More on Related Themes
2014-07-28 Second Quarter Economic & Capital Market Summary by Gregory Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management
It seems there is a growing disconnect between what the financial markets are discounting and the reality of what is transpiring in the domestic and global economies. While economic growth has the potential to increase during the second half of the year we are not expecting a dramatic acceleration since there are still structural problems in the economy. The result is slow private credit expansion, a lack of fixed investment and a slow rate of business formation.
2014-07-28 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
More favorable earnings; more decent economic releases; more devastating global turmoil. Stocks were little changed during the week (though the S&P did move into record territory) as many investors went on much-deserved summer vacation. Hope they are well-rested because next week brings a new month, a vast array of key data, financial word from Big Oil and others, and hopefully progress on peaceful resolutions to the never-ending geopolitical conflicts.
2014-07-24 More Volatility Ahead? by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock
Despite recent market swings, volatility is still very low by historic standards, suggesting that markets aren’t taking into account the prospect of bad news and that investors should prepare for more turbulence ahead.
2014-07-24 Instability is the New Normal? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments
Once upon a time, there were safe havens in this world, places where investors could hide when the going got rough. If you believe this fairy tale world will persist, pinch yourself. In our assessment, not only are there no safe havens left, but instability may be the new normal. Is your portfolio ready?
2014-07-23 Long Commodities, Short Contango via Commodity Currencies by Rick Harper of WisdomTree
On the back of a resurgence in Chinese economic data and rising geopolitical risk in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, increases in global commodity prices have reinvigorated investor interest in allocating to commodity-based investment strategies.
2014-07-23 Should EMC Corp Break Itself Apart?: FAST FUNdamental Analysis by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs
On Monday a Wall Street Journal article reported that the hedge fund Elliott Management Corp has taken a more than $1 billion stake in EMC Corp (EMC) and revealed that it intends to petition the company to break itself apart. Elliott believes that this would unlock shareholder value. Implicit in that thesis would be the idea that EMC Corp is not receiving full value from the market. This article is offered as an in-depth analysis of the fundamental value of EMC Corp in relation to how the market is evaluating its business.
2014-07-21 A Farmland Investment Primer by Julie Koeninger of GMO
Farmland is a real asset that combines solid investment fundamentals with the potential for attractive cash yields, inflation hedging, and consistent returns from biological growth. Furthermore, farmland total returns tend to be uncorrelated with financial asset returns, offering genuine portfolio diversification for institutional investors.
2014-07-19 The Municipal Bond World, According to John Derrick by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
I sat down with Director of Research John Derrick, who also manages our Near-Term Tax Free Fund (NEARX), to get his thoughts on interest rates, the bond market and what investors should pay attention to as we move into the second quarter of 2014.
2014-07-18 Summer Essays by Jeremy Grantham of GMO
In a new quarterly letter to GMO's institutional clients, co-head of asset allocation Ben Inker uses the evolving Boston culinary landscape as a backdrop to examine the tendency of investors to pursue a "free lunch," when they should be looking for the "investing equivalent of an inexpensive and tasty food truck meal instead." In his section, chief investment strategist Jeremy Grantham looks back at investing mistakes made over his 47-year career, paying special attention to his formative investing years and the "painful lessons" learned therein.
2014-07-16 U.S. Now World’s Largest Producer of Oil & Gas by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
Recent reports have confirmed that the US is now the world’s largest producer of crude oil with output exceeding 11 million barrels per day in the 1Q of this year. This surpasses the daily oil production of Russia and Saudi Arabia.
2014-07-12 2014 Commodities Halftime Report by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
What a difference six months can make. After a disappointing 2013, the commodities market came roaring back full throttle, outperforming the S&P 500 Index by more than 4 percentage points and 10-year Treasury bonds by more than 6.
2014-07-10 The Three-Track Middle East by Mohamed El-Erian of Project Syndicate
Rather than achieving internal convergence, the Middle East is now following at least three distinct paths, and already-large differences will persist and grow for a number of years to come. The main question is what will become of countries like Egypt, which can end up following the path of Syria or of the UAE.
2014-07-09 And That's the Quarter That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
The dismal winter weather is finally in the rearview mirror and stocks continued their record-setting ways.
2014-07-08 Slow but Steady Growth by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
In the second quarter of 2014 major asset class performance was positive. The Dow was up 2.4%, the S&P up 4.7%, and the NASDAQ up 5%. International equities nearly kept pace with US equities; the MSCI ACWI ex US was up 3.8%.
2014-07-05 I'm Grateful to Live in America. Here's Why. by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
An important principle of our investment process at U.S. Global Investors is a belief that government policies are a precursor to change. As a result, we closely monitor the fiscal, monetary and other impactful governmental policies of the world’s largest countries, both in terms of economic stature and population. We’re always listening for the proverbial shot heard around the world. As we approach America’s Independence Day, this belief rings especially true.
2014-07-01 The 2014 Mid-Year Geopolitical Update by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
As is our custom, we take the middle of the year to reflect on the current geopolitical situation. This report is less a series of predictions as it is a list of potential geopolitical issues that we believe will dominate the international landscape for the rest of the year. It is not designed to be exhaustive; instead, it focuses on the “big picture” conditions that we believe will affect policy and markets going forward. They are listed in order of importance: America’s Strategic Drift, Chinese Maritime Expansion, The German Problem, and The Remaking of the Middle East.
2014-06-28 Health Care Sector Spurred by Population Growth and M&As by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Recently I spoke with John Derrick, director of research here at U.S. Global, to pick his brain about what he thought was the most interesting sector right now. You might expect him to have said energy, perhaps because of the intensifying violence in Kurdistan Iraq, a major oil producer. But instead, he said that he had his eyes on health care.
2014-06-27 Time To Do Less Not More by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital
The current situation in Iraq is a modern tragedy. But in more practical terms it is a very stark illustration of the folly of central planning and the limits of state power in the face of entrenched traditions and proven history. Although the parallels aren't perfect, the rapid dissolution of the puppet Iraqi state can offer some stark lessons to those who are optimistic about our current experiment in central bank dominated economic planning.
2014-06-26 Iraq Crisis Impact on Oil? by Tim Guinness, Will Riley, Jonathan Waghorn of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management
The rise and rapid expansion of the Sunni enclave known by its new rulers under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (or ISIS; al-Sham means greater Syria) comes as no great surprise. No-one can predict how far it can expand or how quickly it will be crushed (if ever).
2014-06-25 Truth or Consequences? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
I am always trying to manage the “risks” inherent with investing (or trading), for as Benjamin Graham stated, “The essence of investment management is the management of risks, not the management of returns. Well-managed portfolios start with this precept.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I often “wait” on an investment until its share price is at a point where if I am wrong, I will be wrong quickly, and the incidence of “loss” will be small and manageable.
2014-06-24 The ISIL Threat by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
Recently, the insurgent group called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has made stunning inroads into Iraq. ISIL represents a new threat to the region. In this report, we offer a historical analysis of how the modern Middle East was constructed and why the construct is coming under pressure. One of the keys to understanding why ISIL is so potent is to differentiate it from al Qaeda; we will analyze the differences. We will offer the strongest reason why we believe ISIL has staying power, also noting ISIL’s greatest weakness and the possibility of a broader sectarian confli
2014-06-21 Ah, the Power of Mean Reversion. by Frank of U.S. Global Investors
The chatter this week has been gold. The precious metal flew up $45 an ounce on Thursday, surprising investors, the media and markets alike.
2014-06-18 Conflict in Iraq: What Rising Oil Prices Mean for the Economy & Investors by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock
For much of 2014, equities advanced despite disturbing world news headlines. However, that changed last week because there is a clear link between the events in Iraq and the global economy: energy prices. Russ explains, noting two investing implications of an energy price spike.
2014-06-18 Bizarro World by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
I feel like I am living in Bizarro World. First named "Bizarro World" in DC Comic books, the term has come to mean a situation or setting that is weirdly inverted or opposite of expectations. I mean we’ve had the ATF’s Fast & Furious where we sold guns to Mexican smugglers. The NSA is spying on us. The IRS is using its power to target select groups and now the IRS claims it has lost 28 months of Lois Lerner’s emails. Benghazi. The Department of Justice going after the Associated Press and Rosengate.
2014-06-17 Oil Spikes on Iraqi Strife by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent
Of the many global macroeconomic concerns of the past few years, oil has curiously fallen down the list in terms of major areas of investor focus. After recovering in the wake of the financial crisis, the commodity has generally been range bound between $100 and $120 a barrel. Newfound supply of natural gas in the United States has also eased concern about the domestic economy’s reliance on oil imports from the Middle East.
2014-06-16 Weekly Market Update by Team of Castleton Partners
The grind toward higher Treasury yields—and June’s bearish momentum in interest rates—persisted through most of last week, only to reverse on Thursday with an escalation in geopolitical concerns, especially Iraq. After reaching a high of 2.70%, 10 year Treasury notes recovered on the selloff in risk assets and closed the week up only 1 basis point, at 2.60%.
2014-06-16 The Fed’s Role Amid a History of Violence by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
The stock market has always been susceptible to sudden jolts spurred by unpredictable acts of violence. But the Fed’s been the shock absorber to cushion the blow and to repair fractured sentiment, says Kristina Hooper. Today’s crises are no different.
2014-06-14 Gold Investors: Let This Cycle Be Your Guide by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
U.S. Global Investors recently welcomed Doug Peta, an economist from BCA research, to our offices. He presented some interesting research regarding the Fed Funds Rate Cycle, and in turn, what that research could mean for gold. I wanted to share points from his presentation, as well as our own in-house research, to help you understand the positivity we see for the precious metal looking towards 2015.
2014-06-12 A Quarter Century of Emerging-Markets Investing by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments
At one time or another, every country could have been classified as “emerging.” Back in the 1800s, the Western part of the United States was called the “new frontier.” Investors purchasing farmland there were likely to consider it a highly speculative venture putting stakes in such a rugged and wild place.
2014-06-07 China Leads the World in Green Energy, Gaming and Gambling Markets by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Last month, Xian Liang, co-portfolio manager of our China Region Fund (USCOX), attended the 19th CLSA China Forum in Beijing. There he and hundreds of other global attendees were given the opportunity to meet with representatives from Chinese corporations, some of which U.S. Global owns. Xian also managed to get a sense of how the nation’s recent changes in consumer behavior and governmental policy reforms might affect its investment outlook. Although China remains an emerging market, it has lately taken a number of considerable strides to position itself as one of the world’s most
2014-06-05 Is Your Portfolio a House of Cards? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments
Politics and financial markets may both be resting on an increasingly unstable house of cards. The S&P 500 continues to hit new all time highs, while central banks try to enforce low volatility and financial stability and politicians demagogue in their quest for higher office. The one thing politicians throughout the world have in common is that they rarely ever blame themselves. They tend to diffuse responsibility or place blame on groups such as political opponents, the wealthy, or foreigners.
2014-05-25 A Bubble in Complacency by John Mauldin of Mauldin Economics
The simple fact is that we are in what I call a Muddle Through Economy. Things aren’t terrible, but they are not great, either. We’ve come through a devastating Great Recession caused by a crisis in the financial sector. It is quite typical for the effects of such a crisis to linger for a decade or more. So compared to where we were at the bottom of the Great Recession, the glass is half-full. But compared to the expectations we have for economic recovery and the resumption of vibrant growth, half-full seems like an exaggeration. And for many people, the glass is simply empty, whil
2014-05-20 Iran’s Iraq by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
The last American combat troops left Iraq in December 2011, marking the end of direct U.S. involvement in a nearly eight-year war. In this report, we will discuss recent developments in Iraq, including elections that were held on April 30. We will analyze Iran’s growing influence in the region and how the Iraq War furthered that influence. As part of this analysis, we will examine how Iran’s growing power and America’s apparent withdrawal is changing the behavior of other nations in the region. As always, we will conclude with market ramifications.
2014-05-16 Old Turkey by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
I revisit the “Old Turkey” story this morning, which I first read in the classic book Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, about the escapades of Jesse “the boy plunger” Livermore, because of the reference I made to him last week that drew so many questions. The wisdom of “Old Turkey” is as good today as it was when first published in 1923. The problem with most investors today is that they have never experienced the 1923 – 1929, the 1946 – 1964, or the 1982 – 2000 secular “bull markets.”
2014-05-08 Middle East/Africa: Regional Economic Review - Q1 2014 by Team of Thomas White International
As the Middle East and Africa region stepped into the New Year, the three regional economies under our coverage did not see any material change in their political or economic situation. Labor problems remained the most immediate concern for South Africa while Egypt unveiled yet another stimulus program to mend an economy that has been struggling amid political uncertainty for three years now.
2014-05-06 Taking Emotion Out of Taking Risk by Peter Langerman of Franklin Templeton Investments
The straight ?risk-on/risk-off? play where investors flee assets perceived as risky en masse in times of uncertainty seems to be becoming a bit more nuanced this year. As a bottom-up stockpicker, Peter Langerman, takes the short-term emotional response out of the equation as he looks for opportunities for his portfolios where other investors may have jumped ship. Langerman discusses where he?s finding value today, why he thinks the markets are probably ?right where they should be? and why some investors may need to take a few risks to meet their long-term financial goals.
2014-04-26 China Holds the Keys to the Gold Market by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
It’s important to follow the money, or in this case the gold, to see how people around the world react to this rare commodity. Looking forward, stay curious as an investor and you’ll see if China can keep the key to the gold market.
2014-04-23 Positioning Your Portfolio for Rising Rates. by Team of Forward Management
Accelerating outflows from bond funds in 2013 highlight investor nervousness over the prospect of rising interest rates. Investors may want to carefully assess the role of fixed-income investments in their portfolios, particularly in light of other types of income-producing vehicles. Upon careful evaluation of their options, investors can make adjustments suitable to their objectives.
2014-04-22 2016 (Part 3, The Election Situation) by Bill O?Grady of Confluence Investment Management
In this final report, we will analyze why we think 2016 may be a pivotal election and examine the potential that it could bring about a coalition change similar to the 1932 and 1980 elections. We will discuss the various methods of addressing the current high level of private sector debt and offer what we believe to be the three highest probability scenarios of how the current problems can be addressed and their impact on the domestic political scene and on America?s superpower role. Unlike our last two reports, we will conclude with market ramifications.
2014-04-18 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust
In a currency war, everyone loses. Should monetary policy be coordinated across countries? The International Monetary Fund is at a crossroads.
2014-04-17 Equity Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
Short term, we would not be surprised if the market took a breather after its strong gains last year. Additionally we may see volatility related to news coming out of the Middle East and Russia. But longer term, we remain very optimistic on the outlook for U.S. equities. In addition to the reasons we discussed above we believe U.S. equities are very attractive relative to the alternatives. The great bull market in bonds appears to be over. The great decades of emerging market growth appear to be behind us.
2014-04-15 Equity Market Insight by Thomas Faust, Jr. of Eaton Vance
After a powerful rally in 2013, the first quarter of 2014 saw the bull market demonstrate a measure of resilience in the face of several headwinds. In the latter half of January, stocks fell sharply on emerging-market concerns, with volatility spiking to more "normal" post-financial crisis levels. The market bounced back strongly in February and went on to record a new all-time closing high on March 7. Performance was choppy in the final few weeks of the quarter, as investors digested mixed economic reports, geopolitical issues and the latest U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) meeting.
2014-04-12 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust
The Federal Reserve’s search for stability. The patterns of world trade are undergoing important changes. Greece issued debt this week: good news or bad news?
2014-04-09 Reasons To Remain Optimistic In 2014 by Sandra Martin of Martin Investment Management
The equity markets have taken a respite in 2014 after returning more than 32% in 2013. Margin expansion has been the largest influence on profit growth and should continue with present low inflation expectations. We believe that mergers and share buybacks may continue to increase shareholder value for large capitalization stocks.
2014-04-01 The Changing Face of Global Risk by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate
The world?s economic, financial, and geopolitical risks are shifting. But, as in the run-up to the global financial crisis in 2008, investors seem unable to estimate, price, and hedge tail risks properly.
2014-04-01 2016 (Part 1, The Economic Issue) by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
In this report, we are tackling the geopolitical impact of the 2016 elections. Given the size of the topic, it will be discussed over a three-part series. As we survey the political landscape for 2016, the next presidential election could be historic. In our opinion, the last three presidents have been unable to create a consistent foreign policy that reflects America?s role as the unipolar superpower. We will begin by examining the economic challenges the next president will face, with a broad analysis of the issues of inequality and economic growth.
2014-03-28 Four Areas Revved Up for a Resources Boom by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Commodity returns vary wildly, as experienced resource investors can attest and our popular periodic table illustrates. This inherent volatility can spell opportunity for the nimble investor who can look past the mainstream headlines to identify hot spots. Our global resources expert, Brian Hicks, CFA, identified four we believe are revved up for a resources boom.
2014-03-21 World Industrial Production Finished 2013 At An All-Time High by Team of GaveKal Capital
The CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis publishes a monthly report called "World Trade Monitor". This report tries to quantify the seemingly unquantifiable; world industrial production and world trade volume and prices. Either later today or early next week the CPB should come out with the first statistics for 2014. Today, however, we are going to take a look at world industrial production for 2013.
2014-03-18 Fishing for Gold? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments
If interest rates are supposed to be on the rise, why has the price of gold gone up so much this year? Is it merely because it is bouncing back after a sharp decline in 2013? We have a closer look at the link between gold and interest rates to gauge how investors may want to approach the bait provided by the Fed.
2014-03-17 Frontier Markets Find Footing by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
Frontier markets remain in focus for the Templeton Emerging Markets Group in 2014, and my team and I have spent the early part of the year exploring potential investment opportunities in a number of them.
2014-03-17 Frontier Markets: Weighing the Risks by Nathan Rowader of Forward Investing
Why would investors even think about investing in fledgling, so-called frontier economies half a world away? The quick answer is that some of the best-performing stock markets in the world can be found in places like Kenya, Bulgaria and Argentina. Annual equity returns topped 40% in all three countries in 2013 while a number of other frontier markets (FMs), including Romania, Serbia and Nigeria, experienced annual returns ranging from 25% to 35%. Although past performance is not a guarantee of future results, investors in search of portfolio growth and diversification are taking note.
2014-03-12 Reflections on Ukraine by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
Over the past five weeks there have been a number of significant events that have occurred in Ukraine. A president has fled, a revolutionary government is forming and Russia has taken de facto control over the Crimea. The events themselves are momentous but the broader effects are significant as well. In this report, we will offer three reflections?Putin?s Gambit, The U.S. Adrift and A Dangerous New World. Although any of these could be a topic in themselves, we will shorten these issues to offer a single journey through the current crisis. As always, we will conclude with market ramifications
2014-03-12 U.S. Household Net Worth Hits New Record High by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
The Federal Reserve announced last Thursday that US household net worth reached a new record high by the end of last year ? at $80.7 trillion. The Fed said the new record was made possible largely due to vaulting stock prices, increased home values and Americans paying off more of their debts.
2014-03-07 Tensions between Russia and Ukraine Worry Investors by Gene Goldman of Cetera Financial Group
Over the weekend, tensions escalated between Russia and Ukraine as Russian forces invaded and took complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula.
2014-03-07 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust
The fight over Ukraine is an unwelcome source of uncertainty; Hiring in the U.S. improves in February; American businesses have lots of cash to invest.
2014-03-05 What Areas of the Market Will Remain in the Limelight? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
The current bull market has been five years in the making. Since the bottom on March 9, 2009, the S&P 500 Index has grown an incredible 174 percent. With this spectacular performance, investors are asking if U.S. companies will stay in the limelight or if it is time to draw the curtain on equities. While I was in Los Angeles at a leadership event for CEOs from around the world, I asked John Derrick, CFA, director of research, to shed some light on the subject.
2014-02-28 Emerging-Market Risk and Reward by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate
Industrialization, urbanization, and the rise of a middle-class consumer society were supposed to boost emerging-market countries' long-term economic and sociopolitical stability. But in many countries recently wracked by political unrest, it is the urban middle classes that have been manning the barricades.
2014-02-26 What Columbus Missed: Royce Rediscovers India by David Nadel of The Royce Funds
In 1492, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus set sail to discover India. He missed his mark, however, landing in America instead. The rest, as they say, is history-with the exception that more than 500 years later India is still worthy of discovery for many Western investors.
2014-02-26 The White Hurricane by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
'Unseasonably mild and clearing' was the weather forecast going into the Ides of March back in the year of 1888. And it was true, as temperatures hovered in the 40s and 50s along the East Coast. However, torrential rains began falling, and on March 12th, the rain changed to heavy snow, temperatures plunged, and sustained winds of more than 50 miles per hour blew.
2014-02-24 Three Reasons Frontier & EM Equities Are Not Created Equal by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
With all the turmoil in emerging markets recently, some investors may be especially wary of investing in so-called frontier markets. Russ explains why frontier and emerging markets are separate asset classes, each deserving of a strategic allocation.
2014-02-22 Going for the Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Everyone wants the gold. Around the world, athletes train for years to compete for a gold medal. In Hong Kong and China, the Love Trade seeks gold coins, bars and jewelry.
2014-02-20 American Industrial Renaissance Revisited by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors
We first wrote about The "American Industrial Renaissance" in 2012, and it remains one of our favorite investment themes. We continue to implement this theme through small US-centric industrial companies and small financial institutions that lend to public and private industrial firms. It remains unlikely that the United States will be the manufacturing powerhouse that it was during the 1950s and 1960s, but many factors are suggesting that the US industrial sector will continue to gain market share.
2014-02-10 Bond Investing in a Rising Rate Environment by Kathleen Gaffney of Eaton Vance
After a transitional year like 2013, when a multidecade declining rate environment moved to a rising rate environment, we think it is important for investors to consider a multisector approach to finding value in the bond market. Finding bonds that can appreciate in price regardless of the interest-rate environment is what a multisector strategy generally seeks to accomplish.
2014-02-04 Crisis in Ukraine by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
Since November, Ukraine has experienced widespread civil unrest. In late November, Ukrainian President Yanukovych decided not to join an EU-sponsored trade pact. This led to protests from Ukrainians who desired closer relations with Europe. In this report, we will begin by discussing the geopolitics of the nations involved, examining how nations have adjusted their policies over time to changing conditions. We will analyze the risks to the region from current unrest, including a look at the impact on emerging markets. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.
2014-01-29 2014 Oil Outlook: How Slick Is the Oil Slope by Greg Sharenow of PIMCO
While the supply outlook tilts the balances toward bearish in 2014, an improving global economy is a positive for oil demand and a support for prices. With roll yields positively contributing to returns, investors ultimately could be paid to hold a security that hedges both global event risk and any resulting shock to inflation. Growth in shale oil has been a powerful moderating force for prices by both filling an important gap in global supply and demand and by anchoring the back end of the futures curve.
2014-01-29 Middle East/Africa: Regional Economic Review - 4Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) anticipates weak growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region mainly due to heightened political instability. What’s more, after years of healthy performance, growth in the oil exporting nations is expected to lose pace due to lower international demand and local oil supply disruptions. Given that these countries are witnessing a population boom, the IMF emphasized the need for economic diversification by the oil exporters and job creation in private non-oil sectors.
2014-01-24 United Arab Emirates: An Emerging Market Melting Pot by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
The investable Middle East/North Africa region known as "MENA" encompasses 11 diverse countries, extending from Oman to Morocco, and also includes Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I recently had the pleasure of returning to Dubai, the largest city in the UAE, a truly striking and cosmopolitan city with a diverse population from around the world.
2014-01-23 Economic Growth is Likely to Improve in 2014 by Derek Hamilton of Ivy Investment Management Company
We believe a global economic upturn is likely in 2014, although the overall growth rate will remain sluggish. We think developed countries will show the largest improvement, which in turn will help support growth rates in emerging markets.
2014-01-23 Can Equities Continue Their Rise? Equity Investment Outlook: January 2014 by Matt Berler, John Osterweis of Osterweis Capital Management
2013 marked the fifth year of recovery following the near-death experience of the 2008 global financial system meltdown. From a low of 677 in 2009, the S&P 500 Index (S&P 500) finished 2013 at 1,848, delivering a stunning 203% total return from the low. Over the same period, the total return for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 188%. The tech-heavy and arguably more speculative NASDAQ logged a 249% total return. These very large equity returns reflect both a strong recovery in corporate profits and a dramatic clean-up of our financial system.
2014-01-22 Commodities Remain a Source of Frustration by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent
The environment following the global financial crisis has been a challenging one for asset allocators, as long held relationships shifted and traditional idioms were turned on their head. As we detailed last week in "The Diversification Obituary," investors have seen little work in their portfolios other than US stocks, while supposed diversifiers have offered little more than muted beta and unusually high correlations.
2014-01-22 What to Expect in 2014 (And Beyond) by Jack Rivkin of Altegris
Each year, I take Alfred Lord Tennyson’s advice and "ring out the old, ring in the new" by creating a list of expectations about the markets. My list involves events that the average investor thinks have only a one-in-three-chance of happening, but which I believe have more than a 50% chance of occurring. If this approach sounds familiar, it should. It’s modeled after Byron Wien’s annual list of "surprises." Like his, my expectations are designed to provoke thought and discussion.
2014-01-21 Emerging Markets 2014 Outlook: Shaping the Next Decade by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
As we embark upon a new year, the Templeton Emerging Markets Group believes 2014 could be an important year for many emerging markets, possibly establishing trends that could play out through much of the remainder of the decade. In particular, Chinese government reform initiatives announced in late 2013 could have far-reaching significance. And, major elections in a number of countries in 2014 could bring dramatic (or not-so-dramatic) changes. Here are a few themes and countries we’ve got our eye on in the new year.
2014-01-18 Dialing Down the Drama by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
We remain optimistic on stocks for 2014, but there will likely be bumps in the road. Investor sentiment is elevated, complacency seems to be building, and the valuation story is less compelling. But waiting for a correction can be quite detrimental to portfolio performance, evidenced by last year. QE tapering will likely continue at a very modest pace and U.S. interest rates will likely drift higher throughout the year. We remain positive on Europe and our outlook toward China is improving, while we are in at wait-and-see sort of mode with Japan.
2014-01-15 U.S. Inflation Outlook 2014: Signs of Life by Nicholas Johnson, Mihir Worah of PIMCO
We expect headline CPI to rise to around 2.0% year-over-year in 2014, with our base case oil forecast in the $105-$110 per-barrel range and expectations for food prices to be stable. PCE, in our view, will likely remain below the Fed’s 2% target, around 1.5%. Individuals will get some relief at the supermarket, but they will feel a pinch from landlords, who will likely raise rents.
2014-01-14 The Great Man or the Great Wave by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
One of the seminal debates among historians is how the process of history develops, characterized as the "great man versus the great wave" debate. In this report, we will begin by developing this debate with relation to America’s superpower role; specifically, we will examine whether the U.S. is struggling with the superpower role because of a lack of leadership (a great man position) or because the wave of history is aligned against the U.S. keeping that role. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.
2014-01-10 Exploring Ceylon Tea Country by Jodi Morris of Matthews Asia
Riding by train through the Sri Lankan highlands recently, I found it difficult not to be mesmerized by the views of mountains blanketed in tea plantings and cool mist. My days spent exploring Sri Lanka’s mountainous interior were among my favorite as a first-time visitor to the country.
2014-01-10 Continuing a Winning Formula for 2014 by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
We believe there’s a way that increases the odds of winning. It’s by combining a bottom-up approach with a top-down strategy: Find great, fast-growing and shareholder-focused companies and focus on the best stocks in the sectors experiencing positive momentum.
2014-01-07 Emerging Markets 2014 Outlook: Shaping the Next Decade by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
As we embark upon a new year, the Templeton Emerging Markets Group believes 2014 could be an important year for many emerging markets, possibly establishing trends that could play out through much of the remainder of the decade. In particular, Chinese government reform initiatives announced in late 2013 could have far-reaching significance. And, major elections in a number of countries in 2014 could bring dramatic (or not-so-dramatic) changes. Here are a few themes and countries we’ve got our eye on in the new year.
2014-01-06 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group
To say that 2013 was an interesting year would be a bit of an understatement. We learned a long time ago not to make predictions about the stock market because no matter what is predicted, it is likely to be wrong. Even if we get lucky one year, we are not likely to even get close the following year. We do try to give guidance, however. Last year we suggested that, given the late run in the market in 2012 and its 15% return, investors should be happy with a return of 8 to 10% in 2013. Obviously, investors enjoyed much better returns.
2014-01-04 Forecast 2014: The Human Transformation Revolution by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
It is that time of the year when we peer into our darkened crystal balls in hopes of seeing portents of the future in the shadowy mists. This year I see three distinct wisps of vapor coalescing in the coming years. Each deserves its own treatment, so this year the annual forecast issue will in fact be three separate weekly pieces.
2014-01-03 Gold Stocks: What to Expect in the New Year by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
After three years of pain, can gold stocks break their losing streak and see a gain in 2014? History says chances are good.
2014-01-03 Six Questions for 2014 - January 3, 2014 by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust
Our economic outlook for this year will be available next week. To provide a taste of what’s ahead, here are six of the key questions we’ll focus on during the coming months.
2013-12-27 A Look Back at 2013 Calls by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
It’s time again for Russ K’s annual look back at his economic and investment calls. Find out what he got right - and what he got wrong.
2013-12-24 The Price America Pays for Global Leadership by Bob Veres (Article)
America’s political debates inevitably default to finding ways to contain our federal deficits, and our investment debates focus on whether we’re facing a secular bear or bull market - and how to maneuver within that environment. I had never imagined that these two debates could be related until I heard a presentation by Bill O’Grady, of Confluence Investment Management in St. Louis, MO at the Insider’s Forum conference in Dallas.
2013-12-20 A Surprising Way to Participate in Today\'s Tech Boom by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
China has become one of the best consumption stories out there, and looking over the next few years, local technology companies are almost certain to benefit. So while many U.S. investors are getting excited about the growing number of initial public offerings in the tech sector, they would be remiss if they didn’t look beyond Silicon Valley.
2013-12-17 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to Dan Richards’ article, How Service Screw-ups Can Create Happier Clients, and a reader responds to Patrick McVeigh’s article, Low Demand Will Depress Oil Prices, both of which appeared last week.
2013-12-17 The 2014 Geopolitical Outlook by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
As is our custom, we close out the current year with our outlook for the next one. This report is less a series of predictions as it is a list of potential geopolitical issues that we believe will dominate the international situation in the upcoming year. It is not designed to be exhaustive; instead, it focuses on the "big picture" conditions that we believe will affect policy and markets going forward. They are listed in order of importance.
2013-12-16 The World We Live In by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management
For me, the final month of the year has always been a time to reflect upon the past as well as plan for the future. Analyzing the year soon to pass provides a valuable perspective with which to evaluate the important issues that will impact our country and economy going forward. In this context, 2013 sure has been a memorable year highlighted by horrific natural disasters, the deaths of Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela, and on the lighter side, the unforgettable ending to perhaps the greatest Iron Bowl ever played.
2013-12-13 One of the Most Notable Stories of the Year: Energy Renaissance in the U.S.A. by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Only a few years ago, we were contemplating the supply constraints facing the petroleum industry, as many major oil fields around the world were facing a decline in production. Now, with the disruptive technology in shale oil and gas, we may be looking forward to decades of drilling.
2013-12-07 Interview with Steve Forbes by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
For whatever reason, Steve Forbes seems to bring out the passion in me. When I think about what central bank policies are doing to savers and investors, how we are screwing around with the pension system, circumventing rational market expectations because of an untested economic theory held by a relatively small number of academics, I get a little exercised. And Steve gives me the freedom to do it.
2013-12-04 The Eastern Lust for Gold by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals
Having replaced savings with debt on both the national and individual levels, I think it’s well past time for Westerners to take a few lessons from our creditors in the East. Many Americans consider gold a "barbarous relic," but in Asia, the yellow metal remains the bedrock of individual savings plans. This means that either greater than half of the world’s population are barbarians, or they’ve held onto an important tradition that our culture has forgotten.
2013-11-30 Arsonists Running the Fire Brigade by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
In the old days, central banks raised or lowered interest rates if they wanted to tighten or loosen monetary policy. In a Code Red world everything is more difficult. Policies like ZIRP, QE, LSAPs, and currency wars are immensely more complicated. Knowing how much money to print and when to undo Code Red policies will require wisdom and foresight. Putting such policies into practice is easy, almost like squeezing toothpaste. But unwinding them will be like putting the toothpaste back in the tube.
2013-11-29 From the Taj Mahal to Westminster Abbey: Notes from a Global Investor by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
I recently returned from India, a nation where an incredible 600 million people are under the age of 25. That’s nearly double the entire population of the U.S.
2013-11-24 Game of Thrones - European Style by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The Eurozone crisis is not over, and it will not end quickly or soon. Even if it seems to unfold in slow motion - like the slow build-up in a Game of Thrones storyline to violent internecine clashes followed by more slow plot developments but never any resolution, the Eurozone debacle has never really gone away. The structural imbalances have still not been fixed; politicians and central bankers have still not agreed to solve major fiscal problems; the overall economy still disintegrates; unemployment is staggeringly high in some countries and still rising; and the people are growing restless.
2013-11-19 Where Will the Holiday Shopping Season Lead Us This Year? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent
The unofficial start to the holiday shopping season kicks off in a few short days. Economic uncertainty abounds, raising fears that consumers will pull back from spending, but some positive developments suggest consumers will be just fine.
2013-11-19 France and the Iranian Negotiations by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
Earlier this month, negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 failed to reach an agreement despite great hopes that one was near. In this report, we will examine the reasons behind French objections to a nuclear deal with Iran. We will begin with an examination of France’s relations with the Middle East, focusing on its relations with Israel. Using this history as a guide, we will analyze why the French scotched the potential agreement. A short discussion will follow of the impact of France’s objection on the evolution of U.S. policy with Iran. As always, we conclude with market ramif
2013-11-15 Passive Management ≠ Passive Investing by Ashwin Alankar, Michael DePalma, Guoan Du of AllianceBernstein
Passive investments are often misunderstood. Instead of providing static positioning as implied by the label, they can be very capricious because of market and sector turbulence. To tame a passive asset, we think investors need to exert more active control over the dynamics of volatility.
2013-11-15 Dressed to the Nines with Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
While paper gold is getting the cold shoulder in the West, the Love Trade buyers in the East are wrapping their arms around all the physical gold they can get their hands on.
2013-11-15 The Future of the Indian Rupee Is Tied to Oil Imports by Ignatius Chithelen of Knowledge @ Wharton
The weakness or strength of the Indian rupee will continue to be largely determined by the level and costs of the country’s crude oil imports, according to Ignatius Chithelen, managing partner of Banyan Tree Capital Management.
2013-11-08 U.S. Shale Oil: A Central Banker\'s Best Friend by Charles Wilson of Thornburg Investment Management
After nearly a decade of sustained high energy prices , U.S. oil and natural gas producers responded to the market’s call for supply with newly exploitable shale resources. The fresh supply helped reduce concerns about global spare production capacity and limited upward pressure on energy prices. Central bankers around the world were able to maintain highly accommodative monetary policies for prolonged periods as a result.
2013-11-06 The Top 10 Investor Worries Right Now by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research
In the first of a regular series in my Informed Investing blog, let’s count down the top 10 things that give investors the willies in today’s investment environment. These are situations known to even casual investors, but may or may not be communicated to them effectively by their financial advisors.
2013-11-05 The Saudi Tribulation by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management
In this report, we will discuss the basic history of U.S. and Saudi relations, focusing on the historical commonality of goals between the two nations. We will detail how the aims of the two nations have diverged since the Cold War ended and use this to examine America’s evolving plans for the Middle East. We will discuss how the evolution of U.S. policy is affecting Saudi Arabia and the pressures these changes are bringing to the kingdom. As always, we will conclude with market ramifications.
2013-11-01 When Small is Big by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
There’s a popular saying in the US, “good things come in small packages,” which is generally a statement about gifts of jewelry. My team and I find this saying can apply to the investment world, too, as we often find companies that are small in size, but which may have big long-term potential.
2013-10-30 Getting Back into Value Equities by Kevin Simms of AllianceBernstein
It finally feels like a great time to be a value investor again. After several challenging years, market conditions have become much more conducive to finding undervalued, controversial stocks with long-term payoff potential. Even after this year’s equity-market rally, we think the value rebound is just beginning.
2013-10-29 Defining the EM Corporate Bond Opportunity by Sponsored Content from Loomis Sayles (Article)
Finance is a numbers business. Investors study prices, yields, rates of return. However, when it comes to sizing up emerging markets, we think they should also pay attention to semantics. In the past, terming a country “emerging” made it synonymous with low credit quality and higher risk. But today, many emerging markets boast strong credit profiles while parts of the developed world buckle under heavy debt loads.
2013-10-28 Crawling, Economic Impact of Stubbing Your Toe and Employment by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis
I have to admit, I had a lot of trouble figuring out where to start this week -- unemployment from last week, post-shutdown observations, exports or sobering observations around expected growth of the US economy and expected implications. It was a Barron’s article, “Slowing to a Crawl” that pushed me to address the latter first. Why? Much of what the article focuses on hit very close to home the impact of demographics and economic data on our economies.
2013-10-24 Africa's “Glass With Attitude” by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
Africa has been an area of interest to our team, for many reasons. One might say Africa’s biggest asset is its youthful population. With a median age of under 20 in many countries today, that means a very high portion of Africa’s population is dependent on the adult workforce. Tomorrow, however, it means that the workforce will be massive, and the ratio of dependents to workers (the dependency ratio) could be among the lowest in the world. This huge and youthful population is a key rationale for our interest there.
2013-10-23 Emerging Europe: Regional Economic Review - 3Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International
In its latest World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) further trimmed its forecast for global growth. The Washington-based lender said expansion will be driven more by developed economies as emerging markets grapple with slowing growth and a tighter global financial scenario as interest rates hint of trending higher in advanced economies such as the United States. However, a reading of economic tea leaves for the Euro-zone and economies such as Russia, Turkey, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic offers room for optimism.
2013-10-18 Connecting the DOTs: The Role of North America's Emerging Markets' in Achieving Energy Independence by John Devir of PIMCO
The midstream energy sector is likely to grow more quickly than the overall U.S. economy over the next several years, creating the potential for attractive investment opportunities. North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas, or the “DOTs” for short, stand to disproportionally benefit from strong growth in onshore U.S. oil and gas shale development. PIMCO’s approach is to identify and invest in the companies, including pipeline operating companies, favorably positioned to benefit from prolific oil production.
2013-10-17 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
Last quarter we wrote about the confusion that can be created by the Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) two official mandates: keeping inflation in check and ensuring full employment. We also pointed out that given the rather fragile economic backdrop, talk of letting the economy stand on its own two feet by reducing their bond buying might be premature. During the third quarter, it appeared most economists felt comfortable that the Fed would indeed begin “tapering” its purchase of Treasuries and mortgage securities after the September Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetin
2013-10-15 Investing in the U.S. Energy Revolution by Sponsored Content from OppenheimerFunds (Article)
This whitepaper discusses how: Technological advances have made immense reserves of U.S. oil and natural gas economically recoverable; Consumers and industry may see cost reductions, and U.S. productivity and trade balance stand to improve; A wide range of companies may encounter transformational growth opportunities.
2013-10-12 Sometimes They Ring a Bell by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Three items have come across my screen in the past month that, taken together, truly do signal a major turning point in how energy is discovered, transported, and transformed. And while we’ll start with a story that most of us are somewhat aware of, there is an even larger transformation happening that I think argues against the negative research that has come out in the last few years about the reduced potential for growth in the world economy.
2013-10-08 Detente with Iran? by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management
On September 28th, President Obama reportedly called Iranian President Rouhani to confer over American and Iranian relations. In addition, Iran’s nuclear program was discussed. This was a historic eventthe first documented call between a U.S. president and his counterpart in Iran in 35 years. The last time such a conversation occurred was when the Shah was in power.
2013-10-08 Absolute Return Letter: Heads or tails? by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees, Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners
Demographics captivate me. There are around 7.1 billion of us occupying planet earth today, going to 10 billion by 2050. I often think about how good old mother earth will cope with the additional 3 billion people we are projected to produce between now and 2050. More people translate into increased pressure on already scarce resources, but that is only part of the story and a story well covered by now.
2013-10-07 Defining the EM Corporate Bond Opportunity by Elisabeth Colleran, Peter Frick, Peter Marber, David Rolley, Edgardo Sternberg of Loomis Sayles
Finance is a numbers business. Investors study prices, yields, rates of return. However, when it comes to sizing up emerging markets, we think they should also pay attention to semantics. In the past, terming a country “emerging” made it synonymous with low credit quality and higher risk. But today, many emerging markets boast strong credit profiles while parts of the developed world buckle under heavy debt loads.
2013-10-04 The Economy, the Fed, and Politics by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
It was a good quarter to invest in equities, and despite a down second quarter, overall a good year as well. The Dow was up 1.5%, the S&P 4.7% and the NASDAQ 10.8%. Year-to-date returns were very positive with the Dow up 15.5%, S&P up 17.9%, and NASDAQ up 24.9%. International equities were also positive for the quarter and year with the MSCI ACWI ex US up 9.4% and up 7.5% year-to-date. While emerging market equity indices were up 5% for the quarter they remained negative -6.4% for the year.
2013-10-02 And That\'s The Week That Was by Rob Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Move over Ben BernankeTed Cruz has the floor. (Somehow investors seem more interested when Dr. B speaks.) With politicos facing debates on debt ceilings and budget funding, few have confidence that they can act reasonably and with compromise (and the Cruz debacle did not help matters). Stocks fell over five consecutive days as portfolio managers set up positions for the next quarter. Labor and manufacturing releases highlight a hectic week on the economic calendar, but shenanigans from DC may steal the headlines.
2013-10-01 Putin's Gambit by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management
Earlier this month, President Obama found himself in a very difficult position regarding Syria. An ill-advised comment about making the use of chemical weapons a “red line” forced a response when the weapons were clearly used in Syria. The administration began moving toward a military response. However, support for military operations was lacking both domestically and internationally. The clearest signal of this opposition was the British Parliament’s vote to prevent P.M. Cameron from authorizing military action in support of the expected U.S. military strike.
2013-09-26 One Trick Pony: Whipping the GDP Donkey into a Stallion by Cliff Draughn of Excelsia
The difficulty since 2012 has been that if you are not significantly overweight US equities, then your returns are less than stellar. Employing a diversified, risk-averse investment strategy in 2013 has in hindsight been the wrong thing to do, given that every other asset class is negative year-to-date, while US stocks are up double digits. The combination of the Fed’s Zero Interest Rate Policy and the artificial bubble in Treasury bonds has forced conservative investors into riskier positions in order to find risk-adjusted returns.
2013-09-24 Michael Aronstein’s Warning to Fund Investors by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Fixed-income investors may think rising interest rates are their biggest worry. But bond funds face a new risk, driven by their need for liquidity to service investors’ daily redemptions, according to Michael Aronstein.
2013-09-24 Lehman Five Years LaterLessons and Threats by Dean Curnutt of Macro Risk Advisors
The five-year anniversary of the Lehman bankruptcy and onset of financial crisis is here and so too is the raft of opinion pieces around what caused the meltdown and how it is different this time.In a recent interview with Charlie Rose, when asked about the risk of another 2008 event, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said, “The probability of it happening again in our lifetime is as close to zero as I could imagine.”
2013-09-18 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares
Last week, total AUM in all active ETFs increased by over $68.76 million. Assets in “Short Term Bond” active ETFs increased by nearly $140 million. The second largest increase in AUM came in the “High Yield” ETF category, which rose by about $20.366 million, largely due to creation units. “US Equity” active ETFs also saw a significant increase in AUM of over $8.68 million. The biggest decreases in AUM came in the “Global Bond” and “Foreign Bond” categories, which fell by $58.85 million and $44.3 million respectively.
2013-09-17 “Risk-On” Resumes as Uncertainty Subsides by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
Equity markets rallied last week with the hope of a diplomatic solution to the crisis between Syria and the United States. The S&P 500 advanced 2.03% for the week.1 Broadly, the S&P 500 is in a churning phase after witnessing an all-time high of 1709 on August 2 and then stalling.1 We believe the market has been on hold while waiting for lower oil prices, progress on Syria, further global growth and successful Federal Reserve tapering.
2013-09-16 Russia is Tough to Love, Easier to Hate, Hard for Investors to Ignore. Here\'s Why by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Russian President Vladimir Putin created a stir recently when he shared his thoughts with Americans in an op-ed printed in The New York Times. According to The Times, very few pieces written by heads of state have been published by the paper and very few received the attention Putin attracted.
2013-09-13 Pacific Basin Market Overview August 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management
Asian equity markets ended lower in August, chiefly due to concerns about currency weakness in India and Indonesia, while improved macroeconomic data from China contributed to this market’s outperformance. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index including Japan fell by 1.3% while the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Free Index closed 0.71% lower during the month. (All performance figures are based on MSCI indices in U.S. dollar terms with dividends included unless otherwise stated.)
2013-09-13 Waiting for Clarity From the Fed and Congress by Team of Northern Trust
U.S. economic growth averaged roughly 2.0% in the first half of the year and the average gain of real gross domestic product (GDP) during the entire 16-quarter economic recovery is 2.2%. Real GDP is projected to grow close to this trend in the second half of the year.
2013-09-13 September Investment Bulletin: Global Equity Strategy by Team of Bedlam Asset Management
Year-to-date end-August the strategy performed well with a gain of 22.2% vs. 14.6% for the benchmark. During the month, the index “tumbled” 3.9%, partly out of fear of foreign military action in Syria and partly that central banks would cease printing money to hold down interest rates commonly known as tapering. Even so, the portfolio held up in August, with a much lesser 2.4% fall, thereby further widening outperformance over the index to 760 basis points so far in 2013.
2013-09-12 Cold Hard Facts About Syria and Investment Portfolios by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services
What does the Syria situation mean to the financial markets and client portfolios? Will actions (or inactions) by the U.S. be a catalyst to send the stock market plummeting? Everyone around the world is watching Syria as well as Washington as it determines what the response will be to the tragic use of chemical weapons.
2013-09-10 Investor Anxiety + Uncertainty = More Volatility Ahead by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
As Russ expected, both equity and bond market volatility have risen in recent weeks. Russ explains why this rocky road is likely to continue, and he provides two ideas for potentially insulating portfolios amid volatility.
2013-09-09 Moving On - Five Years After Lehman by John Petrides (Article)
This month marks the fifth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers failure and the start of worst financial crisis in American history since the Great Depression, and yet to some investors, it seems like only yesterday. Investors still hold onto that period of volatility as if it will happen again tomorrow, paralyzing and confusing their investment decisions. Consequently, many investors have watched from the sidelines as the stock market has recovered solidly year after year.
2013-09-09 Equities Advance Despite Concerns Over Weak Employment and Growth by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
U.S. equities moved higher last week, with the S&P 500 advancing 1.40%.1 In the face of another disappointing employment report, positive recovery expectations provided tailwinds. Key manufacturing and service sector data surprised to the upside, and improved corporate confidence was highlighted by merger and acquisition activity. Developments outside the U.S. supported recovery and reform, and emerging market fears lessened. A potential U.S. military strike on Syria was an overhang as President Obama’s decision to seek congressional approval raised concerns about other looming battles.
2013-09-09 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
The Syrian war crisis has prompted another “moment in time” for the markets to reflect and digest both the near-term and long term consequences of our response from a political and economic perspective. What’s most worrisome is the precedent of previous actions the U.S. has taken in global conflicts, and the potential catalysts for negative consequences for the markets.
2013-09-09 Market Technicals Signal Trouble Ahead by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent
Bear market enthusiasts have so far been disappointed in September after the sudden market rally last week. With equities up more than 1% on the month, many bears pointed to the historically poor performance of equity markets during this month as a reason to remain cautious. Bear enthusiasts need not fear, as markets appear to be converging toward an inflection point right around the Fed meeting in the middle of the month.
2013-09-06 The Emerging Markets Debt Evolution by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments
My colleagues Mauro Ratto, Head of Emerging Markets, and Yerlan Syzdykov, Head of Emerging Markets Bond & High Yield, offered these thoughts on emerging markets.
2013-09-06 The Growth Mirage by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners
Despite disappointing economic data, there continues to be widespread expectations of a period of stronger economic growth just ahead. This growth mirage draws thirsty investors and increases the likelihood that interest rates will continue rising over the near-term.
2013-09-06 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust
Manufacturing surveys are upbeat, but should we trust them? The August employment report leaves lots of room for improvement.
2013-09-06 Will Gold Follow Its Seasonal Pattern This Year? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
There are factors beyond Syria this week driving gold. That’s the Love Trade. This group gives gold as gifts for loved ones during important holidays and festivals. This is the time of the year that we are in the midst of right now. Historically, September has been gold’s best month of the year. Looking at more than four decades of monthly returns, the precious metal has seen its biggest increase this month, averaging 2.3 percent.
2013-09-04 How Syria Could Spark New Middle East War by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
What does the stand-off in Syria have to do with the investment markets? Potentially, a lot. As I have argued in recent weeks, if the Middle East devolves into another military quagmire, it could be quite bearish for the US stock and bond markets going forward. That’s why we will talk about the implications today.
2013-08-30 An American Energy Revolution by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
In Texas these days, there’s a feeling of absolute and unwavering confidence in the concept of an American energy revolution. From the depths of reserves to the richness of the energy, an incredible transformation is taking place.
2013-08-29 Middle East Tensions, Oil Prices and the US Economy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
A further escalation of violence in the Middle East will not only have a terrible human toll, it could also lead to rising oil prices, which in turn could hurt consumers and the global recovery. Russ explains the situation and shares how investors can prepare.
2013-08-28 ING Fixed Income Perspectives August 2013 by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management
While it’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, some pictures are just not that complicated. Take the current U.S. yield curve, for example, our interpretation of which can be boiled down to just a handful of syllables: “zero interest rate policy” and “taper”.
2013-08-28 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management
Yesterday was a pretty big down day for the market. The media blamed it on fear about a war in Syria. If the market sold off every time there was a war or fear of a war in the Middle East then the Dow would be at 100 by now. What you had was a market that was slightly overbought in the short term, a week when tons of people are on vacation, and an excuse to take profits. Moves like this are disconcerting but at the end of the day they are just noise. For Syria to cause a real market decline it would have to morph into a massive war that engulfs the entire Middle East.
2013-08-27 The Egyptian Coup: an Update by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
In this report, we will update developments in Egypt and discuss how the military’s actions increase the odds of future problems. We will study the military’s goals for the coup. From there, we will examine the Obama administration’s difficult position and how the Egyptian coup has caused a divergence of responses from regional powers. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.
2013-08-24 Revisiting the USD Bull Market by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments
The USD bull market has begun with signs that the USD is transitioning to a cyclical currency. Monetary policy divergences in G4, slowing in USD diversification and a dramatic turnaround in the twin deficits, provide a strong fundamental underpinning to a USD rally going forward.
2013-08-23 5 China Charts That Look Bullish for Commodities by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Over the past few months, investors have seen better economic data coming out of Europe. Consumer confidence in the continent has been rising, manufacturing data is improving and the fiscal situation is on the mend. Now, China appears to be strengthening as well, which could signal better times ahead. Below are five charts that look bullish for China and commodities. While not meant to be comprehensive, they do point to areas where investors might want to pay close attention.
2013-08-23 Embrace Bottom Up by Herbert and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management
With all the conflicting macro news, some good, some not, and with the S&P 500 and the Dow at new highs while many sectors languish, it is preferable to focus on the little picture not the big one. The big one may currently be more unpredictable than the small one, being bottom up investment in undervalued securities. Those may currently be less popular, but we value investors are naturally driven to buy investments low, that are neglected and unpopular, with the view of selling them high when their popularity is enhanced. Buy low and sell high. Not buy high and sell higher as is now in vogue.
2013-08-20 The Embassy Closings by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
In the first week of August, the Obama administration announced the closing of 22 embassies and consulates across the Middle East and North Africa. In this report, we will discuss the role of the embassy for a superpower, the return of al Qaeda, including its strengths and weaknesses, the nature of the terrorist group’s intelligence and an examination of other actions that may be behind activities in Yemen.As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.
2013-08-16 What Happens When You Tell Indians to Stop Buying Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
With the government in India raising its import tax for gold to 10 percent this week, I firmly believe Indians will continue indulging in gold, even if they have to smuggle it in.
2013-08-14 Middle East Is A Looming Tinderbox - Think Egypt by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
We begin today by looking into the latest unprecedented embassy closures across the Middle East and North Africa. Did President Obama take the appropriate actions, or were the closures a sign of weakness to our enemies in the region? From there, we turn our attention to the worsening political tensions in Egypt. There is a real threat that Egypt could deteriorate into a full-scale civil war in the months ahead.
2013-08-13 Envisioning the Planning Firm of the Future by Bob Veres (Article)
Virtually all advisors operate with a value proposition built on bettering their clients’ financial future through management of their assets. But trends in the workforce and capital markets will force advisors to rethink those assumptions and, if Richie Lee is right, the planning firm of the future will adapt a four-factor service model that places much greater emphasis on helping clients maximize their human capital.
2013-08-08 The Role of Confidence by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital
The so-called wealth effect plays an important and well recognized part in the functioning of an economy. When assets appreciate in value, the owners translate their increased wealth into increased spending. While at first glance this is unsurprising, it should be noted that this is true even if the appreciation is unrealized, and thus the increased wealth exists solely on paper. The relationship can be stated as follows: the richer people feel, the more they spend. Changes in confidence have an impact on behavior similar to the wealth effect. That’s what this memo is about.
2013-08-05 Can It Get Any Better Than This? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
What in the world is going on?! As I write this letter from the Maine woods, the S&P 500 has just cleared 1,700 for the first time. The German DAX continues to set all-time highs above 8,400. The United Kingdom’s FTSE 100 is quickly approaching its 1999 record high of 6,930, and its mid-cap cousin, the FTSE 250, just broke through to its all-time level above 15,000. And last but not least, Japan’s Nikkei 225 is extending its gains once more, toward 14,500.
2013-08-05 Two Charts Illustrate How to “Follow the Money” by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Too often investors get caught up in their political allegiance or parties, focus on the negative and lose confidence in stocks. As a result, they can miss great bull markets. I believe when it comes to finding investment opportunities, it’s not about the political party, it’s about the policies, both monetary and fiscal.
2013-08-01 Lack of US Economic Growth May Slow Fed Tapering by Kevin Mahn of Hennion & Walsh Asset Management
While we are encouraged that the U.S. economy has been growing, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, for 15 consecutive quarters starting in the third quarter of 2009, we are concerned that the growth rate has been below that of previous economic recoveries and the economy appears to be stalling and struggling to get back above a 2% growth rate thus far in 2013.
2013-07-30 The U.S. Energy Revolution by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
In March 1971, the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC), which allocated oil production for the state of Texas, announced that producers in the state would be allowed a “full allocation.” This was the first time the TRC had allowed Texas producers to supply an unlimited amount of crude oil since WWII.
2013-07-30 Who Let the Ferrari Out of the Garage? by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital
With just three trading days left in the month, July is in the running for the title of least volatile month of the year, with the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index averaging moves of just 0.39% this month through Thursday’s close. That is lower than the 0.41% and 0.42% averages of January and March, respectively, when stocks were grinding slowly, but steadily higher.
2013-07-30 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
Stock averages were nearly unchanged last week as earnings reports are being reported mostly in line albeit with the usual concerns about the pace of economic activity. This is reflected once again by a lack of revenue growth for many industries.
2013-07-25 Perspective by Jim McDonald of Northern Trust
Investors have faced a torrent of central bank actions and communications during the last month, and markets continue to differentiate among economies and companies a welcome maturation from the markets’ prior regime of “risk on/risk off.” We believe the Federal Reserve has moved from an easing bias to one of tightening but at an elongated pace that will remain data dependent. Joining in this parsimony are some key emerging-market central banks, including the People’s Bank of China, which is working to control credit risk in the Chinese economy.
2013-07-22 Middle East/Africa: Regional Economic Review Q2 2013 by Team of Thomas White International
Moderate growth is anticipated in Middle-East and North Africa (MENA) region as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) notes that economic expansion in the oil exporting countries has slowed down due to subdued global oil demand. While oil importing countries are expected to make a slight recovery, nations in transition are facing complex socio-political issues, which could further delay their recovery.
2013-07-22 4 Reasons to Consider Investing in Frontier Markets by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
At a time when investors are worried about Chinese banks and Brazilian riots, investing in the riskiest areas of the emerging world seems counterintuitive. But according to Russ, there are four reasons why many investors should consider having a small allocation to frontier markets.
2013-07-19 Challenging a Long-Held Assumption about Commodities by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
It is widely accepted that China spurred higher commodity prices in the past decade. And if the country was the force behind the boom, then the assumption is that China’s lower, but still healthy growth will be a drag on commodity prices. But recent research challenges this assumption.
2013-07-17 Canadian Secular View: Into Darkness? by Ed Devlin of PIMCO
Many investors are buying Canadian federal government bonds, shorting Canadian bank stocks and selling Canadian dollars in anticipation of a prolonged downturn. While significant risks are clearly facing the Canadian economy, our baseline forecast does not justify positioning our portfolios for a prolonged Canadian downturn.
2013-07-15 The Egyptian C#@P by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
From June into early July, the government of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was under pressure from widespread civil unrest. On July 3rd, the military, after warning the president that he had 48 hours to make changes or face an ouster, made good on their promise. The title of our report is “tongue in cheek” as the Obama administration and other officials are going to Orwellian lengths to say this isn’t a coup.
2013-07-12 Welcome Back Greece to the High-Potential World of Emerging Markets by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments
In June, major international equity index provider MSCI confirmed Greece’s sojourn among the ranks of “developed markets” would end later this year as it will become the first-ever country to lose its “developed market” status in the MSCI universe. Interestingly, Greece was classified as emerging when I started with the Templeton Emerging Markets Group in 1987, and while the recent news might conjure up images of a significant turn for the worse for the country’s economic fortunes, MSCI’s explanation for Greece’s reclassification was actually mor
2013-07-12 Hasenstab: Emerging Out of the Consensus Trade by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton Investments
Just when is a potential long-term reward worth the short-term risk? Investors are often most focused on the short-term pain of a particular event (hard to blame them), losing sight of possible outcomes farther out into the future. That could partially explain what’s going on in the emerging markets right now, at least according to Michael Hasenstab, co-director of the International Bond Department, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group.
2013-07-10 Market Perspectives Q2 2013: Fed Fears by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
Investors have been hypersensitive to the inevitable reversal of the Federal Reserve’s bond purchasing economic stimulus program known as QE3. Signs of sustainable economic recovery have been closely monitored as a harbinger of a likely end of the program.
2013-07-10 3 Risks that Could Derail the Market Rally by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Stocks can withstand moderate rate increases, as we saw last Friday when they rallied despite a sell-off in bonds. But Russ K warns that they may not withstand these three other scenarios.
2013-07-05 Why Oil Has Proven Resilient by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Crude oil has proven more resilient and less volatile this year (depending on which benchmark you use, it is either up or down in the single digits) than most other commodities. There are three main factors behind this.
2013-07-05 The Asian Giant Stampeding into Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
In this environment, gold should remain attractive. However, as the West flees the precious metal, another set of gold buyers has come forward with the aim to preserve wealth. Take a look at the chart below which shows total gold production compared to the gold deliveries on the COMEX and the Shanghai Gold Exchange.
2013-07-02 The 2013 Mid-Year Geopolitical Update by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
At mid-year, we customarily publish our geopolitical outlook for the second half of the year. This list is not designed to be exhaustive. As is often the case, a myriad of potential problems in the world could become issues in the second half of the year. The lineup listed below details, in our opinion, the issues most likely to have the greatest impact on the world. However, we do recognize the potential for surprises which we will discuss throughout the year in upcoming weekly reports.
2013-07-02 Stay the Course as Mixed Signals Move Markets by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Traders stampeded out of gold, emerging markets and bonds this month, setting record monthly outflows in June. Ever since the Federal Reserve hinted in May that signs of a stronger economy could allow for a slowdown of stimulus, markets have protested the news.
2013-07-01 On the Radar: An Energy Boost for Stocks? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
This is the third in a series on longer-term market influences. Each has considered what developments could help or hurt the equity rally after some 1824 months, when, in all likelihood, stocks will fully realize their still attractive existing valuations and feel the last effects of the ongoing flood of liquidity provided by the Federal Reserve. The first number in this series took up monetary policy and the second fiscal reform. This last discussion looks at the prospect of energy abundance, due to fracking, among other sources.
2013-06-28 Stay the Course As Mixed Signals Move Markets by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
We maintain that gold is in extremely oversold territory and mathematically due for a reversal toward the mean. Yet when gold prices plummet, fear takes over and some investors forget the fundamental reasons to own gold: Gold is a portfolio diversifier and a store of value. It is a finite resource with increasing global demand.
2013-06-27 The Global Insider Country Focus: Turkey by Accuvest Global Advisors of AdvisorShares
As the antigovernment protests in Turkey continue, what’s next economically for a country that relies heavily on foreign investors and tourism, especially with summer approaching, the traditional tourist high season? Accuvest Global Advisors, a firm founded on the principle of thinking globally and investing globally, has prepared the following focused country review on Turkey, which analyzes current risks with Turkey and potential next steps in the crisis.
2013-06-26 2 Ways to Play the US Energy Boom by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Russ offers two ideas one perhaps obvious and one perhaps not for investors looking to potentially benefit from the US energy renaissance.
2013-06-25 The Iranian Surprise by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
On June 14, Iranian voters went to the polls and overwhelmingly supported Hassan Rouhani. Pre-election handicapping did not give Rouhani much of a chance but a series of events led to his unexpected crushing victory. Rouhani won just under 51% of the vote, eliminating the need for a runoff (presidential candidates must secure a majority to win). The next closest candidate was Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, with 17%. The supposed front runner (and favorite of Ayatollah Khamenei), Saeed Jalili, secured a disappointing 11%.
2013-06-21 Asia Brief: China's Energy Demand by Edmund Harriss, James Weir of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management
China has the world’s largest unconventional gas reserves, but these so far remain untapped despite its growing demand for energy. China is now trying to follow the example of the US, and the government has set aggressive targets for unconventional gas production. As the demand for transportation fuels grow over the next decade, this gas could be a major contributor to meeting that need.
2013-06-18 Newsletter June 2013 by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz
Do you remember hiding under the sheets listening to radio when your parents thought you were asleep? If so, I have an unbelievable collection of all the old-time radio shows we listened to when we were kids, if you have about six months’ spare time. Find your favorite, click on it, and it lists literally hundreds of episodes you can re-live.
2013-06-18 The Snowden Affair by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
Over the past two weeks, revelations published in The Guardian and the Washington Post reported on a massive data gathering program that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been operating since 2001. The NSA, created during the Truman administration, mostly monitors signal intelligence and is the primary cryptographer for the U.S. government.
2013-06-17 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
When Ben Bernanke talksactually he doesn’t even have to talk to move the markets. For the past few weeks, investors have speculated about the next Fed moves and the possibility of a “tapering” of the $85 billion a month bond purchase program, perhaps as early as next week. Markets have been jittery (to put it mildly) as global stocks have fallen (thanks Japan) and international bond rates have been on the rise. Investors began over-analyzing each economic release, each comment by a Fed official, each forecast by a regulatory body or related agency.
2013-06-14 The Evolution of Emerging Market Corporate Bonds for U.S. High-Grade Fixed-Income Investors by Todd Kurisu, Thomas Brennan of William Blair
Emerging market (EM) investment-grade corporate bonds are an important and growing segment of the core ﬁxed-income universe. These bonds have evolved to be more like U.S. investment-grade corporate bonds than high-yield or traditional emerging market debt (EMD) securities. This sector has demonstrated favorable risk, return, and diversiﬁcation beneﬁts in the context of a broad market ﬁxed-income portfolio. Today’s ﬁxed-income investors must have a framework for evaluating new opportunities subject to prudent risk management
2013-06-12 Bond Realities: The Changing Landscape for Fixed Income and the Death of the Agg' by Andrew Johnson of Neuberger Berman
Earlier this year Andrew A. Johnson, Neuberger Berman’s Chief Investment Officer for Investment Grade Fixed Income, led a series of discussions with institutional clients about the state of the fixed income market and key ideas in approaching opportunistic fixed income investing in the current environment. Here, Mr. Johnson has adapted, and elaborated on, the concepts described at those meetings.
2013-06-10 Emerging Markets Mid-Year Pulse Check by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments
Global economic growth hasn’t been terribly inspiring so far in the first half of the year, but many investors have nevertheless been inspired to pour more assets into the equity markets, some of which have surged to record highs. As we hit the mid-year point, now seems like a good time to take a pulse check of emerging markets and assess our prognosis.
2013-05-31 What\'s the Answer to Unprecedented Policies and Ultralow Rates? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
So what’s the answer to unprecedented central bank policies that have been driving stocks higher and ultralow rates? I believe investors need to stick to a strategy that includes dividend-paying stocks that offer the opportunity for both income and growth.
2013-05-24 4 Market Risks Worth Worrying About by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
The risk of a US slowdown Not discounted in US valuations. While US valuations currently look reasonable, they’re predicated on a US economy growing at around 2% to 2.5%. The risk of slower growth is not priced into the market. If US economic data continues to disappoint, and we get a growth hiccup in the second or third quarter, then we’re likely to see some US market weakness.
2013-05-24 The Love Trade for Gold is Still On! by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
The more important demand for gold, in my opinion, comes from the enduring Love Trade, as countries like China and India buy the precious metal out of love and tradition.
2013-05-20 Could Syria Spiral Out of Control? by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Events in Syria keep deteriorating, with potentially serious economic consequences for the Western world. Russia and Iran are intervening ever more actively to defend their national interests by propping up Bashar al-Assad, their ally. New weapons systems are about to be delivered that could alter the local balance of power and set off a wider military struggle that could envelop surrounding nations. So far, none of the direct participants in the fighting are meaningful suppliers of oil to global markets.
2013-05-14 Nouriel Roubini: Four Reasons Investors Should be Worried by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Despite a modest recovery from the nadir of the financial crisis, the global economy still faces tail risks, according to Nouriel Roubini. Roubini’s forecast is not as gloomy as the one that earned the moniker “Doctor Doom,” when he correctly predicted the housing market collapse and the ensuing global recession. But, in a talk May 1, he identified today’s biggest danger points in Europe, the U.S., China and geopolitics which he said threaten to destabilize the global economy.
2013-05-07 Syria and the Red Line by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
On Thursday, April 25, Secretary of Defense Hagel acknowledged that evidence that chemical weapons exposure occurred in Syria was probably accurate. This news dominated the Sunday talk shows, mostly because President Obama had indicated that Syrian military use of chemical weapons would be a “game changer” and a “red line” that would trigger a U.S. and international response. Now that it appears that somehow chemical weapons exposure did occur, the world awaits to see what exactly the president meant by a “response.”
2013-05-02 In Treasuries, the Risks Outweigh the Rewards by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management
The 1Q GDP report was mixed, but the lack of income growth remains troubling. Oil prices are likely to remain range-bound, but that should be good enough to help energy stocks. While yields could decline further in the near-term, Treasuries look quite unappealing.
2013-04-30 Beyond Gold: 4 Reasons to Think Energy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
While the sell-off in gold has dominated headlines lately, another commodity oil has also experienced price declines in recent months. But despite crude’s drop, Russ is still a fan of energy stocks for four reasons.
2013-04-26 An Update on the Global Business Cycle by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman
Understanding where we are in the an important aspect of investing, as the behavior of asset classes may vary throughout that cycle. Recent data indicate that the U.S. remains in its fourth year of expansion, but payroll and retail numbers have disappointed. Outside the U.S., Europe continues to be mired in recession while China’s growth rebound recently has appeared to sputter. In this edition of Strategic Spotlight, we review what these developments mean for the global business cycle and how to position portfolios accordingly.
2013-04-26 The Yin and the Yang of Commodity Price Trends by Team of Northern Trust
In recent weeks, financial press headlines have centered on the sharp drop in the price of gold. Of greater importance, however, are the significant price declines of oil, wheat, corn and copper. The S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index is down 6.1% year-to-date after a nearly steady reading in 2012 and gains exceeding 20% in both 2010 and 2011. It is essential to recognize the different nuances buried in these commodities’ price trends. First we will focus on the implications of declining commodity price trends and then discuss gold specifically in more depth.
2013-04-24 The 2030 Non-state World by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
Several weeks ago we started looking at the alternative world scenarios as projected by the National Intelligence Council (NIC). The NIC issues a long-term strategic outlook every five years and projects a forecast from this analysis for the following 15-20 years. In the most recent report, Global Trends 2030, the NIC proposes four alternative world scenarios. We are now turning to the last projected outlook, the Non-state World. Under this scenario non-state actors aided by emerging technologies will have increasing influence, as the importance of traditional nation-states decays.
2013-04-23 Looking Back at Peak Oil: The Coming Crisis in Energy Supplies by Richard E Vodra, JD, CFP® (Article)
Peak Oil ? the maximum sustainable rate of global oil production ? happened in 2012. That’s one of the main conclusions of a new report, Fossil and Nuclear Fuels ? The Supply Outlook, released in March 2013 by the Energy Watch Group. This event will have profound long-term implications for how advisors should manage clients’ portfolios, and how clients should plan their future expenses.
2013-04-22 Emerging Europe: Regional Economic Review by Team of Thomas White International
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was established in 1992 to help Russia and former communist states such as Poland, Hungary, and Czech Republic among others in their transition to market-based economies. In its January forecast, the London-headquartered bank sounded optimistic over the economic prospects of most of the countries covered in this review, which also include Turkey.
2013-04-17 What\'s Driving Emerging Markets? by James McDonald, Daniel Phillips, Phillip Grant of Northern Trust
Emerging market (EM) equities have historically outperformed as the global economy gained momentum, as shown in Exhibit 1. After a great catch-up rally in the second half of 2012, the stocks finished the year as global outperformers only to lose that momentum in the first quarter of 2013. What is behind the recent underperformance, and what does it say about the outlook? Our research points to a number of contributors to the recent weakness.
2013-04-16 Why Landing Clients is Like Dating ? and Seven Other Rules for Prospecting by Dan Richards (Article)
In the last 10 years, the dynamics of acquiring clients has fundamentally changed. Today’s article outlines eight new rules for prospecting; among them why gravity no longer moves prospects through a funnel and the need for a communications catalyst as a result.
2013-04-12 How a Landslide Shifts Copper Supply by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
The U.S. mining industry was dealt a devastating blow as Kennecott Utah Copper’s Bingham Canyon Mine experienced a pit wall failure causing a massive landslide with rocks and dirt covering the bottom of the mine pit. It’s a miracle no one was hurt due to the vigilance of its owner, Rio Tinto. The landslide is just one example of how quickly and unexpectedly the supply and demand factors facing the red metal can shift, which underscores the need for nimble active management.
2013-04-11 Emerging-Market Debt: Pure High-Yield Strategies Come of Age by Marco Santamaria of AllianceBernstein
We believe investors should be thinking about emerging-market debt in terms of credit quality buckets (investment grade or high yield) rather than sectors (sovereign or corporate). For some types of investor, pure high-yield strategies can offer significant advantages.
2013-04-09 The Return of the Ottomans by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
Over the past two weeks, Turkey has taken two significant actions. First, while President Obama was visiting the region, Israeli PM Netanyahu offered Turkey an apology for the 2010 commando raid on the MV Mavi Mamara, a Turkish ship that was delivering aid to the Gaza Strip. The vessel was trying to run an Israeli blockade, which was put in place to prevent the region from receiving arms shipments. In the raid, nine people on the Turkish ship died, including eight Turks and one American. Ten Israeli commandos were wounded.
2013-04-04 Teachings from Recovered Markets by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
Domestic indices’ all-time record highs indicate that U.S. domestic equity markets have largely recovered from the 2008 Great Recession. It may have taken four years but it still seems a remarkable achievement given the Dow’s low of 6620 in March 2009. It is worth noting that prior highs were attained in an era with a poor savings rate and wide use of levered strategies. The last four years were widely characterized by a “low return” market mantra and fear of equities stoked by many doomsayers, pundits, and strategists who greeted every upturn with pessimism.
2013-04-03 First Quarter Recap by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management
This past month marked the fourth anniversary of the global equity market bottom on March 9, 2009. U.S. stocks have clawed back all of the losses from the Great Recession and are near historical highs. Most other major markets are still well below their 2007 peaks, but have rebounded sharply since last June and look increasingly resilient. However, there is tremendous anxiety about the economic outlook, and many investors fear equities and other risk assets are floating on a sea of liquidity rather than solid fundamentals. We are more constructive and maintain a pro-growth investment stance.
2013-03-28 What Maslow and Rand Would Tell Investors Today by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
While gold’s performance in the short term has been counterintuitive, I plan to stick to my own advice. I simply feel safer with a small weighting in gold as insurance.
2013-03-27 Does Blame Predict Performance? by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates
As an econometrician and a fund-of-funds portfolio manager, I spend much time researching quantifiable metrics to help me identify managers who can outperform consistently. There is, in fact, a rich body of literature exploring different manager selection criteria. Academic papers have considered portfolio manager attributes, such as tenure, the CFA designation, advanced degrees, and even SAT scores; they have also examined fund characteristics, such as portfolio turnover, expense ratios, and assets under management.
2013-03-25 Energy: Perilous Present, Promising Future by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
For oil and gas, an era of abundant supplies and lower prices awaits. But investors will have to weather a tricky geopolitical situation before it arrives.
2013-03-19 Paul Matlack from Delaware Investments on the Direction of the Bond Market by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Paul Matlack is senior vice president, senior portfolio manager and fixed income strategist for Delaware Investments. His firm oversees $145 billion in fixed-income strategies, and in this interview Matlack discusses his outlook for the economy and the bond market, and how advisors should be positioning client portfolios.
2013-03-19 Why Are Emerging Markets Struggling in 2013? by Ryan Davis of Fortigent
Despite one of the sharpest rallies in US equities in recent memory, emerging market equities have been left curiously behind in 2013. Through last Friday, the market segment was down 1.0%, compared to an S&P 500 index that was up 10.0%. This seems to violate the regime that investors have gotten used to over the past 10 years, whereby the emerging markets equity index served as a high beta proxy for the US equity market.
2013-03-12 The 2030 Increasing Inequality Scenario by Bill O'Grady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management
Last month we started looking at the 2030 alternative world development scenarios as laid out by the National Intelligence Council (NIC). The NIC forecasts the likely paths that are either currently underway or are forecast to occur in the future. In its most recent report, the NIC projects four possible global political and economic states based on expected trends. Last time, we presented the most likely best case scenario. This week, we will explore the third scenario, under which the world gets wealthier as a whole, but inequalities increase.
2013-03-07 A New Chapter for Turkey? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
In 2012, Turkey was the best performer among the emerging markets we track on our Periodic Table showing a decade of returns. All developing countries rose last year, but stocks in Turkey climbed an astounding 56 percent.
2013-03-04 Living in the Past: Investors Finally Putting Away the Rear-View Mirror? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
With a very strong January in the books for stocks, and hefty inflows into stock mutual funds, are we finally seeing the investor class become believers?
2013-03-01 Greetings from Istanbul! by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
As I travel around Turkey, I am reminded how vital good government policies are to the health of a nation. Following a decade of fiscally responsible actions, Turkey is the picture of a growing prosperity. Perhaps Americas elected officials could take a tip from this vibrant country overseas.
2013-02-27 Impending Decline in Stock Prices by Charles Lieberman (Article)
It is a popular view that stocks have run up excessively, rising more than 125% off the March 9 2009 low, and are now highly vulnerable to a sizable retrenchment. This is a sexy idea, but also quite contentious. Nonetheless, it is worth considering seriously.
2013-02-27 The Difficult Transition to Democracy by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
The Arab Spring has turned into something of a disappointment. In Tunisia, the recent assassination of Shokri Belaid, a secularist opposition leader, has increased tensions. S&P recently downgraded the countrys sovereign risk due to rising political turmoil. In Egypt, protests have returned, this time against the Muslim Brotherhood-led government. Yemen remains in chaos. Syria is essentially in a civil war. Unrest continues in Bahrain but the minority Sunni leadership remains entrenched, mostly due to military support from Saudi Arabia.
2013-02-22 A Test of Strength for Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
This week, we saw the gold bears growling louder and gaining strength, as the worlds largest gold-backed ETF, the SPDR Gold Trust, experienced its largest one-day outflows since August 2011. The Fear Trade fled the sector following the Federal Reserves meeting that revealed a growing dissension among some of its members over the central banks bond-buying program.
2013-02-20 The 2030 Most Likely Best Case Scenario by Bill O'Grady Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management
Two weeks ago we started looking at the 2030 alternative world development scenarios as laid out by the National Intelligence Council (NIC). The NIC forecasts the likely paths that are either currently underway or are forecast to occur in the future. In its most recent report, the NIC projects four possible global political and economic states based on these expected trends. Last time, we presented the most likely worst case scenario. This week, we will explore the most likely best case scenario.
2013-02-16 When It Comes to Gold, Stick to the Facts by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
During short-term gold corrections, its much more important to focus on the facts, including the fact that gold is increasingly viewed as a currency. Rather than buying real estate, lumber or diamonds, central banks around the world are buying gold. According to the World Gold Council (WGC), over 2012, central bank demand totaled 534 tons, a level we have not seen in nearly 50 years.
2013-02-16 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust
The recent energy dividend is not likely to last. Crafting a single monetary policy for Europe is challenging.
2013-02-14 Is Inflation Around the Next Corner? Then What? by Pete Sorrentino of Huntington Funds
As the Federal Reserve Board reiterates its intention to keep interest rates near zero into 2015, it appears that the markets and many investors are growing complacent about inflation. Ever since the Financial Crisis of 2007-08, "headline inflation," as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), has stayed low so far. Although it has threatened to break out at times, economic weakness has restrained the price growth that underlies inflation.
2013-02-11 There the Bears Go Again by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors
The S&P 500 is up 6% since the start of the year and 12% from a year ago. On cue, the bears have started to claim this run-up in stocks is just plain crazy, based on unreasonable euphoria or "it's just technical." It cant possibly last because "the fundamentals are bad."
2013-02-07 U.S. Companies Sense Great Opportunities in Shale Oil and Gas Boom by Team of Thomas White International
Thanks to the newfound sources of energy, the U.S. is forecasted to become self-sufficient in energy by 2035.
2013-02-05 The 2030 Outlook by Bill O'Grady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management
Over the next several weeks we will look into the more distant future, to the year 2030. We will explore the long-term strategic alternative world development scenarios as laid out by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) and present our views regarding the developments. The NIC forecasts the likely paths that are either currently underway or are forecast to occur in the future. The NIC projects four possible global political and economic states based on these expected trends.
2013-02-01 2013 Economic & Capital Market Outlook by Gregory Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management
It took our country 229 years to accumulate $8 trillion in federal debt. It only took the next eight years to double it to $16 trillion. History shows that when a country accumulates debt at this rapid pace, economic growth languishes. Not surprisingly, Congress is pursuing policies that attempt to inflate the economy. Five years after the Financial Crisis, we really havent fixed much. Instead, we've issued more debt in order to pay our bills and sustain a quality of life society cannot afford long term.
2013-02-01 Dow To 14,000 and Beyond? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
So will the Dow go beyond 14,000? Although you cant predict how hot the weather will be this summer, the clouds appear to be parting to reveal the sun today. Make sure your asset allocation positions your portfolio to shine.
2013-01-31 Signs of a Solid 2013 for Stocks by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Yield spreads versus bonds indicate that stock valuations have considerable upside.
2013-01-30 The Complicated Case of Mali by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
On January 11, 2013, French President Francois Hollande announced the French military was intervening in Mali at the request of the government. The Mali military was reeling in the face of jihadist rebels from the north who were making rapid inroads toward the south. Although the U.N. Security Council had authorized an African-led military intervention in Mali to contain the rebels, it had been ineffective. Thus, France "piggybacked" off that resolution to justify its intervention.
2013-01-28 Economic Insights: Signs of a Solid 2013 for Stocks by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Yield spreads versus bonds indicate that stock valuations have considerable upside. Earlier in this recovery, when earnings were growing very strongly, consensus concerns about equities cited the danger of an earnings slowdown. Those expressing this concern pointed out, that such a slowdown would occur inevitably as the recovery matured, especially with economic growth proceeding at such a subpar rate. What seems to have escaped notice is that the slowdown already occurred in 2012 and that the stock market offered good returns despite it.
2013-01-24 Quick Takes on the Investing Year Ahead by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments
We covered a lot of market and investment topics at Pioneer's National Sales and Marketing Meeting last week. Here are some notes on a few that were popular: GDP Growth for the U.S.. Expectations for rates: Fed Funds Rate and the 10-year Treasury, EM equities favored over U.S. Equities?, Things that keep us up at night (outside of the debt ceiling, Europe, and Middle East tension.
2013-01-22 2013 Investment Outlook by Jeremy Boynton of Laureate Wealth Management
I would like to focus this commentary on three trends which I believe will have a larger positive impact on the US economy going forward than the broader investment community expects.
2013-01-22 Ten for '13 by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman
Last year, despite the noise surrounding the U.S. elections and the ongoing European debt crisis, the main drivers of asset prices arguably were the large-scale bond-buying programs put in place by global central banks to alleviate systemic pressures. In 2013, we anticipate fewer aggressive central bank actions as the pace of global growth gradually picks up. We believe the largest influential factors to our outlook are premature fiscal tightening in the U.S. and a potential resurgence of eurozone problems.
2013-01-22 Year-End Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory
Stocks shrugged off numerous worries to log a very good year in 2012, but can markets continue to climb? Certainly the worries remain. The most immediate has to do with the spending side of the fiscal cliff. The cliff deal made permanent the Bush tax cuts for all but high-income taxpayers but it did not address spending. So while the worst case of the cliff was avoided, the work is not nearly done. In this commentary we discuss our current assessment of the investment environment including a detailed look at what could go right, and tie it all back to our portfolio positioning.
2013-01-18 Middle East/Africa: Regional Economic Review 4Q 2012 by Team of Thomas White International
According to the International Monetary Fund's Regional Economic Outlook report, countries in the Middle East and North Africa region are expected to grow at different rates. Oil exporting nations are cashing in on high energy prices and production, and are projected to expand 6.6 percent in 2012 before tempering in 2013. On the other hand, oil importers such as Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia among others are expected to clock growth just over 2 percent as the slowdown in the world economy and political tensions continue to hinder expansion for some of these countries in transition.
2013-01-18 2013 International Outlook by Colin Moore of Columbia Management
We continue our outlook for 2013 with a review of select international economies and financial markets. Similar to the U.S. the road to recovery will be bumpy and we expect financial markets to continue being affected by macroeconomic uncertainties. While the overall environment remains uncertain, some of the significant headwinds in 2012, e.g. the Chinese leadership transition and a complete disintegration of the eurozone, are perhaps less concerning for markets than they were a year ago.
2013-01-18 4 Sensational Facts About Gold Investing That You Might Not Know by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
1. Gold has been a consistent performer over the decades. 2. Gold should remain a hot commodity in 2013. 3. Gold is the least volatile commodity on the table. 4. The last four years were better than you thought.
2013-01-11 Thanks, Everybody...We'll be Right Back! by Colin Moore of Columbia Management
The Washington Comedy Club has taken a brief intermission and will be back in session shortly to resume the show. Please enjoy the facilities of this great country, free of charge, while you wait. Ignore the "Nero" character in the far corner playing the fiddle. Apparently, he isn't part of the show. Economic uncertainty emanating from fears of the U.S. fiscal cliff has been deferred but not avoided.
2013-01-11 New Year's Vantage Point: Norm Boersma by Norman Boersma of Franklin Templeton Investments
As we ring in a new year, it's a good time to gain some perspective on where we've been, and where we might be headed. Norm Boersma, CFA, chief investment officer of Templeton Global Equity Group, takes a look at the current headwinds facing the global equity markets, from fiscal imbalances to growth challengesand how market uncertainty can result in market mispricings.
2013-01-11 Special Edition: The Outlook for 2013 by Team of Northern Trust
At this time of the year we typically get warm and generous wishes for the New Year and, of course, numerous questions about what our crystal ball has in store for 2013. While many economists publish their perspectives prior to January 1, we opted to wait in the hope of having a clear fiscal picture for the United States. A lot of good that did us...
2013-01-07 Investments That May Keep Me Up at Night in 2013 by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The outlook for 2013 is quite improved compared with 2012. Domestic economic growth prospects are significantly less troublesome. The election is over. Europe has (painfully) slowly made progress in reducing its own budget problems. It is not all clear sailing, however. (It never is.) Europe remains a work in progress. All of the geopolitical risks of 2012, notably North Korea, Iran, and all of the rest of the Middle East, remain on the docket in 2013. And the battle over the U.S. budget will resume in the near future.
2013-01-03 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Welcome to the end of 2012. Investors are hardly basking in the glow of a positive year for stocks. They are less than enthusiastic about the recovery in housing. They seem to be overlooking the actions of the Fed and the implications for the indefinite low rate environment. Two words remain firmly entrenched in the minds. FISCAL CLIFF. What say you (besides bickering and backstabbing)Prez O, Speaker Boehner, Senators McConnell and Reid? Time is running out and five straight down days proves that investors are growing more and more nervous. Happy New Year (I think).
2013-01-03 Grin and Bear It. by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Without question, the financial markets yielded better in 2012 than what most had believed possible at the beginning of the calendar year. At that time, embroiled in a U.S. Presidential election and ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, many analysts would have been happy if we simply avoided catastrophe.
2013-01-03 And That's the Quarter that Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Politics ruled the day over the past three months (and beyond) and unfortunately the trend may very well continue as the averted "fiscal cliff" was merely postponed for another two months. For now, investors are happy, but what will tomorrow bring? (That's a question for you, Prez Obama and Speaker Boehner.) Happy New Year
2012-12-31 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Welcome to the end of 2012. Investors are hardly basking in the glow of a positive year for stocks. They are less than enthusiastic about the recovery in housing. They seem to be overlooking the actions of the Fed and the implications for the indefinite low rate environment. Two words remain firmly entrenched in the minds. FISCAL CLIFF. What say you (besides bickering and backstabbing)Prez O, Speaker Boehner, Senators McConnell and Reid? Time is running out and five straight down days proves that investors are growing more and more nervous. Happy New Year (I think).
2012-12-26 Assessing ISG's "Ten for '12" by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman
Earlier this year, we offered a forward-looking view of 10 macro themes that we anticipated for 2012. These ideas were meant not to be "surprises" but rather guideposts within the context of a longer-term strategic allocation. At year-end, we are pleased to note that seven of our 10 themes fully materialized. We provide a brief look below.
2012-12-21 Egypt's Arab Winter by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments
It's been almost two years since the "Arab Spring" swept North Africa and the Middle East, and with it, grand hopes for change. Sometimes, change doesn't happen as quickly as the people would like, and oftentimes it can be a messy process. That is certainly true in Egypt right now, a country that is still in the throes of shaping its future. The ousting of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 didn't instantly transform the nation into a model of democracy, and the country is currently deliberating the best way forward via public debates, protests and the election process.
2012-12-21 Light at the End of the Tunnel for Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Intuition was telling me something was going on these past few days in the gold market. Our investment team was watching gold and gold stocks take a tumble for no obvious reason. It wasnt only us who felt this way: many analysts were caught off-guard. One comment from Barclays Research indicated that the week was unusually brutal with quite a few confused participants with some seemingly positive aspects of the market not having an impact.
2012-12-20 2012 in Review by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman
As we approach the New Year and contemplate the opportunities the investment landscape may offer in 2013, it helps to look back at the performance trends of 2012. Overall, the year-to-date period has seen impressive results from various risk assets, which is in line with the projections of our Asset Allocation Committee. However, ongoing concerns about volatility and Europe hampered the markets at times. Here, we provide a performance scorecard and consider potential developments in the year ahead.
2012-12-18 Jeremy Siegel on 'Dow 15,000' by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Jeremy Siegel was one of very few individuals to have correctly predicted the strong performance of the equity markets over the last year. The Wharton professor and author of the renowned book, Stocks for the Long Run, forecasts continued strong performance for the year ahead.
2012-12-18 Pulling Back the Lens in Emerging Markets by Western Asset Management (Article)
Emerging markets remain resilient, according to Western Asset Portfolio Manager Rob Abad. But in the face of so much global uncertainty, investors would be wise to consider the latest trends and dynamics impacting this maturing asset class.
2012-12-18 The 2013 Geopolitical Outlook by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
As is our custom, in mid-December, we publish our geopolitical outlook for the coming year. This list is not designed to be exhaustive. As is often the case, a myriad of potential problems in the world could become issues in the coming year. The lineup listed below details, in our opinion, the issues most likely to have the greatest impact on the world. However, we do recognize the potential for surprises which we will discuss throughout the year in the weekly reports.
2012-12-18 Israel: Natural Gas Bonanza Buoys Economy by Team of Thomas White International
From being an energy-deficient nation, Israel is poised to become a leading gas exporter in the region in the years ahead.
2012-12-15 Looking Back to Look Ahead by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Markets have been more focused on short-term forces; not least being Washington and the fiscal cliff negotiations. But taking a step back and gaining some longer-term perspective can help investors better weather short-term volatility. Even beyond the fiscal cliff, Washington and fiscal policy will likely remain in focus next year. Monetary policy is also front-and-center with the Fed maintaining its extremely accommodative policy and targeting specific economic conditions instead of providing calendar guidance. Europe managed to make it through the year, but challenges and risks remain.
2012-12-14 2013: A Year in Global Equities by Virginie Maisonneuve of Schroders Investment Management
Global equities are very attractively valued and we are positive for their prospects in 2013 as the global economy normalises. Progress in Europe, the end of China's growth slowdown and continued momentum in the US economic recovery will support global equities. Longer-term investors must position themselves for a growth-saturated world in which sustainability and innovation will be even more important.
2012-12-14 Fiscal Friction is Taking a Toll on Confidence in Washington and Rome by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust
Fiscal friction is taking a toll on confidence in Washington and Rome. What inflation rate should be used to index entitlements? Our updated US forecast assumes a budget resolution before year end.
2012-12-13 2012 in Review by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman
As we approach the New Year and contemplate the opportunities the investment landscape may offer in 2013, it helps to look back at the performance trends of 2012. Overall, the year-to-date period has seen impressive results from various risk assets, which is in line with the projections of our Asset Allocation Committee. However, ongoing concerns about volatility and Europe hampered the markets at times. Here, we provide a performance scorecard and consider potential developments in the year ahead.
2012-12-13 3 Potential Scenarios for 2013 by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Despite getting lucky in 2012, many of the major risks that economies and markets faced this year remain. With the current environment in mind, Russ K shares his 3 potential scenarios for 2013 along with potential investment strategies for each.
2012-12-11 The Muslim Brotherhood Consolidates Power by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
On November 22nd, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi issued a decree that effectively gave him unchecked power. The decree allowed him to unilaterally legislate without oversight by the judiciary. This action clearly rattled those opposed to the president and his political party. Demonstrations ensued and there were numerous threats from the judiciary to obstruct the president's newly declared power.
2012-12-08 How Gold Miners Can Leverage the Price of Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Gazing into their crystal balls this week, Wall Street firms interpreted differing futures for gold next year. Morgan Stanley awarded gold the best commodity for 2013 while Goldman Sachs called the end of the metals hot streak. After seeing 11 consecutive years of positive performance from gold, one needs to be wary of research analysts price forecasts, as they have consistently underestimated the shifting dynamics driving the precious metal higher.
2012-12-04 And Thats The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Obama meets with the nations governors and speaks before the Business Roundtable to continue drumming up support for his budget deal. (Arent most governors counted among the countrys wealthy?) Expect the bickering and blame-placing to continue until finally a small deal is reached with the majority of the work tabled for later in 2013. (How will Moodys and S&P perceive that move?) The economic calendar heats up with critical news from labor and manufacturing and retailers share insight into the holiday shopping season thus far. And Europe is never far from the radar screen.
2012-12-01 A Fresh Start (Hopefully) by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital
For years I kept these memos away from anything related to politics. But more recently I began to discuss issues facing the US, and this has required some mention of policy and thus of politics. Ive tried very hard to be non-partisan, with a goal of not having readers know my leanings. I hope Ive succeeded; at least no one has complained. Because I found Americas recent presidential election and especially the results so fascinating, Im going to move explicitly to the field of politics, but with the same goal of non-partisan expression.
2012-12-01 Are Corporate Bonds Expensive? by Team of Neuberger Berman
As in the case of Treasury bonds, yields for U.S. corporate credits have fallen to historic lows as prices have risen. The yield on the Barclays Aggregate U.S. Investment Grade Bond Index was recently at 2.8%far below levels achieved during the heady days of 2007. Obviously, this reflects overall interest rates, but is it also a sign that corporate issues may be overvalued? We explore the issues and consider how investors should position their portfolios for the current environment.
2012-11-28 Idiosyncratic Risk...and the Other Kind by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital
If the recent election demonstrated anything of relevance to an investor, it should have been the beginning of the end of the tyranny of the "catalyst." The day before the election, an investor could have legitimately been worried about any number of micro, macro, domestic or global issues. And yet the sun rose, work was attended to by those who have jobs, markets opened, fell, and closed and the collective attention moved to the next "perceived" catalyst-the so-called fiscal cliff. Calling Roseanne Roseannadanna.
2012-11-27 Ten (Near?) Certainties to Invest Around by David Rosenberg (Article)
The ten key trends that should guide your investment decisions.
2012-11-26 Japan: After the Quake, After the Floods by Richard Mattione of GMO
Japan's recovery from the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 has been so astounding that people rarely even think about the tsunami anymore. Even fewer remember that heavy rains in Thailand further disrupted the global production chain at the end of 2011. With so much accomplished, why do so few Japanese companies see bright days ahead?
2012-11-26 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Investors breathed a sigh of relief (perhaps temporarily) and expressed thanks in the form of the strongest week in the market in several months (though on light volume). Domestically, housing data confirmed strength in the sector and retailers opened their doors earlier than usual with the hope that "if you open, they will come." Overseas, Europe's struggles continued, though manufacturing in China looked to be on the mend. Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the weekend; after all, next week starts the home stretch for the end of the year...(and the fiscal cliff).
2012-11-21 The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...for Stocks by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
November hasn't been living up to its reputation as one of the best months for U.S. stocks. Equity investors have been fed a cornucopia of negative news that has been difficult to digest, including the outcome of the "fiscal cliff," the front page photos of rioting in the eurozone, and the escalation of geopolitical risk in the Middle East.
2012-11-19 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Could it be signs of progress? While Obama and key congressional leaders didn't exactly emerge form budget meeting arm-in-arm and singing kumbaya, they did report some progress (dare I say "compromise"?) regarding spending cut and tax hikes (better known as "fiscal cliff"). Investors remain fearful as prior discussions were always derailed over partisan bickering and the S&P and other ratings agencies remain on call should they need to act on US credit. Thanksgiving marks the beginning of what many retailers hope is a successful holiday shopping season.
2012-11-15 New Leaders, Same Steady Hand on the Chinese Economic Tiller by Anthony Chan of AllianceBernstein
The media spotlight is on China's new president, Xi Jinping. But investors should be watching Li Keqiang, the new premier. It's Mr Li who will be responsible for combating the country's slowing economic growth and, with it, potentially the fate of the world's economy.
2012-11-13 Emerging Markets: Maintaining Perspective by Robert O. Abad (Article)
In this Q&A, Western Asset Portfolio Manager Robert Abad discusses the latest dynamics and trends within emerging markets (EM). Although EM continue to demonstrate resiliency, Mr. Abad believes that given the amount of global uncertainty today, it is important that investors evaluate opportunities alongside a manager equipped to guide them through the risks and rewards of this evolving asset class.
2012-11-05 The Foreign Policy Choice by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
Tomorrow is Election Day. After months of campaigning and hours of watching insipid political commercials, the time to decide is upon us.
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.
2012-10-26 What Now? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
The market appears to be in a "wait-and-see" mode in advance of the elections, but looking beyond November 6th is important for investors. The election is only one piece of the puzzle, and certain aspects of the political landscape likely won't be much clearer after Election Day. Earnings season has been somewhat disappointing, even though there was a relatively low bar to hurdle. We see more signs that the slowdown in the United States may be ending, however, with strength in housing particularly noteworthy.
2012-10-24 Policy at a Crossroads by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman
On September 13, the Federal Reserve announced a third round of quantitative easing, dubbed QE3, in the hope of providing an additional boost to the slow U.S. economic recovery. Although this latest policy action reinforces the notion that the U.S. is prepared to support its economy for as long as needed, some economists question whether the stimulus can really make a difference. In this issue of Strategic Spotlight, we consider the recent effects of loose monetary policy and whether the Fed has "reached its limit."
2012-10-22 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Maybe a four day work week would make some sense? Well, at least, it would have been helpful this week. After a strong start in the equity markets (and a four-day winning streak), the anniversary of Black Monday brought horrid memories of past bearish times and stocks gave up all (most) of their early gains. Major techs reported poor earnings and the Nasdaq struggled more than most as weak PC demand continues to take its toll. Good news...one bad day does not a market make.
2012-10-19 Muddling Down the Middle by Josh Thimons of PIMCO
PIMCO expects that the debate over the fiscal cliff will end in fiscal consolidation, but not a fiscal catastrophe. Unfortunately, while the Fed's monetary policy actions have been, by and large, successful in achieving its intermediate-term goal of increasing asset valuations, they have not been effective in influencing real economic outcomes. Our forecast for the drag on GDP from the fiscal cliff in the coming year is roughly negative 1.5%. Improvement in the housing market will only fill a small part in that hole.
2012-10-19 Blurring Lines: Positioning for Developed and Emerging Market Realignments by David Fisher, Julie Salsbery of PIMCO
The demographic, financial and political lines separating developed and emerging countries are increasingly blurred, and we believe bond investors will need to adapt. Not only do investors need to take a more holistic approach to analyzing and investing in sovereign debt, they also need to reconsider their strategic thinking regarding benchmarks and their tactical approach to seeking returns. PIMCO Global Advantage Strategy utilizes a GDP-weighted benchmark and capitalizes on PIMCO's global resources to create a portfolio designed to reflect the evolving international opportunity set.
2012-10-19 ECB Needs to Rescue German and French Banks More than European Periphery: Global Macro View by George Bijak of GB Capital
Whenever we talk about rescuing overleveraged Europe it is always about Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, and Greece the European periphery loaded with debt that they cannot possibly repay. But a closer look at the recent IMF data reveals that German and French banks need rescue more than anybody
2012-10-17 Emerging Europe: Third Quarter 2012 Economic Review by Team of Thomas White International
In its recent economic assessment, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said it expects growth to slow down during the year in member countries such as Russia, Poland, Hungary, and Turkey as the effects of the Euro-zone crisis spills over. The bank said many of these countries have already seen lower growth, but Russia especially is affected by falling commodity prices. Striking a similar note, the International Monetary Fund in its World Economic Outlook said emerging economies of the world are at risk should the developed economies experience a continued slowdown.
2012-10-17 Q3 Investor Letter by Team of HORAN Capital Advisors
At the beginning of the third quarter, investors following the "sell in May" strategy felt vindicated as the S&P 500 Index declined over 9.0% from May 1st to June 4th. The June 4th date turned out to be the intra-year market low and the equity rally was almost uninhibited throughout the remainder of the third quarter. We have been experiencing mixed global economic data over the past several months and in response, the Federal Reserve announced a third round of quantitative easing. While the market initially responded favorably, it ultimately declined through the end of the quarter.
2012-10-15 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Though investors seemed to overlook the negative earnings projections for the third quarter, the initial releases finally brought out the sellers. While the naysayers had been drowned out by the optimism of the Fed moves, the early results and management warnings prompted investors to sell (and sell and sell) as the major equity indexes each plunged over 2% in what was considered the worst week since June. Heck even a "cheery" Joe Biden couldn't save the markets this week.
2012-10-15 Commodity Inflation Complicating Pro-Growth Policies by Ryan Davis of Fortigent
The return of commodity inflation raises several questions, primary among them being the impact it will have on emerging markets. While rising commodity prices are generally bullish for equity prices in emerging markets, it may also inhibit central bank flexibility at a time when many developing countries are experiencing decelerating economic growth. This issue was paramount in 2010, leading to underperformance in many EM stock markets. Since then, however, commodity prices have generally moved sideways, allowing those fears to subside.
2012-10-12 U.S. Economic and Interest Rate Outlook - October 2012 by By Carl Tannenbaum and Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust
Budget negotiations in the US and Europe are attempting to balance austerity, prosperity, and posterity. US exports and imports are showing the strains of sluggish conditions overseas. Our updated economic forecast reflects some "cliff" effects, but not a renewed recession.
2012-10-11 Inflation Regime Shifts: Implications for Asset Allocation by Nicholas Johnson, Sebastien Page of PIMCO
Investors who are concerned about inflation should focus on increasing their exposure to asset classes that provide a positive beta to changes in inflation. We believe that asset prices are much more sensitive to inflation surprises than actual inflation levels themselves. Given the current macro environment, investors face the possibility that low growth and high inflation may coexist. Commodities provide a levered response to inflation. Investors can hold a relatively small amount of commodities to hedge a much larger portfolio.
2012-10-11 Alternative Investments Offer Strategies to Avoid Fed-Inflated Bond Bubble by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors
Over the past several years, investors have shifted hundreds of billions of dollars out of stocks and into investment grade corporate bonds and U.S. Treasuries. To date, this strategy has delivered solid results for many investors, as bond prices have generally continued to rally while bond yields have continued to fall.
2012-10-10 And That's the Quarter That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
The "quarter of Bernanke" left investors optimistic over the past three months despite the ongoing concerns at home and abroad (and a critical election).
2012-10-10 Infectious Ideas for a Connected World by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
With a greater international exchange of ideas, goods, services, and talent today, our world has never been more wired and connected. Globalization has wholly transformed how people across continents absorb information and interact with each other. I believe it also has subtly changed how we think and act as individuals.
2012-10-05 Election Preview by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman
Our Investment Strategy Group sizes up the approaching U.S. election and its potential impact on the "fiscal cliff."
2012-10-05 Market Respite by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
In a period of looming macroeconomic risks and great investor uncertainty the quarter resulted in solid gains in most global equity markets. The Dow was up 4.3%, the S&P 500 5.8% and the NASDAQ 6.2% for the quarter. Year-to-date the Dow was up 10%, the S&P 14.5% and the NASDAQ 19.6%. The news internationally was encouraging though mixed with European indices up 8% for the quarter and 11.8% for the year while Pacific indices were up 2% for the quarter and 7.4% for the year.
2012-10-01 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
Stocks finally fell back last week. Weak economic data combined with concerns over Apple's new phone release hurt investor confidence.
2012-10-01 Dont Be Fooled By September's Market Rally by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
September has historically been the worst month of the year, but this time around it did not play to script. The surprising rally distracted complacent investors from signs of increasing volatility. Russ K explains.
2012-09-28 Gold Glitters by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital
Just a few weeks ago, Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, announced that he would do anything required to bailout the weakest members of the Eurozone and in so doing prevent the euro currency from dissolution. Two weeks ago, as signs of recession increased, Fed Chairman Bernanke announced he would do anything required to stimulate the U.S. economy, real estate, and the financial markets. But the biggest winners thus far that may have resulted from these newly communicated intentions are not the euro or the broad stock markets but rather gold and gold-related investments.
2012-09-27 Growing Pains in the BRICs by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman
The "BRIC" countries have been a focal point of investor interest since the early 2000s. Brazil, Russia, India and China account for about half of the world's population, boast vast natural resources and are among the fastest-growing economies in the world. That said, progress at times has been uneven. Since 2010, the MSCI BRIC Index has largely underperformed the S&P 500 as economic growth flagged. In this edition of Strategic Spotlight, we discuss current conditions and the outlook for these markets.
2012-09-27 Congress Adjourns Until November: Election and Lame Duck Session Update by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update
Well over a year ago, I predicted that President Obama has the better chance of recapturing the Independent vote and winning the 2012 presidential election. I continue to hold that view.
2012-09-24 If youre a partisan Republican, skip this commentary by David Edwards of Heron Financial
In June after stocks slumped over concerns about Europe, we wrote "US stocks however, were a good value a month ago and a better value today. With the weak hands forced out by the recent 10% pullback, we are moving forward with investments in stocks." With two and half months remaining in the year, our "buying panic" forecast is starting to look prescient.
2012-09-24 Some Parting of the Clouds by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The ongoing rally in the equity market and corresponding rise in Treasury yields mirror the slow improvement in financial market conditions in Europe and moderate gains in domestic economic data. This still leaves more progress to be made on both fronts, but uncertainty remains elevated over the fiscal cliff, the threat of military conflict in the Middle East, the upcoming election, and tax policy.
2012-09-24 Echoes of the Arab Spring by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
In this report, we will discuss the issue of American foreign policy, democracy and the emerging world. Our primary focus will be on the Arab states. From there, we will examine the particular issues of democratization and regime change for a few selected nations in the Middle East. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.
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 Federal Reserve Actions Help the Rally to Continue by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
The headline news last week was the US Federal Reserve's announcement of a new round of quantitative easing in which the central bank plans to purchase $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities on a monthly basis (without a predetermined end date). The Fed also pushed back the timeframe on how long it will maintain its current zerointerest-rate policy, indicating that the current level of rates should be in effect through the middle of 2015.
2012-09-17 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Dr. B. has spoken and investor are happy (though some Republican investors probably have mixed feelings). Though not all economists were on board with QE3, the policymakers looked at the labor market and took action. With promises of more bond-buying and low fund rates into 2015, investors went on a risk asset buying spree and stocks shot up to multi-year highs. So let the over-analysis (and political bickering) begin.
2012-09-17 Ben Wants You To Spend Cash by John Petrides (Article)
This week the Federal Reserve launched its third round of monetary policy easing in as many years. Under QE3 (quantitative easing), the Fed will purchase $40 billion of mortgage backed securities on a monthly basis with the purpose of continuing to fuel the housing market. Under QE3, the Fed said it will keep its zero interest rate policy until mid-2015, with the goal of removing market assumptions of a rising rate environment. The Fed is and always will be data dependent, so all of these actions are subject to change.
2012-09-17 Global Overview: August 2012 by Team of Thomas White International
Signs of emerging political consensus in Europe over supporting further action by the European Central Bank (ECB) and a closer banking union helped sustain investor sentiment during the month of August. Germany and select other countries that were skeptical of open ended policy measures by the ECB now appear to be scaling down their opposition.
2012-09-17 "QE" Stands for Quality Employment by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
The Fed's expansive and open-ended quantitative easing program centers on building up a depleted workforce and quickening the pace of the housing recovery, but higher inflation and tight credit could play the role of spoiler. Buying mortgage-backed securities and pushing interest rates lower is designed to boost the housing sector, help loosen lending standards, stimulate corporate spending and increase foreign demand for U.S. products. This is a tall order and there are many "ifs" in this scenario, but the flexibility and breadth of QE3 increases the likelihood of its effectiveness.
2012-09-14 All Signs Pointing to Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
So, gold investors, if you havent put in your orders, consider getting them in quickly, because the bulls are buying. Credit Suisse saw 'massive inflows' into gold exchange-traded products in August after experiencing significant outflows compared to crude oil and the broader market in March, April, May and July. August shows a clear preference toward gold.
2012-09-12 Housing's 'Green Shoots' by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman
Headwinds in the housing market appear to be abating as the U.S. economy gradually heals.
2012-09-11 The Problem of Proxies by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
In this report, we will discuss the role of proxies and their use by governments, including a historical perspective of their positive and negative aspects. A short discussion of the regional factors of the Syrian situation will follow, focusing primarily on Iran's problem if the Assad regime is replaced by a Sunni-led government. Interestingly enough, these regional factors also affect the proxy groups, making them more difficult for their sponsors to control.
2012-09-01 The Case for Emerging Europe by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
If history had turned out differently, the USSR wouldve taken home the most Olympic medals this year, as the total awarded to athletes from the area was 163, according to a blog on Foreign Policys website. As we all know, the Wall came down, the Soviet Union collapsed, and now Russia has to be content with its third-place position of 82 medals. Athletes from the United States were awarded the most medals (104), followed by participants from China, who took home 88.
2012-08-28 Israel and the Evangelicals by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
On several occasions, we have noted that Israel enjoys significant leverage over U.S. policy into the November elections. Often, it is assumed that this leverage comes from the influence of American Jews on the political system. Although not unimportant, the numbers, as discussed here, suggest that the Jewish vote is barely significant in only two states, New York and Florida. Even in these two states, capturing all the Jewish voters would not guarantee winning these states.
2012-08-24 Three Generations on One Fast Train by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management
In his latest commentary on China, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, writes about the overall complexity of China and the vastly different attitudes and life experiences of the last three generations of its population, as well as some of the challenges facing the country and its economy today.
2012-08-24 Emerging Markets Real Estate Securities: Review & Outlook by Jason Yablon of Cohen & Steers
We would like to share with you our review and outlook for emerging markets real estate securities as of July 31, 2012. For the month, the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Emerging Real Estate Index had a total return of 2.2% in U.S. dollars (net of dividend withholding taxes), compared with 3.6% for the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Real Estate Index (net), a broad measure of the global real estate securities market. Year to date, the indexes returned 19.0% and 18.9%, respectively.
2012-08-24 Taking Stock of Corporate Earnings by Team of Neuberger Berman
The corporate earnings season for the second quarter of 2012 has just about ended. Investors entered this period with much apprehension as the global economic slowdown set expectations for disappointing earnings. However, U.S. numbers surprised on the upside, contributing to a rally in equity markets worldwide. Given the importance of the corporate sector to the current economic recovery, we take a deeper look at recent earnings data to highlight important trends.
2012-08-21 The Muslim Brotherhoods Long Grind by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
Over the past two weeks, there has been an upswing in violence in the Sinai Peninsula. Last week, Egyptian President Morsi announced the forced retirement of several military leaders, the same men who ran the government after the ouster of the former president, Hosni Mubarak. It isn't completely clear that the two incidents are related, although it does appear that Morsi used the unrest in the Sinai as a way to remove the remnant Mubarak cronies.
2012-08-20 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Once upon a time, Facebook and Groupon were prospective Wall Street darlings. Now both they are pushing all-time lows with analysts questioning their overall revenue models. For now, they are in the minority, as some decent earnings numbers and economic data brought back the "bulls" (at least those who arent on vacation) and sent the major indexes higher (again). Europe still has plenty of issues; the jury is still out on the Fed's next moves; and the campaign season is heating up.
2012-08-17 Love Trade Cools as Central Banks Gold Demand Heats Up by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Although the Love Trade (purchasing gold for coins or jewelry) is on ice for now, a relatively new gold buyer has been warming up to gold. Central bank purchases hit a record high since the official sector became gold buyers three years ago. If this trend continues over the remainder of 2012, central banks will be entering a new territory of gold buying that has not been seen since the early 1960s and since the end of the Bretton Woods System in 1971.
2012-08-16 Monthly Investment Bulletin by Team of Bedlam Asset Management
A good month: a gross increase of 3.13%, over twice the index at .49%. Opinion polls the morning after the opening ceremony for the London Olympic Games estimated that 2.5% of the television audience (or 30m viewers) actually believed that the Queen and James Bond parachuted into the Olympic arena. Even if true (the poll was tiny and perhaps respondents had a better sense of irony), such gullibility is understandable on live TV. But naivety in financial markets is unforgivable.
2012-08-15 De, In, or Stag?" by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
So far, key data has been unable to answer conclusively whether we are in deflation, stagflation, or targeted inflation. I wrote several weeks ago that I saw no empirical statistics indicating inflation. I was partly right...and partly wrong. Indeed, I had been early in identifying targeted inflation in tuition, foodstuffs, energy and healthcare. These demographic price hikes are systemic, and mostly driven by consumer demand or ecological/climatological influences.
2012-08-13 Morocco: Making its Mark by Team of Thomas White International
Unlike some of its North African neighbors, Morocco is not known for its petroleum reserves. But here, there is another type of oil that seems to have attracted the world's attention these days. Deep inside the country's southwestern desert lies an herbal oil extracted from the seed of a thorny tree. Argan oil, which gets its name from the Arganier tree, is said to work wonders on thirsty dry skin, and now is being sought after by the beauty-conscious men and women across far-flung continents.
2012-08-10 Dividend Taxation and Stock Returns by Team of Neuberger Berman
With bond yields declining globally, stocks with high dividends have become increasingly popular as income seekers face a narrowing set of investment choices. The increased demand has caused dividend-paying stocks to outperform broader markets over the past few years, but as the expiration of the Bush tax cuts looms ever larger heading into year-end, investors are concerned that these stocks might grow less attractive. We explore the potential impact of higher taxes on dividend-paying stocks and how investors should be positioned in the months ahead.
2012-08-07 The Complicated Kurds by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
Last week, the Syrian Army withdrew from Kurdish areas in the northeastern parts of the country. Kurdish militant groups took over patrolling the area; more importantly, they took control of the border crossings. In this report, we will offer a short history of the Kurds, focusing on the problems they have encountered as a significant minority in four countries. There will be a discussion of the tyranny of colonial borders along with a projection of the longevity of these border arrangements.
2012-08-01 The Vanishing Treasury Yield by Team of Neuberger Berman
Although Treasury bonds have performed well in recent years, investors should be aware of increasing risks as yields decline. Yields for 10-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities have been persistently negative since the fourth quarter of 2011 and continue to trend lower, implying that investors are paying increasingly higher prices for the relative safety these investments are supposed to provide.
2012-07-26 Escalation in the Middle East by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management
Last week, the fighting in Syria escalated, with the Free Syrian Army, the rebel umbrella group, announcing an attack on Syrias capital, Damascus. Reports indicate that Alawites are starting to flee Damascus for sectarian strongholds on the coast. This information follows the news that the rebels successfully bombed a Syrian intelligence and security facility, killing at least four major figures within the Assad regimes security apparatus.
2012-07-25 An Attractive Destination for Holidays, and IPOs by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
Many Western investors would likely have little trouble naming this years biggest initial public offering in the U.S., but they probably dont know that two of the top three global IPOs so far this year have been in an island nation probably better known as a holiday destination than an investment one. That country is Malaysia, where an interesting story has been unfolding in the IPO market.
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.
2012-07-20 What's Behind the Risk-On/Risk-Off US Economy? by Joseph Carson of Alliance Bernstein
The US economic recovery is progressing in fits and starts. Short-lived risk-on periods, when companies and consumers invest more, seem to constantly give way to risk-off periods, with anxiety and fear restraining economic activity. I think the choppy growth trends may have been triggered by a big change to business behavior since the financial crisis of 2008.
2012-07-19 Equity Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
In the politically correct atmosphere that permeates many of our college campuses, the euro-centric view of world history is regarded as hopelessly anachronistic, small-minded and possibly even racist. In the last year, they have become hopelessly euro-centric, rising or falling in concert with the news coming from the eurozone. A few years ago the markets focused on growth in emerging markets. Today, they focus on problems in the developed world.
2012-07-17 Breaking Bad by Michael Lewitt (Article)
With our largest business and government institutions committing every conceivable act of legal or moral anomie, we have every right to ask who is going to protect the rest of us from those who have been entrusted with so much power and influence. The institutions that were supposed to be the lifeblood of our economy are the same institutions that inflicted the greatest harm on society. When the family has to be protected from the man who is supposed to protect the family, the family is in serious trouble.
2012-07-17 Game of Thrones by Cliff Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors
An economy consists of a gazillion simple transactions, all working together; and our economy used to be grounded is such factors such as supply and demand, growth, and imports and exports. But today the economy is driven by the political rhetoric of our elected officials as it relates to regulations, taxes, and anticipation of QE3. We are in global slowdown mode, and to understand how we should invest we need to better understand what deleveraging will mean over the coming couple years.
2012-07-16 Pessimism Required by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Making sense of Friday's sharp stock market rally is not easy, certainly not on the basis of the incoming data. Rather, it seems like the rally was triggered by the absence of horrific news. There is so much pessimism rampant that anything not really awful may be received as good news. If we set the bar sufficiently low, it becomes possible that a slowdown of growth in China and an investment loss at J.P. Morgan of $4.4 billion looks like good news.
2012-07-06 Eurozone Slowly Inching Forward by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman
The European Union (EU) summit last week in Brussels surprisingly yielded some promising outcomes. EU leaders agreed to important short-term measures that can ease the recapitalization of banks but structural issues, such as increasing banking and fiscal integration in the euro area, remain unresolved. Without longer-term measures, the volatile nature of the debt crisis, as evidenced by the Greek elections on June 17, will continue to impact confidence.
2012-07-06 Market Perspectives Q2 2012: A Long Road Ahead by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
The most important economic news in the quarter occurred in the last two business days. Investors were losing patience with seemingly endless and ineffectual eurozone summitry. But the resolutions by the four major eurozone members at the end of the quarter were different. The agreements allow recapitalization of Spanish banks and purchase of Italian sovereign bonds. The proposals appear to effectively address short- and long-term problems in the eurozone economies.
2012-07-05 Reconnaissance: Strategy Notes by Douglas Clark Johnson of Codexa Capital
Investors focused on emerging markets may be well positioned to benefit from a "barbell" strategy, favoring sukuk and Southeast Asian equities. While in Afghanistan, were more inclined to tilt toward optimism than despair in the wake of military right-sizing. Both India and some Middle East countries are set to be active there. We offer other comments on high dividend yields in GCC stock markets and emerging trends in Ghanas timber industry.
2012-07-03 The 2012 Mid-Year Geopolitical Update by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management
As is our custom, we use this early July report to offer our outlook for the next six months. In this issue, we will discuss what we see as the key geopolitical issues that will affect the markets for the rest of 2012. This list is not exhaustive but highlights our greatest concerns.
2012-07-03 The Next Frontier by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
In a recent interview, I was asked whether I was becoming a frontiersman in my quest for the next big investment opportunity. Its true that many of my recent investment adventures have taken place in frontier markets the smaller, less-developed cousins of the emerging markets.
2012-06-28 The Counterrevolution in Egypt by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management
In this report we will begin with a geopolitical history of Egypt, concentrating on the unique geography that has historically shaped its governance. We will discuss the role of the military in Egyptian political life, focusing on its self-perception and its goals. We will also detail the role of the MB as an organized political group in the country. Following this analysis, we will offer our forecast for Egypt and its potential effects on the region.
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.
2012-06-21 Rising China is a Misnomer...and Other Actionable Takeaways by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Did you know that at the beginning of the 19th century, China made up the largest share of the worlds GDP? This makes the term Rising China a misnomer, as the country has been simply returning to, instead of rising to, super power, says former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
2012-06-19 The R Word in Emerging Markets by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
No matter what decision we face in our lives, there is always some type of risk involved. But when you take a few risks, the experience can often be quite rewarding. When it comes to investing, some risks are present no matter what market youre in. Its also true that there are risks that are especially important to consider when it comes to the emerging markets.
2012-06-19 Is China Running Out of Steam? by Matthew Rubin, Ing-Chea Ang, Justin Gaines of Neuberger Berman
The Chinese growth story is especially impressive. At a time when many economies have struggled, China has continued to expand rapidly, helped by its dominant position in manufacturing, growing middle class and, after the 2008 credit crisis, its successful injections of capital and stimulus to ward off recession. Nevertheless, recent data have suggested that the Chinese expansion is now slowing more quickly than most investors expected.
2012-06-19 The Known Unknowns by Ronald Roge of R. W. Roge & Company
On Friday, June 1, 2012 we had an all day investment strategy meeting. The purpose of this semi-annual meeting is to review our current portfolio strategy and evaluate it against the current state of the global economy...Easier said than done.
2012-06-19 Cohen & Steers Emerging Markets Real Estate Securities Strategy by Team of Cohen & Steers
We would like to share with you our review and outlook for emerging markets real estate securities as of May 31, 2012. For the month, the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Emerging Real Estate Index had a total return of 9.7% in U.S. dollars (net of dividend withholding taxes), compared with 6.4% for the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Real Estate Index (net), a broad measure of the global real estate securities market. Year to date, the indexes returned +9.8% and +7.9%, respectively.
2012-06-14 Chart of the Week: Growth Dichotomys Diminished Influence by Team of American Century Investments
Despite weaker-than-expected U.S. employment data for May (released June 1) and other signs of slow economic growth, the Fixed Income Macro Strategy Team at American Century Investments does not believe the U.S. economy is headed toward another recession (though the marginal possibility of recession has increased). Rather, the team believes the economy remains on a sub-par recovery/slow (1-3%) growth path, with headwinds.
2012-06-12 Frontier Markets: The New Emerging Markets by Allan Conway, Edward Evans of Schroder Investment Management
In this paper, we summarise the attractive investment case for frontier markets both over the long term but also for an investment today. Frontier markets provide access to some of the most dynamic and fastest-growing economies in the world, supported by strong secular growth drivers. The investment opportunities are similarly benign as market liberalisation is accelerating and valuations look attractive in absolute terms and versus the developed and emerging world.
2012-06-11 Looking Over the U.S. Fiscal Cliff by Team of Neuberger Berman
Absent congressional intervention prior to year-end, over $600 billion (about 4% of U.S. GDP) of fiscal tightening is scheduled to take effect in the United States in early 2013. Dubbed the fiscal cliff by those in the financial community, the negative impact on growth caused by expiring spending and tax provisions has the potential to derail the ongoing recovery and, according to some observers, even tip the U.S. economy back into recession.
2012-06-08 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Add the Fed to the equation to make things a bit more interesting. With stock prices plummeting (with no end in sight), enter Dr. B. and friends with comments that led some to expect future stimulus moves (or maybe not). The European Central Bank made similar remarks, and China took it a step farther with an actual rate cut. Investors welcomed the potential moves and a bit of optimism returns (even if just for a short period). As always, the political bickering is heating up (at home and in Europe) and yet November still remains several months away.
2012-06-04 It's All Relative by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Equities have pulled back and are flirting with correction (-10%) territory. We believed this was a needed process, and remain modestly optimistic that economic data will rebound and the market will eventually resume its move higher over the next several months. The Federal Reserve has made clear that it stands ready to act should the US economy deteriorate, or the European debt crisis escalate, but we remain skeptical. The more important issue in our view is how the coming "fiscal cliff" is addressed.
2012-06-02 Will the ECB and Fed Follow Where China Leads? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Every month, policymakers track purchasing managers indices (PMI) around the world as they consider fiscal and monetary actions. To us, a PMI is a measure of health of companies around the world, because it includes output, new orders, employment and prices across manufacturing, construction, retail and service sectors. Historically, weve seen Chinas PMI number leading the year-over-year change in exports by three to four months, so when the PMI has increased, a few months later, Chinese exports have historically risen, and vice versa.
2012-05-30 The What-Why-When-How Guide to Owning Emerging Country Debt by Tina Vandersteel of GMO
As GMO looks forward to its 20th year managing emerging debt portfolios, we offer our perspectives on the frequently-asked questions that have come up over the years, including: What is meant by emerging debt (external, local, corporate)? Why and when to own it: portfolio fit considerations, alpha, and absolute and relative value. How to own it: dedicated external, local, or corporate; blended; or multi asset (including emerging equities).
2012-05-22 Assessing the European Elections by Team of Neuberger Berman
In the two years since the onset of the European sovereign debt crisis, policymakers have struggled with the issue of fiscal integration and the tradeoff between growth and austerity. Although many observers hoped that some clarity would emerge from the recent elections in Greece, France and Germany, political paralysis continues throughout Europe. In this edition of Strategic Spotlight, we discuss the fiscal and growth outlooks for key eurozone countries and the region overall.
2012-05-18 Real Assets by Team of Cohen & Steers
Chinas economic growth is a key theme that drives our outlook for real asset categories. As the worlds dominant consumer of most commodities, China is the largest importer of iron ore, producer of steel and consumer of copper. About 65% of the worlds soybean production is imported to the region. Thus, we were encouraged by central bank easing in response to the first-quarter slowdown, as it seems to have orchestrated a soft landing. Should there be further policy actions, it could spur opportunities in a number of natural resource categories.
2012-05-18 Emerging Markets Real Estate Securities April 2012 Review and Outlook by Team of Cohen & Steers
In a global economy characterized by moderating inflation and tepid growth in developed markets, we believe emerging markets real estate securities offer attractive upside potential on a risk-adjusted basis. Policymakers in emerging economies have indicated increasing comfort with accommodative monetary policies, while domestic demand remains robust, creating a positive operating environment for both landlords and developers. On a relative value basis, we are finding more opportunities in residential developers, as we believe share prices remain depressed following their poor 2011 returns.
2012-05-18 U.S. Large Cap Value Investment Commentary As of April 30, 2012 by Team of Cohen & Steers
The economic expansion is likely to continue, but at a pace that is modest both in absolute terms and relative to previous recoveries. Many stocks are still attractively valued, in our view, and they have the potential to advance in the coming months. At the same time we are watchful of global economic developments, particularly in Europe and the Middle East. A winding down of monetary stimulus (such as the Federal Reserves Operation Twist program) could create headwinds.
2012-05-15 Fancy Hut by Liam Molloy and Bethany Carlson of Galway Investment Strategy
Frontier markets are not going to wait 30 years to take the global economy by storm. The parallels drawn between Africa today and 1980s China are apt, but the pace of the emerging market life cycle is likely to be accelerated by technology, investment, demographics, and other factors. The lack of a one-child policy leads to more favorable demographics. Africas workforce will be the worlds largest by 2040, surpassing both China and India. The payment-with-infrastructure investment approach favored by China can mean better transportation, utilities, and communication for whole communities.
2012-05-10 Staying Bullish by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management
We believe we are in a new bull market, and bull markets thrive on climbing that proverbial wall of worry. Bullish sentiment is low and bearish sentiment high. Anxious retail investors, having suffered two ugly bear markets since 2000, continue to shun stocks, with money flowing out of mutual equity funds now for more than 5 consecutive years. The public is hugely underinvested. Cash on the sidelines is enormous. The fuel to ultimately power stocks higher as confidence returns.
2012-05-09 Going Global Can Pay Dividends by Brad Kinkelaar, Cliff Remily and Raji Manasseh of PIMCO
In todays low yield environment, many investors now include dividend-oriented equities in their portfolios in an effort to reach their income goals. U.S. investors with home market bias risk severely limiting their income potential because in the U.S., dividend payout ratios are on the decline, taxes are potentially on the rise, and valuations in sectors that typically offer attractive dividends are near historical highs. In our view, global equities can provide more attractive dividend income opportunities and offer potential for additional benefits, including diversification
2012-05-08 Use Snail Mail to Place Your FedEx Order by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs
After suffering from shrinking earnings during the great recession, FedEx (FDX) appears on track to once again deliver the goods profitably. However, the market seems to have already recognized the current opportunity and pushed valuation to the outer limits of fair value. Therefore, FedEx may be an investment that requires patience. Aggressive investors could take a position here, but more conservative investors may want to wait for a more attractive entry point.
2012-05-05 Africa: Investing in the Cradle of Civilization: Part 1 by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
Africa is widely regarded as the cradle of civilization. Building on its storied history as the bedrock for humankind, Africa is also a continent of ample investment opportunity, provided you have the resolve to be in it for the long haul. My team and I look at Africa as two parts: (1) sub-Saharan Africa where South Africa and Nigeria dominate and (2) the North African markets, where Egypt is the largest. Of course the South African market is much larger and more developed than the other markets in sub-Saharan Africa.
2012-05-04 Trading Volumes in Perspective by Team of Neuberger Berman
NYSE Euronext recently reported a 44% decline in quarterly earnings, due largely to a 23% drop in the exchange operators trading volumes from a year earlier. The development confirmed something already known to many in the investment communitythat equity trading volumes have been depressed, which is traditionally a technical indicator of bearish sentiment. Curiously, this light volume has come in the midst of a 29% advance by S&P 500 since its October 4, 2011 market low. In this edition of Strategic Spotlight, we discuss the reasons for the meager volume and what it could mean for investors.
2012-05-04 Do Emerging Markets Win, Place or Show in Your Portfolio? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
The recovery in U.S. stocks is significant and helps restore confidence in equities. Were pleased to see markets improving, especially following a rough finish in 2011. Yet there lingers a persistent negativity toward emerging markets growth and commodities that prevents many investors from jockeying their portfolios into a position for growth. Rather, they remain spectators on the sidelines, with equity fund outflows continuing.
2012-04-30 Euro Risks Continue but Support for Risk Assets Is by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
At this point last year, two of the major downside risks were the possibility of the European debt crisis spiraling out of control and the inability of the United States to get its fiscal house in order. Today, while these remain two factors that have investors concerned and while there are some similarities between the situations one year ago and today, there are also some important differences. The US fiscal policy is murky. The tax and fiscal policies that are set to expire at the end of 2012 are clouded in uncertainty and it is impossible to view them outside the 2012 elections.
2012-04-27 Managed Futures and Macro: Q1 2012 Market Commentary by Jon Sundt of Altegris Investments
With Eurozone concerns receding and the macroeconomic picture showing strength, the market outlook at the end of Q1 is notably brighter than at the end of last year. Reduced correlations, lower volatility and the prospect of less government intervention have led some players to hope for a return to a new old period in which fundamentals drive the markets. If that theme does indeed prove to be sustainable, we expect that: a) more managed futures managers, would profit from stronger trends; and b) more circumspect global macro managers may take advantage of increasingly bullish positioning.
2012-04-27 Happy (Third) Anniversary: Now What? by Jon Quigley of Advanced Investment Partners
During the trading day on March 6th, 2009, the S&P 500 Index hit its intraday bottom of 666.79. In the ensuing three years the Index has advanced over 100%. Along the way, weve witnessed the collapse of some of the older and more hallowed names in the financial industry buh-bye Lehman Brothers, so long Merrill), endured the most severe recession in at least 25 years, suffered through incredible spates of market volatility, and gathered a few gray hairs (or lost some hair) along the way.
2012-04-23 Middle East/Africa First Quarter 2012 Economic Review by Team of Thomas White International
While the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region continues to weigh the impact of the tumultuous Arab Spring uprisings, the area is facing against another challenge yet again. In addition to the existing domestic instability, a strained external environment (the Euro debt crisis) is proving to be a major threat to the regions trade, tourism, remittances and other exports receipts. According to the World Banks Global Economic Prospects report, the economic recovery seen in Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia in late 2011 is likely to stall in 2012.
2012-04-23 Americas: Economic Review First Quarter 2012 by Team of Thomas White International
Optimism over economic prospects increased across the Americas regions during the first quarter of the year, as economic data showed sustained improvement and global risks eased somewhat. Despite costlier fuel, consumer spending climbed in most countries across the region, especially in the U.S. The European fiscal crisis now appears less worrisome when compared to last year, while the slowdown in Asia has turned out to be milder than expected earlier. Commodity prices have recovered after the correction during the second half of last year, on an improved outlook in global demand.
2012-04-20 Whats Ahead for the Fed? by Team of Neuberger Berman
Although growth could slow from here, we do not believe economic conditions will deteriorate enough to provoke further accommodative measures from the Fed. The Fed may be on hold for the time being, but we also believe that Bernanke is acutely aware of the potential consequences of reversing monetary policy too quickly. As a result, interest rates may stay lower for longer. In this type of yield-constrained environment, we continue to favor segments like high yield fixed income and emerging market debt, which both offer attractive sources of income and upside potential.
2012-04-20 Fixed Income Investment Outlook April 2012 by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
The Feds easy money policy will likely not reverse in the near term, but may do so before 2014, if economic growth strengthens meaningfully; some inflation is also acceptable to the alternative deflation. We are seeing some economic strength in the U.S., which is translating into higher equity prices (and hopefully higher capital gains). We are still generally avoiding exposure to interest rate risk found in Treasuries and investment grade bonds. We believe the easy money has been made there and we are not currently being compensated for the risk of rising interest rates.
2012-04-20 Emerging Markets Real Estate Securities Investment Review & Outlook First Quarter 2012 by Team of Cohen & Steers
A general moderation in inflation pressures is giving emerging market authorities more liberty to pursue policy stimulus, auguring well for domestic growth. We believe this will create opportunities for residential developers in various markets and we have increased our allocation to these companies.
2012-04-20 U.S. Large Cap Value Investment Commentary as of March 31, 2012 by Team of Cohen & Steers
Valuations are still attractive, in our view, if somewhat less so than at the beginning of the year, and volatility has subsided. We expect to see an increase in dividend payers; Apple has opened the door for other technology companies, a sector that has had a relatively low proportion of dividend-paying companies. We are also seeing solid dividend increases among industrials companies.
2012-04-18 Ride the Wave of Crude? by Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab
Crude-oil prices have moved steadily higher over the past several months, but the move may not be sustainable. Geopolitical tensions are unpredictable, but the response in demand to rising prices has become more rapid, and we see other downside risks. Investing directly in the energy sector may not be the best way to try to benefit from rising oil prices, given new investing options, along with companies' various costs and sources of revenue.
2012-04-17 How to Invest in the Best Equity Region in the World by Monty Agarwal of MA Capital Management
I believe that over the next several years, the single best region to buy and hold patiently will be Africa. Africas biggest lure are its vast hordes of natural resources. It is home to: 13% of the global reserves for oil, 50% of proven gold reserves, 50% of proven iron ore reserves, and 60% of cobalt. China, perhaps one of the hungriest consumer of natural resources and a savvy investor, is buying up mining rights and signing land deals everywhere in Africa. Here are a few more metrics that look very attractive for Africa.
2012-04-13 Groundhog Year by Rick Lear of Sloan Wealth Management
This week the titles were again of debt crisis in Europe. But Europe was not the only recurring item. Many other aspects seemed strikingly familiarlike they just happened last year.and the year before. This year, The EM guys still like Emerging Markets, the folks taking TARP money are still on the front page of paper, the guys selling proprietary products still have charts to support their products, trouble in Middle East, North Koreans may have nuclear weapons, the bond guys still like bonds, the stock guys still like stocks, perm-a-bears still gloomy and Washington still a mess.
2012-04-12 Global Investment Outlook - March 2012 by Team of Aberdeen Asset Management
Global economic growth sustains its momentum for now. Fiscal policy remains a global focus. Further monetary policy accommodation should support markets. Recent positive momentum within the U.S. economy is driving the global economic recovery, overwhelming the negative sentiment emanating from peripheral Europe. Real incomes, boosted by employment growth and easing inflation, are showing signs of turning positive in the U.S., feeding through to the broader economy.
2012-04-09 An Update on U.S. Manufacturing by Team of Neuberger Berman
On April 2, the Institute for Supply Management reported that the ISM Manufacturing Index had increased to 53.4 in March from 52.4 in February, slightly ahead of consensus forecasts. Although this often-watched indicator has flirted with contraction territory (below 50) at different points throughout the economic recovery, it has now expanded for 32 consecutive months since August 2009 and continues to point to strengthening economic growth. Here, we discuss our expectations for the manufacturing sector and its potential impact on financial markets.
2012-04-06 Managing Expectations: Why Gold Should Thrive by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Its been a challenging week for gold investors. As I often say, investing, like life, is about managing expectations. Over the past 11 years during golds spectacular bull run, investors should remember that price action can go both ways. What helps is to look at the historical rise and fall of gold. For example, looking at the past decade of one-day 5 percent drops in gold, you can see that this event is pretty rare. In 2006, gold dropped more than 5 percent in a day only two times. In 2008, there were three such events. Another one occurred at the end of this February.
2012-04-06 Is It Safe? by Jim Carroll of Long Run Capital Management
Heres my list of three things that would make me comfortable having a lot of equity exposure. Its safe if US corporate profits remain at record levels as a percentage of GDP. Take note that part of the reason profits are so high is that wages/salaries as a % of GDP are as low as theyve ever been. These trends could go on for a while but profits tend to run in cycles and any downward move would hurt equity valuations.
2012-04-05 Calm After the Storm by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
The Fed has announced that it stands ready to promote economic growth with all the tools at its disposal. The Fed policy of low interest rates and cheap credit may still be needed to help the job market heal for some time to come. However, the inevitability of a rise in interest rates at a foreseeable point may encourage investors to avoid fixed income securities. The financial reality is that markets clear and prices depend on buyers as well as sellers. Time horizons and global forces are always considerations. The importance of diversification is always prudent for long-term investors.
2012-04-04 Economic Update by Richard Hoey of Dreyfus
We believe that a full-scale global recession is unlikely, assuming that there is no major oil price spike from a disruption of the flow of Middle East oil. We believe that a key cause of global economic expansion will be the easy monetary policy prevailing in many regions and countries worldwide. We expect a global growth recession in 2012, with declining economic activity in Southern Europe, an economic stall or temporary declines in the U.K. and much of Northern Europe, a moderate slowdown in emerging markets and a U.S. expansion at a near-trend pace in 2012, somewhat faster than last year.
2012-04-03 Fewer, Richer, Greener: Why Jeremy Grantham is (Partly) Wrong by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)
Is the human experience getting better or worse? This is a big question investors are rarely asked to confront, yet its answer has profound consequences for market returns.
2012-04-02 It's All Data (Jobs) Dependent by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The performance of the economy has improved quite substantially over the past several months, with very significant implications for policy and politics. A healthier labor market is sufficient to insure a healthier economy, which supports the rally in the stock market, the decline in bond prices, and the rise of President Obama in the polls. Numerous issues will affect the political polls in the coming months, but the outlook for the economy remains one of continued improvement.
2012-03-29 China's Gravity-defying Economy: How Hard Will It Fall? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton
As China's high-octane economy shifts into lower gear, virtually everyone agrees that the double-digit, super-charged boom years are drawing to a close. Speculation over the possibility of a so-called "hard landing" for the country flourishes with each boom and bust cycle, only to die down as China's growth revs up again. This time, however, both external and internal factors -- including global conditions, domestic politics and financial trends -- are reinforcing the downturn. Many experts warn that without some painful reforms, there will be worse trouble to come.
2012-03-27 Questions of Character by Michael Lewitt (Article)
As a long-time investor in leveraged companies, the character of management has long informed my decisions of where to direct capital. There is no margin of safety when you invest in a company managed by dishonest or reckless managers, or a management team that has a history of placing its own interests before those of its shareholders or creditors. The same is true of choosing an investment manager.
2012-03-27 One Year Into the Arab Spring by James A. Pressler of Northern Trust
The last three months marked the first anniversary of events considered unthinkable before 2010. The past year saw the outbreak of protests throughout Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and beyond; an outbreak of democracy not imported from the industrialized powers but home-grown. And as each dictatorship fell, onlookers checked off another successful transformation from the Arab Spring. Such waves of change felt as unstoppable as they were inevitable, and a feeling emerged that it was only a matter of time before the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region stepped into the third era of Arab awakening.
2012-03-26 Overcoming Objections to Equities by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
So what are some of the improved economic conditions that have been pushing yields higher? We have devoted quite a bit of space in recent weeks to discussing the improvements in the labor market, and while jobs growth is certainly among the most important economic indicators, there are other factors that have been showing signs of improvement as well. Debt deleveraging remains a source of concern, but we have been seeing progress on that front. Individuals have been paying down their debt over the past few years and household debt levels have been falling noticeably.
2012-03-23 Whats Next for Equities? by Matthew Rubin and Justin Gaines of Neuberger Berman
In 2011, the S&P 500 finished essentially flat on a price-return basis. That return, however, would not have been achieved without a 15% gain over the last three months of the year. Equities have since picked up where they left off and, year-to-date, most major indices are up by double digits. Front-of-mind for investors is whether this momentum can be maintained. We offer the bear and bull cases as well as our thoughts on what may lie ahead.
2012-03-23 Closed End Funds - February 2012 Review and Outlook by Team of Cohen & Steers
The U.S. economic picture has brightened since the fall of 2011, and we expect the trend to continue. We are also encouraged by progress in Europe, as economic austerity measures will likely weigh meaningfully on the regions growth. In this period of extended easy monetary policy by the Fed, we believe the yield advantage of leveraged closed-end funds will continue to draw investor interest. The success of recent IPOs should bode well for closed-end fund issuance in 2012, although we do not believe new supply will pressure pricing in the secondary market or impede discount narrowing.
2012-03-23 U.S. Real Estate Securities - February 2012 Review & Outlook by Team of Cohen & Steers
We are encouraged by the recent trend of U.S. economic data showing measured improvement, including solid employment gains, as well as positive developments in Europe that have somewhat brightened the outlook for risk assets globally. With funding costs likely to remain low and demand showing signs of strengthening, we believe U.S. real estate fundamentals will continue to gradually improve in 2012, supported by a scarcity of new supply in most markets.
2012-03-23 Emerging Markets Real Estate Securities - Investment Review & Outlook February 2012 by Team of Cohen & Steers
As emerging economies work through the late stages of a mid-cycle slowdown, policy markets are attempting to engineer soft landings as inflation pressures continue to moderate. Given the potential for better domestic growth in such an environment, we expect to take advantage of buying opportunities among residential developers. Our favored markets include Brazil, based on its natural resources, growing consumption trends and shareholder-friendly business environment. We particularly like the retail market, which continues to exhibit strong fundamentals.
2012-03-23 Global Listed Infrastructure - February 2012 Review & Outlook by Team of Cohen & Steers
We have a positive near-term outlook for infrastructure securities based on improving U.S. economic data and stabilizing credit conditions in Europe. But our optimism remains tempered by rising sovereign debt levels in Europe and the United States and a likely protracted period of economic hardship in the European periphery. Emerging markets are likely to be somewhat stronger, in our view, driven by better structural demand and monetary easing. For this reason, we have increased our investments in Brazil, China and Mexico.
2012-03-20 International Equity Product Commentary February 2012 by Team of Thomas White International
The optimism in international equity markets remained unabated in February, as macroeconomic trends continued to allay concerns over a significant decline in global economic activity. At the same time, the worst fears about the risk of a disorderly default by any of the troubled European countries and their withdrawal from the common currency have also eased. Equity price gains during February were more even across regions and emerging markets outperformed the developed markets again, though by a smaller margin when compared to the previous month.
2012-03-19 Andrew Balls Discusses PIMCO's European Cyclical Outlook by Andrew Balls of PIMCO
The ECBs intervention has helped the European system undergo a slower and more orderly deleveraging process but it does not deal with the twin underlying problems of too little growth and too much debt in the countries at the center of the crisis. The eurozone faces a daunting set of challenges, including technical and economic challenges but highest on the list are politics and coordination. Greeces potential exit from the eurozone remains a significant risk and one that could lead to contagion across the eurozone as investors reassess the potential currency risk.
2012-03-19 Emerging Markets Equity Product Commentary February 2012 by Team of Thomas White International
The renewed market optimism that surfaced towards the end of last year persisted in February as well, as emerging market equities again outperformed the developed markets. Though GDP growth forecasts for most emerging economies have been scaled lower for the current year and for 2013, it is widely expected that the risk of a further slowdown in economic activity is limited. Emerging markets in Europe and the Middle East continued to lead during the month, followed by Asia and Latin America. Egypt sustained its recovery during the month while Thailand, Russia, and Chile also outperformed.
2012-03-19 Stocks: More Room to Run by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
While it is important to remain cognizant of the risks facing the markets, our overall view toward stocks remains constructive. Since the current rally began last autumn, we have seen some market pullbacks, but they have been brief and shallow, likely because many investors remain underweight equities and have been using pullbacks to buy on price dips. Now that bond prices are falling, we believe investors as a whole will finally begin to move out of Treasuries and into stocks. As such, as long as the macro fundamentals remain reasonably good, we believe equities should grind higher from here.
2012-03-15 And Thats The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
The Fed gets together next week as analysts eagerly await the (more transparent) recap of the behind-the-scenes discussions between the (dissenting) parties. Rumors have policymakers debating a new type of bond buying program (sterilized QE) in which the Fed would print money to purchase long-term securities, but investors would face certain restrictions over how those proceeds can be used. As always, the Feds aim is to keep rates low and encourage more spending and investing by consumers and biz.
2012-03-14 Chart of the Week: The Worlds Infrastructure Plans by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Demand for access to basic needs, an emerging middle class and a never-ending use of global resourcesthese are the primary drivers of major infrastructure projects over the next several years. The infrastructure plans taking place across emerging markets emulate a 1950s America. As these governments help their residents pursue the American Dream of better homes, health care and quality of life, I believe the companies with a strong footprint in these growing markets stand to benefit.
2012-03-13 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook: Navigating the Hurricane of Global Deleveraging by Saumil H. Parikh of PIMCO
We expect the eurozone economy to experience a recession in 2012 on the back of continuing pro-cyclical fiscal austerity measures. We expect 2012 to be the year in which the residential construction sector begins to gradually contribute to U.S. economic growth after a long and painful five-year hiatus. Major emerging market economies are struggling with domestic over-investment, rising income inequalities and inflation risks. Therefore, PIMCO expects major emerging market economies to be less of a global engine of growth in 2012-13.
2012-03-13 Will he? Won't he? by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments
Will oil prices hurt the economy? No Recent good news on the economy has come with warnings of possible demand destruction from higher oil. First, lets stress that QE does not cause higher oil prices. There are too many iterations between increasing bank reserves and the trading firepower needed to drive spot oil prices sharply higher. And while we have seen an increase since September, we're no higher than a year ago. During that time economic prospects dimmed then brightened MENA troubles flared, receded and then grew, and Asian demand steadily rose. But there are reasons to be sanguine.
2012-03-13 Checking In With the Municipal Market by Team of Neuberger Berman
In 2011, many investors appeared concerned about the potential for widespread defaults in the U.S. municipal bond marketsomething that failed to materialize. Now, we check in with the municipal markets and find that the outlook is greatly improved; however, in the wake of recent robust performance, it may also be a good time to exert some caution.
2012-03-13 China and the Rising Cost of Oil by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management
While the markets and economy continue its path upward with each trepid step more anxious than the previous, the anxiety about future crude prices has now hit the political circuit. However, one base analysis that has seemed to slip memory is the correlation of Chinas growth and its growing demand of oil and the price of oil itself. What makes this important is the recent dichotomy that we are seeing in the underlying economic growth of China and the price of crude oil.
2012-03-09 Appreciating China to its Fullest by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
While most analysts dont expect another moon shot rise in China's GDP this year, a 7.5 percent growth rate still exceeds most emerging economies and all developed nations. Advanced economy growth is expected to be meager, slowing from 1.6 percent to 1.3 percent in 2012, according to The Conference Board. For long-term investors learning to appreciate the finer points of the country, we believe China is somewhat like fine wine; it only gets better with age.
2012-03-09 Market Fatigue? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Market action has been relatively muted, notwithstanding the first 1% down day of this year. After the strong run to start the year, another pause or pullback would not be surprising but we continue to believe the upward trend will largely stay intact. Uncertainty abounds as to whether the Fed will unleash a new round of easing but liquidity remains abundant. Rhetoric continues in Washington but any substantial fiscal or tax policy action this year seems unlikely, despite the many challenges that are looming.Europe has stabilized somewhat but risks remain elevated.
2012-03-08 Oil and Gasoline Prices Rise Again: How High and How Long? by Team of American Century Investments
One year ago, we wrote on the recent up-tick in crude oil and gasoline prices which was caused by turmoil and revolution in the Middle East. A year later, were experiencing a similar rise in crude and gasoline prices. Last week, the average national cost for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline was approximately $3.75 per gallon. One contributing factor has been the increase in tensions between Western countries (and Israel) with Iran over its continuing work to produce nuclear fuel which could be used in atomic weapons.
2012-03-08 Putting Colombia on the Global Investment Map by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
Colombias real GDP is projected to grow by between 5% and 6% by end 2011, and inflation to end 2011 at less than 4%. The primary caveat: lack of infrastructure remains one of the main challenges for the country; past guerrilla conflicts made large parts of the country inaccessible, a hurdle the country has not quite yet overcome. However, as security has improved, the central government has gained more access to the countryside, enabling it to make some progress on infrastructure improvements.
2012-03-08 No Shortage of Oil Yet by Team of Bespoke Investment Group
The price of oil has been on a tear this year, and the commodity recently surged past $100 per barrel on concerns that geo-political tensions in the Middle East will disrupt supplies. How the tensions will resolve themselves is anybody's guess, but one consolation as the tensions escalate is that oil supplies are way above average. The chart below compares the current weekly supplies of crude oil and compares them to the historical average going back to 1984 and over the last 10 years. Whether you look at the last 25 years or just the last ten, the current oil stockpiles are above average.
2012-03-05 Sound Fundamentals, Scary Geopolitics by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Data revisions indicate that household income grew more strongly than reported earlier, so consumers are far better able to sustain growth in spending, particularly as job gains are also increasing. Housing is recovering too, adding a new source of demand to the economy. Thus, the economic underpinnings to growth appear distinctly healthier. At the same time, the threat of conflict in the Middle East has pushed up oil prices, which eats into disposable household income. An actual conflict would chill discretionary spending, at least temporarily.
2012-03-02 Positioning Your Portfolio When You Dont Have All the Answers by Josh Thimons of PIMCO
Faced with difficult questions like the European debt crisis, portfolio managers have two possible courses of action: feign omniscience and seek to position portfolios for one outcome, or admit to not knowing the answer and seek to position portfolios to prosper in the most likely scenarios and hold ground in the least. We believe the latter is the better course because two extreme outcomes appear increasingly likely for almost all asset classes, which increases the risk involved in choosing the wrong answer.
2012-02-28 The Outlook for Oil by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Are we headed for another oil shock, and, if so, what are the investment implications? Russ tackles these questions, explaining what could cause an oil spike, why he believes crude prices are likely to stay elevated in the near term and what this means for his view of global energy companies.
2012-02-28 Black: Swans and Crude by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
Economic/financial "black swans" are generally more dire than geopolitical ones. The Middle East is today's hotbed for potential geopolitical crises. Oil is taking the brunt of the pressure, but it's not necessarily the death knell for stocks or the economic recovery.
2012-02-27 Game Changer by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO
In addition to strong secular tailwinds supporting the energy sector, highly expansionary global monetary policies from many central banks are adding cyclical support to globally traded commodities like oil. In the U.S. energy sector, we believe that onshore natural gas shale and oil shale developments are creating opportunities to invest in energy companies that may grow significantly faster than the overall U.S. economy.
2012-02-27 South Africa: Resource Nationalism Gaining Political Currency by Team of Thomas White International
Increasing government control over natural resources is not a new trend. Governments in most emerging countries, including established democracies such as India and Brazil, directly or indirectly control most of their mineral resources. But in the case of South Africa, the consequences of such decisions can reverberate far and wide. The country has one of the worlds biggest reserves of natural resources, currently valued at $2.5 trillion.
2012-02-27 Equity Gains Likely to Continue, But at a Slower Pace by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
It was a relatively subdued week in terms of economic data, with the highlight perhaps being the weekly initial unemployment claims, which were unchanged (a stronger-than-expected result). This data helps confirm that improvements in the labor market have been gaining traction. This Friday we will see the February employment report and most economists are calling for a new jobs number of 200,000 or higher with a flat or perhaps slightly lower unemployment rate.
2012-02-22 Emerging Markets Real Estate Securities by Team of Cohen & Steers
We believe that recent developments within emerging real estate markets are consistent with our macro view. As emerging economies work through the late stages of a mid-cycle slowdown, policy markets are attempting to engineer soft landings as inflation pressures moderate. Given the potential for better domestic growth, we expect to take advantage of buying opportunities among residential developers (e.g., in Brazil), and have selectively been moving in that direction.
2012-02-21 Stocks Rising, But Still Cheap by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors
The rise in equities so far this year is not just a sugar high. The Fed has done nothing new, while Keynesian pump-priming is on the wane. Federal spending peaked at 25.3% of GDP back in 2009. Its still way too high, but has fallen to 23.7%. Meanwhile, despite shenanigans like the temporary payroll tax cut, federal revenue has risen from 15.1% of GDP to 15.4% in the past year. Spending is down and taxes are up. Fiscal policy is contractionary. Yes, the Fed is loose and is holding interest rates down. But even if we assume normal interest rates and stable profits , stocks are very cheap.
2012-02-18 The Enduring Popularity of Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
For thousands of years, pharaohs, explorers, rulers and investors have been attracted to gold, as the precious metal has been a vital tool in building and protecting wealth. While gold naysayers focus on the day-to-day fluctuations in price, I believe gold equities and bullion will continue to enjoy maximum popularity, as the Oracle of Omaha puts it, for years to come. The allure of goldwhether it is from Fear or Lovecannot be underestimated.
2012-02-17 Economic Insights: Around the World of Investing Opportunity by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Europe seemingly creates new financial and economic concerns daily, while in the United States, fiscal questions and election uncertainties trouble the outlook. Still more dangerous issues surround the military and diplomatic maneuvering in the Persian Gulf. And these are just a sample of the sources of investment concern. But even as all this prompts people to hide in cash and the usual safe havens, such as U.S. Treasury bonds, these investment choices pay such poor yields that presumed safety comes at tremendous cost. Investors, then, must consider riskier investments.
2012-02-14 3 Reasons to Underweight South Africa by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
In my opinion, investors should consider minimizing their exposure to emerging markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, otherwise known as EMEA. The big reason: emerging markets in EMEA generally have close economic ties to the euro zone, which as we all know is going through a rough spot and is likely to experience at least a mild recession this year. Drilling down to the stocks of specific emerging market countries within EMEA, Im particularly focused on South Africa as its the largest country in the MSCI Emerging Markets EMEA index.
2012-02-10 Inflation Outlook 2012: Benign, But Watch the Tails by Mihir P. Worah and Nicholas J. Johnson of PIMCO
Headline inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the U.S., ran at 3.0% in 2011, up from 1.5% for 2010. Our base case is for inflation to moderate this year, heading to slightly below 2%. Longer term our bias is toward higher inflation, and we feel any deflationary episode is likely to be short-lived. Faced with this possibility of higher inflation, many investors may need to examine their allocations to assets associated with real return potential, including Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS), real estate, commodities and equities.
2012-02-09 Economic Update by Richard Hoey of Dreyfus
For 2012, we have three themes and three risk concerns. The three main themes are (1) global growth recession, (2) lower inflation for now and (3) monetary ease. The three main risk concerns are (1) the European financial stresses, (2) the Chinese property market and (3) the Middle East risks, with oil supply vulnerabilities as the main concern. We expect a global growth recession in 2012, rather than either a strong global expansion or a fullscale global recession.
2012-02-06 The Value in Fear by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
It is hardly an insight to note that markets today are beset with fears. What is less widely acknowledged and critical to investment strategy, however, is that the level of anxiety has driven market segments to different extremes of valuation. On the one side, widespread fear has driven up the prices of the usual safe havens, such as U.S. Treasury bonds, gold, even the debt of other presumably stronger governments. On the other, the anxiety has severely held back relative pricing on equities and credit-sensitive bonds. This divergence presents potentially remarkable investment opportunities.
2012-02-03 Strong January, Strong 2012? by Kevin D. Mahn of Hennion & Walsh
We are encouraged by the strong start to the New Year and some of the recent economic data reports. Yet, with all of this mounting optimism, we are mindful that the first half of 2012, at a minimum, is still likely to be volatile as headwinds still persist in our view.
2012-01-27 Global Infrastructure Investment Commentary - December 2011 by Team of Cohen & Steers
We are entering 2012 with a positive outlook for infrastructure securities based on better-than-expected U.S. economic data and credit conditions in Europe that show some signs of stabilizing. Even so, we recognize that it will take time for the global economy to achieve sustained growth. We will continue to monitor global monetary policies, having already seen the beginning of the next easing cycle. Despite the fact that the sector still carries meaningful political and regulatory risk, we believe infrastructure companies should perform well in 201
2012-01-27 LCV Web Commentary - December 2011 by Team of Cohen & Steers
We continue to believe that the crisis in Europe is far from over; that the improving U.S. economic data, while encouraging, signal something well short of a robust recovery; and consequently, that the first half of 2012 remains highly uncertain. For these reasons, we still expect (1) more intervention by politicians and central bankers, (2) continued historically low interest rates in the US, (3) modestly positive U.S. economic data, (4) high but slowing growth in China and emerging markets, (5) short-term measures to address Europes long-term debt crisis.. and others.
2012-01-26 Is There Value in U.S. Equities? by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors
The importance of asset allocation and timing was again evident last year. After rallying earlier in the year, stocks took investors on a gut-wrenching ride over the summer before rallying again in the fall. And for all of the twists and turns, in the end the S&P 500 essentially ended the year where it began. But that's history. What do we expect looking ahead? As we examine today's investment landscape, we believe opportunities can be found in U.S. stocks, particularly large-cap stocks. There are several trends in place that support our view.
2012-01-26 Peering Through Exxons Looking Glass by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
The emerging world will push global energy demand 30 percent higher by 2040, according to ExxonMobils Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040. The report contains some interesting projections on what may be in store for the energy sector in the coming decades. The global population is expected to reach a staggering 9 billion over the same period, but it isnt population growth that will drive the increase in energy demand. Instead, rising affluence and higher living standards in regions such as Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and India will be the biggest factors.
2012-01-25 Straightening Out the Straits by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital
Recently some of the fears that investors had focused on in the 11thhour debt negotiations in Greece have drifted southeastward towards the Straits of Hormuz. An increasingly bellicose Iran threatens to throw the world economy into confusion with the potential closure of one of the worlds most important sources of energy. Catastrophic failure in Athens or the Gulf could plunge the world into severe recession if not depression. Having discussed the Eurozone at length, we focus this week on the threats posed by Iran.
2012-01-25 Emerging Markets Real Estate Investment Commentary Full Year 2011 by Team of Cohen & Steers
Over the long term, we believe emerging market real estate securities are well positioned to benefit from secular trends such as expanding urban centers and the rise of the consumer class. In the near term, however, we expect volatility to continue as markets grapple with uncertainty about Europe and further deceleration in economic growth. In this challenging market environment, we continue to favor commercial landlords over developers.
2012-01-24 Beyond Reinhart and Rogoff by Robert Huebscher (Article)
My article two weeks ago, The Misreading of Reinhart and Rogoff, elicited a number of challenges, both from those who argued that excessive debt imperils our economic growth and from those who claimed that my proposed solution was unworkable. Among those challengers was Lacy Hunt, who raised several valid concerns. I will explain why I disagree with Hunt and others, and why the dollar's position as the reserve currency increases our borrowing capacity. But our ability to borrow cannot be a license to spend unwisely, and I will conclude by expanding on the policy choices the US must pursue.
2012-01-24 Africa: Opportunities and Challenges in a Growing Economy by Team of The Royce Funds
As the South African economy continues to mature and other, even less developed, economies begin to thrive, we will keep our attention focused on company fundamentals, corporate governance, and what we think are attractively undervalued businesses with the potential to grow in the global economy. As the bulk of Africa's economies are frontier markets, still progressing toward the status of developing economies, the continent as a whole represents long-term opportunities that will require patience and diligence. Its resources and demographics are likely to make it well worth the wait.
2012-01-23 Smart Strategies Looked Stupid in 2011 by Liam Molloy and Bethany Carlson of Galway Investment Strategy
The US has a confidence crisis, not a growth crisis. Jobs are being created. Consumers spending rose 6.9%. Corporate profits went up 16%. Financial leverage is low, operational leverage is high. Even with the rise in government debt, public debt service is at its lowest since the mid 80s. And all this during the year we survived a major nuclear crisis in Japan, the first-ever Treasury downgrade, revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East, several hundred thousand government layoffs, gridlock in Washington, and the effective bankruptcy of Greece.
2012-01-20 It May Take a Dragon to Breathe Fire into Markets by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Ive found many people are particularly energized about predicting a hard landing for Chinas economy, but I believe the country is no sinking ship. China isnt fast-approaching an iceberg in the dark of the night like the Titanic. Beijing has long been anticipating the ice chunks and subtly adjusting the rudder around inflation without steering the economic ship too far off course.
2012-01-19 Inflation: Wheres the Beef? by Team of American Century Investments
With inflation seemingly in check, we reevaluate the near- and longer-term inflation environment, and discuss implications for investor portfolios. It is easy to understand why this topic intrigues so many. Depending on your perspective, inflation can be said to be rising fairly rapidly from low levels seen just a few years ago; or it could be said to be quite restrained, given the calls in recent years for runaway inflation as a result of unprecedented U.S. monetary and fiscal policies and a number of pronounced global economic imbalances.
2012-01-19 Riding the Global Roller Coaster: The Outlook for Emerging Markets High Yield Corporates in 2012 by Brigitte Posch of PIMCO
Because many emerging market high yield companies were able to deleverage after the 2008/2009 crisis, we believe they are generally in a stronger position than their developed market counterparts. Limited financing needs should provide technical support to the overall emerging markets corporate market. In an environment where lending conditions tighten in international capital markets, domestic markets may become a source of funding for EM HY corporates.
2012-01-17 Good News or Cheap Stock Prices, but Not Both by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Investors often fail to appreciate that they can have either good news or cheap stock prices, but not both. It is good news that provides confidence and elevates stock prices to high valuations. Bad news undermines confidence and depresses stock prices. This maxim, first expressed by Joe Rosenberg, Chief Investment Officer for Loews Corp., and repeated in Barron's, applies most appropriately to prevailing stock valuations and implies an exceptional buying opportunity for those who can take a longer term investment perspective.
2012-01-17 Double-Digit Market Returns in 2012? by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
Skeptics would suggest that the solid start to 2012 is little more than a typical "January effect" in which stocks tend to rise at the beginning of the year, but we think there is more to it than that. In part, we believe the upward moves of the last two weeks can be attributed to the fact that many investors (including active fund managers) came into the year underexposed to risk assets following a disappointing 2011, and who are at this point beginning to put their cash to work.
2012-01-13 The Year that Was and The Year to Come by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
From a long-term perspective, we continue to have a positive outlook on emerging economies. In our opinion, balancing growth, inflation and global competitiveness will be the task ahead for many emerging countries in the months to come. We believe that emerging stock markets could be much larger than they are today, and over the long term, their combined value could potentially exceed the combined value of the U.S., Japanese and European equity markets.
2012-01-12 A Look Back (2011) and Forward (2012) by Team of American Century Investments
The major US equity markets ended 2011 not far from where they began in terms of their index values. Now that the New Year has arrived, the question is where these markets might be headed in 2012. Three important considerations behind this question are: 1. How key macro-factorse.g. the EU debt crisisare or arent addressed 2. Can U.S. corporations continue to deliver the earnings growth they have for the past three years 3. What are the prospects for US consumers and householdsan increasingly important consideration as the global recovery slowed in the fourth quarter of last year.
2012-01-09 A Postcard from the Middle East & Africa by Team of Thomas White International
Retail therapy may or may not make the soul happy but it sure does make the feet sore. Young Middle Easterners though have warmed up to a retail format that promises to keep both soul and feet happy. E-commerce and online retail are getting bigger by the day across the Middle East for several reasons. For one, the region recorded the worlds fastest growth in internet usage between 2000 and 2009, and it is now home to more than 60 million internet users, which makes it a huge market for online transactions.
2012-01-09 Middle East/Africa Fourth Quarter 2011 Economic Review by Team of Thomas White International
Weakening global activity and further political uncertainty are the foremost risks that are likely to affect the Middle East and Africa (MEA) regions performance. The IMF report notes that oil exporting nations of the MEA region have benefited from continued high energy prices and are slated to finish off 2011 clocking in a GDP growth of 5% before easing to 4% in 2012. However, these countries do face a downside risk in the likelihood of fiscal and debt challenges in the developed nations that could adversely impact global activity and international oil prices.
2012-01-06 Burgers or Barrels--What's Your Power Play? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
In a recent blog post, the Wall Street Journal asked its MarketBeat readers if a share of McDonalds stock or a barrel of oil made a better $100 investment. The share price of the fast-food restaurant topped $100 for the first time ever in late December and rose 30 percent over 2011, substantially beating the overall market. Crude oil prices had less sizzle, only moderately increasing over the year. The three-year picture is a little different, with crude oil more than tripling since its bottom in late 2008. Over the same time, McDonalds increased about 66 percent, says the Journal.
2012-01-06 And Thats The Year/Quarter That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Global geopolitical events continue to impact all investments markets. Just when Europe seemed to be taking positive steps to move passed crisis mode, along come Spain, Italy, and Hungary to remind investors that the road to recovery will be paved with many bumps along the way. A nuclear Iran presents huge concerns and additional sanctions could cause new crude supply challenges that may prompt inflation to resurface. The recent favorable labor releases woke the consumer from hibernation in time for the holidays, but will the enthusiasm last once the season ends?
2012-01-06 What Will 2012 Bring? by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management
In 2011, financial news was dominated by the turmoil in Europe. Looking ahead, the ongoing crisis will be addressed by a global money printing jamboree and coordinated funding from central banks in the developed world, including the Fed. When the money starts rolling off the presses, the liquidity infusion will create some genuine buying opportunities for American, European, and Asian stocks, as well as selected commodities. Liquidity infusions are like a rising tide of money available to buy assets. Buy stocks, commodities, and primarily gold to protect the buying power of their assets.
2012-01-03 Thoughts About 2012 by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Major issues cloud the outlook for 2012. Fiscal policy remains in limbo, while the country revs up the presidential campaign. Finances in Europe remain a work in progress, yet the risk of a globally troublesome misstep remains. There is also no shortage of geopolitical risks around the world, including Iran, the entire Middle East, and a new regime in North Korea. Domestically, the economy is gathering some upward momentum. But will the economy be permitted to build on these trends, or will some external factors undermine the recovery? The answer is unclear, which is why market is so cheap.
2012-01-03 And Thats The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
As January goes, so goes the market for the year. While most investors look beyond such hype, many surely will be pulling for a strong start to the new year. Despite summit after summit, emergency call after emergency call, bailout after bailout, stimulus after stimulus, the European debacle appears no closer to resolution (and is maybe getting worst). Italy is hurting; Hungary could be next; Germany and France are calling the shots. Iran presents a new threat to the oil markets as a blockage at the Strait of Hormuz threatens real damage to the energy supply/demand picture.
2011-12-30 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Leave it to global austerity to bring confidence in markets to a grinding halt. Our global credit crisis allows for very little wiggle room in addressing both a moral and economic bankruptcy that has now engulfed the worlds financial markets for four years specifically, and nearly two decades, generally. In recent weeks, efforts to create multinational solutions worldwide, and bipartisan solutions domestically, have erased some doubt that the problem of overspending will be addressed, but only quenched an immediate taste for something positive to occur.
2011-12-30 2012: A Look Ahead by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
2012 is likely to feature a slow-growth world that includes a recession in Europe. The US faces headwinds, but manages to achieve growth of between 2% and 2.5%. China and India slow somewhat, but, along with the US, make up two-thirds of global GDP growth. The big risk remains that of a financial breakdown in Europe, which would tip the developed world into recession. Inflation should also continue to move lower. Should the muddle-through environment come to pass, we believe earnings and some improvement in confidence would allow equity markets to move higher, with US stocks leading the way.
2011-12-30 Case for Sustained $100 Oil by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
China, along with other emerging markets, and the European Central Bank are in the early stages of a global easing cycle, primarily by cutting interest rates to spur growth. Also, the Federal Reserve should remain stimulative. These government actions set the stage for sustained, or perhaps higher, demand for oil. Geopolitical threats remain on the horizon, and could also be a positive catalyst for oil.
2011-12-23 Outlook 2012: Living In Interesting Times by Victoria Marklew, Asha G. Bangalore, James A. Pressler, and Ieisha Montgomery of Northern Trust
Setting aside the debate over the appropriateness of various policy directives, this Outlook considers which countries or regions are vulnerable as we head into 2012. Not surprisingly we start off with Europe, then go through the U.S., industrialized Asia, and Latin America, finishing with a brief discussion of the political powder keg that is the Middle East.
2011-12-23 Emerging Markets Real Estate by Team of Cohen & Steers
Emerging markets real estate securities had a negative return in November following an exceptionally strong October. Worries about the global economy and Europe continued to weigh on equities broadly, while signs of slowing growth in China were of particular concern to developing countries. A sharp rally in the last few days offset some of the decline, as China cut its reserve requirement ratio for the first time in three years and central banks announced a coordinated effort to provide much-needed liquidity to European banks.
2011-12-20 Economy Happy to Close Out a Forgettable 2011 by Chris Maxey of Fortigent
There are several economic indicators on tap for next week, highlighted by the third and final estimate for Q3 real GDP.No change is expected from Novembers estimate of 2.0%. Other items of note include housing starts, existing home sales, new home sales, personal spending, and the durable goods report. As mentioned previously, Wednesdays existing home sales report from the NAR will provide clarity on the size of the agencys five-year revision to home sales. This is a potentially significant event, depending on the size of the adjustment.
2011-12-16 Loose Monetary Policy Paves Way for Growth by Scott Migliori of Allianz Global Investors
Continued volatility in early 2012, but an increasingly accommodative monetary policy globally could jumpstart growthparticularly among export-driven companiesin the second half of the year. Energy and health care sectors stand out as likely outperformers.
2011-12-15 Fragile and Unbalanced in 2012 by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate
The outlook for the global economy in 2012 is clear, but it isnt pretty: recession in Europe, anemic growth at best in the US, and a sharp slowdown in China and in most emerging-market economies. Restoring robust growth is difficult enough without the ever-present specter of deleveraging and a severe shortage of policy ammunition.
2011-12-09 Emerging Markets Bonds and Currencies in an Uncertain World by Ignacio Sosa of PIMCO
Even if global risk deteriorates significantly, emerging markets may continue to offer compelling risk-adjusted return characteristics. Emerging markets external sovereign debt, along with receiving interest rates in higher-quality EM countries, could be the best relative performers. EM currencies would likely sell off sharply in risk-off periods but would also tend to rebound robustly when risk appetite returns. Several Asian currencies are likely to be the best relative performers. Emerging markets assets remain a risk asset class and will not be immune to waves of global jitters.
2011-12-08 Some Perspective on Recent Stock Market Volatility by Team of American Century Investments
Both October and November exhibited substantial price volatility. For the full month of October, the index was up 10.9% on a total return basisthe best October performance for the S&P 500 in nearly 20 years. In contrast, for November the index was down -7.5% through Friday the 25th before a substantial rally the last three trading days of the month. Well take a closer look at the volatility of the S&P 500 from a historical perspective to provide some insights about market volatility its history, trends and causes.
2011-12-06 Life Finds a Way by Neel Kashkari of PIMCO
Even the most sophisticated risk management models can't protect against scenarios we've never even contemplated. In this New Normal economic environment of slow economic growth, high volatility and enormous macro risks we don't believe ignoring major downside risks is prudent for equity investors. We believe investors are best served by employing a combination of three strategies to actively manage downside risk in equity portfolios to hedge against the risks they can see, and equally importantly, the risks they can't see.
2011-12-06 Treasury Inflation Protected Securities: Whats Next? by Vishal Khanduja of Columbia Management
TIPS have performed relatively well in 2011. Over the next 12 months we expect TIPS to outperform equivalent maturity U.S. Treasuries, However, given the current historic low level of real interest rates, we believe that absolute returns for the asset class will be only slightly positive. Our view is based on three factors: U.S. economic and policy outlook, recent trends in the components of consumer inflation and current valuations versus our base case assumptions.
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.
2011-12-02 Chart of the Week - Oil's Breakeven Price by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
One way to gauge support for the price of oil is to calculate the breakeven price. In other words, what is the dollar amount per barrel that would be required for an oil-producing country to balance its fiscal budget? Analysts at Carnegie Investment Bank recently put together this chart, which illustrates the breakeven price needed for some of the worlds largest oil producers. Combined, these countries are expected to produce 30% of the worlds oil in 2011 Carnegie says. Note: these prices are for Brent crude, which have been $10-$15 per barrel above West Texas Intermediate prices this year.
2011-11-29 The Investment Case for Israel by Jamia Jasper (Article)
What country went into the 2008-2009 recession in a stronger position and exited sooner than any western nation? Whose stock market has outperformed the MSCI EAFE over the past 10 years?
2011-11-29 Sometimes We Lose Perspective by Scott A. MacKillop (Article)
It's been a rough ride lately for investors. Looking back over the course of my lifetime, however, what has been particularly exceptional is not recent market swings - these come and go - but rather the return one would have earned if they had been continuously invested in the stock market over the past 60-plus years.
2011-11-26 Beyond the Supercommittee by Team of Charles Schwab
After months of negotiations, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction announced that it could not reach agreement, stating: "we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee's deadline" The supercommittee had a deadline of November 23 to make recommendations to trim at least $1.2 trillion from the budget deficit. What's beyond the supercommittee? Schwab answers the key questions. Such as, why did the supercommittee fail? and are US Treasuries still a safe-haven investment? among others.
2011-11-23 Giving Thanks by Michael Dana of Dana Investment Advisors
It has been a tumultuous decade starting with 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, natural disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornados and fires), the financial crisis starting in 2008, and upheavals in the Middle East and the continuing financial problems in Europe. All these events have combined to cause worldwide recession and slow economic growth particularly in Europe and the US. With the mortgage meltdown and the continuing high unemployment rate, you would think that there is little to be thankful for this holiday season, but you may not be seeing the forest for the trees.
2011-11-23 Seven Surprising Stats on the Internet and Emerging Markets by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
With rising wealth in emerging markets in recent years, people in China, India and Brazil have quickly acquired a taste for mobile phone and Internet technology. The industry in developing countries is in its infancy but growth has been swift. Here are seven surprising facts about this fast-growing emerging market trend.
2011-11-18 The Gold Triple Play - Volatility, Currencies and Europe by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Resurgent investment lifted global gold demand 6 percent from the previous year to just over 1,000 tons during the third quarter of 2011, according to the latest Gold Demand Trends Report from the World Gold Council (WGC). The potent cocktail of inflationary pressures in the emerging world and the European sovereign debt fiasco left investors searching for a safe haventhey looked for it in gold.
2011-11-17 Why The Price Of Oil Has Risen From About $75 To About $100 Over The Past Six Weeks by Team of Guild Investment Management
Many veteran observers seriously question the intelligence of ongoing policies that ignore domestic resources and keep the US sending billions of dollars a year to countries that dislike the US and actively seek Americas decline. After it's recent rise, we recommend investors take profits in oil. It can go higher but we like taking profits after a rapid rise. Also, a mechanism is being put in place that will allow financially-responsible Eurozone countries to force irresponsible members to either make necessary changes in their approach to government spending or to leave the Euro currency.
2011-11-11 The Many Factors Fueling a Return to $100 Oil by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
The IEA says trends on both the oil demand and supply sides maintain pressure on prices. We assume the average IEA crude oil import price remains high, approaching $120 per barrel (in 2010 dollars) in 2035 (over $210 per barrel in nominal terms). Thats a distant projection but it certainly illustrates why you should consider investing a portion of your wealth in oil.
2011-11-01 What, Me Worry? by Scott A. MacKillop (Article)
As we gnash our teeth over the latest crisis du jour let's remember that difficulties do not, ultimately, prevent progress. On the contrary, over my lifetime progress has continued unimpeded despite a more or less constant stream of difficulties.
2011-10-31 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Europe apparently has solved all of its financial challenges While Greek protests continue daily, the EU leaders held a contentious summit that teetered between storming out with nothing and completing a breakthrough deal. In the end, the group agreed to significantly write-down Greeces sovereign debt held by private investors, recapitalize the banking system, and expand the bailout fund. The ministers hope that China and Japan will embrace the new deal and even throw a few bucks their way as an investment in the global economy, but nothing definitive has been determined at this time.
2011-10-25 Whats next for Libya? by Tom Abrams of Columbia Management
Qaddafi has left the stage so we now turn our attention to the myriad of subplots that is Libya in transition. When we think about the oil markets and the impact of Libya's return to production and exports, we invariably turn to both the political possibilities in the country as well as the physical state of their oil and gas infrastructure. We believe the future pace of political progress in Libya and the pace of the recovery in oil production will be related. More political agreement on the disbursement of oil revenues would likely mean a more coordinated and quicker recovery in production.
2011-10-21 Emerging Markets Real Estate by Global Real Estate Team of Cohen & Steers
Emerging market real estate stocks were hit hard in the risk-averse environment that defined the third quarter. The asset class underperformed its developed-market counterpart, which also had a double-digit decline amid slowing global growth and concerns regarding Europes unresolved sovereign debt crisis. Slowing global growth is taking some pressure off emerging markets in terms of inflation containment. A trend of policy easing appears to be underway. This could result in improved performance for recently problematic sectors. We have been incrementally adding to such sectors.
2011-10-19 Middle East/Africa: Economic Review September 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
The MENA region continues to grapple with instability in the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings. The draining of public finances, elevated levels of inflation and high rates of unemployment seem to paint an unfavorable picture for the region in the short term. According to the IMF World Economic Outlook report, inflation in the region is expected to average around 7 percent in 2011 and 10 percent in 2012. In addition, the report noted the adverse impact of weaker growth in the United States and Europe on commodity prices, foreign investments and economic activity.
2011-10-14 Elevation by Liam Molloy and Bethany Carlson of Galway Investment Strategy
One region has five of the twelve fastest economies in the world, including the fastest at a growth rate of over 20% this year. This region has grown faster than the OECD countries and its consumer sector is growing 2 3 times faster than the developed worlds. A study by the Harvard Business Review in 2009 reported that publicly traded companies average return on capital was 67% higher than comparable countries in China, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Investors have been blissfully ignorant of Africa for decades, but the opportunity cost of ignorance is increasing.
2011-10-14 Case Study: Buyouts Crystallize Value in the Market by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Theres value in the market. Thats the message the market is sending through the recent strategic acquisitions in the energy and gold mining spaces. This week it was announced that Sinopec, a large Chinese oil and gas company, is purchasing Canadian energy company Daylight Energy for $2.1 billion in cash. The deal was struck at a whopping 120 percent premium to Daylights share price prior to the announcement and a 43.6 percent premium over the 60-day weighted average price, according to Reuters.
2011-10-13 Pointing Fingers: Can Europe and the U.S. Work Together to Solve the Financial Crisis? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton
Even as U.S. officials and investors watch Europe struggle to shore up its financial system and avert another shock to the global economy, signs of a subtle transatlantic "blame game" have surfaced. Experts from Wharton and elsewhere note that although there are no immediate answers to the mounting crisis -- and its impact on capital markets in the U.S. -- it's clear that any finger pointing needs to be replaced by a sense of urgency and mutual cooperation before solutions can be found.
2011-10-07 Can Markets Find the Road Back to Positive Territory? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Can markets find the road back to positive territory? This week, wed like to point out three reasons investors should consider remaining in equities or reassessing whether to sit on the sidelines: 1. Investor sentiment is signaling the market is overextended to the downside. 2. Stocks are trading well below historical valuation trends. 3. S&P 500 dividend yields are higher than the 10-year Treasury yield.
2011-09-23 Global Economic Crisis = Social Unrest by Robert McConnaughey of Columbia Management
I fear that our fragmented political process may go from bad to worse as polarized factions face off over how to respond to a fraying of the Western social contract. Inefficiency in developing effective policy in that environment is likely to be a further drag on economic growth, potentially creating a negative feedback loop. We run the risk of crossing a dangerous tipping point where economic pain fuels dramatic social unrest, which in turn makes a path to recovery more difficult. I do not see equity risk premiums sustainably falling until we begin to witness that change in direction.
2011-09-16 Fall 2011 Market Review by Owen Murray of Horizon Advisors
After the volatility in the capital markets over the past few weeks, it is easy to forget that the market was just a hair from its 52-week high as recently as July. Then, a flurry of events has made the once happy days of spring feel like a distant memory. With the debt ceiling debate going into the eleventh hour, Standard and Poors announcing a debt downgrade, and the euro-zone debt crisis seemingly reaching a crescendo, confidence has been severely impacted and concerns over the durability of our recovery have been raised.
2011-09-16 Perfect Storm Creates Tidal Wave of Gold Demand by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
In the East, gold is not only celebrated, acquired, worn or displayed during holidays or special occasions; it is seen as an everyday symbol of wealth. Increases in demand from China and India have driven a 7.5 percent increase in demand for gold jewelry during the first half of the year despite a 25 percent increase in the price, according to a report released this week from GFMS. However, much of Indias potential gold demand remains untapped.
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.
2011-09-08 Bleak Outlook? MLPs May Help Cushion Against Market Volatility by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors
Professional investors spend a lot of time studying probabilities. That is because, just as the direction of the recent Hurricane Irene featured a "cone of uncertainty," the financial markets often change course without warning and can wreak havoc on investor portfolios. Alternative investments, including Master Limited Partnerships, may help limit damage from the inevitable financial storms that investors may face. In today's uncertain economy and volatile markets, MLPs - while not immune - can provide attractive yields and relatively low correlation to the stock and bond markets.
2011-09-08 Middle East/Africa: Economic Review August 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
According to the IMF, global economic prospects have taken a downturn in the wake of a weaker U.S. economic recovery, uncertainty surrounding the Euro-zones fiscal stability and relentless turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. In recent weeks, the MENA region has been in the spotlight yet again, with the Libyan revolt against Muammar Gaddafis 42-year long dictatorship gaining momentum. The IMF has been keeping a close watch on developments in the strife-ridden country and is yet to determine the uprisings impact on the Libyan economy.
2011-08-29 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
One positive week does not constitute a trend (wishful thinking). The economic calendar is quite hectic next week with key news from manufacturing and labor. Though recent results have been lackluster at best, many analysts have predicted a rebound in the months to come. Hopefully, some favorable signs of such strength will present themselves as early as next week (starting with decent nonfarm additions and a reduction in the jobless rate). If not, maybe Bernanke can come to the rescue again. QE3 anyone?
2011-08-15 Middle East/Africa: Economic Review July 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
Inflation has been the highest in the MENA regions due to capacity constraints and food prices. While rising costs of food and oil have increased inflationary pressures in South Africa, Israels inflation rate has breached the target range set by its central bank. In addition, South Africa is witnessing strained consumer demand, while growing economic disparity despite lower unemployment rates has triggered social unrest in Israel. Jordan is also battling pricing pressures and is looking to bridge its wide funding gap by raising capital with the issuance of its first Islamic debt instrument.
2011-08-15 Is Capitalism Doomed? by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate
The massive volatility and sharp equity-price correction now hitting global financial markets signal that most advanced economies are on the brink of a double-dip recession. A financial and economic crisis caused by too much private-sector debt and leverage led to a massive re-leveraging of the public sector in order to prevent Great Depression 2.0. But the subsequent recovery has been anemic and sub-par in most advanced economies given painful deleveraging.
2011-08-12 Developed Europe: Economic Review July 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
Sovereign debt problems on both sides of the Atlantic kept the global investment community anxious in July. While the U.S. government struggled to build political consensus on the terms for having its debt ceiling raised, European leaders negotiated hard to push their domestic agendas through, while deciding on the exact nature of another aid package for Greece. Eventually, concerns about a Greek debt contagion eased slightly after the country was given a 109 billion bailout, which included provisions for lower interest rates and longer repayment periods.
2011-08-11 US Treasury Downgrade by Brian Horrigan of Loomis Sayles
Given the nature of how the political system is handling the fiscal situation and the views of the rating agencies, I could make a strong case that there will be no downgrade by Moodys or Fitch before December 2011. But Treasurys are likely to remain on a negative outlook. I dont think that S&P will issue another downgrade this year. If Congress fails to follow through on recommendations from the Super Committee, we could get a downgrade from Moodys or Fitch. Congress has a strong incentive to implement the recommendations from them in order to help avoid automatic spending cuts.
2011-08-09 Bright Spots by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
The American consumer is not nearly as vulnerable as during the 200809 recession. During the past two years, American households have so restrained spending, absolutely and relative to income, that presently they maintain about a $590 billion annualized savings flow, up strikingly from the $190 billion annualized flow averaged in the middle of 2007. Since this current savings flow amounts to some 5% of outstanding household liabilities, households need make no further cutbacks to improve their balance sheets, leaving them to spend marginally more freely.
2011-08-06 The Case for Going Global Is Stronger Than Ever by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
If we have learned anything from the current financial mess, its that building wealth is dependent on rational analysis, careful decision making, and risk management. Thats why sticking close to home at a time when our markets are more uncertain than ever is a recipe for disaster and absolutely the wrong thing to do. Not only will you miss out on the worlds fastest-growing markets, but the odds are exceptionally high that you will miss as much as 50% or more in potential returns over the next decade.
2011-08-05 Special ProVise Bullet by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group
It isnt different this timeits simply a different story. On a fundamental level we believe there will be continued growth in the economy and thus in the market. Maybe the growth will not be as great as most of us would like, but there is still growth. Our crystal ball cant tell us when the market will find a bottom, but it will find it and then recognize the fundamentals in place. Only the investor who panics and sells will, at the end of the day, lose money.
2011-08-05 Advisor Alert - Placing This Week's Selloff Into Context by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
The major market indices were lower this week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 5.75 percent. The S&P 500 Stock Index decreased 7.19 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 8.13 percent. Barra Growth outperformed Barra Value as Barra Value finished 7.53 percent lower while Barra Growth decreased 6.88 percent. The Russell 2000 closed the week with a loss of 10.34 percent. The Hang Seng Composite Index finished lower by 6.80 percent, Taiwan fell 9.15 percent, and the KOSPI declined 8.88 percent. The 10-year Treasury bond yield closed 24 basis points lower at 2.56 percent.
2011-08-04 The Five Horsemen of the Economic Malaise by Craig Hester of Hester Capital Management
The unwinding of the economic malaise will take years, and it will be a painful - but necessary-process. There is much fear and anxiety reflected in the financial markets. Many of the world economies are in a state of disequilibrium, with too much debt, facing high unemployment and sluggish growth. Policy options are limited, and politicians lack the courage to act. But out of such times come opportunities. We live in a world of instant news and an acute short-term focus. One of the keys to investment prosperity is to manage money with a long-term perspective while balancing risk and return.
2011-08-03 The Case for Investing in Large-Caps Today by Melissa Peterson of FundQuest
Small-cap stocks have performed very well over the past decade, significantly outperforming their large cap peers. The length of this outperformance is unusual as typically small- or large-cap stocks alternate the performance lead every few years. Considering the challenging global market conditions, attractive valuations and the current economic recovery phase, FundQuest believes the stage is set for large-caps to outperform in 2011.
2011-07-27 Are We Headed For A Second Recession? by Caroline Corbett & Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
Is a second recession in so short of a time in the offing? It certainly seems that way. The hope for a continued recovery has grown dim lately as many of the economic indexes are moving towards contractionary territory. In the words of David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff, "one small shock" could send us into a second recession. With the recent release of the Chicago Fed National Activity Index, our proprietary economic index is just one small step away from crossing the 35 mark which has always been a pre-cursor to recession.
2011-07-21 Running in Place by Christopher J. Singleton of Kanawha Capital Management
Financial markets have been choppy this year, as investors wrestle with many of the same issues they faced a year ago. Once again, the specter of a double dip here in the US has collided with renewed fears of a European financial crisis. It is a testament to the severity of the last recession that, two years after its official end, the recovery remains grudging and uneven. This is hardly surprising. History tells us that downturns prompted by financial crises linger much longer than garden-variety recessions. Why? Primarily because the crisis severely interrupts and alters the flow of credit.
2011-07-19 Show me your Favorite Sacred Cow and Shoot It by Liam Molloy and Bethany Carlson of Galway Investment Strategy
Alan Simpson was talking to Eliot Spitzer on CNN?s In the Arena about balancing the national budget when he said ?show me your favorite sacred cow and shoot it.? He?s attained notoriety for his criticism of Social Security. But when asked to list some cows to slaughter, he went on to describe how the tax loopholes and subsidies for various fuels in his home state of Wyoming (where he served as a US Senator for 18 years) need to be closed. That ability to go beyond our own personal bias and focus on the greater good is something investors should keep in mind when viewing markets.
2011-07-19 A Palinized Nation - No Direction, No Leadership, No Clue by Cliff W. Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors
America is being palinized by total lack of leadership and responsibility from both political parties on Capitol Hill. The discussion of whether the US should default on our government debt if Congress is unable to pass a budget compromise and raise the debt ceiling by August 2nd, 2011 is absurd. The result of the impasse is a gradual erosion of trust by individuals, corporations, and foreign debt holders. How did we arrive at this point of lunacy, where our leaders are actually talking about the USA defaulting on our debts? Luke 23:34: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
2011-07-16 Should You Bank on Turkey\'s Growth? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
While much of Europe?s economy remains stuck in the mud, Turkey expanded 11 percent during the first quarter of 2011. In fact, Turkey?s economic growth outpaced China?s this quarter and most of the world?s larger economies last year, leading The Wall Street Journal to declare the country ?Eurasia?s rising tiger.? Despite the acclaim, many investors have yet to warm up to Turkey. We?re not one of them.
2011-07-15 We See This Slowdown as Temporary Too by Team of American Century Investments
We?re experiencing another mid-year economic slowdown, with renewed fears of a double-dip recession. Will the recovery regain momentum, like last year? The fixed income team, thinks so. Two years after the Great Recession ended, we?re still struggling to escape its lingering grip. Major facets of that struggle include the market and financial extremes the recession generated. U.S. economic growth and financial market benchmarks are striving to shift back to more normal/average levels. These cyclical shifts from historic extremes interest us as sources of potentially value-adding positioning.
2011-07-15 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group
With all the conversation about healthcare reform, sometimes we lose focus on what law is currently in effect. For those with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), the annual cap on deductible contributions will be slightly higher in 2012, going to $6,250 for an individual with family coverage and to $3,100 for those insuring a single life. Anyone born prior to 1958 can put in an extra $1,000. On the other side of the equation, the limit on out-of-pocket costs for deductions, co-payments, etc., will rise to $12,100 for family coverage and to $6,050 for individual coverage.
2011-07-13 The Inflation Revival: Is it Time to Recalibrate Your Portfolio? by Richard Levine, Matthew Rubin and Tom Marthaler of Neuberger Berman
After a decades-long hiatus, inflation appears to be making a comeback. Clearly few anticipate a return to the days of the late 1970s and early 1980s when double-digit annual inflation gains were the norm. Still, the cumulative impact of inflation can be costly even during periods of modest price increases. According to Bloomberg $100 saved by the end of 1988 was ?worth? only $56 by the end of 2009. Investors may wish to take into account such changes as they estimate the potential returns of their portfolios, and consider incorporating inflation hedges into their investment strategy.
2011-07-13 Thematic Investing: Forcasting Tomorrow's Forcast by Daniel Paduano, David Wilson and Sherrell Aston of Neuberger Berman
Thematic investing is all about anticipating and capitalizing on secular change. Major demographic, societal, technological and political developments around the world create abundant investment opportunities. The key is to position your portfolio to take advantage of the changing landscape before many of the changes actually happen. This requires substantial research and preparation to separate shorter-term fads from true paradigmatic shifts that have visibility of at least five to seven years. During tough periods, our themes guide our investments by providing a focus for our decisions.
2011-07-12 The Titanic Has Sailed by Michael Lewitt (Article)
It was entirely predictable that the U.S. equity market would rally on the news that Greek would not default this month, but it does little to convince me that the long-term outlook for European sovereign debt or the global economy has improved. Markets - particularly the equity markets - are trying to pretend that the global economy is experiencing a self-sustaining recovery. A hard look at the economic numbers would tell an objective observer that no such recovery is occurring.
2011-07-12 Middle East/Africa: Economic Review June 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
The Arab Spring brought with it waves of revolution, disrupting economies of almost all the countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. While governments of Tunisia and Egypt look to pick up the pieces, continued rumblings of unrest are heard from Bahrain, Libya, Syria and Yemen. The World Bank expects the lowest growth in Egypt and Tunisia, clocking in at 1 percent and 1.5 percent respectively, in 2011. However, despite uncertainty, these two economies are projected to improve in 2012 and witness economic expansion of around 5 percent in 2013.
2011-07-08 Golub Group Quarterly Commentary by Michael Golub of The Golub Group
What does it take to achieve a secure retirement? We all have many goals, financial and otherwise, but securing a comfortable retirement is one we all share. It doesn?t matter if we are in our twenties and just beginning our professional lives or if we have already been enjoying retirement for 20 years. What does matter is, have you defined what is important to you, what you will need, what you want it to look like? Have you done a thorough assessment of your current situation and what you?re doing to improve it? The time to start thinking, planning, and acting on this is NOW.
2011-07-01 Eye on Washington: Oil and Food Price Manipulation by Monty Guild of Guild Investment Management
We have been saying for some time that the developing world is now exporting higher-priced products abroad and contributing to inflation. A recent WSJ article and video discusses how higher wages and higher commodity costs are resulting in the end of low cost goods from China. We recommend that investors repurchase Malaysian equities as their market looks poised to move higher. U.S. equities also look like they are set for a rally that could last four to six weeks, so we recommend them for a trade. We also remain committed to our bullish recommendations on Japan and India.
2011-06-30 The Biggest Bear Market Rally of All? by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Most stock market participants screamed ?bear market rally? in the summer of 2009 as the US market exploded to the upside from the March 2009 low. They were referring to the phenomena whereby a major rally follows a bear market, retraces some of the prior decline and attempts to suck most investors back into the market. These ?sucker? rallies are debilitating because they heap agony those who end up getting caught twice in the same secular decline. We believe the rally in oil to $115 is possibly the biggest ?bear market? rally ever and we advise folks to protect their capital.
2011-06-25 Playing Cat and Mouse with Global Oil by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Oil markets took another dose of global geopolitics this week when the International Energy Agency (IEA) unexpectedly announced that it would be releasing 60 million barrels of oil from strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) around the globe. Thursday?s surprise announcement gave oil prices a 4.5 percent hair cut and oil prices closed Friday at $91.25, down 20 percent from their April 29 peak.
2011-06-24 International Energy Association To Sell Crude Oil From Government Stockpiles by Monty Guild of Guild Investment Management
Today, the U.S. and IEA decided to sell 60 million barrels of oil over the next month, supposedly to make up for the 1.5 million barrels a day that was produced by Libya. This is a political maneuver which will have a short term effect on oil and gasoline prices. The authorities announced that this is meant to help the consumer, but it?s obvious that they also wanted to punish the speculators. The IEA has previously said that targeting the speculators will backfire, yet here they are doing just that. We find that hard to grasp that the consumer will get more than very temporary help.
2011-06-23 The Most Serious Risk to the Recovery: Oil Prices by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management
While we believe the recent economic slowdown represents a deceleration rather than a reversal of the global recovery, there are certain events that we believe could turn the current fragile recovery into a failed one. In particular, we believe investors should pay careful attention to events in the Middle East. Why? We believe that the most serious risk to the global economy is another spike in energy prices. While the events that began in Tunisia earlier this year were both unexpected and unprecedented, the world is now aware of the political fragility of large parts of the Middle East.
2011-06-22 High net worth families still ?scared to death? of stocks by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
US earnings reports start the second week of July. Research in Motion?s negative pre-announcement this week is the only earnings miss worth mentioning. Earnings among financial service stocks are under pressure. Without junky mortgage backed securities to sell, not much profit on Wall Street these days. Excluding financials, earnings are expected to grow 11% in Q2, though year over year revenues are expected to be flat. Most economists expect GDP growth to accelerate in the second half of the year as the Japanese supply chain issues are sorted out and commodity prices moderate.
2011-06-21 Down the Rabbit Hole by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
In last weeks comments I noted the SPX had been down for six consecutive weeks for only the 17th time since 1928. As Bespoke Investment Group wrote early last week, If there is any consolation for the bulls, it is that there have only been three weekly losing streaks of seven or more (weeks) for the index. (After six consecutive weeks down) in week seven, the SPX has risen an average of 1.03%. While last weeks gain of 0.52% fell short of that average, the SPX did manage to avoid its seventh weekly wilt. Not so for the NASDAQ, which recorded its seventh down week with a loss of 1.03%
2011-06-17 The Exodus by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Prices of residential real estate in Vancouver have skyrocketed. Over 70% of these purchases were from Chinese Nationals driving prices high. Compared to average household income, Vancouver is nearly twice as expensive as New York. Gordon Chang of Forbes wrote an article titled ?Chinese Entrepreneurs Are Leaving China?. Here is how Gordon began to explain the phenomena:?China?s rich, driven by a sense of insecurity, are taking money out of their country. Many are actually preparing to move elsewhere" There is an exodus of the best and brightest business people coming out of the country.
2011-06-17 Update on The Case for Equities: The Slowing Recovery by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management
Last month, we described why we believe that over the long term, there?s a case for the outperformance of equities. But what does the slowing recovery mean for equities? While we have been arguing that the summer is likely to be characterized by higher volatility, we believe that absent a dramatic economic slowdown, equity markets still appear reasonable. The fact that equity valuations reflect much of the bad news should help cushion the near-term downside for stocks. And long-term, equities still appear to better reflect the world?s risks and worries than their pricier cousin, bonds.
2011-06-15 GOLDRelic or Real Money? by J Michael Martin of Financial Advantage
In the past 10 years, the price of one ounce of pure gold has risen from less than $300 to $1,500, far outpacing the return on stocks and bonds. And yet, in most gatherings of professional investors it is not respected. Why is that? What drives the price of gold, anyway? And is gold really an appropriate investment in the 21st century? We set out to better understand this unique metal. Well explore the reasons that some consider gold an important asset class with unique and valuable investment characteristics, while many professionals regard it as a sort of investment sideshow.
2011-06-15 Bad News Bulls by Michael Dana of Dana Investment Advisors
It?s been said that the stock market climbs a wall of worry. The bear market touched a bottom in March 2009 and proceeded to rise about 85% to a high in April. We are now in the midst of a correction from that high, but the overall trend remains positive for equities. Not so much so for the economy. Well, the economy is still growing, albeit slowly. At this stage in a recovery the economy should be recovering more rapidly. The economic news is not getting better. The May jobs report indicated that 54,000 new private sector jobs were created. Economists had forecasted 170,000.
2011-06-15 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group
The more things change, the more they remain the same. That trite expression has been applied to many different things. We are applying it to what may be an early stage tech ?bubble?. Almost every investor is familiar with LinkedIn coming out at $45 per share then jumping to $120 per share in the first day of trading before settling in at $90 per share. Other examples abound. The very popular Facebook is estimated to be worth $76 billion. We have to admit that at least some of the tech companies are actually making money today with viable ideas, but the valuations still seem a bit absurd.
2011-06-14 Heartbreaker: Soft Patch Hits Stock Market by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
We remain in the soft patch versus double-dip recession camp, believing a lot of the weaker growth has been from temporary factors. Investor sentiment has become decidedly pessimistic? a contrarian positive for stocks. Market breadth also shows the market at extremes typically followed by a bounce.
2011-06-13 Middle East/Africa Economic Review May 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
The fiscal stability of the Middle East and N.Africa region continues to be threatened by social pressures, yet rising inflation on the back of increasing fuel and energy prices and high levels of unemployment remain the main causes of concern. According to the Regional Economic Outlook report by IMF, the region is expected to grow 3.9 percent in 2011. The oil exporting countries are anticipated to record better growth thanks to high oil prices and production, while oil importing nations such as Egypt, Morocco and Jordan are expected to expand at a much slower pace.
2011-06-13 Oil Prices?Fundamentally Unhinged by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Oil prices spiked up more than 40% between September 2010 and early May, before suddenly giving back half the gain within the space of a week. Analysts naturally sought to explain the wild price swings with supply and demand. But, as is so often the case with commodities the fundamentals mean less than speculative money flows. These explain both the run up and the retreat and why prices moved so far so fast. Speculative motivations, more than the fundamentals, will set future price movements, though the fundamentals, when they influence, should keep the direction pointing down more than up.
2011-06-09 Understanding Recent Market Movements by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO
Despite massive fiscal and monetary stimulus, the U.S. economy has frustratingly failed to gain proper traction. The U.S. economy faces structural impairments in housing, credit, public finances, and the functioning of the labor market. The situation in Europe is another factor undermining market sentiment. Structural problems require structural solutions that are adopted within a clearly communicated overall vision.
2011-06-07 Its the Jobs, Stupid! Part V by Komal Sri-Kumar of TCW Asset Management
Job creation still appears not to be a priority for the Obama administration. After the first year was spent implementing a comprehensive health care reform in the midst of a financial crisis, and bailing out financial institutions considered too big to fail, the emphasis switched to fiscal and monetary measures that had little direct impact on jobs.
2011-06-03 Active Hurricane Season May Threaten Offshore Oil by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
It?s hurricane season in the Atlantic, and another year of above-normal activity is expected. If the prediction comes to fruition, the potential disruption of offshore oil production may add to already turbulent oil prices. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says due to a continuing high activity conditions, warmer water, and La Niña?s wind sheers, this season may produce 12 to 18 named storms, six to 10 of which could become hurricanes. Two or three of these hurricanes may be major. Seasonal averages are 11 named storms, six hurricanes, and two major.
2011-06-03 U.S. Must Move Beyond Financial Band-Aids by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO
Structural problems require structural solutions to improve the labour market, housing, credit and medium-term fiscal sustainability. Some analysts will encourage investors to look through these ?temporary and reversible? factors. We should not. The U.S. lost its edge in educating, training and retooling its labour force. This slippage has been extremely costly.
2011-06-03 Economic Whiplash by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The political winds in Europe are shifting. The crowd that runs the various member countries today will not long survive the changes. There will be new politicians with different mandates as it becomes clear that the costs of the bailout are going to fall on the backs of the solvent countries and that austerity is going to mean hellishly bad deflation, high and rising employment, and depression in the indebted countries. And with the US economy slowing down, it might not take much to push us over the edge.
2011-06-02 Still Chugging Along: The Market that Could by Team of Eagle Asset Management
The global economic recovery is moving along but there remain some areas of concern. Our managers? discussion included such things as rising commodity prices, real estate problems and perhaps most interesting to readers, how they have investment portfolios positioned. Included in the roundtable were Bert L. Boksen (Small/Mid Cap Growth); James Camp (Fixed Income); Ed Cowart (Equity Income/Value); Todd McCallister (Small/Mid Cap Core); Jack McPherson (Small Cap Core Value); Eric Mintz (Small/Mid Cap Growth); Richard Skeppstrom (Large Cap Core); and Stacey Serafini Thomas (Small/Mid Cap Core)
2011-06-01 Efficient Markets?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
I am writing this Monday night without the benefit of seeing Tuesday mornings pre-opening futures because I will be on a plane. Still, I am optimistic given last weeks backdrop. While it is clear economic statistics have softened, we believe this is largely attributable to Japan (Fukushima), the European debt debacle, the Middle East, and our continuing weird weather. That optimism is reinforced by another all-time high in corporate profits (before tax and adjusted for inventory valuation adjustment and capital allowance adjustment), which is good for capex and employment.
2011-05-27 Abu Dhabi by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the federation of seven emirates including Dubai. The UAE?s combined economy is large compared to its relatively small size?it has a population of around five million, of which 1.6 million live in Abu Dhabi. Per capita GDP in the UAE is more than US$40,000, and that number is significantly higher for Abu Dhabi, mostly because of the incredible earnings from oil and gas. Each day, Abu Dhabi produces more than 2 million barrels of oil, and its oil reserves are now estimated at nearly 98 billion barrels, the sixth largest in the world.
2011-05-26 How Quickly They Forget by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital
Asset prices fluctuate much more than fundamentals. Rather than applying moderation and balancing greed against fear, euphoria against depression, and risk tolerance against risk aversion, investors tend to oscillate wildly between the extremes. They apply optimism when things are going well in the world (elevating prices beyond reason) and pessimism when things are going poorly (depressing prices unreasonably). If investors remembered past bubbles and busts and their causes, and learned from them, the swings would moderate. But, in short, they don?t. And they may be forgetting again.
2011-05-26 Everything from Oil to Silver: Are Speculators Causing Too Much Volatility? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton
Allegations that traders manipulated oil prices in 2008 are reinforcing the buzz -- at the gas pump and elsewhere -- that speculators are driving up the price of oil, triggering wild price spikes and nail-biting volatility. Fingering speculators is a popular pastime these days, but experts at Wharton and elsewhere say the blame is often misplaced. Although speculation can affect prices, most of the recent price swings in oil and other commodities are happening for fundamental economic reasons.
2011-05-18 An MLP CEO?s Perspective ? Q1 commentary by Dan Tutcher, Darrell Horn, Steven Sansom and Robert Chisholm of Center Coast Capital Advisors
The April 11, 2011 edition of Time magazine featured a cover article highlighting the emergence of shale gas and its future impacts on the US and the world. The article lays out the issues surrounding global energy. Mainly the growing demand by industrializing nations such as Brazil and India, the tragic accident at the Japanese nuclear site in Fukushima, and the ever increasing turmoil in the middle east. Each of these issues lean the US toward supplying more of its own energy which now exists in a recoverable form of shale.
2011-05-18 Oman by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
I recently visited Muscat, the capital of Oman. Oman has a very strategic position in the Middle East, controlling the tip of the Musandam peninsula even though the peninsula is separated from the rest of Omanby land belonging to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). That tip points right into the Straits of Hormuz, which is the choke point for oil leaving Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Kuwait, Iraq and the UAE from the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea, leading to the Indian Ocean. On a clear day, you can see Iran from the tip of the peninsula. Oman?s military, therefore, has to protect that waterway.
2011-05-17 The Smooth Illusion by Michael Lewitt (Article)
In retrospect, the Federal Reserve's interminable zero-interest policy and its quantitative easing programs are likely to be seen not only as ineffective but damaging to the prospects for sustainable long-term economic growth. A number of asset classes are beginning to exhibit bubble-like behavior, something that would be far less likely to occur were interest rates normalized.
2011-05-17 Europe and Volatility by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management
The news in Europe continues to be mixed. On the plus side, the core countries in Europe continue to post strong economic growth. We had more evidence of that this week with solid GDP results from both Germany and France. The problem of course remains the periphery, particularly Greece. Greek debt was downgraded again and markets are now convinced that Greece will need to restructure. US market volatility has been its lowest since 2007, with the VIX Index ? which measures implied volatility on S&P 500 options ? hitting a four year low of below 15 in April. We believe this is too low.
2011-05-17 Inflation What Me Worry? by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research
Despite rampant hysterics about "runaway inflation" in recent months, core inflation has remained at a moderate level, inflation expectations remain well-anchored, and there is little inflation pressure coming through the labor market. Is it time to declare victory? Not just yet, but the inflation outlook still does not appear to be particularly troublesome.
2011-05-16 Secular Outlook: Navigating the Multi-Speed World by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO
It is a world that heals slowly and unevenly, and remains structurally impaired. Balance sheets, both across and within economies, are still out of equilibrium. We expect advanced economies will face sluggish growth and persistently high unemployment over the secular horizon. Emerging economies will achieve higher growth but face recurrent inflationary concerns. We do not expect policymakers to boldly address structural problems. By targeting negative real interest rates, they will pursue financial repression that undermines the ?real return? contract that savers expect.
2011-05-13 Congress, The Fed Reserve, and Markets by Cliff W. Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors
I never did particularly care for Alice in Wonderland, watching her go down rabbit holes and discover the characters of the White King and Queen, Humpty Dumpty, Cheshire Cat, and the Mad Hatter. But when watching the ongoing budget debates I feel as if the American people are Alice and we are being subjected to a world of budgetary nonsense, spoken in a language that is incomprehensible. The American people know they are being held hostage in a strange place where our Congress orchestrates a Mad Hatter tea party for which the entertainment is kicking the can of debt down the road.
2011-05-13 Three Reasons to Believe in $100 Oil by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
After selling off nearly 14% last week, oil prices finished this week slightly higher at $99.65 per barrel. While the end result was a net positive, the volatility continued. Oil reached $104/bbl, then fell to around $96, before nesting just below $100. As an investor, this volatility can be difficult to handle. Throw in the uncertainty of today?s geopolitical environment, and investors feel the need to downsize their positions in commodity investments, such as oil. Markets could remain volatile in the short-term, but here are three long-term indicators to support $100+/bbl oil prices.
2011-05-12 Pacific Basin Market Overview - April 2011 by Team of Nomura Asset Management
Equity markets in Asia continued to gain ground in April after a volatile first quarter of 2011. Stock markets ended higher as companies reported strong earnings, while expectations that inflation may have peaked out also helped to support market sentiment. Disruption to manufacturing industry supply-chains and ongoing problems surrounding the Fukushima nuclear power plant have continued to weigh on Japanese stock prices, although the market was able to stabilize from the massive sell-off that followed the Tohoku earthquake.
2011-05-10 Developed Europe: Economic Review April 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
A widely anticipated European Central Bank (ECB) rate hike and Portugal?s plea for a bailout in early April failed to dampen investor optimism surrounding the steady, albeit fragile recovery in Developed Europe. However, around mid-April, equity indices in the region did register a sharp fall in response to the news of another jump in the Euro-zone inflation rate, but recovered quickly to remain in an uptrend for the rest of the month. After recording its highest level for 28 months in February, inflation in the Euro-zone climbed further to 2.7 percent year-on-year in March.
2011-05-10 What is the greatest investment risk? The risk that money won?t be there when you need it! by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
Stocks rallied in April, closing at the high for the year and the highest level in three years. With stocks up 9.1% through April 30th versus our 2011 forecast of 8%, we see stocks as fully to slightly overvalued. In fact, given the lack of substantial ?new? news to push stocks one way or the other, we expect a 10% trading range that could last through the summer and into the fall. On February 28th, David Edwards commented on Bloomberg Radio that ?the S&P 500 could fall 10% in the next six months,? but that he wouldn?t change his strategy because he expected a 20% rally on the other side.
2011-05-10 Middle East/Africa: Economic Review April 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
According to research by the World Bank, unrest in the Middle East and North Africa has affected economic growth in the region, which previously had been expected to zoom upwards in 2011 until the turmoil began. In its economic forecasts in January, the World Bank had projected that the region, which had come out of the 2009 global recession, would enjoy a rise in gross domestic product (GDP) from 3.3 percent in 2010 to 4.3 percent in 2011. In stark contrast now, some of the affected countries like Egypt will have a growth rate as low as one percent.
2011-05-06 Silver and Gold, Silver and Gold by Doug MacKay and Bill Hoover of Broadleaf Partners
Silver and gold may still look good as decoration but the metals have also lost some luster in the dental profession (gold vs. porcelain crowns) and for anyone who uses a digital camera instead of old guard film. (Silver is used in film processing.) As most know, silver shot to new highs last week amidst a frenzy for precious metals and perhaps, their perceived inflation hedging capacities. This week, the story was a bit different, with the metal experiencing one of the most stunning drops since the Hunt Brothers tried to corner the silver market back in the early 1980?s.
2011-05-05 Corn Price Increases Tell a Story About Why Commodity Prices Are Rising by Team of American Century Investments
In case you haven?t been watching, the price of corn for delivery in July (a futures price set on the Chicago Board of Trade) rose 35% just in the month of April from $216 to $293 per metric ton. As both a commodity and agricultural product, the demand and pricing of corn can provide interesting insights into whether inflation is rising, why and (if so) what factors are driving it. In this Weekly Market Update, we?ll take a look at the market dynamics for corn, what is driving recent price increases and how this is likely to unfold over the remainder of this year and beyond.
2011-05-05 A Roadmap For The Coming Changes In Fed Policy by Will Denyer of GaveKal
Last week?s FOMC statement, and Bernanke?s first press conference, were predictably anticlimactic. But they did confirm what the FOMC plans to do this summer, and what they currently think should be the next steps thereafter. Based on this apparent plan, market participants would be right to assume that Fed policy will continue, well after QE2 ends in June, to weigh on the Dollar and support the already elevated Euro, commodity prices, commodity currencies, etc? In other words, the Fed?s telegraphed trajectory would continue to contribute to the world?s biggest macro risks today.
2011-05-03 Gary Shilling - Five Things that can Derail the Recovery by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Die-hard deflationists - those who foresee a continued bull market in bonds - are so few in number these days they could all share an elevator, according to Gary Shilling. One is Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg, whose views are considered elsewhere in this issue. But the loudest such voice belongs to Shilling himself, who has advocated for a long position in Treasury bonds continuously since 1980, a stance that has always proved prescient so far.
2011-05-03 Martin Barnes - How Safe is the Equity Market? by Robert Huebscher (Article)
When members of the Federal Reserve Board seek counsel on tough issues, one of the economists to whom they turn first is Martin Barnes. Speaking publicly last week, Barnes addressed two themes in the US economy and markets: the potential for a sustained bear market in equities and the likelihood of higher taxes. These two distinct questions are both critically important to investors.
2011-05-03 The Case for Human Ingenuity by Niels C. Jensen, Nick Rees and Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners
This month we take a closer look at oil and reach what many of our readers will probabaly find a surprising conclusion: We believe that we are approaching the end of the oil era and that oil prices will undergo a substantial correction over the next several years. But we cannot be very precise on timing, as there are too many variables at this stage. Our conclusion is based on 3 observations.
2011-05-02 Warm Milk and Sweet Dreams by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management
There is a lot of scary noise out there. MENA turmoil, the Japanese nuclear crisis, European debt, U.S. debt, debasing of the U.S. dollar, commodity prices, higher inflation, a potential left wing coalition government in Canada and Donald Trump as U.S. President. Understandably, our clients, and individual investors generally, are fretting. Confidence levels are low and risk aversion has become paramount. Surveys show that individual investors believe the odds of a one-third stock market drop is over 50% in any given year where true odds are closer to 2%. Investors are too fearful.
2011-04-29 And That?s The Week That Was ? by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
With Dr. B. explaining ?moderate pace?, earnings season moved forward and the results have been quite appealing thus far. About half of the S&P 500 companies have reported and the quarter looks to be on track to be record-setting and the seventh straight period of double-digit gains. Of note, solid revenue growth is replacing ?cost-cutting measures? as the primary driver of the strong season. Exxon Mobil, RD Shell, and Chevron are all benefiting from higher oil prices and better refining margins. One down note?Research in Motion (Blackberry) seems to be struggling against rival Apple.
2011-04-29 We Are Not Perma-Bears, But We Are Cautious Now by Team of Litman Gregory
To understand the potential upside for stocks it's important to evaluate the factors that drive returns and how they might behave over our investment horizon. The three key variables are dividends, earnings growth, and changes in the price/earnings ratio. Our analysis focuses on assessing these key factors under several broad economic scenarios. This allows us to estimate return ranges for stocks, and to weigh these potential returns against the risks we see to make informed portfolio allocation decisions.
2011-04-26 Portfolio Strategy by Bradley Turner of Chess Financial
At the outset of the second quarter, the major trends that have shaped our portfolio strategy since last summer remain largely intact. These include: A global economy that is experiencing a two-track recovery. Growth in the developed markets is generally subdued while growth in the emerging markets is more robust. Inflationary pressures continue to build as evidenced by price increases in many commodities, notably food and oil. Interest rates have begun to move higher, either due to central bank actions (e.g., China, India) or specific country risks (e.g., Portugal).
2011-04-26 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
As the markets fumble and roil, bounce intraday from Fed pronouncements and geopolitical unrest, should we be cautious or aggressive at these levels? Although the averages defy gravity by maintaining lofty valuations, I would think twice before betting the farm on its continuation. Although most data indicate that we are ?turning the corner? from recession, the same risks that got us in trouble originally still exist for the most part. In addition, as if climbing a ?wall of worry,? the more robust the numbers get, the more frightened some become.
2011-04-26 Are You Watching Your Brokered Deposits? Bob Eisenbeis: What's a Central Bank to Do? by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst
In this issue of The Institutional Risk Analyst, we feature a comment from Bob Eisenbeis, Chief Monetary Economist of Cumberland Advisors. Bob clearly states the obvious in his excellent analysis of the choices facing the Federal Open Market Committee, namely that the Fed continues to steer monetary policy based upon largely domestic factors, this even as the global role of the dollar creates dangers for the US and other nations as they flee the perils of deflation.
2011-04-26 Africa: Challenges and Outlook by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
In this post, I will discuss what I think are Africa?s key challenges. Corruption is a major problem in Africa. However, accusations of corruption against African governments could also be lodged against entities in the developed world that seek to buy the influence of these governments. One important development has been the Cardin-Lugar amendment to the Dodd-Frank finance reform bill in the U.S., requiring that oil, natural gas and mining companies registered on the New York Stock Exchange disclose any payment made to a foreign government for the purpose of the commercial development.
2011-04-25 The Calm Within the Chaos by Liam Molloy and Bethany Carlson of Galway Investment Strategy
Last summer we began discussing how the structure of the market should stabilize, and we highlighted this opinion in our December newsletter. Before the ink was dry on that letter, markets were confronted with a continental flood in Australia. Since then, Middle East uprisings and the removal of multidecade entrenched dictators, the ongoing soap opera known as the European Union debt crisis, surging oil prices, and the devastation of the thirdlargest global economy by a tsunami and continuing radioactive meltdown. Other than those events, and a new US military front, it?s been a quiet year.
2011-04-25 Is the Stock Market Rally Justifiable? by Charles Lieberman (Article)
We begin with the U.S. Treasury budget, which is a mess, running a deficit of about $1.5 trillion this fiscal year, with huge deficits projected into the future. Politicians seem more anxious to shift blame rather than act to reduce these projected deficits. So, entities as blind as S&P are able to foresee a possible need to downgrade the credit rating. The U.S. is emulating the spending of Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal. None of these countries has its budget in order. Now, they must pay interest rates that are bringing the Greeks ever closer to default and a formal restructuring.
2011-04-25 The Greatest Speculators by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors
It?s as predictable as birds flying south in the winter. When gas prices rise, politicians (most recently, President Obama), feign outrage and then threaten to ?investigate? the ?speculators.? The irony is that these politicians are the real speculators ? making a bet that they can use government to create wealth. No government in the history of the world has made it work, but they keep on trying ? with other people?s money. In one sense, this is all about economic and financial literacy. Of course there are investors who speculate on energy prices. Thank goodness.
2011-04-25 Yemen: Different Sort of Story by Douglas Clark Johnson of Codexa Capital
Yemen may now be worth a second look by the private sector, with the pending departure of Ali Abdullah Saleh from office. While the country?s distorted economy puts limits on growth, its international context could soon take a more constructive turn. The key is broad-based GCC participation in the economy, something that was never seriously on the table while President Saleh was in office.
2011-04-22 Internet: Land of the Free? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Cell phones, computers, laptops, tablets and portable media players have freed Americans to access the Internet wherever they are and at whatever time of day. World markets are now updated every minute, news feeds change by the second, and the free flow of business communication never stops. While the U.S. and freedom seem to go hand-in-hand, it may surprise you that the U.S. actually ranks second behind Estonia in Internet independence. A new report, Freedom on the Net 2011, charts different countries? Internet activity against accessibility, revealing some rather important clusters.
2011-04-21 Equity Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
The bifurcation of the market, with small caps outperforming large caps, has led to a valuation disparity between overvalued small caps and undervalued large caps, which we believe can be profitably exploited. We, and others, have observed for some time that many excellent, growing large cap stocks are quite cheap relative to both the overall market and to more richly priced smaller companies. We expect that, over time, more investors will agree and large cap stocks may then begin to outperform the general market, as they have to a modest extent this year.
2011-04-21 Equity Market Review and Outlook by Richard Skaggs and Thomas Davis of Loomis Sayles
The global equity bull market continued in the first quarter despite significant global strife. Most major US indices posted total returns of about +5.0% to +8.0%. Continuing the trend since the March 2009 low, small cap and mid cap stocks outperformed their larger brethren. US markets were among the best in the world, although the MSCI World Index also posted a solid gain of 4.9%. Emerging markets were among the weaker equity asset classes. As the returns demonstrate, however, emerging market stocks remain the winners by a wide margin over the past five- and ten-year periods.
2011-04-19 The Bell Tolls in Washington by Chris Maxey of Fortigent
Earnings season brought about a week of choppy trading in the equity market, resulting in the S&P 500 index falling 0.6% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping 0.3%. Economic data throughout the week was mixed, but the impact of higher gas prices is being felt across the economy. Small businesses recorded a severe hit to sentiment last month after the small business optimism index sank from 94.5 to 91.9. A host of concerns, from declining sales expectations to trepidation about the future of the economy, were culprits behind the weakening.
2011-04-19 Emerging Europe: Economic Review March 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
Upbeat forecasts from the European Commission as well as stable financial and economic conditions in European economies indicated that the recovery is on track in the region despite the tragic developments in Japan, increasing oil prices, and the continuing political unrest in the MENA region. Equity markets also seem to be signaling that the sustained pace of global economic recovery will offset these developments. The decision by seventeen Euro governments to strengthen the ?440 billion rescue fund and to lower interest rates on Greece?s bailout helped allay fears of a lingering debt crisis.
2011-04-19 Developed Europe: Economic Review March 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
Despite several discouraging developments in March, such as the fighting in Libya, the tsunami devastation and nuclear scare in Japan, as well as the resignation of the Portuguese prime minister, Developed Europe stabilized, following an initial bout of volatility, seemingly shrugging off these events and, instead, focusing on the positive economic data from the region. Portugal?s sovereign debt crisis has been simmering for a while now, and given the scale of the country?s problems, the latest setback was not exactly a surprise to investors.
2011-04-19 Americas: Economic Review March 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
The economic repercussions to the Americas region from Japan's earthquake are expected to be limited. Though Japan is a large trading partner the percentage share of Japan in their total external trade is low. However, some of the large manufacturers, especially in electronics and automobiles, may face slower output because of shortage in supplies from Japan. Similarly, the escalation of political unrest in the MENA region, have not yet caused a flare up in energy prices. Though retail prices of gasoline have risen, they are not considered high enough to cause damage to consumer spending.
2011-04-19 Middle East/Africa: Economic Review March 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
The turmoil in the Middle East region continues, with Libya exploding into civil war, and troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council being called in to suppress the protests in Bahrain. In terms of the economic repercussions, stock markets in the MENA are estimated to have lost around $140 billion in market capitalization during the last month. According to the Arab Monetary Fund, the market capitalization of 16 Arab bourses was valued at $862 billion on March 4, compared with $1.002 billion on January 25, a day before the political crisis in Egypt triggered upheaval across the Middle East.
2011-04-19 Rear View Mirrors by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
It was another positive quarter for U.S. equity investors. The market?s resilience in the face of the Fukushima earthquake, Middle East rebellions, and euro uncertainties was remarkable. The U.S. economy continued to demonstrate significant signs of recovery with new jobs in March and a 1% drop in the unemployment rate since November. While European markets were up 6.5% in dollar terms, Asian indices were down 2%. Bond market was mixed, with treasuries down and diversified indices flat. Oil prices were up over 16% while the dollar fell 6.4% relative to the euro but up 1.3% to the yen.
2011-04-16 Will China's Economy Overheat? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
China?s GDP growth continued at a blistering pace during the first quarter of 2011, rising 9.7 percent from the previous year. Once again this outpaced many forecasts and reignited the discussion of China?s overheating economy. While its robust growth may raise a few eyebrows, the economy isn?t in danger of ?red-lining.? Andy Rothman points out that the first quarter growth figures ?[aren?t] dangerously high given the GDP growth rate and strong income growth? After rising nearly 8 percent during 2010, inflation-adjusted urban incomes rose 7.1 percent during the first quarter.
2011-04-16 Inside Information by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Earnings season gives an 'insider' look at economic growth. Businesses see and react to changes in the economy before the broader macro data show a clear trend. The Fed has floated some trial balloons about reining in its extremely accommodative policies, the time for which is overdue. Budget issues remain a problem at all levels of government, but likely wont derail the recovery at this time. Despite ongoing debt problems in peripheral European nations, the ECB hiked interest rates. Europe still faces significant issues that make it more likely to underperform other areas of the world.
2011-04-15 Concerned About Inflation? by Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab
Inflation has become a bigger topic of discussion among investors and in the media as of late. While we have noted in numerous publications that we don?t believe inflation is a near-term concern due to a number of factors, investors are wondering how to position themselves should inflation start to take hold. First, despite common perception, gold has not historically been a very good hedge against inflation. Due to the possibility of gold prices being a bit extended after the recent run, we don't recommend gold as an investment for those concerned about inflation.
2011-04-15 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group
Herb Meyer said during tough economic times family size tends to shrink because people tend not to get married, and if they do they try to avoid having children because they can?t afford them. It was only a few days after this talk that we read that the birth rate in the U.S. from 2007 through 2009 fell 4%, which was the single largest drop in any two year period since the mid 1970s. The stock market declined by 50% in the mid ?70s and interest rates climbed to over 20%. That?s right ? 20%! In short, a thriving economy creates a growing population which in turn creates a thriving economy.
2011-04-15 And That?s The Week That Was ? by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Though Reps and Dems came together to find $39 billion in budget cuts to avoid a government shutdown, the mood in DC is far from amicable and no one is singing kumbaya. On the heals of Tax Day, Prez O submitted his plan to rein in the deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years that includes spending cuts AND tax hikes aimed at biz and the well-off. While a bipartisan commission praised the proposal as a "solid, responsible plan," would-be Presidential candidates lined up to offer their opposing views, particularly against anything resembling a tax increase.
2011-04-15 Middle East to Spend $80 Billion on Public Transport by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
This week, the International Association of Public Transport held its annual conference in Dubai. 2,000 delegates from 80 countries attended the 4 day event. Delegates took rides on the city public transportation, including the longest driverless metro line in the world. Long known as a city dependent on its cars for convenient travel, Dubai has been ramping up its infrastructure to relieve increasing traffic congestion driven by urbanization. Car traffic is forecasted to increase four times by 2020 as the population jumps from 1.2 million people in 2005 to more than 5 million by 2020.
2011-04-14 Spring Quarterly Commentary by Alan T. Beimfohr and John G. Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management
Just when the bull market was heating up, world events conspired to take it back down. It has been said that stock purchases are made with logic and stock sales made with emotion. Monsieur Pascal expressed similar thoughts a century-and-a-half prior to the founding of the NYSE. In the first quarter, the MENA (Middle East North Africa) rebellions followed by the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear problems provided the rationale for reassessment of risk. Although this reassessment resulted in a 7% correction, by quarter?s end virtually all had been recovered.
2011-04-14 Pacific Basin Market Overview by Team of Nomura Asset Management
Asian equity markets began the year in a particularly volatile state as they came to terms with regional inflationary pressure, unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, and the natural disaster in Japan. Notwithstanding these negative factors, most markets in Asia rebounded in late March to end the quarter on a positive note. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index including Japan, however, decreased by 1.4% in the first quarter of 2011, while the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Free Index increased by 1.5%.
2011-04-13 Finding the Energy to Succeed by Christopher J. Singleton of Kanawha Capital Management
In early March, the bull market marked its second anniversary. Stocks have rebounded from their lows of 2009, but not without some big gyrations along the way. Last spring, the rebound was briefly yet violently interrupted by fears of an economic reversal. This year we have also experienced some volatility, although the catalysts are different. The pullback in 2010 stemmed from concerns about job growth and the European debt crisis. Those fears have largely been supplanted by others. Today, the speed bump relates to the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East and the surge in oil prices.
2011-04-13 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
Investors sometimes walk a fine line between either over-reacting to temporal changes, which ultimately don?t have a lasting impact on either the economy or the markets, or underestimating the impact of real risks that can bring about lasting and meaningful changes. Currently, the main areas of concern are the Japanese triple disaster, the Middle Eastern/North African ?Arab Spring,? and inflation. While we do not believe the Japanese and Middle Eastern situations pose a real threat to financial markets long term, we do believe inflation may.
2011-04-12 Seizing The Narrative by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research
Later this month, Bernanke will hold his first post-FOMC press conference. The press conference is meant to present the Federal Open Market Committee's current economic projections and to provide additional context for the FOMC's policy decisions. The real goal is to reclaim the narrative. The Fed was caught off guard by the criticism and second guessing it received in 2010. These press conferences should help clear things up regarding monetary policy not that well receive clear signals of future Fed policy moves rather, well get information on how the Fed will decide what to do.
2011-04-12 Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me by Michael Lewitt (Article)
"The budget crisis is a crisis of leadership," writes Michael Lewitt in the latest issue of the HCM Market letter. "There is no intellectual mystery involved in cutting the budget - entitlement spending must be reduced through the adoption of tighter eligibility standards... The markets will also have to evaluate whether Congress and the Obama administration can make any meaningful progress on budget reform, which will mean tackling the entitlement issue. The failure to rein in federal deficits remains a profound threat to the dollar and interest rates."
2011-04-12 The Return of the Carry Trade?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
There may be an increase in the carry trade in both dollars and yen, but I dont think this is the main factor behind the rise in commodity prices and demand for risk assets. Bank policies matter a lot for currencies. However, the U.S. is not going to raise rates anytime soon, implying a somewhat softer dollar. Youre hearing inflation concerns among some of the district bank presidents, but that is a minority view. The Fed sees higher oil prices as bad for growth, not a catalyst for a higher trend in underlying inflation; but officials will be watching the trend in core inflation, and wages.
2011-04-12 Equity Market Review & Outlook by Richard Skaggs and Thomas Davis of Loomis Sayles
The global equity bull market continued in the first quarter despite significant unrest across parts of Northern Africa and the Middle East, a massive earthquake in Japan, sovereign debt issues in Europe, and inflationary pressures in certain emerging economies. US markets were among the best in the world, although the MSCI World Index also posted a solid gain of 4.9%. Emerging markets were among the weaker equity asset classes. As the returns demonstrate, however, emerging market stocks remain the winners by a wide margin over the past five and ten year periods.
2011-04-12 The Symptoms of Nuclear Hysteria by John Downs of Euro Pacific Capital
Imagine you invented a machine that revolutionized travel. Your invention could cut travel time and improve the ability for business to deliver freight efficiently. The invention would add trillions to global GDP. If released, it would be universally used and admired. However, based on the safety assessments, analysts predict that if used your invention would cause the deaths of 300,000 Americans per year and countless more around the globe. Would you still release it? If not, imagine a world without cars. Now, the bigger question: why isn't this same measure used when judging nuclear energy?
2011-04-12 No Help by Van R. Hoisington and Lacy H. Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management
If the objectives of QE2 were to: a) raise interest rates; b) slow economic growth; c) encourage speculation, and d) eviscerate the standard of living of the average American family, then it has been enormously successful. Clearly, with the benefit of hindsight these results represent the Fed?s impact on the U.S. economy, regardless of their claims to the contrary. Why the Fed would believe the economy could benefit from the addition of $600 billion in reserves to a banking system that already had over $1.1 trillion in unused, but potentially inflationary reserves on hand defies understanding
2011-04-11 Bond Market Review & Outlook by Thomas Fahey, Teri L. Mason and David W. Rolley of Loomis Sayles
The power of easy money policy to dampen volatility is evident in the global bond markets. There has not been any systemic credit spread widening or major jump in risk aversion on the back of the significant political upheaval or natural disaster. The collective investor conclusion seems to be that the impact of the losses will not derail global growth, and Japanese reconstruction may even contribute to it later this year. Specifically, Chinese growth still looks on track for a strong year, and labor markets in the US have at last begun to show something like a normal recovery.
2011-04-11 Despite Near-Term Risks, Stocks Remain Resilient by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
The preponderance of the economic and market-related news skewed to the negative last week, with an additional earthquake in Japan, rising oil prices, an interest rate hike by the European Central Bank (ECB), escalating debt problems in Europe and increasing noise about the since-averted potential federal government shutdown. Despite this backdrop, however, US equities remained resilient and were roughly flat for the week, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up marginally to 12,380, the S&P 500 Index down 0.3% to 1,328 and the Nasdaq Composite down 0.3% to 2,780.
2011-04-08 Near-term Outlook For A Troubled World by Victoria Marklew, Richard Thies and James Pressler of Northern Trust
Although 2011 is only three months old, the world has changed dramatically. Along with the evolving European debt crisis, seemingly -isolated Tunisian protests grew to varying levels of upheaval throughout the Arab world, and an historic earthquake and subsequent tsunami have left Japan?s outlook under a cloud of uncertainty. Each of these situations is significant in its scope and magnitude, but by focusing on just the key elements, the main risks can be appreciated.
2011-04-08 And That's The Week That Was? by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
All those rabid anti-government, ?conspiracy theorists? may soon get what they most desire. As of Friday afternoon, politicos were continuing their game of chicken as the clock kept ticking toward the first government shutdown in 15 years. While both parties have made concessions on spending programs, the old reliable abortion issue has entered the mix. The latest WSJ poll reveals that Americans blame congressional Republicans (37%) most, countering the partisan hope that Prez O 20% and the Dems 20%, had the most to lose. For now it appears that the American people have the most to lose.
2011-04-08 Why High Oil Prices Are Likely Here to Stay by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
A number of forces continued to push oil prices higher this week, reaching their highest levels in the U.S. since September 2008. One factor fueling the run has been the continued decline of the U.S. dollar. Oil and the dollar historically are negatively correlated. This means that a rise in oil prices generally coincides with a decline in the dollar, and vice versa. The U.S. dollar has seen a dramatic decline since the beginning of the year as oil prices have moved some 30 percent higher. This could be due to fact that roughly two-thirds of the U.S. trade deficit is related to oil imports.
2011-04-06 Let Them Eat Crude by Robert Stimpson of Oak Associates
World events over the past month have received a lot of media attention, but few accounts have emphasized the long-term effects on equity markets. The revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, unrest in Bahrain and Yemen, and the earthquake in Japan are significant for equity investors going forward. While most of the media have focused on the human aspect of the events, the influence of food inflation, rising oil prices, and the state of the US dollar have been overshadowed by the regime changes and nuclear disaster in Japan.
2011-04-05 The Future of Investment Manager Due Diligence (and a Look Back at Q1 Performance) by Ron Surz (Article)
Despite the continuing global financial crisis, the uprisings in the Middle East and the Japanese disaster, global stock markets delivered positive results in the first quarter of 2011, as described in this capital market review. In the second part of the article, you'll discover what due diligence procedures need to change and why.
2011-04-05 Inflation Worries? Commodities May Help by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors
Many of you may remember the movie This classic shed some interesting light on the world of commodities. Commodities include natural resources, industrial metals, precious metals, and agricultural products. Or, as Duke explained to Billy Ray Valentine, "Commodities are agricultural products...like the coffee you had for breakfast...wheat, which is used to make bread...pork bellies, which are used to make bacon, which you might find in a BLT sandwich. And then there are other commodities, like frozen orange juice...and gold. Though, of course, gold doesn't grow on trees like oranges."
2011-04-05 And That's The "QUARTER" That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
?It?s a small world after all.? The past quarter was proof positive that developments across the world truly impact the global economy and investment markets (or do they?). A pro-democracy movement spread across the Middle East, crude prices surged to levels not seen in 2 ½ years and inflation fears resurfaced. Japan suffered an earthquake that brought the economy to a virtual standstill and the initial price-tag for reconstruction stands at over $200 bln. While analysts claim the rebuilding process will prove positive for global trade, excessive debt could slow a ?speedy recovery.?
2011-04-02 Above the Fray by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Attacks on Libya and recovery efforts in Japan have dominated the headlines, but behind the scenes US economic growth remains solid and we remain optimistic on the stock market. Commodity prices have backed off a bit and the Fed is likely to see QE2 through to its June 2011 end. Of particular concern is the unwillingness or inability for Congress to agree on a budget that addresses the growing deficit issues in the US. Japan has a significant debt burden with which to deal as it rebuilds, while Europe is struggling to come up with a comprehensive plan to deal with the eurozone debt crisis.
2011-04-02 Expert Roundtable on Inflation: Should You Be Worried? by Mark W. Riepe, Liz Ann Sonders, Rob Williams, Michael Iachini & Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab
Inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services; your money buys less. With oil and other commodity prices rising, the Federal Reserve's current easy monetary policy and the economy picking up, many investors are worried about inflation. Mark Riepe, head of Financial Research and president of Charles Schwab Investment Advisory, led a roundtable discussing why Wall and Main Street may have different perspectives on inflation. The roundtable also covers our inflation outlook, ways to protect your investments and inflation-savvy investments you might want to consider.
2011-04-01 The Strong Link Between GDP and Oil Consumption by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Global crude oil and liquid fuel consumption grew at its second-fastest pace in over three decades in 2010, rising 2.8 percent to 86.7 million barrels per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). In fact, worldwide oil consumption surpassed 2007 pre-recession levels. For 2011 and 2012, the EIA forecasts that, around the world, we?ll use an annual average of 1.6 million barrels of oil per day. The EIA says this increase is expected to be driven by rising demand from the emerging world, mainly China, Brazil and the Middle East.
2011-04-01 And That?s The Week That Was ? by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
New quarter?renewed optimism?ongoing challenges. The second quarter 2011 kicked off with promising news on the labor front as more private sector hires and a lower jobless rate confirmed that employers have enough confidence to begin adding to the payroll. While the favorable outlook has long been apparent in the corporate boardrooms, the labor market had remained a big concern, leading consumers to hold off on major purchases. Since November 2010, however, the unemployment rate has dropped by a full percentage point, a trend that speaks nicely to the recovering economy as a whole.
2011-04-01 The Bedrock of the Gold Bull Rally by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Naysayers started calling gold a bubble back when prices hit $250 an ounce and though gold?s bull market has tossed and flung the bubble callers around for almost a decade now, their voices have only gotten increasingly louder as prices broke through $1,000, $1,200 and now $1,400 an ounce. However, gold prices appear asymptomatic of the signs generally associated with financial bubbles.
2011-03-30 Syria: The Latest Victim of the Arab Spring by Maya Senussi and Rachel Ziemba of Roubini Global Economics
Though Syria previously looked relatively sheltered from unrest elsewhere in the region, protests, now in their second week, are shaking the legitimacy of President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The violence perpetrated by security forces is likely to undermine promises of reform and political change, putting a question mark over the ultimate survival of the regime. The biggest rallies have taken place in the impoverished southern city of Dara?a. However, the uprising has spread to bigger cities around the country, including Damascus, Aleppo, Latakia, Homs and Hama.
2011-03-30 Andrew Balls Discusses PIMCO?s European Cyclical Outlook by Andrew Balls of PIMCO
Europe?s outlook hinges on limiting contagion from the most troubled peripheral countries. The European Central Bank has signaled its intentions to start tightening, which could complicate the outlook for the more distressed countries. We think the Bank of England will begin to tighten rates over the summer. The UK outlook depends on the impact of fiscal tightening.
2011-03-30 Middle-Class Middleweights to be Growth Champions by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Over the next 15 years, the number of children in middle-class households in emerging market cities around the world may grow 10 times faster than those in developed countries. This future generation living in places such as China, Latin America and South Asia should drive the demand for goods and services, housing and transportation that extend beyond the basic necessities of life. In McKinsey's report, ?Urban world: Mapping the Economic Power of Cities,? the researchers focus on demographic and economic trends to determine which cities will provide the most economic growth in the future.
2011-03-30 ?Agri?-vation by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Recent events in the Middle East, combined with weather, have put tremendous pressure upon raw materials prices. The fear is that cyclical pricing pressure might become secular (generational) trends, accelerating inflation in energy prices, foodstuffs, and industrial components, thus undermining a tenuous uptick in consumer spending, global trade, and consumer confidence. While Wall Street rejoices that something, anything, has stimulated trading activity and profit margins, the world watches as surpluses contract and statistics become human convoys of disaster.
2011-03-29 Tilting Toward Energy by Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab
Despite dramatic current events impacting markets, tactical shifts to your energy-sector allocation could add a small performance boost over the next several months. Volatility will likely remain elevated as events unfold in the Middle East and recovery continues from the devastating disaster in Japan. For investors looking to make shorter-term, tactical adjustments to a portfolio.
2011-03-29 American Consumer Sputtering in Q1 by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The U.S. consumer spending and income report for February was a bit of a mixed bag. First, personal income in the U.S. did eke out a 0.3% MoM gain in February, but it was below expected and failed to keep up with the rise in inflation, which are largely, but not exclusively, being driven by food and fuel prices (accounting for half the increase). The personal consumption expenditure (PCE) price deflator rose 0.4% MoM and as such real income - straight up, net of taxes and excluding personal transfers - fell 0.1% in the first contraction since last September.
2011-03-29 The Inflation Knuckleball by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital
For the past 40 years or so, every country on the planet has relied on fiat money. To a very large extent, this means that the national economies are far more exposed to the whims of their central bankers than they have been in the past. So, if central bankers go off their meds, the danger to the currency becomes profound. Unfortunately, at America's Federal Reserve, it seems the inmates are now running the asylum.
2011-03-28 Living with Turmoil by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Global political conditions remain a mess. The adverse effects on domestic economic growth and our prospects for recovery should remain limited. So, we remain positioned for ongoing economic expansion. Revolution is still spreading across the MiddleEast and is now enveloping even the most repressive regimes, including Syria. Japan is regaining control over its nuclear energy plants, while the disruptive economic effects, although concentrated in Japan, will have some global impact. Europe is still trying to address major fiscal in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain and governments are falling
2011-03-28 The Profit Boom is Over by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
A seven-quarter run of positive profit growth ― six were double-digits ― came to an end in the fourth quarter as pre-tax corporate profits in the U.S.A. sagged at a 10% annual rate (looking at corporate earnings before tax without inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments). That was the first decline since the fourth quarter of 2008. The YoY growth rate is still healthy at +16% but off the boil, that is for sure.
2011-03-28 The Shorts Get Whipsawed by the VIX by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors
Getting to fair value would require the US equity markets to rise 31% from Friday?s close. That assumes no further gain in profits after Q1. These results are pretty robust. If we stress test for rising rates, the 10-year Treasury yield would need to rise to 6.5%, with no intervening increase in profits for the model to show equities are at fair value already. We stand by the forecast we made at the start of the year that the Dow should hit 14,500 by year-end 2011, while the S&P 500 strikes 1575. In other words, short the shorts ? equities are still cheap. And watch out for the VIX, too.
2011-03-28 Equities on the Rise Despite Geopolitical Risks by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
Risk assets (and equities in particular) powered to a strong week of gains, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbing 3.1% to 12,221, the S&P 500 Index advancing 2.7% to 1,314 and the Nasdaq Composite rising 3.8% to 2,743. Although a number of near-term risks remain (particularly related to the unpredictability of escalating unrest in the Middle East), we maintain our view that equity markets are likely to continue their longterm trend of outperformance.
2011-03-25 Profit Margin Squeeze and Inflation Risk by Doug Short of Doug Short
A major risk factor for margin squeeze is the increase in commodity prices over the past several months. The latest turmoil in the North Africa and the Middle East has now put oil prices in the spotlight. At present, in light of the unemployment rate and the ongoing demographic shift, the rise in commodity prices probably poses more risk of margin squeeze than run-away inflation. Some degree of cost-push inflation may be a near-term risk, but the demand-pull inflation we saw in the 1970s is difficult to evision in the US economy of this decade.
2011-03-25 Bullish Sentiment Entrenched by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
A mini corrective phase in the equity market came and went. Investors have been groomed to buy the dip this cycle, and this is not just a mere observation. The flare-up in the Middle East, the tragic nuclear disaster in Japan, and not even a recent slate of poor U.S. economic data have put much of a dent in what is still an extremely positive sentiment readings. Bob Farrell?s Rule 9 seems to be facing a stiff headwind from the Fed?s overt policy stance on lifting valuation levels for risk assets. The bulls are fully in control and can now see new highs in sight for the major averages.
2011-03-25 Unrest and Turmoil = Rising Oil Prices by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management
Nine of the eleven nations sharing land or water borders with Saudi Arabia (SA0 have had demonstrations. Trouble is likely to surface in SA because much of the country?s wealth is located under lands where Shia Muslims are in the majority. The ruling House of Saud is Sunni Muslim. The distrust and bad blood between the two sects predates oil discovery and is not likely to be solved with oil money. The political events are about freedom from repression but also represent a basic struggle between these two Muslim groups for control of revenues from the huge oil fields in that part of the world.
2011-03-25 And That?s The Week That Was ? by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Developments abroad have been such downers over the past few weeks that investors chose to focus on positive news from the domestic boardrooms. AT&T looks to be joining with T-Mobile to create the nation?s largest wireless company. Charles Schwab is adding OptionsExpress to its portfolio, and Walgreen will acquire Drugstore.com as it expands its online presence. Warren Buffet continues to cheerlead for corporate transactions as he claimed the recent Lubrizol deal was just the tip of the iceberg and Berkshire Hathaway is exploring a number of acquisitions, both at home and overseas.
2011-03-25 What's Driving Russia's Outperformance? by Frank Holmes, John Derrick and Tim Steinle of U.S. Global Investors
All ten sectors of the S&P 500 Index increased this week. The best-performing sector for the week was energy which rose 4.08 percent. Other top-three sectors were technology and materials. Financials was the worst performer, up 0.50 percent. Other bottom-three performers were utilities and healthcare.
2011-03-24 Mixed Fed Messages Reflect Murky Outlook by Team of American Century Investments
Mixed. Unsettled. Not altogether reassuring. Sounding a lot like the current state of the U.S. economy, that was the tone of the policy statement issued March 15 by the open-market operations committee of the U.S. Federal Reserve. It certainly didn?t provide comfort to those fearing that the Fed is in the process of fueling future inflation flames, nor did it offer any encouragement to savers hoping for higher short-term interest rates in the near future. What the statement did accomplish was help support the economic, inflation, and Fed policy outlooks of the fixed income team at ACI.
2011-03-24 Understanding Japan?s Disasters by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO
Japan?s reconstruction challenge will likely be more difficult than after the Kobe earthquake. Negative wealth and income effects this time around will be more severe, and the recovery process will probably take longer and be more complex. Japan's disasters will add to the global economy?s headwinds.
2011-03-24 Revolution is in the Air: What Upheaval in the Middle East Means for China by Edmund Harriss of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management
The long term growth story in China and Asia remains unchanged. Economic reform and liberalization accompanied by investment and rising wages are creating consumer markets in the world?s most populous region. Higher oil prices inevitably hurt a region that is based so heavily on manufacturing and has a high dependency on imported oil, but this will not result in sustained damage to the economic model. The region?s finances are strong both at the national and at the corporate levels. After good stock performance in both 2009 and 2010 we believe this could provide a good entry opportunity.
2011-03-23 As The World Turns by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research
Japan?s earthquake/tsunami/nuclear tragedy and heightened tensions in the Middle East and North Africa have led to some concerns about the global economy, and in turn, the strength of the U.S. recovery. A weaker Japanese economy and supply-chain disruptions are detrimental to U.S. growth, but moderately and only short-term in nature. Developments in the Middle East and North Africa are more uncertain, but are likely to keep oil prices relatively elevated. None of this is expected to jeopardize the U.S. recovery, but it could keep growth from being as strong as was hoped for just a month ago.
2011-03-23 Seismic Window by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
It is not the threat of earthquakes that keeps me cautious on the stock market. Despite the fact that we still have not had more than three consecutive down days since Sep 1, 2010, and therefore the Buying Stampede remains intact, I can?t shake the feeling it ended on Feb 18. Stampedes (both up and down) typically last 17 ? 25 sessions before they exhaust themselves. Previously the longest stampede chronicled in my notes was a 52-session upside skein, of course that is until the Sep 2010 to Feb 2011 affair, which if ended on Feb 18 was legend at 117 sessions. If not, today is session 137.
2011-03-23 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook: U.S. Economy, Global by Saumil H. Parikh of PIMCO
PIMCO continues to foresee a multi-speed global recovery over the next few years. The U.S. is experiencing a cyclical economic rebound, but its strong durability is uncertain. Several countries in Europe face headwinds to growth over our cyclical horizon. Japan?s growth rate will likely fall in the near term, but reconstruction activities should stimulate growth over time. We expect real economic growth in key emerging economies to remain at a solid rate during 2011, but lower than 2010.
2011-03-22 There are Still So Many Unknowns by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
There are still many unknowns with regard to the global macro picture, but what we do know are the following 10 things: 1. There are more upside than downside risks to the oil price. 2. Japan was already the number-one importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and this status will be accentuated as replacements for a damaged nuclear grid is sought. 3. Nuclear energy development takes a near-term hit here by the politics of the Japanese crisis but not a permanent hit. 4. The aftershock in Japan will be related to contaminated food supply so we can expect to see more inflation on this score too.
2011-03-22 Emerging from Developed Profit Pools by Gregory A. Nejmeh of HS Management Partners
Much has been debated about the anticipated growth of the emerging markets and the tectonic shifts in political, economic and military force that such changes may yield. While the implications are significant, we are also mindful that economic activity in developed markets not only make them worthy of investor attention, but provide the stability of cash flows that will facilitate multinationals ability to invest in developing markets. We take a holistic perspective and appreciate the size and scope of developed market profit pools as a means of self funding developing economic participation
2011-03-21 This Is, Because That Is by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
The market action of the past two weeks contrasts with the generally uncorrected advance of recent months. I suppose it's possible for investors to characterize the recent decline as a "panic" if they press their noses directly against their monitors, but in that case, they really do have a short memory. The pullback has been negligible relative to the action of the past several months, and is indiscernible in the big picture. As of Friday, the market remained in an over valued, bullish, rising-yields syndrome that has typically been cleared much more sharply than anything we saw last week.
2011-03-21 Equity Market Bounce-Back -- Don't get Too Excited by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Between the put-to-call ratio and the 40% share of stocks trading below their 50-day moving average, the U.S. stock market became hugely oversold. Plus we had the skew from the quadruple-witching session. And the cease-fire announced in Libya and the FX intervention to reverse the yen?s strength provided some fodder for the shorts to cover. But trend lines have been broken, portfolio managers have little cash to work, and according to a ML-BAC survey, we had a net 67% of global portfolio managers overweight equities against their position. Plus, the world is still a very uncertain place.
2011-03-21 Saudi Arabia: More Secure Than It Appears by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital
As revolution spreads throughout North Africa and the Middle East, many fear that the forces that toppled regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and possibly Libya, will spread to the Gulf oil states, particularly Saudi Arabia. The specter of radicalized Islamist elements taking control of the world?s second largest oil producer is a justifiably harrowing prospect. However, Saudi Arabia?s political dynamics are very different from the Middle Eastern states that are in revolt. Understanding these forces should assure us that a doomsday scenario is unlikely.
2011-03-21 World Near Tipping Point? by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO
Much of the potency of policy responses has been used up in the successful efforts since 2008 to avoid global depression. The longer the persistence of supply disruptions, the greater the risk of core inflation increasing. Questions about the end of quantitative easing in the U.S. pose a challenge for policymakers.
2011-03-21 Risks to the Global Economy Should Remain Contained by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
Escalating anxiety over the damage from the earthquake in Japan and resulting nuclear reactor problems as well as rising tensions in Libya and the Middle East resulted in an aggressive selloff in equity prices early last week. Despite an end-of-week rally, stocks were down for the week as a whole, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 1.5% to 11,859, the S&P 500 Index declining 1.9% to 1,279 and the Nasdaq Composite losing 2.7% to 2,644. The events of the last several weeks serve as a reminder about how quickly potential risks can turn into downside reality.
2011-03-21 Inflation Ready To Make Its Grand Entrance by Chris Maxey of Fortigent
Stock markets struggled in recent weeks due to a host of macroeconomic concerns, from earthquakes in Japan to uprising in the Middle East. This is causing a move in the markets that is similar, but different to what is typical during the third year of a Presidential cycle. Generally, markets rally in the first portion of the year before trading essentially flat in the second half. In the first two months, markets were adhering to this same pattern, but the aforementioned macro concerns derailed that rally. This does not mean markets will be unable to stage a recovery.
2011-03-21 iShares Bi-Weekly Strategy Update by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management
Last week, world equity markets suffered their sharpest correction since August of 2010. Unrest in the Middle East and sovereign debt issues in Europe are contributing to the spike in volatility, but last week?s sell-off was primarily driven by the earthquake in Japan and related concerns over the safety of its nuclear power plants. The events in Japan are unlikely to detract from global growth, or change the market dynamics favoring equities. In fact given the recent flight to safety and accompanying drop in nominal bond yields, we reiterate our preference for equities over bonds.
2011-03-19 Middle East Politics and Oil: The Influences on Global Interest Rates, Credit Spreads & Stock Prices by Tom Fahey, Ryan McGrail, Richard Skaggs and Joseph Taylor of Loomis Sayles
The market has added a substantial risk premium to the price of oil given the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. Prices have increased by more than 20% since December 2010; half of that increase occurred during the past three weeks in reaction to unrest spreading to Bahrain, one of the Gulf States. Market participants have raised their probability calculations for black swan events. There may be excess pessimism in the market, as reflected in increased concerns about unrest spreading to the other Gulf States. Those concerns are potentially overblown.
2011-03-19 How the VAR Model and Japan?s Tragedy Affect Investors by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
The threat of disaster from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant unleashed a ferocious sell-off of Japanese equities, but the damage to other major markets has been limited. Already experiencing a slight pullback prior to the events on March 11, U.S. equities and emerging markets have held up quite well. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index has only pulled back 2 percent since the earthquake and the S&P 500 Index only 3 percent.
2011-03-19 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
March Madness (basketball) could not have come at a better time. For weeks, folks have focused on developments in the Middle East as prospects for (some sort of) Democracy spread, but oil prices ballooned and investors fear Saudi Arabia may fall victim to revolution as well. Then, Japan pushed Libya to the backburner as fears of an economic slowdown (and nuclear radiation exposure) raised concerns across the globe. Markets reacted to the headline, often on mere speculation as no one knows how the global developments will play out.
2011-03-19 What the Heck is Going On??? by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors
In recent weeks, the capital markets have weathered a bout of volatility not seen for quite some time. What are the main causes and how does this volatility affect our strategies and your portfolios? While there are many flashpoints around the world, we will highlight the "Big 3" (Japan, the Middle East, and federal budget issues) that have made the most headlines, and those which we believe have had the greatest and most recent impact on volatility.
2011-03-19 Events in Japan and the Middle East by Ronald W. Roge of R.W. Roge
Recently we have had conversations with a few clients about making changes to their portfolios due to the current events in Japan and the Middle East. Our advice is not to make changes based on current events. One should only revise their portfolio if their goals or personal circumstances change.
2011-03-19 Japan: An Update by Joshua Demasi of Loomis Sayles
Globally, the crisis could lead to higher food and energy prices: Japan will not be contributing to the global food supply, its oil imports have been increasing, and a shift from nuclear energy to gas and other sources is plausible. We believe that in isolation, the turmoil in Japan will have a negligible impact on global GDP; however, if oil prices and unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa were to accelerate markedly, the confluence of events could hamper global economic recovery.
2011-03-18 Has the Game Changed? by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. This is otherwise known as Newton?s first law of motion. In market parlance, this implies that a trend remains in force until such time as an exogenous shock causes it to either stall or reverse. Economic, geopolitical, and natural disaster events aside, equity markets around the world have definitely broken their intermediate-term uptrend.
2011-03-17 Could Gasoline Price Increases Affect the Economic Recovery? by Team of American Century Investments
The recent political uprisings in N. Africa have had a major impact on oil and gas pricing here in the U.S. Increases in energy prices have a negative impact on consumer disposable income and confidence, not just in the U.S but globally. When gasoline prices spiked in July 2008, consumer spending posted its biggest one month decline since September 2001. Higher energy prices also contribute to increases in the overall rate of inflation. These are risk factors in terms of sustaining our current economic recovery, bringing down unemployment, and continuing to drive growth in corporate earnings.
2011-03-17 Focus on Japan Overshadows Fed Decision by Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab
To no one's surprise, the Fed kept interest rates at near zero and maintained its scheduled purchases of Treasury securities (also known as quantitative easing, or QE2). We're growing more concerned that the Fed is keeping interest rates low for too long, leading to potential problems down the road. With the market currently reacting to the tragedy in Japan and the ensuing market volatility, it's important to avoid acting hastily.
2011-03-17 Madoff Was Right About One Thing by Bill Mann of Motley Fool
This past week, a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) panel ordered broker Morgan Keegan to repay $250,000 to a client whose entire investment account had been invested in Madoff's fund. That's nice. I expect there will be several more judgments and restitutions paid in the future, none of which will actually cause a change in behavior on Wall Street. Regulators failed to catch Madoff even when the evidence was dangled in front of them, and they've since failed to enact meaningful reform for how Wall Street operates.
2011-03-17 Forgetful by Doug MacKay and Bill Hoover of Broadleaf Partners
The S&P 500 fell by roughly 16% from April to July last summer, and then moved sideways until people started to discount the prospects of the Fed engaging in QE2. As the markets picked back up following the recognition that the Fed would stay easy given high unemployment and very little inflation and the elections afforded a more balanced political agenda, leading economic indicators began to follow suit, the economy firmed once again, and the stock market finished up 15% for the year. Today, the situation, while different, nevertheless rhymes.
2011-03-16 Special Update?A Word on Japan by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
No one pretends to know what the immediate future holds, not even Japan?s nuclear engineers. Fear that has caused a general sell-off in markets. The huge uncertainty has raised risk premiums and sent investors for a time in the direction of safe havens, such as government bonds though Europe's particular problems compound the uncertainty about European sovereigns in this regard. The weight of uncertainty has fallen hardest on stocks connected to the nuclear industry. There is a need for investors to look beyond the immediate emergency to at least seven basic points:
2011-03-15 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 Running on Empty by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Despite the increasing undercurrent of negative news creeping into the financial markets, the stock market remains strong. HCM expects equities to continue to perform well for the foreseeable future (i.e. through the end of June) although most of this letter will discuss the reasons why it shouldn't. In some ways, this market is a lot like Charlie Sheen. It pretends to have tiger blood and the powers of a warlock, but deep inside it is suffering from an addiction to a substance (i.e. debt) that will ultimately kill it.
2011-03-15 Go Opposite to Hysteria by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
September 1, 2010 to February 18, 2011 was a pretty good ?year? with the D-J Industrial Average (DJIA) gaining roughly 23.7%. Indeed, the ?buying stampede? that occurred over those months is now legend with today being session 132 without anything more than a one- to three-day pause/correction (recall it takes four consecutive down days to break the back of a buying stampede). Previously, the record stood at 52 sessions, and while the current stampede is not officially over, as stated three weeks ago ? my hunch is it has ended.
2011-03-14 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Despite last week?s contraction in global equity prices, the activity seemed mainly focused upon energy stocks and the turmoil in Libya and the Middle East. Of course, the world is also shocked by the earthquake tragedy in Japan. More significantly, there seems to be no cohesion of thought about whether these disruptions are ultimately (1) good for shareholders (2) bad for economic recovery. Instead, the debate rages on as to the sustainability of any short market rallies or the viability of real economic recovery in the face of pricing pressure upon commodities, particularly energy.
2011-03-14 Weekly Investment Commentary by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
Risk assets experienced a setback last week in the face of rising tensions in Libya and the Middle East. Additionally, the massive earthquake that hit Japan on Friday resulted in a sharp downturn in Japanese equities on Monday and increased investor unease. For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.0% to 12,044, the S&P 500 Index declined 1.3% to 1,304 and the Nasdaq Composite fell 2.5% to 2,716. The human costs of the earthquake in Japan are obviously foremost in everyone?s mind at this time, but the potential economic and market implications are also being weighed by investors.
2011-03-14 Achilles by Michael Dana of Dana Investment Advisors
Since the beginning of the Republic, the US has been invincible, overcoming many disasters. The US was first made aware of its Achilles heel during the 1970s oil embargo. Fortunately, the Middle East agreed to pump more oil, and the negative impact on the economy was short lived. The ensuing financial crisis pushed oil back to $32 per barrel in 2009. The global economic recovery has once again caused heavy demand and rising prices for the liquid gold. Now, however, we add tensions in the oil producing countries in the Middle East and we have a perfect storm brewing.
2011-03-14 Riots, Oils, and Economics by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
The turmoil in the Middle East goes on, and, though oil has continued to flow uninterrupted, understandable uncertainties have bid up crude and gasoline prices anyway. A barrel of crude now costs considerably more than straightforward supply/demand fundamentals would imply. And as long as the uncertainty persists, prices will almost certainly stay high. Despite this, three aspects of the situation seem more definite. First, fuel cost pressures may slow, but they are unlikely to stop the American and global economic recovery.
2011-03-14 Monday Market Calls by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management
Call #1: Underweight European equity market (with emphasis on banks) Call #2: Overweight developed (with preference for large/mega cap) vs. emerging markets. Year-to-date, emerging markets are down roughly 1.5% while developed market mega caps are up roughly 5%. Our view is reinforced by the recent market volatility and growing unrest in the Middle East. In this type of environment, large, quality companies are likely to prove more resilient.
2011-03-12 And That?s The Week That Was ? by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
The volatility is back. In Jan., the Dow encountered but two days of triple digit moves. In Feb., that number jumped, but only to three. Already by March 11, the index has moved by 100 point or more (up or down) on four occasions this month. Geopolitical events in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe have brought renewed uncertainties to the marketplace and prompted some recent profit taking and maybe even a flight-to-quality into treasuries. This week, the ?nays? had it as the Libyan conflict continued and threats of its spreading to oil giant Saudi Arabia remained fresh on investors minds.
2011-03-12 Domestic Equity Market by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
The figure below shows the performance of each sector in the S&P 500 Index for the week. Four sectors increased and six decreased. The best-performing sector for the week was utilities which rose 1.5 percent. Other top-three sectors were telecom services and consumer staples. Energy was the worst performer, down 4.0 percent. Other bottom-three performers were materials and technology. Within the utilities sector the best-performing stock was Constellation Energy Group which rose 6.8 percent. Other top-five performers were Exelon, First Energy, DTE Energy, and Duke Energy.
2011-03-12 Volatility on the Rise by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Geopolitical unrest and rising inflation concerns have conspired to increase market volatility. We remain bullish on US stocks and believe that this recent increase in consternation will ultimately be healthy for stocks. The US government keeps kicking the debt can down the road, while the Fed seems unconcerned about inflation and is intent on completing QE2. We believe changes are needed at both entities to foster sustainable economic growth. The European debt crisis is bubbling up again, while the ECB is talking interest-rate hikes. Future growth depends on the path of both issues.
2011-03-11 The Middle East: A Youthful Reawakening by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
The upheavals in the Middle East and N.Africa can be attributed to rising food prices, unemployment, corruption and political stagnation. Unemployment has stayed high and waves of new young job seekers entering the labor market have not been absorbed. As in many emerging markets, the populations in MENA countries are young. Most politically explosive is that an increasing number of the unemployed are high school and university graduates. It is important to note that the recent protests have come not from the lowest income levels but from middle-class and educated Arabs seeking fair treatment.
2011-03-11 Europe: Economic Review February 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
Various data released in Feb. confirmed once again that the economic recovery in Europe is gaining momentum. Nevertheless, investor sentiment on the continent, and indeed everywhere in the world, remained largely subdued during the month due to the growing political uncertainty in the Middle East and N.Africa region. Since rising food, raw material, and crude oil prices have already pushed up inflation to worrying levels in most parts of Europe, the recent surge in oil prices amid the protests in Libya and some MiddleEastern countries eclipsed encouraging signals about the Euro-zone economy.
2011-03-11 Middle East turmoil not yet a significant threat to the global economy by Team of Thomas White International
The political unrest spreading across the Middle East and the resultant disruptions to the regional economy are not considered very significant for the global economic prospects for this year. Though oil prices have reacted on fears of lower supplies from the region, there have been no actual disruptions so far and any perceptible deceleration in global economic growth is expected only if prices shoot up further. It is widely believed that, unless the agitations spread to the region?s major oil producers like Saudi Arabia, the prospect of a sustained upsurge in energy prices is limited.
2011-03-11 Middle East/Africa: Economic Review February 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
With countries led by autocratic rulers marred by stagnation in the economy, high unemployment rates and poor human rights records, protests in the region sparked off in classic ?domino effect? style. With rumblings being heard from countries like Iran, Syria, Jordan, Yemen and Morocco. The economic repercussions of the protests and the unseating of these regimes are yet to be calculated. The first obvious impact would be on oil prices. With the entire world economy hinging on the oil rich Middle East, the seismic shift in the political landscape of the region will be monitored closely.
2011-03-10 Turmoil in the Middle East: Should It Have Been Predicted? by Team of American Century Investments
The turmoil began, when a young Tunisian college graduate immolated himself on December 17 after being harassed by police as he attempted to sell fruit on the street. Some claim the vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, did not have the money needed to bribe police officials to continue peddling and earn a living. He died on January 4, sparking deadly demonstrations and riots throughout Tunisia (now called the Jasmine Revolution) in protest of social and political issues in the country. And just 10 days later, on January 14, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced to step down after 23 years.
2011-03-09 iShares Bi-Weekly Strategy Update Part 1 by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management
The overall economy is demonstrating impressive resiliency to higher oil prices ? as evidenced by the recent strength in the ISM manufacturing and services surveys ? but investors should not be too complacent when it comes to the consumer sector. Even though labor markets are staging a slow-motion recovery, the US consumer still faces multiple headwinds, including anemic wage growth, too much debt, and a still fragile housing market. Oil crossing the $100 threshold will not help.
2011-03-09 Jasmine Dreams in China? by Adam Wolfe of Roubini Global Economics
The ?days of rage? sweeping through the Middle East and North Africa have raised questions about the possibility of a similar movement erupting in China. At a glance, the ingredients for uprising appear to be present. Online calls for a ?Jasmine Revolution? in China resulted in a massive staging of security forces at the planned protest sites, which could be taken as a sign of the Communist Party?s insecure grip on power. Like several of the governments, China?s ruling elite is plagued by corruption and is preparing for a transfer of power.
2011-03-08 Ed Hyman: The Key Threat to Economy Recovery by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Ed Hyman is not worried about China, quantitative easing or fiscal deficits. Equity market performance this year will be strong, he predicts, and the US economic recovery will proceed. But there is a caveat in his outlook ? and it is an immense one.
2011-03-08 Consumer Confidence Turns Back Down by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
According to an RBC consumer outlook poll, one in three U.S. households is already ?significantly? cutting back on spending because of rising gasoline prices. And this was a survey taken at a time when the national average price at the pumps was around $3.20 per gallon ― wait and see what happens when it costs four bucks to fill up the tank ― that is the pain threshold for 41% of the consumer sector as per this poll.
2011-03-08 Will the Global Recovery be Brought to its Knees by Commodity Prices? by Chris Maxey of Fortigent
There is a dangerous trend developing in food and energy costs, one that threatens to derail the global recovery. Thus far, consumers are able and willing to accept higher commodity prices. With consumers still feeling the effects of the worst recession in nearly a century, though, there is only so much that people will be willing to tolerate and the second half of the year may be too far away, at least when it comes to crude prices.
2011-03-07 Random Post-Employment Thoughts and Consensus On Oil Impact by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The consensus is that the U.S. labor market is healing. That may well be the case but the slack in the job market remains huge allowing for a structural rise in the unemployment rate. Only 15% of the recession job losses have been recouped despite the fact that expansion has surpassed the downturn. The consensus is that the world economy has gotten used to high levels of oil prices so this latest run-up in crude poses little risk to the economic outlook. But it is change that matters to growth, not levels. As for the macro impact, do not understate the potential for economic contraction.
2011-03-07 Employment Growth on A Solid Trajectory by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Economic prospects continue to improve, although investors are distracted by turmoil in the Middle East and the risk premium being built into crude oil prices. The globe is highly likely to remain a dangerous place, but oil supplies are not likely to be disrupted sufficiently to undermine the U.S. expansion.
2011-03-07 Investment Commentary by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
A tug of war is taking place in the markets, with crosscurrents of good economic reports on the positive side and a continued rise in oil prices from the conflicts in the Middle East on the negative side. Last week, US equities were up modestly, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 0.33% to 12,169, the Nasdaq Composite advancing 0.13% to 2,784 and the S&P 500 adding 0.10% to close at 1,321.
2011-03-04 And That's The Week That Was? by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Unlike Egypt?s Mubarak, Libya?s Gadhafi is not going down without a strong fight. With tensions escalating throughout the region, the world?s oil supply and crude prices soared above $104/barrel over the past few days to levels not seen in 29 months. While optimists point out that Saudi Arabia has been quick to pick up the slack for any shortfall out of Libya, others worry that a prolonged crisis limits its ability to do so indefinitely. The bigger pessimists fear that the uprising could spread to Saudi (Anyone think it may be time to reduce our dependency on foreign oil?)
2011-03-04 Are Emerging Markets Still by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors
Political unrest in Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere in the Middle East, along with surging food prices around the world, has provided fresh reminders of the inherent risks of investing in emerging markets. Indeed, while the U.S. stock market has been inching steadily upward in recent months, emerging markets have been struggling. Year-to-date through February 28, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index is down -3.79%, while the S&P 500 Total Return Index has gained 5.88%.
2011-03-03 Driving Without Restrictor Plates by Cliff W. Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors
Since mid-January we have found ourselves in a quandary over ?jumping in? or ?diving in? to the strongly flowing bullish current of the developed markets. The warning signs have been the Mideast riots, unemployment, commodity inflation, and the US percentage of debt relative to GDP. The positives are corporate earnings, an accommodative Fed, cash-rich balance sheets, and no new taxes for now. Therefore we wanted to share with you a number of charts and statistics that are part of our process.
2011-03-03 Equity Markets and Oil Prices by Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust
The turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa has led to higher oil prices. Brent crude oil was trading at $116.99 ($113.07 on 3/1/2011) as of this writing and West Texas Crude was quoted at $101.68 ($99.63 on 3/1/2011). The Libyan crisis has raised oil prices significantly in the last three trading days. The crisis in the region commenced the day after a Tunisian man set fire to himself on January 21, 2011.
2011-03-03 Emerging Markets Vision 2020 by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
There will always be unforeseen factors and circumstances that might become catalysts for greater changes in the global landscape, as we have seen from the current unrests in the Middle East.. No one knows what will happen in the future, but below is some of what I envision for the emerging markets landscape in the next decade.
2011-03-02 Taps for the Dollar by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital
It now appears that the United States has finally succeeded in its efforts to destroy confidence in the U.S. dollar. Given the currency's reserve status, its ubiquity in financial markets, and the economic power and political position of the United States, this was no easy task. However, to get the job done Washington chose the right man: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. Thanks to Bernanke's herculean efforts, investors across the globe have now been fully weaned from their infantile belief that the U.S. dollar will remain the ultimate safe haven currency.
2011-03-01 Investment Commentary by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
Escalating turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa caused oil prices to spike higher last week and stock prices to fall. Oil prices went over the$100 a barrel mark and despite a late-week rally, stocks ended the week noticeably lower. In many ways, it could be argued that a stock market correction was overdue-before last week, the US stock market had gone 107 days before experiencing a peak-to-trough decline of 3.5%, a new record. Our long-term view is that while shortterm volatility is likely to persist, the growing geopolitical risks are unlikely to derail the global economic recovery.
2011-03-01 Differentiated Change in the Middle East and North Africa by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO
For two months, developments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have taken most by surprise. What started as an protest in Tunisia has developed into a regional phenomenon that has toppled regimes and is threatening others. Indeed, every day seems to bring an historical event that is changing the region and impacting the global economy. Governments across the globe have spent weeks playing catch up in the midst of unthinkable developments in MENA. They have organized emergency evacuations of citizens and constantly responded to realities on the ground, including the violence in Libya.
2011-03-01 Disasters Rocking U.S. Dollar? by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
From earthquakes in New Zealand to revolutions in the Middle East, natural and man-made disasters are rocking the world. We are all too often made to believe that in times of crisis there?s a flight to the U.S. dollar. However, the U.S. dollar has instead had a rocky ride of its own thus allowing the crisis-ridden Eurozone to shine. What?s going on? Is there no crisis, or has the U.S. dollar lost its appeal as a safe haven?
2011-03-01 The Good, The Bad and The Ugly by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The good: The manufacturing data in the U.S. continues to improve, at least within the confines of the major diffusion indices. The bad: The U.S. income and spending numbers were hardly stellar. It remains to be seen how much of the weakness was weather-related, but consumer spending dipped 0.1% in January ? the first decline since Apr 2010. The fact is that consumers kept a lid on their spending even with the fiscal windfall in Jan, pushing the savings rate up to a four-month high of 5.8% from 5.4% in both Nov and Dec. The ugly: The housing sector remains in the dumpster.
2011-03-01 The Absolute Return Letter by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners
Two remarkable events unfolded during the month of February. One cleared the front pages all over the world. The other one barely got a mention - outside of its home country that is. Both have the ability to derail the economic recovery currently unfolding. The first one is not surprisingly the uprising in the Middle East and North Africa. The other one is perhaps less obvious; we are referring to the Irish elections. We take a closer look at both of those events and what the implications may be for financial markets.
2011-02-28 Oil that is by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
?Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea,? Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen) got rich in the hit series The Beverly Hillbillies by discovering oil on his property. Similarly, investors have become enriched recently by owning oil stocks. Verily, crude oil has surged from ~$84 per barrel in mid-February into last week?s peak of $103.41 with an ascent for most oil stocks. As stated in Friday?s verbal strategy comments, ?Libya is particularly troubling because I think there is a fifty-fifty chance that Gaddafi, rather than cede power, will begin blowing up Libyan oil pipelines ? it?s either me or chaos.?
2011-02-28 Morgan Opens Gold Window by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital
Earlier this month, J.P. Morgan made an important announcement: the bank would now accept gold as collateral for loans. The move appears to have been well-timed, the price of gold and silver climbed steeply, based largely on political turmoil in the Middle East. But why should Morgan?s decision be of interest to anyone outside the bank? It can be argued that J.P. Morgan is the world?s premier major bank. As such, its decision to accept gold as collateral offers a rare glimpse into the very private financial decision-making of some of the largest and most sophisticated investors in the world.
2011-02-28 Stay Positive - It's The Right Thing To Do by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors
The gloom is hard to miss: Libya, oil prices, budget battles, a pull-back in stock prices, or downward revisions to GDP?and about how these will cause weaker growth (or even a recession) ahead. But the world is always full of potential events that could cause a panic, recession, even a depression. The world is never perfectly ?safe.? If nuclear war broke out or if Saudi Arabia got into a nasty civil war, the risks to the US economic environment and the stock market would rise immeasurably.
2011-02-28 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
The stock market fell last week, but is still doing quite well on the year. Ongoing concerns over the uprisings in Libya and elsewhere, combined with the protests over cutbacks in state budgets, served as the excuse for the market to pullback.
2011-02-28 When Inflation Fuels Deflation by Chris Maxey of Fortigent
Global macroecon concerns led to the sharpest weekly sell off in the S&P500 Index in three months. For the week, the S&P 500 Index was down 1.7% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.1%. A multitude of catalysts were behind the selloff, including concerns about the situation in Africa and the Middle East, surging commodity prices, in particular crude oil, and finally, a feeling that equity valuations were moving into overbought territory. There were only a handful of important domestic economic releases last week, including several data points on housing and the state of the consumer.
2011-02-28 Moment of Surrender: Regimes Fall, Oil Prices Spike by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
Geopolitical tensions swell along with oil prices, pushing the stock market lower. The absence of a longer-term oil- supply shock suggests the price spike could be short-lived. Consumers will take a hit, but the broader economy should avoid a double-dip recession.
2011-02-27 Cash or Credit - Implications for the Financial Markets by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
From the standpoint of prospective investment returns, it is important to recognize that the main effect of quantitative easing has been to suppress the expected return on virtually all classes of investment to unusually weak levels. It's widely believed that somehow, QE2 has created all sorts of liquidity that is "sloshing" around the economy and "trying to find a home" in stocks, commodities, and other investments. But this is not how equilibrium works.
2011-02-26 When Irish Eyes Are Voting by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Mauldin reviews the Irish economy, citing a recent Vanity Fair article by Michael Lewis. Ireland's housing bubble caused prices to rise approximately 500%. More than 20% of the Irish workforce was employed in construction. Irish banks financed this, using selling bonds to other European banks. The Irish government made good on those debts, burdening its taxpayers. The end results is excessive debt for the EU, which appears to be unsupportable. On the crisis in the Middle East, Bahrain is the key country to watch out for.
2011-02-25 What Really Drives the Market by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Well, we used to say there were four key drivers: 1. Fundamentals; 2. Fund flows; 3. Technicals; 4. Valuation; Then we introduced another one last week: 5. The Fed?s balance sheet; Now that is not going to be included in any of the Graham & Dodd textbooks, that is for sure. But since Dr. Bernanke embarked on his non-traditional monetary maneuvers two years ago, there has been an 86% correlation between the S&P 500 and the movement in the Fed?s balance sheet. And now there is a sixth: 6. Corporate earnings surprises Yes, this works with a 90% historical accuracy rate.
2011-02-25 And That's The Week That Was? by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
First Tunisia was stricken with political unrest and investors barely noticed. Then Egypt suffered through a revolution which initiated a change in leadership, and the markets offered a collective yawn. Now Libya faces mass protests and traders are on edge. So what?s different in this case? One word?OIL. Libya is the first major oil producing state to encounter the violent turmoil that threatens a major shift in power. It produces 1.6 million barrels of oil a day and crude prices surged in the immediate aftermath of the revolution on fears of a production slowdown.
2011-02-25 Worry ... Friend or Foe? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Interest rates have moved higher, inflation concerns are growing, debt issues remain and global tensions are heightened. All valid concerns, but in our opinion not enough to derail stocks?although they could potentially in the future. Violence in the Middle East and North Africa is creating tension in global markets, but there are other concerns for emerging markets as well. Europe is becoming a bifurcated situation, with investors distinguishing between those with debt issues and those without.
2011-02-25 Oil And Vinegar by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research
Higher oil prices have raised new concerns about the strength of the economic recovery. If sustained, the rise in gasoline prices will restrain the pace of economic growth noticeably, but does not appear to be large enough (so far) to derail the expansion. Meanwhile, a federal government shutdown looms as lawmakers bicker over the future path of expenditures. Austerity at all levels of government is well-intentioned, but is not advisable at this point in the economic recovery.
2011-02-24 Will the Oil Price Be a Game Changer? by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
First Tunisia. Then Egypt. And now Libya. What makes Libya different from a market?s perspective is that we are now talking about an oil exporter in the sudden grips of political upheaval. In this domino game, the next critical country we have to keep an eye on is Bahrain. The risk of further unrest is rising, especially with sectarian issues in full force in Bahrain. This means that oil prices at a minimum will retain a geopolitical risk premium. Bottom line: there is still more near-term upside potential than downside risk for the oil price (and most energy stocks).
2011-02-23 It's All About the Timing by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The calendar of events that could create recurring bouts of market volatility is coming into closer view: February 25: Irish elections. Is a default coming? March 4: U.S. government shutdown; this is the date that the latest resolution expires. The hardliners in the GOP are digging in their heels over $60 billion of spending cuts. April 1: U.S. nonfarm payroll report for March. The jobless claims data suggest no improvement from poor February results. Then end of QE2 and the knowledge that movements in the Fed?s balance sheet in the last 14 months have had an 86% correlation with the S&P 500.
2011-02-23 A Laughable Attempt at Cutting the Budget by Chris Maxey of Fortigent
In a sadly fitting tribute to the fiscal mismanagement occurring in Washington, D.C. these days, the National Christmas Tree, which stood in the same spot since 1978, was felled by high winds Saturday morning. Not to fear, park authorities had a contingency plan in place and a new tree is on the way. Unfortunately, politicians are not known for the same degree of contingency planning and last week?s budget proposals proved that we are in for a torrent of trouble.
2011-02-22 Are You Ready to Lose Control? by Justin Locke (Article)
We view control the same way we view pregnancy - it's an all-or-nothing condition. Either you are in control, or everything is out of control. We would all be wise to rethink this - to look at how to handle and even embrace some lack of control.
2011-02-22 Profit Margin Squeeze and Inflation Risk by Doug Short of Doug Short
At present, in light of the unemployment rate and the ongoing demographic shift, the surge in commodity prices probably poses more risk of margin squeeze than run-away inflation. Some degree of cost-push inflation may be a near-term risk, but the demand-pull inflation we saw in the 1970s is difficult to evision in the US economy of this decade.
2011-02-22 Revolution and Oil Do Not Mix by Charles Lieberman (Article)
The Middle East uncertainty is already roiling markets, driving up the price of crude and gold. Longer-term, whatever new regimes ultimately emerge in power, they will need to remain large oil producers. How else will they be able to obtain the revenue they need to feed their people and to help their economies? Even Iran remains a large exporter of oil to pay for the global expansionist policies of the mullahs. It is the disruptive intermediate term that is so uncertain. We can only watch and hope that it passes quickly with little bloodshed.
2011-02-22 Fiscal Contraction is Coming ... This is a Key Theme by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Well, if you haven?t yet heard, major budgetary restraint is coming our way in the second half of the year, and so we would recommend that you enjoy whatever fiscal and monetary juice there is left in the blender. There isn?t much that is for sure. The weekend newspapers were filled with reports of how the conservative wing of the Republican party have banded together to ensure that spending cuts will be in the offing. The state and local governments are already putting their restraint into gear.
2011-02-22 The Global Economic Impact of this Weekend's Developments by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO
In the short run, regional developments will be stagflationary for the global economy. In the next few days, markets will react to the changed outlook for the region and the global economy. Over time, market apprehension is likely to give way as the impact of greater long-term stability in a key part of the world is felt.
2011-02-22 Investment Commentary by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
The bearish view of the current rally is that it is liquidity-driven and based on artificial propping-up by overly easy monetary and fiscal policy support. While we agree that the stimulus from the Federal Reserve and other policy makers has been an important pillar in helping to restore economic growth and drive risk asset prices higher, we also believe that the economy is transitioning into a self-sustaining expansion. In our opinion, this environment of improving growth, low inflation and a supportive policy backdrop continues to represent a ?sweet spot? for risk assets.
2011-02-18 Breakfast with Dave by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The Treasury market retains a nice bid here and equities now look a bit wobbly or at least engaging in a pause. European bourses are in the red column for the most part and Asia was mixed with Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea posting gains but China and India were both clocked for a 0.9% and 1.6% loss, respectively. Even though China raised reserve requirements by a half-point again, the oil price is receiving support from concerns over the spread of social unrest in the Middle East towards Libya and Bahrain.
2011-02-17 Responding to the Stubbornly Steep U.S. Treasury Yield Curve by Team of American Century Investments
Disciplined, active investment managers are constantly on the lookout for capital market extremes, which can provide value-adding opportunities for investors. One such market extreme has been developing in the U.S. Treasury market for the past three years, reaching historic levels in 2010 and earlier this year. We?re talking about the very wide, stubbornly persistent gap between short- and longer-maturity U.S. Treasury yields.
2011-02-17 The News is Not All Bad, Though There are Several Caveats by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
If there is anything to be worried about it is really that the equity market has easily climbed so many walls of worries. Is the outlook that much devoid of risks or do we have tremendous complacency on our hands? To be sure, the news is not all bad, though there are several caveats: Deere and Comcast beat their earnings estimates; The Fed lifted its real GDP forecast; The latest retail sales data were soft but there is momentum in the payroll-tax cut; etc.
2011-02-16 Washington Prepares for a New Egypt by Michael Moran of Roubini Global Economics
The resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will resonate across the Middle East but also in the capital of his most stalwart ally, the U.S., where policy makers are reassessing the ?certainty? that Egypt will continue to act as a ?moderating force? in the region. Having left the Soviet Union?s orbit in 1977 and signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, Egypt came to form the foundation of U.S. diplomacy in the region?a role that seemed so secure that its significance was widely overlooked.
2011-02-16 Politics of Inflation by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
In arguing food inflation is not the Federal Reserve?s (Fed?s) fault, Fed Chairman Bernanke points the finger at everyone but him. Just as with a lot of Bernanke?s policies, his argument may hold in an academic setting, but the real world is a bit more complicated.
2011-02-15 The Stuxnet Paradigm by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Michael Lewitt discusses the situation in Egypt, the economy, rising risk appetites in the market, sovereign debt and municipal bonds. 'It might be very easy,' he writes, 'to be impressed by the 'two years and thousands of man hours' that Ms. Whitney spent researching the fiscal condition of the 15 largest states. What in the world required so much time and effort? It shouldn't have taken nearly so long to determine that these states are in severe financial trouble and that their options for dealing with it are limited.
2011-02-14 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
While many are transfixed by the chaos and confusion in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen, it is important to recognize that such unrest is not uniquely Middle Eastern, nor is it caused specifically by unruly despots. Indeed, the root cause of social upheaval usually lies in the breakdown of social institutions whose function is to provide, or create, fairness and opportunity amongst the citizenry.
2011-02-14 Financial Disconnect by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital
The printing of fiat money is likely to be able to sustain a false economic recovery for some time. But, eventually, the cost will be a rapid erosion of the value of the US dollar ? not just in real terms, but also against almost every other foreign currency. Despite possible short-term corrections, gold and silver holdings are likely best to shield investors from the perils that lie ahead.
2011-02-14 Tipping Point by Michael Dana of Dana Investment Advisors
The current unrest in Egypt actually began in Tunisia and the tipping point there was when a young man immolated himself over government harassment over a business permit. Trouble had been fomenting in the streets, but this was the tipping point that escalated the turmoil that spread to Egypt and could ensnare Jordon, Syria and even Saudi Arabia. This almost certainly will turn into a different state that will have ramifications well beyond the Middle East. These are exciting times and the world faces many tipping points that will change many established paradigms.
2011-02-12 Balancing Act by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Strong US economic signals and solid earnings continue to provide a positive backdrop for stocks. We expect pullbacks if optimistic sentiment gets too elevated, but remain optimistic about the stock market. Inflation concerns are rising, but the Federal Reserve is unlikely to react with tighter policy. There's not much it can do to fight commodity inflation, but Treasury yields are rising in response to headline inflation, even with little near-term risk of companies passing on rising costs.
2011-02-11 The Year of the Rabbit by Craig Hester of Hester Capital Management
The global financial markets in 2011 are likely to reflect many of the characteristics of the rabbits personality: quick to react, avoiding conflicts, erratic, resilient yet determined. The year started on a fast note. The S&P 500 jumped out to a 3.3% gain before selling off late in January over concerns regarding political instability in the Middle East. Global tensions, sovereign debt, state and federal finance, the economy and earnings may affect financial markets this year. One can expect a year of volatility, but a market that will display resiliency in the face of these uncertainties.
2011-02-10 The Two Faces of Ben Bernanke by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital
When the rest of the world no longer links their currencies to ours, the Fed will truly not have to worry about fueling global inflation. Instead, all of its inflation will burn through our banks accounts right here at home. And that blaze, so concentrated, will burn a lot hotter than the fires we see abroad.
2011-02-10 Inflation: Say Goodbye to Buying Power by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management
Economy watchers see its growing presence in official government statistics. Yet you won?t hear government officials admitting it. It?s too politically unpleasant ? and threatening ? to do so. Official spin and fantasy aside, the reality is that inflation is here and here to stay for quite a while. That means the buying power of the dollar is declining and being experienced on a daily basis.
2011-02-08 Conundrum Investing by James G. Tillar and Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup Advisors
The range of possible outcomes for the economy and market is still wide. We believe QE2 is simply a continuation of a boom-and-bust regime. Fundamentals are good now but are unlikely to be sustainable. Printing money to support asset prices cannot go on forever and usually ends in disaster like it did after both the technology and housing busts. Therefore, we dont believe this is a time to be aggressive. We are maintaining our strategy of emphasizing steady-growth businesses, with strong balance sheets, healthy dividends, attractive valuations and exposure to emerging economies.
2011-02-03 Reagan for President...of China! by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
China needs to re-balance its economy to tame inflationary pressures. To achieve this, portfolio manager Axel Merk provocatively suggests Ronald Reagan needs to become the president of China. This analysis discusses the Chinese renminbi.
2011-02-02 Unrest in Egypt, Uncertainty in the Region by Rachel Ziemba and Ayah El Said of Roubini Global Economics
Egypt?s political direction could have profound effects on regional stability?potentially involving, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and efforts to contain Iran?s nuclear ambitions?with broad economic and financial ramifications. The recent economic and political developments do not bode well for Egypt?s debt, and this contagion could continue to spread within the region, leading to the persistent underperformance of local currency debt and equity markets. Regarding wider implications, the oil market remains the key link between instability in the Middle East and the global economy.
2011-02-02 Random Thoughts from the Lone Star State by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
I still consider this to be a bear market rally. With respect to the economy, the illusion of sustainable prosperity has done wonders for consumer spending in the U.S. The consumer has been an upside surprise and the ISM was a whopper too as these manufacturing indices have been in general around the globe. There are so many other headwinds out there. Dramatic cutbacks and tax hikes at the state and local government levels are in motion. Federal government austerity is next. The housing market has not yet stabilized.
2011-02-01 Egypt, Dollars and History by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors
When the Fed prints too many dollars, the inflation that results often shows up in commodity prices first. When it lifts energy commodities, countries and regions of the world which export oil typically benefit and have largesse to throw around. Egypt is an oil producer and a large refiner. So, rising energy prices are neutral to slightly positive for the nation?s economy. Food prices are a different story.
2011-02-01 Back in Black: Economy Moves to Expansion From Recovery by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
Real GDP moves from recovery to expansion, but growth remains below potential. Inflation concerns globally replacing double-dip recession concerns as key theme in 2011. Egyptian unrest and rising volatility could further temper optimism, which could bring back the "wall of worry" the stock market likes to climb.
2011-02-01 Market Implications of the Turmoil in Egypt by Kevin D. Mahn of Hennion & Walsh
Here are the potential implications of the events in Egypt as we see them: 1)The risk of contagion in the Middle East and the civil, political and economic unrest that could result across the globe. 2) The energy commodities sector, specifically related to crude oil prices, but this time not based upon oil production but rather based upon the importance of the Suez Canal and Sumed Pipeline to oil transportation. 3)the travel sector - travel advisories that will likely be established in the affected countries.
2011-01-31 Market Ripe for Correction by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The stock market headed into this post-Egypt action terribly overbought and a correction was overdue. It is incredibly ironic that 18 months ago, President Obama gave his first foreign policy speech at the University of Cairo (the Investor?s Business Daily dubs it the ?ill-conceived Muslim outreach speech? in today?s editorial), and now, Egypt is burning. Oil, gold and TIPS should be on anyone?s ?buy list? if the turmoil does spread within the Arab world.
2011-01-31 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
In addition to strong corporate earnings being reported last week, there was also the government?s estimate of GDP growth for the fourth quarter of last year. The headline number showed a growth rate of 3.2%, which was lower than expected. The reason though was a rundown in inventories and an improving trade deficit. These are inherently positive developments, which perversely count against growth in the calculation.
2011-01-31 Investment Commentary by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management
At present, most investors appear to have increased their expectations for global growth and for growth levels in the United States. The words ?double dip? have virtually vanished from investors? vocabularies and while we agree with the generally optimistic tenor of the conversation, we are also somewhat uneasy about the positive shift in sentiment and growing sense of complacency. As last week?s events remind us, there are a number of risks to be wary of, including one we have not yet mentioned ? monetary tightening in emerging markets.
2011-01-29 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Consumer confidence in January rose to its highest level in eight months as individuals seemed to overlook the ongoing labor concerns. The long-ailing housing sector received a bit of good news as new home sales jumped to the best showing since May and home prices even surged to levels not seen since early 2008. Though claims for jobless benefits rose in the most recent week, analysts believe that harsh winter weather may have temporarily halted hiring and the recent improvements on the claims front should resume in the weeks to follow.
2011-01-26 World Bank Says Developing Countries Driving Global Growth by Team of American Century Investments
During the recent Great Recession, developing countries such as China and India played a key role in sustaining global economic growth, while developed economies struggled to cope with issues such as the subprime market meltdown, sovereign debt issues, and soaring unemployment numbers. In the coming years, developing nations will continue to play an increasingly important role in driving the global economy.
2011-01-24 Currency Wars: View From Beijing by Douglas Clark Johnson of Codexa Capital
Any belief in Washington that the Chinese will allow the yuan to appreciate meaningfully beyond their pre-determined framework belies a certain naivete, in our view. First, of course, is the ancient Chinese stance that any such directives constitute meddling in internal affairs. We see two overriding themes that provide more contemporary context for Chinese economic decision-making: civil stability and social security.
2011-01-18 China and the Dollar by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors
The US should not take this week?s visit as an opportunity to lecture the Chinese about the yuan. If we do, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke may find himself on the receiving end of a lecture about the importance of price stability and how to run a central bank. And he would deserve it.
2011-01-02 Hangovers by Isbitts of Emerald Asset Advisors
The overhang of US unemployment, long-term inflation, and risks of temporary overheating in the Commodity and Emerging markets is a wicked one, so the best posture for 2011, and most years for that matter, is to be invested, but with a net to catch you when you fall. However, the longer out one looks, and the wider the breadth of investment themes one is permitted to consider, the more the truly dynamic secular investment opportunities become visible. The ability and willingness to see the "forest" over the ever-present "trees" is the best advice I can give you.
2010-12-22 2011 Outlook: Fixed Income by Fixed Income Investment Team of Neuberger Berman
Entering 2011, there is no shortage of potential issues that could ignite periods of extreme market volatility. While short-term market gyrations are unsettling for both novice and experienced investors alike, for the year as a whole, we believe the outlook for the economy and the fixed income market is generally positive. In particular, certain non-Treasury sectors have compelling fundamentals going into the New Year. In our opinion, these areas could benefit generally from an increased risk appetite, should investors seek incremental yields given a continued low interest rate environment.
2010-12-22 Will Egyptian Elections Scare Would-Be Investors? by Nouriel Roubini of Roubini Global Economics
In Egypt, although the National Democratic Party (NDP) has a solid grip on power, the election cycle is adding to policy uncertainty that could worsen prospects for the foreign investment needed to kick-start domestic investment and diversify growth away from consumption. As RGE notes in its 2011 Global Economic Outlook, policy implementation delays in Egypt could add market volatility and restrain inward FDI as investors monitor the country?s political risk.
2010-12-21 Demographics and Sovereign Debt by Team of American Century Investments
Events surrounding what the press calls the European Sovereign Debt Crisis have been in the news for much of the past year. Unfortunately, this label masks an underlying major contributing factor: demographics. The combination of long life expectancies, relatively early retirement ages, generous retirement benefits and a shrinking base of workers to support the growing proportion of retirees in the population will put tremendous burdens on the budgets of these countries.
2010-12-01 Allentown by Bill Gross of PIMCO
The global economy is suffering from a lack of aggregate demand. In the U.S. and Euroland, many policies only temporarily bolster consumption while failing to address the fundamental problem of developed economies: Job growth is moving inexorably to developing economies because they are more competitive. Unless developed economies learn to compete the old-fashioned way ? by making more goods and making them better ? the smart money will continue to move offshore to Asia, Brazil and their developing economy counterparts, both in asset and in currency space.
2010-10-16 Malaysia: Respecting History, Embracing the Future by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
As an emerging market, Malaysia presents itself as a very attractive investment destination today. The Malaysian consumer and commodity stocks are attractive and interesting. I am expecting a domestic GDP growth of 6% this year.
2010-10-01 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
So much for ?sour? Septembers. This year, ?super? September is more appropriate. The bulls were out in force last month as equities experienced their best September since 1939. The week was met with some profit-taking and quarter-end window dressing (is that still allowed?) as investors eyed an uncertain Fed policy and a heated election season.
2010-09-28 A Better Alternative - Natural Resource Equities by RS Investments (Article)
Investors look to the commodity market to provide three primary benefits: portfolio diversification, inflation protection, and equity-like returns. However, empirical data shows that over the last decade, shifts in underlying fundamentals have undermined the role which commodities are expected to play in a diversified portfolio, particularly relative to natural resource equities. RS Investments reviews the return streams generated by both commodities and natural resource equities in the context of the benefits expected from each investment option. We thank them for their sponsorship.
2010-09-20 The Islamic Triangle: Tilting Toward Opportunity by Douglas Clark Johnson of Codexa Capital
The Islamic Triangle - the space between Casablanca, Istanbul and Muscat - may not be a top priority for most global money managers, but perhaps it should be. At just over $1 trillion, the Islamic Triangle's total market capitalization is just a bit less than Brazil's or India's. Among major markets, it compares with Australia or Switzerland. Relative to GDP - a sign of an equity market's importance to a local economy - the number is nearly 60 percent, relatively low, but indicative of the region's structural potential over time.
2010-08-30 Views on Developing Markets by Team of First Eagle Funds
As the developed world stumbles from crisis to crisis, many developing countries seem poised to continue taking a greater share of the world's wealth. This trend, however, is not an automatic signal to invest. China, India and Brazil, the most sought-after developing markets, now demand double-digit multiples, and have higher inflation and monetary growth than developed markets. These factors suggest that the margin of safety is significantly smaller in developing markets than in developed markets.
2010-08-11 Global Market Commentary by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management
The world is awash in fear: fear of war in Middle East, fear of a double-dip economic recession in the U.S. and Europe and fear of inflation in China and India, as well as many other potential problems. Gold and oil appear to be two of the wisest investment categories. India, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, China and Brazil also have strong potential for continued growth. Although it is less certain, we will probably see continued growth in Canada, Australia, Taiwan, and Korea. Europe, Japan and the U.S., meanwhile, appear to be set on low growth trajectories for the next few years.
2010-08-06 Pandemic Uncertainty by Ronald W. Roge of R.W. Roge
We are headed into a global economy that can be best described as one of deleveraging, reregulation, de-globalization, and temporary mistakes in government policy responses. U.S. consumers now believe in spending less and saving more for the future. The current saving rate in the U.S. is about 6 percent. That's up from 0 percent a few years ago. All of this evidence points to a slow-growth economic recovery that will eventually improve as government policies fail and more logical policy responses prevail.
2010-07-21 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
It is unlikely that the Federal Reserve will soon reverse its easy-money policies amidst worries about the European government debt crisis, meager job growth and low inflation in the U.S. In light of all these concerning developments, Osterweis continues to take a conservative approach by focusing on securities that will experience less volatility in the current unpredictable environment. These include short duration bonds and certain 'cushion' bonds, which are longer-term, high coupon bonds that will likely be refinanced in the near term, well in advance of their maturities.
2010-07-13 Deficits Monetary and Moral by Michael Lewitt (Article)
"The word 'deficit' has come to epitomize not only our economic dilemmas but also our moral and intellectual failures to address them in an era that should be boasting of new breakthroughs in the social and physical sciences," writes Michael Lewitt in the latest installment of his HCM Market Letter, Deficits Monetary and Moral. "Instead, our ability to solve complex problems is weighed down by flawed and corrupted government processes and the lack of courage to forthrightly change them."
2010-06-21 Talking the Economy: Alex Pollock, Bruce Bartlett and Josh Rosner by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst
This commentary features snippets from interviews by IRA co-founder Chris Whalen for his upcoming book, Inflated: How Money and Debt Built the American Dream, which is scheduled for release in November. Alex Pollock of the American Enterprise Institute, Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan and Treasury official under President George H.W. Bush, and Josh Rosner, principal of Graham-Fisher, all discuss the economic outlook.
2010-06-15 'May Momentum Killers' Supported Economic, Rate Outlooks by Team of American Century Investments
Now that stocks are suffering a bona fide correction this quarter and Treasury yields are again pricing in low inflation expectations in the near term, the case for a long, slow, grinding economic recovery with continued low interest rates for months to come is a lot easier to make than it was seven weeks ago. Money market and FDIC-insured accounts should provide the most predictable path with the least price fluctuation. Investors who want more yield and return should consider high-quality short-maturity bonds and bond funds.
2010-06-10 Bull Market Should Continue, But Patience is Warranted by Bob Doll of BlackRock
Markets remain caught in a tug of war between reasonably strong economic fundamentals and escalating threats of external shocks. As long as the world economy does not sink back into an unlikely recession, however, equity markets should be able to weather the current period of uncertainty. The economic recovery should continue, although the pace should be relatively slow and interrupted along the way by periods of disappointing data. Investors will need to see a recovery in European debt markets and evidence that contagion can be contained before confidence can be restored.
2010-06-04 The Parable of the Lifeboat by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
Many investors are hesitant to add to their stock allocations due to negative returns over the past decade. The problem is that alternative investments have performed just as badly, if not worse. Ten thousand appears to be a hard floor for the Dow, despite investors' fears. Markets are thinner and more easily manipulated during the summer time, but July earnings reports should paint a rosy picture. NASDAQ is implementing expanded 'circuit breakers' to sideline stocks with unusually large moves - anything to reduce volatility and get investors interested in stocks again.
2010-06-04 The New Economic Reality - Part II by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management
Some investors believe that deflationary influences will lead to an immense slowdown in world economic activity, and thus thus are selling stocks, buying bonds and short-selling commodities. Others think government action to forestall the deflation will end up creating inflation, and are buying commodities, buying stocks and avoiding bonds As the two sides pull markets back and forth, volatility will continue. To deal with the volatility, Guild is holding a large percentage of client assets in cash and gold, which can rise in either an inflationary or a deflationary situation.
2010-06-01 Europe: Value or Value Trap? by Dan Trosch, CFA (Article)
European equities seem much cheaper than in the US, says Dan Trosch of Fortigent in this guest contribution. Europe trades at a 26% Price to Book discount and a 20% Price to Cash Earnings discount to the US. Some European industries and stocks are deservedly cheap and value traps; other industries and stocks are attractive and will benefit from global growth in exports and other macro trends.
2010-05-26 Renewed Risks and Multi-Speed Global Recovery to Restrain World Trade Flows by Nouriel Roubini of RGE Monitor
Global trade growth is unlikely to reach its pre-recession highs in the short term, with exports of several trade-dependent economies, particularly emerging markets, growing at a slower pace due to weaker import demand in the U.S. and EU amidst consumer deleveraging, fiscal austerity and slow recoveries in labor markets and household wealth. In the medium term, however, structural reforms in emerging markets and surplus countries to increase domestic demand will boost trade among emerging markets, as well as global trade flows, changing their direction and composition.
2010-05-14 The Effect of Inflation on Purchasing Power by Robert Urie of Pioneer Investment Management
This paper provides an analysis of what inflation is and its effect on purchasing power. Inflation is a broad rise in the price level of goods and services that reduces purchasing power. In recent decades it has occurred in two predominant forms: rapid, steep increases in prices and a long, persistent rise in prices that gradually erodes purchasing power. Both forms result from a combination of the level of economic growth, monetary policy and unforeseen supply and demand shocks.
2010-05-12 Is the U.S. Too Big to Fail? by Carmen M. Reinhart and Vincent Reinhart of VoxEU
First posted November 17, 2008, this column's analysis is more relevant than ever. It asks why investors rushed to government securities, even though the U.S. was at the epicenter of the financial crisis. This column attributes the paradox to key emerging market economies' exchange practices, which require reserves most often invested in U.S. government securities. America's exorbitant privilege comes with a cost and a responsibility that U.S. policy makers should bear in mind as they address financial reform.
2010-04-22 Demystifying Romania by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
Franklin Templeton sees tremendous opportunities for growth and investments in Romania, and will soon expand operations there. Romania and other Eastern European countries are transforming their economies from state-dominated socialist economic models to systems driven by market forces and private enterprise. Romania joined the European Union in 2007 and is undergoing substantial reforms that should strengthen capital markets in the country. Like other countries in Eastern Europe, however, Romania was hit hard by the recent financial crisis and needed a rescue package.
2010-04-20 It's Census Time: Where in the World Are We Growing? by Team of American Century Investments
International population forecasts provided by the U.S. Census Bureau provide directional insights that can be useful to investors. The U.S. will continue to be a dynamic, growing and expanding country from a population perspective well into the 21st century. One implication is that we can deal with concerns over our rapidly growing government debt by growing out of the problem. In addition, despite the recent gloom caused by the housing bubble bursting, real estate values are likely to recover and continue growing long-term as a result of population growth.
2010-04-19 Complex Structural Changes in China and the Global Economy by Michael Spence of PIMCO
China has come to a point where its size and global impact are large. Policy in China will have to be set within a delicate balancing act between domestic growth and development and distributional challenges on one hand, and recognition of global impacts on the other. The large developing countries need to understand better than they currently do that their growing size and presence in trade in goods and services is forcing uncomfortable structural change in the advanced countries as well.
2010-04-13 Shameless by Michael Lewitt (Article)
The fiscal train wreck in the United States has not been set back on the tracks, and the global imbalances that led to the financial crisis have not gone away. Quite to the contrary, writes Michael Lewittin Shameless, the latest edition of his HCM newsletter. In fact, if progress isn't made with respect to these issues, and if intelligent financial reform is not enacted, future instability is guaranteed.
2010-03-11 Jordan: Optimism in the Heart of the Middle East by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
Mark Mobius recounts a recent trip to Jordan in search of investments. Jordan is a modern democratic constitutional monarchy with the king as head of state. It has a highly educated population of about 6.1 million and a growing middle class. Government policies focus on economic reform and growth. The country's 20 percent of GDP annual spending on education makes it one of the highest education spenders in the region. Jordan's health care system plays a key role in the national economy, and professional women are able to attain high status.
2010-01-05 A Lesson from Lawrence of Arabia by Dan Richards (Article)
Everyone has a favorite movie scene, and Dan Richards' comes from his all-time favorite movie, Lawrence of Arabia. Dan explains how the lessons from that classic movie apply to the advisory profession.
2009-12-08 Dubai?s Moon Shot by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
Dubai is like NASA; both have proven that anything is possible when you ignore economic costs. As Vitaliy Katsenelson writes, many technological discoveries were made in the process of putting a man on the moon; but the project did have, and was expected to have, a negative return on capital.
2009-12-01 Allen Sinai: Jobless Recovery and the Failure of Current Economic Policies by Robert Huebscher (Article)
As the Democratic leadership in Congress has looked for ways to simultaneously create jobs and reduce the deficit, a key person they have turned to and continue to rely on is Allen Sinai. Sinai now fears the US is in the "mother of all jobless recoveries" and that the economic policies of the Obama administration are not working.
2009-10-20 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.