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

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2014-05-08 A Light Unto Cities by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

Once notorious for its drug gangs, Medellín, Colombia, now has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most innovative cities in the world. The tale of the city’s transformation holds important lessons for urban areas everywhere.

2014-04-23 Highest equity returns may not deliver the best gains by Team of Eaton Vance

Many investors do not consider taxes when investing in equities, nor can they quantify the tax drag on their portfolios. Equities may wield an inherent tax advantage over many other asset classes, as long-term capital gains are taxed at lower rates than ordinary income. Employing the use of equity mutual funds managed for after-tax returns may further help exploit the tax advantages inherent in this asset class.

2014-04-15 Does Rebalancing Really Pay Off?? by Michael Edesess (Article)

No investment advice is more universally offered than the advice - originally posited by William Bernstein - to rebalance your portfolio. Yet, the evidence that this practice is beneficial is shockingly meager.

2014-03-28 The End of Chinese Central Planning by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

Since Deng Xiaoping?s reforms of the early 1980?s, senior Chinese policymakers have paid less and less attention to central planners? numerical growth targets. Now they are close to taking the final step in the long journey to a market-based economy, by adopting a flexible framework in which GDP growth currently does not come first.

2014-02-15 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.

2014-02-03 A Happier Ending for IMF Reform? by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

Despite an elegant solution that involved no new commitments of resources, the US Congress last month refused to take up a long-delayed funding proposal for the IMF. But there is also a silver lining here, because disappointment can be turned into renewed opportunity.

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

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

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.

2013-10-20 The Damage to the US Brand by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

There is no doubt that the image what I will refer to in this letter as the "brand" of the United States has been damaged in the past month. But what are the actual costs? And what does it matter to the average citizen? Can the US recover its tarnished image and go on about business as usual? Is the recent dysfunction in Washington DC now behind us, or is it destined to become part of a bleaker landscape?

2013-10-15 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.

2013-10-15 Why Customized Content Beats Canned Content by Neil Rhein (Article)

If you’re communicating syndicated (“canned”) content that is similar (or identical) to what every other advisor is saying, you’re just adding to the noise.

2013-10-08 The Futility of the Endowment Model by Robert Huebscher (Article)

In the past two decades, the so-called endowment model has been adopted by hundreds of endowments, foundations and advisors ? particularly those serving ultra-high-net-worth clients. By aggressively allocating to illiquid alternative asset classes, those investors hoped to duplicate the results of Yale and other top-tier institutions. New research exposes the futility of those efforts.

2013-10-02 The Death Knell of Global Synchronized Trade by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

At Smead Capital Management, we believe the interest on September 18th in emerging markets, oil and gold are the last gasps of a dying trend. Our discipline demands that you must avoid popular investments and completely avoid investments attached to a perceived “new era.” We argue that the international investment markets reaction to Bernanke’s reprieve on September 18th is proof of a vision we have of the future.

2013-10-01 Money Can Buy Happiness by Justin Kermond (Article)

Extensive research has shown that the act of buying life experiences and giving money away can make people happier than buying material items does.

2013-09-28 The Renminbi: Soon to Be a Reserve Currency? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Contrary to the thinking of fretful dollar skeptics, my firm belief is that the US dollar is going to become even stronger and will at some point actually deserve to be the reserve currency of choice rather than merely the prettiest girl in the ugly contest the last currency standing, so to speak. But whether the Chinese RMB will become a reserve currency is an entirely different question.

2013-09-24 William Bernstein ? “Stocks for the Long Run” by Michael Edesess (Article)

William Bernstein’s reading of history is that if you want to build a nest egg and protect against the “four horsemen” that threaten it over the long term, the best thing to do is invest in a globally diversified stock portfolio.

2013-09-17 Investing for Real People by Sponsored content by Oppenheimer Funds (Article)

Investor goals are the same, but solutions have changed. Today, aiming to meet basic needs requires new solutions. Laser focus on investor goals will help uncover appropriate investment opportunities. Expanding the opportunity set beyond the usual suspects will be critical to long-term success.

2013-09-16 From the Fed to Congress: 4 Washington Issues to Watch by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

After the Fed announcement next week, market attention is likely to shift toward Congress for the remainder of the fall. According to Russ, four key issues up for debate have the potential to add to near-term volatility.

2013-08-20 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?

2013-08-12 Mixing Politics and Finance Is Bad News for Investors by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Investors have seen plenty of examples of governments defaulting on their sovereign debt for political reasons. This lesson is now being learned by domestic municipal bond investors. Detroit is bankrupt and its emergency manager is now trying to get concessions from investors in its water and sewer bonds, despite their separate revenue streams and independent status. No matter.

2013-07-30 The Power of Diversification and Safe Withdrawal Rates by Geoff Considine (Article)

When Bill Bengen published his seminal research in 1994, a 4% safe withdrawal rate (SWR) was clearly attainable with a variety of asset allocations. But bond yields are lower now than they were then, and equity returns for the next 20 years are unlikely to exceed those of the prior two decades. Indeed, a new paper by three highly respected researchers showed that SWRs for stock-bond portfolios are well below 4%. But as I will demonstrate, a 4% SWR is still possible with a more diversified portfolio ? and without subjecting clients to additional risk.

2013-07-13 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.

2013-07-09 ENERGY MLPs: A Suitable and Sustainable Asset Class by Sponsored Content from ClearBridge Investments (Article)

Greater capitalization. More liquidity. The energy MLP market has grown steadily, with good reason: our constant demand for energy. While oil prices go up and down, volume has stayed consistent. Production is increasing. And the infrastructure is needed to support it. Add some risk, and you’ve got an investment which could fit in a diversified portfolio.

2013-07-02 The Practical Application of Behavioral Finance by Mitchell D. Eichen and John M. Longo (Article)

From the Dot-Com bubble onward, traditional investment models have repeatedly disappointed those who relied on them. When compared to mathematically based models, behavioral finance provides a superior foundation. Here is an alternative investment paradigm, grounded in behavioral finance, that is practical and effective over time periods that are relevant for a significant portion of investors.

2013-07-01 Ireland and the Austerity Debate by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate

People on both sides of the austerity debate are trying to position Ireland as the poster child for their case. Though neither side can claim victory, this tug-of-war illustrates the complex range of arguments in play and highlights why conclusive economic policy making is proving so elusive.

2013-06-26 Win Ben's Money by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

From 1997 to 2003 a show called,” Win Ben Stein’s Money” ran on the Comedy Central Network. The last five years, investors in the US have been playing a very similar game we are calling, “Win Ben’s Money”. The new game stars Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Ben Bernanke. The object is to win the money the Fed creates via Quantitative Easing (QE) through macroeconomic analysis. In this missive, we will look at how these investors chased Ben’s Money and consider what to do going forward.

2013-06-25 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.

2013-06-18 Retirement Income Designations ? Which Should You Choose? by Wade Pfau (Article)

With more than 50 certification programs based on the withdrawal phase of the planning lifecycle, advisors are faced with a paralyzing choice about which designation provides the most valuable curriculum. Here’s some guidance on choosing the right program for advisors.

2013-06-17 Sector Distortions Can Be Costly in Passive Investing by Joseph Paul, Kevin Simms of AllianceBernstein

Passive investing strategies that emulate an index have become increasingly popular. But passive investing can go awry when sector concentrations leave investors exposed to unintended risks.

2013-06-15 Economists Are (Still) Clueless by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The economic forecasts of mainstream economists are quite positive, if not enirely optimistic, reflecting the current data. Should we not take heart from that? Alas, no. This week we look at some of our recent musings on that topic, triggered by a letter from a very serious economist who took umbrage when I wrote disparagingly about economists and forecasting a couple months ago.

2013-06-11 Bursting the Bond Bubble Babble by Andy Martin (Article)

Interest rates will eventually go up. The 50-basis-point spike in May on the 10-year Treasury bond may have been the beginning. But despite industry and media assertions, history shows that there is nothing to fear from rising rates.

2013-06-01 Central Bankers Gone Wild by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

For the last two weeks we have focused on the problems facing Japan, and such is the importance of Japan to the world economy that this week we will once again turn to the Land of the Rising Sun. I will try to summarize the situation facing the Japanese. This is critical to understand, because they are determined to share their problems with the world, and we will have no choice but to deal with them. Japan is going to affect your economy and your investments, no matter where you live; Japan is that important.

2013-05-28 Economic Climate Change & the Long-Term View on Yields by Sponsored Content from Loomis Sayles (Article)

Will rates rise? It’s a logical question. US Treasury yields have been in a secular downward trend since the 1980s and almost frozen at historic lows for the last several months. While recent cyclical improvements suggest the US economy is heating up, we do not expect interest rates to start soaring to record highs. The interest rate environment will eventually undergo climate change, but the process will be gradual. There are secular headwinds cooling rates, and we expect them to persist for years to come.

2013-05-25 The Mother of All Painted-In Corners by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Japan has painted itself into the mother all corners. There will be no clean or easy exit. There is going to be massive economic pain as they the Japanese try and find a way out of their problems, and sadly, the pain will not be confined to Japan. This will be the true test of the theories of neo-Keynesianism writ large. Japan is going to print and monetize and spend more than almost any observer can currently imagine. You like what Paul Krugman prescribes? You think he makes sense? You (we all!) are going to be participants in a real-world experiment on how that works out.

2013-05-23 Does Behavioral Investing Make Sense Anymore? by Kevin Simms, Joseph Paul of AllianceBernstein

Value investing has faced a crisis of confidence after five tough years. Here’s why we think the behavioral investing principles that underpin the discipline are more relevant than ever.

2013-05-21 Five Tips for Winning in the “Trust and Value” Economy by Meridith Elliott Powell (Article)

In this our economy, the consumer is in control. What advisors sell is a luxury, and an advisor’s competitive advantage is how he or she sells it. Success depends on your ability to build and expand relationships in what I call the “trust and value” economy.

2013-05-14 Mohamed El-Erian: The Three-Speed Global Economy by Robert Huebscher (Article)

The global economy is operating at three distinct speeds, according to Mohamed El-Erian, and investors need to understand the implications of the divergent paths that key countries are following. Japan and most European countries are going backward, he said, and could continue in that direction for decades. The U.S. is “healing,” but not quickly enough to get to “escape velocity.” Certain emerging markets, meanwhile, are adapting technology and innovation and are growing rapidly.

2013-05-14 Nassim Taleb on the Anti-Fragile Portfolio and the Benefits of Taking Risks by Ben Huebscher (Article)

As we recover from the most recent financial crisis, how we can we learn from the mistakes to best prepare for the future? Nassim Taleb tackled this very question in his latest book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, which built off his previous works and applies the lessons learned to today’s biggest challenges. Taleb examined how small doses of volatility can help systems handle larger disruptors in the future.

2013-04-30 Implementing Behavioral Portfolio Management by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)

Behavioral portfolio management is based on the notion that if the advisor can redirect his or her emotions and mitigate the impact of client emotions, it is possible to build superior portfolios by harnessing market emotions. This article describes how this can be done and presents evidence of the superiority of focusing on investor behavior when constructing and managing portfolios.

2013-04-23 The New Challenges to Reinhart and Rogoff by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Advocates for debt reduction and austerity have had no more authoritative sources than Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff. But last week, these two professors had to defend claims that errors in their research ? ranging from a typo in a spreadsheet to the failure to include data from New Zealand ? invalidated their much-acclaimed findings.

2013-04-20 Austerity is a Consequence, not a Punishment by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Austerity is a consequence, not a punishment. A country loses access to cheap borrowed money as a consequence of running up too much debt and losing the confidence of lenders that the debt can be repaid. Lenders don’t sit around in clubs and discuss how to “punish” a country by requiring austerity; they simply decide not to lend. Austerity is a result of a country’s trying to entice lenders into believing that the country will change and make an effort to restore confidence.

2013-04-16 Will Germany Lead the World’s Energy Revolution? by Michael Edesess (Article)

Germany’s energy plans lie between Scylla and Charybdis: fossil fuel-generated carbon dioxide emissions on the one hand and potentially catastrophic nuclear energy on the other. With strong motivation to avoid both, Germany has been left with only one alternative. The direction of energy policy in the U.S. ? and the rest of the world ? may rest on whether Germany succeeds in its ambitious plan to embrace renewable sources.

2013-04-03 Spring Economic Commentary by Larry Maddox of Horizon Advisors

The Fiscal Cliff We loudly went over the cliff and received a largely quiet and unexpected market reaction? Risk of rising interest rates After a 30 year period of declining interest rates, caution is in order. Our thoughts on portfolio fixed income positioning. The heightened awareness of uncertainty Despite lingering uncertainty investors should be committed to long term well diversified porftolios.

2013-03-19 Putting GMO’s Ideas to Work: Protected Leveraged Investing by Geoff Considine (Article)

Fears of market overvaluation lead many advisors to seek to protect against downside movements while retaining as much upside potential as possible. Recent research from GMO illustrates a low-cost way to accomplish this: decreasing equity exposure and concentrating that allocation in high-beta securities.

2013-03-14 DC Plan Sponsors: Now's the Time to Get More From Bonds by Stacy Schaus of PIMCO

Long on equities and light on bonds, today’s DC plan lineups may expose participants to extreme market risks. Plan sponsors could potentially improve retirement outcomes by trimming choices for stocks and considering additional options for bonds. The inclusion of active fixed income strategies with global exposure or additional income opportunities could help participants reach their retirement goals.

2013-03-05 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.

2013-02-12 Fixed-Income Insights: When High Yield Loses Some Height by Zane Brown of Lord Abbett

If one sought an indication of how monetary policy and historically low interest rates can influence investor behavior, the high-yield bond market could provide some perspective. In 2012, investors' ongoing demand for income was reflected by the high-yield market's 15.6% return, the $32 billion that flowed into the asset class, andas several headlines pronouncedthe market's record-low yields of less than 6%.

2013-01-29 Strategies for Speculating on the Crisis in Japan by Simit Patel (Article)

Bears on Japan are finally, after nearly two decades of being on the wrong side of the market, getting some vindication. The end of 2012 was marked by a significant decline in the Japanese yen and a rise in the yield on 30-year Japanese Government Bonds (JGBs). Should those trends continue, the conventional wisdom is that investors will do best by shorting JGBs. But a superior strategy is to short the yen itself.

2013-01-15 Demographics and the Decline of Equity Mutual Funds by Paul Franchi (Article)

Until the last few years, mutual fund flows followed performance. Recently, however, money has flowed disproportionately into bond funds and out of US equity funds despite a strong rally in the equity markets. Changing demographics explain this shift, which has important implications for advisors and the mutual fund industry.

2013-01-15 The Nothing That Is by Michael Lewitt (Article)

The world is awash in money. But money isn't what it used to be. I would point to two characteristics of modern money that should be keeping portfolio managers up at night (they certainly keep me up at night).

2013-01-02 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'?

2012-12-11 Fine Wine - Why it's for More than Just Drinking by Mark E. Ricardo, JD, LLM, AAMS (Article)

For many investors, an ideal asset class would combine superior long-term absolute and risk-adjusted returns with a hedge against inflation and stock market volatility. There's a way to get all of that, in an asset class you might never have thought of until now: fine wine. Investment-grade wine deserves careful consideration, particularly now that - unlike other collectibles, such as art and rare books - it can be traded on a regulated exchange.

2012-11-13 The Downside to Socially Responsible Investing by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Who wouldn't want a cleaner environment or a more just society? We can all agree these are worthy goals. But it's an established fact that pursuing them through one's investing is costly; environmental-, social- and governance-based investing (ESG) does fine on a gross basis, but loses money net of fees. Now, a recently published paper argues that that ESG is basically a waste of time.

2012-11-06 Lacy Hunt on Our Economic Future by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Last week I spoke with Lacy Hunt, an unequivocal advocate of deficit reduction. Hunt defended ? as persuasively as few others can ? the need to address our fiscal imbalances. But equally respected economists are advocating for the other extreme, and he shares some common ground with them.

2012-11-06 ClearBridge Advisors - Market Commentary Q312 by Harry ?Hersh? Cohen (Article)

Vibrant end demand is missing, as consumers have neither the wherewithal nor the will to spend as they did in prior periods.

2012-11-06 The Prize for the Fiduciary Standard: Global Market Leadership by Stephen Winks (Article)

Tough times in the brokerage business are about to get tougher. A difficult investment environment and damage to its reputation are threatening the industry, and now it faces regulatory challenges under Dodd-Frank as it evolves from its current sales-driven culture to a professional services culture focused on advice and the fiduciary standard. Bold leadership will be necessary to navigate this challenge; without it, the brokerage industry and their clients will suffer.

2012-10-30 Building Portfolios that Beat their Benchmark: Measuring Nanometers with a Yardstick by Bob Veres (Article)

Using tools he co-developed with the Nobel-prize winning economist Bill Sharpe, one advisor has found that he can reliably outperform an appropriate benchmark. His work proves it is possible to build a portfolio knowledgably. You just need the right tools to get the job done.

2012-10-30 The Yield Hunt by Michael Lewitt (Article)

The high-yield market is not in danger of imminent collapse as some have argued. As long as defaults remain relatively low, and interest rates remain invisible, investors will continue to chase yield. But a few things could cause a sharp sell-off in the near future.

2012-10-19 Stealth Mode by Stephen J. Taddie of Stellar Capital Management

After more than 30 years of declining rates, a reversal that started a longer term trend of higher interest rates, like that experienced from the late 50s to early 80s could be devastating to bond investors. In addition, interest rate increases have not treated many other income investments like fixed rate preferred stocks very well as many of these issues have extremely long maturities, and/or are perpetual. This makes stretching for yield in this type of environment both challenging and hazardous.

2012-10-09 Is Gluskin's David Rosenberg Right about Utilities? by Geoff Considine (Article)

They're not the sexiest property on the Monopoly board, but in today's market, there's plenty of evidence mounting that utilities are a great source of income. Indeed, Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg made the case for utilities in a recent commentary.

2012-10-09 Dividend Income: Music to Our Ears by ClearBridge Advisors (Article)

The hunger for income among investors is helping put dividends in the spotlight, say Hersh Cohen and Mike Clarfeld of ClearBridge.

2012-10-02 Confronting the Unemployment Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Policymakers seeking a path to economic recovery must first answer one crucial question: Is our persistently high unemployment structural or cyclical? If it's cyclical, then monetary and fiscal measures designed to boost consumer spending will restore the US to full employment in due course. But if we face a structural problem, then quick fixes won't work until we correct deeper imbalances that have left 12.5 million Americans without jobs.

2012-09-25 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.

2012-09-18 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 Recognize the Relative Advantages of Natural Resource Equities vs. Commodities by RS Investments (Article)

This RS Investments research brief examines how shifts in commodity fundamentals presents the case for employing natural resource equities as a means to benefit from favorable long-term secular trends, while achieving superior risk-adjusted returns, similar diversification benefits, and more reliable inflation protection relative to commodities.

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.

2012-08-14 Blind Faith by Michael Lewitt (Article)

Central banks are facing political and practical obstacles that will render it very difficult for them to deliver anything more than anodyne words and actions as summer moves into the always dangerous August holiday season. IPhones should be kept on alert at the beach through Labor Day.

2012-07-23 How Can the Market Possibly Do Well? by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Investors remain rightfully concerned that our leaders have been unable to address major domestic and international issues. Domestic growth is sluggish, job growth is weak, unemployment remains high, the fiscal cliff looms at the end of the year and our politicians can't agree on the time of day. Moreover, none of this is likely to become clarified until after the election, if then.

2012-07-03 Don't Get Emotional by Michael Nairne (Article)

With the developed world mired in slow growth and the eurozone teetering on the brink of disintegration, to many investors the future seems bleak. Some are so disheartened they are abandoning the stock market as a hopeless endeavor. Yet, one of the abiding tenets of investing is that investor sentiment is rarely predictive of the future.

2012-06-26 Jeremy Grantham: US Stocks are Expensive and Bonds are Disgusting by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Jeremy Grantham, who has consistently identified overpricing in the US equity markets - he flagged both the Dot Com bubble and the irrational pricing that preceded the financial crisis, for instance - said last week that US stocks are 'a little expensive' and bonds are 'disgusting.' But his sternest warning to investors concerned the longer-term threat posed by global resource constraints.

2012-06-26 A Top Analyst: North America Heading to Energy Independence by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Ed Morse, a managing director of Citigroup Global Markets, said last week that by the end of this decade the US and Canada will have a surplus of oil, leaving it with 'no room for imports.' But the longer-term picture is far less certain, as extraction moves from conventional wells to newer sources, such as deepwater fields and shale-based oil.

2012-06-12 The Problems with Trying to Benchmark Unconstrained Portfolios by Ken Solow (Article)

Benchmarking unconstrained, 'go-anywhere' managers is difficult. Common methods to determine an appropriate benchmark - such as an ex-post regression of how the fund was invested - can obscure the actions of the manager. Is the only solution to simply select an arbitrary benchmark and proceed accordingly?

2012-06-05 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.

2012-05-29 Letters to the Editor - An Attack on Paul Krugman by Various (Article)

Two readers respond to Michael Edesess' article, An Attack on Paul Krugman, which appeared on May 15.

2012-05-29 Unraveling the Mess in Europe by Charles Lieberman (Article)

There is considerable nonsense written about the European debt crisis. Greece must balance its books, whether they remain inside the Euro or not. There are major benefits and costs to both remaining inside the Euro and to exiting. There is no silver bullet that will solve their problems easily. More broadly, banks need to be recapitalized all across Europe. This has not been done as yet, perhaps for political reasons, which only compounds the economic problems and allows them to fester. It seems like the Europeans are working towards solutions, but painfully slowly.

2012-05-15 Lacy Hunt on Debt, Austerity and Recovery by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Global economies are experiencing unsustainable debt disequilibrium, according to Lacy Hunt. Economic textbooks preach that equilibrium, rather than transition, should be the predominant condition. But our attempts to reduce our indebtedness by taking on more ? and less productive ? debt are weakening our economy and creating unstable conditions.

2012-05-10 Diversification 301: Tailored Solutions for Your Portfolio by Team of American Century Investments

We continue our discussion of diversification and its application to investor portfolios. We explain how there is no single universal diversified portfolio suited to all investors and occasions. Instead, diversification is a highly customizable framework that can and should be uniquely tailored to suit each individual investors goals and risk tolerances. Earlier articles in the series discussed the basic benefits and rationale for diversification and a discussion of alternative investments that can be used to diversify a traditional balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds.

2012-05-08 Q2 Outlook: "Sell in May" May Not Work This Year by OppenheimerFunds (Article)

Chief Economist Jerry Webman explains why he believes the U.S. economic recovery is real and CIO Art Steinmetz talks about how stocks are as cheap compared to bonds as they have been in decades.

2012-05-01 Q2 Outlook: by OppenheimerFunds (Article)

Chief Economist Jerry Webman explains why he believes the U.S. economic recovery is real and CIO Art Steinmetz talks about how stocks are as cheap compared to bonds as they have been in decades.

2012-05-01 Another Story of Too Much Debt: Investing During Unsustainable Economic Conditions by Brian McAuley (Article)

US-based investors cannot ignore the macro environment, and therefore must consider the consequences of our increasing indebtedness and its impact on capital markets. We can gain valuable insights into our fiscal problems from the housing bubble and the European sovereign debt crisis - lessons which every value investor should heed.

2012-05-01 The Income Hunt: Opportunities Abroad by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

When it comes to fixed income portfolios, investors are often too reliant on domestic debt issues. However, as Russ explains, today there are a number of reasons why US investors should consider looking outside their own country particularly toward emerging markets for their fixed income needs.

2012-04-24 Why a 60/40 Portfolio isn?t Diversified by Alex Shahidi (Article)

Maintaining a balanced portfolio is critical, especially when predictions of growth and inflation vary as widely as they do today. Investors are always better off spreading risk than aggressively betting on one economic outcome, and that's especially true when the range of possible economic outcomes is so wide.

2012-04-24 Real Career Risk by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Real career risk is too many people doing what you do for a living. Granthams problem is that every day three million brilliant people get up and spend most of their waking hours trying to practice wide asset allocation. Most of those three million brilliant people have strong backgrounds in economics and lean on their ability to make macroeconomic predictions. Too many people are doing the same thing at the same time for a living. Therefore, they need to either move to another town or wait patiently for most of the other bright people to take up another profession.

2012-04-17 The Rebalancing Problem by Michael Nairne (Article)

Selling winning asset classes to buy losers runs counter to human nature. But doing so with discipline can increase the potential return of a portfolio while critically maintaining its risk profile. The rebalancing premium is an important and often overlooked addition to returns of properly managed portfolios.

2012-04-17 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

We have several letters from readers, including one in response to Lisa Keung's article on myths about women and investing and one in response to a recent commentary by Dan Ariely.

2012-04-03 A Q1 Letter to Clients: Bernanke, Buffett and Siegel on the Prospects Ahead by Dan Richards (Article)

Here is a template for a letter to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients a summary of what's happened in the past 90 days and the outlook for the period ahead.

2012-03-27 GMO: Two Questions We Can't Answer by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Its reputation was built on stellar returns achieved with long-term bets on undervalued asset classes. Current market conditions, however, pose two unanswerable questions for GMO ? leaving the firm with an uncertain strategy for its equities and fixed-income allocations.

2012-03-27 The Top Three Myths about Women Investors by Lisa Kueng (Article)

Successful marketing requires an understanding of your target market. Too often, however, advisors are misled by outdated industry ideas and strategies that have shifted over time. Advisors who target women investors should avoid myth-based errors that others have made.

2012-03-26 Monthly Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory

We recently spoke with portfolio managers from two fund management teamsChris Davis and Ken Feinberg of Clipper and Selected American Shares, and Pat English of FMIwho have historically exhibited different views toward banks and financial services firms. In addition to providing insight on current risks and opportunities in the financial sector, the interview touches on a number of topical subjects including the Federal Reserve, the European debt situation, and the housing market.

2012-03-20 Bob Rodriguez on the Dangers in Today's Markets by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Bob Rodriguez is the managing partner and chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based First Pacific Advisors. In this interview, he discusses how the challenges faced by the US economy will impact the capital markets.

2012-03-16 Why Invest in Asia Bonds? by Teresa Kong of Matthews Asia

The development of Asias bond markets is one of the regions most profound economic changes of the last decade. This month Teresa Kong, CFA, writes about the diversification Asias bond markets can offer investors, and their three primary return drivers: credit, currency and interest rates.

2012-03-13 Europe Needs a Good Crisis by Michael Edesess (Article)

When it comes to economies in general and financial crises in particular, it's remarkable how little we actually understand. While global financial actors struggle to restructure Greece's debt and to avoid contagion throughout Europe's periphery, we should recall the lessons of the Asian-Russian crisis 15 years ago. As the writings of Joseph Stiglitz and Martin Wolf remind us - and those events illustrate - crises are part of an evolutionary process, and the afflicted economies often emerge with surprising vigor.

2012-03-13 The Gutenberg Economy by Michael Lewitt (Article)

As commentators near and far speculate on what 2012 will bring to the global economy and markets, there is little question that one factor will be decisive: the central banks' printing presses. Both the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank (ECB) will keep printing dollars and euros around the clock until their presses run out of ink.

2012-02-28 Globalization: Its Saboteurs and Its Chicken Littles by Michael Edesess (Article)

The word 'globalization' provokes both excitement and fear. The excitement has sold millions of Tom Friedman books and turned a drab annual business conference, the World Economic Forum, into one of the hottest events of the year. It is front-and-center in recent tensions between the U.S. and China, and makes the European Union's economic crisis a concern for the whole world. Should we fear or embrace globalization?

2012-02-21 Woody Brock on Solving America's Fiscal Problems by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Dr. Horace 'Woody' Brock is the founder Strategic Economic Decisions, an economic research and consulting service. In this interview, he discusses his recently published book, American Gridlock, and how America can grow its economy through 'good' deficit spending.

2012-02-01 Will I be able to retire ever? Answers to our clients #1 question! by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

Our clients are divided between those who are at least 65 and already retired (30%) and those clients aged 35-65 for whom retirement seems like an ever receding mirage. In this commentary, we will concentrate on the mechanism that we use to implement a clients retirement income strategy, review how this strategy has performed since January 2000, and review the lessons learned.

2012-01-31 Bob Doll Believes the Recent Equities Rally Could Continue by BlackRock (Article)

Conditions have improved compared to last quarter, with the US economy showing signs of acceleration and European policymakers moving further along the path of progress. With the bearish tone receding, investors should consider moving into "risk" assets and out of "safe" assets, especially on pullbacks.

2012-01-31 Barry Eichengreen on the End of the Dollar by Dan Richards (Article)

Barry Eichengreen is a professor of economics and political science at the University of California, Berkeley and a former senior advisor to the International Monetary Fund. In this interview, he discusses the future of the dollar as the reserve currency and the role of the IMF in the Eurozone crisis. This is the transcript of the interview.

2012-01-26 2011 A Difficult Year for Active Investors by Owen Murray of Horizon Advisors

Actively managed mutual funds greatly underperformed their respective benchmarks in 2011. This was primarily due to extreme market conditions triggered by the European debt crisis. Investment managers were not rewarded for good fundamental decision making as fear dominated trading activity in the global markets. Active manager underperformance / outperformance trends tend to be cyclical, but over time, good active managers add value. We expect actively managed funds to outperform once market volatility subsides and fundamental factors reemerge as a key consideration for investors.

2012-01-24 Beyond Reinhart and Rogoff by Robert Huebscher (Article)

My article two weeks ago, The Misreading of Reinhart and Rogoff, elicited a number of challenges, both from those who argued that excessive debt imperils our economic growth and from those who claimed that my proposed solution was unworkable. Among those challengers was Lacy Hunt, who raised several valid concerns. I will explain why I disagree with Hunt and others, and why the dollar's position as the reserve currency increases our borrowing capacity. But our ability to borrow cannot be a license to spend unwisely, and I will conclude by expanding on the policy choices the US must pursue.

2012-01-10 Safe Withdrawal Rates: A Do-It-Yourself Approach by Wade Pfau (Article)

Reconciling the assumptions that underpin safe withdrawal rate studies with one's own capital market expectations and constraints is a daunting task, since those studies rarely reflect the practical realities of an advisory practice. But new research now provides a generalized framework for determining a safe withdrawal rate for a given retirement duration, acceptable failure probability, asset allocation and capital market expectations. Advisors no longer must be constrained by the assumptions and choices of others.

2011-12-20 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Readers respond to several articles: GLWBs: Retiree Protection or Money Illusion?, Did Congress Cash In on Insider Stock Trading?, and Can this be Serious?, all which appeared last week, and to John Mauldin's commentary, The Center Cannot Hold, which appeared on Saturday.

2011-12-13 Harnessing the Power of Momentum by Michael Nairne (Article)

A market phenomena that we can harness on behalf of our clients is momentum - the propensity for price trends to persist in the short-term. I examine the origins of momentum, illustrate its return premium and consider how managers can leverage momentum on behalf of investors.

2011-12-05 Solid Improvement by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The latest employment report showed significant improvement. Job growth is still not strong enough, but the gains are sufficient for the expansion to continue without faltering, as long as the financial crisis in Europe is addressed. And finally, it appears that the Europeans are closer to resolving their debt issues.

2011-11-22 Morningstar?s Attempt to Predict Performance by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Few question that skillful mutual fund managers exist, but virtually all attempts to identify them ex ante have failed. Last week, Morningstar took up the challenge with its Analyst Ratings, which aim to identify funds with the 'long-term potential for superior risk-adjusted performance.' Given the futility of such efforts over the last several decades, advisors should approach this new effort with skepticism.

2011-11-15 Michael Aronstein on Today's Key Macro Trends by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Michael Aronstein is the president and chief executive officer of Marketfield Asset Management. Since its inception in 2008, his fund has returned 31% while the S&P has been down 15%. I spoke with him about the key macroeconomic and strategic issues facing investors today.

2011-11-15 It's All Greek to Me by Michael Lewitt (Article)

As one who has written that there is little chance of a long-term solution to Europe's problems without a radical rethinking of global economic policy, the Europeans still have little choice once they peer over the cliff to realize other than to step back and buy some time before taking the inevitable leap. For, in the end, they have no other options than to jump.

2011-11-14 Improving Recovery Prospects by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Europe is moving slowly towards resolving its financial issues, but the performance of the domestic economy is looking significantly better. A domestically originated recession is looking ever more unlikely. Europe may take a while to resolve its financial and budget issues, but the adverse effect of a recession in Europe, even a severe one, on our domestic economy should be negligible. So while tremors from Europes financial turmoil may disrupt our market temporarily, they are unlikely to derail our expansion. This suggests that the equity market should continue its recent recovery.

2011-11-08 An International Perspective on Safe Withdrawal Rates by Wade Pfau (Article)

Prospective retirees must consider whether they are comfortable basing retirement decisions on the impressive but perhaps anomalous numbers found in historical US data. What has been safe for US retirees in the past has been far less secure for their foreign counterparts.

2011-11-01 The Danger in European Stocks by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

European equity prices, depressed by fears of a sovereign debt crisis, are cheap to such a degree that William Bernstein, author of The Intelligent Asset Allocator, called them a true bargain. Income-oriented investors, in particular, may be tempted by 4.2% dividend yields and a market-wide P/E ratio of approximately 11. My analysis, however, contradicts Bernstein's and shows the underlying risk those investments carry.

2011-10-27 Third Quarter Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory

Since 2008, we have been in a period where macroeconomic forces are particularly influential and must inform our portfolio strategy. This quarter's developments in which we saw heightened concerns about a global economic slowdown, political gridlock, and serious concerns about shorter-term European and longer-term U.S. debt problems are consistent with the risk scenarios we've been discussing the past several years.

2011-10-25 How a Trivial Oversight Created a Big Problem by Dan Richards (Article)

Over 25 years working with advisors, I've learned that while you need to get the big things right, small issues are often much more important than they appear on the surface. Last week I met with a 25-year industry veteran who told me about a big price he paid for a seemingly minor oversight.

2011-10-18 Bob Doll: Why the US is Positioned Strongly by BlackRock (Article)

Investor unease has risen dramatically over the past quarter in the face of growing concerns about the world's economic and financial health. The focal point has been the intensifying debt crisis in Europe. The issues facing Europe are highly complex, but essentially are underscored by a single question: Is Europe facing a solvency crisis or a liquidity crisis?

2011-10-11 Thomas Friedman's View of the Future of the US by Michael Edesess (Article)

Andy Rooney once said, 'It's just amazing how long this country has been going to hell without ever having got there.' Our country's roughly 30-year march to perdition is the subject of Thomas Friedman's and Michael Mandelbaum's new book, That Used to Be Us. Rooney may still be right, though - the authors identify, albeit not all that convincingly, a path to salvation.

2011-10-04 Jeffrey Gundlach: Preparing for the Coming Crisis by Katie Southwick (Article)

Speaking at a luncheon in New York last week, Jeffrey Gundlach, the founder and chief investment officer of DoubleLine Capital, gave investors advice on how to survive pending crises at home and abroad. After outlining the current state of U.S. debt and tax policy, Gundlach advised against European investments, favoring the U.S. dollar and owning U.S. government bonds as a hedge against credit.

2011-09-27 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.

2011-09-27 Do Low Correlations Favor Active Managers? by FundQuest Investment Management & Research Group (Article)

There has been much debate regarding the challenges for active managers in market environments with persistently high correlations. Some argue that high correlations hinder active managers seeking to generate alpha through security selection. Indeed, in a recent study, we found that active managers were more likely to succeed in low-correlation environments.

2011-09-13 The Risks of Exchange-Traded Products by Dennis Gibb (Article)

Every major financial crisis has been foretold by timely but ultimately ignored warnings. At the end of mania, the rush to secure more fees, investment performance and status trumps common sense. In the last few months, the drumbeats of warnings from financial journals and regulators about exchange-traded funds have been sounding. Few seem to be listening.

2011-09-13 A Response to 'A Winning Endgame' by Guy Cumbie (Article)

A Winning Endgame, Robert Huebscher's review of John Mauldin's book Endgame, made some highly problematic claims about our energy usage. Moreover, Huebscher's claim is unfounded that an energy policy, such as the cap-and-trade policy he recommended, is the right step toward solving our economic crisis.

2011-09-01 Updated Ideas for Fixed Income Positions by Team of American Century Investments

The current environment and related factorsincluding double-dip recession concerns, equity and high-yield corporate bond market volatility, moderate inflation expectations in the near term, and premium pricing for U.S. Treasury securitieshave raised questions for investors as they return from summer activities and re-examine fixed income investment positions. It is difficult to address all investor situations and scenarios. So for our hypothetical allocations in this piece, we will focus on fixed income positioning within employer-sponsored retirement plans, both qualified and non-qualified.

2011-09-01 Q&A with Litman Gregory Research by Team of Litman Gregory

We regularly use a Q&A format to address questions from readers about our investment views and current strategy. This format permits us to address a range of different topics and allows readers to focus on areas that are of interest to them. This Q&A piece was worked on jointly by members of our research team and tackles questions received during the past several weeks. We have grouped the questions into broad categories for convenience. The main topics include the Fairholme Fund, Investment-Grade Bonds, Floating Rate Loans, Municipal Bonds, International Bonds, China and Commodity Futures.

2011-08-23 Strategies for a Rising Rate Environment by Jayant Kumar of Fisher Francis Trees & Watts (Article)

Shortening the duration of a fixed-income portfolio is often considered the default option, but it is not the only way to hedge against a potential rise in interest rates. This article provides investors with a framework to analyze and implement a range of fixed-income strategies, and highlights various investment considerations that should carefully be taken into account.

2011-08-16 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.

2011-08-09 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.

2011-07-26 Investing with a View of Significant Inflation by Bob Kargenian (Article)

Almost all the analysis we read has concluded that, with the Fed seemingly printing money out of nowhere, the inevitable consequence must be significantly higher inflation. We're not convinced, but we have identified which strategies are likely to best protect clients if inflation accelerates.

2011-07-19 A New Approach for Forecasting Market Returns by C. Thomas Howard (Article)

I propose a method for predicting future market movements, which I call the strategy market barometer (SMB). The SMB is calculated by measuring the extent to which investors are rewarding specific investment strategies being pursued by active equity managers. My research reveals that equity strategy performance ranking is a useful predictor of future market returns, and tests confirm that market returns vary in line with SMB measurements.

2011-07-19 Retirement Planning and Worst-Case Scenarios by Wade Pfau (Article)

New research suggests that skepticism in a 4% safe withdrawal rate (SWR) is well justified. It is perhaps due to good luck that American retirees have not yet experienced a withdrawal rate below 4%. But a better approach than worrying about SWRs is to focus on the savings rate needed to meet your retirement spending goals, not on what the safe withdrawal rate is.

2011-07-19 You and the Internet, Part II - Places to Go, People to See by Wendy J. Cook (Article)

In my last article, How to Waste Time and Influence People, we covered productive ways to wander on the Internet. You also can benefit from harnessing the Internet as it relates to your advisory practice.

2011-07-12 The Real Story behind Bond Yields by Michael Nairne (Article)

One of the most important questions that individuals should ask before making any investment is 'Am I being paid enough for the risk of this investment?' I analyze the returns available today from government bonds and answer this important question for this asset class.

2011-07-05 No More Stupid Forecasts! by Michael Edesess (Article)

Dan Gardner's book Future Babble takes the sport of expert prediction apart piece by piece, showing why it's phony, why people still pay close attention to it and why people (including the experts themselves) continue to believe in it. Along the way, the author fills his pages with enough interesting information and anecdotes to keep us reading with pleasure.

2011-06-28 The Diversified Portfolio Index by Charles Fahy, Sr. (Article)

Investment rates of return that are average but consistent are the products of exceptional performance. Over longer time horizons, these returns become increasingly difficult to outperform. One such example is the Diversified Portfolio Index - a buy-and-hold strategy deployed across all major asset classes.

2011-06-14 Bruce Berkowitz - Ignoring the Crowd on Financials by Sam Parl (Article)

Bruce Berkowitz has said that his deep value and contrarian investing style will not guarantee short-term results, but he promises his shareholders will be rewarded for their patience over the long term. Last week, he explained why some of his positions - especially those in the financial services sector - are among the best opportunities in the market.

2011-06-14 What Fama and French?s Latest Research Doesn?t Tell Us by Michael Edesess (Article)

With the high name recognition and respect that the team of Eugene Fama and Kenneth French enjoys in the world of finance, anything they publish warrants attention. Their latest offering, Size, Value, and Momentum in International Stock Returns, offers some interesting data on global equity performance. But they fail to offer any insights that explain the reasons behind their findings.

2011-06-14 A Cautionary Tale from the World's Most Influential Economist by Dan Richards (Article)

Raghuram Rajan was recently cited by The Economist as having the most important ideas for the post-crisis world. In this interview, he identifies key policy issues the Obama administration must confront. This is a transcript of the interview.

2011-06-07 Why Jim Rogers is Bullish on Gold by Dan Richards (Article)

The veteran investor Jim Rogers explains why he is bullish on gold and the US dollar, and offers his thoughts on Asian economies why he chose to move his family to Singapore. This is the transcript of the interview.

2011-05-24 How to Build a Low-Risk High-Income Portfolio by Geoff Considine (Article)

Prominent investors, including Bill Gross and Warren Buffett, now say that the yields on long-term government debt do not justify the risks. But is this perception correct? I offer a way to answer that question - and to construct a low-risk high-income portfolio - using the prices of put options to derive the true risk levels of various asset classes.

2011-05-24 The WikiLeaks of the Economics Profession by Michael Edesess (Article)

What Caused the Financial Crisis presents the most comprehensive account I have seen of the regulations that, when considered as a whole, have incentivized unprecedented self-delusion and risk-taking in the subprime mortgage market. To put it in a manner that financial advisors will understand, the book shows that the policies and regulations greatly increased the Sharpe ratio of the financial industry - they increased the return for taking risk.

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.

2011-05-17 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.

2011-04-12 Ten Trends that will Reshape the Fund Industry by Robert Huebscher (Article)

For advisors scouring among thousands of mutual funds, bargains and inefficiencies will be harder to find in coming years. Intense competition among funds for shelf space will not translate to lower fees, and the new class of broad asset allocation funds is unlikely to live up to its marketing promises. Those were among the surprising forecasts from Geoff Bobroff, with whom I met last week.

2011-04-12 A Top Value Manager Looks Outside the US by Robert Huebscher (Article)

David Winters, manager of the Wintergreen Fund, began his career working for Max Heine, where Seth Klarman and Michael Price also worked. In this interview, Winter discusses the why he believes many of today's best opportunities are outside the US and how he is hedging against the threat of inflation.

2011-04-12 Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest by Barry M. Ferguson (Article)

The two stupidest characters ever to grace the big screen - Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne - were first introduced to the world in Jim Carrey's 1994 movie, Dumb and Dumber. If that movie were made today, its leading characters could easily be our government and the supposedly independent Federal Reserve Bank. Both of these institutions have foisted their misguided policies on the American public, who, in their passive acceptance, have proven themselves to be the dumbest of all.

2011-03-29 Inflation versus Deflation: Two Experts Disagree by Robert Huebscher (Article)

An important question for all investors is whether low inflation rates will persist or whether the economy is heading toward much higher inflation. The answer to that question will dictate asset class allocations, portfolio construction and ultimately the rates of return investors should expect.

2011-03-22 Statistical Insights into Everyday Problems by Sam Parl (Article)

You know that the volatility of an investment matters as much as its overall return. But you may not know that research into this fundamental investment principle has been applied in many other disciplines to explain phenomena as unexpected as waiting times in lines at Disney World.

2011-03-22 No Shortcuts to Greatness by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

Nothing defined Alan Greenspan's tenure as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank more than his wholehearted embrace of capitalism. According to a current Fed governor, however, both Greenspan's Fed and the Fed today have not been the stalwarts of capitalism that the Maestro believed them to be.

2011-03-22 Japan Update by Bob Veres (Article)

This letter, suitable for sending to clients, explains the consequences of the tragedy in Japan and how investors should gauge its economic impact.

2011-03-21 Buy on the Cannons and Sell on the Trumpets by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Investors remain nervous over Libya and Japan, which has reduced equity valuations and driven some cash into the safety of sovereign debt. While risks remain, the worst possibilities now seem increasingly unlikely, presenting an opportunity to buy depressed equities. Even so, domestic economic growth should suffer some setback from the turmoil. A decline in GDP remains highly unlikely, but a few months of slower growth seems assured. If the market falters in the face of somewhat weaker data, another buying opportunity would be available.

2011-03-15 Mason Hawkins and Staley Cates on Today?s Opportunities for Value Investors by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Southeastern Asset Management's Mason Hawkins and Staley Cates, two of today's most respected value investors, discuss their portfolio and the principles behind their Graham and Dodd methodology. They explain why they like certain commodity-based companies and why they disagree with Bruce Berkowitz on the opportunities in the financial sector.

2011-03-15 Margin Shrinkage - It Can Happen to You by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

Profit margins are a tick away from all-time highs and are creating the impression of cheap equity valuations. But that impression is a mirage, because today's generous margins are destined to shrink.

2011-03-08 The Sweet Spot by Michael Nairne (Article)

Today?s low interest rates and lackluster stock valuations suggest portfolio returns going forward will be modest. Investors in search of higher return opportunities need to consider small-company value stocks. We explore how this asset class can improve portfolio performance for long-term, patient investors and deal with its risks and limitations.

2011-03-01 Subsuming the Efficient Market Hypothesis by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)

A recent article highlighted important gaps in the efficient markets model (EMH) that limit its practical applications. It encouraged a search for a new theory of markets that builds upon EMH by rendering it as a special case within a broader, more general theory. Mordecai Kurz? Rational Belief Equilibrium is such a theory.

2011-03-01 Simon Johnson on the Unconscionable Risks We Face by Dan Richards (Article)

Simon Johnson is a professor of economics at MIT and was the chief economist for the International Monetary Fund. In this interview, he explains why the underlying factors which led to the financial crisis remain unresolved. This is the transcript; a video is also available.

2011-02-22 Bruce Berkowitz on the Exceptional Value in the Financial Sector by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Fairholme's Bruce Berkowtiz, US stock-fund manager of the decade, discusses his large position in the financial sector and why he believes the big bets he is making do not amount to Russian roulette. He also comments on his recent nomination of former Florida Governor Charlie Crist to the board of St. Joes.

2011-02-08 The Downside to Venture Investing (like Facebook?) by Dan Richards (Article)

In this interview, Harvard Business School professor Josh Lerner discusses the dangers of venture capital investing and the basis behind Facebook's valuation. This is a transcript of the interview.

2011-02-01 Can Economics Save the Economy? by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Christina Romer, Greg Mankiw and Paul Krugman were among a group of thought leaders who spoke at a conference in Cambridge last week. They cited a lack of sufficiently powerful and politically feasible policy options, calling into question whether economists will be able to produce the clear path to the stronger recovery that the Obama administration seeks.

2011-02-01 Why Public Funding of Venture Capital Has Failed by Dan Richards (Article)

Josh Lerner is a professor at the Harvard Business School, with a joint appointment in finance and entrepreneurial management. In this interview, he discusses his research on why public-funded venture capital sometimes succeeds but other times fails. This is a transcript of the interview.

2011-01-18 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A number of readers respond to Nancy Opiela's article, Tactical Asset Allocation and Market Timing: What's the Difference?, and one reader responds to Michael Lewitt's article, The Wages of Growth. Both articles appeared last week.

2010-12-21 How Much Smid-Cap Exposure is Best? by Jon Quigley, CFA and John Bright, CFA (Article)

Small- to mid-cap stocks have outperformed since 1999 and have attracted considerable attention. We offer a few things to consider in determining how much exposure to smid-cap stocks you should maintain.

2010-11-23 Why Diversify? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)

Although diversification is commonly regarded as a good thing, there are nonetheless those who regard it as a guarantee of mediocrity. It isn't, but there are right ways and wrong ways to go about diversifying a portfolio. Let's explore how diversification works.

2010-11-16 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.

2010-11-09 How Modern Is Your Portfolio Theory? by Direxion Funds (Article)

After 58 Years, is there Another Way to Conquer the Efficient Frontier? In the past, active or "tactical" investment management referred to jumping in and out of stocks and bonds - market timing. With the introduction of sophisticated funds that help the masses harness the power of institutional managers and alternative asset classes and strategies, today, tactical management may help to renovate your portfolios - and help you retain and attract assets.

2010-11-09 Waiting for Superman: The Fate of Teachers? Unions by Charlie Curnow (Article)

In 'Waiting for Superman,' the new documentary film about the shortcomings of American public education, director Davis Guggenheim argues that, in order to compete with rival school systems in Asia and Europe, the U.S. must rein in its teachers unions and embrace the free market principles of private schools and privately managed charter schools. Is this a fair assessment?

2010-11-02 Flaws in Vanguard?s Withdrawal Strategy: Income versus Total-Return Portfolios by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

Vanguard advertises that its mission is to simplify investors' retirement decisions. In a recently published study, however, it oversimplified the critical choices investors and their advisors face in constructing a portfolio for the withdrawal phase of retirement.

2010-11-02 A Top Economist's Nightmare Scenario by Charlie Curnow (Article)

Remember the 1970s? Stagflation like we saw then could return to the U.S. if unsustainable public debt levels trigger a selloff of government bonds and dollar-denominated holdings, according to a recent study by John C. Cochrane. Cochrane, a finance professor at the University of Chicago, is perhaps best known for his response to Paul Krugman's article in the New York Times on why mainstream economics failed to anticipate the financial crisis.

2010-10-29 Henry Paulson: An Inside Look at the Financial Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson candidly spoke about the details of his efforts to rescue the economy during the financial crisis, and offered some optimistic thoughts about the potential for growth in the US economy in the face of new financial regulation.

2010-10-19 Developed Markets and Capitalism in Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)

We are not in a globalized world today, according to Ian Bremmer. "The state is back," said the 40-year old president and founder of Eurasia Group, a political consulting firm. Both in the U.S. and throughout the world, governments are exerting their influence through regulation, trade restriction, subsidies, and bailouts, and are threatening the nature of free markets.

2010-10-19 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.

2010-08-24 What Investors Really Want by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Using a mean-variance optimizer to construct a retirement portfolio that sits on the efficient frontier is tantamount to dining on a well-prepared meal that was pureed in a blender, believes Meir Statman, a professor of finance at Santa Clara University. Statman's research focuses on behavioral finance, and how advisors can help investors make smarter decisions.

2010-08-10 When Active Management Matters by Kenneth R. Solow, CFP and Michael E. Kitces, MSFS, MTAX, CFP (Article)

Financial planners have eagerly awaited any research that could finally, definitively prove - or disprove - the pesky notion that active management is effective. Though no one has yet risen to that challenge, past academic studies have been improperly interpreted to show that portfolio policy, or asset allocation affects portfolio returns far more than active management. As Ken Solow and Michael Kitces write in this guest contribution, the most recent study to tackle the active management debate, by Yale professor Roger Ibbotson, shares two weaknesses with previous research.

2010-08-10 Is the Market Efficient? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)

After Marxism, no economic theory today may be as derided and despised as the hypothesis of market efficiency. The idea is often misunderstood, sometimes willfully. So what does "market efficiency" mean? In the latest installment of his series for the educated layman, Adam Jared Apt provides some answers.

2010-07-27 Active Managers Add More Value in Bull than Bear Markets by Jane Li, CFA, CAIA (Article)

In this guest contribution, Jane Li of FundQuest argues that both active and passive investing have their strengths and weaknesses; it depends on the market segment in question and on the economic climate. Active managers tend to add value in bull markets, but their value is shakier in bear markets.

2010-07-20 Martin Leibowitz? Failed Defense of the Endowment Model by Michael Edesess (Article)

The latest book from Martin Leibowitz, one of the most respected thinkers in the investment industry, attempts to justify the endowment model of investing. As Michael Edesess writes in this review, Leibowitz's defense is highly problematic, and that should concern any advisor utilizing a Yale-like strategy.

2010-07-19 Sovereign Risks by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Fitch upgraded Argentina's bonds to B (stable) from Default last week, a rather questionable decision. Argentina and a few others belong in a special class, recidivist sovereign borrowers who default on a regular basis after they've lured new lenders to provide them with fresh money. It makes little sense to upgrade Argentina and downgrade Greece because the latter country's budget cutbacks are not politically popular. It is doubtful Argentina will act responsibly any time soon.

2010-07-13 Fake Diversification Exposed: Does Asset Allocation Work? by David B. Loeper, CIMA, CIMC (Article)

Domestic equities are down roughly 14.5% from their April 23rd high. Many advisors tout sophisticated (and very expensive) asset diversification strategies, supposedly to protect their clients against precisely these circumstances. So, with this recent decline, Dave Loeper asks whether all of those supposed diversifiers protected portfolios?

2010-06-29 Inflation Protection Investment Strategies by Vern Sumnicht (Article)

The value of the dollar is sure to erode, and investors will be left to grapple with the inflationary consequences. As Vern Sumnicht shows in this guest contribution, recent policies suggest steep inflation may be just around the corner. Fortunately, investors have some options to bolster their portfolios against the threat of inflation.

2010-06-22 Improving on Morningstar's Ratings: Moving Beyond Past Performance by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)

Past returns provide little or no help in choosing the best fund going forward, and Morningstar's stars are the best known example of this failure. In this guest contribution, Tom Howard presents new evidence of the failure of past performance to predict future returns, and shows how his strategy-based rating methodology offers measurably better predictive power.

2010-06-22 Niall Ferguson on Japan, China, and the US by Dan Richards (Article)

Harvard's Niall Ferguson is arguably today's leading economic historian. In part two of this interview, Ferguson explains why he fears the future is bleak for Japan, why China may someday be the leading global superpower, and what all this means for the US. We provide a video and a transcript.

2010-06-15 Today?s Top Economic Historian: The Path to European Stability by Dan Richards (Article)

Harvard's Niall Ferguson is arguably today's leading economic historian. In this interview with Dan Richards, Ferguson discusses the current troubles and future outlook for Europe. We provide a transcript and a video.

2010-06-08 Five Strategies for a Rising Rate Environment by Kane Cotton, CFA and Jonathan Scheid, CFA (Article)

The Federal Reserve can't accommodate forever, and the global stimulus effort will likely lead to inflation. Our growing indebtedness can only result in increased borrowing costs. That much we know. What we don't know is when and how quickly interest rates will rise. In this guest contribution, Kane Cotton and Jonathan Scheid examine five strategies for a rising rate environment.

2010-06-08 Ten Ways to Improve Manager Selection by Nancy Opiela (Article)

Today's emphases on fiduciary responsibility, risk management and increased transparency require better due diligence when selecting managers. Especially in today's turbulent markets, advisors who spend more time and resources to do due diligence well can find themselves at a distinct competitive advantage. While these ten tips won't necessarily help you identify the next active management superstar, they can bolster your manager selection and due diligence program.

2010-06-08 The First Thing We Do, Let?s Kill All the Quants by Michael Lewitt (Article)

In the latest issue of the HCM Market Letter, Michael Lewitt draws the parallels between the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and financial reform - both, he says, demonstrate our inability to learn from our mistakes. Lewitt also comments on quantitative trading strategies, economic recovery and the capital markets.

2010-05-18 Actively Passive or Passively Active? by Craig L. Israelsen, Ph.D. (Article)

The active-passive debate typically centers on the nature of the investment product - whether it is an actively managed fund or a passive index fund. This, however, is only one aspect of that debate, and to consider it alone represents too simplistic a view, says Craig Israelsen in this guest contribution. A broader issue, namely how a portfolio of actively or passively managed funds is managed over time, has a more profound impact on whether one is truly an active or passive investor.

2010-05-18 Spain: After the Bubble by Charlie Curnow (Article)

Today, Barajas Terminal 4 one of the most visible artifacts of the profligacy that fueled Spain's property bubble and led to the country's current financial crisis. Spain, like several other European states, has continued to spend rapidly over the past two years, even as its economy has contracted. As a result, the Spanish government's debt has skyrocketed, raising fears of a possible sovereign default.

2010-05-18 Understanding Recent Negative International Bond Returns by Team of American Century Investments

This year so far has been a challenge for U.S. investors in high-quality, unhedged international bonds, continuing a downtrend for this sector that began in December of last year. Fortunately, the long-term strategic reasons for holding international bonds remain intact, including inflation protection from a potentially weaker dollar as the U.S. budget deficit grows, and diversification benefits versus traditional domestic fixed income.

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 God Is Dead: The Implications of the Goldman Sachs Case by Michael Lewitt (Article)

Michael Lewitt provides us with the most recent issue of the HCM Market Letter, where his discusses the implications of the Goldman Sachs case. Lewitt says Goldman faces a terrible dilemma, and should heed the lessons of the downfall of Drexel Burnham two decades ago. Lewitt also comments on the private equity industry, public pension funds, and bank capital requirements and the ratings agencies.

2010-05-11 Inspire Client Trust by Delivering Clear, Insightful Investment Communications by Ani Yessaillian (Article)

One of the best ways to build trust with your clients is to consistently deliver clear, insightful investment communications. In this guest contribution, consultant Ani Yessaillian tells you how to make the most of your quarterly performance report and your off-cycle investment communications.

2010-05-11 A Historical Perspective on the Slight Depression by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Armed with textbooks and formulas, economists attack a problem by drawing lines, forming equations and trying to fit data to the real world. Niall Ferguson, a historian by training, thinks you can learn more simply by analyzing what has already happened. So what's a historian's take on the current crisis? Ferguson says it has yet to run its course.

2010-05-11 Why Some Hedge Funds Made Money in 2008 by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Steven Drobny is the co-founder of Drobny Global, an international macroeconomic research and advisory firm that counts many of the leading global hedge funds and money managers as clients. He is also author of a recently released book that identifies why some hedge funds made money in the 2008 crisis, while the majority did not. In this interview, he discusses the common themes among successful strategies.

2010-04-14 The Global Bond Market: Opportunity or Opportunity Cost by David W. Rolley of Loomis Sayles

The U.S. bond market is unlikely to offer investors the yield or capital appreciation opportunities they need to meet their investment objectives in 2010. Instead, investors will need to expand their investment universe. Investments in non-U.S., high-quality governments and supranationals could offer capital preservation, while emerging-markets debt and corporate debt might present performance prospects. In the non-dollar securities arena, investors could take advantage of securities offering capital preservation as well as performance.

2010-04-06 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.

2010-03-30 Surprising New Research on Diversification from Emerging Markets by Dan Richards (Article)

Historically there have been two reasons to invest in emerging markets: the promise of higher returns that come with faster growing economies, albeit with greater volatility, and the prospect that emerging markets will offer diversification from the performance of stocks in developed economies. Dan Richards reports that new research into the impact of global diversification, though, has produced some surprising results.

2010-03-30 Not a Lost Decade for Diversified, Balanced Portfolios by Joni L. Clark, CFA, CFP (Article)

Did the last ten years really demolish the foundations of Modern Portfolio Theory and classic investing principles? How did portfolios that stuck to the principles of effective diversification and buy-and-hold investing actually perform during the so-called "Lost Decade?" The answers to both questions is an unqualified "no," writes Joni Clark of Loring Ward in this guest contribution, based on her analysis of a DFA-based strategy.

2010-03-26 narrative power by tom brakke of the research puzzle

The investment world illustrates the power of narrative. People up and down the informational food chain use stories to enlighten and deceive. For stock investors, many stories originate with companies and their officers, who learn that crafting a narrative that puts everything in the best light is part of their leadership role. Sell side analysts sometimes reinforce those messages by making the telling of certain stories part of their brands. Investors must therefore read widely and read well, and realize that understanding comes from taking nothing for granted and questioning everything.

2010-03-23 A Tale of Two Depressions: What do the New Data Tell Us? by Barry Eichengreen and Kevin H. O?Rourke (Article)

Barry Eichengreen and Kevin H. O'Rourke offer the fourth installment of their comparison of data from the current recession to those of the Great Depression - A Tale of Two Depressions. Global industrial production continues to recover - something for which policy deserves considerable credit. But before indulging in self-congratulation, policymakers should note that the level of industrial production is still 6% below its previous peak.

2010-03-16 Greeks Bearing Gifts by Michael Lewitt (Article)

We are again privileged to publish the most recent edition of Michael Lewitt's HCM Market Letter, Greeks Bearing Gifts. Lewitt comments on Goldman Sachs' derivative transactions that helped Greece hide its debt and its larger implications for the financial system, for the European periphery and for Spain in particular. Lewitt also addresses the state of decline of the US economy and other topics.

2010-03-02 Asset Allocation for Grantham?s Seven Lean Years by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

Followers of Jeremy Grantham know his consistently accurate long-term forecasts well, as well as his ability to identify and avoid asset bubbles and steer clients into high-performing asset classes. Grantham's prescience is remarkable but not irreplicable. Geoff Considine shows that his Monte Carlo simulations nearly match Grantham's forecasts, and he reviews the implications for asset allocations.

2010-02-25 The Global Bond Market: Opportunity or Opportunity Cost by David W. Rolley of Loomis Sayles

The U.S. bond market is unlikely to offer investors enough yield or capital appreciation opportunities in 2010. Investors should instead expand their investments to include global bonds. High-quality governments and supranationals could offer capital preservation, while emerging market debt and corporate debt may present performance prospects. Non-dollar securities could offer both capital preservation and performance.

2010-02-16 Robert Shiller on Trills, Housing and Market Valuations by Dan Richards (Article)

Robert Shiller, a professor of economics at Yale University and co-creator of the Case-Shiller Housing Index, discusses several topics in this interview with Dan Richards, including his plan for governments to finance their debts by issuing "trills," a security representing a fractional claim on the country's GDP.

2010-02-02 Change ? The Only Constant by Christina Ho (Article)

The Institute for Private Investors serves families with over $50 million in assets. Their data show wealthy investors have increased their use of tactical asset allocation and are positioning their portfolios to defend against liquidity, concentration and inflation risk.

2010-02-02 Chuck Akre on the Akre Focus Fund by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Chuck Akre is the Managing Member and Chief Executive Officer of Akre Capital Management, which he founded in 1989. He has a track record of above-average performance over the last 20-plus years managing mutual funds, separately managed accounts and partnerships, and he discusses the strategy he employs in his new Akre Focus Fund.

2010-01-26 Diversification Really Does Pay Off by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

The last decade severely tested investors' belief in the value of diversification and strategic asset allocation, leading some in the financial media to assert that diversification and asset allocation failed and were worthless during the crash of 2007-2008. Now is an ideal moment to look back and assess the carnage.

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

2010-01-19 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.

2010-01-12 Bruce Berkowitz on the Keys to Success for the Fairholme Fund by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Bruce Berkowitz, manager of the Fairholme Fund, was just named Morningstar's US fund manager of the year. In our interview, he discusses current market conditions, the thesis behind several of his largest positions, his views on health care reform, and the elements of the macro environment that concern him most.

2010-01-12 The Financial Crisis Post-Mortem: Suicide, Accident or Murder? by Michael Skocpol (Article)

Since the stunning collapse of America's financial system in 2008, questions have swirled around how we got here and who's to blame. The subsequent finger-pointing has yielded few answers, but now one economist has taken a cue from CSI's Gil Grissom and Law and Order's Jack McCoy. He performed an autopsy.

2010-01-12 Olivier Blanchard on Global Stability by Dan Richards (Article)

Olivier Blanchard is the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, a position he has held since September 1, 2008. In Dan Richards' interview, Blanchard discusses the steps being taken to revive the global economy and what he believes is in store for beleaguered debtor nations - particularly Greece.

2010-01-05 Paul Krugman on Deficits, Taxes, Inflation, and Recovery by Dan Richards (Article)

Dan Richards' interview with Paul Krugman, the 2008 Nobel prize winner in Economics, covers his views on the size of the next stimulus package, how high marginal tax rates should go, and lessons from the Japanese experience. Whether or not you agree with him, Krugman is highly influential and his views may presage future policy decisions.

2009-12-15 The Next Black Swan? Underfunded Public Pensions by Robert Huebscher (Article)

The plights of California and other states reveal an ominous threat our economy faces: underfunded public pension liabilities. We examine the size and scope of this problem, focusing on whether the underlying assumptions used to calculate liabilities are realistic.

2009-12-15 Letters to the Editor ? Morningstar Responds by Various (Article)

Our article last week, Morningstar's Ratings Fail over a Full Market Cycle, drew two responses from readers and a response from Morningstar. John Rekenthaler, Morningstar's VP of Research, says the three-year time period we chose was arbitrary and does not necessarily reflect a full market cycle. We also have a letter regarding our article last week, The Investment Value of Art.

2009-12-08 Morningstar Ratings Fail over a Full Market Cycle by Robert Huebscher (Article)

When active managers are tested, as they were during the 2008 bear market and 2009 bull market, so are the systems used to predict their performance. Perhaps no system is as widely used as Morningstar's "star" rating system. In an update to a study we originally did two years ago, we show that Morningstar's ratings fail to offer any predictive ability when measured over a full market cycle.

2009-11-17 Client Gifts that Stand Out by Dan Richards (Article)

Having trouble with ideas for holiday gifts for your clients? Dan Richards offers four strategies for selecting a gift with a meaningful impact.

2009-11-10 Bruce Greenwald on Structural Problems in the Economy and Unemployment by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Bruce Greenwald is a professor of finance at Columbia University, the Director of Research at First Eagle Funds, and perhaps the foremost expert on value investing. In part one of our two-part interview, he discusses the structural problems facing the economy, the parallels to the Great Depression, and the implications for the unemployment rate.

2009-11-03 Worry of the Dollar?s Collapse Is Overblown by Frank Wei, CFA (Article)

The fundamentals for the dollar could not be worse. The U.S. economy has continued to struggle, the federal deficit has skyrocketed, and the government has adopted super-easing monetary policies and aggressive fiscal spending. But anxiety over a potential dollar collapse is overblown. A gradual decline appears more likely, according to Frank Wei of FundQuest in this guest contribution.

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 A Tale of Two Depressions: October 2009 Update by Barry Eichengreen and Kevin H. O?Rourke (Article)

Barry Eichengreen and Kevin H. O'Rourke update their article, "A Tale of Two Depressions," and report that global industrial production shows clear signs of recovery, but weak consumer spending in the US may prevent a rapid recovery.

2009-09-29 Turning Intention into Action by Dan Richards (Article)

Dan Richards' recent article, A Wakeup Call for Advisors: Turmoil at the Top of the Market, drew by far the largest response of any his articles in the last year and a half. Focusing on a number of recent articles on affluent investors leaving existing advisors, the article laid out five strategies to respond to this trend. Of course, laying out the strategies is the easy part - it's acting on them that's tough - and Dan offers suggestions for advisors looking for a way to prioritize their action plan.

2009-09-22 The Financial Market Solution to Carbon Emissions by Robert Huebscher (Article)

While health care remains the hot topic on Capitol Hill, another piece of legislation is poised to gain similar attention. Regulating carbon emissions to address the threat of global warning is a top priority of the Obama administration, and its favored approach is to create a "cap-and-trade" market. John Parsons, an expert in the field, explains how this financial market solution might work.

2009-09-15 Mohammed El-Erian: We Have Not Reached Escape Velocity by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Kicking off this year's Schwab Impact conference in San Diego, Mohammed El-Erian told an audience of nearly 1,000 advisors on Sunday night that the US financial system has not fully emerged from the financial crisis. El-Erian and his co-presenter, Larry Fink of Blackrock, addressed a range of topics, including the safety of the financial system, the future of regulation, and the outlook for inflation.

2009-09-08 Are REITs Now Undervalued? by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

The last couple of years have been rough for real estate, but there was a time not too long ago when it seemed that this was a 'special' asset class, with REITs providing valuable diversification benefits and consistently high returns. Do today's low valuations represent an opportunity to buy? Can investors expect a return to low correlations for REITs with the major equity market indexes?

2009-09-01 Additional Thoughts on the ?New Normal? by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

A number of readers responded to Geoff Considine's article three weeks ago, What the New Normal Means for Asset Allocation, including Larry Katz, Director of Research at Merriman, whose response we published last week. Katz criticized Considine along a number of dimensions, and in this guest contribution Considine defends his New Normal asset allocation.

2009-08-25 The New Normal and Asset Allocation Merriman?s Response by Larry Katz, CFA (Article)

Larry Katz, Director of Research at Merriman, Inc., responds to Geoff Considine's article two weeks ago, What the New Normal Means for Asset Allocation. He has multiple objections concerning much of Considine's logic, and would not recommend his alternative portfolio to their clients.

2009-08-25 Beating a Dead Dragon by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

The last thing you may want to read is another article about China - how many ink cartridges have been exhausted writing about its phenomenal growth numbers in the past decade? - but what Vitaliy Katsenelson has to say may surprise you: China's economy is hardly as vibrant as everyone thinks it is.

2009-08-18 A Crash Course in Investing Six Lessons from the Market Meltdown by Dougal Williams, CFA (Article)

The market decline from October 2007 to early March 2009 was the worst since the late 1930's. Stocks dropped 60%, investor uncertainty skyrocketed, and trust and confidence were shattered. The age-old rules for personal investing are now being questioned: Is Buy-and-Hold dead? Has Asset Allocation outlived its usefulness? Does Diversification still work? In this guest contribution, Dougal Williams provides answers to these questions that can serve as a guide for long-term investment success.

2009-08-11 What the New Normal Means for Asset Allocation by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

Bill Gross of PIMCO forecasts a New Normal - slow economic growth, higher inflation, and increasing correlations among asset classes. If this view is correct, what should investors do? Geoff Considine examines the implications for asset allocation and financial planning by stress-testing some well-known asset allocations to see how well they will serve investors in the forecast environment.

2009-08-04 Paul Krugman on the Prospects for Recovery by Eric Uhlfelder (Article)

Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman tells Eric Uhlfelder that massive government spending is essential for generating growth, but fears the first stimulus package will not be enough to keep the economy from slipping back into recession nor reducing unemployment.

2009-08-04 How to Think about Return and Risk at the Same Time by Adam Jared Apt (Article)

In this guest contribution targeted to the educated layman, Adam Apt discusses the relationship between return and risk. Only when you can keep in mind at one and the same time these two concepts can you properly understand how to invest. And you will also understand why you should invest. Without the marriage of the concepts, you will be playing the market-or shunning it-as if it were a casino.

2009-08-04 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

In our letters to the Editor, readers respond to last week's article, How Long is the Long Run?, Geoff Considine's article, The Retirement Portfolio Showdown: Jeremy Siegel v. Zvi Bodie , and Ted Wong's article, Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 3.

2009-07-21 Q2 2009 Performance among the Most Popular Mutual Funds in the Advisor Perspectives Universe by Robert Huebscher and Mary Pitek (Article)

Each quarter we analyze changes in the Advisor Perspectives database - a $50+ billion universe of high- and ultra-high net worth assets managed by Registered Investment Advisors. Our analysis has three parts. We look at changes in asset allocation, the performance of the most popular mutual funds, and the mutual funds that showed significant gains or losses in popularity during the quarter.

2009-07-07 Marty Whitman: The Outlook for Distressed Securities by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Marty Whitman is the founder, Co-Chief Investment Officer, and Portfolio Manager of the Third Avenue Value Fund and a veteran value investor with a long, distinguished history as a control investor. In our interview, he discusses the opportunities in distressed securities created by the financial crisis.

2009-06-30 A Tale of Two Depressions: June 2009 Update by Barry Eichengreen and Kevin H. O'Rourke (Article)

In an update to an article we published two months ago, two economists compare today's global crisis to the Great Depression. World industrial production, trade, and stock markets are diving faster now than during 1929-30. Fortunately, the policy response to date is much better. The update shows that trade and stock markets have shown some improvement without reversing the overall conclusion -- today's crisis is at least as bad as the Great Depression.

2009-06-09 Simon Johnson on Obama?s Achilles Heel by Eric Uhlfelder (Article)

While he agrees with much of what the US administration is doing to confront the economic crisis, Simon Johnson, the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, fears that present policy is not addressing a key issue: the overwhelming influence of the finance industry in US economic affairs. He likens this imbalance to what we see at the core of many emerging markets crises.

2009-06-09 Changes in the Most Popular Mutual Funds by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Each quarter we review changes in the Advisor Perspectives (AP) Universe, which represents $50 billion in high-net worth assets managed by RIAs. Our analysis looks at changes in asset allocation, the mutual funds and ETFs that gained or lost market share, and the performance of the most popular actively managed mutual funds. This analysis focuses on the most popular mutual funds.

2009-06-09 Q1 2009 Performance among the Most Popular Mutual Funds in the Advisor Perspectives Universe by Robert Huebscher and Mary Pitek (Article)

Each quarter we review changes in the Advisor Perspectives (AP) Universe, which represents $50 billion in high-net worth assets managed by RIAs. Our analysis looks at changes in asset allocation, the mutual funds and ETFs that gained or lost market share, and the performance of the most popular actively managed mutual funds. This analysis focuses on performance across the most popular mutual funds.

2009-05-26 The Importance of Being Active by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)

New research from Tom Howard of Athenainvest shows buying and holding the typical active US equity fund is a recipe for underperformance. On the other hand, Howard shows that funds actively placing stock selection bets and enjoying recent return success earn increasingly superior returns and experience an improved likelihood of beating the market as the fund ages. Howard argues for the importance of being truly active as a fund manager.

2009-05-19 Waiting for the Fifth Wave by Robert Huebscher (Article)

In response to skepticism we've expressed in the past about technical analysis, one of our readers invited us to attend the Market Technicians Association symposium in New York last week. Our skepticism remains, but it was an enjoyable event and we report on the forecasts of Elliot Wave theorist Robert Prechter.


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