertain investment climate, one thing at least is clear: American equity markets have priced themselves for disaster. Stocks by almost any measure (except those carefully designed to make them look bad) do look cheap, especially relative to bonds. Such valuations, apart from what they say about sentiment, give markets upside potential even in the absence of full-fledged good news. All they need for a positive response is an abatement of the flow of bad news. And although it is possible that the stream of bad news will continue endlessly, it is not likely.

2011-10-24 The Valley of Debt: Will You Walk Away from the Fed and Its Money? by Tad Rivelle of TCW Asset Management

Regardless of your philosophy, financial crises do test the mettle of the investor and judged this way, the past three years have been among the most challenging period in decades. Perhaps because crises mean different things to different groups of investors, we have lived with the ultimate traders market, one alternately characterized by the risk on or the risk off. Interestingly, the level of the Dow Jones is within just a few points of where that index started the year. Had you just returned from the Antarctic, you might have concluded that 2011 was a snoozer.

2011-10-21 TIPS Can They Really Protect Against Inflation? by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reading a White Paper by Cutwater Asset Management. The paper is titled, Inflation Protected Bonds How TIPS Can Drive You Tipsy and discusses the lack of correlation between the returns on Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) and gusts of inflation. TIPS were created to give investors protection against the devastating effects that inflation can have on the loss of purchasing power. I consider it a very good idea that was executed in a very poor fashion.

2011-10-19 Welcome to the Machine: High-Frequency Trading Domination by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Market volatility has spiked, starting with 2010's flash crash and culminating in this year's wild August, bringing asset-class correlations up with it. High-frequency trading and the use of leveraged exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are the primary culprits, but the impact isn't all bad. What are regulators doing and saying about the phenomenon?

2011-10-19 Five Policy Prescriptions for Europe by Tom Fahey of Loomis Sayles

The European sovereign debt crisis is chronic. It can not be resolved until countries can demonstrate the ability to grow and improve their budget deficits. The immediate need is to stop Europe from hemorrhaging risk into the global financial markets. That can only be done by the ECB because it is Europes most effective and high profile euro-area institution and the banking systems only lender of last resort. Until the ECB steps up to commit sufficient liquidity, the overall septic conditions of European risk will likely continue to infect the global capital markets.

2011-10-19 Iranian Assassination Plot - Foiled? Or a Farce! by Robert Baer of Ramparis Asset Management

If a conflict with Iran were limited to a couple weeks of bombing and missile strikes, oil prices just might spike to unprecedented heights and then subside to near their current levels. But this scenario doesnt take into account a sustained Iranian campaign in Iraq and the Gulf. What would happen to the price of oil if the Quds Force assaulted our allies in the region? There is no algorithm that could predict the outcome of that.

2011-10-19 Pacific Basin Market Overview September 2011 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Europes inability to find a solution for its current fiscal problems and the weakening macroeconomic outlook sent equity markets into a downward spiral during the July-September quarter. In Asia, concerns about the risk of a hard landing in China resurfaced as well. All country and regional indices declined, with the MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index including Japan and the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Free Index declining 16.35% and 21.28%, respectively, for the quarter. In the short term, the rush to raise cash could lead to further declines in markets

2011-10-17 Europe: Just Getting Warmed Up by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

At present, the S&P 500 is again just 10% below the high it set before the recent market downturn began. In my view, the likelihood is very thin that the economy will avoid a recession, that Greece will avoid default, or that Europe will deal seamlessly with the financial strains of a banking system that is more than twice as leveraged as the U.S. banking system was before the 2008-2009 crisis.

2011-10-17 9 of the Second 10 Best Performing Dow Stocks are Fairly Valued by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

We have continued to see a lot of good companies producing good shareholder returns. However, as we have gone deeper down the list, we have begun to see more examples of cyclical companies and companies that have not had as stellar a record of operating performance. Therefore, it stands to reason that these less successful businesses have also produced lower shareholder returns. We believe its important for prospective investors to realize how different specific companies can perform regardless of the general state of the market.

2011-10-17 Stocks on Sale by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

In this horribly uncertain investment climate, one thing at least is clear: American equity markets have priced themselves for disaster. Stocks by almost any measure (except those carefully designed to make them look bad) do look cheap, especially relative to bonds. Such valuations, apart from what they say about sentiment, give markets upside potential even in the absence of full-fledged good news. All they need for a positive response is an abatement of the flow of bad news. And although it is possible that the stream of bad news will continue endlessly, it is not likely.

2011-10-14 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group

Low interest rates have certainly hurt savers, even more so those who live on a fixed income. The current bubble in bonds will eventually pop, and many people will be surprised. But this ProVise Bullet is not about the risk in bonds today. Its more about the fact there is some good news as it relates to interest rates. First, mortgage rates are near an all-time low. A 30 year mortgage loan is available at an interest rate slightly above 4% and 15 year mortgage loans have been quoted at just a little under 3.57%. Even the IRS is getting into the act.

2011-10-13 Boomer Demographics: The Shift Ahead by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

I looked at developments in U.S. demographics from 1980 to the present with a focus on the Boomer bulge. Then I examined current day demographics for several major countries around the globe. I've developed a set of population pyramids for the U.S. that start with 1981 and span7 decades at 10-year intervals using the U.S. Census Bureau data. Let's look at some comparative numbers for these seven snapshots. I've calculated the Elderly Dependency Ratios for each. As this ratio shifts higher, the productive population is increasingly burdened by the cost of entitlement programs.

2011-10-12 Quarterly Review and Outlook by Team of Hoisington Investment Management

Negative economic growth will probably be registered in the U.S. during the fourth quarter of 2011, and in subsequent quarters in 2012. Though partially caused by monetary and fiscal actions and excessive indebtedness, this contraction has been further aggravated by three current cyclical developments: a) declining productivity, b) elevated inventory investment, and c) contracting real wage income.

2011-10-10 Talking Points for the "Occupy Wall Street" Protesters by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

The proper way to address the present economic imbalances is pursue policies that encourage the restructuring of bad debt, the allocation of public funds and private savings to productive investment and new research, the accumulation of education and labor skills ("human capital") to allow workers to capture a greater share of their own productivity, and the continuation of social safety nets to ease the economic adjustments that are necessary in a deleveraging economy. In my view this requires a number of steps which not everyone will like.

2011-10-10 Municipal Fears Never Realized* by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The lesson here comes in two parts. First is the age-old rule to keep emotion out of investing. If even the best analysis can at times produce the wrong investment conclusions, emotion almost always yields the wrong conclusions. The second is to remember how plausible the worst-case picture looked at the timewrong as it wasand to use that perspective in assessing todays fears, not to dismiss them or ignore them but rather to broaden thinking about possibilities and probabilities, including prospects that, if they are not good, are not disasters, either.

2011-10-08 An Irish Haircut by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

But here is the issue for Europe. The amount of money needed for Ireland is going to be a lot more than they now think, or at least are willing to admit. When Eurozone politicians worry about 'contagion,' or one country wanting the debt relief that another country gets, it is a very real worry. And rightfully so, as voters in Portugal or Spain or (gasp) Italy who are burdened by debt that is seemingly intractable will also want relief. It is not just an Irish condition, it is a human trait.

2011-10-07 Fiddling While the Euro Burns by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Last week, eurozone finance ministers postponed, the most difficult decisions on the Greek debt crisis. The assembled powers could have forced an orderly Greek default or they could have taken steps to push Greece out of the union. Instead, they simply bought time until the next major rollover of Greek debt-which comes due in November. Much of the prevarication can be attributed to political disagreement in Germany, where some see the current crisis not only as a means to further European unification, but also as an opportunity to extend German influence throughout the continent.

2011-10-06 Taxes, Income and Fairness by Team of American Century Investments

From a recent address by President Obama, it is clear that it wont just be the economy that will be a key issue in next years presidential election campaign. In addition, the question of fairness regarding taxationespecially among the wealthy and highest earning Americans who he believes ought to pay a greater amount of taxeswill be a major topic of debate. His speech has sparked a broad debate over who pays federal taxes in America and whether increasing tax rates on the highest earners is a wise move to both address our massive budget deficits and stimulate the economy.

2011-10-06 CEOs More Negative on the Economy & Jobs by Gary D. Halbert of ProFutures Investments

Consumer spending accounts for apprx. 70% of GDP, so the fact that the confidence index remained very low once again this month does not bode well for a significant upturn in the economy in the 3Q. Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives created another very interesting table in his latest report: Using historical data from the Conference Board, Doug illustrates the average levels of the Consumer Confidence Index during each of the last five recessions. As you can see, consumer confidence in the recession and financial crisis of 2007-2009 was the lowest of any time in the last 30 years.

2011-10-06 Be Mindful of the Markets History by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

When markets are not able to determine efficient use of capital and transfer excesses to underutilized areas, concern arises. We often hear about the rise of Socialism in the United States, and though compared to more free-market periods from years ago, there may be some accuracy to it; the relative capitalism benchmark versus other economies is still profoundly different. As evidenced by the situation in Europe it should serve as a warning sign for elected leaders setting more protectionist policies in light of our pursuit for free market forces.

2011-10-04 The Markets for Contagion by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

Markets are in the unusual and very uncomfortable position of being wholly dependent on policymakers and politicians. The investment relevance of company analysis, no matter how good, pales in comparison to the importance of getting the policy calls correct. Faced with this, investors should also remain cautious. Yes there are already opportunities but they will be even more attractive down the road given that the world is now subject to both a synchronized slowdown and de-leveraging.

2011-10-04 Fixed Income ETFs and Yield: A Game of Catch Up by Matt Tucker of iShares Blog

Whats amazing to me is how many different types of yield existfor a bond or bond fund you could quote the yield a half dozen ways and each would be different. Understanding which yield to use can be confusing. Its easy to be enticed by what looks like the highest, especially in this low rate environment where investors are searching for ways to extract extra income from their bond holdings. I want to highlight three of the most common yields investors see for fixed income ETFs, explain how they are connected and show how they have a tendency to catch up with one another over time.

2011-09-30 Are You Properly Positioned for the Return of the Economic Vitality of America by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

It has been my observation over my last four decades of studying the stock market that investors have a penchant for projecting into the future what is currently happening. In other words, when the market is behaving badly, they tend to believe it is going to continue to behave badly far into the future. And as I reflect on this, it occurs to me that every bull market has ended with a bear market, and conversely, every bear market has ended with a bull market. The most important attribute to remember about free-markets is that they self adjust. Most know this as the law of supply and demand.

2011-09-28 Have the Central Banks Run Out of Tricks? by Ron Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp & Co.

The big three concerns (a U.S. or Chinese recession, and a European banking crisis) continue to drive the markets, and the news got incrementally worse last week, and then better this week. The DJIA has been bouncing back and forth between about 10,700 and 11,600 since August. Could things get worse from here? Yes A U.S. recession isnt fully priced into the market, a Chinese recession isnt either, and a European banking collapse could trigger the forced selling of assets like we saw in the U.S. in 2008-2009. Could things get better from here? They could but muddle through is more likely.

2011-09-27 New Research on Attracting HNW Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

When it comes to winning new clients, most advisors think they need to persuade prospects to replace their existing advisors. But new research shows that an easier course of action is to persuade those prospects that they should supplement the advisor they are currently using. This is especially the case if you're working with high net worth investors.

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 Corporate Cash by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

It will take time before a return of confidence can move matters beyond the recent, tentative expressions. Cash and the lack of confidence it reflects remain high. But investors should, nonetheless, remain aware of the tremendous potential for dramatic expansion in corporate spending, hiring, and M&A activity from even a modest improvement in confidence. Especially since equity market valuations these days make it cheaper to buy than to build, the M&A potential, with its always immediate market impact, looks particularly powerful.

2011-09-26 Not Over by a Longshot by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Unless we observe a robust improvement in market internals from current levels, which appears doubtful given further confirmation of oncoming recession, the broad ensemble of data we observe doesn't offer much latitude to establish a constructive position based on, say, weak technical reversals or other scraps that the markets might toss out in the near term. The first 13 weeks of a recession are among the most predictably hostile periods for equities in the data. We'll take our evidence as it comes, but the primary risks - recession, default and global credit strains - continue to increase.

2011-09-22 Talking Our Way to Recession! by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

The Europeans do not yet have a political structure for engineering a rescue, and that will be the over-hang in Europe. They will figure it out - eventually. The risk remains whether Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland will require equivalent rescues. The largest unknown risk is: of all the banks and hedge funds that sold Credit Default Swaps on Greek bonds, do any have enough capital to pay off their exposure. Remember that the US Treasury directed $62 billion to AIG to cover CDS exposure at that firm in 2009. We doubt that the European central banks are prepared to do the same.

2011-09-22 The Dangerous Phase by Bill Mann of Motley Fool

A falling stock market is one of the few arenas where the human instinct of flight is a net negative. Two homilies that you hear over and over from investors are 'dont catch a falling knife" and 'wait out the uncertainty.' Consider this: August had the biggest monthly fund outflows since March 2009. It's easy to forget now, but there was nothing to signify that March was the bottom. In fact, the news during that month was horrible. People who deployed capital into the market in March 2009 were doing something extremely uncomfortable, when every sinew screamed at them to run.

2011-09-20 Own Your Brand by Kristen Luke (Article)

Your company's brand is too important to not have total control of your logo. Your designer may have created your logo, but you should have full control over these files. This means having appropriate versions for different applications and owning the rights to your logo.

2011-09-20 With the Economy Weak, the Fed Steps Up to the Plate by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

With the Fed potentially considering new easing measures this week, economists paid particular attention to last weeks inflation reports, looking for any clue that the Feds current programs are feeding higher inflation. Thus far, the Fed is in the clear, but there is budding inflationary pressure under the surface that is raising cause for concern. In August, the Consumer Price Index rose 0.4%, led by higher food and energy prices. That follows an equally strong increase of 0.5% in July. Consumer prices received a slight reprieve earlier in the summer, but that softness is dissipating.

2011-09-20 Point & Counterpoint: Value vs. Growth by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

The debate over which investment philosophy is best will continue with winners promoting their own style and losers rationalizing their losses. Value vs. Growth. In 1996 the now defunct Mutual Funds Magazine invited me to contribute my thoughts in this ongoing debate in a featured article titled Speaking Out. The case for growth would be argued by John D. Gillespie. Since the debate between Value and Growth has continued to this day I am providing you, word for word, our Point and Counterpoint.

2011-09-19 Preparing for a Greek Default by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

The yield on 1-year Greek government debt ended last week at 110%, down slightly from a mid-week peak of 130%. Even with the pullback, the Greek yield structure continues to imply default with certainty. All the markets are really quibbling about here is the recovery rate. That figure was still hovering near 50% as of Friday, but was a bit higher than we saw a few days earlier. A bailout today does not avert default, but at best defers it to a later date, and squanders funds that could otherwise be used to stabilize the European banking system once that inevitable default occurs.

2011-09-19 Market Preview - What to Look for This Week by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

Global markets again find themselves in the uncomfortable back seat of a car driven erratically by policymakers. The hope is that policy responses in both America and Europe will enable them to build on last week's solid gains and, thereby, improve the outlook for jobs and economic growth. This can happen if most/all of what follows materializes. Top-down issues are still important drivers of markets. It is not a comfortable place for markets given the recent history of recurrent policy shortfalls and debacles. Yet it is also reality for now.

2011-09-19 Pacific Basin Market Overview August 2011 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

The global economic environment seems to be deteriorating rapidly. European economies are increasingly weighed down by the de-leveraging of the peripheral countries, while confidence in the U.S. is being sapped by the political paralysis in Washington. As a result, we have significantly downgraded our economic forecasts. For the U.S. economy, we are now predicting 2.0% real growth for 2012. However, we still believe that a double dip recession can be avoided.

2011-09-19 Europes Confidence Game by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Of the three big issues dragging markets up and down these daysWashingtons ongoing budget uncertainties, the threat of a second recessionary dip, and Europes sovereign debt crisisthe latter is most dangerous. It not only carries a direct risk of wealth destruction but also of bank insolvency and, consequently, the prospect of a return to the liquidity shortages of 2008. Probabilities suggest that Europe will work its way through this mess, not without pain, of course, but more successfully than many now fear. Until it does so, however, risks remain.

2011-09-19 Uncertainty Remains, but so too Does Opportunity by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

In contrast to Europe, the United States economy remains in reasonably good health. The United States does, of course, have its own sovereign debt issues to deal with and the future state of the federal deficit is an obvious source of concern. The difference between the United States and Europe is that the United States has the ability to solve its own fiscal problems, even if coming to an agreement about how to do so is a significant challenge. Given this backdrop, its hardly surprising that US stocks have been outperforming on a relative basis over the past couple of months.

2011-09-16 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group

In our opinion, Congress and the President need to do two things. The first is to develop a long-term, permanent solution to the Tax Code and to remove regulations that are, at best, postponing the decisions of employers to hire, and in some cases, driving jobs overseas. Heres what we would do if we were leaders in Congress: we would identify each and every one of the parts of the package where there is common agreement and pass them as quickly as we possibly could.

2011-09-16 The Bottom Line #5 by Paul Azeff and Kory Bobrow of Euro Pacific Capital

Today marks the third anniversary of the death of Lehman Brothers, not the first, nor the last, bank or broker-dealer to require emergency meetings of exalted officials to take place over a weekend, but it is the only one that resulted in a complete loss for shareholders and significant losses for bondholders. Whether you see this as the example of the officials getting it right or stunningly wrong really depends on where you sit, and it should color your perspective on everything that has occurred since.

2011-09-15 Thinking the Unthinkable in Europe by George Soros of Project Syndicate

Having in sight a solution to the eurozones sovereign-debt crisis would be a source of relief for financial markets. Even so, because any new treatys terms will inevitably be dictated by Germany, a severe economic slowdown would be almost certain. That might induce a further change of attitude in Germany, in turn allowing the adoption of counter-cyclical policies. At that point, growth in much of the eurozone could resume.

2011-09-13 An Uncritical Glorification of Hedge Funds by Michael Edesess (Article)

Sebastian Mallaby's book, More Money than God, sheds some light on interesting events in hedge fund history and is strewn with a few valuable insights. Mostly, though, it is a work of serial hagiography. It seems designed to attract worshipers like those who drive by celebrity homes in Beverly Hills.

2011-09-13 Balance Grasshopper by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

Over the weekend Greece did not default, although for over a year I have expressed the view that Greece has to default; a stance I continue to embrace. This morning, however, rumors are swirling again about a Greek default along with hints that Germany is not going to prevent it. That leaves the pre-opening futures down over 20 points, which would represent a retest of the selling-climax lows. While I am hopeful this will be a successful retest, consistent with the October 1978/1979 bottoming sequence, if 1100 is decisively broken it would imply the rally from the March 2009 lows is over.

2011-09-13 The End of the Line: Eurozone Crisis Hits Tipping Point by Liz Ann Sonders & Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

The growing likelihood of debt default by Greece rocks markets and sentiment. Although the banking system is healthier today than it was in 2008, contagion risks are elevated. The grand experiment of a unified currency in Europe is facing its greatest test yet.

2011-09-13 How the Government Can Create Jobs by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

On Tuesday, September 13, Peter Schiff will testify before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending. The hearing entitled, "Take Two: The President's Proposal to Stimulate the Economy and Create Jobs" will examine federal job creation efforts. Mr. Schiff is well known for his views on how federal regulatory activism and irresponsible monetary and fiscal policy is actively destroying jobs in America. The following statement from Mr. Schiff will be read into the Congressional Record this morning.

2011-09-12 German Court Opens Door to ber-Empire and ber-Collapse by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

In the early days of September, financial markets worldwide were nervous. Investors and governments were waiting for a crucial ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, a ruling that could have triggered the imminent collapse of the worlds second currency, the euro. This past Wednesday, the court ruled that the German bailout of Greece did not violate the German Basic Law (i.e. constitution), and investors breathed a collective sigh of relief.

2011-09-12 Fed Policy: No Theory, No Evidence, No Transmission Mechanism by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

One of the main factors prompting a benign response to what is now a recession and virtually certain Greek default is the hope that the Fed will launch some new intervention. Many view the present weakness as a replay of 2010, however, the evidence tells a different story. While we have to allow for the possibility of a knee-jerk response in the event of further Fed intervention, it is also much clearer now than it was in 2010 that quantitative easing does not work. To a large extent, the only basis for further Fed action here is superstition in the absence of either fact or theory.

2011-09-10 The Story of Moon Festival by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

On Monday, September 12, many Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, one of the most important holidays besides Chinese New Year. It is also known as Moon Festival because it is celebrated when the moon is at its brightest of the year.

2011-09-09 Europe on the Verge of a Political Breakdown by Barry Eichengreen of Project Syndicate

Europe is again on the precipice. The most recent Greek rescue, put in place barely six weeks ago, is on the brink of collapse. The crisis of confidence has infected the eurozones big countries. The euros survival and, indeed, that of the European Union hang in the balance. European leaders have responded with a cacophony of proposals for restoring confidence. There are several ways to recapitalize Europes weak banks. If these proposals have one thing in common, it is that they all fail to address the eurozones immediate problems.

2011-09-09 Fed 'Twisting' Will Stimulate Economic Activity for Bond Traders by Paul Kasriel and Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

The consensus view is that after adjourning from its September 20-21 meeting the FOMC will announce a plan to lengthen the maturity structure of its securities portfolio by increasing the proportion of longer-maturity securities in the portfolio.

2011-09-08 The Transfer Payment Paradox by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

You dont have to be a fan of profligate government spending to recognize the enormous paradox the United States faces in getting its economic and fiscal houses in order. The US economy is driven largely by consumptionroughly 70% of GDP comes from personal consumption. A large and growing percentage of that consumption is dependent on federal transfer paymentsdirect government payments to individuals. Yet as the US tries to get its deficit under control, these payments could be cut. That in turn could have a significant impact on disposable income and economic growth.

2011-09-08 Emerging Europe: Economic Review August 2011 by Team of Thomas White International

Economic growth in the Eastern European region faltered during the 2nd quarter. With this sputtering growth, the central banks are feeling pressured to reduce borrowing costs for consumers and businesses alike. Significantly, the economic recovery in the region is currently facing its most serious threat amid the burgeoning Euro-zone debt crisis and the recent downgrading of the U.S. credit rating. The woes of these former communist states are compounded further by the fact that most of these economies are dependent on their exports to the industrial powerhouse Germany.

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.

2011-09-06 An Imminent Downturn: Whom Will Our Leaders Defend? by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

The global economy is at a crossroad that demands a decision-whom will our leaders defend? One choice is to defend bondholders-existing owners of mismanaged banks unserviceable peripheral European debt, and lenders who misallocated capital by reaching for yield and fees by making mortgage loans to anyone with a pulse. Defending bondholders will require forced austerity in spending of already depressed economies, continued monetary distortions, and the use of public funds to recapitalize poor stewards of capital. It will do nothing for job creation, foreclosure reduction, or economic recovery.

2011-09-06 Want Jobs? Have Faith by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors

The private sector created 17,000 new payroll jobs in August and the government lost 17,000. The net was zero. Nadazipzilchnothing. Some would say that this is a perfect metaphor for the economya big fat zero. The stock market is getting drilled, politicians are frothing at the mouth, the Fed is having longer meetings, and investors are scared. So, whats going on? First, let us say that we have been overly optimistic. We expected better growth in jobs and the economy. We have been wrong, but we still dont expect another recession.

2011-09-02 8 Strong Growth Stocks Significantly Under-valued by Mr. Market by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

We don't believe in investing in the stock market, we believe in investing in great businesses. Therefore, we tend to focus more on how the business is performing on an operating basis than we do on stock price volatility. True Worth valuation is what we monitor and measure most closely. Our rationale is based on the reality that any business, public or private, ultimately derives its value from the amount of cash flows and earnings it can generate for stakeholders. The bigger the income stream they can buy, the bigger the value they will eventually receive.

2011-08-25 The Fork in the Road by Lance Paddock of Thompson Creek Wealth Advisors

On a fundamental basis the US stock market is still overvalued. As discussed in our last View from the Bluff profit margins are already likely to begin retrenching. If the economy gets worse that will likely accelerate along with a slowing of sales. Narrower segments of the US market are now near fair value, especially the highest quality parts of the market. Overseas markets are another story. International and developing markets are looking reasonable on the whole. Not cheap, but around fair value. Some individual markets (such as Japan and parts of Europe) are actually looking cheap.

2011-08-22 Whack-A-Mole by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

What did I think of Rick Perry's comments about Ben Bernanke? Frankly, I thought they were unfortunate. Perry suggested that monetary intervention would be "playing politics," which implies that Perry believes the Fed actually has the power to benefit the Obama Administration by improving the economy with its interventions. We certainly differ on that point. In my view, QE2 was an economically baseless attempt to distort the financial markets and force the prudent into taking risk in hopes of substituting speculation for innovation. Perry gives Bernanke far more credit than I do.

2011-08-22 The Neverending Story of a by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Gold continued to make headlines last week, reaching nearly $1,900 an ounce on Friday before resting around the $1,850 level. Golds 15 percent rise to new nominal highs over the past month has rekindled gold bubble talk from many pundits. Long-term gold bulls have been forced to listen to these naysayers since gold reached $500 an ounce. If you would have joined their groupthink then, you wouldve missed golds roughly 270 percent rise since. That said, gold is due for a correction.

2011-08-19 Who Will Take Over China's Role as the World's Factory Floor? by John Scott of Saturna Capital

As China moves up through the economic chain by outsourcing many of its low-cost, low-value-added consumer goods to places like Vietnam and Indonesia and begins producing more value-added products, it is highly likely that prices of these intermediate consumer goods will fall. We anticipate that the price levels of basic consumer goods in the West will likely rise in the future, but they will be offset by a decline in the price levels of mid-tier consumer goods. This will benefit the middle and upper-middle income segments of our population at the expense of low-income households.

2011-08-17 Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

While people who live in glass houses should not throw rocks, I have to observe how the media has trotted out super-bear Robert Prechter at every major stock market low for the past decade. They featured him again last week. Combine such anecdotal gleanings with the aforementioned market valuation metrics and it suggests a downside inflection point may have been reached. And while the bottoming process should take weeks, many individual stocks have likely already bottomed.

2011-08-17 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Has the markets crisis been averted because Congress passed a debt-ceiling bill or because the bear panic last week wiped out a lot of doubters? Not at all. One can forget the immediate knee-jerk responses. The most powerful ally we have now is time. The indecision and ambiguity which triggered the panic is still firmly entrenched in boardrooms and kitchens around the globe. Multiple solutions only confuse the markets direction. While spending and stimulus are probably whats needed to avert a recession, neither is going to happen in this climate of political intractability.

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 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group

Volatility set a record last week when, for the first time in the Indexs 115 year history, the Dow Jones moved by more than 400 points for four consecutive days. The Index was down 635 points on Monday, up 430 points on Tuesday, down 520 points on Wednesday, and up 423 points on Thursday. We all know that the value of the underlying businesses did not change drastically even day by day. Jason Zweig said it well in his book, Your Money and Your Brain: In the short run, a stocks price will change whenever someone wants to buy or sell it and whenever something happens that seems like news"

2011-08-16 Money Manager Pride Goeth Before Destruction by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

All great money managers reach a point in their career where adulation and self confidence detracts from their better judgment. This interruption in judgment usually coincides with the discipline in use becoming the most popular discipline in the marketplace or the investing style being overdue for a three to five-year correction. Studies of the equity managers with the best long term records show that the best underperform the S&P 500 Index 35% of the time. The pride associated with multi-decade success and an army of folks enjoying your work is probably the most dangerous thing.

2011-08-15 Developed Asia Pacific: Economic Review July 2011 by Team of Thomas White International

Reconstruction spending in some key countries in the region, like Japan and New Zealand, also played a key role in improving labor markets. In Australia, however, labor markets turned sour as job losses inched up during the quarter. Inflationary pressures have become acute in Singapore and Hong Kong mainly due to labor shortage and a relentless rise in property prices. Economies that depend on China for their export industries are worried about a weakening in the Chinese economy in the quarters ahead.

2011-08-15 Two One-Way Lanes on the Road to Ruin by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

The reason we are facing a renewed economic downturn is that our policy makers never addressed the essential economic problem, the need for debt restructuring. There are two one-way lanes on the road to ruin, and these are unfortunately the only ones on the present policy map: 1) Policies aimed at distorting the financial markets by suffocating the yield on lower-risk investments, in an attempt to drive investors to accept risks that they would otherwise shun; 2) Policies aimed at defending bondholders and lenders who made bad loans, which they now seek to have bailed out at public expense.

2011-08-15 The August 9 FOMC Decision - Ineffective at Best, Dangerous at Worst by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust

The FOMCs decision to commit to holding its federal funds target in a range of zero to 25 basis points at least through mid 2013 strikes me as an ineffective way to accomplish one of its goals full employment of the labor force and potentially dangerous with regard to another of its goals stability in an index of goods/services prices. In my view, the Fed should abandon an interest-rate targeting approach to monetary policy. Rather, it should adopt a quantitative-targeting approach targeting the growth in the quantity of combined Federal Reserve and commercial bank credit.

2011-08-12 Policy Dithering Will Further Fuel the Crisis by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

The world economy is now in the grips of a damaging feedback loop involving deteriorating fundamentals, lagging policy responses and destabilised financial markets. If policymakers do not act boldly, and do so in a globally-coordinated fashion, the world risks tipping into a prolonged recession with worrisome institutional, political and social consequences.

2011-08-12 Making Sense of the Markets by Team of Neuberger Berman

It is one thing to theorize about markets. It is quite another to invest. With that sentiment in mind, we offer a sampling of views from some of our portfolio managers across our firm who each independently form their own conclusions as to what to make of the market and how to position portfolios according to their respective investment disciplines.

2011-08-11 Market Flash: "Everybody Stay Calm" by Jason B. Leach of Cravens Brothers Wealth Advisors

In the wake of this debt crisis sell-off, our political leaders need to come up with long-term structural ideas not only for budget cuts and tax reform, but for jobs, housing, education, infrastructure, real Wall Street reform, and a comprehensive energy policy. Our nation is at the point of maximum pain and the time has come for big, structural solutions, not temporary fixes. Washington must be wrested from the rule of the banking oligarchs and all manner of lobbyists during this process or we will be digging out of the holes we have put ourselves in for much longer than we would like.

2011-08-10 The Economic Recovery Has No Clothes by Kevin D. Mahn of Hennion & Walsh

What likely transpired yesterday was that investors finally siad, The economic recovery has no clothes, despite repeated claims by the Federal Government and certain economists to the contrary over the past 6-12 months. While historical research has shown that typical stock market recoveries generally precede economic recoveries by 6-9 months; perhaps it was too soon. While many encouraging signs pointing to a sustainable economic recovery have emerged over this timeframe in terms of corporate earnings GDP growth and M&A activity, many headwinds for the U.S. economy still exist.

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 How Conservative Investing Threatens Retirement by Dan Richards (Article)

Just as the Great Depression left a generation with a poverty mentality that still persists, the two bear markets of the last 10 years risk shaped an entire generation's attitude to investing. That's a key finding from a survey of affluent Americans commissioned by Merrill Lynch and released earlier this year, and it raises important implications for how financial advisors should deal with conservatively-minded investors.

2011-08-09 Don't Shoot the Messenger by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

With large-scale bond purchases announced, the ECB is moving closer to how the Fed operates in a crisis. In 2008, then NY Fed President Geithner conferred with Treasury Secretary Paulson whether to "foam" the markets. That referred to massive liquidity injection by buying Treasuries. Now the ECB may buy bonds of the largest European bond market, the Italian. The ECB has indicated it would sterilize any purchases. Let's not forget that some of the market tension comes from U.S. money market funds having dumped commercial paper issued by European banks after a lot of scrutiny.

2011-08-09 U.S. Downgrade Shouldnt Cause Liquidity Investors to Cash Out by Jerome M. Schneider of PIMCO

Surprises are not a new phenomena for money market and other short-term investors. Our sense is that that money-market funds and other short-term strategies seem well positioned for the aftermath of the downgrade. In the short-term, we believe U.S. Treasury bills will continue to be highly sought after as a short-dated liquidity alternative, especially by central banks. S&Ps downgrade should serve as another wake-up call to investors to continually determine their liquidity needs.

2011-08-09 Inevitabilities - One Down, More to Come by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

With government sponsored post-retirement safety nets increasingly looking not so safe, the implications for U.S. retirement assets are vast. According to the Investment Company Institute, the U.S. retirement market stood at $18 trillion at the end of the first quarter 2011, or 37% of household net worth. This pool of assets will soon be asked to do much, much more. Unfortunately, this greater load sharing comes at a time when capital markets are priced to deliver shockingly anemic returns. But we can start planning for the burden now.

2011-08-09 The Other Shoe Drops: Munis Tied To Government Get Downgraded by Joseph Deane, Julie P. Callahan and Joseph A. Narens of PIMCO

We believe the implications from the downgrade as well as the overall environment make a good case for muni investors to prefer essential-service revenue bonds over General Obligation (GO) securities. This is not the first time that we have seen the muni market face potential ratings downgrades. The muni market has become a market where credit analysis is increasingly important.

2011-08-08 U.S. Downgrade Heralds a New Financial Era by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

There will be endless debate on whether S&P, the rating agency, was justified in stripping America of its AAA rating and even attaching a negative outlook to the new AA+ rating. But this historic action has now taken place, and the global system must adjust. There are consequences, uncertainties, and a silver lining. Not so long ago, it was deemed unthinkable that America could lose its AAA. Indeed, risk free and US Treasuries were interchangeable terms so much so that the global financial system was constructed on the assumption that Americas AAA was a constant at the core.

2011-08-08 Recession Warning, and the Proper Policy Response by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

As of Friday the S&P 500 was below its level of November 2010, when the Fed initiated its second round of quantitative easing. Aside from a brief bump in demand that kicked the recession can down the road a bit, the U.S. economy is not much better off. Meanwhile, countless individuals in developing countries have been injured by predictable commodity hoarding and global price instability. The Fed has leveraged its balance sheet by over 55-to-1. As policy makers look to address the abrupt deterioration in U.S. , we should ask ourselves: Do we really long for more of the Fed's recklessness?

2011-08-08 What does the Downgrade of U.S. Debt Mean? by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

The downgrade potential was not mitigated with the overly dramatic yet not surprising game that Congress and the President partook in. Losing the AAA status has some fundamental and some theoretical impacts. The obvious facet is the increase in interest costs for the U.S. government and every interest based instrument. Estimates for increased interest expense have ranged from 25 billion annually to as high as 100 billion annually. Any measuring is sure to have flaws when one considers past rating cuts and the significance and uniqueness of the Treasury market.

2011-08-08 S&Ps Downgrade of U.S. Sovereign Debt Some People Actually Pay Them for these Opinions? by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust

S&P stated the obvious after the U.S. markets closed on August 5 - the projected growth in U.S. public debt is on a long-term unsustainable path. Rather than paying S&P for this opinion, all you need to do is look at some past CBO projections and you would have arrived at the same opinion years ago.

2011-08-08 Why US of AA Matters by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners

So what does it mean? Near term, other U.S. financial institutions (Fannie Mae? Freddie Mac? JP Morgan?) will be downgraded as a result - perhaps as early as today or tomorrow. Following that, if Standard & Poors wants to maintain whatever credibility it has left, it will probably have to downgrade a few sovereigns as well. France springs to mind; it is not far behind the US as far as profligacy is concerned, and it may prove difficult for Standard and Poors to justify the AAA rating it currently assigns to France.

2011-08-05 The Center of Gravity Shifts Slowly by Andrew Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

To an extent not fully appreciated by the investing public, financial markets are influenced by human emotion just as much as they are by economic data, corporate earnings, and dividend yields. Of all human motivations, fear is perhaps the most powerful. When people get scared, the fight or flight instinct forces us to take action. Simple dangers prompt simple responses. If we unexpectedly encounter a bear on our driveway, we immediately run into the house and call animal control. But its harder to know what to do when financial danger stalks the stock market.

2011-08-04 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Concern over the debt ceiling debate had the stock market down each and every day last week despite stellar earnings reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 4.2% while the NASDAQ Composite dropped 3.58% last week as Washington dithered. Today is a new week, and with the erstwhile deal announced last night, the stock market should enjoy a very sharp snap back. Fears about the financial system not being able to function normally should dissipate despite some worry that the deal will not be approved in the House of Representatives.

2011-08-04 Winners and Losers in the Debt Ceiling Deal by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

In a last-minute attempt to stop the U.S. from defaulting for the first time ever on its loan obligations, Congress voted this week to increase the country's debt ceiling by at least $2.1 trillion. The deal includes $917 billion in spending cuts over the next 10 years, and the establishment of a congressional committee to reduce the deficit further by $1.5 trillion. Questions remain, however, about what is at stake. To answer some these and other questions, Knowledge@Wharton spoke with Wharton professors Olivia S. Mitchell and Kent Smetters.

2011-08-04 Gold is the True Reserve Currency by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

The reliance upon the U.S. dollar as the worlds reserve currency and safe haven asset has created a perverse, but deeply entrenched, mindset among global investors. In fact, many believe the major financial players have no alternatives to owning U.S. debt and dollars. They argue that the market for U.S. dollars and Treasuries is the only financial pool large enough to handle the massive liquidity that sloshes around the globe on a daily basis. This idea makes a mass exodus from U.S. debt holdings seem impossible.

2011-08-03 Disappearing Act: GDP Loses Steam by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Although the debt deal remains top-of-mind, the latest GDP report's weakness didn't ease the angst. The economy is now operating at "stall speed" and is at a crucial inflection point. There's not much good news other than corporate profits, which have boomed.

2011-08-02 Seven Implications for the Coming Retirement Revolution by Dan Richards (Article)

Most advisors look to seniors as a core part of their client base. That's why it's essential to understand how boomers are going to transform retirement, just as they have redefined every other stage of their lives. Let's look at three new pieces of research and the seven implications they carry for retirement planning.

2011-08-02 Hitting a Moving Target: Matching Portfolio Risk to Client Expectations by Scott Smith (Article)

Much of the angst faced by investors and advisors over the last several years was caused by mismatched perceptions regarding investors' appetite for portfolio risk. Advisors overestimated the amount of risk investors were comfortable being exposed to within portfolios.

2011-08-02 The Second Great Contraction by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

Why is everyone still referring to the recent financial crisis as the Great Recession? The term, after all, is predicated on a dangerous misdiagnosis of the problems that confront the United States and other countries, leading to bad forecasts and bad policy. The phrase Great Recession creates the impression that the economy is following the contours of a typical recession, only more severe. That is why, throughout this downturn, forecasters and analysts who have tried to make analogies to past post-war US recessions have gotten it so wrong.

2011-08-02 Is the US a "BBB" credit? David Woolley on the MERS land title chain fiasco by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst

In this issue of The Institutional Risk Analyst, we feature a summary of a paper by David E. Woolley, a California Licensed Land Surveyor and Certified Fraud Examiner, who is a principal of Harbinger Analytics Group in Tustin, CA. Thanks to David and Lisa Herzog, who edited the study and performed research, for summarizing the paper. But first a rant on the furious inaction of the past week.

2011-08-01 More Than Meets the Eye by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Our concerns remain focused on significant "core" issues facing the markets and the economy, including overvaluation, compressed risk premiums, over-reliance of investors on the maintenance of record profit margins, unresolved mortgage strains, and sovereign debt problems. Valuations remain rich on the basis of normalized earnings, market internals have deteriorated considerably, and recession risks are increasing. There are certainly various policy developments that are likely to provoke investor enthusiasm from time to time. What is important to us is the weight of the evidence.

2011-08-01 America Will Avoid Default But There's A Lot More to Do by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

Politicians are taking an important step this weekend to remove the threat of a debt default and to focus more credibly on problems facing the economy. We should thank them for that. But we should also remind them that their work is far from done. Washington should waste no time in redoubling efforts to remove the multiple policy uncertainties and structural impediments that stand in the way of restoring America on the path of high growth and plentiful job creation. Anything short of that will imply further economic and social deterioration, and a greater erosion of America's global standing.

2011-08-01 Europe's Cognitive Dissonance by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim

The latest bailout program should be successful in one regard: buying more time. Unfortunately for Europe, time is no longer an ally, and it most certainly is not healing all wounds. Across the European periphery, economic data are degenerating as the calendar marches forward. Year to date, Greeces debt burden, budget deficit, cost of funding, and unemployment rate have increased. Its economic output and tax revenues continue to depress.

2011-08-01 Why Global Debt Dramas Recur by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

Neither Europe nor America can sustain the sort of economic recovery that would make a meaningful dent in their debt dynamics. As a result, different governments are opting for different approaches, including harsh austerity, financial repression and, in one case, a potential debt restructuring. De-levering pressures will be with us for years, and governments will mix and match from the menu of options. Accordingly, periodic debt dramas will recur. And we all need to understand the dynamics and the likely choices governments will make going forward.

2011-08-01 Markets Will Look Past Debt Issues, But Not Yet by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

Over the past several months, stocks have been in a fairly narrow trading range, with strong earnings pushing prices higher and macro risks and the growth slowdown acting as counterweights. Once the debt and deficit pictures become more clear and once investors are able to price in the effects of the final deals, markets may be able to again focus on fundamentals. From an economic perspective, the US economy remains vulnerable, which is not a comfortable backdrop for risk assets, but we continue to believe that the probability of recession remains low and that economic data should improve.

2011-08-01 Debt Deal is a Blank Check by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

I expect that as soon as our creditors decide that they are no longer willing to lend to us at ultra-low rates of interest, we will refuse to repay what they have already lent. Besides default or major cuts to domestic spending, inflation provides the only other means for the government to deal with this intractable crisis. Once we go down that path, we risk high inflation turning into hyperinflation, which would decimate the remainder of our economy. So, as our leaders congratulate themselves for saving the nation, the reality is that they may have just sold it down the river.

2011-08-01 Debt Deal is a Blank Check by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

I expect that as soon as our creditors decide that they are no longer willing to lend to us at ultra-low rates of interest, we will refuse to repay what they have already lent. Besides default or major cuts to domestic spending, inflation provides the only other means for the government to deal with this intractable crisis. Once we go down that path, we risk high inflation turning into hyperinflation, which would decimate the remainder of our economy. So, as our leaders congratulate themselves for saving the nation, the reality is that they may have just sold it down the river.

2011-07-30 Shifting Focus by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Some economic indicators are starting to perk up while corporate earnings have been strong as we wind down reporting season. Stocks will move higher in the coming months once confidence is restored. Whatever the near-term outcome of the debt debate, the US still has deficit issues to deal with and hard choices must be made to ensure economic stability for years to come. Europe finally arrived at their debt deal, but it likely falls short of what will eventually be needed. Meanwhile, China is key to emerging market performance and continues to deal with inflationary concerns.

2011-07-29 Gold Faces Short-Term Price Trap by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Gold appears set on a very strong upward path. However, in the short term, if global recessionary forces re-emerge and/or investors become euphoric over the US dodging a debt default, gold could face a significant price correction. If governments inflate wildly in a futile attempt to avert a pending depression, leading to stagflation, then gold should rebound in priceMy forecast should not be construed as an appeal for investors to sell their gold and try to time their way back into the market. Rather I would suggest that there may be some discounted buying opportunities in the coming months.

2011-07-28 Six High-profile Industrials with Staggering Three-year Performance? (Part 1) by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

As a general rule there is an undeniable relationship between earnings and stock price. Where earnings go, stock price is sure to follow. However, since there are exceptions to every rule, there will be occasions where earnings and price become disconnected. When price rises significantly above earnings, we call this overvaluation. On the other hand, when price falls significantly below earnings, we call this undervaluation. Consequently, on this basis the principles of valuation can be a reliable and profitable means that investors can use to make intelligent buy or sell decisions.

2011-07-28 U.S. Debt Ceiling If Cooler Heads Do Not Prevail by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust

What would be the immediate economic effect of a sudden balancing of the U.S. federal government budget? The $1.26 trillion decline in federal outlays would represent a negative demand shock to the U.S. economy. Some entities who were expecting payments from the federal government would be disappointed. These disappointed entities might have to cut back on some of their planned spending in order to be able to honor their payment commitments to others. Alternatively, these disappointed entities might have to increase their borrowing in order to honor their payment commitments.

2011-07-27 Data Points from Nantucket Island by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

Why do we find Nantucket so interesting? Generally speaking the families that summer on Nantucket represent the top 1% of incomes and assets of any families in the entire country. In the summer of 2009, these decision makers were so frightened that families with $10 million in the bank were afraid to buy a T-shirt on Main Street. In the summer of 2010, families unwound a bit and actually went out to dinner, though the reduced patronage put a number of island restaurants and retail stores out of business. This summer things are growing again.

2011-07-27 Are We Headed For A Second Recession? by Caroline Corbett & Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Is a second recession in so short of a time in the offing? It certainly seems that way. The hope for a continued recovery has grown dim lately as many of the economic indexes are moving towards contractionary territory. In the words of David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff, "one small shock" could send us into a second recession. With the recent release of the Chicago Fed National Activity Index, our proprietary economic index is just one small step away from crossing the 35 mark which has always been a pre-cursor to recession.

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.

2011-07-26 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to our article, Gundlach: A Debt Ceiling Impasse Could Drive Rates Lower, which appeared last week. Another reader responds to Don Moir's letter to the editor, which was in response to Doug Short's commentary, A Short History of Dividend Stocks, which appeared on July 5.

2011-07-26 June Bugs...in the Employment Report by Brian Horrigan of Loomis Sayles

The June 2011 Employment Report was awful. But what are we to make of it? I drilled down into the details trying to make sense of it. The Employment Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) gives results from two different surveys of the labor market, the Establishment Survey and the Household Survey. Newspaper headlines focused on results from the Establishment Survey, from which we learned that nonfarm payrolls rose a lousy 18,000 in June from May. Private-sector payrolls rose 57,000, but government payrolls fell.

2011-07-25 Down to the Wire by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

The problem isnt the ceiling, its our behavior. The debt ceiling merely imposes a discipline that our national leaders should provide but generally havent. On this note, in his press conference on July 15, when asked about conservatives insistence on a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, President Obama replied, We dont need a constitutional amendment to do that [balance the budget]; what we need to do is to do our jobs. But clearly we do need some enforced discipline, because the years in which we havent run a deficit have been by far the exception of late, not the rule.

2011-07-23 Kicking the Can Down the Road One More Time by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I hope Europe pulls it off. I really do. They have done the US a huge favor by adopting this latest plan, as it keeps their banking system from imploding; because their banks are essentially insolvent with all the sovereign debt on their books. Such a banking crisis, which would be worse than 2008, in my opinion, would no doubt plunge a world already slowing down back into recession and pull our own slow-growth economy down into recession with them. How long can they kick the can down the road? My guess is that it will be longer than we suspect.

2011-07-22 Why We Think the U.S. Wont Default on Its Debt by Team of American Century Investments

We believe its highly unlikely that the U.S. government will miss any of its scheduled debt payments in coming months, or that related market uncertainty and volatility will cause our money market funds to break the buck (be forced to transact share purchases and redemptions at prices less than the usual $1 per share). To help explain market behavior under unstable conditions, we often repeat the following adage: investment markets hate uncertainty. We tend to be leery of uncertainty because it can trigger investor skittishness, irrational behavior, and volatility.

2011-07-22 Will China?s Real Estate Market Become the World?s Problem? by James Pressler of Northern Trust

There are significant imbalances in the Chinese real estate market and that this constitutes a large asset bubble that is reaching the end of its run. While there may not be one defining event that marks its collapse, over the next twelve months we expect a marked rise in NPLs within the smaller provincial and regional banks, and some high-profile defaults. And while this will not necessarily mark the end of the Chinese miracle, it will provide a substantial shock to development policies and perhaps a renewed drive toward a more sustainable, domestically-driven economy.

2011-07-21 Making the U.S. Dollar Safer: Return ON Your Money by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

Todays debate may be focused on whether the debt ceiling will be raised, but its tomorrows debate that really concerns us. Last week, Standard & Poors made it clear that raising the debt ceiling would be one thing, but in order to withhold a downgrade to the U.S. credit rating, the U.S. must show that it is not maxed out. In other words, show that it would be able to manage another crisis, or a potential war. What would be the implications of a credit downgrade? And what policies would need to be engaged in, in order to avert a downgrade and strengthen the U.S. dollar over the long-term?

2011-07-21 Running in Place by Christopher J. Singleton of Kanawha Capital Management

Financial markets have been choppy this year, as investors wrestle with many of the same issues they faced a year ago. Once again, the specter of a double dip here in the US has collided with renewed fears of a European financial crisis. It is a testament to the severity of the last recession that, two years after its official end, the recovery remains grudging and uneven. This is hardly surprising. History tells us that downturns prompted by financial crises linger much longer than garden-variety recessions. Why? Primarily because the crisis severely interrupts and alters the flow of credit.

2011-07-19 Sorting Out the Annuity Puzzle by Joseph A. Tomlinson (Article)

Why do so few people buy annuities? Economic theory would predict robust demand for this financial product, especially as the workforce ages, but the reality is quite the reverse. Most efforts to explain this have focused on buyer behavior. But to better understand the annuity puzzle, we need to study the sellers.

2011-07-19 Earning 'Extra Credit' Through Short-Term Strategies PIMCO by Jerome M. Schneider of PIMCO

Given renewed concerns over liquidity and credit, investors can potentially do better by considering actively managed short-term strategies that invest beyond traditional U.S. money-market guidelines. The current credit situation in Europe is different from that in both 2008 and 2010 because initial liquidity conditions in the short-term markets are better. In our view, investors should evaluate potential investments within the wider scope of relative value opportunities and not simply for the incremental yield they may offer above risk-free returns.

2011-07-18 Matter over Mind by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management

As the markets declined in the quarter, stocks became significantly oversold from the negative psychology resulting from the negative headlines. A mindset of fear. CNBC recently reported that investors were more concerned about the economy than at any other time during the past five years; a CBS poll found that 39% of Americans believe the economy is in a state of permanent decline. The mind can play tricks. But when perceived risk is so great it is typically reflected more than warranted in depressed share prices. The news doesn’t have to be good, just not as bad as everyone believes.

2011-07-18 Politicians Are Playing With Fire by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Politicians have the ability to screw up the economy. Investors remain focused on three major concerns: the debt ceiling imbroglio, default risk in Europe and the pace of economic recovery in the U.S. All three may be disruptive and damaging to markets and the economy, although the first two are matters of policy and should be overcome with sensible policy judgments. Instead, the markets remain hostage to the political game of chicken. This will not happen if common sense prevails. Unfortunately, investors lack confidence that politicians will make good decisions.

2011-07-16 Back to the Basics by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we are going to revisit some themes concerning the problems of the debt and the deficit. I am getting a number of questions, so while long-time readers may have read most of this in one letter or another, it is clearly time for a review, especially given the deficit/debt-ceiling debate. I will probably offend some cherished beliefs of most readers, but that is the nature of the times we live in. It is the time of the Endgame, where things are not as black and white as they have been in the past.

2011-07-16 Should You Bank on Turkey\'s Growth? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

While much of Europe’s economy remains stuck in the mud, Turkey expanded 11 percent during the first quarter of 2011. In fact, Turkey’s economic growth outpaced China’s this quarter and most of the world’s larger economies last year, leading The Wall Street Journal to declare the country “Eurasia’s rising tiger.” Despite the acclaim, many investors have yet to warm up to Turkey. We’re not one of them.

2011-07-15 The Fraying European Union by Monty Guild of Guild Investment Management

Gold, oil and food prices will rise much higher in an inflationary climate where pivotal currencies are depreciating and astronomical sums of money are being infused into sick economies. The U.S. banking crisis of 2008 was by no means a first-of-its-kind. The most immediate previous example was in Japan in 1990, a crisis that generated a long-term economic malaise. Now, the U.S. and Europe are following precisely in Japan’s ill-fated footsteps.

2011-07-14 Ben Bernanke channels Genworth Financial; Chris Laursen on bank trading under the Volcker rule by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst

This week we republish an important article by Christopher Laursen, NERA Vice President, on bank trading under the Volcker rule. And we ask whether Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke knew he was saying about the conforming loan limit yesterday before the House Financial Services Committee.

2011-07-14 Pacific Basin Market Overview – June 2011 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Faced with the imminent withdrawal of the Fed’s QE2 policy, the ongoing sovereign debt woes in the Euro-zone, and concerns over a slowdown in China, the Asian equity markets were at best only able to range trade during the second quarter. The broad indices remained relatively flat, with the MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index declining by 0.50% while the MSCI AC Asia Pacific declined 0.87%. As the immediate concerns over the sovereign debt crisis in Europe subsided, a steady recovery in domestic production also helped to lift the Japanese market and trigger a late rebound in equity prices.

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 Emerging Europe: Economic Review June 2011 by Team of Thomas White International

In an update to its Global Economic Outlook published in April, the IMF sounded a cautionary note on the global economic recovery due to the slowing growth in the U.S. and the Euro-zone debt crisis. The Washington-based lender said it sees global activity slowing in the second quarter of 2011, though a rebound is expected in the second half of the year. Despite this forecast, the IMF exuded confidence that the strong growth in Germany, Italy, and France would offset the economic slackening in the U.S. and Japan.

2011-07-11 Jobs Versus Government by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors

After the very strong ADP employment report on Thursday, many economists marked-up their forecasts for Friday’s official payroll report. We moved ours up 5,000, and went into the report at 140,000 net new private sector jobs. Ouch…the official report showed just 57,000 new private sector jobs and equities immediately headed south. For bulls, this data was a huge disappointment. But employment is a lagging indicator. Other data have already been into, and out of, a “soft patch.” Moreover, as a forecasting tool, employment data has not always been perfect.

2011-07-08 What Happens Next? by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners

If Portugal and Ireland, and eventually also Spain and Italy, increasingly get dragged into this crisis – and everything I see on the horizon suggest they will – the €400 billion the ECB has pumped into the banking sector in those countries so far will be pocket money compared to what will be required going forward. At some point the creditor countries will say enough is enough. And if the politicians don’t know when to say no, the electorate will do the job for them. The ECB’s strategy for now seems to be one of buying time.

2011-07-08 Don’t be Fooled by Political Posturing by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

As attention focuses intently on the negotiations to raise the debt ceiling, House Republicans have made a great show of drawing a line in the fiscal sand. They claim that they will not vote for any deal that includes tax increases to narrow the budget deficit. But we all know how the game works in Washington. With the 2012 elections looming the Republican bluster is merely a bargaining chip that they will quickly toss into the pot when they sense a political victory. In fact there are signs that such a compromise is already underway.

2011-07-08 And That's The Week That Was… by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Hip hip hooray, the labor market is improving! Oops, it’s not. According to ADP and Macroeconomic Advisors, 157,000 new private sector jobs were created in June, a much better-than-expected showing and nice sign for this crucial area of the economy. However, before the ink was even dry on that report, the Labor Department contradicted it by revealing that only 18k jobs were added last month and the unemployment rate climbed to 9.2%, the highest level of the year. Additionally, jobless claims dropped in the latest weekly release, but still remain well in excess of 400,000.

2011-07-07 Debt Ceiling Debate: We’ve Seen This Movie Before by Bret Barker of TCW Asset Management

The limit on the amount of Federal debt outstanding has been in place since 1917, when Congress enacted the Second Liberty Bond Act. Since 1940, that limit has been increased 80 times and now stands at $14.3 trillion. The debt that is subject to this limit is marketable debt (Treasuries) as well as non-marketable debt (State and Local Government Securities or SLGs) and the debt the U.S. government owes itself (trust fund obligations to Social Security). In sum, this borrowing represents debt already accumulated, not future obligations. The stakes are too high for political gaming.

2011-07-07 Exit Interview: FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst

This week in The Institutional Risk Analyst, we feature a conversation with FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair as she nears the end of her term. Bair has been in and out of public service for three decades, including working for Congress, the Treasury and lastly the FDIC. She spoke to IRA co-founder Chris Whalen before the July 4th break.

2011-07-05 A Million Dollar Meeting Gone Wrong - A Lost Prospect Tells All by Dan Richards (Article)

Over lunch last week, a long-time friend who's a partner at a Toronto law described a recent meeting with a financial advisor seeking his business and how some subtle errors and obvious mistakes cost the advisor the opportunity to do business.

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.

2011-07-05 Scarce Resources by Dennis Nacken of Allianz Global Investors

For decades, investors largely ignored the commodities segment. They can no longer afford to. Commodity production can scarcely keep up with the dynamic development in global demand. The supply bottleneck could remain a sustainable driver of higher commodity prices for the foreseeable future. This applies to energy, to commodities in general and agricultural products in particular: these resources are becoming scarcer—and this is a megatrend.

2011-07-02 My View on the Last Half of the Year by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The economy should be in Muddle Through range (around 2% growth), absent any shocks. For instance, today we had the June ISM number, which was stronger than most analysts expected, at 55.3. There was a lot of whispering that it could dip below 50. Some of the internal components were a little soft, though. New Orders were barely above 50. And Backlogs fell below 50. Exports fell to the lowest level in two years (more on that below). Of the 18 industries surveyed, only 12 reported growth. But Muddle Through is not going to allow us to really cut into the unemployment problem.

2011-07-01 On The Importance of Sustained Capital Investment Part 2 by Andrew Foster of Seafarer Capital

This commentary revisits the topic. It presents basic evidence to support the idea that sustained capital investment is critical in the context of developing markets. The data presented below is gathered from several countries, so as to allow for comparison across emerging markets. Admittedly, the workings of macro economies are highly complex, and drawing detailed conclusions about them is tricky. Nonetheless, national statistics do reveal the general outline of an economy and its underpinnings. That’s how I intend to use the data here – to make broad inferences only.

2011-07-01 The Ultimate Shell Game by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

As governments are forced to shift policy from spending to saving, the instruments they have at their disposal become obsolete without consumer support and/or confidence. The acquisition of “things” paid for by leverage, margin, and debt is a fruitless endeavor in today’s climate. As a result a truer “new paradigm” must develop which: Shifts the focus from hard asset leverage to savings and cash, Raises secular interest rates, Globalizes investment capital, trade, and profitability and Provides for a fairer, equal playing field in financial assets.

2011-06-28 An Important Challenge to ‘Stocks for the Long Run’ by Geoff Considine (Article)

Jeremy Siegel's dictum - to invest in stocks for the long run - faces a new challenge. A recent paper by Robert Stambaugh, a Wharton colleague, and Lubos Pastor of the University of Chicago says that once you take into account the uncertainty of estimating future returns, stocks are not nearly as attractive to retirement-oriented investors as Siegel has claimed.

2011-06-28 How to Get in Front of High-net Worth Prospects by Dan Richards (Article)

Last week, I got a call from an advisor who used a simple idea to set up meetings with three $2 million prospects. This advisor used some research from one of my recent columns to jumpstart conversations about critical issues for the wealthy.

2011-06-27 Will Japan’s Crisis Cause Force Long-Term Reform? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

For all the pain suffered by the Japanese as a result of the earthquake, the disaster and its ripple effects, offer them at least some smugness. The world, obsessed new, had for years dismissed Japan as a part of the past, preferring instead to enthuse over China and emerging economies. This horrible disaster has made one thing very clear: Japan still plays a critical role in the global supply chain and economy generally. How soon, if ever, will Japan recover its former productive role? And how will the shock of the recent disaster change the Japanese economy’s long-term direction?

2011-06-25 Playing Cat and Mouse with Global Oil by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Oil markets took another dose of global geopolitics this week when the International Energy Agency (IEA) unexpectedly announced that it would be releasing 60 million barrels of oil from strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) around the globe. Thursday’s surprise announcement gave oil prices a 4.5 percent hair cut and oil prices closed Friday at $91.25, down 20 percent from their April 29 peak.

2011-06-24 On Governments as Portfolio Managers by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

Energy markets are focusing intensely on the price impact of today’s International Energy Agency decision to release oil supplies. Governments (and central banks) getting pulled deeper into markets as portfolio managers, as opposed to regulators and supervisors. Policymakers are trying to differentiate between good and bad inflation – namely, enhancing the former and countering the latter.

2011-06-24 The 3-D Hurricane and the New Normal by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates

Debt, deficit, and demographics—the 3-D hurricane— is heading to the shores of all developed economies. It threatens to derail the economic recovery and to alter forever the heretofore path of robust growth for the developed world.Emerging economies with healthy government and household balance sheets, responsible fiscal policies, and young labor forces will be the drivers for global growth and will compete with their developed counterparts for economic and political leadership. More importantly, the emerging economies will demand their fair share in the consumption of resources and goods.

2011-06-22 Default or Not; What Happens After Greece? by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

The markets are preoccupied with the potential of Greece defaulting on its debt. Just what are we worried about? Greece is unable to access the capital markets, which are necessary for them to continue funding their expenditures and roll their debt forward. The EU outlined an assistance package that is being handed out in pieces to Greece. The next piece is coming due and the EU is pushing Greece to raise taxes and cut expenditures. The Prime Minister is up for a confidence vote tomorrow and the world seems to be waiting to see if Greece has the political will to stand up to their debt.

2011-06-22 Japan Outlook – June 2011 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Nomura’s forecast for Japan’s CY2012 real GDP growth is 3.2%, up from an expected rate for CY2011 real GDP growth of just 0.1%. Although there has been a temporary deterioration in Japanese economic indicators due to supply side constraints, such as capital stock damage, supply chain disruption, and electricity generating capacity shortfalls, we have already started to witness signs that these constraints are easing. The supply chain will return to normal this autumn, as production bases in the disaster-affected areas are restored or the users quickly switch to substitute components.

2011-06-21 School Daze, School Daze Good Old Golden Rule Days by Bill Gross of PIMCO

The past several decades have witnessed an erosion of our manufacturing base in exchange for a reliance on wealth creation via financial assets. Fiscal balance alone will not likely produce 20 million jobs over the next decade. Government must take a leading role in job creation. A growing number of skeptics wonder whether college is worth the time or the cost.

2011-06-21 What's Weighing Heavily on the Markets by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

Balance sheets and other structural problems will repeatedly impact headlines (and weigh on markets) unless policymakers alter their course. European policymakers and the IMF have spent the last year treating Greece’s predicament as a liquidity problem as opposed to what it is: a solvency and growth crisis. By ignoring the basic issue of Greece’s solvency, some previously pristine balance sheets are now contaminated. In the U.S., political dithering (and bickering) is complicating the country’s ability to deal effectively with structural impediments.

2011-06-20 Overseeing Systemic Risk: The 10 most systemically risky financial firms in the US by Viral Acharya, Thomas F. Cooley, Robert Engle and Matthew Richardson of VoxEU

As part of the US policy response to the global crisis, the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act calls for regulators to identify systemically risky financial firms – the sort that took the US financial crisis global. But how to identify these firms remains unclear. Some claim the task is impossible. This column begs to differ and names the 10 most systemically risky financial firms in the US.

2011-06-20 Sector Insights Focus: Consumer Discretionary by Daniel M. Brewer and Stacie L. Cowell of Rainier Funds

International growth is a consistent theme for companies in the consumer discretionary arena. “Consumerism” is growing globally, and those companies that are able to grow in more than just one market have more growth opportunities. Another theme in this sector is the concept of reaching the consumer in more ways than the traditional method of just providing a physical store. Retail revolves around getting the product to the consumer right at the point they want to buy it, where and how they want to purchase it. Companies have invested heavily in building out their e-commerce capabilities.

2011-06-15 Understanding the Investment Process at Jensen Investment Management - Step One: Return on Equity by Team of Jensen Investment Management

We believe that Return on Equity is a very useful criterion for identifying companies that have the potential to provide attractive returns over long periods of time. Our experience and research suggest that our requirement of consistently high Return on Equity results in a universe of high-quality, profitable companies that are able to generate returns above their costs of capital in a variety of circumstances and economic environments. This paper serves to illustrate the reasons why we use Return on Equity the way we do, and why we use it for the first step of our investment process.

2011-06-15 The End of QEII: Gaining Clarity, Losing the Treasury’s Biggest Customer by Anthony J. Crescenzi and Ben Emons of PIMCO

​The Fed’s policies and its fat balance sheet are playing a powerful role in shaping financial and economic conditions around the world. The drain of a single dollar from the financial system will signal a reversal of Fed policy and thus have a major bearing on financial conditions. Depending on the speed of the economic slowdown, the Fed could decide to keep a level of discretion over when and what will be reinvested in its portfolio.

2011-06-15 America’s Dangerous Debt Ceiling Debate by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

​In today’s polarized environment in Washington, Republicans and Democrats are unwilling to compromise “too early.” Such political paralysis on key economic issues is increasingly unsettling for the U.S. private sector, and for other countries that rely on a strong U.S. at the core of the global economy.

2011-06-13 Developed Europe: Economic Review May 2011 by Team of Thomas White International

All through May, Developed Europe’s debt woes dominated market sentiment, in not only the region but also other parts of the globe. Several other developments, such as the surge in the bond yields of other indebted nations like Spain, Ireland, and Portugal; S&P’s downgrade of the outlook for Italy’s sovereign bond from stable to negative; electoral setbacks for the ruling parties in Spain and Germany; and the arrest of the IMF chief, a key leader of the discussions on Greece; also added to investors’ unease.

2011-06-13 Emerging Europe: Economic Review May 2011 by Team of Thomas White International

According to data from EuroStat, inflation in the Euro-zone touched a 30-month high of 2.8 percent in the month of April as prices of fuel, electricity, and housing continued to soar. In line with the broader trend, the inflation gauge in the 27-member European Union, which also includes Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary registered an annual 3.2 percent in April, a touch above the 3.1 percent recorded in March. Among the east European economies, the Czech Republic recorded the lowest rate of inflation during the month.

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.

2011-06-09 Taking Advantage of Cyclical Highs and Lows by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

As we find ourselves in the throws of an economic soft patch, the anxiety to investors seems only to be a sniffle versus an outright sneeze or full-fledged cold. Many are wondering as to why the accumulation of the slowing economic news is having such a muted impact and cause many to extrapolate that a “coming to Jesus” meeting is around the corner. As we stated last week, the conundrum of negative outlook on Treasuries by three credit rating agencies is being trumped by slowing economic metrics. It is also influenced heavily by the majority of investors believing rates will rise.

2011-06-08 The Economy: When Will Happy Days Be Here Again? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

The latest economic reports show the U.S. recovery has faltered. But someday, surely, there will be a real recovery. What forces will drive that upturn? And will the healthy economy of the future look different from those of the past -- establishing a "new normal?" Two intertwined factors are critical to any rebound, according to many experts: Home prices must stop declining and begin to rise, and consumers must spend more freely.

2011-06-08 Behind the Numbers: The Latest from the Federal Reserve by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve Board released its latest Beige Book report, which provided more color on the recent slowdown and indicated the recovery is likely to be anemic and uneven. According to the report, which is a summary of anecdotal information from each Federal Reserve Bank on its district’s current economic conditions, “economic activity generally continued to expand since the last report,” though it did slow somewhat in four of the 12 districts. In particular, “some slowing in the pace of growth” was noted in the New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Chicago districts.

2011-06-07 How to Waste Time Effectively by Wendy Cook (Article)

Ah, the Internet. Could there be a more usefully annoying, time-sucking, time-saver? It's always there, ready to transport us to that crucial bit of information we need - or to distract us far away from what we need to be doing. How do you harness the power of the Internet without letting it gallop off with your valuable time?

2011-06-07 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

“Which way is the market going?” That’s one unanswerable question. What we do know, empirically, is that the global credit markets are poor; pricing in most stocks is inefficient and governed by short term trading and speculation; sustainable economic growth is non-existent; and inflation is rampant in consumer goods and raw materials. Even if we’re correct with our asset allocation, we are playing defense and hoping to minimize any downside damage. If hindsight and backtesting are any indication, I would posit that the current equity market continuum is poised for more downside potential.

2011-06-06 Handicapping QE3 by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

As disappointing economic news mounted last week, the attention of market participants immediately turned to policy responses - will the Fed embark on QE3? In my view, there are three central questions relevant to this issue. The first is simply this: Has QE2 been successful in a way that the economy should desire more of it? The second: How much scope for intervention does the Fed have left? The third: Is Bernanke so invested in this attempt at balance-sheet expansion that he will push forward an extension of the policy despite its economic ineffectiveness and speculative distortions?

2011-06-02 Cash Hoards by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

In Saturday’s WSJ, Jason Zweig asked the question, “What will it take for companies to unlock their cash hoards”? Here we expound on his thoughts and examine our own portfolioin this light. First, companies with large cash balances are adding to them. Second, payouts are historically low. Third, the point has probably come where the best interests of corporate management and the shareholders are at odds. Zweig zeroed in on Ben Graham’s thoughts in regards to why big companies that generate high levels of free-cash flow are hesitant to return cash to shareholders.

2011-06-02 Some Days (Months) Are Better Than Others by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

May was a rough month for investors, though it ended on a sunnier note. A growth slowdown is evident, but the debate rages about whether its factors are temporary. We think May's risk-off mode is easing, but choppy action remains likely until longer-term worries subside. After an uphill ride in April, when the Dow was up 4%, May wasn't kind to investors, although the last two trading days brought some sunshine. It was the first time in nearly three years that the S&P 500® index had no up weeks in a month.

2011-06-02 Expert Roundtable on Risk by Mark W. Riepe, Liz Ann Sonders, Randy Frederick, Rob Williams, & Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab

The word "risk" has a negative connotation-something to steer clear of whenever possible. However, in the investing world, risk and performance are intertwined. Market sentiment can shift quickly depending on economic or political news, geopolitical events and even natural disasters and these shifts can sometimes send investors fleeing for safety or taking on more risk as they seek higher returns. Mark Riepe, led a roundtable discussing the concept of risk in investing, strategies for reducing portfolio risk, and investment suggestions tailored to both risk-seeking and risk-averse investors.

2011-06-01 Next Big Thing: "Rent to Own?" Recreating the Ear of the Markets by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst

We feature a comment by Damien IslamFrenoy and David Cox, of Microsoft Banking and Capital Markets, about the need to restore context to information to better identify and manage risk. But first we make a few observations about the trends in the political economy. The first quarter of 2011 is now the best quarter since 2007 but does this mean that the future is assured? With an ROA<1% and ROE measured in single digits, the results are less than stellar. But the retrenchment of Americans away from housing assets and toward cash savings raises questions about the future of the banking industry.

2011-06-01 Is the Slow Economic Data Due to Japan or Something Deeper? by Team of Bespoke Investment Group

We have been discussing the slowdown in economic data on both an absolute basis and relative to expectations. Within the investment community there is a debate over whether the slowdown is a temporary effect from the massive earthquake in Japan back in March, or part of a broader global economic slowdown. Ultimately only time will settle this debate, but a look at two widely watched economic indicators and how they reacted following the January 1995 Kobe earthquake shows that the recent slowdown is more likely a result of the earthquake in Japan, and therefore temporary in nature.

2011-05-31 Weekly Market Commentary by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Four straight down weeks for the stock market, albeit last week’s was quite small. Once again the month of May has proven difficult for stock prices. As the charts above illustrate, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the NASDAQ Composite fell by much less than one percent last week.

2011-05-28 A Random Walk Through the Minefield by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In the last 48 hours, so much news has come out of Europe that has me frankly shaking my head. It is a strange game of brinksmanship they are playing, and it is one we should be paying attention to (as if the brinkmanship played by US politicians over the debt ceiling is not enough). This week we look at what seems to be European leaders taking random walks through the minefield at the very heart of the European Experiment. As Paul Simon wrote, “A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.”

2011-05-25 Setting the Scene by Eric S. Ende of First Pacific Advisors

As it stands today, without a combination of reducing the growth of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and/or increasing taxes, the Congressional Budget Office projects that by 2022 these three programs and interest payments alone will consume all the government’s yearly revenue. That means running a single program in any of the other federal departments would immediately create a deficit for the year. And 2022 is only eleven years away!

2011-05-24 A Sentence that Tripled Referrals by Dan Richards (Article)

This veteran advisor added a six-word sentence to his website - and saw referrals triple as a result.

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 Inflation—Which Prices Aren't Changing by Robert J. Horrocks of Matthews Asia

Inflation has been one of the big buzzwords in Asia's markets this year. Wages, interest rates and prices for commodities, assets, goods and food have all been on the rise. The problem with much of the discussion is that it treats inflation in all these areas as though they were the same—a single phenomenon that is an unqualified evil. In my view, not enough has been done to distinguish between cause and symptom. Perhaps this is because when one does try to distinguish between cause and symptom, the topic of inflation becomes much more complex.

2011-05-23 Scarcity, Usefulness, and Getting an Edge by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

While my sense is that many investors and institutions are holding a greater market exposure than is appropriate given present return/risk prospects, I should mention that there isn't a great deal of evidence that bears and short-sellers have a particular "edge" here either. Our own investment stance is defensive but also fairly neutral, and with a preference toward moderate, if transitory, positive exposure. At the point we see a greater deterioration of market internals the market environment will probably turn hostile in a more sustained way.

2011-05-23 Don't Sweat by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors

Some recent reports on the economy have been tepid and that’s likely to continue for at least a few more weeks. For example, back in early March the four-week average for initial unemployment claims hit a recovery low of 389,000; now they’re 439,000. Manufacturing production dropped the most in April for any month since the start of the recovery. Meanwhile, for May, we witnessed declines for both the Empire State index and Philly Fed index, which are measures of manufacturing activity in their regions. Both were still in positive territory but not as rapid as earlier this year.

2011-05-20 RCM China Update: Economic Indicators Signal Robust Growth by Christina Chung of Allianz Global Investors

Christina Chung—head of Chinese equities at RCM, an Allianz Global Investors company—sees few signs of a hard landing in China, as inflation concerns have likely already been discounted by the country's equity market. The latest figures show that China's GDP rose to 9.7% year-over-year in the first quarter of this year, meaning that growth was slightly higher than the market consensus of 9.4%, but slightly lower than the 9.8% in the previous quarter. For the first time in history, the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has issued a comparison with the previous quarter.

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 Plantar Fasciitis? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

In past missives I have opined that China is slowly revaluing its currency in an attempt to create more domestic demand, dampen its inflation rate, and placate U.S. leaders. To be sure, the Chinese realize in the long-run the manufacturing/export driven economic model will eventually morph to the lower cost of labor, which is quickly becoming the Vietnams of the world. Accordingly, they are following what Brazil did with its currency (the Real) a few years ago. To wit, Brazil raised interest rates and increased the value of its currency.

2011-05-17 Breakdown: Commodities Tumble … For Good? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

'When in doubt, get out' has become the mantra for commodities traders the past couple of weeks. Sentiment had become too one-sided (and may need to ease even further). Is risk-on, risk-off trading finally coming to an end, and can fundamental analysis prevail? We've written a lot about the 'risk-on, risk-off' trading environment prevalent over the past several years. Risk on is basically when investors have been feeling better about the global economy and about the markets, so they buy and embrace more risky assets. Then, when fears rise investors essentially avoid all risk—risk off.

2011-05-16 Wait For Another Cookie? by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational

The scientific community is increasingly coming to realize how central self-control is to many important life outcomes. We have always known about the impact of socioeconomic status and IQ, but these are factors that are highly resistant to interventions. In contrast, self-control may be something that we can tap into to make sweeping improvements life outcomes. If you think about the environment we live in, you will notice how it is essentially designed to challenge every grain of our self-control.

2011-05-16 Ally Financial + ING Bank? Richard Alford on Lessons Forgotten at the Greenspan/Bernanke Fed by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst

This week in The Institutional Risk Analyst we feature a comment from Dick Alford on the lessons forgotten by the Fed when it comes to financial regulation. Showing his considerate nature, Dick even uses the official histories of past crises prepared by the FDIC as the timeline to make it easier for some of our former colleagues at the Fed to follow along. But first, let's have some fun with one of the toys developed for The IRA Bank Monitor, namely our pro forma M&A analysis tool.

2011-05-14 Kicking the Can to the End of the Road by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

A crisis is brewing in the US and one is coming to a slow boil in Europe. We visit Greece and Ireland and ponder how this will end. It is all well and good to kick the can down the road, but what happens when you come to the end of the road? The European answer seems to be to haul in the heavy equipment and extend the road. In short, we are watching the biggest bubble of all time, the bubble of government debt, try to keep from popping. My bet is that it can’t. And while the ride will be bumpy, the world our kids get will be better off at the end of the process.

2011-05-13 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

The following topics are addressed: Social Security goes paperless; the Forbes list of largest companies; overdraft fees paid by depositors; taxes paid by top earners; valuations of Treasury bonds; and others.

2011-05-11 UK Country Risk: Is Lloyd's of London Too Big to Sue? by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst

Last month an American investor named Richard Tropp filed a writ of certiorari with the US Supreme Court to review a decision by the Second Circuit in New York regarding an epic litigation against the Lloyds of London insurance market. To us, the case of Tropp v. the Corporation of Lloyds is troubling not only because it implies that thousands of investors in the Lloyd's insurance market have no contractual rights enforceable at law in the courts of England and Wales, but also because of what it says more broadly about the state of the law in Britain.

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.

2011-05-09 The Menu by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

One of the ways investors can think about prospective return and risk is from the standpoint of the Capital Market Line, which lays out a menu of investment possibilities at various levels of return and risk. In theory, investors like to believe that this menu is always a nice, positively sloped line, where greater risk is associated with greater prospective return. And somehow, regardless of where market valuations are, investors often seem to believe that 10% is 'about right' for the prospective return on stocks. As it happens, valuations exert an enormous effect on the prospective returns

2011-05-09 Inflation Threat? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Any serious discussion of inflation today must separate short- from longer-term prospects. For the short run, the risks of a generalized inflation remain small, recent increases in commodity prices notwithstanding. For the longer run, the risks rise. Perhaps recent commodity price hikes anticipate this longer-term potential, though there are other explanations. But whatever the specifics, the fundamental risks lie almost entirely with policy in Washington, that is, how the Fed treats the excess liquidity in markets today and how the federal government deals with its huge budget deficits.

2011-05-07 Muddle Through, or Crisis? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week I finish the two-part letter on the Endgame and give you my thoughts on the economy over the next five years. This is the second part of a speech I gave last week at the Strategic Investment Conference in La Jolla. It is a rather bold forecast, and fraught with peril and likely errors, but that is my job here. I must offer one large caveat! If the facts change so will my forecast, but this is the view into my very cloudy crystal ball as I see it today. As always, remember that those of us in the forecasting world are often wrong but seldom in doubt. Read accordingly.

2011-05-03 The Caine Mutiny (Part 2) by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Low policy rates and the increasing negative real yields that they engender as inflation accelerates represent an immediate threat to investment portfolios. Bond prices dont necessarily have to go down for savers to get skunked during a process of debt liquidation. PIMCO advocates a renewed vigilance, stressing bond market alternatives available globally, including developing/emerging market debt at higher yields denominated in non-dollar currencies.

2011-05-03 The Tension between Belief and Permission by Justin Locke (Article)

It's advice we all get often, but what does it mean to 'believe in yourself?' Such rhetoric sounds great on the surface, but whenever I hear that expression I cringe.

2011-05-03 Bernankes World And Ours Too by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

There were no fireworks at Bernankes first post-FOMC press briefing. All five Fed governors and 12 district bank presidents contributed revised forecasts of growth, unemployment, and inflation last week. The central tendency forecasts exclude the three highest and three lowest projections. Fed officials lowered their outlook for GDP growth this year, reflecting a slower than anticipated rate of growth in the first quarter. Unemployment is expected to decline gradually. Inflation will be higher this year, but the Fed continues to expect that commodity price pressures will be transitory.

2011-05-02 Extreme Conditions and Typical Outcomes by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

As of Friday, the S&P 500 has advanced to a point where it is either within 0.1% or fully through its top Bollinger band on virtually every horizon. We can define an "overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yields syndrome" a number of ways. The more general the criteria, the better you capture historical instances that preceded abrupt market weakness, but the more you also encounter "false positives." Still, as long as the criteria capture the syndrome, we find that the average risk profile for subsequent market performance is negative, regardless of the subset of history you inspect.

2011-05-02 Global Market Commentary by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

As we have been saying for some time, U.S. economic growth is stuck in the slow lane.We have seen a serious slide in the American standard of living over the past three years, since the beginning of the recession.The slide can be measured in many ways.Food stamps recipients have increased by 48 percent and the cost of the program ballooned by 80 percent.Medicaid recipients are up 17 percent and programcosts are up36 percent.Welfare recipients are up 18 percent, and program costs up24 percent. That isnt the kind of growth thats good for any economy!

2011-04-29 Bernanke Falls Flat by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Despite loud huzzahs from a variety of boosters who proclaimed that Chairman Bernanke spoke with gravitas and wisdom at the first ever Federal Reserve press conference, the wider investing public clearly saw the performance as unconvincing. During and immediately after the proceedings the prices of gold and silver rose strongly to new highs as the U.S. dollar plummeted. The affair seemed to solidify the understanding that Bernanke and his cohorts have no intention whatsoever to reverse the current trend of inflation and a weakening dollar.

2011-04-27 How To Solve The Deficit Problem In the U.S. by Ronald W. Roge of R.W. Roge

Following the release of the Republican budget proposal, President Obamas subsequent response and the recent downgrading by S&P, I thought I would share some thoughts on the Federal budget. Before expressing my recommendations, you need to know that I really dont like politics which lately has not produced very good policy or politicians, who seem primarily focused on getting reelected. At the end of the day, much of the business in Washington doesnt seem to be about what's good for the country. So, that said, here are a few suggestions I believe could get us moving in the right direction.

2011-04-26 No Child Left Behind... Until They Are Teenagers, At Least by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

News of a potential downgrade to the US credit rating caused a sudden sell off in the equity markets, but positive earnings reports led to a rebound. By the end of the week, the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average both closed higher by 1.3%. S&P took the unusual step of placing the US on credit watch negative, indicating that there is now a 1-in-3 chance of an outright downgrade to the US credit rating in the next two years. The announcement by S&P resulted in a severe equity market sell off on Monday morning before investors remembered S&P’s previous track record.

2011-04-22 The USA Gets Downgraded – Almost by Mark Oelschlager of Oak Associates

This week S&P lowered the outlook for US Treasury debt from stable to negative. This technically is not a ratings downgrade, but the reduced outlook is a warning and can lead to a downgrade. The reason S&P took this action is simple: the agency is concerned about the large federal budget deficit, mounting debt, and the inability of the government to do anything about it. The last point is key. If S&P sensed a resolve to rectify the problem, it likely would not have changed the rating. But, noting the wide gap between Democrats and Republicans on the issue, it expressed concern.

2011-04-19 Managing Exposure to Extreme Markets by Geoff Considine (Article)

Volatility in the equity markets has subsided, courtesy of a strong bull market and fading memories of the 2008 financial crisis. Risks remain, however, ranging from the turmoil in northern Africa to sovereign debt instability in Europe. Investors can take advantage of the complacency in the equity markets by purchasing inexpensive insurance against adverse events.

2011-04-19 Higher Energy Prices Continue to Constrain Market Gain by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

It has been a while since we have experienced two consecutive weeks without market gains. Given recent higher energy prices and some softening of economic data, however, that now has indeed come to pass. Over the last several weeks, expectations for first-quarter economic growth have been ratcheted down. Several areas of the economy have been pointing to slowing growth, including a softening of business spending on equipment and software, a slower-than-expected rise in inventories, weakening trade data and contracting construction activity for both the residential and nonresidential sectors.

2011-04-19 Inflation Destroys Real Wages by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

In the same vein as medieval physicians believed bloodletting would cure illness, modern snake-oil economists still perilously cling to their claim that rising wages and salaries are the cause of inflation. With my recent debates with these mainstream economists, I’ve heard the following: “without rising wages, where does the money come from to push prices higher?” I was tempted to respond, “where do the employers get the money to pay those higher wages?” But economists tend to get a little nasty when you make them feel stupid.

2011-04-19 Developed Asia Pacific: Economic Review March 2011 by Team of Thomas White International

During March, most developed Asian economies faced headwinds to export growth. Continued efforts to tighten credit in China, inflationary pressures and strengthening currencies were some of the factors affecting export growth across many developed Asian economies. However, a devastating earthquake that struck Japan in early March disrupted supply chains across Asia. Japan, which accounts for 9 percent of the worlds GDP, plays a crucial role in the functioning of the global auto and electronics industry. It is estimated that Japan will require another 2-4 quarters to recoup the losses suffered.

2011-04-19 Americas: Economic Review March 2011 by Team of Thomas White International

The economic repercussions to the Americas region from Japan's earthquake are expected to be limited. Though Japan is a large trading partner the percentage share of Japan in their total external trade is low. However, some of the large manufacturers, especially in electronics and automobiles, may face slower output because of shortage in supplies from Japan. Similarly, the escalation of political unrest in the MENA region, have not yet caused a flare up in energy prices. Though retail prices of gasoline have risen, they are not considered high enough to cause damage to consumer spending.

2011-04-19 Does Unreal GDP Drive Our Policy Choices? by Robert Arnott of Research Affiliates

Gross Domestic Product is used to measure a country's economic growth and standard of living. It measures neither. Unfortunately, the finance community and global centers of power are wedded to a measure that bears little relation to reality, because it confuses prosperity with debt-fueled spending. Washington is paralyzed by fears that any withdrawal of stimulus, whether fiscal or monetary, whether by the Administration, the Fed, or the Congress, may clobber our GDP. And they're right. But, GDP is the wrong measure.

2011-04-19 Standard & Poor’s Downgrade Outlook on US Sovereign Debt – Initial Reflections by Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

S&Ps changed in its outlook on US debt to negative but reaffirmed the AAA rating of the nation's debt. Todays market response to this action includes equity prices viewing this in negative light. The markets response is not entirely consistent with a downgrading of sovereign debt because the decline in rating implies that the financial situation of the federal government is less secure and there are doubts creeping in about the federal governments ability to meet its debt obligations. If this was the case, the dollar should have declined and Treasury security yields should have risen.

2011-04-18 Late to The Party…Once Again by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The only thing more ridiculous then S&P’s downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt was the market’s severe reaction to the announcement. Has S&P really added anything to the debate that wasn’t already widely known? In any event, S&P’s statement amounts to a wakeup call to anyone who has somehow managed to sleepwalk through the unprecedented debt explosion of the last few years. Given S&P’s concerns that Congress will fail to address its fiscal problems, on what basis can it conclude that the U.S. deserves its AAA credit rating? If S&P has genuine concerns, the AAA rating should be reduced now.

2011-04-15 Not all Bonds are Created Equal by Dan Fuss, Kathleen Gaffney, Matthew Eagan & Elaine Stokes of Loomis Sayles

It has become the question of the day: If interest rates are heading higher, shouldn’t I bail out of bonds altogether? While we anticipate rates will rise, we don’t believe abandoning bonds would be prudent for most investors. Bonds can play an important role in investor portfolios by providing income potential plus diversification. In this piece, we describe why we think rates may be biased higher in coming years and how our portfolio strategies may adjust to the new environment.

2011-04-13 Finding the Energy to Succeed by Christopher J. Singleton of Kanawha Capital Management

In early March, the bull market marked its second anniversary. Stocks have rebounded from their lows of 2009, but not without some big gyrations along the way. Last spring, the rebound was briefly yet violently interrupted by fears of an economic reversal. This year we have also experienced some volatility, although the catalysts are different. The pullback in 2010 stemmed from concerns about job growth and the European debt crisis. Those fears have largely been supplanted by others. Today, the speed bump relates to the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East and the surge in oil prices.

2011-04-12 The Symptoms of Nuclear Hysteria by John Downs of Euro Pacific Capital

Imagine you invented a machine that revolutionized travel. Your invention could cut travel time and improve the ability for business to deliver freight efficiently. The invention would add trillions to global GDP. If released, it would be universally used and admired. However, based on the safety assessments, analysts predict that if used your invention would cause the deaths of 300,000 Americans per year and countless more around the globe. Would you still release it? If not, imagine a world without cars. Now, the bigger question: why isn't this same measure used when judging nuclear energy?

2011-04-12 Private Mortgage Insurance Endgame by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst

In this issue of The Institutional Risk Analyst we feature a comment on the XBRL pilot program at the Securities and Exchange Commission by Daniel Roberts CEO of raas-XBRL. First let's focus briefly on some related technical developments at the IRA HQ in Torrance, CA. Both of these data points directly impact investors, regulators and other consumers of financial data. And we feature a reader comment on the endgame of the private mortgage insurers at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, namely stuff the taxpayer.

2011-04-08 Anchors Away? by Richard Clarida of PIMCO

Public expectations of future inflation are an important determinant of actual inflation. We really don’t know if longer-term inflation expectations are well anchored. We just know they tend to adjust slowly to actual inflation. The substantial economic costs of bringing down high inflation are largely due to the need to bring down inflation expectations. Most central banks that recently enacted unconventional monetary policies are seeking to exit from them.

2011-04-08 Financial markets don’t worry about government shutdowns — It’s when they come back we worry! by Colin Moore of Columbia Management

We examine the implications for the broad economy, financial markets and state and local budgets of a federal government shutdown. The probability of a “shutdown” this weekend is growing. There appears to have been little real progress in negotiations over the last few days. If anything, the debate about the current crisis has ballooned into an even greater battle about the size of and role of government. It is relatively easy to agree on a target $33 billion or $40 billion of expenditure cuts, it is MUCH more difficult to identify exactly which programs should be cut to meet that target.

2011-04-08 Near-term Outlook For A Troubled World by Victoria Marklew, Richard Thies and James Pressler of Northern Trust

Although 2011 is only three months old, the world has changed dramatically. Along with the evolving European debt crisis, seemingly -isolated Tunisian protests grew to varying levels of upheaval throughout the Arab world, and an historic earthquake and subsequent tsunami have left Japan’s outlook under a cloud of uncertainty. Each of these situations is significant in its scope and magnitude, but by focusing on just the key elements, the main risks can be appreciated.

2011-04-06 Sell in April and Go Away? by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Heading into April 2011, we thought it timely to hoist up for consideration a point in stock market lore that says sell in May and go away. According to the Stock Traders Almanac, the market has been strongest over the years from November 1 to April 30. That stretch of time has seen average returns of 9.2 percent from the Dow Jones Industrial Index since 1950 compared to an average loss of 1.2 percent from May through October. By this standard, the current surge in the markets that took off at the beginning of September 2010 is a good bit ahead of schedule.

2011-04-05 A Close Look at the PIMCO-Met Life Retirement Strategy A Marriage Made in Investment Heaven? by Michael Edesess (Article)

If you embrace their recently announced co-marketing strategy, when you're relatively young you use PIMCO's Real Income Funds for stable income in the near term. When you're older Met Life's Longevity Income Guarantee kicks in and takes it from there. You're set with secure income for life. We examine these products more closely and analyze whether they are good deals, either separately or together.

2011-04-05 Is Alpha Dead? by Andreas Steiner (Article)

While beta has been declared dead several times in the past, alpha is a survivor. My diagnosis is that alpha, however, is in very critical condition itself, even under the most optimistic interpretation. A more realistic assessment is that alpha is dead.

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.

2011-04-04 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.

2011-04-04 The Revolving Door at the Fed of New York; Dick Alford on False Dichotomies in Monetary Policy by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst

This week in The Institutional Risk Analyst, we feature a comment by Richard Alford on the false dicotomy between discretionary and rules-based regimes when it comes to monetary policy. But first we want to do a little review of the latest disgorgement of documents by the Fed. Listening to the debate between the "borrow and spend" camp led by Paul Krugman et al and the cut the deficit camp led by the Tea Partiers in Congress and around the nation, we are reminded again of the film "The Matrix" and its predecessors.

2011-04-01 And That’s The Week That Was … by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

New quarter…renewed optimism…ongoing challenges.  The second quarter 2011 kicked off with promising news on the labor front as more private sector hires and a lower jobless rate confirmed that employers have enough confidence to begin adding to the payroll.  While the favorable outlook has long been apparent in the corporate boardrooms, the labor market had remained a big concern, leading consumers to hold off on major purchases.  Since November 2010, however, the unemployment rate has dropped by a full percentage point, a trend that speaks nicely to the recovering economy as a whole. 

2011-03-30 A special visit to Tokyo by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

Japan is recovering from the horrible calamities, but doing so in the midst of enormous challenges and high uncertainty.

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 Change Isn't So Hard by Justin Locke (Article)

Change always encounters resistance. While our natural instinct may be to fight back against that resistance, I have found that a better path is to lessen the original resistance, rather than trying to surmount it.

2011-03-29 American Consumer Sputtering in Q1 by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The U.S. consumer spending and income report for February was a bit of a mixed bag. First, personal income in the U.S. did eke out a 0.3% MoM gain in February, but it was below expected and failed to keep up with the rise in inflation, which are largely, but not exclusively, being driven by food and fuel prices (accounting for half the increase). The personal consumption expenditure (PCE) price deflator rose 0.4% MoM and as such real income - straight up, net of taxes and excluding personal transfers - fell 0.1% in the first contraction since last September.

2011-03-28 The Profit Boom is Over by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

A seven-quarter run of positive profit growth ― six were double-digits ― came to an end in the fourth quarter as pre-tax corporate profits in the U.S.A. sagged at a 10% annual rate (looking at corporate earnings before tax without inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments). That was the first decline since the fourth quarter of 2008. The YoY growth rate is still healthy at +16% but off the boil, that is for sure.

2011-03-25 Bullish Sentiment Entrenched by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

A mini corrective phase in the equity market came and went. Investors have been groomed to buy the dip this cycle, and this is not just a mere observation. The flare-up in the Middle East, the tragic nuclear disaster in Japan, and not even a recent slate of poor U.S. economic data have put much of a dent in what is still an extremely positive sentiment readings. Bob Farrell’s Rule 9 seems to be facing a stiff headwind from the Fed’s overt policy stance on lifting valuation levels for risk assets. The bulls are fully in control and can now see new highs in sight for the major averages.

2011-03-25 Unrest and Turmoil = Rising Oil Prices by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Nine of the eleven nations sharing land or water borders with Saudi Arabia (SA0 have had demonstrations. Trouble is likely to surface in SA because much of the country’s wealth is located under lands where Shia Muslims are in the majority. The ruling House of Saud is Sunni Muslim. The distrust and bad blood between the two sects predates oil discovery and is not likely to be solved with oil money. The political events are about freedom from repression but also represent a basic struggle between these two Muslim groups for control of revenues from the huge oil fields in that part of the world.

2011-03-25 To QE or Not to QE? That is the Question by Paul Kasriel and Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

Historically, % changes in MFI credit "explain" a large proportion changes in nominal GDP. Commercial bank credit accounts for the largest component of private MFI credit. Since the FOMC commenced its second round of easing in early November 2010, the increase in Federal Reserve and commercial bank credit has been dominated by the increases in Federal Reserve credit. If the FOMC terminates its easing policy in June and private MFI credit creation does not pick up, total MFI credit growth will slow. All else the same, this would augur poorly for nominal GDP growth in the second half of 2011.

2011-03-24 Shiller P/E Still Points to Extreme Overvalution by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

One of our favourite equity valuation metrics, the Shiller Cyclically Adjusted P/E ratio, continues to suggest that the equity market remains overvalued (the cyclically-adjusted P/E uses 10-year earnings to smooth out volatility). At 23.7x, it suggests an overvaluation of over 40% relative to historic norms (and in this case the data goes back to the late 1800s). Note that this indicator has been over 23x for three months in a row, something we haven’t seen since early 2008.

2011-03-24 Understanding Japan’s Disasters by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

Japan’s reconstruction challenge will likely be more difficult than after the Kobe earthquake. Negative wealth and income effects this time around will be more severe, and the recovery process will probably take longer and be more complex. Japan's disasters will add to the global economy’s headwinds.

2011-03-23 As The World Turns by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

Japan’s earthquake/tsunami/nuclear tragedy and heightened tensions in the Middle East and North Africa have led to some concerns about the global economy, and in turn, the strength of the U.S. recovery. A weaker Japanese economy and supply-chain disruptions are detrimental to U.S. growth, but moderately and only short-term in nature. Developments in the Middle East and North Africa are more uncertain, but are likely to keep oil prices relatively elevated. None of this is expected to jeopardize the U.S. recovery, but it could keep growth from being as strong as was hoped for just a month ago.

2011-03-23 The Insidious Effects of Japan's Disaster by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

While the world’s attention has been focused on the physical destruction wrought by the Japanese earthquake, the attempts to contain the fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, and the problems that Japan faces to rebuild its infrastructure, few have illustrated how long-lasting the radiation's effects may be. There has also been little mention of how large radiological events could impact economies of countries outside the immediate fallout zone. In reality, the disaster could make as much of an impact on investors in New York, London, or Sao Paolo as it makes on an investor in Tokyo.

2011-03-22 What Investors Should Fear in the Permanent Portfolio by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

Over the last decade, the assets of the fund PRPFX have swelled from $50 million to more than $10 billion. The concept underlying that fund, Harry Browne's Permanent Portfolio (PP), has rewarded PRPFX investors with attractive risk-adjusted returns. Those investors, however, may want to rethink their exposure - especially if PRPFX is the core of a retirement-oriented strategy.

2011-03-22 Emerging from Developed Profit Pools by Gregory A. Nejmeh of HS Management Partners

Much has been debated about the anticipated growth of the emerging markets and the tectonic shifts in political, economic and military force that such changes may yield. While the implications are significant, we are also mindful that economic activity in developed markets not only make them worthy of investor attention, but provide the stability of cash flows that will facilitate multinationals ability to invest in developing markets. We take a holistic perspective and appreciate the size and scope of developed market profit pools as a means of self funding developing economic participation

2011-03-21 Equity Market Bounce-Back -- Don't get Too Excited by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Between the put-to-call ratio and the 40% share of stocks trading below their 50-day moving average, the U.S. stock market became hugely oversold. Plus we had the skew from the quadruple-witching session. And the cease-fire announced in Libya and the FX intervention to reverse the yen’s strength provided some fodder for the shorts to cover. But trend lines have been broken, portfolio managers have little cash to work, and according to a ML-BAC survey, we had a net 67% of global portfolio managers overweight equities against their position. Plus, the world is still a very uncertain place.

2011-03-21 World Near Tipping Point? by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

Much of the potency of policy responses has been used up in the successful efforts since 2008 to avoid global depression. The longer the persistence of supply disruptions, the greater the risk of core inflation increasing. Questions about the end of quantitative easing in the U.S. pose a challenge for policymakers.

2011-03-19 Japan: An Update by Joshua Demasi of Loomis Sayles

Globally, the crisis could lead to higher food and energy prices: Japan will not be contributing to the global food supply, its oil imports have been increasing, and a shift from nuclear energy to gas and other sources is plausible. We believe that in isolation, the turmoil in Japan will have a negligible impact on global GDP; however, if oil prices and unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa were to accelerate markedly, the confluence of events could hamper global economic recovery.

2011-03-18 The Southern Classic IRC, A Reason for Ben Graham to Smile & Can Share Prices Diverge from Value? by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

The belief that share prices can at times diverge from underlying business value is the driving force behind security analysis as practiced by active investment managers. My example is not to lay out a case to buy or sell shares of IBM. Instead, it is to look at the value the market has placed on IBM over many years and let you decide if the price has diverged from the value of IBM as a business. To be fair, and to honor the many professional investors and students of investing who do not believe in active management, I at least need to give you their beliefs.

2011-03-18 What Inflation Means to You: Inside the Consumer Price Index by Doug Short of Doug Short

The Fed justified the current round of quantitative easing "to promote a stronger pace of economic recovery" The Fed is trying to increase inflation, operating at the macro level. But what does an increase in inflation mean at the micro level, specifically to your household? Let's do some analysis of the Consumer Price Index, the best known measure of inflation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics divides all expenditures into eight categories and assigns a relative size to each. The pie chart below illustrates the components of the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers.

2011-03-18 Quake Response Puts Yen on the Line by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

One of the immediate financial consequences of the catastrophic Japanese earthquake is that Japan needs to call on its huge cache of foreign exchange reserves to rebuild its shattered infrastructure. To pay for domestic projects, Japan will require yen – not dollars, euros or Swiss francs. In order to maintain Japan’s position as a net-exporter of manufactured goods and net-buyer of US debt, the yen needs to stay down. So, the G-7 group of the world’s leading economies has intervened in the foreign exchange market by selling yen holdings, thereby pushing the currency down.

2011-03-17 Madoff Was Right About One Thing by Bill Mann of Motley Fool

This past week, a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) panel ordered broker Morgan Keegan to repay $250,000 to a client whose entire investment account had been invested in Madoff's fund. That's nice. I expect there will be several more judgments and restitutions paid in the future, none of which will actually cause a change in behavior on Wall Street. Regulators failed to catch Madoff even when the evidence was dangled in front of them, and they've since failed to enact meaningful reform for how Wall Street operates.

2011-03-17 Japanese Fallout May Hit Treasuries by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

As the fourth largest economy in the world, behind the EU, US, and China, any major setback in Japan likely will have widespread repercussions. Japan is also the third largest holder of US Treasuries, behind the United States and China. While it is too early even to assess the Japanese damage accurately – let alone to forecast the full implications – it is possible to see the potential for a meltdown of the US Treasury market and international monetary system. Current estimates hold that the Japanese disaster has already lowered world economic growth by a full percentage point for the year.

2011-03-16 Special Update—A Word on Japan by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

No one pretends to know what the immediate future holds, not even Japan’s nuclear engineers. Fear that has caused a general sell-off in markets. The huge uncertainty has raised risk premiums and sent investors for a time in the direction of safe havens, such as government bonds though Europe's particular problems compound the uncertainty about European sovereigns in this regard. The weight of uncertainty has fallen hardest on stocks connected to the nuclear industry. There is a need for investors to look beyond the immediate emergency to at least seven basic points:

2011-03-15 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Last week’s financial markets reflected the uncertain outcome of the various mid-east conflicts, as well as the horrific news from Japan that an earthquake of unimaginable intensity has rocked that country, both of which have global economic implications. Overall, the stock market was calm. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell just one percent while the NASDAQ Composite dropped 2.5% as fears of slower growth were compounded late in the week by news of the earthquake in Japan, which is home to many technology supply-parts manufacturers.

2011-03-15 U.S. Government: Evermore Reliant on Foreign Investors by Kieran Osborne of Merk Funds

Despite the Fed recently surpassing China as the largest owner of U.S. government debt, the U.S. remains heavily reliant on foreigners to fund the government’s ongoing fiscal largess. Geithner’s Treasury Department has firmly focused new issues at the mid to longer end of the yield curve. Despite the Treasury taking advantage of the ultra-low interest rate and funding environment, there are substantial refinancing issues over the near term; moreover, many of these maturing issues are foreign owned.

2011-03-14 An Uneven Global Recovery - Lingering Effects of the Credit Crisis by Bill Hester of Hussman Funds

The health of the global recovery depends on which country it is viewed from. When compared to the decade ending in 2007, a majority of developed countries are growing more slowly, have higher rates of unemployment, and have higher levels of inflation. There are exceptions. Notably, Germany is growing at twice its long-term average, with very low relative levels of unemployment. Stock market investors are showing growing sensitivity to differences in macro-economic risks. These may soon be further aggravated by monetary policies from the major central banks that are about to diverge noticeably

2011-03-14 Japan Will Recover by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

Japan has the ability to recover economically from these horrible natural disasters. Japan’s immediate focus is on the enormous human suffering, and rightly so. Attention also turns towards the extent of the damage to the economy and its reconstruction and rehabilitation plans. The good health of Japan is central to a robust global economy that generates lots of jobs and enhances productivity.

2011-03-11 Asia Pacific: Economic Review February 2011 by Team of Thomas White International

Asian economies recorded some of their best performance for the full year 2010. In particular, Southeast Asian nations witnessed a banner year, clocking their best performance in recent memory. However, although the full year record was exemplary, growth in the final months of 2010 began to cool off. While a rising currency continued to trouble export-based economies, inflation haunted almost all central banks in the region. Central banks, having to choose between raising interest rates and attracting foreign capital, opted to hike rates.

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.

2011-03-07 Quantitative Easing and the Iron Law of Equilibrium by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

If you think about equilibrium, it helps to clear up all sorts of fallacies that people hold about the financial markets. For example, the currency and money market securities that are held by investors will - in aggregate - never "find a home" in any other form or market. If one takes their cash and tries to buy stock, they get the stock and the seller gets the cash. Nothing disappears, and nothing is created. The money-market securities held by investors is not a reflection of "liquidity looking for a home," but is a measure of how borrowers are on short-term sources of credit.

2011-03-02 Two-Bits, Four-Bits, Six-Bits, a Dollar by Bill Gross of PIMCO

A successful handoff from public to private credit creation has yet to be accomplished, and it is that handoff that ultimately will determine the outlook for real growth and stability. Because quantitative easing has affected all risk spreads, the withdrawal of nearly $1.5 trillion in annualized check writing may have dramatic consequences. Who will buy Treasuries when the Fed doesn’t? The question really is at what yield, and what are the price repercussions if the adjustments are significant.

2011-03-01 Understanding Variable Annuities with GMWBs by Robert Huebscher (Article)

It's very tempting: a variable annuity with minimum lifetime payout that can increase - but never decrease - based on market performance. That temptation comes in the form of an increasingly popular variable annuity rider known as a guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefit. We explain the flaws in a widely publicized study by Morningstar/Ibbotson, and provide our own analysis of the product.

2011-03-01 Spring Cleaning for Your Website by Kristen Luke (Article)

Despite the time, thought and energy you spend building your web site, it’s too easy to forget about it and neglect it. It is time for a spring cleaning. Here are seven tips to spruce things up.

2011-03-01 The Real Flaws – A response to 'Understanding Variable Annuities with GMWBs' by Peng Chen (Article)

Peng Chen challenges our analysis of variable annuities with guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefits.

2011-03-01 The Absolute Return Letter by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners

Two remarkable events unfolded during the month of February. One cleared the front pages all over the world. The other one barely got a mention - outside of its home country that is. Both have the ability to derail the economic recovery currently unfolding. The first one is not surprisingly the uprising in the Middle East and North Africa. The other one is perhaps less obvious; we are referring to the Irish elections. We take a closer look at both of those events and what the implications may be for financial markets.

2011-02-28 Oil that is by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

“Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea,” Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen) got rich in the hit series The Beverly Hillbillies by discovering oil on his property. Similarly, investors have become enriched recently by owning oil stocks. Verily, crude oil has surged from ~$84 per barrel in mid-February into last week’s peak of $103.41 with an ascent for most oil stocks. As stated in Friday’s verbal strategy comments, “Libya is particularly troubling because I think there is a fifty-fifty chance that Gaddafi, rather than cede power, will begin blowing up Libyan oil pipelines – it’s either me or chaos.”

2011-02-25 And That's The Week That Was… by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

First Tunisia was stricken with political unrest and investors barely noticed. Then Egypt suffered through a revolution which initiated a change in leadership, and the markets offered a collective yawn. Now Libya faces mass protests and traders are on edge. So what’s different in this case? One word…OIL. Libya is the first major oil producing state to encounter the violent turmoil that threatens a major shift in power. It produces 1.6 million barrels of oil a day and crude prices surged in the immediate aftermath of the revolution on fears of a production slowdown.

2011-02-24 The Secular Case for Convertible Securities by David King of Columbia Management

The most common question from potential investors in convertible mutual funds goes something like this: “Is now a good time to get into convertibles?” The question is sincere and seems very relevant. The usual answer is: “It’s a pretty good time.” In the end, the usual result of this usual exchange is that most investors think about convertibles for a moment, and take no action. Behind any timing question about convertibles is the assumption that equities and traditional fixed­ income instruments are the core of a good portfolio and everything else is alternative.

2011-02-24 Arab Autocracies and US Inflation by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

Civil revolt is currently spreading across the Arab world. What began in Tunisia has now metastasized into Bahrain, Egypt and Libya. Though two dictators have been ousted, the chances that these regimes will fundamentally transform from autocracy to a system of free markets and property rights are also up in the air. There are many unknowns, but what is known is that the turmoil has had an immediate and significant impact on the price of oil. It is also evident that global consumers continue to get pummeled by rising food and energy prices.

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.

2011-02-21 Inflation or Deflation? Or is it Global Weimar? by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

As we've noted in recent missives for The IRA Advisory Service, the visible volume of business flowing through the bank consumer channel seems to be receding or maintaining low levels. The commercial channel at most banks we hear from is still running at 1/3 to 1/2 of pre-2008 levels in terms of new originations and demand for credit. This is why when clients ask us about whether we worry more about inflation or deflation, our answer is "both." The chief worry bead remains revenue flowing through banks, housing and the US economy.

2011-02-20 December 2010 Semi-Annual Report by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

For the third time in a decade, the Federal Reserve has embarked on a policy that addresses structural economic problems by provoking speculation in asset prices. The first two attempts were ultimately followed by stock market declines greater than 50% each. As we enter 2011, the stock market remains in what we view as an already strenuously overvalued advance, which has driven our estimates for S&P 500 Index total returns to less than 3.2% annually over the coming decade. My expectation is that this attempt to create “illusory prosperity” will end no better than it has in the past.

2011-02-15 David Laibson on the Hidden Challenges of Aging Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

In this interview, Harvard economist David Laibson discusses his research into the challenges of helping elderly clients with their financial planning. He also discusses how to overcome the procrastination and laziness that often result in inferior investment decisions. This is a transcript of the interview.

2011-02-14 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

While many are transfixed by the chaos and confusion in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen, it is important to recognize that such unrest is not uniquely Middle Eastern, nor is it caused specifically by unruly despots. Indeed, the root cause of social upheaval usually lies in the breakdown of social institutions whose function is to provide, or create, fairness and opportunity amongst the citizenry.

2011-02-14 Tipping Point by Michael Dana of Dana Investment Advisors

The current unrest in Egypt actually began in Tunisia and the tipping point there was when a young man immolated himself over government harassment over a business permit. Trouble had been fomenting in the streets, but this was the tipping point that escalated the turmoil that spread to Egypt and could ensnare Jordon, Syria and even Saudi Arabia. This almost certainly will turn into a different state that will have ramifications well beyond the Middle East. These are exciting times and the world faces many tipping points that will change many established paradigms.

2011-02-13 Rich Valuations and Poor Market Returns by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

At present, my view on monetary policy is that the inflation outlook following the completion of QE2 will be quite unstable, because small changes in interest rates are likely to induce very large changes in the willingness of individuals to hold base money. Any external upward pressure on interest rates beyond a fraction of a percent will have to be rapidly offset by a large reduction in the outstanding monetary base in order to avoid a deterioration in the value of money relative to goods and services (i.e. inflation).

2011-02-12 The Future of Public Debt by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Mauldin looks at an important paper from the Bank of International Settlements on “The Future of Public Debt.” While the debt supercycle is still growing on the back of increasing government debt, there is an end to that process, and we are fast approaching it. Drastic measures are necessary to check the rapid growth of current and future liabilities of governments and reduce their adverse consequences for long-term growth and monetary stability. This leads the BIS to conclude that the question is when markets will start putting pressure on governments, not if.

2011-02-10 Inflation: Say Goodbye to Buying Power by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Economy watchers see its growing presence in official government statistics. Yet you won’t hear government officials admitting it. It’s too politically unpleasant — and threatening — to do so. Official spin and fantasy aside, the reality is that inflation is here and here to stay for quite a while. That means the buying power of the dollar is declining and being experienced on a daily basis.

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 Be a Problem Setter, not a Problem Solver by Justin Locke (Article)

It's not a good idea to solve every problem. Sometimes, as my experience as a professional musician illustrates, it's better to just make sure everyone knows what the problem is that you want solved.

2011-02-08 Muni Market Bargains? A Closer Look at Municipal Debt, Deficits and Pensions by Christian Stracke and Joseph A. Narens of PIMCO

Although real, pension problems will not lead to an immediate debt crisis this year or the next five years. A default by Detroit, for example, would not precipitate bankruptcy filings by large cities across the nation. The municipal market will continue to migrate from being a low-risk asset class to a credit asset class.

2011-02-07 Misquoting Keynes by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

The famous quote attributed to John Maynard Keynes - "the market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent" - is a favorite of speculators here. Actually, I very much agree with this observation, provided that it is correctly understood. Solvency is always a function of debt, and it's extremely important for investors to recognize that when you take investment positions by borrowing on margin, you'd better use stop-losses, because the debt obligation stays intact even if the investment values decline.

2011-02-03 Regime Change: A Global Domino Effect? by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

We are bullish for commodities, stock markets, and for income-earning real estate. It will be most felt in those countries where governments are stable and democratic. For stock investments throughout the world, we base our recommendations on careful study of individual companies and industries, always keeping in mind that companies and sectors are at differing stages of growth. We recommend continuing to hold shares of growing companies in Canada, South Korea, and the U.S. We favor technology, metals, auto and auto-related, agriculture-related, and energy, including oil and coal.

2011-02-03 Feb 2011 Absolute Return Letter by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners

We celebrate the Chinese New Year - the year of the rabbit - by taking a closer look at what is now the second largest economy in the world. We embrace the longer-term opportunities which present themselves, but we also discuss some of the near term challenges, which include uncomfortably high inflation combined with surprisingly weak economic growth towards the end of 2010. Enjoy the read!

2011-02-01 Stop Using Outlook for Email Marketing by Kristen Luke (Article)

Unfortunately, many advisors confuse the ability to send hundreds of emails through Outlook with conventional email marketing. Advisors who do this don't know that they are putting themselves at risk of violating the federal CAN SPAM laws.

2011-02-01 Rubbing One's Smell on the Project by Justin Locke (Article)

When you give clients advice, sometimes they ignore it. Though vexing, it is an important reminder that you are their financial advisor and not their financial commander.

2011-02-01 Investors, Zombie Banks and the Valuation Gap by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

Until the US government summons the courage to impose the same discipline on Bank of America, JPM and the other zombie money center banks as was applied to Western United and First Community banks, there will be no recovery in the US economy or in the housing sector -- nor in the political currency of Washington politicians. Credibility is ultimately the biggest valuation gap of all. Barack Obama's shortfall when it comes to public policy regarding the economy and financial institutions is a mile wide.

2011-02-01 Into the Great Wide Open by Whitney George of The Royce Funds

Overall, our outlook is fairly positive. Corrections in the 10% or greater range should create opportunities for us on a global scale. We think that returns will remain positive and that volatility will remain a presence which we seek to use to our advantage in the months and years ahead.

2011-02-01 Fourth Quarter Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital Management

In spite of Bernanke’s objective to put a floor on asset prices, including equities, we remain conservatively positioned. Equity and credit markets appear overvalued. In addition, with the U.S. and most developed-market economies significantly more leveraged than in the last 50 years, economic growth will likely be more volatile. Further, many potential exogenous forces could negatively influence public markets: over-leveraged municipalities, the PIIGS, and continued issues in the US housing market to name a few. Finally, there is no evidence that monetary policy can create real growth.

2011-01-31 Egypt: Standing in the Middle of Nowhere and Everywhere by Douglas Clark Johnson of Codexa Capital

We’ll likely recommend Egyptian equities once the current uncertainty diminishes. However skittish the political backdrop, Egypt should be a mainstay of a well structured emerging-market allocation. We see little prospect of regressive economic-policy implementation down the road. Our view might be different if current protests shift to an Islamist-led revolt, but so far that does not seem to be happening. We’re seeing grassroots discontent expressed by young Egyptians.

2011-01-30 Mapping the Molecular Pathway of Autism by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

In recent years, much of the Hussman foundation's research has been centered on autism. Meanwhile, the finance research has been centered on "ensemble methods" to integrate the information from multiple data sets, and to better measure both risk and uncertainty*. As it happens, statistical methods can be adapted to approach difficult problems in both genetics and finance. So as we developed various approaches to integrate multiple data sets in our finance research, it was natural to extend those methods to deal with genetics data.

2011-01-29 Q410 Market and Economic Commentary by Mike Timm of Granite Investment Advisors

We remain positive on equities. Valuations on large capitalization stocks remain attractive. Though smaller cap companies outperformed large cap stocks in 2010, we believe the valuation gap will close in 2011 in large part because many of the large cap names have significant sales exposure to emerging economies around the world. In fixed income, we continue to favor corporate securities with maturities shorter than five to six years, cushion bonds, step-up bonds, and selected non-investment grade bonds. We expect rates to continue to rise over the next eighteen months.

2011-01-28 A Mockery of a Sham by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

We do not need more regulation. Government interference has done enough damage already. We simply need to return to a sound monetary policy and get the government out of the mortgage and housing markets. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.

2011-01-26 Plan C for UK Fiscal Consolidation by James Mason and Parul Walia of Roubini Global Economics

The UK government has engaged in a forceful reduction of its fiscal deficit (“Plan A”) to ensure debt sustainability and thereby reduce the risk of a loss of market confidence in public finances. The move has been effectively endorsed by Bank of England Governor Mervyn King, who has said that further quantitative easing could be used to support the economy if necessary (“Plan B”). In RGE’s view, however, the risk to the market was overstated, as the UK has enjoyed safe-haven status while pressures have intensified in eurozone countries.

2011-01-26 Nice Speech, But Now Obama Must Act by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

The president left no doubt that tackling unemployment was a priority. Success on this would also facilitate the medium-term budget reform that he is targeting. Mr. Obama must make clear jobs creation can no longer depend simply on stimulus, federal government hiring, and the hope that previous drivers (such as construction) will return.

2011-01-25 Beyond the Efficient Market Hypothesis by Michael Edesess (Article)

John Cassidy's 2009 book, "How Markets Fail," drives the final nail in the coffin of the Efficient Market Hypothesis. Well, perhaps the penultimate nail - as I'll explain. It is the most compelling argument I have read that we need a new and improved theory of markets, a theory that subsumes the efficient market hypothesis, much as Einstein's relativity theory subsumed Newtonian physics.

2011-01-25 Economic Forecast Failures: The 10-Year Yield by Doug Short of Doug Short

Earlier today I analyzed the Wall Street Journal survey of economist forecasts for Q4 GDP. How accurate are economists' forecasts in general? It varies, of course, but sometimes they miss by a long shot. Consider, for example, the forecasts for 10-year Treasury yields in the October 2010 WSJ survey.

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.

2011-01-22 Together at Last! by Stephen J. Taddie of Stellar Capital Management

Many people get lost when economists start talking about monetary and fiscal policy. By definition, fiscal policy is the use of government expenditure and revenue collection to influence the economy through borrowing, spending and taxation. Monetary policy is the process by which the monetary authority of a country (the Federal Reserve, or “Fed”, in the U.S.) controls the money supply in that economy through targeting interest rates or buying and selling securities from its portfolio. In the end, the two policies are just two different tools used to manage an economy.

2011-01-22 The Unsustainable Meets the Irresistible by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

States are the largest component of US GDP, and states' revenues have declined 10% from their peak. On top of that, federal stimulus support for states is running out. Congress should allow states to declare bankruptcy and force unions to come to the bargaining table. The US is on an unsustainable path. Absent very serious fiscal remedies, long before we get to 2019 the bond markets will have taken away our ability to finance our debt at low rates.

2011-01-20 December’s Unemployment Report Masks Lingering Challenges by Team of American Century Investments

On January 7, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issued its Employment Situation report for the month of December. On the surface, the news appeared very good: The national unemployment rate dropped 0.4% from 9.8% to 9.4%. That is the lowest rate of unemployment we’ve experienced in nearly two years (April 2009 was the last month unemployment that was under 9%). And nonfarm payroll employment increased in December by 103,000. However, financial markets reacted with some pessimism that day. Overall, the S&P 500 declined 0.2% while broader indices also registered slight declines.

2011-01-19 Question Marks in the Arab World by Rachel Ziemba of Roubini Global Economics

Two MENA governments have suffered massive blows in the past week. Extended protests in Tunisia forced long-time ruler Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country, while Hezbollah pulled out of the deadlocked Lebanese unity government, causing its collapse. Using a selected group of economic, social and political indicators, we assess the resilience of the region’s institutions in our latest MENA Focus.

2011-01-19 Market Valuation Since the 1990s by Doug Short of Doug Short

Many analysts dismiss the apparent market overvaluation implied by charts such as these. Eventually we will find out if the 1990s shift in valuations was a permanent change or a reversion to historic valuations lies ahead.

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 Equity Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

During the fourth quarter, the stock market staged a strong rally, reflecting both growing evidence of a sustained economic recovery and the reversal (thanks to the Republican victory in November) of the seriously anti-business tone in Washington. These two factors enabled investors to begin thinking not just of a recovery from the recent crisis and recession, but of a more sustainable and enduring expansion. As a result, they were able to bet on a longer stream of favorable corporate earnings.

2011-01-17 Is Bank America the Most Sued Company in America? Sol Sanders on Charting the Arab Dark by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

With more than half of Tunisia's population under 30, increasing unemployed youth want more. It remains to be seen who will come out on top in Tunis. But across North Africa - from Egypt to Morocco - underground religious Muslim opposition festers. Alas! in Tunisia, as elsewhere, the Iranian mullahs' total corruption and Saudi Arabian hypocritical lifestyle notwithstanding, the Islamicists' appeal is growing.

2011-01-12 Tolerable Accuracy by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

It paid to be practical in 2010. We started the year with relief that we averted catastrophe but were dimly aware it would be tough. How could it not be? Financial markets were in disrepair and the economy looked like it had only just made it through a re-stocking cycle. All other parts of the economy looked down for the count. But in the end, despite euro sovereign emergencies, deflationary fears and a phony currency war, both the real economy and financial assets had a strong year.

2011-01-10 The Key Asset Classes For 2011 Will Be: Oil, Gold, And Stocks by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Investors are moving from bonds to stocks and the huge cash balances at money market funds will likely find their way into stock and commodity markets in 2011. This means inflation and commodities prices are likely to rise faster than wages, and those living on fixed incomes or bond interest will be affected the most, due to the fact that their money buys them less of everything; both luxuries and necessities. However, the ramifications of this inflationary trend are also serious for wage-earners. In every inflationary period in recorded history, wages have risen more slowly than inflation.

2011-01-07 US Jobs Report: Better Than It Looked, But Still Not Great by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

While the details were obviously better than the headline, it would be a mistake to read much into the unexpected decline in the unemployment rate, which fell to 9.4% from 9.8% — the lowest it has been since May 2009 (when the economy was still technically in recession) and the sharpest one-month decline since April 1998. While some of this “decline” did indeed reflect the rebound in Household employment, it was largely due to the sharp decline in the labour force participation rate, which tumbled to a 27-year low of 64.3% in December from 64.5% in each of the prior two months.

2011-01-05 Things Are Looking Up in LatAm by Nouriel Roubini of Roubini Global Economics

In our 2011 Outlook, we revised up our growth forecasts for Latin America, in anticipation of resilient domestic demand, improved external conditions and elevated commodity prices. We now envision annual growth rates of 4.7% in 2011 (compared to the forecast of 4.1% we set in September) and 6.1% in 2010 from 5.7% previously. If we are correct, 2010 will mark Latin America’s strongest economic performance of the last decade and its fastest growth since 1980.

2011-01-05 Off With Our Heads! by Bill Gross of PIMCO

American politicians and citizens alike have no clear vision of the costs of a seemingly perpetual trillion-dollar annual deficit. Meanwhile, policy stimulus is focused on maintaining current consumption as opposed to making the United States more competitive in the global marketplace. Dollar depreciation will sap the purchasing power of U.S. consumers, as well as the global valuation of dollar denominated assets.

2011-01-04 Glory Days: Another Good Year in 2011? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Setting targets doesn't make sense to us, but we do believe in reading the market's tea leaves, and the outlook is healthy. However, frothy sentiment has us a little concerned in the very near-term. Investors need to be mindful of complacency, but also to make sure they're not still loaded up on bonds—a major capitulation from bonds to stocks is possible.

2011-01-04 The 2011 Economic Outlook – Credit Given Where Credit Is Due by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust

With regard to 2011 real GDP growth, we now expect Q4/Q4 growth of 3.3% vs. 3.0%. An upward revision of 2011 Q4/Q4 real consumption growth to 2.9% from 2.5% in November is the primary factor accounting for the upward revision to the real GDP growth forecast. We are more optimistic about 2011 real GDP growth primarily because QE2 implies that the Fed will be purchasing all of the additional Treasury debt issued in conjunction with the Obama-McConnell tax and unemployment insurance compromise. We currently see more upside risk to our 2011 real GDP growth forecast than downside risk.

2011-01-03 Economic Outlook 2011—Inching Our Way Toward Recovery by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

For all the complexities and undeniable risks, the outlook is reasonably upbeat. Continued, if slow, economic growth will raise earnings and, in time, gradually will begin to improve the labor market. Inflation, though a longer-term risk, will remain well contained in the coming year. Questions about monetary and fiscal policy will continue to hang over the economy and the markets, but circumstances nonetheless seem set to generate further advances. If, at the end of the year, few would declare themselves as rich and secure as they once felt, they still will have experienced improvement.

2010-12-31 The Enigma Decoder by Ronald W. Roge of R.W. Roge

Our outlook for 2011 remains cautious, as we were last year. We will continue with most of our 2010 strategies for 2011, with the exception of bonds and municipal bonds which may present problems. We have already lowered our allocation to bonds in the third quarter, lowered our bond duration, and may lower it further, especially in the municipal bond area. We are still formulating our strategy as we gather more information.

2010-12-29 Deciphering Debt by Dr. Victoria Marklew, Richard Thies, James Pressler and Dr. Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

2011 is likely to raise more issues about debt, with periodic market panics about debt sustainability and bailouts. We offer this primer on the issue of debt – specifically the various measures and the roles they play in determining a country’s risk of facing some form of debt-related crisis. Metrics to assess indebtedness of nations are classified as solvency and liquidity measures. Each are discussed, as is the special topic of the banking sector and its relation to public debt. We give our view of global public-debt-related challenges in 2011.

2010-12-23 Global Market Commentary by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Investors should continue to hold gold for long-term investment. Food and food-related shares remain a favorite of ours and we believe that oil-related investments have promise. For long-term investment, we do not like the U.S. dollar, Japanese yen, British pound, or the Euro. As we mentioned in our September 14th letter, we like the Singapore, Thai, Canadian, Swiss, Brazilian, Chinese, and Australian currencies. In summary, investors should continue to hold shares of growing companies in India, China, and Colombia. We believe U.S. stocks can rally further.

2010-12-23 Some Thoughts on Market Timing by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I have real doubts that there will be “hundreds of billions” of losses in the municipal bond market. It would take a default by almost every major municipal issuer, and a lot of small ones, to create a hundred billion in defaults, something not likely to happen. States will be forced to make spending cuts. Mauldin also cites three sources who he "highly respects" who advise to hedge US equity portfolios going into 2011.

2010-12-20 Things I Believe by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

1) Investors dangerously underestimate the risk of an abrupt and possibly severe equity market plunge. 2) Agreement among "experts" is not your friend. 3) Downside risk tends to be elevated precisely when risk premiums and volatility indices reflect the most complacency. 4) We did not avoid a second Great Depression because we bailed out financial institutions...

2010-12-20 The European Union—Will It Hold Together? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

With an Irish rescue seemingly in place, Europe must now look to Portugal, Spain, and Belgium. The continent’s sovereign debt crisis threatens the euro—and the EU itself. We can make some tentative conclusions: 1) Europe’s existing rescue resources are more than ample for Greece, Ireland, and Portugal. 2) The great danger lies with Spain, less because of government profligacy and more because of the potential fallout from that country’s collapsed real estate bubble. 3) The EU has shown determination to deal with the problem and protect the euro and the union.

2010-12-17 For Whom the Bell Tolls by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

What lies ahead is a new era of rising interest rates, soaring consumer prices, increasing unemployment, economic stagnation, and lower living standards. Instead of stimulating the economy, quantitative easing and deficit spending will prove to be a lethal combination. Bondholders beware, the bell tolls for thee.

2010-12-17 Fed Decision: Stick to the Status Quo by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The stock market may not be fighting the Fed, but are bonds? Treasury yields and stocks can rise simultaneously, but dollar strength could bite. Investors are being driven to reallocate away from bonds and toward stocks.

2010-12-16 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

The November unemployment number rose to 9.8%. This means that 15.1 million people are out of work. Only 39,000 jobs were added in November, which was significantly below the expectations of most economists. There are two things to keep in mind. First, holiday season numbers fluctuate greatly and we believe the November number will be revised upward, although remaining weak. Second, the unemployment rate is a lagging indicator of the economy. In the early stages of a recovery, as more people begin looking for work, the unemployment rate actually goes up.

2010-12-15 U.S. Economy Rays of Hope by Komal Sri-Kumar of TCW Asset Management

I have had three recommendations in 2010: 1) Extend the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 for at least one more year. 2) Implement Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Panama and Colombia all important U.S. trade partners. 3) Permit greater flexibility in labor markets.

2010-12-10 Washington Orders Another Free Lunch by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

This week Washington displayed the kind of “bipartisanship” that will bankrupt our country and wreck our currency. Coming at a time when both parties say they want to address our long-term fiscal imbalances, the compromise extension of the Bush era tax cuts should be a wake-up call to anyone who somehow expected the American leadership to ever have an “adult conversation” about the country’s long term economic health.

2010-12-09 Revisiting 2009: Preserving Wealth And Creating Wealth by Jeff Miller of New Arc Investments

Buying stocks today has more upside than at the bottom in the Spring of 2009. Since many of the major issues are off of the table, there is even less risk. Since many issues remain, stocks are still cheap. Successful investment advisors who have beaten these averages over a long time period may do even better. There is an extra kicker: The political dynamic has changed for the better.

2010-12-07 Looking at the Tax Compromise Measures by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The just-announced comprise tax measures along with the Fed’s pump-priming, have pretty well extinguished double-dip risks, notwithstanding the myriad of other headwinds. This amounts to a new stimulus measure. If the U.S. government opts for a series of fiscal measures that could end up adding as much as $750 billion to the existing large public debt burden, the fixed-income market is not exactly going to like it. Elsewhere, EU finance ministers ruled out an immediate aid package for Portugal or Spain (putting the onus on the ECB to restore calm).

2010-12-06 A Most Important Rule by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

A decline in bond prices has modestly improved expected returns in bonds, but not yet sufficiently to warrant an extension of our durations. Precious metals have become more overbought, and while we are sympathetic to the long-term thesis for gold, intermediate term risks are now elevated. Finally, we have observed a further deterioration in market conditions for stocks.

2010-12-06 What Inflation Means to You: Inside the Consumer Price Index by Doug Short of Doug Short

The universal response is to moan over price increases and take delight when prices are cheaper. But in reality, households vary dramatically in the impact that inflation has upon them. The one thing we can be certain about is this: An increase in inflation will have a painful effect on lower income households, those on fixed incomes, and any household whose discretionary spending is more dream than reality.

2010-12-06 Trade Wars by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Trade tensions seem to intensify daily, especially between the United States and China. Congress not too long ago upped the ante, labeling China a "currency manipulator." both the United States and China could get around immediate passions and politicking and find a basis for accommodation in their common, longer-term goals. In this regard, it is at least modestly encouraging that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has become involved in the China–U.S. currency dispute.

2010-12-04 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Retail Ireland, retail, China, retail, tax cuts, retail, QE2, retail, jobs, retail. Yes, investors have plenty on their minds these days. Hopefully, the news from retail can continue to compensate for some of the more concerning dynamics at play.

2010-12-01 The U.S. Dollar Is A Poor Alternative To The Euro by Monty Guild of Guild Investment Management

The U.S. dollar is poorly managed, Congress has already saddled the U.S. with enough debt to keep the dollar under pressure for years, and the Federal Reserve has made it clear that it is their intention to devalue the dollar. The U.S. sponsored a 2nd round of QE, which was implemented to improve exports, to stop a deflationary psychology from forming and to create enough inflation in the U.S. economy to inspire the populace to begin investing to stay ahead of inflation. When investors begin to focus upon these obvious points, the inflation benefitted investments will rocket ahead.

2010-11-30 Why You Aren't Getting Referrals - And What to Do About It by Dan Richards (Article)

When it comes to attracting new clients, every advisor knows that nothing beats referrals from satisfied clients. However, many advisors hold fundamental misconceptions about what it takes to get quality referrals. As a result, they either don't talk about referrals at all or do so ineffectively.

2010-11-28 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Korea, Ireland, insider trading, earnings season conclusion, QE2, retail activity. Plenty of news…but is anyone really paying attention? After all, its Thanksgiving. Take a break, give thanks, enjoy the family (and the bird), and worry about the world’s issues next week. Happy holiday…

2010-11-26 An Irrational Guide to Gifts by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational

I think that the best gifts circumvent guilt in two key ways: by eliminating the guilt that accompanies extravagant purchases, and by reducing the guilt that comes from coupling payment with consumption. The best advice on gift-giving, therefore, is to get something that someone really wants but would feel guilty buying otherwise.

2010-11-25 Looking for a Massage... by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational

Recent research shows how physical contact can promote trust, even among complete strangers. Participants who were physically touched by a female experimenter (on the shoulder or with a handshake) made riskier financial decisions like gambling or investing money. Being physically touched, whether with a kneading massage or a comforting pat on the shoulder, seems to encourage cooperative behavior.

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 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.

2010-11-22 Outside the Oval / The Case Against the Fed by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Ever since the Bear Stearns bailout, I've been insistent that the Federal Reserve is increasingly operating outside of its statutory boundaries. Ensuring the legality of Fed actions is not a Democratic issue, a Republican issue or a Tea Party issue. Rather, it is about whether we want America to function as a representative democracy.

2010-11-22 'Good Enough' with Ken Fisher, Marty Whitman and Warren Buffett by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

It is quite easy for us all to forget that the concepts of “good enough” and “cheap enough” have produced such consistent long term returns, at least for those who have had the fortitude to apply this theme. True, it takes training to determine what is good enough and what is cheap enough. But for many of us, our greatest failure is not paying any attention to it at all. In today’s investment world the majority of investors are making their investment decisions based on their general market outlook and their desire to obtain immediate gratification.

2010-11-22 Commodity Prices: What is Likely Impact in the United States? by Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

The S&P GSCI commodity index has moved up 11.3% from a year ago on November 19, 2010 (see Chart 1). The trade weighted dollar declined 1.2% from a year ago as of November 12, 2010. The immediate inference is that the extent of gains in the commodity price index is larger than the decline of the dollar. By implication, commodity price gains reflect more than the depreciation of the greenback.

2010-11-20 O Deflation, Where is Thy Sting? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The economy growing between one and two percent. That is better than recession but not good enough to really bite into the unemployment rate, which means trouble. Mauldin examines the construction of the BLI's CPI index and specifically the role of housing: inflation, when you take out housing costs, is a jaunty 1.9%. Right in the Fed target range of 1.5-2%. The Fed's QE program may create inflation where we can least afford it - in energy and food.

2010-11-19 Is Inflation Lurking Around the Corner? by Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

An inflationary threat is not lurking and nor are the current readings of inflation at levels the Fed needs to fret about in the near term. The Fed has traditional tools (raise reserve requirements, raise the federal funds rate or undertake open market sales of securities) and a new instrument, raising the rate paid on excess reserves. The probability of delayed action to address rising prices is small and will occur only if unemployment continues at an unacceptably high level. Inflation hawks cannot support their contention that QE2 is tinder for future inflation.

2010-11-18 Europe Will Be The Next Region to Create Liquidity for the World by Monty Guild of Guild Investment Management

The coming European bailout of Ireland and Portugal will have to include some method of quantitative easing (QE), or the printing of new money. The European Central bank will claim they are not using QE, but using newly created money must be a part of the plan. Often, when hiding their bond-buying, governments will use means to disguise their actions. Clearly, very few professional investors have an appetite for Portuguese or Irish bonds unless they are put under some political pressure, so the buyer of last resort will be the governments and European Central Bank.

2010-11-17 Can You Handle The Truth by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The S&P 500 has been locked in a rough 1,000-1,200 range now for 14 months. Most pundits still believe we are in a cyclical bull market but that is not the case — it has been a sideways market now for over a year. Moreover, after testing support in July, the market hit resistance levels in November, so it would seem logical to expect the index to make a run at the low end of the range. The only question is whether support will hold up once again.

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 Lighten Up, Francis by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

The increase in the deficit over the last couple of years is due largely to the recession and efforts to minimize the impact of the economic downturn. Quantitative easing isn’t some hair-brained scheme, but is simply another form of monetary policy accommodation. The dollar is down, but not out of line with its longer-term trend. Stop the hysterics, please.

2010-11-11 Global Markets Up, Up, Up and Away by Monty Guild of Guild Investment Management

The world markets moved like Superman last week. They lifted off and moved higher in a decisive manner. In the ongoing contest between bulls and bears, the bulls have had the upper hand in many markets. Wall Street also moved firmly into the bullish camp with U.S. stocks eclipsing their April 2010 peaks. To us this means that the technical short-sellers who had been bearish on U.S. stocks and expecting a correction bought back their short positions and took their losses.

2010-11-09 Finding Your Alternatives by Beverly D. Flaxington (Article)

In everyday life, you know that the first idea you think of to meet a need, or address a problem, may not always the best one. But when it comes to running a firm, far too many advisors never go through a proper brainstorming process to determine which option may be the best one for their firm.

2010-11-09 The Most Neglected Marketing Principle by Kristen Luke (Article)

Often, advisors lack a strategy for following up with prospects if they are not immediately interested in hiring your firm. As the authors of a recent book state, "81% of sales that close, close on or after the fifth contact." It is imperative that you integrate a follow-up strategy in your marketing plan.

2010-11-08 The Hail Mary Pass by David Baccile of Sextant Investment Advisors

With the announcement of $600 bn in new QE this week, Fed quarterback Bernanke has dropped back deep into the pocket and launched a last ditch Hail Mary pass with the hopes of stimulating growth to bring down persistently high unemployment. There is one major problem this view. The magnitude of the debt overhang is far greater now than at any other time in history, making the relatively trivial QE1, QE2, QE3, etc. ultimately doomed to failure. For those with a long-term approach to asset allocation, chasing a hot asset class or reacting to a 'clueless' Fed policy is not an option.

2010-11-05 Global Market Commentary by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Investors should keep gold for long-term investment, as well as oil-related holdings. The U.S. dollar, Japanese yen, British pound and the euro are poor long-term prospects. Investors should continue to hold shares of growing companies in India, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Colombia, Chile and Peru, as well as food-related shares such as grains, wheat, corn, soybeans and farm suppliers. Finally, investors should continue to hold U.S. stocks for a further rally.

2010-11-05 Elections and QE2: Will It Make a Difference? by Scott Migliori of Allianz Global Investors

Both Republican victories during the midterm elections and the second round of quantitative easing could result in market gains. A perceived mitigation in government intervention has typically been received favorably by equity markets, and could especially benefit investor sentiment in areas that had previously received the greatest amount of government scrutiny, such as health and financial services. Furthermore, if successful, renewed quantitative easing could increase both consumer and business confidence and result in better than forecast nominal GDP in 2011.

2010-11-05 And That\'s the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Dissecting election results, a Fed policy meeting statement, several key economic releases, and new earnings reports can prove pretty stressful. This week saw a somber Obama offer an olive branch to Republicans following their big victory in the midterms. Bear in mind, Prez Clinton suffered a similar fate in 1994 and lived to fight another day. Politicos now expect conciliation over taxes, health care, offshore drilling, and other GOP action items as Big Oil, Big Pharma, and Wall Street prepare for another boom. (The pressure is on, Speaker Boehner.)

2010-11-04 Thanksgiving Pie by Doug MacKay and Bill Hoover of Broadleaf Partners

Where might the unexpected upside come for investors? Two areas. Dividends may attract some money away from the bond market as a source of yield, providing some relative capital appreciation potential for stocks. On a longer term secular basis, the emerging market consumer may also be worth paying attention to. As the wealth of overseas economies grows and makes its way into the hands of its citizens, a growing middle class should emerge with the same needs and wants that many of those in the United States have enjoyed for years.

2010-11-04 Moment of Surrender: Musings on the Election and Fed Policy by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Neither the midterm elections nor the Federal Reserve announcement of another round of quantitative easing brought surprises. Tax clarity needs to come next while uncertainty about the implications of QE2 remains front and center. Investors will likely be among the winners, but they need to understand the pros and cons of Fed policy.

2010-11-04 QE2 Is Likely to Be More Successful than QE1 by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust

The theory behind quantitative easing is that an increase in the quantity of combined central and commercial bank credit will lead to an increase in nominal aggregate spending on goods, services and assets. Indeed, the correlation coefficient between percentage changes in the annual average of combined Federal Reserve and commercial banking system credit and the percentage changes in nominal U.S. GDP from 1960 through 2006 is relatively high, at 0.62. This correlation coefficient is reduced to 0.49, however, when the period is extended through 2009. Northern Trust explains why.

2010-11-02 'Bubble' Bashing Does Not Imply a Risk-Free Bond Outlook by Team of American Century Investments

The present bond environment still doesn't fit previous 'bubble' profiles. We are, however, in a period of historically low interest rates and Treasury bond yields, with more room to rise than fall. Future bond price declines are a realistic expectation, but these declines are unlikely to rival other post-bubble, extended price plunges. Bonds continue to provide a cushion for equity exposure in diversified portfolios and a source of steady income for those who need it.

2010-11-02 Debtor Bailouts: Lesson from Brussels by Komal Sri-Kumar of TCW Asset Management

The 440 billion ($617 billion) European Union bailout package approved earlier this year provided new loans to debtor nations from the EU and the IMF in return for pre-agreed austerity programs. Germany, the major creditor nation and the biggest single contributor to the bailout package, agreed on Friday to provide the fund permanent status, but only if the debt reduction cost were shared with private investors. A variation of the decision that Germany made last week is likely to confront President Obama during the next two years as the U.S. deals with its own bailout programs.

2010-11-02 Grey Owl Q3 Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital Management

Uncertainty abounds and all broad asset classes are beginning to look expensive again. Unemployment shows few signs of improvement and business confidence is low, yet the stock market continues to climb the 'wall of worry.' Frankly, we have little confidence in the economy or in the broad stock market. However, we continue to find pockets of value in out-of-favor names across industries and market capitalizations. Macro uncertainty may continue to drive the market for some time, but eventually the weighing machine will win out.

2010-10-29 Postcard from Vietnam by Taizo Ishida of Matthews Asia

As much as two-thirds of Vietnam's GDP can be attributed to strong personal consumption in a country of 86 million (with an average age of 26). Over the past 20 years, the country has shown impressive economic expansion, averaging 7.1 percent growth per year, which has pushed GDP per capita up to just over $1,000 U.S. Although Vietnam still faces potential problems with inflation, it is still encouraging to witness the real changes taking place in the country's consumer behavior.

2010-10-27 Triple Down: Fannie, Freddie, and the Triumph of the Corporate State by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

What we need from the Federal Reserve is some leadership on the issue of making the White House take responsibility for restructuring the economy. The Fed should be telling the healthy banks to start taking a bit of risk, making some loans instead of buying Treasury bonds and agency mortgage-backed securities. A bit of increased competition in the origination channel so that performing borrowers can get a refinancing closed will unblock the economy and also do wonders for the efficacy of Fed policy.

2010-10-27 Run Turkey, Run by Bill Gross of PIMCO

The Fed's announcement of a renewed commitment to quantitative easing has been well-telegraphed, and the market's reaction is likely to be subdued. We are in a 'liquidity trap,' where interest rates or trillions in asset purchases may not stimulate borrowing or lending because consumer demand is just not there. The Fed's announcement will likely signify the end of a great 30-year bull market in bonds and the necessity for bond managers and, yes, equity managers to adjust to a new environment.

2010-10-27 Where Inflation is Higher than Interest Rates, Liquidity Will Flow by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Investors should continue to hold U.S. stocks for a further rally. Long-term U.S. liquidity formation through QE will create demand for many assets, including U.S. stocks. Short-term U.S. stock market indices are near resistance areas, and so traders can consider taking profits. Investors should also continue to hold gold for long-term investment, as well as oil, and food-related shares such as grains, wheat, corn, soybeans, and farm suppliers. The U.S. dollar, Japanese yen, British pound and the euro are all poor long-term prospects.

2010-10-26 An Exceptional Resource for Asset Allocation by Michael Edesess (Article)

Roger C. Gibson's fine and exemplary book, Asset Allocation: Balancing Financial Risk, Fourth Edition, shows that character and conscience-based counseling still exist, even in the financial profession. It is still possible for advisors to look out for their clients' long-term interests.

2010-10-26 Emerging Market Uprising: What it Means for Investors by George Magnus of Boeckh Investment Letter

This special report by George Magnus, a senior economic advisor at UBS Investment Bank, takes a look at some key economic and investment issues regarding emerging markets and China. Magnus, who has just completed a book on emerging markets, argues that while EMs have boomed in recent years, there are a number of unresolved problems which suggest the past may not repeat, and investors must be careful.

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.

2010-10-18 The Metastasis of Residential Mortgage Backed Securities: Interview with Joe Mason by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

This week the Institutional Risk Analyst talks to Louisiana State University finance professor Joseph Mason. While the media is printing stories about foreclosures, Mason says, the more fundamental problem facing the U.S. economy is the approaching currency crisis.

2010-10-18 Mexico - Problems and Prospects by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Mexico's drug-related violence is a tragedy for the country and a conundrum for all those who invest there. However, as long as the U.S. economy can continue its advance, slow as it will likely be, Mexico’s economy, equity market, and currency should find support. Once the recovery in the United States begins to create jobs, as it should later this year and into 2011, remittances from Mexican nationals working north of the border will begin to add marginal momentum to Mexico’s economic growth, and hence to its market prospects.

2010-10-16 The Subprime Debacle: Act 2 by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The housing market has not yet begun to recover, and it is not only going to take longer but the decline in prices may be greater than many have forecast. But the real problem is the foreclosure crisis, where banks have foreclosed in situations where they had no right to do so. Several options exist for resolution, including sorting out the details of each case in a legal forum. A more ominous outcome would be to force investment banks to buy back securities with faulty titles.

2010-10-15 Looking For a Massage... by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational

Research shows that being physically touched, whether with a kneading massage or a comforting pat on the shoulder, seems to encourage cooperative behavior. While cooperative decisions may benefit others more than ourselves (at least in terms of immediate monetary gain), they are not necessarily ill-advised. In fact, the decision-makers who gave money to an anonymous partner in a recent Claremont Graduate University experiment ultimately felt better about their choices.

2010-10-14 Global Market Commentary by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Historically, it has taken about four or five years of capital inflows into emerging markets to create an investment bubble. Thus far, we are only one year into a significant capital inflow into emerging markets, and we probably have another three or four more years to go before these markets become so popular that it is time to move on to other pastures.

2010-10-11 No Margin of Safety, No Room for Error by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Over the past 10 years, the S&P 500 has achieved a total return, including dividends, averaging -0.03 percent annually. Over the past 13 years, the total return for the S&P 500 has averaged just 3.23 percent. These poor returns were entirely predictable during the late 1990s based on the historical relationship between valuations and subsequent returns. What's more, current valuations suggest similarly poor returns over the next five to seven years.

2010-10-08 Refinancing, Not Foreclosures, is the Issue; Richard Alford on Bill Dudley and QEII by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

The failure on the part of the largest banks to perfect guidelines for security interest agreements on the homes, office buildings or other real properties that underlie securitizations is turning out to be not merely a legal headache, but also the operational catalyst for the next crisis in financials. This commentary also features a piece by contributor Dick Alford on the recent speech by New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley regarding the resumption of quantitative easing. According to Dudley, the speech suggests that the Fed has not yet learned from past mistakes.

2010-10-08 Stalled Post-crisis Reforms Must Be Restarted by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

In the early part of this crisis, swift coordinated global policy action saw a painful economic collapse replaced by employment gains and greater financial stability. However, the marked failure to continue coordinated action reflects two critical weaknesses that now must be taken seriously: an insufficient appreciation of the mix of post-crisis forces; and a growing void at the center of the international system. For the IMF this means acting on long-standing governance and representation problems – and doing so by going well beyond what is being currently contemplated.

2010-10-08 Still Vulnerable by Van R. Hoisington and Lacy H. Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

Economic growth has been largely due to an unsustainable, and probably over-extended rebuilding of inventories. The proposed QE2 is unlikely to succeed, and the U.S. economy faces four problems: excess leverage, counterproductive fiscal policies, sub-optimal tax policies and excess bureaucracy. Treasury bonds are not in a bubble and represent good long-term investments.

2010-10-05 A September to Remember by Ron Surz (Article)

In his quarterly market analysis, Ron Surz notes that September has historically been the worst performing month for US stock markets, losing 1% on average over the past 85 years, while the average return in the other 11 months was a positive 1.3%. Not so this September. Surz reviews global market performance and provides his thoughts on peer group analysis and target date funds.

2010-10-05 Beyond Brinkmanship: A Better Economic Path for the U.S. and China by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

It is in virtually no country's interest - including that of the United States - for China's economic development to derail. China is the world's strongest growth engine, its largest creditor and its biggest trade partner. Rather lecturing China on its exchange rate, the United States should be doing more to push its European allies to allow a larger Chinese voice in multilateral forums. Beijing, in turn, should think carefully about how it can help the United States and the global economy to bridge the hole of balance-sheet repair.

2010-10-05 Do Past 10-Year Returns Forecast Future 10-Year Returns? by Bill Hester of Hussman Funds

The argument that above-average long-term returns typically follow periods of poor past long-term returns is not wrong, it's just incomplete.

2010-10-04 Munis - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The recession and huge market reverses of 2008–2009, aside from their immediate adverse effect on revenues, have revealed decades of fiscal mismanagement. Now the ongoing economic recovery should gradually relieve the most acute fiscal pressures, and states and cities will have to rectify the mistakes of this long legacy. For the long-term municipal bond investor, the risk going forward resides in the debt of the laggard states and cities, those that do the least to correct the abuses of the past. The investment opportunities lie with those who do the most to correct fiscal imbalances.

2010-10-02 The Morality of Chinese Growth by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Mauldin provides highlights from a recent conference. John Hofmeister is the former president of Shell Oil. He paints a very stark (even bleak) picture of the future of energy production in the US unless we change our current policies. David Rosenberg argues that GDP growth has been helped largely by inventory rebuilding, which is not sustainable. The analysts at GaveKal discuss the tension between Chinese policies toward economic growth and the social welfare it provides for its citizens.

2010-10-02 Schiff Responds to Dudley, Fed by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

NY Fed President William Dudley's outrageous statements Friday closely conform to recent pronouncements from other Fed officials and confirm that a massive round of dollar devaluation is poised to begin. Seemingly overnight, the Fed appears to have altered its mandate, ditching its former goal of "price stability" in favor of "moderate price inflation." While no one is under the illusion that the Fed has kept prices stable over the last century, it used to be that the governors would at least pretend to fight inflation. Low inflation used to be the aim, now it's the enemy.

2010-10-01 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

A variety of topics are discussed, including market performance during September, the competition to be recognized as the top-rated college, Larry Summers' resignation, and the reaction to France's proposed austerity plan.

2010-10-01 Chuck Royce on Third Quarter 2010 by Chuck Royce of The Royce Funds

In his quarterly conversation, Chuck touches on dividends, quality, the strength of the economy and market volatility. He also talks about the state of small-cap opportunities here in the U.S. and abroad.

2010-09-28 Chain Gangs and Pipe Dreams by Doug Mackay and Bill Hoover of Broadleaf Partners

Last Friday David Tepper, who runs a very successful hedge fund, made a convincing no-lose case for stocks in an interview on CNBC. In the stock market as in sports, anytime winning seems easy, it is usually a decent signal that you might be treading in dangerous territory. During such times, it has usually paid to increase rather than decrease one's aversion to risk. Equities could indeed move higher from here and likely will, but buying under the influence of a pipe dream that they are a no-lose proposition would be as foolhardy as an offense with no defense.

2010-09-27 Not Yet Out of the Woods by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

While we know the Economic Cycle Research Institute data has deteriorated further since June, we won't have GDP figures for a while yet. Given the data in hand, it's clear that past growth downturns of the same extent have often gone on to become recessions. The bulk of the growth that we did observe coming off of the June 2009 economic low was driven by a burst of stimulus spending coupled with a variety of programs to pull economic activity forward. These synthetic factors are now trailing off, with little intrinsic economic activity to propel a recovery.

2010-09-27 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Clearly, investors understand that earnings will be decent when they are released in late October, that the Fed will be printing money starting in November and that a more business-friendly election change is just a few weeks away. These developments are all supportive of stock prices. As a result, for the next few weeks it seems that only an event out of left field could meaningfully upset the stock market apple cart.

2010-09-27 'Rules are Rules?!' (An Email From Grandma) by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

Last week most of the major stock market averages broke out of their May-September trading ranges to new recovery highs (small cap indices did not). While we are not necessarily looking at a repeat of the 2009 stock market rally, the S&P 500's April highs now seem achievable. Meanwhile, the bears continue to growl 'Where's the volume?' The reply to that question is that the whole 2009 rally came on declining volume, as did this year's May mauling, begging the question: Does volume really matter?

2010-09-24 The U.S. Stock Market by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

The U.S. stock market is rallying, and the U.S. dollar is slowly declining in value relative to a basket of other currencies. Although inflation may not occur for another six to 12 months, it will eventually increase demand for assets with growth potential, such as income-producing real estate, gold, global growth stocks, and the world's better-managed currencies. Meanwhile, it is possible that we will see a small rally in bonds during late 2010. Many are expecting a slowdown in U.S. economic activity in early 2011.

2010-09-21 A Bass Player’s Perspective on Leadership by Justin Locke (Article)

A fascinating phenomenon pervades major symphony orchestras. Whenever a new guest conductor steps onto the podium, a musician will know - within two seconds or less - if they will be an inspiring leader. Justin Locke shares his experience as a professional bass player and the insights he gleaned as to what makes for great leadership.

2010-09-21 The Recession is Over! But No Recovery in Housing by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Well, the National Bureau of Economic Research made it official yesterday: The recession ended in mid-2009. The equity market rejoiced, which itself is amusing since the stock market is supposedly a discounting mechanism, but it goes to show that old news sells well. Meanwhile, the National Association of Home Builders housing market index disappointed in September, coming in flat, at 13, instead of inching up a point to 14, as was widely expected. This well below the stimulus-led yearly high of 22 set in May.

2010-09-21 Diminished Expectations, Double-dips, and External Shocks: The Decade After the Fall by Carmen M. Reinhart and Vincent Reinhart of VoxEU

Is the global economic recovery about to grind to a halt? This column provides evidence on economic performance in the decade after a macroeconomic crisis. It finds much slower growth, as well as several episodes of 'double-dips,' as well as many instances of plain 'bad luck' that strike at a time when the economy remains highly vulnerable.

2010-09-20 An Interesting Week Ahead by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

The failure to reduce risk spreads in peripheral European countries means that the public sector bailout is not working. The list of industrial countries wishing to depreciate their currencies is not matched by a list of emerging economies happy to let their currencies appreciate significantly. As a result, foreign exchange tensions are mounting, and the price of gold has been driven to a new record level. This week will shed light on whether policymakers can do anything to deal with these two issues.

2010-09-20 Sequential Signals by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

The U.S. economy is still in a normal 'lag window' between deterioration in leading measures of economic activity and (probable) deterioration in coincident measures. Though the lags are sometimes variable, as we saw in 1974 and 2008, normal lags would suggest an abrupt softening in the September ISM report (due in the beginning of October), with new claims for unemployment climbing beginning somewhere around mid-October. If we look at the drivers of economic growth outside of the now fading impact of government stimulus spending, we continue to observe little intrinsic activity.

2010-09-17 Japan Invervenes to Bail Out America.com by Team of Euro Pacific Capital

This week the Japanese government decided to intervene in the foreign exchange market, initiating a vigorous campaign to buy U.S. dollars, thereby stemming the rise of the yen and pulling up the greenback. The effects were immediate, with the yen falling an astonishing 3 percent on the day of the announcement. The media spin doctors cast the Japanese decision as an attempt by the island state to prop up its own fragile economy. The intervention was actually done to help American consumers buy more cars and electronics from Japan.

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 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.

2010-09-14 Autumn Leaves... And Election Cycles by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The passion is palpable about the upcoming November 2 midterm elections, and more and more market watchers are starting to study the historical election cycle to see if it provides any clues as to how stocks are likely to behave in the near term. It's also September, historically the weakest month of the year for stocks, and this year it's following a bruising August. But here's a word of caution for those relying heavily on past performance trends: In five of the past six years, the market was actually up in September.

2010-09-14 Sometimes We Get Lucky by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Monty Guild and Tony Danaher strongly recommend that investors sell long- and intermediate-term U.S. bonds, including U.S. Treasury bonds, U.S. government agency securities, municipal bonds and corporate bonds. It would be very unwise to bet that interest rates will stay down. Guild and Danaher also comment on the rising risk of inflation, the drug war in Mexico, the rise of the Japanese currency and bullish prospects for gold.

2010-09-13 Deflation—Does America Have a Japanese Future? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

It is still hard to see the United States following in Japan’s footsteps, as so many have suggested of late. The differences between the two economies remain vast and still far outweigh any similarities. Probabilities suggest, then, that the United States will miss a Japan-like deflation and a lost decade and that, if America suffers deflation at all, it will do so for only a short time. But since the differences are less pronounced than they once were, matters bear close watching, as each nation’s policies unfold and their respective economies react.

2010-09-13 All Aboard the European Debt Express by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

A recent paper from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that the European bank stress tests were less than stressful. This was because they only considered sovereign debt held on banks' trading books, not on banking books. The trading book of Greek banks, for example, only represents 6.7 percent of the overall Greek sovereign debt exposure on their books. The ignored banking book exposure represents the other 93.3 percent. On a cumulative basis, that translates into a sovereign exposure to Tier 1 capital ratio of more than 225 percent.

2010-09-07 The Recognition Window by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Over the course of the market cycle, one of the primary areas of risk for stocks (and conversely, one of the best periods for Treasury bonds) is typically the 'recognition window' where economic activity begins to deviate from the upward trend that is priced into the market, and investors begin to recognize that an economic downturn is, in fact, likely. The instant relief provoked by the manufacturing purchasing managers index and the employment report was an overreaction to data that is still very early in that window.

2010-09-07 President Obama's Best Gift to Labor by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors

Under current law, companies that buy plant and equipment have to depreciate these expenses over several years. This depreciation makes investment look less attractive, as inflation and the time value of money erode the value of depreciation year by year. Under a new proposal leaked by the Obama Administration, however, companies would be able to fully expense capital investment. This proposal would make it more attractive for companies to buy capital goods, simplify bookkeeping and make taxable profits more equal to cash flow. It is President Obama's best economic policy idea so far.

2010-09-04 The Last Chapter by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Mauldin presents content from his forthcoming book. He reviews some fundamental precepts of economics, focusing on the Keynesian approach the US is taking to revive the economy. He presents data from Woody Brock showing that the US debt may rise by as much as $1.5 trillion per year. Ultimately, he says, the bond market will revolt and interest rates will rise and the results will be very unpleasant. Using taxes or savings to handle a large fiscal deficit reduces the amount of money available to private investment.

2010-09-03 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

What a difference a month makes. While naysayers and pessimists dominated the investor sentiment in August, the eternal optimists stepped forward in September (well, at least, for the first three days) and made a statement about perceived value in equities. Stocks took their cues from some decent economic releases (including key labor data) and bulls awoke from hibernation in time to stop the month-long carnage (and keep the Dow safely above 10k and “in the black” for the year). Enjoy the holiday weekend (but don’t get complacent…sentiment can shift on a dime).

2010-09-02 Bernanke Out of Bullets, But Not Bombs by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

For good or ill (mostly ill), the Fed can never run out of ammunition. Their bullets cost nothing to produce. Unfortunately, unconventional monetary tools can cause far more damage to the economy than regular policy. We must understand that the Fed can shower liquidity directly on the consumer in any amount it wants. The political pressure to do so will only increase as unemployment rises and economic growth falters. Therefore, rather than fearing phantom deflation, investors should prepare their portfolios for the real upcoming battle with intractable inflation.

2010-09-02 I Renounce Monetarism (with apologies to Mr. Lippman of Pendant Publishing) by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust

Monetarists such as Milton Friedman hold that the M2 money supply is a leading indicator of aggregate demand. Indeed, from 1960 through 1989, the price-adjusted M2 money supply had a relatively high correlation with real aggregate demand for goods and services. As charts presented in this commentary illustrate, however, from 1990 through the second quarter of 2010 the correlation between real M2 and real final sales of domestic product deteriorated dramatically.

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.

2010-08-30 Hussman Funds 2010 Annual Report by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

At present valuations, exposure to market and credit risk is not likely to be well-compensated over the long-term, and may be associated with substantial losses in the intermediate term. Recent advances may simply be the product of a fragile post-crisis bounce, similar to those following other historical credit crises in the U.S. and abroad. The quarters immediately ahead present the greatest risk of fresh credit strains and concentrated economic risk.

2010-08-30 Views on Developing Markets by Team of First Eagle Funds

As the developed world stumbles from crisis to crisis, many developing countries seem poised to continue taking a greater share of the world's wealth. This trend, however, is not an automatic signal to invest. China, India and Brazil, the most sought-after developing markets, now demand double-digit multiples, and have higher inflation and monetary growth than developed markets. These factors suggest that the margin of safety is significantly smaller in developing markets than in developed markets.

2010-08-28 And That\'s the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Despite the increased boardroom confidence (dealmaking), investors carried their bearish tone into Friday’s session with many anticipating a weekly close below the critical 10k level on the Dow. Somehow they perceived good news in a downwardly revised GDP release and comments from Bernanke that future Fed stimulus may be in order. In reality, the light volume these days may imply little conviction for any direction in the markets and the real tone will not be set until after Labor Day when vacations end and traders are back at their desks in full force.

2010-08-27 Double-Dip Economy: Does Quantitative Easing Really Matter? by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

While the financial markets await the latest pronouncement from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, the Institutional Risk Analyst features a comment from friend and former colleague at the FRBNY Richard Alford. He asks whether any of the policy options being considered by the U.S. central bank are meaningful to the American economy. As Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times on Friday, 'policy makers are in denial.'

2010-08-25 Mel Brooks and the Bankers by Thorvaldur Gylfason of VoxEU

In Mel Brooks' hit film and Broadway musical The Producers, those charged with making their musical a success instead try to profit from making it a spectacular failure. This column argues that some bankers may have been playing the same game in the run-up to the global crisis. If so, just as in The Producers, the perpetrators should be heading to jail.

2010-08-24 How to Choose the Right Social Media Archiving Strategy by Blane Warrene (Article)

Advisors who have embraced social media as an important component of their marketing and service toolbox must monitor and manage the content they distribute. In this guest contribution, Blane Warrene discusses how to collect and store postings and comments made by you and others on social media platforms and store the information in a readily accessible database.

2010-08-23 Why Quantitative Easing Is Likely to Trigger a Collapse of the U.S. Dollar by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

A week ago, the Federal Reserve initiated a new quantitative easing program, purchasing U.S. Treasury securities and paying for those securities by creating billions of dollars in new monetary base. Treasury bond prices surged. With the U.S. economy weakening, this second round of quantitative easing appears likely to continue. Unfortunately, the unintended side effect of this policy shift is likely to be an abrupt collapse of the foreign exchange value of the U.S. dollar.

2010-08-23 The Dark Side of 'Productivity Enhancing Tools' by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational

Email, Facebook, and Twitter have greatly enhanced the ways we communicate. These handy modes of communication allow us to stay in touch with people all over the world without the restrictions of snail mail (too slow) or the telephone (is it too late/early to call?). As great as these communication tools are, they can also be major time-sinks. And even those of us who recognize their inefficiencies still fall into their trap. Why is this? Dan Ariely thinks it has something to do with the relationships between actions and their associated rewards.

2010-08-19 Summer Camp For Stock Traders (But Will the 'Fall' Arrive Before Summer Ends)? by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors

There is no shortage of reasons to believe that the environment for stocks is weak, if not outright dangerous. Debts and deficits, for example, have climbed to record proportions. Consumers are learning what 'austerity' means. And governments in developed markets are acting as if they can continue to delay enforcing real, sustainable improvements. Maybe these real world concerns will matter this autumn, when stocks are historically very vulnerable. But the world's troubles seem to have little meaning to the summer campers.

2010-08-18 Pay No Attention to the Headlines by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Market valuations are attractive, especially after the recent correction to below 1,100 on the S&P. What should work is buying companies with strong and sustainable cash flows and proven management. What will not work is chasing risk, and investing in companies that dilute shareholders and operate with high leverage. Don't look for an immediate catalyst. This is a market where stealth, opportunity buying and stock picking work. If you hear the word 'momentum,' run.

2010-08-18 Zombie Love: Do Fannie and Freddie Provide Any Benefit to the U.S. Economy? by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

This commentary features a piece from Achim Duebel at Finpol Consult in Berlin criticizing U.S. fiscal intervention in the housing market. Duebel's comment was first written in 2003, when its publication in a housing finance journal was blocked by government-sponsored enterprise lobbyists. The striking thing about it is that almost nothing about the structure of the housing market has changed since it was first written. Christopher Whalen also comments on the current status of the housing sector, and double-dips both real and imagined.

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 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Yields on 10-year Treasury bonds are hovering under 3 percent, which basically means that buyers anticipate inflation will only be 3 percent over the next 10 years. In spite of all the talk about deflation, however, can anyone really believe that inflation won't exceed 3 percent over the next decade given all the money the government has made available? That is why for the most part, ProVise is avoiding long-term bonds in their portfolios - remaining on the short to intermediate side of the yield curve.

2010-08-17 Not the Time For a Jubilee by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

We are in the early stages of a secular credit collapse following the biggest credit bubble in human history. The housing bubble was the result of a universal, irrational and linear belief in real estate asset appreciation that developed in the 1990s and reached its glorious peak in 2007. Now we are rolling back into pronounced economic weakness, with contraction in GDP likely to soon follow the stagnant economic conditions of the current quarter.

2010-08-13 Q2 Economic and Market Outlook: “Soft Patch” or “Double-Dip”? by Ken Taubes of Pioneer Investment Management

Inflation should remain well-contained for the next year or two, but a credible plan to cut budget deficits and a return to positive real interest rates will be needed to prevent the bond market from pricing in rising inflation in the medium term. In this environment, the U.S. dollar can continue to strengthen versus other major currencies, and capital markets, especially equity markets, can deliver attractive returns.

2010-08-10 Double-Dip Double Take by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The ongoing and widespread concerns about an economic double-dip warrant still more discussion. Previous analyses here have looked at the government data and concluded that, whatever the risks, the probabilities favor continued, if moderate economic growth. This discussion extends the analysis to less common economic indicators, particularly measures of shipping. Though the picture here is mixed to be sure, it, too, leads to the conclusion that the double-dip, though possible, is not probable and that growth will likely continue, albeit slowly.

2010-08-10 Performance that Plan Sponsors Value Most by Jeffrey Briskin (Article)

Advisors serving 401(k) plans may successfully improve investment performance, only to find out that the plan sponsor is totally unsatisfied. In this guest contribution, Jeffrey Briskin relates a recent conversation that made that painfully obvious, and a recent study by his company confirmed that such outcomes occur all too often.

2010-08-06 Comparing Our Path to Recovery with Past Recessions and Recoveries by Team of American Century Investments

What appears to be a preliminary trend in declining rates of GDP growth has led many to speculate that the current economic recovery is weakening, or that we are slipping into another recession. The latter scenario seems very unlikely given the number of simulative factors at work in our economy, such as record-low interest rates and record-high deficit spending by the federal government. But the fact that we are less than three months away from an important midterm election in the U.S. Congress means that the state of our economy will be hotly debated and in the headlines.

2010-08-04 Uncertainty Changing Investment Landscape by Robert Claridia and Mohammed El-Erian of PIMCO

The unusual uncertainty in the economic outlook reflects the disruptive combination of deleveraging, reregulation, structural unemployment and other ongoing structural changes. It seems that, wherever we look, the snapshot for 'consensus expectations' has shifted from traditional bell-shaped curves to a much flatter distribution of outcomes. This changing shape of distributions affects conventional wisdom in the investment world.

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 Agency Mortgage Valuations: Government Action and Unintended Consequences by Mitchell A. Flack of TCW Asset Management

In its attempt to bolster housing and stem the tide of foreclosures, the government has enacted several new policies and mandates over the past year to provide underwater borrowers with poor credit histories with subsidized mortgage rates. These policies, however, will likely end the participation of many private mortgage investors. They will cost taxpayers, new home buyers, pensioners and private investors, while giving overseas investors the cold shoulder. Ultimately there is a limit to the assistance the government can provide private markets without doing more damage than good.

2010-08-02 Valuing the S&P 500 Using Forward Operating Earnings by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

It is impossible to properly estimate long-term cash flows based on a single year of earnings. It is also impossible to properly value the stock market based on a single year of earnings. If you are not looking at a 'valuation' methodology accompanied by long-term, decade-by-decade evidence showing that the valuation method is actually correlated with subsequent market returns (particularly over a horizon of say, 7-10 years), then you are not looking at the sound valuation work of an investment professional.

2010-07-28 How Housing Slumps End by Agustin S. Benetrix, Barry Eichengreen and Kevin H. O’Rourke of VoxEU

The world's current economic problems started when housing bubbles burst in several advanced economies. Economic recovery without housing market recovery is unlikely to be sustained. There is at least a one-in-eight chance of housing slumps in the three big economies (U.S., Japan and Germany) ending imminently, but there is nothing approaching the same probability elsewhere. If things turn out as projected here, we may be about to have a test of the locomotive theory - whether the big economies can pull along their smaller brethren - both for housing markets and generally.

2010-07-27 Why Immediate Annuities Make Sense by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

As they approach retirement, baby boomers are increasingly concerned about how best to manage their portfolios during the decumulation phase of their lives. One of the challenges for advisors and investors is understanding what role annuities should play, if any. Geoff Considine shows that immediate annuities should be an important part of a decumulation strategy.

2010-07-27 Robert Shiller: A Cautious Outlook for Stocks by Dan Richards (Article)

Dan Richards recently spoke with Robert Shiller, the Yale economist who foresaw the financial crisis and created the Case-Shiller housing index. Shiller discusses the potential for a double-dip recession, valuations in the US equity market, and the outlook for a housing recovery. This is the transcript of the interview.

2010-07-26 Betting on a Bubble, Bracing For a Fall by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Investors who will need to fund specific expenses within a short number of years - retirement needs, tuition, health care, home purchases etc. - should not be relying on a continued market advance. If your life plans would be significantly derailed by a major market decline, get out. In contrast, if you are pursuing a disciplined, long-term investment strategy, and you know from your own experience of the past decade that you are diversified enough to ride out periodic losses without abandoning that strategy, ignore my views (and those of everyone else) and stick to your discipline.

2010-07-22 California Municipal Markets - Confusion, Misconceptions and Reality by Jon Davis of HighMark Capital Management

There have been dramatic changes to the California municipal bond market over the last several years, creating new challenges for today's investor. Current state budgetary stress in California and across the U.S. may lead to a greater likelihood of possible ratings downgrades or defaults. Meanwhile, pension and entitlement obligation shortfalls will add additional pressure to future budgets. These trends have made fundamental credit analysis, valuation analysis, and a diversified portfolio vital.

2010-07-20 Why Not Another World War? by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

There is overwhelming agreement among economists that the Second World War was responsible for decisively ending the Great Depression. The truth is, however, that America cannot spend its way out of the current crisis, no matter how great a spectacle it creates. Even if the government spent on infrastructure rather than war, it would still have no means to fund it, and there would still be no guarantee that the economy would grow as a result. Instead, what the country needs is more savings, more free enterprise, more production and a return of American competitiveness in the global economy.

2010-07-20 Behavioral Finance Lesson - Frequent Flier Points? by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational

'Medium maximization' is when people focus on near-term concrete goals (such as frequent flyer miles), and while trying to maximize these immediate and clear goals forget or discount the real reason for their actions, such as maximizing their financial outcomes. Why do people engage in medium maximizations? Because they are easy. They give people a clear direction for behavior. Just having something measurable within reach can redirect our motivation, while having such immediate and concrete goals give us a sense of progress.

2010-07-20 Summer Essays by Jeremy Grantham of GMO

This is a summary of Jeremy Grantham's 2Q 2020 newsletter. Grantham says that weak a weak economy and declining or flat prices are likely for the immediate future. A global equity portfolio with annual returns of 6 percent plus inflation is still possible, however, by overweighting high quality U.S. stocks and underweighting other U.S. stocks. Grantham also comments on the financial reform bill, fear and speculation in the stock market, global warming, the 'seven lean years' hypothesis, aging populations and health care costs.

2010-07-19 Don't Take the Bait by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Investors who allow Wall Street to convince them that stocks are generationally cheap at current levels are like trout - biting down on the enticing but illusory bait of operating earnings, unaware of the hook buried inside. We should be skeptical about valuation metrics built on forward operating earnings and other measures that implicitly require U.S. profit margins to sustain levels about 50 percent above their historical norms indefinitely. More sober and historically reliable measures of market valuation create a much more challenging picture.

2010-07-19 U.S. Lessons From Last Week: A Fiscal Dead End by Komal Sri-Kumar of TCW Asset Management

With the Obama administration's $787 billion stimulus money mostly spent or committed, the fiscal deficit has risen and borrowing needs have gone up, but the private sector is still incapable of generating sufficient employment or economic growth. While the $8,000 first-time home buyer credit temporarily helped housing, and 'cash-for-clunkers' was a boon to the automotive industry and car dealers last fall, the end of programs like these has typically been marked by a falloff in demand.

2010-07-17 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

So much information; so little time to digest. While earnings season kicked off to some mixed results, investors also eyed critical news from BP, Goldman, Apple, the Fed, and even Playboy as they attempted to determine the next direction for the markets. The early weak euphoria was replaced by newfound late-week concerns and stocks did another about-face as the game of streaks continued. Aren’t the summers supposed to be slow and boring?

2010-07-13 Quarterly Commentary by Michael Golub of The Golub Group

Four main factors will help provide capital gains for blue-chip stocks over the next few years. The first is an over-inflated bond market, which will cause poor returns down the road. The second is a slow but steady return to an economy which has recovered to normal employment levels. The third is that corporations have more cash on their balance sheets than ever, and will use this cash to grow their businesses and hire new employees. The fourth is that due to cost-cutting and improved efficiency, leading corporations will show improved profitability, earnings and cash flow growth.

2010-07-13 Our Muni Market Perspective: The Sky is Not Falling by Team of American Century Investments

The muni market sky is not falling. Municipal credit downgrades and defaults are indeed likely to increase in the months ahead, even as the U.S. economy regroups and moves forward. It may seem odd that muni credit quality faces continued challenges at a time when businesses and other sectors of the economy are going ahead, but that's just an unfortunate feature of a lagging market, one that municipalities share with the labor market. In the long run, municipal bonds as an asset class still have credit quality second only to U.S. Treasury bonds.

2010-07-13 Country Risk: Building a New American Political Economy by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

In a column in yesterday's New York Times, economist Paul Krugman took Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to task for not doing more to combat deflation. And what should the Fed do according to Krugman? Print more money. More quantitative easing via purchases of private debt is the urgent recommendation of this leading American economist. While Krugman criticizes Ben Bernanke for being a Republican, however, it is worth noting that Krugman himself is not quite the socialist that he pretends to be. In fact, Krugman was once considered to be in the same political party as President Ronald Reagan.

2010-07-12 Misallocating Funds by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

The relative abundance of physical and educational capital has been a driver of U.S. prosperity for generations, and is the main reason why American workers earn more than their counterparts in the developing world. Neither advantage in capital, however, is intrinsic to American workers, and it will be impossible to prevent a long-term convergence of U.S. wages toward those of developing countries unless the U.S. efficiently allocates its resources to productive investment and educational quality.

2010-07-12 In Search of Your Sleeping Point by Cliff W. Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors

Asset allocation is an art involving quantitative analysis of financial markets combined with common sense. A buy-and-hold strategy is a dead decision during markets such as these. We have had the worst May in stocks since 1940. No credit still equals no jobs, China is destined for turmoil as its real estate market unwinds, and the Consumer Confidence Index is down to 52.9 in June from 62.7 in May. Fair value on the S&P is 950, which would indicate another 7 percent decline in stock prices from here.

2010-07-12 The Crowd Zigs, Time to Zag? by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

When the crowd is zigging, it is best to trust one's contrarian instincts and zag. The ratio of bearish to bullish investors has steadily risen since early May, when concerns about sovereign stability began to unravel. In the week ending July 8th, 57 percent of individual investors reported being bearish in the intermediate term, against only 21 percent that hold a bullish stance. Investor sentiment is sitting at the lowest point since March 2009, and we all know what happened in the intervening months.

2010-07-09 Late for Work? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Even in the face of signals that this labor market is, if anything, improving a bit faster than history would suggest, it is too early to rest easy. The intensity of the layoffs during the recession of 2008-09 could suggest that something very different is happening in this cycle and that rehiring may be held off longer than it might otherwise appear or not happen at all. Furthermore, the extended unemployment benefits may keep workers out of work - European style - much longer than they have typically stayed out.

2010-07-09 Emerging Market GDP Growth: The Past Two Decades, and Our Projections for the Next Decade by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Even with all the problems currently experienced in Japan, Europe, and the U.S., some parts of the world continue to grow vigorously. Guild's focus will be on the countries above which have strong prospects for growth. They will also focus on high-yielding income stocks which earn cash flows from the production of oil, and from gold, which will provide an anchor to windward in the current turbulent economic times. Today's markets will continue to produce those opportunities in the form of price weakness if we remain patient.

2010-07-08 Double-Dip Revisited by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The U.S. economy is very fragile and more vulnerable to exogenous shocks than has been the case in the past. It takes time for these shocks to percolate - six months in 1995 and 12 months in 1998 - and we have yet to feel the full brunt of the European debt crisis hit home, in terms of the depressing impact of their aggregate demand on our export growth. Where the offset from government stimulus comes from next will be interesting to see. If it's not fiscal policy or the Fed, then something tells us that the bond market is going to have to work that much harder.

2010-07-07 Paper Gold vs the Dollar? Interview with James Rickards by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

This commentary features an interview with James Rickards, senior managing director for market intelligence at Omnis, Inc., about the dollar and the outlook for the U.S. currency in the global economy. Mr. Rickards' career spans the period since 1976. He was a first-hand participant in the formation and growth of globalized capital markets and complex derivative trading strategies.

2010-07-06 Implications of a Likely Economic Downturn by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Instead of directing savings toward investments in real, productive assets that we would observe as physical output, fixed capital, and equipment (and claims on those assets in the form of corporate stocks and bonds), our economy has been forced to choke down a massive issuance of government liabilities in order to bail out bad debt. For every dollar of debt that should have defaulted, we now have two dollars of debt outstanding: the original debt, and a newly issued government security. What appears to be 'sideline cash' is simply the evidence of past spending.

2010-07-01 Ten Commandments for Fiscal Adjustment in Advanced Economies by Olivier Blanchard and Carlo Cottarelli of VoxEU

The G20 communiqué stresses the difficulty of balancing fiscal stimulus and fiscal consolidation. This column-written by one of the world's leading macroeconomists-sums up the research-based policy analysis of the issue. Put simply, what advanced countries need is clarity of intent, an appropriate calibration of fiscal targets, and adequate structural reforms – with a little help from monetary policy and their (emerging market) friends.

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 Winning Clients...By Being Dumb by Justin Locke (Article)

In this guest contribution, Justin Locke says "looking dumb" is a better strategy than trying to be smarter than your clients and prospects. Locke is a professional musician and author of a book we previously reviewed, The Principles of Applied Stupidity, and he outlines a key tactic to persuade prospects.

2010-06-29 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

In our letters to the editor, readers comment on two of last week's articles: Improving on Morningstar's Ratings: Moving Beyond Past Performance and The New Roth Rules: Are Your Clients Converting? Survey Results - April/May 2010.

2010-06-28 Recession Warning by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Warning: the US economy appears to be headed into a second round of decline. Looking at lessons learned across countries and centuries, Dr. John P. Hussman argues that that ‘the economy is again turning lower, and that there is a reasonable likelihood that the U.S. stock market will ultimately violate its March 2009 lows before the current adjustment cycle is complete.’ The current argument that this outcome is ‘unthinkable’ is not evidence but rather reflects reliance upon incomplete data and narrow-minded perspectives.

2010-06-25 Beyond the Growth Vs. Austerity Debate by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

This weekend’s G-20 meeting will likely fuel, not resolve, the heated debate triggered by a combination of exploding debt and deficits in industrial countries, and the recognition that many now face a future of muted growth and high unemployment. In one corner stand the 'growth now' camp, arguing that expansion is a prerequisite to service their debt sustainably. Against them stand the 'austerity now' camp, who want budget cuts to lower risk premiums and stave off disruptive debt restructurings. The two sides are both right, and wrong.

2010-06-25 Suiting Up For a Post-Dollar World by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

The U.S. has always benefited from its reserve-currency status, which allows it to accumulate unsustainable debts for an unusually long period without the immediate repercussions of inflation or higher borrowing costs. This false sense of security, however, may be setting us up for a truly monumental crash. After two decades as net sellers of gold, foreign central banks have now become net buyers. What's more, more than half of central bank officials surveyed by UBS didn't think the dollar would be the world's reserve in 2035.

2010-06-24 Daring to Compare Today to the 30s by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Look at what we have today: No room to cut rates. No room – let alone political will – to cut taxes. And, in contrast to starting a new war, the U.S. is going to be pulling troops out of Afghanistan, which is a good thing for the troops and their families, but in terms of GDP impact it does represent fiscal withdrawal. The options to resuscitate the economy when it enters a 2002-03 style growth collapse are extremely thin, and probably lie on the Fed’s balance sheet, which means the bond-bullion barbell will likely remain a viable strategy.

2010-06-24 No Surprises from the Fed by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The Federal Open Market Committee surprised no one with its decision to keep the Fed funds target rate in a range between zero and 0.25 percent, where it's been since December 2008. The new statement marked the first time since the economic recovery began last summer that the Fed had to slightly dial back its language about the pace of the recovery. Stocks rallied immediately after the announcement, but in light of rampant intraday volatility lately, it's way too soon to judge if there will be any longer-term impact.

2010-06-22 China Rising by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors

China just decided it will once again let its currency - the yuan - get stronger against the U.S. dollar. Yuan appreciation will do two things. First, it will lower Chinese inflation relative to U.S. inflation. Second, it will raise the living standards of Chinese citizens. Where previously the Chinese government might have wanted the peg in order to encourage export growth, now the political calculus is starting to favor expanding the purchasing power of its workers. This is a sign of maturity for both the economy and Chinese policymakers.

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.

2010-06-22 Three New Ways to Use LinkedIn to Market Your Business by Kristen Luke (Article)

LinkedIn is constantly evolving and has become a better marketing tool in the process, writes Kristen Luke. If you haven't logged in recently, here are three new ways you can use the site to market your business.

2010-06-22 Navigating Fears of the Bond Market by James Pressler of Northern Trust

The need to keep the bond market happy while implementing often far-reaching fiscal reforms is most acute across Europe, where the outlook is for weak real GDP growth into 2011 – albeit with significant variations between countries. Conversely, the recoveries in Asia and in the Americas have effectively eliminated fears of sovereign defaults but now concerns over economic overheating will dominate. The U.S will eventually have to address its own public debt overhang, but for now is enjoying a temporary safe-haven status.

2010-06-21 Cliffhanger by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

If one thinks of the data as telling a story, the picture here would be a cliffhanger - where our hero dangles from a steep precipice, clutching a rock of uncertain strength, and the evidence is not clear about which outcome will prevail. One possible outcome is continuity, and the other is abrupt change. It's possible that things will resolve well, but we have to consider the possibility that they will not. Investors should make sure that a significant market decline would not derail their financial security or future plans, or cause them to abandon their discipline after the fact.

2010-06-21 China's Currency Shift Not a Game-Changer by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The big news over the weekend was the move by China to end the yuan peg to the U.S. dollar. This delink will allow the People’s Bank of China to pursue its own independent monetary policy. In turn, this will help to ease global trade imbalances, ward off the threat of trade protectionism, alleviate domestic credit strains and inflation pressures and accelerate the Chinese shift from export-led to consumer-led growth. It also suggests that the Chinese authorities have confidence in the sustainability of the global recovery.

2010-06-21 Talking the Economy: Alex Pollock, Bruce Bartlett and Josh Rosner by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

This commentary features snippets from interviews by IRA co-founder Chris Whalen for his upcoming book, Inflated: How Money and Debt Built the American Dream, which is scheduled for release in November. Alex Pollock of the American Enterprise Institute, Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan and Treasury official under President George H.W. Bush, and Josh Rosner, principal of Graham-Fisher, all discuss the economic outlook.

2010-06-18 Life in the Fast Lane: Volatility and Uncertainty Abound! by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

A 'square root' recovery is the most likely scenario: a V-shaped initial recovery followed by a flat-line period of growth. With the peaking in the US leading indicators in April, a likely double-dip in the euro area, slowing growth in China and rising US taxes, the beginning of a soft patch for the economy is likely upon us. This next phase has been accompanied by heightened volatility, a characteristic that is unlikely to go away. However, the current rally off the recent lows has legs.

2010-06-15 'May Momentum Killers' Supported Economic, Rate Outlooks by Team of American Century Investments

Now that stocks are suffering a bona fide correction this quarter and Treasury yields are again pricing in low inflation expectations in the near term, the case for a long, slow, grinding economic recovery with continued low interest rates for months to come is a lot easier to make than it was seven weeks ago. Money market and FDIC-insured accounts should provide the most predictable path with the least price fluctuation. Investors who want more yield and return should consider high-quality short-maturity bonds and bond funds.

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 June Economic Update by Team of Cambridge Advisors

Former hedge fund manager Keith McCullough compares America's current situation to Lehman in 2008 in that it is borrowing short to fund long-term liabilities. We can see the effect that high sovereign debt is having in Europe, and the U.S. is heading down a similar path. U.S. debt as a percentage of GDP is already higher than that of troubled Spain. Analysts have warned that higher taxes alone will not be enough to solve America's debt problem. Reduced government spending is needed and higher inflation may be unavoidable.

2010-06-15 Are You What You Eat? by Matteo M. Galizzi and Marisa Miraldo of VoxEU

Smoking, heavy drinking, and being overweight are known causes of disease. This column presents experimental evidence to try and understand why people ignore this advice. It compares lifestyle choices with people's attitudes to risk and their patience, finding that while people with an unhealthy lifestyle are no more risk-loving than other people, they are more impatient.

2010-06-14 Born on Third Base by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Wall Street seems to have no idea that every bit of growth we've observed over the past year can be traced to government deficit spending, with zero private sector expansion when those deficits are factored out. Unless the credit spreads, the S&P 500, or the yield curve reverse, a further decline in the Purchasing Managers Index to 54 or below would be sufficient to confirm a 'double-dip recession.' By itself, such a level might not be particularly troublesome. In concert with other evidence, however, it would be sufficient to complete the syndrome of risk factors.

2010-06-14 Disagreeing with Laffer About 2011 by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors

Economist Arthur Laffer recently fretted about the economic impact of the expiring 2003 Bush tax cuts, writing that the tax hikes would lift growth in 2010, but cause a double-dip recession in 2011 when the rates actually went up. The problem with economics, however, is that there are always multiple things happening at once. Back in 1993, the Federal Reserve was holding the federal funds rate at 3 percent - a clear policy of easy money. This helped offset the impact of the tax hikes and kept the economy growing.

2010-06-11 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

So just who is corporate public enemy number one these days: BP? Goldman Sachs? AIG? While BP has been garnering much of the negative attention these days, Goldman’s unfavorable image resurfaced (and, of course, AIG always remains lurking in the background, especially whenever Goldman’s challenges are revealed). This week, the markets tried to disregard that negativity and equities enjoyed their first “up” week in the past month. Even a late-week lower-than-expected retail sales release couldn’t overcome the new-found optimism of some well-timed ECB and Fed comments.

2010-06-09 Hungary Suffers from Foot-in-Mouth Syndrome by Nouriel Roubini of RGE Monitor

While Hungary may not be 'another Greece,' the country's government announced an economic action plan last week aimed at reining in public finances amidst growing investor concern. The plan includes a special bank tax, public sector spending cuts, a cut in the corporate tax rate, and a recommendation to ban foreign exchange-denominated mortgage lending. It's unclear, however, that this plan will be enough for Hungary to reduce its deficit to meet this year's 3.8 percent of GDP target agreed upon with the IMF.

2010-06-08 Weekly Commentary & Update by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

The year-over-year advance in current indicators is at a 50-week low and could be ready to turn negative soon. This has happened 12 times in the past and it produced only 3 recessions. Consequently, it is too early to predict a double dip for this year, but clearly a slowing down is in the cards and this along with the absence of temporary census workers will make for several months of disappointing employment numbers. President Obama needs to get some better advice from his advisers as to how to handle this situation.

2010-06-07 Rajiv Sethi on High Frequency Equity Trading by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

This commentary features a piece by Barnard economics professor Rajiv Sethi on high-frequency trading and its implications for the use of equity-market data, both for profit and risk management. Sethi notes that trading must be based on fundamental information rather than pure market data for prices to remain stable. Banning specific classes of algorithms is unlikely to provide a lasting solution to the problem, however, unless the advantage is shifted decisively and persistently in favor of strategies that feed information to the market instead of extracting it from technical data.

2010-06-01 The Essential Quality that Sets Top Performers Apart by Dan Richards (Article)

Ask industry veterans about what really sets top producers apart and you'll get lots of suggestions, says Dan Richards. Intellect, discipline, work ethic, people skills and focus would all be put forward - and a case can be made for the importance of all of these. There is one attribute, however, that every true top performer has in large quantity.

2010-06-01 Social Media & Reputation Management for Financial Advisors by Dan Sommer (Article)

As a financial advisor, your reputation is one of your most important prospecting tools. While the internet presents a wealth of marketing benefits, one downside is potentially losing control of your reputation. In this guest contribution, Dan Sommer shows how to make sure that doesn't happen.

2010-06-01 Oil and Red Ink by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

It's no longer reasonable to apply previous risk estimates even after we've observed a major disaster. Before the housing crisis, it might have been tempting to shrug off mortgage defaults as relatively isolated events, since the price of housing had generally experienced a long upward trend over time. Indeed, historically, sustained declines in home prices could be shown to be very low probability events. But as the bubble continued, investors made little attempt to assess the probability of a debt crisis.

2010-06-01 Weekly Commentary & Update by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Our domestic economy, while still growing, is in the process of slowing down. This does not mean a double dip by any means. It just means that a meaningful reduction in the unemployment rate is almost certainly out of the question. Businesses simply will not expand payrolls if they determine that growth is slowing down. Corporate profits and the immediate outlook remain fine, however. Interest rates are near historic lows and any attempt to change that policy is so far into the future that it will not concern investors any longer.

2010-06-01 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Even though Social Security has built up a $2.5 trillion surplus over the past 25 years, it is projected that over the next 75 years the program will rack up a $5.3 trillion deficit. A new report from a special bipartisan Congressional committee recommends that we raise the Social Security tax, reduce benefits and increase the age of eligibility in order to make up the difference. ProVise also comments on Congressional salaries, a new scam targeting investors, taxes on IRA accounts, education and salary, primary elections, rising stamp costs and trust management.

2010-05-30 The Fallacy of Fair Value Accounting; Original Sin: Peter Wallison on Bear Stearns by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

In this issue of The Institutional Risk Analyst, we opine on the latest fair value accounting proposal from the FASB and why market structure is the causation of our collective woe. We then feature a comment by Peter Wallison of AEI talking about the “original sin” of rescuing Bear Stearns and how it made the financial crisis far worse because of the importance of “narrative” – the very same issue that is the focus of Nassim Taleb’s book The Black Swan.

2010-05-28 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Move over Greece…here comes Spain. While one tiny euro country dominated the press for months, another looks to be taking over the headlines. This week, Spain announced significant budget cuts, and then its debt was downgraded by Fitch right before the weekend began (and after many traders had departed). China offered a “vote of confidence” for the euro-zone (at least, before the Fitch move). At home, the numbers continue to impress and say “recovery,” though investors can’t help but keep an eye (or two) on Europe as equities suffered their worst month since February 2009.

2010-05-28 Senate Passes Major Financial Reform Bill by Michael T. Townsend of Charles Schwab

The US Senate approved legislation overhauling the regulatory structure of the financial industry—the most sweeping reform of the sector since the Depression. House and Senate negotiators must now reconcile differences between the newly passed Senate bill and the one that passed the House late last year, but lawmakers are shooting to send a final bill to President Obama for his signature by July 4. Key features of the bill are outlined, from a new consumer financial protection agency to significant reform of the credit-rating agencies.

2010-05-25 The Prospecting Approach that Works Today by Dan Richards (Article)

The problem with viewing a prospect conversation as an event is that you have to ask for a firm commitment at the end of any interaction - whether it is a request to meet when talking on the phone or asking for a decision to invest when meeting face-to-face, according to Dan Richards. All too often, that request will be premature - and if it's too soon in the process, the prospect feels under the gun. Richards offers a solution.

2010-05-25 Sleeping with the Enemy by John W. Pfenenger II, CFA (Article)

When it comes to investing, our worst enemy may be the one we see in the mirror every morning - ourselves. In this guest contribution, John Pfenenger looks at how emotions affect investment decisions, and how understanding behavioral economics can help advisors work with their clients.

2010-05-25 Return of the Nervous Weekend by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

Having over-romanticized the cyclical bounce, some investors are now scrambling to reposition their overextended portfolios now that structural problems are undeniable. The disruption in financial markets is not a garden-variety market fluctuation. Instead, it’s an overdue recognition that the global economy faces an uncertain future that involves slower growth and greater government regulation. Structural problems require structural solutions. The question is whether policymakers in Europe will acknowledge this, or remain hostage to hope for an immaculate recovery.

2010-05-24 Comment: Clifford Rossi on the Need for the Office of Financial Research by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

This commentary features a contribution by Clifford Rossi, managing director of the Center for Financial Policy at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. Rossi writes in support of a proposal by Senator Chris Dodd to establish the Office of Financial Research, which would aggregate enterprise-wide views of risk at large financial firms. Critics say the OFR would represent an unwarranted breach of privacy. The new division was included in the Senate financial reform bill, but is in danger of being dropped during the final reconciliation process.

2010-05-24 Don't Mess With Aunt Minnie by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

In medicine, an Aunt Minnie is a particular set of symptoms that is distinctly characteristic of a specific disease, even if each of the individual symptoms might be fairly common. Last week, we observed an Aunt Minnie featuring a collapse in market internals that has historically been associated with sharply negative market implications. Historically, we can identify 19 instances in the past 50 years where the weekly data featured broadly negative internals, coupled with at least 3-to-1 negative breadth, and a leadership reversal.

2010-05-18 Search Engine Marketing for Financial Advisors by Dan Sommer (Article)

How do you take advantage of search engine marketing as a financial advisor? The goal of search engine marketing is to ensure that your website appears on as many results pages as possible for queries that relate to your business, and in this guest contribution Dan Somer explains the details of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising.

2010-05-18 Sovereign Debt Crisis Drives Volatility Higher by Bob Doll of BlackRock

Investors have grown increasingly concerned about the potential for contagion from Europe, fearing credit issues could affect other markets. While European Union rescue plans do not address the underlying fundamental issues facing Greece and other countries, however, immediate liquidity risks should be contained in the short term. On a relative basis, U.S. markets have benefited from the uncertainty, as investors have continued to view the United States as a higher-quality haven for their assets. This makes U.S. stocks more attractive than those of other developed markets.

2010-05-17 Submerged Seconds: Zombie Love and the Failure of Mortgage Modification by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration have sucked out most of the credit problems from the banks. Now they are mutating into hideous, cash-eating monsters as loans go bad and federal guarantees are honored. The losses at Fannie, Freddie and the FHA come in large part because of the underwriting decisions made by the banks. Literally millions of homeowners are in various stages of delinquency or default on their mortgages - and for many, the federal government is now the guarantor.

2010-05-17 Difficult Choices Still Facing Europe by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

The beneficial impact of last weekend’s $1 trillion 'shock and awe' intervention by Europe to save Greece and safeguard the euro is fading - even more quickly than officials had feared. This is the result of two main factors. First, having analyzed the news out of Europe in depth, markets recognize that the liquidity-based approach cannot sustainably address what is at heart a solvency problem. Second, markets are concerned that short-term stability is being pursued at the cost of long-term viability.

2010-05-13 Driving Without a Spare by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

Mohamed El-Erian recounts the results of last week's PIMCO Secular Forum on the three- to five-year outlook for the global economy and the markets. Participants concluded that we are heading toward a world that is re-regulated, de-levered, and growing less rapidly in the industrial countries. It will be a world in which concerns about the dark side of globalization temper enthusiasm for its net benefits, and in which politics matter a lot for markets and the economy. The drama playing out in Europe these days is a vivid illustration of this general secular characterization.

2010-05-12 A Typical European Response To An Atypical European Problem by Victoria Marklew of Northern Trust

Markets heaved a sigh of relief this week after European Union officials announced their $1 trillion rescue plan to save the euro. European states, however, will still have to face medium-term problems concerning fiscal deficits and economic restructuring. Demands that Spain make a renewed commitment to fiscal austerity suggest a new level of cross-country intervention. And the big issue has been swept under the carpet: how to ensure prudent fiscal policy-making across the 16 members of a monetary alliance with strong national identities and prickly memories of past hostilities.

2010-05-11 Predicting Financial Crises by Charlie Curnow (Article)

MIT Sloan School senior finance lecturer Mark Kritzman thinks he has found a warning signal to predict the onset of financial crises in a new statistical model called the absorption ratio. The absorption ratio predicts systemic risk by measuring how tightly markets are coupled, and thus how vulnerable they are to the spread of negative shocks.

2010-05-11 Two 'Takes' on the Latest GDP Growth Figure by Team of American Century Investments

Overall, the preliminary report of first quarter GDP growth was good news for consumers, businesses and investors seeking to finally put the Great Recession in the past. Consumer spending and business investment are both showing healthy signs of growth, which is to be expected during the early phases of a recovery. Concerns are now focused not on whether we are in a recovery phase, but whether the recovery will be strong enough to pull us out of the large hole the recession created.

2010-05-11 Join a Professional Association – Just Not Your Own Profession by Kristen Luke (Article)

Don't limit your involvement in professional associations to your own profession, says Kristen Luke. To actively market your business, spend more time with professional associations that pertain to your prospective clients than for your own industry.

2010-05-11 Tagline, You’re It by Wendy J. Cook (Article)

Have you ever noticed that it can be easier to write a 6,000-word treatise than to come up with six perfect words, like, say, "You're in good hands with Allstate®"? As Wendy Cook writes, sometimes less is more - more frustrating, that is. How do you say a lot with a little in corporate taglines?

2010-05-10 Value at Risk: Equity Market Volatility is All About Liquidity by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

Stress indices indicate that the U.S. banking industry is officially on the mend in terms of building reserves, but the credit cleanup continues even as new events climb over the horizon. The volatility last Thursday was a reminder of the huge uncertainty that remains in markets today, uncertainty that produced a liquidity-driven downdraft in prices for some very large cap names. One of the big drivers of the equity volatility is the Fed's zero rate policy, which is forcing investors to search for yield in some very strange places.

2010-05-10 Euro-Sclerosis No Longer and Last Week's Market by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

In what can only be described as a spectacular showing of solidarity, European Union finance ministers managed to cobble together a 750 billion euro stabilization program. This is over and above the 110 billion euro Greek bailout package announced last week and is widely seen as a very powerful countermove against the 'wolf pack' that had been attacking the peripheral euro area financial markets over the past few weeks. Equities, commodities , credit and lower-tiered sovereign bonds should all improve markedly. Gluskin also comments on last week's uncertainty in capital markets.

2010-05-10 Greek Debt and Backward Induction by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Despite the potential for a short burst of relief, the broader concern about deficits in the euro area make it unlikely that global investors will be appeased by a large bailout of Greece, or will go forward on the assumption that all is back to normal once that happens. Looking at the current state of the world economy, the underlying reality remains little changed: There is more debt outstanding than is capable of being properly serviced. Hussman also comments on overbought equity markets, and the current market climate.

2010-05-05 The Commodities Con by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners

Investor allocation to commodities has grown dramatically in recent years - to the point where commodities have become a mainstream asset class. Commodity prices have thus at least partly been driven not by fundamental demand but by demand from financial investors eager to diversify their equity risk and attracted to the seemingly high probability of generating uncorrelated returns. What these investors do not seem to understand, however, is that now that traders themselves determine market prices, the promised land of uncorrelated returns is little more than wishful thinking.

2010-05-04 Whitney George and Review Spotlight by Whitney George of The Royce Funds

Royce co-chief investment officer Whitney George discusses in an interview why it's a good time to be an investor with a disciplined, long-term approach, even as the rally's pace continues to slacken. Plenty of companies are mispriced due to low expectations in the short run, but look promising over the long run. In addition, in a market review, Royce looks ahead to determine what level of returns investors can expect from equities over the course of the decade. Going forward, quality companies across all market caps should outperform in both up and down markets.

2010-05-03 Violating the No-Ponzi Condition by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Greece has insufficient economic growth, enormous deficits (nearly 14 percent of GDP), a heavy existing debt burden as a proportion of GDP (over 120 percent), accruing at high interest rates (about 8 percent), payable in a currency that it is unable to devalue. This creates a violation of what economists call the 'transversality' or 'no-Ponzi' condition. Unless Greece implements enormous fiscal austerity, its debt will grow faster than the rate that investors use to discount it back to present value.

2010-05-03 Do a Good Job: Interview With Senator Ernest Hollings by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

This commentary features an interview with former senator Ernest Hollings, a Democrat from South Carolina. Hollings was elected to the Senate in 1966. He is a social liberal and a fiscal hawk who regularly puts his Senate colleagues to shame on issues such as Social Security and the budget, according to Institutional Risk Analyst. Hollings supports new limits on campaign donations in exchange for lower corporate taxes. He also supports a new Value Added Tax, as well as tariffs to protect domestic industries and prevent the offshore outsourcing of jobs.

2010-04-30 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Goldman’s Fabulous Fab may not seem so fabulous these days, at least, not to the grandstanding Congresspersons and federal prosecutors. During the week, investors should have had plenty to cheer about: earnings remained strong, the economy continued in rebound mode, the Fed offered some positive comments and kept rates unchanged at low levels. However, equities plummeted as news from the EU raised some additional concerns about the global economy and the perpetual bailouts of other European countries (Spain and Portugal). And, as for Goldman Sachs…memories of 1990 Drexel Burnham?

2010-04-28 Greece, Europe and the Significance of Yesterday's Market Action by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The Euro bounced back this morning, and the flight to higher quality German and French bonds has partly reversed course as markets swirl with speculation that the IMF will announce a stepped-up aid package. The problem, however, is that if Greece is bailed out then Portugal, Ireland, Spain and perhaps Italy may not be far behind. The inability of Greece - and others within European monetary union - to enact an independent monetary policy at a time of crisis has exposed the flaws of the union. The lack of a cohesive national government is another flaw in times of turbulence.

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.

2010-04-23 To Peg or Not to Peg? by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Just as it is always better to be rich than to be poor, it is always better to have a strong currency than a weak one. The effect of current Chinese currency policy is to make the U.S. dollar more valuable and the yuan less valuable. Whenever the Chinese government decides to end the peg, the Chinese economy will benefit as a result. While as citizens we can hope that U.S. leaders respond with the right policies to enable our economy to regain its former glory, as investors we should position ourselves to benefit from the more certain outcome.

2010-04-22 U.S. Politics and Bank Reform Legislation by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Election years often bring wild political actions as politicians defend their poor records by blaming anything that comes to mind. If the rhetoric against banks is not too strong, the rally could continue. If the rhetoric gets out of hand, we will see a market correction for a few weeks with a resumption of stock price increases later in the year. Guild continues to invest in Asian growth countries, oil, gold, and export driven companies who can grow earnings while shipping products worldwide.

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.

2010-04-19 Earning More by Setting Aside Less by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Overall, the current data presents at best a mixed picture of credit conditions. Investors should not be surprised by a significant second wave of credit strains. It seems unwise for investors to celebrate variations of a few basis points in delinquency rates, however. It seems equally unwise to celebrate 'favorable' bank earnings reports that are exclusively driven by reduced loan loss provisions, particularly when the volume of impaired loans has not declined proportionately.

2010-04-19 Higher Inflation, Not Hyperinflation by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors

Some analysts have proposed inflating/devaluing our way out of this debt crisis. The theory is that with deficits already so large and no immediate prospects for spending control, the US government may have to resort to an Argentina-style monetary policy to pay for its largesse. Hyperinflation with a side order of devaluation, however, is not a free lunch. That was a lesson learned all too well in the 1970s. And now, with future entitlement spending making the current securitized debt small by comparison, it makes even less sense for the government to pursue.

2010-04-15 Europe Fiddles, Gold Sizzles by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Much to the relief of jittery global markets, Greece's chronic debt problem has been papered over in a burst of European solidarity and apparent magnanimity. This act of mercy, however, may cost Germany its key position of financial dominance over the European Central Bank, which, in turn, could be detrimental to the long-term health of the euro. And so even though the euro stiffened once the immediate default fears abated, the price of gold was pushed to a new all-time high in euro terms, and a five-month high in dollar terms.

2010-04-14 What are the Political Implications of Poland's Tragedy? by Nouriel Roubini of RGE Monitor

The April 10 plane crash that killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski and a number of other top public figures, including the head of Poland's central bank, has caused major distress in the Polish political landscape. However, the country's constitutional mechanisms should facilitate a smooth institutional transition and ensure long-term stability. The event is unlikely to cause major geopolitical tensions, and RGE thinks speculation in some media outlets about increased tension with Russia is overdone.

2010-04-09 Market Thoughts by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The recent rally shows us that markets can stay overvalued far longer than many people realize. While technicals and momentum could take the market higher in the near term, investors should still not abandon capital-preservation strategies. The primary trend is what is important, not the noise surrounding it. Right now the primary trend is one of private sector credit contraction, as well as excess supply in finished goods, retail space, houses and labor, all of which is deflationary. This makes an ongoing emphasis on income-gathering securities and assets critical.

2010-04-06 Health Care RX by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

It will take months to sort out all the implications of the immense health care bill, with all its arcane provisions and so-called 'fixes.' For all the uncertainty, however, it seems definite that the government will play a new role in student lending, that taxes will rise, that insurers will receive millions of new customers, that generic pharmaceuticals will benefit and that federal budget deficits will grow despite Congressional Budget Office projections. Finally, if the November elections bring a backlash, there could be new rounds of negotiations and reforms.

2010-04-06 behavioral leapfrog by tom brakke of the research puzzle

Analyst projections of earnings per share values help define the market's expectations. Analysts, however, tend to factor in the estimates of other analysts when making their projections, and this leads to a game of behavioral leapfrog that can drive estimates up or down over time independent of actual performance. This leaves investors with a choice. We can adopt strategies that take advantage of the game of leapfrog that we observe, or we can do our homework and, if the time is right, get out ahead of the army of frogs by taking the biggest leap we can.

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 A Review of "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis by Michael Edesess (Article)

"The Big Short" tackles the financial meltdown as seen by four relatively minor, but colorful players. (Minor means running only hundreds of millions, not billions.) All of them were voices in the wilderness, writes Michael Edesess, our reviewer. All of them bet heavily against the subprime real estate bubble that, for a while, fueled huge gains.

2010-04-05 Half Empty or Half Full? by Scott Welch of Fortigent

Global equity markets closed out the quarter well, with all major world indices except China posting positive quarterly performance. Earnings improvements, dramatic P/E expansion and a slowly recovering global economy all contributed to the run-up. Several potentially dark clouds, however, float across an otherwise sunny investment sky. One is simply a function of the extended market rally and corresponding expansion in market P/E ratios. By several indicators, the market seems to be veering into over-valued territory. Fortigent also comments on muted but real GDP growth, and the week ahead.

2010-04-05 Weekly Commentary and Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

The unemployment report for March showed that employers added 162,000 nonfarm payroll jobs last month, but the unemployment rate stayed steady at 9.7 percent. The economy needs to add 200,000 jobs per month just to stay even given population growth and new entrants into the labor pool, including immigrants and college graduates. From an investor's perspective, however, the news remains encouraging. The data shows conclusively that economic activity is advancing despite the sluggish job market. Higher activity without higher costs spells higher profits.

2010-04-01 Knowing Your Shareholder Rights by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

This week, I talk about an issue that I think is important for investors, especially for long-term investors. It is not enough just to identify the next “big opportunity”, but, having identified it and invested in it, you need persistence and determination to ensure that your investment stays on the right track.

2010-03-30 Relativity and Immediate Gratification by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational

This post features a video by Jeff Monday of the blog mondaydots. Just as our eyes can be tricked by optical illusions, Monday says, our minds can be tricked by cognitive illusions. We tend to measure our alternatives based on relative information. This tendency toward relativity often causes us to lose out on absolute gains by leading us into the trap of immediate gratification. In order to avoid these sorts of traps, we must establish external cognitive rulers to help measure absolute gains and losses.

2010-03-29 Bank Profile: First Interstate BancSystem (FIBK); Achim Dübel on Covered Bond Legislation by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

This post features a comment from international mortgage finance consultant Achim Dubel of German financial think tank Finpolconsult. Dubel says that legislation proposed by Representative Scott Garrett of New Jersey to create a covered bond market in the U.S. needs to be changed if it is to restore investor trust and provide needed new liquidity to real estate markets. Legacy problems with shaky assets of all colors on bank balance sheets should be solved via bad banks and/or bank insolvency and restructuring, not through a new secondary market for bank mortgages.

2010-03-29 Weekly Commentary and Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

The stock market shrugged off the passage of Obamacare and moved higher last week based on the resolution of the debt crises in Dubai and Greece, as well as definite signs that corporate profits remain strong. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the NASDAQ Composite gained around 1 percent, even as Treasury yields started to move higher. This week's employment report should see gains of 200,000 jobs or more. While the impact will be overstated, job creation this large could change perceptions.

2010-03-24 Taking the Man at His Word by Jeffrey Bronchick of Reed, Conner & Birdwell

Berkshire Hathaway is more economically cyclical that it has been in the past, and would have a much bigger tailwind in an improving economy. The stock also tends to be seasonally strong into the annual meeting. Investors should not squeeze every last dollar of potential profit out of an investment, however, without considering risk. We will therefore take the company at its word: 'The past growth rate in Berkshire’s book value per share is not an indication of future results and our book value per share will likely NOT increase in the future at a rate even close to its past rate.'

2010-03-24 Rocking-Horse Winner by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Prudent lending must be directed not only towards sovereigns that can escape a debt trap, but ones that can do so with a minimum of reflationary consequences and currency devaluation. A unit of quality credit spread will do better than a unit of duration. Rates face a future bear market if global reflation is successful as central banks eventually normalize quantitative easing policies and 0 percent yields. Spreads in appropriate sovereign and corporate credits are a better bet as long as global contagion is contained. If not, a rush to the safety of Treasury bills lies ahead.

2010-03-23 Barron's' Pension Warning Doesn't Change Our Pension Outlook by Team of American Century Investments

A recent Barron's magazine piece about unfunded public pension liabilities painted an otherwise solid bond sector with a broad negative brush. While pension liabilities are a serious problem for state and local governments, they are neither a new problem nor an immediate problem, and they are not the most pressing issue that municipalities face in the post-recession environment, according to American Century Investments credit research director David Moore. Despite unfunded pension liabilities, no state runs a serious risk of default on its general debt obligation.

2010-03-23 Hard Lessons from a Lost Account by Dan Richards (Article)

A couple of weeks ago Dan Richards talked to an investor who had recently switched advisors - and who provided an example of the stress that investors experience when they're not sure whether their advisor is really on top of their financial affairs. "What I look for are people who are proactive and are always thinking about my situation so that I don't have to," an investor told Richards. "That's what I look for in my accountant, that's what I look for in my lawyer - and that's what I look for in my financial advisor."

2010-03-19 The Folly of Peer Group Analysis by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

The global financial crisis has led to a significant remake of the active manager opportunity set, but don’t let the ever-shifting sands of survivorship and backfill biased peer group returns fool you. Indexing is a smart bet. Importantly, if you want to be a “survivor,” remember the biases of peer groups because what may look like a smart active manager “alliance” could turn out to be a vote off the island of investment success…caveat emptor!

2010-03-18 How will an RMB revaluation affect China, the US, and the world? by Michael Pettis of Michael Pettis

Even if the U.S. took unilateral action to force a revaluation of the RMB and restore the balance of trade, it would take years to wean China away from its undervalued currency. An optimal solution would be to work out a multilateral plan that ends manufacturing subsidies in China, Japan and Germany and returns income to households, while the U.S. and the U.K. shift income from households to investment. Such a global solution, however, may prove politically intractable. Any country that benefits in the short term from stonewalling the adjustment process will probably do so.

2010-03-16 Rational Deficit: An Interview with Dan Ariely by John Heins (Article)

Through creative research and clever articulation of his ideas, behavioral economist Dan Ariely has established himself as one of the brightest thinkers today on the subject of human decision-making, particularly with respect to influences of which we are largely unaware. In this wide-ranging interview with the investment newsletter Value Investor Insight, Ariely describes the unwitting biases that can lead to bad decisions and what investors can do to guard against them.

2010-03-13 Postcard from Southeast Asia by Sharat Shroff of Matthews Asia

Asian entrepreneurs are confident about their long-term prospects. Despite this confidence, however, some countries still need to develop stronger institutional frameworks. Billions of dollars worth of new projects for an industrial zone in the Gulf of Thailand have been halted since an environmental lawsuit was filed two years ago. And failings associated with the 2008 government bailout of Indonesia's PT Bank Century point to institutional weaknesses in that country. Failure to address these institutional issues could cost Asian economies crucial capital from foreign investors.

2010-03-13 The Implications of Velocity by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Mauldin examines the relationship between the velocity of money, economic growth and inflation. After reviewing the economic theory, he shows that the velocity of money in the US has decreased since the onset of the financial crisis, and attributes this to deleveraging and the pullback from the financial innovations that accelerated the velocity of money, particularly in the 1990s. The Fed has compensated for the slowdown in velocity by increasing the money supply, and Mauldin questions whether the Fed can effectively reduce the money supply once velocity increases.

2010-03-12 Bubbling over in China? by Bill McBride of Calculated Risk

As long as the Chinese government taps the brakes on the housing market whenever necessary, a steep drop in home prices is unlikely. This assumes the government learned from its mistakes in late 2007, when it adjusted too hard. Given the sentiment and concern out of Beijing about keeping a balanced economy as the world recovers, strong movements to dampen the Chinese housing market are unlikely. It is more likely that the government will continue to use the banks, as well as rules on second mortgages, to cool specific locations through 2010 while letting the overall market grow.

2010-03-11 What the PBoC Cannot Do with Its Reserves by Michael Pettis of Michael Pettis

What the People's Bank of China does to the value of China's currency and how it invests its reserves matter a lot to China and the world, but not always in the way China and the world think. To get it right, we need to keep in mind the functioning of the balance of payments, the PBoC and other balance sheets, and the way the two are interrelated.

2010-03-10 Will the Bond Vigilantes Ride Again? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Projected deficits will remain too large for too long to avoid raising serious concerns about inflation, the dollar's value and the economy's fundamental growth potential. When investors return to these questions, chances are that the bond vigilantes who made pricing so tumultuous in the early 1990s will come back. Those vigilantes were unwilling to tolerate any red ink in federal finances during the Clinton administration. If President Obama wants to prevent bond vigilantism, he must end the current policy uncertainty and present a credible, balanced plan to control the future flow of debt.

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 Mark-to-Market Accounting: OneWest and WaMu by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

One year ago, OneWest Bank Group purchased the banking operation of the IndyMac Federal Bank, which was being operated in conservatorship by the FDIC. As with the purchase of Washington Mutual by JPMorgan Chase, the subsidy in these deals came from the write-down of the assets of the failed bank. All of the potential claims against the parent companies of WaMu and IndyMac for rescission of securitized loans are sitting in bankruptcy court, where they will likely remain and die.

2010-03-08 Follow-up on Greece: A Lesson on Iceland by Komal Sri-Kumar of TCW Asset Management

Voters in Iceland rejected a referendum on a $5.3 billion debt repayment arrangement with British and Dutch depositors in the failed Icesave Bank. Iceland's real GDP declined by 7 percent in 2009, and voters feared that the debt burden, along with austerity measures from the IMF, would make economic prospects even worse. Similarly, whether Greece receives loans from France and Germany or meets its $31 billion April and May funding requirements from bond investors, the country's debt burden will probably increase and constrain future growth prospects.

2010-03-06 Welcome to the Future by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Mauldin reflects on an executive program held by the Singularity University that he recently attended. He discusses the potential for new advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, water purification, biotechnology, and several other areas.

2010-03-05 Too Big to Fail: Now, the European Version by Komal Sri-Kumar of TCW Asset Management

Too big to fail remains the governing precept of the United States since the bank bailout. A similar drama is now playing out surrounding the Greek debt crisis. Even though a bailout of Greece seems to be the quick solution, it will likely resolve little in the long run. A transfer of German or French taxpayer dollars to Greece would ultimately increase the troubled countrys debt load. This would fuel Greek worker resentment at austerity measures, while failing to produce the economic normalization or growth that Europe needs.

2010-03-05 Greek Bailout: This is a Trojan Horse! by Komal Sri-Kumar of TCW Asset Management

Eurozone members may be reenacting the story of the Trojan Horse in their efforts to rescue Greece from a debt crisis. The bailout brings unintended consequences that could weaken the entire eurozone. Greece shows no indication that it will take the necessary austerity measures to keep its fiscal house in order after a bailout takes place. A Greek bailout could make Spain and Portugal think that they are entitled to a similar financial rescue. And a bailout could feed resentment from German taxpayers, who would bear much of the burden.

2010-03-04 Bernanke Finally Fingers Mark-To-Market by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors

Mark-to-market ideology is affecting the ability of the Federal Reserve to exit its quantitative easing. The mark-to-market rule uses bids, or exit prices, to value assets. Chairman Bernanke signaled that he recognized the problem in February when he said commercial real estate loans should be valued on income from their property, rather than their collateral value. As long as mark-to-market valuation continues to drag on securitization, the Fed will remain hesitant to withdraw its support of the system.

2010-03-02 Massachusetts Pensions in Crisis by Charlie Curnow (Article)

We wrote in the past about the perilous situation of public pension systems nationwide, and the Massachusetts state pension system is no exception. The severe problems Massachusetts faces - created by years of generous worker benefits and declining asset values - mirror challenges faced by many other states.

2010-02-27 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

The euro zone and the International Monetary Fund, as well as the U.S. and other mature economies will likely intervene to prevent a Greek default. Too much help for Greece might keep Portugal and Spain from making their own necessary changes. Too many restrictions on aid, however, may lead Greece, Spain and Portugal to withdraw from the euro zone. Provise also comments on declining real estate prices, the 2009 fourth quarter earnings season, the discount rate, inflationary risks, U.S. debt held by China, stock market volatility and President Obama's new health care proposal.

2010-02-25 Statement by Christopher Whalen Congressional Oversight Panel Hearing on GMAC TARP Assistance by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

Christopher Whalen tells a TARP assistance congressional oversight panel in a prepared statement that bank holding company GMAC Financial Services must restructure before it can support the growth of General Motors and its community of dealers and consumers, and that there is currently no compelling business or financial reason to rescue GMAC. GMAC banking unit Ally Bank received an "F" rating from the Institutional Risk Analytics Bank Stress Index for the fourth quarter of 2009.

2010-02-24 Fine Tuning Your Asset Allocation - 2010 Update by Paul Merriman of Merriman

Never ignore your emotions or better judgment in order to chase higher returns. Investors should settle for lower returns in order to reduce their risks. It is better to work longer or save more each year than to retire with too little money. It is also better to have less money to spend in retirement than to suffer losses that put you in danger of running out of money.

2010-02-23 Where Do We Go From Here? by Team of Fred Alger Management

Investors are showing signs of uncertainty amidst uneven economic growth. The S&P 500 is down 5.64 percent from its peak on January 19. Alger thinks the market pause could go on until well into the second half of 2010, but predicts a significant rally in U.S. equities and a continuation of the bull market in 2011.

2010-02-22 Financial Economics, Deregulation and OTC Derivatives: Interview with Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

This is an interview with author Yves Smith, the creator of Naked Capitalism. Smith’s new book explores the methodological shift of economics in the 1940s and 1950s, when economists decided to make their discipline more "scientific" and thus more mathematical. This methodological shift ignored the flaws neoclassical and financial economics, and led to the deregulation of financial services, which in turn allowed for predation and looting.

2010-02-20 The Pain in Spain by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Mauldin examine the Greek crisis the the potential direction of the euro. Spain, he says, is a more threatening crisis because its debt is much greater than Greece's. "Pay attention to Greece and Spain and especially Japan over the next few years," he says. "Unless the US gets its fiscal house in order, we will be next."

2010-02-18 Just When We Thought They Were Out... by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

Equity markets were still oversold based on a number of momentum and sentiment measures last week as buyers pushed the both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average indexes to volatile 0.9 percent gains. Headlines this week should center on Greece\'s bid for explicit financial support from other Eurozone members, as well as a slew of new economic data.

2010-02-17 The Greek Picture Complicates Further: Is the IMF the Solution? by Nouriel Roubini of Roubini Global Economics

A credible IMF program that combines financial support with the progressive achievement of fiscal and structural reform goals, though risky, may be the right solution to the Greek debt crisis. Such a program may also minimize the moral hazard presented by guaranteed loan programs.

2010-02-16 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group says state and local governments could face revenue shortfalls of $175 to $200 billion this year, and notes that tax increases to fill budget gaps may be counterproductive in the current economic climate. He also examines a number of other issues in policy and finance.

2010-02-16 Is the Fed's Zero Interest Rate Policy Driving Global Deflation? by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics says the Federal Reserve's zero interest rate policy may be driving global deflation by holding down asset values. He says the central bank should allow interest rates to rise so banks and other investors may earn positive returns on assets.

2010-02-13 It's a Great Day for America by Michael Dana of Dana Investment Advisors

Michael Dana of Dana Investment Advisors says the U.S. economy is ready to move forward on the jobs front after a 5.7 percent GDP growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2009, but claims employment gains will depend on lower tax rates on capital gains, dividends, corporations and individuals. He also comments on new natural gas drilling techniques, and the reappointment of Fed chairman Ben Bernanke.

2010-02-13 The (Relatively) Bullish Case for Consumer by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors

Wesbury and Stein justify their 4-4.5% forecast for growth in real GDP in 2010 with five factors: rising consumer incomes; deleveraging; higher savings; a pickup in home building; and pent-up demand for autos.

2010-02-11 Euro Trashed? by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital says in his market commentary that Greece's debt crisis represents the first real test of the eurozone. A bailout of the Greek government financed by Germany and other EU member states might stabilize the euro in the short term, but would put the union on a path toward gradual monetary collapse. On the other hand, a Greek default might hurt in the short term but would preserve the integrity of the currency.

2010-02-09 Greek Financial Woes Escalate but Default or Euro Departure is Still Unlikely by Darren Williams of Alliance Bernstein

The sell off in Greece this week has taught the country a tough lesson in the urgency of getting its debt under control. Although several risks remain and Greece may eventually require outside support, we believe it will not be allowed to fail, largely because of the risk of contagion to other weak euro-area countries.

2010-02-09 6 Ways to Make the Most of your Web Site by Nancy Opiela (Article)

Whether your web site is an online brochure to attract prospects or tool to enhance client communication, small changes can generate big returns. Even if your site already has the right look and feel, here are six ways it can still be improved.

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.

2010-02-06 Greece, Spain, and the Euro Trojan Horse by Michael J. Schussele of Michael J. Schussele, CPA

Schussele provides an in-depth look at the divergent fiscal problems facing Spain and Greece. "The possibility of default is speculative hoopla and deficit hawk destructiveness. While deficits need to be controlled, targeted public spending grows an economy and the withdrawal of public spending constricts an economy. At the present time, Greece and Spain need targeted spending and financial regulatory reform. Default is not a plausible option given the domino effect."

2010-02-02 Zombie Update: Loan Repurchases and REO Anyone? by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

Whalen addresses the implications of the judge’s actions in the Lehman bankruptcy case of denying seniority to claims of default on CDS contracts. This legal action will have implications for banks in the amount of reserves they must set aside for repurchase transactions, and that this may impair reported earnings. On the economy, he says “There is no way to deal with the current [housing] backlog, much less the volume of new foreclosures in 2010, without immediate action by the financial industry on areas such as securitization and broad restructuring of current residential mortgages.”

2010-02-01 Reported Earnings versus by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Hussman discusses the distortions in reported corporate earnings, arguing that the true measure of value is that used by Berkshire Hathaway: the growth in book value plus dividends. He concludes that, “As is true for a variety of similar measures of normalized value, the valuation levels we observe today are comparable with the highest levels achieved in history, except for the bubble period since the mid-1990's.” He also discusses an op-ed piece by Volcker in yesterday’s NYT.

2010-02-01 Fed Up? The Effects of a Rate Rise by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Milton Ezrati examines the history of Fed Funds rate hikes and the response of the bond markets. He concludes, based on the evidence of the 2004-2007 experience, that bond investors should not be fearful of rate increases.

2010-01-30 The Precarious State of Our Union by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

“In this week's much anticipated State of the Union address, President Obama again demonstrated his poor understanding of the fundamental problems that confront our nation. By following the advice of the same people who helped guide our economy to the precipice of total collapse, Obama now threatens to push it over the edge.” Schiff criticizes Obama’s policies as being anti-free market, specifically excessive regulation and federal spending.

2010-01-30 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

This client-oriented letter comments on a number of financial planning topics: the benefits of marriage (men now benefit more than women), the rise in scams due to low interest rates, the implications of volatility and how individual investors should view the market, new proposals for 401(k) plans, and a few others.

2010-01-26 Tell Me I'm Wrong by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

Howard Marks says “the rally in financial markets worldwide has outpaced the fundamentals,” and he does not believe we are “in the midst of a strong recovery.” He expects the economy to “sputter alon

2010-01-26 The Ring of Fire by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Bill Gross reviews two recent analyses (the Reinhart/Rogoff book and the McKinsey study) of the plight of economies faced with large fiscal deficits. He says that these support PIMCO’s view of the Ne

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.

2010-01-25 A Blueprint for Financial Reform by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Hussman’s commentary falls into four sections: (1) an 8-step “blueprint” for financial reform, in response to Obama’s proposed bank regulations; (2) a tongue-in-cheek plan for how to spend $1.5 trilli

2010-01-25 Bears Rejoice by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

“Some pundits saw fit to blame China for the recent pullback [in US equity markets], as a result of the monetary tightening occurring in that country, but such an accusation is unfounded in our opinio

2010-01-22 Policy Incompetence by Charles Lieberman (Article)

While the objective [of President Obama's proposed bank regulatory policy] is laudable and the financial system is in need of new regulations to protect it more effectively, the proposed approach i

2010-01-20 Political Potholes for Europe's IMF Borrowers by Nouriel Roubini of RGE Monitor

Amid the global financial crisis, several European countries faced serious economic distress and turned to external creditors, including the EU and IMF, for emergency financing. This multilateral supp

2010-01-19 Housing Sustains its Surprising Year-End Pick-Up by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting

Though December was another slow month for housing, sales and traffic picked up immediately following Christmas, and continue to show more strength into the new year, according to John Burns Real Esta

2010-01-19 To Trust or Not To Trust, That is the Question by Mariko Gordon (Article)

Last year's financial roller-coaster ride may have you convinced that the less you trust, the better off you'll be. Recent research, however, supports Daruma's Mariko Gordon's long held belief that "too little" trust can be just as detrimental to investment gains as "too much."

2010-01-19 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Readers responded to a range of topics in our letters to the Editor: our Paul Krugman interview, our article last week on the causes of the financial crisis, our article on the true cost of insuring the uninsured, and our article on costless collars using options.

2010-01-16 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

2010-01-13 Payrolls, Policies, Politics by Art Patten of Symmetry Capital Management

2010-01-13 Sovereign Debt: The Developed World's Next Big Problem? by Nouriel Roubini of RGE Monitor

2010-01-12 Regulatory Refinement by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Now at the start of a new year, Congress is debating regulatory legislation that will shape the financial landscape for years to come. In his latest article, “Regulatory Refinement,” Milton Ezrati, L

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.

2010-01-08 Municipal Maladies by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

2010-01-08 4th Quarter Commentary - Investing Proactively Without Predictions by Team of Partnervest Advisory Services

\"\'If you’re going to predict,\' an anonymous economist famously quipped, \'predict often.\' 2009 by all accounts was a good year. The S&P500 gained 23.4%. Emerging ma

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.

2010-01-04 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

2009-12-21 The Bumpy Road to Recovery by Paul Merriman of Merriman

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.

2009-12-08 Cleaning up Messes by Dan Richards (Article)

Whether it's a phone call to a difficult client, a meeting with a retiree whose portfolio has been hit hard, a tough conversation with an underperforming staff member or getting through a mountain of filing, most of us have at least one issue on which we have been procrastinating for weeks, months, maybe even years. Dan Richards gives some tips for dealing with tough issues.

2009-12-01 To Roth or not to Roth, That is the Question by David B. Loeper, CIMA, CIMC (Article)

With the new Roth conversion rules about to be lifted next year and a "one-time special offer" available to allow investors to spread the tax bite of conversion over two years, more and more Roth conversion calculators are showing up every day. Be wary, says Dave Loeper of Wealthcare Capital. If you use one of these calculators, don't say he didn't warn you about how misleading the results can be.

2009-12-01 Think Like a Marine by David Raileanu (Article)

Retired Marine Patrick Gould has just published a book, Prudent Decision Making in an Imprudent World, and his theories prove useful for understanding decision-making in all arenas, not just those that involve life-and-death decisions. He applies many of his theories of risk, reward, preparation, security, and asset management to the financial world, working from modern portfolio theory and ultimately offering a practical decision method.

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 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.

2009-11-10 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.

2009-10-20 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.

2009-10-13 Seven Ways to Reach Prospects in the New Normal by Nancy Opiela (Article)

Extravagance is out and frugality is in. Finding happiness in what we can afford is what sells. With many investors implicitly or explicitly bracing for the New Normal and lower returns from the capital markets, advisors need to rethink their marketing programs to be consistent with their clients' tempered expectations.

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.

2009-09-29 Strategic and Tactical Perspectives on Gold by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

There are good reasons for investors to maintain a long-term strategic allocation to gold, which has clear, positive portfolio benefits (due to low correlation to other asset classes). That said, gold is in an historic run-up in value and has been generating unsustainably high returns. Because of its high price and rising volatility, Geoff Considine argues there is significant tactical risk in gold.

2009-09-22 Predictably Irrational - How Investors Frame Decisions by Robert Huebscher (Article)

One of the most provocative sessions at last week's Schwab Impact conference was given by Dan Ariely, who deftly summarized his current research in the important field of behavioral finance. Ariely's message was that, no matter how good their intentions or how deep their experience, people - investors specifically - consistently make the wrong decisions. They behave irrationally, and predictably so.

2009-09-22 Disaster Management, The Green Beret and Lamaze Way by Mariko Gordon (Article)

Few of us respond as easily or effectively as we might like in the face of disaster. In this guest contribution, Mariko Gordon takes a look at why, and offers three things to keep in mind the next time you're in the midst of a crisis, financial or otherwise.

2009-09-15 The Key to Trading and Investing in ETFs by Paul Weisbruch (Article)

In this guest contribution, Paul Weisbruch argues that an ETF does not require a certain amount of trading volume in order to be liquid. The underlying securities of the ETF determine its liquidity. Many within the industry do not grasp this reality and are missing out on a lot of quality ETFs.

2009-09-08 Make the Most of your Networking after the Event by Kristen Luke (Article)

After a networking event, the standard practice for most advisors is to send an email, make a phone call or mail a handwritten note. But what happens after the initial contact? Is there a system in place to continue following-up in the coming weeks, months and years, even if there is not an immediate fit? This is where most advisors fail in their networking strategy, according to Kristen Luke.

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 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.

2009-08-18 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 How to Construct a Marketing Plan and Budget by Kristen Luke (Article)

One way to significantly increase the chances of marketing success is to develop a marketing plan and stick to it. Kristen Luke says forget the formal marketing plan and just outline your marketing activities and budget, and she provides a step-by-step guide for you to follow.

2009-07-28 How Long is the Long Run? by Robert Huebscher (Article)

How long must one be invested in the equity markets to have full confidence that they will earn superior returns (as compared to bonds) and overcome the risks of bear markets? We look at the historical record to see how stocks have fared against bonds for various holding periods, and we look at research by Zvi Bodie and Mark Kritzman on this topic.

2009-05-19 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.


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