More on Related Themes
2014-04-17 Designing Balanced DC Menus: Considering Diversified Fixed Income Choices by Stacy Schaus, Ying Gao of PIMCO
Sponsors of defined contribution plans face a dual challenge: They must present investment options appropriate for plan members and design menus that encourage selection of well-structured portfolios. We believe that actively managed strategies designed to potentially reduce risks, invest globally and enhance yield relative to the index may improve diversification and lower concentration risk in fixed income offerings. Plan sponsors may consider a range of return and risk measures as they evaluate current and prospective fixed income offerings.
2014-04-14 Why Today’s Environment Favors Active High Yield Strategies by Darren Hughes, Scott Roberts of Invesco Blog
Fixed income investors are looking for ways to prepare their portfolios for rising interest rates. While bond prices generally fall when rates rise, history shows that high yield bonds have typically held up well in rising rate environments.
2014-04-09 How High-Frequency Trading Benefits Most Investors by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
A controversial new book came out in late March that lambastes so-called “high-frequency trading” on the major stock exchanges and claims that such computerized trading robs retail investors of good executions and profits on their stock orders. The book, “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt,” was written by former bond salesman turned author, Michael Lewis, who appeared on CBS’ 60 Minutes on March 30. Since then, his book has stirred up quite the controversy among stock market investors.
2014-04-08 Moving Forward With the Normalization of Yields by Scott Mather, Michael Story of PIMCO
One response to yield normalization is to consider retaining core bonds and diversifying the specific risk factor of concern, in this case duration. In the past, global bonds have captured most of the upside but avoided a significant amount of the downside relative to domestic-only bonds. Generating capital gains from bonds in a rising yield environment requires defining concretely what yield normalization means – where yields are going and when they will get there – and setting these expectations against forward market pricing, country by country.
2014-04-01 U.S. Growth Offers a Tailwind for the Region by Mohit Mittal, Ed Devlin, Lupin Rahman of PIMCO
PIMCO expects growth in the U.S. to improve due to a reduction in fiscal drag, although the Federal Reserve’s tapering and slowing growth in China are risks. While higher U.S. growth should offer a boost to exporters, Canada will likely face headwinds from a housing correction and drop in consumption. Latin America has fared relatively well amid the recent volatility in emerging markets, but differentiation across credits and markets continues to increase.
2014-03-31 European Rally Has Legs by Nick Kalivas of Invesco Blog
Since hitting a low on June 1, 2012, the MSCI Europe Index has rallied 64.73%. In our view, there’s room for European equity markets to advance further, supported by strong fundamentals, positive flows and a steady uptrend from the June 2012 low.
2014-03-27 What Has Been Fueling the Rise of Gold in 2014? by Kevin Mahn of Hennion & Walsh
Gold declined approximately 28% for the year of 2013, its worst annual performance since 1981 according toUSA Today. At that time, the downturn ended Gold’s own bull market run of 12 consecutive years as investors jumped on the back of this current bull market by piling into stock funds in 2013 and largely exiting bond funds.
2014-03-25 A Slip and Fall? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
Despite last week’s vernal equinox, signaling the first day of spring on Thursday, another arctic blast is hitting the Midwest yet again this week, and cabin fever has become an epidemic. So many of my friends and family are singing the same refrain; “When will this winter be over?”
2014-03-24 Is the Fed Supporting the Equity Markets? by Tom Riegert of Hatteras Funds
The Federal Reserve’s unprecedented increase in reserves purchased through its quantitative easing programs has paralleled the performance of the equity markets to a startling degree. Has the Fed’s program been supporting the equity markets? We examine the strong correlation between the Fed’s balance sheet and the performance of the S&P 500 since end-2008, and ponder the effects the Fed’s long-awaited tapering will have on market volatility. Investors facing the uncertainty ahead could well find alternative investments a welcome addition to their portfolio.
2014-03-22 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust
The Federal Reserve’s updated guidance takes a page from its past. Wage trends will guide the timing of tightening. Chinese banking reformers should be careful what they wish for.
2014-03-21 Retirement Savings: How Much Is Enough? Part 2: Good News Not Good Enough by Jon Vogler of Invesco Blog
This second blog in a two-part series about retirement readiness discusses whether 401(k)s and Social Security can adequately meet retirement income needs. Part 1 looked at the rule-of-thumb numbers cited as guidelines for income replacement in retirement.
2014-03-19 Is the Fed's Monetary Mojo Working at Last? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
It just might be. Data suggest that the central bank’s massive liquidity boost may be starting to flow into the broader economy.
2014-03-18 Understanding The "Millennial Generation" by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
As the father of two adult children who were born in the early 1990s, I have a particularly keen interest in the “Millennial Generation” – those 80 million or so people born in the US between 1980 and 2002, the largest generation ever – and who will be running the country before too long.
2014-03-17 Retirement Savings: How Much Is Enough? Part 1: 70%, More or Less? by Jon Vogler of Invesco Blog
This first blog of a two-part series about retirement readiness looks at the rule-of-thumb numbers cited as guidelines for income replacement in retirement. Part 2 will discuss how adequately 401(k)s and Social Security will meet those target numbers.
2014-03-15 Heating Up and Thawing Out by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen & Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Concerns over growth and geopolitical issues have largely been set aside by investors in the United States, but complacency can be dangerous and another pullback in the near term could unfold if history holds. Investors should keep longer term goals in mind and remember that trying to time the market is an extremely difficult task. The weather is turning and economic data will be watched to see if recent softness was temporary or something more serious. We lean toward the former, but a retrenchment in bond yields would cause some concern about the potential for something more than weather.
2014-03-15 Like Houdini, the Markets Escape Again and Again by Stephen C. Sexauer of Allianz Global Investors
Like the great escape artist Harry Houdini, the markets have repeatedly escaped a series of potential catastrophes. Central banks around the world have coordinated policy making these escapes possible, but the end result is another trap from which we need to escape - seemingly permanent low interest rates for savers ("financial repression"), slow growth, and high asset prices. Financial repression is better than an outright debt deflation, but it causes its own problems. The outlook is for low returns.
2014-03-10 Four Reasons to Consider Emerging Markets for the Long Term by Borge Endresen of Invesco Blog
Emerging markets are at that peculiar place where everyone likes them over the long term, but very few like them in the short term. Many well-publicized headwinds from 2013 remain going into 2014, accompanied by election uncertainty in Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey. And political uncertainty keeps surfacing in such places as Thailand, Turkey and the Ukraine.
2014-03-05 The Renminbi's New Normal by Teresa Kong of Matthews Asia
The gyrations in Chinese money markets in the last few weeks have caused much alarm in the financial press. The moves in these markets are not only inline, but healthy for an economy looking to increase the role of the market in allocating resources. Those who believe these moves indicate financial stress, or draw parallels between the recent volatility and that which preceded the subprime crisis in the U.S., might be looking through the wrong end of the telescope.
2014-03-05 The Renminbi's New Normal by Teresa Kong of Matthews Asia
The gyrations in Chinese money markets in the last few weeks have caused much alarm in the financial press. The moves in these markets are not only inline, but healthy for an economy looking to increase the role of the market in allocating resources. Those who believe these moves indicate financial stress, or draw parallels between the recent volatility and that which preceded the subprime crisis in the U.S., might be looking through the wrong end of the telescope.
2014-03-03 Bond Aid: Positive Outlook for High Yield in 2014 by Darren Hughes, Scott Roberts of Invesco Blog
While most fixed income asset classes tied to interest rates saw negative returns during 2013, high yield bonds returned more than 8%, according to the JP Morgan Domestic High Yield Index. While we anticipate slightly lower returns in 2014, it looks to be a positive year for high yield markets.
2014-03-01 Black Swans and Endogenous Uncertainty by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
John is in Florida and feeling a bit under the weather, so this week we’re bringing back one of his most popular letters, from December 2007. In the letter he discusses the work of Professor Graciela Chichilnisky of Columbia University, one of whose key insights is that the greater the number of connections within an economic network, the more the system is at risk. Given the current macroeconomic environment, it is important to remind ourselves of how complacent we were back in 2007 and how it all fell apart so quickly, just as John outlined in this rather prescient piece.
2014-02-25 Flirting With Deflation by Andrew Bosomworth of PIMCO
Over the medium term, we see downside risks to both growth and inflation in the eurozone, unlike the ECB’s more balanced view. However, even if eurozone inflation sinks close to 1% in 2014–2015, as PIMCO forecasts, this in itself probably would not be low enough for the ECB to consider further easing. A lack of further policy action may undermine the ECB’s credibility to anchor longer-term inflation more closely to 2%.
2014-02-24 Leading Indicators Offer a Window into Europe’s Recovery by Matthew Dennis of Invesco Blog
We’re seeing signs that the recovery in Europe is progressing. I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the positives, uncertainties and opportunities that we believe investors should consider about the region.
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.
2014-02-18 After a Rocky 2013, What\'s in Store for Asia This Year? by Brent Bates of Invesco Blog
Overall, 2013 wasn’t the best year for Asian markets, however there are several trends emerging that we believe will be good for the region this year.
2014-02-13 Rich Man, Poor Man! by Jeff Saut of Raymond James
Last week was a pretty wild week starting out with Monday’s 90% Downside Day where 90% of total Up/Down Volume, and total Up/Down Points traded, were recorded on the downside (read: negative), leaving the S&P 500 (SPX/1797.02) down ~41 points. It was the second 90% Downside Day in the past two weeks with the first occurring on January 24th, which broke the SPX below its first support zone of 1808 – 1813, thus now that level becomes an overhead resistance level.
2014-02-13 A Centennial to Celebrate - The Federal Reserve Looks Forward to Its Next 100 Years by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust
The Fed’s centennial arrives at an interesting juncture. Never in its history has the American central bank been so deeply involved in economic management, and rarely has it attracted such controversy. The recent transition in Fed leadership marks the end of a significant era. In some ways, this makes it a perfect time to contemplate what the Fed was, what it has become and what it should be during its second century. The results of this review will be valuable to central banks the world over.
2014-02-12 Why Quantitative Easing Didn’t Work by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
IN THIS ISSUE: 1. Why Fed’s Quantitative Easing (QE) Didn’t Work 2. Velocity of Money Plunged During Financial Crisis 3. Should Bernanke & Company Have Done More? 4. QE Was a Huge, Dangerous Experiment That Failed 5. Fed Begins to “Taper” QE Purchases in January 6. Conclusions – What Happens Next?
2014-02-10 What Would a Stronger Dollar Mean for Global Markets? by Borge Endresen, Brent Bates of Invesco
As the world watches the progress of the US Federal Reserve’s tapering program, and anticipates the strengthening of the US dollar, We’re often asked how this affects our view of international markets and risk. The short answer is that it doesn’t. We’re long-term, bottom-up stock pickers , so we;re primarily concerned with currency impacts on a company-by-company basis. However, there are some broad trends that are worth noting.
2014-02-10 What Would a Stronger Dollar Mean for Global Markets? by Borge Endresen, Brent Bates of Invesco
As the world watches the progress of the US Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) tapering program, and anticipates the strengthening of the US dollar, we’re often asked how this affects our view of the international market and risk. The short answer is that it doesn’t. We’re long-term, bottom-up stock pickers, so we’re primarily concerned with currency impacts on a company-by-company basis. However, there are some broad trends that are worth noting.
2014-02-05 Most \'Medieval\' by William Gross of PIMCO
Unlike today, when most believe that animals were put on this Earth for humanity’s pleasure or utility, most people in the Middle Ages believed that God granted free will to Adam, Eve and all of His creatures. Animals were responsible in some strange way for their own actions and therefore should be held accountable for them.
2014-02-04 It Looks Messy Even From a Distance... by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
I’m traveling outside the country but I am never far from the latest financial market update. I saw today’s market move and with the sluggish start to the New Year in stocks, I thought I’d drop you all a line with my thoughts.
2014-02-03 A Secular Bull Market? by Juliet Ellis of Invesco Blog
Five years from now, I believe we will look back and see that 2014 was part of the early stages of a multi-year secular bull market for US equities, characterized by rising stock prices with only short, intervening market corrections.
2014-01-27 Commodities: Is the Bear Market Near Its End? by Scott Wolle of Invesco Blog
On the surface, 2014 looks to be a tough year for commodities, as multi-year projects increase the flow of supplies to market even as demand has turned tepid, especially in emerging markets. However, a deeper look at the history of this asset class suggests that the outlook for commodities might turn around sooner than many expect.
2014-01-25 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust
So while the Fed was the first to implement nontraditional monetary strategies, the BoE may be the first to unwind them. And it may be the first to test the power of macroprudential policy. The results might make for an interesting export back across the Atlantic.
2014-01-21 Upstream Companies Set to Benefit if US Allows Oil Exports by Juan Hartsfield of Invesco Blog
US crude oil production is booming, and controversy over possibly exporting some of this abundance has quickly heated up in early 2014. Most recently, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, spoke out on Jan. 7 in favor of easing US restrictions on oil exports, which were largely enacted in the 1970s when domestic energy was scarce and lines at the gasoline pump were long. The topic of crude exports is polarizing politically and, given the recent lack of collaboration in Washington, it’s poised to be a recurring headline for some time.
2014-01-21 Kansas by Jerome Schneider of PIMCO
In the coming year, traditional money market strategies, long viewed as safe havens, will be challenged by new regulations, near 0% returns and a lack of investable assets. Short-term bond strategies could provide the right balance between risk-taking and liquidity management, and offer the potential for positive returns. Active managers have a distinct advantage because they can manage interest rate volatility and potentially source assets by identifying underappreciated sectors.
2014-01-13 Money Matters Part 2: China\'s Bitcoin Ban by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog
This second of a two-part series about bitcoin looks at the impact of China’s recent ban on the virtual currency. Part 1 examined the viability of bitcoins as a potential global currency.
2014-01-10 Macro Strategy Review by Jim Welsh of Forward Investing
Heavy emphasis on the fundamentals factors driving the U.S., European Union, China, and Emerging economies, and how the fundamentals are likely to impact markets.
2014-01-10 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.
2014-01-09 Seesaw Rider by William Gross of PIMCO
There’s 50 ways to leave your lover and maybe more than that to lose your money or "break the buck," as some label it in the money markets. You can buy the Brooklyn Bridge, bet on the Cubs to win the World Series or have owned 30 year Treasury bonds in 2013, to name just a few. But bridges and baseball aside, what you’re probably interested in hearing from me is how to avoid breaking your investment buck in 2014.
2014-01-06 Money Matters Part 1: Bitcoin as Global Currency? by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog
In 2009, bitcoin became the first cryptocurrency, or digital medium of exchange, to begin trading. Is it currency or a commodity? Is it a potential peer or a threat to existing currencies? Let’s take a closer look.
2014-01-03 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.
2013-12-30 What Does US Tapering Mean for Asia? by Paul Chan of Invesco Blog
The US Federal Reserve (Fed) took its first step toward unwinding its unprecedented monetary stimulus. Beginning in January 2014, the Fed will reduce monthly asset purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion. The scale of the tapering was very much in line with market expectation. While timing may have surprised some investors, the market had already priced in the Fed’s imminent move.
2013-12-23 401(k) Makeover: Future Trends by Jon Vogler of Invesco Blog
Retirement experts believe your 401(k) plan will take on a new look and focus over the next few years as the industry introduces changes aimed at getting participants to save more money and do more planning for retirement.
2013-12-20 Five Resolutions for 2014 by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds
Entering 2014, the global investment environment is as challenging as ever. After a super 2013 in returns, U.S. equities can no longer be considered inexpensive and yet still look attractive relative to the prospective returns on savings accounts and long-term bonds. Long-term bond yields are higher than a year ago but could still rise further as the Federal Reserve begins to reduce quantitative easing.
2013-12-17 Gaining Perspective by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
This weekend we were honored to have Steve Finn, the owner of our largest custodian, Trust Company of America, and his lovely wife, Kelly, join us for our annual Holiday Party (see more about the party in the "What’s Happening" section). On Sunday, at a post-party brunch, Kelly (who studied art at the International Academy of Art in Nice, France, and at the Brera Art Academy in Milan, Italy and has many years of patient craftsmanship with oil paint and easel) was telling us about how she goes about creating her exquisite paintings.
2013-12-16 Debt Crisis Recovery: Bell Curves and Balance Sheets by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog
This three-part series examines the life cycle of a debt crisis and looks at where the US, UK and eurozone are in the recovery process. This second post looks at where the US stands in the deleveraging process. Part 1 explained the phases of a debt crisis, while Part 3 will focus on why the UK and eurozone lag the US in balance-sheet repair.
2013-12-09 Debt Crisis Recovery: Bell Curves and Balance Sheets by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog
This three-part series examines the life cycle of a debt crisis and looks at where the US, UK and eurozone are in the recovery process. This first post explains the phases of a debt crisis. Part 2 will look at where the US stands in the deleveraging process, while Part 3 will focus on why the UK and eurozone lag the US in balance-sheet repair.
2013-12-06 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust
The U.S. employment report puts taper onto the table. Don’t expect further rate cuts from the ECB or the Fed. Auto sales have been a bright spot amid sluggish consumer spending.
2013-12-02 Investing in China? What You Should Know About Gaining Access to the Markets by Ted Samulowitz, Graham Day of Invesco Blog
Investors with exposure to China and those interested in gaining a foot into the country received some good news last month when it was announced that China’s GDP grew by 7.8% in the third quarter. The news was a sigh of relief for investors as China’s economy appears to have avoided the hard landing economists and investors had feared.
2013-11-25 Recent Economic Trends Help Make Korea a Hidden Gem in Asia by Paul Chan and Simon Jeong of Invesco Blog
After more than two decades of financial setbacks, recent macroeconomic data is helping Korea overcome the negative economic stigma associated with its economy and equity markets.
2013-11-25 An Open Letter to the FOMC: Recognizing the Valuation Bubble in Equities by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
The Fed has done enough, and perhaps dangerously more than enough. The prospect of dismal investment returns in equities is an outcome that is largely baked-in-the-cake. The only question is how much worse the outcomes will be as a result of Fed policy that has few economic mechanisms other than to encourage speculative behavior.
2013-11-18 The ECB Rate Cut - Too Little and Too Late by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog
The decision of the European Central Bank (ECB) last week to cut its main refinancing rate from 0.5% to 0.25% and the marginal lending facility from 1.00% to 0.75% is too little and too late -- and virtually irrelevant to financial markets. The decision came after published data showed the eurozone headline consumer price index slowing to 0.7% year-on-year in October. Of course the equity markets rallied temporarily in a knee-jerk reaction to the ECB’s move, but by the end of the day most of the gains were lost.
2013-11-15 “Great Rotation?” How About “Selective Rotation?” by Eric Takaha of Franklin Templeton
A few months ago there was a lot of buzz about a so-called “Great Rotation,” used to describe an investor exodus from fixed income and into equities, conjuring up images of a massive herd of wildebeest on the African plain racing for greener pastures. Oftentimes, when investors react to the market with a herd mentality, they can wind up losing sight of where they are going, and why. Eric Takaha, senior vice president and portfolio manager for Franklin Strategic Income Fund, says what he’s seen is more of a “selective rotation.”
2013-11-13 Twenty Five by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover, Mike Czekaj of Broadleaf Partners
I am not a particularly good salesman. From the time I first meet a prospect to when they become a full-fledged client, it can often take two years even when they initiate the first meeting. Fortunately, growing the firm isn’t one of my primary roles, a responsibility that does fall to Bill Hoover, my business partner. The beauty of our relationship is that while Bill devotes his time to our firm’s “outside” efforts, I am able to spend almost all of my attention tending to the portfolios of those who have already hired us. (View a printable version of this Economic
2013-11-12 Big Ideas on Gold and Resources in the Big Easy by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
For nearly four decades, curious investors have made their way to the Big Easy for a taste of New Orleans and several helpings of advice and perspective at the New Orleans Investment Conference.
2013-11-11 Health Care: Rx for Growth and Defense by Ted Samulowitz of Invesco Blog
The Capital Asset Pricing Model, used to price risky securities, suggests growth and defensive investments are mutually exclusive because the more an asset can return, the higher its risk must be. But growth itself can provide defensive benefits when a secular growth story occurs regardless of the business cycle.
2013-11-08 Should You Walk Away from a Fed that Prints Money? by Tad Rivelle of TCW Asset Management
Either the markets or the Fed itself will come to accept that financial repression is a “box canyon” whose only escape is by climbing out through higher rates and wider spreads on risk assets. Staying “risk on” requires the investor to underwrite the exacerbating risks inherent in an economy that is being given bad signals and is accumulating a menagerie of mispriced assets and bad loans. Yes, you should walk away from a Fed that prints money.
2013-11-07 Selective Value = Price plus Quality by Chris Richey of Neosho Capital
A paper on backtesting results using many of the metrics that Neosho Capital utilizes when screening for equities.
2013-11-04 The Great Stall of China by Steve Cao, Mark Jason of Invesco Blog
While China is without question the growth driver and the outperformer among Asian emerging markets, it’s clear the country is transitioning toward slower growth because of demographic factors and domestic rebalancing. In our view, China is entering a multiyear period of slower growth, but we consider its future growth robust and sustainable when compared with overall global gross domestic product (GDP) growth -- albeit below the annualized pace of more than 10% China experienced from 2001 to 2010.
2013-10-28 Low-Volatility Strategies Challenge Conventional Ideas of Risk and Return by Joseph Becker of Invesco Blog
If asked to sum up in a single word their investing experience over the last 15 years, many investors would likely say, “volatile.”
2013-10-26 A Code Red World by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The heart of this week’s letter is the introduction of my just-released new book, Code Red. It is my own take (along with co-author Jonathan Tepper) on the problems that have grown out of an unrelenting assault on monetary norms by central banks around the world.
2013-10-25 Why Growth is Deep in the Heart of Texas by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
TIME Magazine’s cover this week features an engaging collage of the 50 states reassembled to fit within the boundaries of Texas. With a growing number of solid-paying jobs, affordable housing, and low taxes, “the Lone Star State is America’s Future,” declares economist and writer Tyler Cowen.
2013-10-24 Glory Days: Could They Come Back for US Equities? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
A "great rotation" may not be underway by individual investors; even amid record-breaking outflows from bond funds this summer. But fund flow data do show some shift in preferences and highlight the sensitivity of investors to any rise in longer-term interest rates. A more interesting place to look is at the fiduciary community; that has decidedly shifted its attention away from traditional equities (and fixed income) over the past decade.
2013-10-23 Lack of Earnings of U.S. companies Scarier Than Washington Grid-lock by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services
I think U.S. investors believe whatever happens in Congress, there will always be a last minute deal, which is the main reason for the recent major stock market surge on nothing more than hope. The markets, of late, have not been trading on fundamentals; they have been trading on news. This is a dangerous phenomenon, when news is bad; there is no backstop to the market. It causes volatility to surge and institutional confidence to falter.
2013-10-22 Washington Strikes a No-Surprise Deal - Now What? by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments
Congress called a time-out in the budget/debt fight last week, striking a deal to avoid default and fund the U.S. government through January 15, 2014 and raise the debt limit through February 7, 2014. While the parties agreed to budget talks, they did not commit to reaching an agreement (technically, Paul Ryan and Patty Murray, the House and Senate budget committee chairs will begin a process of fiscal negotiations, due to wrap up by mid-December).
2013-10-22 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group
Last month, a Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of non-retired investors showed just how lingering the hangover is from the financial crisis five years ago. Much like the Great Depression financially scared their great grandparents and grandparents, the Great Recession is impacting investors’ expectations about the future.
2013-10-21 Looking Past the Politics: What Does the Market Need to Grow? by Ron Sloan of Invesco Blog
As the tone of the debt ceiling negotiations in Washington wavered over the past several days, equity markets rose and fell in kind. While lawmakers were able to come to a last-minute agreement to raise the debt ceiling and end the 16-day federal government shutdown, the key to putting the markets on a solid foundation for the longer term is for corporations to generate earnings growth through increased revenues.
2013-10-18 Trying To Beat The Market Is A Fool's Errand by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
Proponents of indexing as the best investment strategy seemed to take great delight in reporting how the vast majority of professionally managed portfolios (mutual funds, separately managed accounts, hedge funds, ETFs, etc.) fail to outperform the S&P 500. Therefore, they argue, it is best not to even try. Investors should simply invest in index funds and forget about it.
2013-10-17 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group
Last month, a Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of non-retired investors showed just how lingering the hangover is from the financial crisis five years ago. Much like the Great Depression financially scared their great grandparents and grandparents, the Great Recession is impacting investors’ expectations about the future. 41% indicated they were concerned about another global crisis during their retirement years, and 28% were convinced they would have a lower standard of living during retirement.
2013-10-15 The Turmoil in Washington by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management
At the time of this publication the budget situation has not been resolved, although it appears that both parties are backing away from the default abyss. However, given that these crises seem to come once or twice a year, it seemed appropriate to weigh in on the geopolitical impact of the intractable problems of American government.
2013-10-15 Equity Markets to Congress: “What, me worry?” by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments
President Obama said he was willing to have discussions, though he said he wouldn’t engage in negotiations. (Comment: I guess it depends of what the meaning of "is" is.) So far, those discussions haven’t produced a deal, but at least they’ve started talking.
2013-10-14 Move Along, Market: It's Only a Gaper's Delay by Rick Golod of Invesco Blog
After several days of stalemate between the White House and Congress, House Republicans have offered a six-week debt ceiling extension conditional on negotiating a package of fiscal concessions. The debt ceiling offer is straightforward, but the shutdown would continue until the fiscal concessions are agreed on. While this may dampen the economy and equity market, at least in the short run, I believe long-term investors should stay put and be patient.
2013-10-12 These Could be the Most Lucrative Energy Plays by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Sometimes the most attractive energy assets aren’t found in the ground. Rather, at times like today, they are listed on the stock exchange.
2013-10-09 The U.S. Can\'t Default On Its Debt. Right? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
The Treasury Secretary has warned that his agency will exhaust the “extraordinary measures” it has used to fund the government on October 17. On the Sunday talk shows, he warned of “catastrophic consequences” if Congress doesn’t raise the statutory debt ceiling by then. So, over the next nine days, you’ll be hearing ominous forecasts of what will happen if the US defaults on its nearly $17 trillion national debt, or even some of it. Sound familiar?
2013-10-09 The Squeeze Play by Jerome Schneider of PIMCO
Reductions in Treasury bill and commercial paper issuance compounded by developments on the demand side mean the “squeeze play” is on for many short-term portfolios. Investors should consider the potential for substantive changes to liquidity conditions as banks contend with increases in capital requirements due to updated Basel III regulations. Active management of short-term investments is important: Don’t rely on static regulatory frameworks or traditional indexes to determine a portfolio’s unique liquidity needs.
2013-10-07 Auto Focus: Voluntary Plans Morphing to Mandatory? by Jon Vogler of Invesco
The American private retirement system has historically been voluntary. Employers first decide whether they’re going to sponsor a plan and then select the plan’s features. But over the last several years, focus has intensified on two criticisms of the voluntary system.
2013-10-07 The Real Cause of Bank Failures by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault
My favorite section money and investment is a shell compared to what it was like 20 years. Still, many times there are gems to be read. In February 2013 under the section Heard On The Street was a piece written by David Reilly entitled Too Big to Fail Casts a Very Long Shadow and it put real fear in me.
2013-10-01 The Eight Principles of Value Investing by Scott Clemons and Michael Kim (Article)
In any environment, but especially one characterized by uncertainty, eight principles of investing are critical. These bedrock beliefs help guide our thinking at the levels of asset allocation, security selection and identification of the third-party managers we engage to help manage our clients’ assets.
2013-09-30 The House at Main and Wall by Justin Speer of Invesco Blog
This four-part series tracks the recent US housing recovery and explains why investors should be both encouraged and cautious. Part 4 looks at pockets of investment opportunity on Main Street. Part 1 traced the recovery’s trajectory against the backdrop of the overall US economy. Part 2 examined affordability and interest rates, while Part 3 discussed why homebuilders’ stocks may potentially be overvalued.
2013-09-23 Credit Rating Agencies: Can They Get It Right? Part 3: Five Years After the Fall by Michelle Shwarzman of Invesco Blog
This three-part series takes a critical look at the growing role of credit rating agencies (CRAs) in the global financial system. This post reports on the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) debate about the role of CRAs in the international financial system. Part 1 focused on the involvement of CRAs in recent financial and economic crises in the US and Europe, while Part 2 described post-crises attempts to reform CRAs.
2013-09-16 Investing in Puerto Rico: What Investors Should Know by Stephanie Larosiliere of Invesco Blog
In recent quarters, investors have been on high alert about Puerto Rico’s ailing financial situation. The concern was sparked by the US territory’s ongoing recession, which has been characterized by high unemployment, $70 billion of total debt and a consecutive streak of annual budget deficits. Compounding investors’ fears were Detroit’s recent bankruptcy filing and June’s massive sell-off in the municipal bond market, which may have caused some weakness in Puerto Rico’s debt.
2013-09-10 Raising the Bar on Target Date Due Diligence by Manning & Napier/Strategic Insight of Manning & Napier
Deeming whether target date fund investments are appropriate for a specific participant population is an arduous and imperfect task, made more complicated by a lack of full transparency. Fiduciaries should question whether the underlying securities of target date funds are appropriate to meet the retirement saving needs of plan participants. However, the question itself raises concern about what it would take to examine the funds in such detail.
2013-09-09 Reasons for Optimism in a Sloppy Third Quarter by Ron Sloan of Invesco Blog
Investors are anticipating the day that we transition from a market dominated by monetary stimulus to an earnings-driven market. The problem is that earnings aren’t cooperating yet. In my view, we’ve still got a sloppy third and maybe fourth quarter to get through, but I think 2014 will likely be a much better earnings market.
2013-09-03 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group
For those in college during the 60s the time of “sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll” it’s hard to believe that marijuana has become legal. It is currently legal in some form in about 20 states and more are considering it, at least for medical purposes. Even Florida has strong proponents for the medical use of marijuana. There are always people who are trying to take advantage of the situation and this is no exception.
2013-09-03 How to Find Value in Real Estate With “Risk On, Risk Off” Off Again by Walter Stabell, III of Invesco Blog
Recent trends, including falling stock correlations, have been strong indicators that the global economy is normalizing and the practice of “risk on, risk off” investing, in which investors enter and exit perceived riskier investments based on how they feel about the economy, is now off again after becoming a phenomenon in the post-financial crisis years.
2013-08-26 Could Clarity Confuse? The Industry Strikes Back by Jon Vogler of Invesco Blog
The intention of the Department of Labor (DOL) proposal to illustrate lifetime income streams on 401(k) statements is to clarify retirement income status for participants. But according to industry and trade groups, the requirement may have the opposite effect, creating more confusion than clarity.
2013-08-23 What Does an Improving Economy Mean for Stocks and Bonds? by Charlie Dreifus of The Royce Funds
With the economy improving, inflation tame, and a Federal Reserve meeting approaching in September, Portfolio Manager and Principal Charlie Dreifus believes that small-caps remain an attractive option within the equities market.
2013-08-21 Asia Brief: On Economic Evolution in Cambodia by Edmund Harriss, James Weir of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management
Cambodia’s recent national Assembly elections offer hope that the country may be able to achieve a peaceful political transition in the coming years. The country’s political turmoil has held it back behind its neighbors, but tourism and gar- ment assembly are driving an acceleration in economic output growth. However, Cambodia is at risk from inflation through imported petroleum, and its youthful population will want to see improving GDP per capita feeding through into higher living standards, rather than a higher hydrocarbon bill.
2013-08-19 What Triggers Would Make Japanese Equities Attractive? by Mark Jason of Invesco Blog
Through the second quarter of 2013, Japan remained Invesco International Growth Fund’s largest underweight versus the Custom International Growth Index because our EQV (earnings, quality and valuation) discipline criteria drive us toward high-quality companies at reasonable valuations, and those are scarce in Japan. Why? Because Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s success is being priced in, and overcoming two decades lost to stagnation is difficult.
2013-08-13 A Better Way to Measure Systemic Risk by Michael Edesess (Article)
The economics profession has faced harsh criticism since the financial crisis of 2007-09 – not least from its own members–for relying on mathematical models that failed to foresee the crisis and in some cases abetted its onset. Is the criticism justified, and what can be done about it?
2013-08-13 The Benefit of the Doubt by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
When I was practicing law (full time for twenty years of my working life), I always had to be aware of the requirements for proof. By “the preponderance of the evidence” in a civil case, and “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a criminal matter were the standards.
2013-08-12 Fight Over the Fed: Why So Ugly? by Michelle Shwarzman of Invesco Blog
When President Barack Obama let it slip in a June interview that Federal Reserve (Fed) Chairman Ben Bernanke had “already stayed a lot longer than he wanted or he was supposed to,” the quest for the next Fed chair was underway. But few anticipated it would devolve into a fairly brutal brawl - by economist standards - between two extremely competent and capable PhD candidates: Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who also served as Harvard’s president and chief White House economic advisor.
2013-08-08 Bond Wars by William Gross of PIMCO
Adaptation is tantamount to survival in the physical world. So argued Darwin, at least, and I am not one to argue with most science and its interpretation of natural laws. Adaptation has been critical as well for the survival of countries during wartime, incidents of which I am drawn to like a bear to honey, especially when they concern WWI. Stick with me for a few paragraphs on this the following is not likely to be boring and almost certainly should be instructive.
2013-08-05 Far More Money Pulled out of Bonds Flows into Cash Than into Equities by Minyi Chen, TrimTabs of AdvisorShares
Investors Pull Record $87.8 Billion out of Bond Funds in June and July, Breaking String of 21 Consecutive Monthly Inflows. Far More Money Pulled out of Bonds Flows into Cash Than into Equities.
2013-08-02 QE Why $85 Billion per Month? Why Not $170 or $42 -1/2 Billion? by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC
Am I the only one who wondered how the Federal Reserve arrived at a figure of $85 billion as the amount of longer-maturity securities it planned to purchase per month in its third round of quantitative easing (QE)? Why not double that amount? Why not half that amount? How will the Fed know when it is time to “taper” its securities purchases? How will the Fed know by how much to taper? Inquiring minds want to know.
2013-08-02 Three Reasons Why Money Market Yields Are So Low by Craig Bloodworth of Invesco Blog
I’m often asked why money market yields are so low today - even lower than they were a few months ago. My response generally begins with overnight repurchase agreements, or repo, which impact the price of term securities in the money market space.
2013-08-01 Is It Time for the Fed to Wind Down the Economic Stimulus? by Team of Knowledge@Wharton
Is it time for the Federal Reserve to start tapering down the "quantitative easing" bond-buying program that has helped stimulate the U.S. economy since the financial crisis of 2008? Views are mixed. Several experts, say yes, it’s time. Others worry it could be too soon.
2013-07-29 And That\\\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
So now Prez Obama is sharing his two cents about the economy. After weeks of endless babble from the Fed Chief and his partners in crime about the economy and the longevity of the bond buying program, O is now making job creation his number one priority. Is anyone listening to his urgent messages (certainly no one in DC)? Investors (at least those not on vacation) were less than impressed with the less than impressive earnings of the week, though markets held their own.
2013-07-29 Detroit Bankruptcy Not Indicative of Credit Trends by Mary Jane Minier and Matt Nichols of Invesco Blog
Detroit filed for bankruptcy on July 18, making it the largest municipality to file for bankruptcy, as well as the first time a state’s largest city has filed. While this is a historic event, it’s definitely not unexpected - Detroit’s declining finances date back to the 1960s. A 50-year trend is a pretty telling metric.
2013-07-25 Summer Quarterly Commentary by John Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management
Recently the Fed indicated it may begin returning control over market pricing and interest rates to Adam Smith’s invisible hand... and borderline chaos erupted. The episode began mid-day May 22nd as Congress questioned Fed Chairman Bernanke and suddenly the cat was out of the bag and a paradigm shift ensued. Bond funds suffered some of their largest weekly redemptions on record. Rates spiked and markets swooned around the world through late June as investors assumed the worst.
2013-07-25 Retirement: The Vacation of a Lifetime by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments
Most of us plan for our vacations with giddy anticipation. We pore over glossy travel magazines and surf web sites for the perfect place to pursue our passions, or to just put our feet up and relax. And, if we’re responsible, we save our pennies, sometimes years in advance, to make our dream a reality. But when it comes to the ultimate “vacation” retirement many people are far less prepared. You probably have a good idea of how to finance a week’s vacation, but do you have a viable plan for a vacation that can last decades?
2013-07-24 Bursting of the Bond Bubble by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group
Our April newsletter focused on the extreme overvaluation in the bond market. I argued that money market funds (or cash) were likely to outperform bonds and bond funds over the next decade. In May I applied the same logic to US stock prices and the inherent fallacy in the prevailing TINA (“there is no alternative” to stocks) hypothesis. Although stocks are likely to outperform bonds over the next decade, both asset classes remain seriously overvalued. In a world of overvalued assets, zero return looks much better than large potential losses even when that means foregoing transitory
2013-07-23 More Summer Storms? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
don’t know about your part of the country but I think this summer has been the wettest in some time around Detroit. We have had soooo much rain. Our Great Lakes began the year well below their long-term average depth. After months of rain, all of the Great Lakes are now above their levels from last year, and nearby Lake Ontario has gained ten inches in height in just the last month. Ontario is 11″ higher than one year ago and 5″ ABOVE the century average. Yet its previous below average condition had existed for years and had been worsening quite a change!
2013-07-19 Egypt: Stating the Obvious by Michelle Shwarzman of Invesco Blog
Although the outcome may have been viewed as a surprise by many, the ongoing economic malaise that partially fueled the revolt against and eventual ouster of Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi, was not.
2013-07-18 Submissions from Advisor Shares by AdvisorShares Team of AdvisorShares
Two submissions from the AdvisorShares team this week: Money Flowing into Savings Deposits and Money Market Funds by TrimTabs Asset Management and AdvisorShares Active ETF Market Share Update.
2013-07-16 The Great Rotation Continues Forward... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke grabbed the mic on Wednesday and gave a performance that garnered a standing ovation from Stock, Bond, and Commodity investors. Only U.S. Dollar longs went home dragging their programs and spilling their popcorn. As a result, U.S. equity markets ended the week at all-time highs as stocks remained the darlings of the asset classes.
2013-07-15 A Pivotal Point in the Markets by Meggan Walsh of Invesco Blog
Because the market is a forward-discounting mechanism, it’s not unusual for it to have led the economic recovery over the last four years. Today, I believe the market has already discounted a decent economy over the intermediate term and is approximately fairly valued. But that’s not the whole story.
2013-07-09 The Germans Deserve Credit for Extending Credit by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments
Germany’s government agreed to (indirectly, via guarantees) provide Spain’s government-run ICO development banks with the funding to make up to 800 million of low-interest loans to small and medium-sized businesses.
2013-07-08 Emerging Markets Debt Remains Fundamentally Strong by Claudia Calich, Jack Deino of Invesco Blog
June’s massive bond sell-off, prompted by fears that the Federal Reserve would wind down its bond-buying program, has had a negative trickle-down effect on emerging market debt-dedicated assets, which were hit hard as part of the record $14.45 billion in outflows seen in the overall bond market for the week ending June 12.
2013-07-03 Does China's Central Bank Matter More than The Fed? by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments
I’m pleased to share with you the economic and market brief that I prepare for Pioneer’s investment professionals each week. It’s intended to be short but informative, and I hope you find it useful.
2013-07-01 Consider Convertibles in a Rising Rate Environment by Walter Stabell III of Invesco Blog
The recent mass exodus out of bonds in which investors pulled more than $18 billion from funds that invest in bonds over a two-week period ending June 12 may have left you searching for the best opportunities in the bond market.
2013-06-28 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 Tipping Point by Bill Gross of PIMCO
I’ve spun a few yarns in recent years about my days as a naval officer; not, thank goodness, tales told by dead men, but certainly echoes from the depths of Davy Jones’ Locker. A few years ago I wrote about the time that our ship (on my watch) was almost cut in half by an auto-piloted tanker at midnight, but never have I divulged the day that the USS Diachenko came within one degree of heeling over during a typhoon in the South China Sea. “Engage emergency ballast,” the Captain roared at yours truly the one and only chief engineer.
2013-06-26 When I Suggested it May Be Time To Go Fishing... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital
When I suggested that it may be time to go fishing, I didn’t think that everyone would sell their bonds, notes, and bills to buy a new boat...
2013-06-19 Floating-Rate Notes: A New Frontier in Treasury Investing by Paul Reisz, David Linton, Mark Romano of PIMCO
For investors, Treasury floating-rate notes (FRNs) will likely offer a hedge against rising rates and a yield pickup over a T-bill. For the Treasury, FRNs could help reduce the risk that an auction could fail to attract customer interest, and also help diversify its investor base. PIMCO will evaluate the merits of these securities based on our macroeconomic top-down view and valuation-focused bottom-up analysis.
2013-06-15 Economists Are (Still) Clueless by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The economic forecasts of mainstream economists are quite positive, if not enirely optimistic, reflecting the current data. Should we not take heart from that? Alas, no. This week we look at some of our recent musings on that topic, triggered by a letter from a very serious economist who took umbrage when I wrote disparagingly about economists and forecasting a couple months ago.
2013-06-11 Bursting the Bond Bubble Babble by Andy Martin (Article)
Interest rates will eventually go up. The 50-basis-point spike in May on the 10-year Treasury bond may have been the beginning. But despite industry and media assertions, history shows that there is nothing to fear from rising rates.
2013-06-07 Liquidity Markets Likely to Evolve Under Proposed Money Market Reforms by Jerome Schneider of PIMCO
We view the SEC’s proposed regulations on money market funds as a pivot point for cash and liquidity management. If the first proposal is adopted, prime institutional money market funds would convert to a floating net asset value share price. That conversion would likely cause some volatility in pricing. As we do not expect yields to increase in the near-to-medium term, in our view the risk-reward tradeoff would not be as attractive for investors.
2013-06-04 The Role of Cash in Multi-Asset Portfolios by Ashish Tiwari, Andrew Spottiswoode of PIMCO
Determining the optimal allocation to cash is as challenging as ever in today’s unusually uncertain markets. When allocating to cash, investors should consider a multi-dimensional framework to assess the liquidity of the underlying cash instruments. In our view, the most attractive risk-adjusted opportunities for cash investors lie just outside the traditional money market space.
2013-06-03 Getting Better Returns from Dividend Stocks - Look for Growth by Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup
While some investors have begun to return to US Equity (funds) there is still a large amount of money on the sidelines. End of year 2012 data shows investors have trillions in money markets and savings accounts. While there is no guarantee all that money will make its way back into the market the matriculation has begun.
2013-05-31 In an Era of Uncertainty and Lower Returns, It\'s Time for Alternatives by Sabrina Callin, John Cavalieri of PIMCO
The initial economic and capital market conditions of the 1980s set the stage for a multi-decade bull market for stocks and bonds. Times have changed, however, and traditional investment portfolios are unlikely to deliver returns as healthy as those enjoyed for much of the last 30 years. It’s time to think alternatively about asset allocation and index construction, sources of alpha and beta, and risk and return objectives to increase the probability of success in what we believe is a new era for investors and financial markets.
2013-05-29 Weekly Market Commentary by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management
Last week we talked about the market being overbought in the short term, so the three day selloff (Wednesday-Friday) was to be expected. The media will blame the Fed but they didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. Bottom line, when the market gets extremely overbought traders will use anything and everything as an excuse to take profits. Interestingly, last week was the first streak of three down days this year. The S&P 500 seemed to find some support at 1640.
2013-05-22 How to Turn the ECB Straggler into a Central Bank Pacemaker by Myles Bradshaw of PIMCO
In our opinion, the ECB will be most effective if it can design a programme that helps banks deleverage more quickly to stimulate growth in the real economy. To have a meaningful impact on Europe’s broken transmission mechanism, any ECB programme needs to not only lower the cost of credit, but also be regionally tailored or big enough to be effective. Long-term investors should remain focused on the quality of issuers’ balance sheets rather than simply taking more risk because of lower prospective returns.
2013-05-17 Making the Most of Equity Allocations by Andrew Pyne, Sabrina Callin of PIMCO
We believe slowing global growth and deleveraging are likely to result in lower long-term returns for equities. Traditional approaches to building equity portfolios may not be enough for investors to meet their return goals. We have found three complementary ways investors can enhance equity return potential: fundamental indexes, index-plus strategies and high active share stock selection approaches.
2013-05-15 Speaking of a Great Week... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital
I left the office each day thinking that I just saw another walk off game winning home run by the S&P500. The bears were given their chance in April with the weak economic data and slightly less than exciting earnings, but they just couldn’t break it. In return, the employment data was a bit better, the global central banks came out swinging (ECB, Australia, and South Korea), then the markets broke the Yen, Bonds, and Gold, and the Bulls absolutely skinned the Bears.
2013-05-13 The Cash Conundrum by Ric Dillon of Diamond Hill Investments
In an effort to keep interest rates low, the Federal Reserve, along with other global central banks, is flooding the financial markets with liquidity. This additional liquidity is pushing prices for most financial and real assets higher. At some point, the Fed’s policy of easing will end and in some ways will be reversed. Purchases of government-backed securities may end this year (QE3); however, the Fed has signaled that the near zero interest rate policy for Fed Funds is likely to continue into 2015.
2013-05-10 2013 US Financial Markets: Part 2 - The TINA Hypothesis by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group
Contrary to the “Bernanke Illusion” (money market funds are a zero return investment), history indicates that money market funds are likely to provide investors with returns approximating inflation over the next decade. As I pointed out in our last letter, the markets are pricing in inflation levels significantly higher than the prospective total returns of 10 year TBonds. The small additional return achieved by corporate bonds or US stocks (at current prices) is unlikely to compensate a buy and hold investor with sufficient gains to justify the interim risks.
2013-05-09 The Effect of Negative Interest Rates in Europe by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management
In his press conference last week, European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi signaled that policymakers may be more open to a cut in the central bank’s deposit rate. Although Mr. Draghi acknowledged this move could have negative side effects, he added “we will be able to deal with the negative consequences we will look at this with an open mind.” Several major central banks considered negative deposit facility rates during and after the financial crisis, but so far, all have determined that the idea did not pass the cost/benefit test.
2013-05-01 There Will Be Haircuts by Bill Gross of PIMCO
It has been the objective of the Fed over the past few years to make even more innovative forms of money by supporting stock and bond prices at cost on an ever ascending scale, thereby assuring holders via a “Bernanke put” that they might just as well own stocks as the cash in their purses. Gosh, a decade or so ago a house almost became a money substitute. MEW or mortgage equity withdrawal could be liquefied instantaneously based on a “never go down” housing market. You could equitize your home and go sailing off into the sunset on a new 28-foot skiff on any day but S
2013-05-01 Looking at Leverage Outside the Box by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments
Yield-seeking investors have been boxed in by the near-zero US rate environment, and it seems like there are few ways out. But for those willing to set aside preconceived ideas about the word “leverage,” the lesser-known leveraged loans category may be an alternative to consider in the credit space. Mark Boyadjian, senior vice president and director of our Franklin Floating Rate Debt Group, spoke to us recently about what these often-misunderstood vehicles are and what yield-seeking investors need to know before they take the plunge.
2013-04-25 Surf's Up! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
Last month I was reminded of “Surf’s Up!” while rereading said report from my departed friend Stan Salvigsen of Comstock Partners fame. While that is the organization Stan, Michael Aronstein, and Charles Minter formed in the late 1980s, Stan’s investment career actually began in 1964 as an analyst with the Value Line Investment Survey. Subsequently, he was an equity strategist at a succession of firms, including Dreyfus, Oppenheimer, C. J. Lawrence, and Merrill Lynch.
2013-04-16 2013 US Financial Markets by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group
In the fall of 2012 the S&P 500 came close to our forecast high (S&P- 1500) Last year we suggested that not only was the S&P likely to reach 1500, but also speculated that renewed bullish sentiment could take us back to the old highs of 1565. When the S&P touched 1563 a couple weeks ago, I started getting client calls complimenting my prescient forecast.
2013-04-12 The Great Secret by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
When I was a young boy, I remember my father coming home looking very ashen from a visit with a dear friend dying in the hospital. His name was Dell Zink and he was one of my father’s closest friends. Mr. Z, as we kids affectionately called him, was a very religious man; a man who was regarded by his friends as intelligent and philosophical.
2013-04-12 The Bank of Japan Pulls All the Stops by Raymund Uy of Invesco
The Bank of Japan (BOJ) surprised the markets by announcing a particularly aggressive round of quantitative easing (QE) designed to rid the Japanese economy of its persistent deflation. The new policy was unexpected not only in the size of the asset purchases announced, but also in the types of securities to be purchased and their maturity.
2013-04-11 The Bright Lights of Big Oil by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Texas has seen incredible changes in oil production because of advancements in shale technology. From one 200-mile view at night, you can easily spot the urban areas of Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, but the strip just south of the Alamo City and U.S. Global Investors’ headquarters illuminates something else entirely: the bright lights of big oil generated by the Eagle Ford shale formation.
2013-04-03 Minor Crisis...Not Too Many Hurt by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments
Cyprus proved, over the last two weeks, that markets often overlook the small stuff. Very few commentators we follow saw any of it coming and the theories that sprang up in the interim (Cyprus as vassal state to Russia, return to the Cypriot pound, imminent EU break up, twin euros in circulation, utter disaster for the economy, German intransigence and Schrecklichkeit) were absurd.
2013-03-28 What Will Drive the Market? by Charlie Dreifus of The Royce Funds
The sequester adds to the economic headwinds caused by ending the payroll tax holiday and the boost in tax rates. However, even with the sequester, total federal government outlays will rise this fiscal year. Finally, after more than a month of daily increases for a gallon of unleaded gasoline, prices are now declining. This has been of concern as rising oil and gasoline prices were yet another headwind facing the U.S. economy. (Oil prices have also declined.)
2013-03-27 You Can't Be Serious by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
I admit to being surprised by Cyprus. Oh, not the banking crisis or the sovereign debt crisis or the fact that its banks were eight times larger than the country itself or even the fact that the banks were bloated with Greek debt that had been written down. I wrote about all that a long time ago. What surprised me was that all the above was apparently a surprise to European leaders.
2013-03-26 Adapting the Yale Model for Clients by C. Thomas Howard, PhD and Lambert Bunker (Article)
The Yale University endowment fund is one of the most successful in the country, with a 10-year return besting the endowment universe average return by 300 basis points and the Wilshire 5000 return by 400 basis points. David Swensen is the architect of this program, and his guiding principles are widely used to manage large endowments. They are equally useful for client portfolios.
2013-03-21 Goldilocks Roars by Team of Bedlam Asset Management
Equity markets are producing supra-normal returns. To March 18th, the portfolio is up over 15% year-to-date, over 100 basis points ahead of the index. Many investors would be happy with such a gain over a full year rather than a mere twelve weeks, so are puzzled, the more so as respected pundits agree that the data makes for easy stories of rampant inflation, collapsing government credit and a prolonged global recession. Equity markets, however, are stubbornly refusing to follow the script.
2013-03-18 M&A and Dividends Likely Drivers of the Market by Charlie Dreifus of The Royce Funds
The sequester adds to the economic headwinds caused by ending the payroll tax holiday and the boost in tax rates. However, even with the sequester, total federal government outlays will rise this fiscal year. Finally, after more than a month of daily increases for a gallon of unleaded gasoline, prices are now declining. This has been of concern as rising oil and gasoline prices were yet another headwind facing the U.S. economy. (Oil prices have also declined.)
2013-03-18 Currencies: A 1970s Flashback? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Four decades ago, a currency war and significant Fed easing were followed by a bout of high inflation. Now investors are worried that history could repeat itself.
2013-03-13 Who Cares if There's a High-Yield Bond Bubble? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
High-yield bonds, or "junk bonds" as they are widely known, have received a lot of attention in recent months. Is there a high-yield bond bubble? Certainly a ton of new money has gone into high-yield bond funds over the last few years. Millions of Americans who would have never considered high-yield bonds have bought in due to near zero returns on traditional savings vehicles.
2013-03-13 Yield Opportunity in a Low Yield Environment by Troy Johnson of Westcore Funds Denver Investments
The Fed’s aggressive monetary policy teamed with its inability to jump-start the anemic economic growth pattern has challenged investors’ quest for yield entering 2013. We offer investors the following for consideration as they seek yield in this environment.
2013-03-08 Spasmodic Stupidity: The Wile E. Coyote Congress by Cliff Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors
I predict the Ides of March will find us in a continued sequestration, and Congress will use the time between now and the debt ceiling deadline on March 27th to debate the merits of true tax reform as opposed to governing by crisis. In the end, though, the reform conversation will revert to governance by crisis, with another stop-gap measure to avoid government shutdown during Holy Week and Easter, which will tide us over to the elections of 2014. Do you expect any different?
2013-03-07 Freewheeling? by Dimitri Balatsos of Tesseract Partners
Ignoring threatening clouds in the distant horizon, the financial markets are wrapped in a blanket of complacency. Consider the following. The Dow Jones Index has been flirting with the 2007 record peak. Implied stock market volatility, as measured by the VIX Index, is in the basement. Junk bond yields are at record lows, compressing spreads to within shouting distance of risk-free Treasuries. Securitization is back from the dead, while the drought in M&A activity is now getting plenty of rainfall.
2013-03-06 Liquidity Tiering for Higher Yields in the Tax-Free Market by Duane McAllister, John Bortizke of BMO Global Asset Management
In today's low-yield environment, investors need a fresh approach to managing their portfolios for higher income. Liquidity tiering provides a framework that can help you achieve both principal stability and yields sufficient to meet your goals.
2013-03-04 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 The Walk of Life: Stepping Away From Dire Straits and Toward Active Short-Term Mgmt Strategies by Jerome Schneider, Andrew Spottiswoode of PIMCO
Money market investors may find the benefits of recent regulatory and industry reforms bittersweet at best, as they are still tolerating borderline zero percent yields in a persistent low rate environment. Without creative strategies for liquidity management, many investors are finding themselves in the "dire straits" of actual negative real returns on their cash allocations even with modest current levels of inflation.
2013-02-27 The Great Migration by Herbert Abramson, Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management
We are value investors dedicated to creating portfolios for clients, whether growth (equities), income or a balanced blend of both, of undervalued securities with meaningful upside potential and a margin of safety to guard against permanent loss. For us, the bottom-up factors are the most compelling, but we are also mindful that we need to take account of the top-down macro factors. We know how the Crash of ꞌ08 and the accompanying recession created havoc for investors, including us, no matter how undervalued stocks were.
2013-02-26 2013, Losing the Bid by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Many times in my 32-year career people ask me to comment on whether an established trend for a popular investment will stay intact. My answer is always the same. We don't know when the hot streak will end for the popular investment and we don't feel comfortable with popular securities. In our view, there is a dramatic difference in what you do with popular investments based on whether they areto use terms borrowed from Warren Buffett currency assets, unproductive assets, or productive assets. It has to do with the ability to sell and the liquidity you have when the popularity disappears.
2013-02-22 Muscle Memory or Muscle Training by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Interest rates have gone down on US Treasury bonds off and on for 31 years. This means that the coupon you are being paid has been joined by significant capital gains. Jim Grant argues that the only thing going for bonds is how well handlers of money have done on them; Warren Buffett calls it "rear-view mirror investing".
2013-02-19 Six Recommendations for Working with Widows by Kathleen M. Rehl, Ph.D., CFP (Article)
Widows are a fast-growing segment of the U.S. population, with almost 12 million women currently widowed and another 800,000 joining their ranks each year. Working with a widow, especially in the early stages of her grief, requires a non-traditional approach to financial advising.
2013-02-19 Asset Class Allocation and Portfolios by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
Asset class allocation has been so thoroughly absorbed into the culture of investing that today, most investment guidance is built around it, and you may even have heard that it is the foundation of an investment plan. And like nearly all respectable investment ideas, it is misunderstood and abused. One misconception is that asset class allocation and portfolio management are the same thing. I'll explain why they aren't later, but let's start by considering another misconception.
2013-02-14 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.
2013-02-05 Ditto by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital Management
Anyone who reads my memos of the last 23 years will see I return often to a few topics. This is due to the frequency with which themes tend to recur in the investment world. Humans often fail to learn. They forget the lessons of history, repeat patterns of behavior and make the same mistakes. As a result, certain themes arise over and over. Mark Twain had it right: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." The details of the events may vary greatly from occurrence to occurrence, but the themes giving rise to the events tend not to change.
2013-02-04 A Reluctant Bear's Guide to the Universe by John Hussman of Hussman Funds
In recent years, I've gained the reputation of a "perma-bear." The reality is that I'm quite a reluctant bear, in that I would greatly prefer market conditions and prospective returns to be different from what they are. There's no question that conditions and evidence will change, unless the stock market is to be bound for the next decade in what would ultimately be a low-single-digit horserace with near-zero interest rates. For my part, I think the likely shocks are larger, and the potential opportunities will be greater than investors seem to contemplate here.
2013-02-01 Monthly Investment Bulletin by Team of Bedlam Asset Management
Financial discipline is collapsing and with it, trust in the value of money. Many heavyweight thinkers in America, such as Nobel laureate Paul Krugman have suggested that a solution to avoid national debt ceilings imposed by Congress would be to mint a trillion dollar platinum coin. Meanwhile, heavyweights close to policy makers in Britain and Japan have been musing whether their central banks should write-off the mountains of government bonds they have bought recently.
2013-01-31 Closed-End Fund Review: Fourth Quarter 2012 by Jeff Margolin of First Trust Advisors
Following a year (2011) when the average closed-end fund was up a respectable 5.37% on a share price total return basis, closed-end funds posted even better performance in 2012, with the average fund up 14.00% (according to Morningstar) on a share price total return basis. The strong performance was broad and deep with many categories posting double-digit total returns. There were many factors which contributed to the strong results posted in 2012 and while I have written and spoken about them before, I want to reiterate them here.
2013-01-25 Feeding the Dragon: Why China's Credit System Looks Vulnerable by Edward Chancellor, Mike Monnelly of GMO
Edward Chancellor and Mike Monnelly, members of GMO's Asset Allocation team, write to institutional clients in a new white paper about China's credit boom and outlines some worrying recent developments in its financial system. In GMO's view, "China's credit system exhibits a large number of indicators associated with acute financial fragility," including China's debt and real estate bubbles, the belief that the government is underwriting financial risk, the shadow banking system, a proliferation in credit guarantees, among others.
2013-01-23 Gun Control & How To Play Upcoming Debt Battles by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
Ever since the tragedy on December 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut occurred when Adam Lanza senselessly murdered 26 people (20 children and six staff) and then himself there has been a growing cry from millions of Americans for some kind of new gun controls. And the current occupant of the White House is all too happy to oblige. Last week, the president unveiled the most sweeping new gun control laws since the so-called Brady Bill was passed in 1993, requiring background checks on firearm purchasers in the US. Obama's proposals go much further as I will discuss.
2013-01-23 The Washington Hurdles by Scott Brown of Raymond James
While President Obama is now beginning his second term, the new Congress isn't expected to "get down to business" until next month. There are three hurdles for Washington, which are likely to have significant implications for the financial markets.
2013-01-14 The More Things Change... by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
One crisis averted...another one on the way? Of course, but we're still positive on the US economy and stock market.
2013-01-11 Winter Quarterly Commentary by John Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management
While a last minute compromise may have been reached on taxes, it represents only a brief rest stop on a required road of repair. On the positive side, we should see less annual wrangling with tax rates having been made permanent, meaning they will not automatically change at some future date (but rather only when Congress feels like changing them), with many areas also sensibly indexed for inflation.
2013-01-08 Why China Won't Crack by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
For the world's second largest economy, a hard landing scenario looks increasingly remote.
2012-12-27 Reader Favorites: A Countdown by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
The days between Christmas and New Year's are ideal times to reflect on the topics that captured your interest the most over the past year. To help uncover the top commentaries that were discussed, shared and read, we went data mining across news and social media sources. Over the next few days, I'll be counting down the top 10, concluding with the Investor Alert on Friday.
2012-12-27 Saving for Retirement Stage 3: Making Retirement Funds Last as Long as You Do by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments
So you're finally ready to retire. You've worked hard. You've planned. You've saved. You're ready to toss the business section and flip to the travel pages. You hope the investment decisions you've made have positioned you to meet your future needs. You may be retired, but your money has to keep working, and luck, as they say, tends to favor the prepared. In this third installment of our "Saving for Retirement" series, we take a look at some considerations and strategies for those fortunate folks beginning or living in retirement.
2012-12-26 Putting Clients' Cash to Work by Dan Richards (Article)
A central challenge advisors face are is clients who need mid- to high-single-digit returns to achieve their long-term goals, but who have an overweight position in cash. A recent luncheon with a group of highly successful advisors highlighted this challenge and illuminated a way to overcome it.
2012-12-21 Year-End Capital Markets Forecast by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates
What looks best for 2013? Given financial repression in developed marketspolicies that prolong negative real interest ratesemerging market local currency sovereign bonds are likely to outperform their developed market counterparts. For equities, both developed (ex-U.S.) and emerging markets offer more attractive valuations and better dividend yields than U.S. stocks.
2012-12-20 The Ghosts of Fiat Currencies Past by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Nearly 600 paper forms of money created over the past several centuries are no longer in circulation, according to research summarized by Gold Silver Worlds recently. While the reasons vary from declarations of independence, monetary unions, war or hyperinflation, these ghosts of currencies past portray a haunting history for paper currencies backed only by the trust of a government.
2012-12-11 Up, Then Down by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
Five losses in a row for my Detroit Lions, and every one a heartbreakerin most of the games they led by at least ten points at one time. Getting ahead but still losing is a pattern that is not restricted to sports, but is also encountered in investing. It's surprising that conventional stock market investing has not seemingly developed any effective ways to counter it. Yet with profits in most of our strategies so far this year, it's important to seek to do so.
2012-12-04 Economics 101: Little Return without Risk by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
A tremendous amount of energy and effort has been expended in the US on behalf of wealthy investors to secure returns while reducing risk. Like any useful endeavor, it started out as a wise thing and reached its stride in the late 1990s as a way to deal with a massive asset misallocation. As Warren Buffett always says, What the wise man does at the beginning, the fool does at the end. It appears to us that the efforts to eliminate risk in the US capital markets have reached the foolish point.
2012-11-15 Rediscovering the Golden Beauty of Myanmar by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Myanmar has been called "probably the best investment opportunity in the world right now," by legendary international investor Jim Rogers. In an interview with The Myanmar Times, he compared the country formerly known as Burma to China in the 1970s, when it started opening up to the world. "In 1962, Burma was the richest country in Asia. Then they closed and [now] it is the poorest."
2012-11-15 Chuck Royce Remains Optimistic After the Election by Chuck Royce of The Royce Funds
The likelihood of fiscal and tax reform in 2013 gives us faith in the long-term viability of both the U.S. economy and equities.
2012-11-02 A Tipping Point for Gold Companies by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Did you know that gold stocks tend to underperform during election years? As shown in the chart below, over the past quarter-century up until the prior election, the performance of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Gold and Silver Index (XAU) was weak during the year of a presidential election.
2012-11-01 Time To Vote! by Bill Gross of PIMCO
So I pulled out my magic lamp that for some reason works only every October 22nd, and rubbed until the Genie appeared in his red and white checkered cloak with a 10-inch diameter Flavor Flav clock hanging ceremoniously around his neck. Being a rather forward, although not disrespectful Genie, he immediately said, "Mr. G, instead of the yield on the 10-year Treasury, perhaps this year you should wish to know who is going to win the Presidential election?"
2012-10-24 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."
2012-10-23 October Surprises by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments
Ever since President Lyndon Johnson announced on October 30, 1968 that he was halting the bombing of North Vietnam and intensifying talks with the Viet Cong, there has been fear or hope for an October Surprise in Presidential election years. Back then, it was believed the intention was to help Johnson's Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, win the Presidency. And it almost did, as Humphrey quickly moved up in the polls, although losing six days later by a narrow 0.7% of the popular vote.
2012-10-22 Chinese Stocks Looking Like a Bargain by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
With negative sentiment toward China reaching an extreme in recent months, patient investors have been rewarded with recent news of improving data from the Asian giant.
2012-10-19 Getting Trampled by the Herd by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments
Many people are programmed to assume the consensus view is the correct one. They see a particular movie based on a number of positive reviews, buy a particular phone because people have camped out in front of a store to get it, or change their hairstyle based on the latest fad. It's extremely hard to go against the crowd, even if you can't afford that fancy new phone, or that new hairstyle isn't actually so attractive on you. It may be easy to laugh off falling prey to a gadget trend or a hairstyle, but what happens when it's your investments that have been trampled by following the herd?
2012-10-15 QE3Back to the Future by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
The broad scope and open-ended nature of the Federal Reserve's third round of quantitative easing raises questions about what exactly Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has in mind. Some insight, remarkably, emerges from a speech he gave in November 2002 to the National Economists Club in Washington, D.C., when he was simply a Fed board member. Taking his cue then from fears of a Japanese-style deflation, he laid out a path for monetary stimulus in an extreme situation, outlining nontraditional policy tools that have since become common.
2012-10-11 When Averting Loss Can Lead to Averting Gains by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments
Think about something you'd really hate to lose, something of value to you such as a treasured possession. Now imagine you're told that if you lay that object on the line in a bet, you have a good shot at doubling its value, but there's also a possibility you'll lose it. How low would the chance of loss have to be before you'd be willing to take the risk? Maybe 10 percent? Less than that? The answer may lie in a behavioral economic theory called "loss aversion."
2012-10-09 We Need a Bold Solution to Fix the Retirement System by Joe Tomlinson (Article)
Our retirement system is broken. The average American isn't saving enough to comfortably retire, and the fault lies in our reliance on defined-contribution (DC) plans, such as 401(k)s. Tinkering with DC plans won't solve the problem, and the other extreme - a federally mandated guarantee - isn't likely to gain support. But a number of compromises that lie between those approaches offer a better way forward for future generations.
2012-10-09 This Fortress built by Nature for Herself by Dennis Gibb of Sweetwater Investments
It has been some time since I have taken keyboard in hand in any attempt to inform anyone of my thoughts on the world of investing. I am taking the time to write now because we are embarked on some events that are, in my humble opinion, truly historic. As these events play out the United States may not be a fortress built by nature for herself. So hang on this could get rough and as usual it will be opinionated with a different perspective.
2012-10-05 When Do You Ignore Your Gut? by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments
Anyone who took an introductory psychology class probably remembers the classic study in which different people witnessing the same crime each report a different take on what happened. Though each presumably sane, sober person witnessed the events with his or her own two eyes, individual expectations and biases influenced how they perceived what happened. Sure, you say, but what does this have to do with investing? Well, it turns out that our individual expectations and biases influence how we view investments, too.
2012-10-05 How Helicopter Ben Helps Jobs and, Inadvertently, Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
The world's central bank leaders continue to spike the monetary punch bowl, with investors imbibing on gold once again. This flurry of gold buying prompts many curious investors and doubting media to ask me two questions: 1) How can demand for gold and gold stocks continue; and 2) How high can the precious metal go? To answer these questions, we need to look at the intentions behind the economic and political decision-making across several developed countries, analyze the causes, the effects, and the possible ramifications.
2012-10-04 Overtime, Then (not so) Sudden Death by Jerome Schneider of PIMCO
The FDIC's unlimited insurance coverage on demand deposits is set to expire on December 31. While the expiration by itself might not be a game changer, it adds to the uncertainty that looms over liquidity strategies as global interest rates continue to be squeezed. We believe that actively managed short-term strategies that dynamically adjust to market conditions are viable solutions, with more attractive risk and return characteristics than money markets.
2012-10-03 Monthly Letter to Our Clients and Friends by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs
Warren Buffett, Ben Graham's most famous student has said, "[Ben Graham] also taught me to see a stock not as something with a ticker symbol that wiggles around but to think about it as part of a business. Dont get elated because something had gone up or depressed because it went down. If I knew the facts, and it went down, I bought more of it". Although these two forces of investment beliefs are in constant battle, there is one common belief; Both believe that any attempt to "time the market" is not an intelligent approach to investment management.
2012-09-25 Value Investing in a Macro-Driven Environment by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The GoodHaven Fund (GOODX) is managed by Larry Pitkowsky and Keith Trauner. For most of the previous decade, Larry and Keith held research, portfolio management, and executive positions with the Fairholme Fund. I spoke with them last week.
2012-09-25 The Future Of Money Market Funds by Gregory Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management
The Financial Crisis of 2008 has left its mark on the capital markets and the economy, and money market mutual funds are one of those areas that were affected. One of the pieces of unfinished business following the financial crisis is improved regulation of money market mutual funds.
2012-09-22 QE Infinity: Unintended Consequences by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave
Last Monday an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, penned by five PhDs in economics, among them a former Secretary of the Treasury and an almost-guaranteed Nobel laureate (and most of them former members of the President's Council of Economic Advisors) minced no words in excoriating the current QE policy. We will look at that op-ed in detail below. The point is that there are grave reservations about the current policy among some very serious policy makers.
2012-09-20 QE n+1 What The Fed Is Really Up To by JJ Abodeely of Sitka Pacific Capital Management
As I survey the news stories and other analysis on the Feds recent announcement, most fall short of describing what the Fed is really up to. Here is a hint: it's not really about employment. It's not really about "price stability" or really about growth either.
2012-09-05 The Lending Lindy by Bill Gross of PIMCO
Our entire finance-based monetary system led by banks but typified by insurance companies, investment management firms and hedge funds as well is based on an acceptable level of carry and the expectation of earning it. In a New Normal economy where lenders dance to the Blue Danube instead of the Lindy, how should we move our own feet? Carefully, I suppose, and with recognition that historic returns are just that historic.
2012-08-27 Letter From Fed Camp by Scott Brown of Raymond James
The minutes of the July 31/August 1 Federal Open Market Committee provided clear insight into the Fed's policy debate. At that meeting "many" FOMC members felt that "additional monetary accommodation would likely be warranted fairly soon unless incoming information pointed to a substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery."
2012-08-24 Gold: First Mover Advantage by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
This week, gold bugs were rewarded with the long-awaited positive momentum in the yellow metal, and on Friday, bullion rose to about $1,670. After falling below the 200-day moving average, gold had been stuck in quicksand for several months. With the jumps in the price this week, bullion swiftly rose above this critically important long-term moving average.
2012-08-22 Relative Value by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Everyone wants to wait for the perfect time to buy into the stock market or into any major investment market. They want to enter at historically cheap prices or at "absolute values". We at Smead Capital Management believe that these people are kidding themselves and everybody else. At the time of historical lows and "absolute value" those same folks are too mortified to pull the trigger and always come up with the reason that "it's different this time". Inertia rules the day.
2012-08-21 Anniversary Weaks by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments
A couple of anniversaries last week: five years since the start of the credit crunch and one year since the US downgrade. The ramifications of both are still evident daily, of course. We're still living the consequences. So this is as good a time as any to take stock.
2012-08-03 How to Avoid the Bursting of the Bond Market Bubble by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
This letter is the first in a series that I hope you will take very seriously. U.S. interest rates are at record lows. Meanwhile, Obama and Congress are sky-rocketing the national debt. We all know this cant go on much longer.
2012-08-03 The Race for Resources by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
The world watched in awe as American swimmer Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time. It's inspiring to see the incredible results of his tremendous sacrifice and commitment. Investing in global markets requires the same sort of stamina, especially at times like this week, when the month's reading on the manufacturing industry was not encouraging. The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI of 48.4 for July was the lowest since June 2009.
2012-07-31 Beyond the Ultimate Death Cross by Georg Vrba, P.E. (Article)
Last week, I showed why the 'ultimate death cross' is not a bearish signal. But the methodology behind that signal - what's known as a 'golden-cross trigger' - can indeed offer a reliable guide to investors. And one can do even better with a simple improvement to the trigger that I have devised.
2012-07-30 The Longest Yard by Tony Crescenzi, Ben Emons, Andrew Bosomworth, Isaac Meng of PIMCO
As the global slowdown progresses, we can expect central banks to deploy more policy tools without limits to stem the pace of deleveraging. In Europe, quantitative easing using ESM bonds could prove to be another bridge that buys politicians more time, but does not solve the root problem. We expect real economic growth in China to be muted. While some stabilization is possible later this year, it is hard to foresee a sustained recovery.
2012-07-25 An Excess of Reserve by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust
Bank credit has expanded nicely over the past two years, yet financial institutions continue to hold substantial pools of excess reserves with the Fed. Some suggest that this extended conservatism is hindering the economic expansion, and are calling on the Fed to lower the rate it pays on excess reserves. The ECB has already taken this step. We think that a cut in the interest rate on excess reserves is unlikely.
2012-07-25 Low Interest Rates Are Not Enough by Mohamed El-Erian of PIMCO
Welcome to what could be called "GGIRC," the great global interest rate convergence whereby interest rates steadily converge to zero in many countries around the world, both advanced (other than the crisis European economies) and emerging (other than the persistent financial basket cases). In theory this is a good thing for a global economy. In practice, however, the situation is much more complicated and not so benign.
2012-07-20 Long Journey, Map Provided by John Gilbert of GR-NEAM
It is almost four years since the Lehman bankruptcy. In the periods of economic contraction that were typical of the postwar period, the clouds would be parting by now. Income growth would have resumed and necessary balance sheet repair would be more or less complete. By any standard, the current episode is a balance sheet recession of historic proportion. Previous downturns were initiated by central bank rate increases, which occurred this time as well.
2012-07-18 The LIBOR Mess: How Did It Happen - and What Lies Ahead? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton
When regulators in the United Kingdom and United States announced a settlement with Barclays bank over its manipulation of LIBOR, the benchmark interest rate used around the world, there were plenty of reasons for jaws to drop. First and foremost was the whopping fine of $450 million, reflecting the seriousness of the case, along with analysts' predictions that LIBOR rates could influence interest rates on between $350 trillion and $800 trillion in loans and investments.
2012-07-17 Should You Wait to Buy a SPIA? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)
Advisors may be reluctant to recommend single-premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) with interest rates currently so low. It may be better to wait for rates to rise, which will bring more attractive SPIA pricing. But that leaves the question about how long we will wait for better pricing. In this article, I'll show how the decision to delay can turn out well or poorly, depending on the timing and size of rate increases.
2012-07-13 Bond Investing - Its the Short Side, Stupid by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
As you are probably aware, I am an avowed political junkie but this article isnt about politics. Instead, I want to borrow a phrase from the 1992 presidential election as an analogy to highlight what I believe bond investors should be concentrating on right now - the short side.
2012-06-28 Focusing on Capital Preservation: Stable Value and Possible Alternatives by Brett Gorman, Henry Kao, Stacy Schaus of PIMCO
Stable value, which combines an actively managed fixed income portfolio with a contract to help assure principal and income, offers capital preservation potential and historically higher risk-adjusted returns than money market and low duration strategies.
2012-06-25 Timid Actions, Fearful Times by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments
Since 2010, investors have traveled between optimism and pessimism every three months. It's negative right now. Here's why: A very timid move by the Fed. What was glaring was the entire board revised down their expectations on the economy: i) GDP down by $500bn ii) unemployment up 500,000 and iii) lower core and PCE inflation. Not just for 2012 but next year as well. That takes complacency to a new level.
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.
2012-06-18 Choosing the Right Asset Class in Emerging Markets: Why it Matters by Ignacio Sosa, Christopher Getter of PIMCO
Depending on individual risk tolerances during the past five years, it may have made more sense to overweight one or two EM asset classes and at times to avoid one or two EM asset classes altogether. In general, asset classes are better viewed as carriers of risks rather than each being considered a risk in its own right. This phenomenon is readily apparent in the emerging market space. We have advocated that asset allocation in EM should be dynamic with respect to both segment and country.
2012-06-08 The Global Debt Crisis by Greg Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management
The Financial Crisis of 2008 represented a turning point for the capital markets, financial regulation and global central bank policies. For the twenty years leading up to the Financial Crisis, accommodative monetary policies of the developed countries resulted in prosperity, higher wages, increased asset prices and an overall higher standard of living. However, this false sense of perpetual prosperity resulted in unbalanced social service and pension benefits that are now more difficult to rationalize in the economic environment following the Financial Crisis.
2012-06-07 May Rout Leads to June Rally by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
We got three exogenous events in May: Greek credit crisis resumed, with Greece likely to exit the Eurozone this summer. JP Morgan Chase lost $3 billion on Credit Default Swap trading. The FaceBook FacePlant. And on June 1st, the Labor department reported a minimal gain in jobs, which has economists worried anew about the United States returning to recession.
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.
2012-05-29 Unraveling the Mess in Europe by Charles Lieberman (Article)
There is considerable nonsense written about the European debt crisis. Greece must balance its books, whether they remain inside the Euro or not. There are major benefits and costs to both remaining inside the Euro and to exiting. There is no silver bullet that will solve their problems easily. More broadly, banks need to be recapitalized all across Europe. This has not been done as yet, perhaps for political reasons, which only compounds the economic problems and allows them to fester. It seems like the Europeans are working towards solutions, but painfully slowly.
2012-05-17 Avoiding a Cold Shower in the Cash Markets by Jerome M. Schneider of PIMCO
A concern for investors would be to vigilantly monitor the global marketplace for any changes in the liquidity markets, reviewing aspects and conditions in both the unsecured and secured markets. The second source is the capital market participants themselves. Reduced or reallocated dealer balance sheets have led to wider bid-offer spreads in the marketplace. The final evolutionary condition to monitor is the regulatory environment in the U.S. The SEC and the Fed have recently become critics of the current structure of 2a-7 money market funds.
2012-04-28 A Gold Standard? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Here is a speech by Jim Grant to the New York Federal Reserve. The always erudite Grant takes us back in time to the very beginnings of the Federal Reserve, to show us how far we have strayed from the original intent. Grant argued for a return to the gold standard in the very halls of fiat money! It seems the New York Fed is asking some of its critics to come and speak.
2012-04-25 Avoiding Equity Market Exposure by Team of American Century Investments
The year 2012 finds the search still on for income and capital appreciation with acceptably low volatility. Many investors remain leery of stocks and are also interested in opportunities that possess low correlation to equity markets. In addition, the low interest rate environment presents difficulties for those trying to achieve total return goals by relying on fixed income investments. Given these issues, some may wish to learn more about the techniques utilized by many equity market-neutral (EMN) strategies.
2012-04-24 Fixed Income Commentary First Quarter 2012 by John E. Villela, David W. Seeley and Barbara J. McKenna of Longfellow Investment Management
The ever‐changing regulatory environment must be watched closely. The new, onerous capital requirements directed at the broker‐dealer community will make it more costly for broker‐dealers to hold inventory on their balance sheets. This will affect the cost of liquidity by making transactions more expensive in the marketplace. In addition, potential changes to money market regulations, which could include allowing the net asset value to float, could force a number of market participants to seek alternative fixed income solutions such as cash or short duration strategies.
2012-04-21 A Little Bull's Eye Investing by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Bull's Eye Investing was the book that really helped establish this letter. It dealt with a host of investing ideas, secular market cycles, value investing, alternative investing, and more. I have taken that material, updated it, and written a new book, part of the Little Book series done by Wiley, called The Little Book of Bull's Eye Investing Finding Value, Generating Absolute Returns, and Controlling Risk in Turbulent Markets. I have waited to announce this one until it is off the presses and being shipped. Here is the introduction and part of the first chapter of the book.
2012-04-20 Maybe Diversification Is Not All It's Cracked Up To Be by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
As I began digging into the many faces of diversification, I quickly learned that it is a much more complex concept than at first meets the eye. I feel I learned that there is no one-size-fits-all or even a set of universally applicable rules or principles. To a great extent, diversification turns out to be a very personal issue. How much or how little depends more on your goals and objectives, the knowledge and experience you possess, the time you can allocate to your investment portfolio, and of course, your tolerance for risk. Some of us need a great deal of diversification.
2012-04-18 Stock Picking in a World of Profit Margin Mean Reversion by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
We feel investors should avoid capital intensive companies which are tied to commodities or emerging markets. As interest rates rise and capital becomes dear, those who eat capital lose and those with strong balance sheets and who generate high and consistent free cash flow, should win. As Buffet, Grantham, Hutchinson and Stein pointed out, someone loses in the reversion to the mean of profit margins when compared to GDP. Lastly, dont be fooled by those who are bearish on the stock market because of their belief in profit margin reversion.
2012-04-16 Hold In There...Still Good News by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments
First quarter markets flirted with euphoria. Jobs numbers were good, the Fed kept its head and confirmed a stable policy, Europe was quieted through the LTRO feedstock and corporate earnings looked good with the bank stress tests and a California fruit company powering ahead. But, understandably, and as with any attention disorder patient, markets need caring support. The catalyst for the recent drops was surprisingly benign: Spain and Italy are finding it tough to implement austerity, the Fed is not promising QE and earnings are going to be spotty. Still we haven't changed our outlook.
2012-04-09 The Fed Shifts Gears by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
The Federal Reserve, while continuing to hint at future quantitative easing (QE), seems at last to have also felt a need to address the longer-term inflationary risks of such policies. Accordingly, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke unveiled a new approach to quantitative easing, what he calls "sterilized QE." It, he claims, would both support markets (and the economy) and at the same time guard against any longer-term inflationary consequences. Though there is good reason to harbor skepticism about the technique he has outlined, this recent change in tone does offer encouragement.
2012-04-02 When Will Corporate Cash Flow? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
One of the great constants in this otherwise inconstant environment is the strength of corporate finances. Financial excesses and the need to de-leverage concern governments and households, not the corporate sector, which actually came out of the 200809 financial crisis and recession with its finances in good order, and has only strengthened them since. The question now is how and when companies will deploy these impressive financial resourceswhether on capital spending, hiring, or, especially, on the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) that typically proceed from strong corporate finances.
2012-03-26 Monthly Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory
We recently spoke with portfolio managers from two fund management teamsChris Davis and Ken Feinberg of Clipper and Selected American Shares, and Pat English of FMIwho have historically exhibited different views toward banks and financial services firms. In addition to providing insight on current risks and opportunities in the financial sector, the interview touches on a number of topical subjects including the Federal Reserve, the European debt situation, and the housing market.
2012-03-26 Economic Insights: Fear, Bank Lending, and Fed Frustrations by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
The Fed recently released the results of its latest survey of senior bank officers. Like the economy, the bankers' attitudes were mixed. Things have improved over the past year. Bankers on balance have shown a greater willingness to extend credit. But still, they remain very cautious. Understandable after the losses of 200809, this lingering reluctance to lend offers yet another explanation as to why this economy's recovery has proceeded so slowly to date, and will likely continue to do so for some time to come. Still, there are tentative signs that the environment is easing.
2012-03-26 And Thats The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Europe takes a well-deserved back seat to the global headlines as all eyes shift to China to see how the country deals with its recent economic slowdown. Consumer activity is on the hot seat domestically as a key confidence gauge is released and analysts closely dissect personal income and spending data in light of the sudden pickup in the labor market. The markets continue to test key levels as investors weigh the low yields in fixed income against the current risk in equities. Hows that speaking tour treating you, Dr. B.? Any Ron Paul sightings?
2012-03-21 Falling Treasuries: A Currency Perspective by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
What are the implications for the U.S. dollar and investors portfolios if bond prices continue to fall, as they have of late? Within that context, should investors care whether the U.S. retains its status as a reserve currency? Should it effect the way investors think about their own cash reserves?
2012-03-21 Money Market Fund Reforms The Debate by Guy Holbrook of Columbia Management
When looking back over the last few years at the money market sector it clearly has been a tumultuous period for an industry that had traditionally been viewed as stable and secure, all while providing daily liquidity for shareholders. It became evident, however, when the Reserve Primary Fund Broke the Buck in 2008 that safeguards needed to be enacted in order to protect both shareholders and the industry. There are currently three main schools of thought being debated when it comes to potential additional reforms ahead for the Money Market industry.
2012-03-20 A Turning Point by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments
Bottom Line: Bonds are now outside of the recent range, especially in the 30-year. We could see another 10bp retrace to 3.50%. Equities have had a good run but still have reasonable valuations. New money goes to IG bonds. Spreads are approaching their long-term mean but demand from natural buyers is high.
2012-03-19 The Search for Yield in a Low-Rate Environment by Team of Franklin Templeton
There are always opportunities to capture yieldif you are willing to shoulder the price of the associated risk. In their words: We look at the return profile for a company historically, and we project that out three to five years. A low-interest rate environment generally benefits heavy borrowers, whose cost of borrowing will be kept low. We believe investors tired of little return may move out on the risk spectrum in search of more potential return. Dividends can indicate a company cares about its shareholders. Dividends look like theyre here to stay.
2012-03-16 Far From Normal by Team of Dana Investment Advisors
Economists say that if we can sustain the current rate of job creation, we will need two more years to get the unemployment rate under 7%. Ben Bernanke at the Fed is still concerned that the job market is far from normal. As a result, you can expect the Fed to make no changes in their accommodative stance of near zero interest rates. Their goal is to control inflation while seeking lower unemployment.
2012-03-15 Market Update: A Real Recovery, or a False Start? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton
The Dow has hit its highest level in years, loan rates are at record lows and the U.S. economy appears to be gaining momentum. Even the housing market is starting to look inviting. But is this a real recovery -- or a false start like last year's? Wharton's Jeremy Siegel and Scott Richard think the economy is showing signs of a true rebound, and predict that stocks should do well in the next 12 months. But bonds, they warn, are in dangerous waters, and economic growth will be in jeopardy if oil prices keep rising and the European credit crisis worsens. (Video with transcript)
2012-03-13 Europe's “Back-door QE”: Good News for Global Bond Investors by OppenheimerFunds, Inc. (Article)
By restoring confidence in the global financial system, the European Central Bank's Long Term Refinancing Operation has allowed global bond investors to participate in attractive opportunities around the world.
2012-03-13 The Gutenberg Economy by Michael Lewitt (Article)
As commentators near and far speculate on what 2012 will bring to the global economy and markets, there is little question that one factor will be decisive: the central banks' printing presses. Both the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank (ECB) will keep printing dollars and euros around the clock until their presses run out of ink.
2012-03-09 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.
2012-03-06 Big Headlines...Not Much Action by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments
Bottom Line: Volume: There's still no major conviction in the rally. Too many cautious investors out there keeping a wary eye on their gains. Russell 2000: has broken down recently; the mega caps have overshadowed it. Employment: Still the most sensitive number. Anything above 150,000 is fine but confidence will be shaken if it's much below. AAPL: The most over-owned stock in the market and accounted for about 20% of February gains. The Fed is sticking to its script: and with the growth numbers, this means that GT10s are likely to remain exactly where they are today.
2012-03-06 Defining Risk: Warren Buffetts Three Kinds of Investments by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
In his 2011 letter, Warren Buffett explained the purpose behind investing, the real definition of risk, and the three types of investments which congregate the marketplace. We believe Mr. Buffett struck at the core of the problem that most investors are having. They are defining risk primarily by what happens in the next twelve months, while the Oracle of Omaha is thinking in five to ten-year time frames, at a minimum. These short time frames are combined with eyes locked on the rearview mirror, inhibiting investors from participating in wealth creation as we look out into the future.
2012-03-05 Warning: A New Who's Who of Awful Times to Invest by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Last week, the estimated return/risk profile of the S&P 500 fell to the worst 2.5% of all observations in history on our measures. This is not a runaway bull market. Rather, it is a market that again stands near the highs of an extended but volatile trading range. Importantly, the market is again characterized by an extreme set of conditions that we've previously associated with a Who's Who of Awful Times to Invest.
2012-03-02 Will the Bond Bubble Burst This Year? by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
I dont know who first uttered this classic line The trend is your friend (until its not) but it is timeless. It seems especially appropriate today in light of the massive shift weve seen from stocks to bonds since the financial crisis and bear market of 2008-early 2009. Millions of investors have moved from stocks to bonds and consider themselves safe. Today, there are more people invested in US bonds (of all types) than ever before.
2012-03-02 TARGET2: A Channel for Europe's Capital Flight by Andrew Bosomworth of PIMCO
The Eurosystem's TARGET2 transaction system introduces elements of fiscal union via the back door. The large TARGET 2 positions developing among national central banks in the eurozone reflect capital flight from the periphery to the core and de facto introduce transfer and burden sharing elements of a common fiscal policy. Monetary policy ends up substituting for fiscal policy without going through the same democratic channels that governments' expenditure and taxation decisions entail. Taxpayers in the eurozone are contingently liable for losses incurred by monetary policy operations.
2012-03-01 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group
When helping people with retirement and cash flow planning, we often have some detailed conversations concerning the costs of health care. Some retirees have a misconception that somehow, because of Medicare, things are free. Anyone who is a part of Medicare knows that is simply not the case. Not only do you pay premiums for Parts B and D, but there are some significant co-payments and deductibles attributable to Medicare, as well. Health care costs are estimated to be over $325,000 over the course of retirement for a 65 year old couple.
2012-02-28 The Big Picture Through a Small-Cap Lens by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
Things are looking up for investors as a recovery in the job market and a rosier consumer outlook have helped fuel optimism. But spiking oil prices could spoil the party in the short run. A look at small-cap stocks may offer perspective. The rally, Oct. 4 - Feb. 23, has seen the Russell 2000 jump 37%, well ahead of both the Russell Mid-Cap and the Russell 1000 indices. The small-cap rally may be headed for a hiccup, however, one foreshadowed by last weeks slight decline in the Russell 2000. Still many portfolios can benefit from a long-term allocation to small-cap and even micro-cap stocks.
2012-02-28 De-Fence by Bill Gross of PIMCO
Over the past 30 years, an offensively minded Federal Reserve and their global counterparts were printing money, lowering yields and bringing forward a false sense of monetary wealth. Successful investing in a deleveraging, low interest rate environment will require defensive in addition to offensive skills. The PIMCO defensive strategy playbook: Recognize zero bound limits and systemic debt risk in global financial markets. Accept financial repression but avoid its impact when and where possible. Emphasize income we believe to be relatively reliable/safe; seek consistent alpha.
2012-02-27 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
The stock market paused last week in its 2012 rally over concerns about what might happen in Greece. As the charts above illustrate, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the NASDAQ Composite fell fractionally for the week, but certainly showed underlying strength given the urge of many to take short-term gains.
2012-02-24 Schwab Market Perspective: Two Steps Forward... by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
US stocks and economic data appear to be moving at least two steps forward for every step back, which we believe leads to a strengthening trend for bothalthough there are inevitable bumps along the way. We believe the agreement in Washington to extend the payroll tax through 2012 may be the last substantial economic-related agreement before the election, but there are major issues looming. The Fed continues to believe another round of easing may be appropriate, which we think could be dangerous and that they should be looking to move in the other direction.
2012-02-14 What a Difference 3 Years Make by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
Three years removed from the Styxian depths of the financial crisis, investors are now in much better shape. Back in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was running for president, he struck a chord with the voting populace by asking the seminal question, Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Much of the electorate ran through a mental checklist and decided that they were worse off. As a result, voters pulled the proverbial ripcord, ousted the incumbent and Reagan was elected our 40th president. Investors should be asking themselves a similar question today.
2012-02-03 The U.S. Economy Marches On To An Unsteady Beat by Team of BondWave Advisors
Despite the misgivings by the Fed about the recovery, and with much of Europe teetering on recession, domestic economic data continues to suggest moderate expansion in both output and employment. We discuss this situation along with the positive performance of the Treasury, Corporate and Municipal bond markets.
2012-02-01 Investment Opportunities in the Changing Cash and Short Duration Markets by Jerome Schneider and Paul Reisz of PIMCO
Volatility has soared in the cash markets as the eurozone crisis has deepened, prompting many investors to pull cash out of prime money market strategies over the last year. With U.S. interest rates on hold until 2014 and regulations on 2a-7 money market strategies putting pressure on yields, cash investors will likely face near-zero yields for several years. In this environment, we believe investors should reassess their liquidity needs and consider putting cash that is not needed right away into short and low duration instruments instead of money market strategies.
2012-02-01 Will I be able to retire ever? Answers to our clients #1 question! by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
Our clients are divided between those who are at least 65 and already retired (30%) and those clients aged 35-65 for whom retirement seems like an ever receding mirage. In this commentary, we will concentrate on the mechanism that we use to implement a clients retirement income strategy, review how this strategy has performed since January 2000, and review the lessons learned.
2012-01-31 The ECB to the Rescue by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Though a good deal of concern over European downgrades has emerged, markets actually have received reason to anticipate relief in Europes financial crisis. The old risks and fears remain, of course, but the ECB has at least changed the equation, signaling that it had jettisoned its former hands-off policy and begun, at last, to support European financial markets. The remarkable nature of the change received only a few headlines, and even less commentary, but it deserved then and deserves now more attention. The ECBs help is crucial.
2012-01-30 Tide Turns for Structured Credit by Joshua Anderson and Carrie Peterson of PIMCO
Many investors remain skeptical, but the market environment for structured products has changed markedly since the financial crisis of 2008. Current pricing now reflects a more realistic view of the underlying fundamentals, including weakness in the global economy and U.S. housing market. We believe now is the time to consider entering the structured credit market.
2012-01-30 Fed Rings Dinner Bell for Equities by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
The Fed's decision to keep short-term rates at historical lows and to provide greater visibility on monetary policy is likely to beckon stock investors to take on more risk. Plus, what you may have missed in the GDP report. Investors hungry for yield may have gotten the sign they needed to increase stock portions of their portfolios. On Jan. 25, after a Federal Open Market Committee meeting, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke surprised the capital markets by announcing that the central bank planned to keep short-term interest rates historically low into late 2014 and possibly beyond.
2012-01-27 Slow Road to 'Normal?' by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Market volatility has fallen and tight correlations have loosened, indicating to us some calming of fears and increased attention on more traditional economic and earnings-related news. This is a good sign for stocks in the foreseeable future. The Fed unveiled its new communication strategy after its most recent meeting, reiterating that interest rates will likely remain extremely low for some time. The European picture is brightening slightly and there may be a glimmer of hope for stock market investors. After a soft patch, global growth may be turning around.
2012-01-25 2011 Review and Outlook by Ronald W. Roge and Steven M. Roge of R. W. Roge
While there is plenty to worry about globally, particularly the European financial crisis, Iran, and domestic policy decisions, we can take some comfort that corporate earnings continued to grow and our economy is muddling through with positive GDP numbers. Traditionally, election years are positive for equities. Since 1928 there have been 21 Presidential elections with only three of those years producing negative returns for the S&P 500. Until we have more clarity on the U.S. election, domestic policy decisions and the European financial crisis we will remain cautious and flexible.
2012-01-24 The Global Economic Outlook: Diverging Paths by Thomas D. Higgins of Dreyfus
The global economy can weather a mild eurozone recession, but is too fragile to absorb a severe financial shock such as a breakup of the euro. Higgins expects Central and Eastern Europe are likely to be most negatively affected by a eurozone recession, followed by the UK, the US and other advanced economies, given their respective trade dependencies. The least vulnerable regions would be Asia and Latin America. Long-term value in popular safe havens such as U.S. Treasuries and gold, preferring to focus on U.S. non-financial corporate credit as well as emerging market local currency debt.
2012-01-24 The Plain Facts by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management
We believe that, while Europe will suffer a recession in 2012 on its painful path to recovery, with or without Greece, the U.S. and Canada will likely see accelerating growth this year, as will China, India and Latin America. In fact, global growth should be above 3%, supported by record high total household wealth in the world, which has doubled since 2000. China and India provide half of the worlds economic growth. And manufacturing in India and China grew in December and should continue to do so from renewed government stimulation.
2012-01-23 Focus Shifts from Fear to Fundamentals by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
Kristina Hooper, head of portfolio strategies, highlights last week's rally in stocks as a launching point for investors to overcome anxiety and regain focus on valuations, corporate earnings and improving macroeconomic conditions.
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.
2012-01-18 The Bigger the Base, the Higher the Space by Pamela Rosenau of Hightower Advisors
Overall, people around the globe are underinvested or invested in the wrong asset classes. As data point continue to strengthen, coupled with the fact that income (and sustainability of income) are becoming a scarce commodity, a significant rally in the equity markets could ensue. As some technical analysts may suggest, the bigger the base, the higher the space. As U.S. blue chip stocks have lagged for more than ten years, they have built a base that has prepared these stocks for liftoff.
2012-01-17 The Impact of the Falling Dollar by Jonathan A. Shapiro of Kovitz Investment Group
Regarding the progress of the businesses we own, a useful metric we track is the Price-to-Value ratio. Conceptually, this statistic measures the current price of a portfolio company to its intrinsic value, conservatively estimated through our multiple valuation techniques. For example, Wal*Marts current P-to-V Ratio is 80%, determined by taking its roughly $60 stock price divided by our current fair business value estimate of $75. This implies, based on what we know today, Wal*Mart is roughly 20% undervalued, providing approximately 25% upside from current levels (not including dividends).
2012-01-17 An Unhappy New Year in Europe by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Though the most intense pressure from Europes financial crisis will likely abate in the coming year, its lagged effects seem poised to put the continent into recession. Even if in the next few months the governments of the EU and the leadership of the ECB act with more resolve than they did last year, any favorable economic effect will take time to develop, leaving Europes economies to suffer in the interim. The most optimistic forecasts on Europe expect negligible growth. More pessimistic forecasters look for a 23% drop in the continents real GDP.
2012-01-09 Investment Perspective Fourth Quarter 2011 by Team of Cambridge Advisors
The concerns over Europes debt problems continued and contributed to volatility in stock prices and bond prices. Although the markets have responded favorably to the partial solutions that have emerged, the issues are not entirely resolved. In this environment where the outlook can and does change quickly based on unfolding worldwide events, volatility is likely to persist. We continue to believe diversification across asset classes is the prudent strategy in this environment. Bonds provide stability, but stock exposure is needed for long-term growth.
2012-01-06 Doing Nothing Nothing Done by Cliff W. Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors
Somehow, this is about the only time of year when most people reflect on the past, ponder the present, and plan/predict the future. There are several themes we have identified that will affect our asset-allocation discipline for 2012. As I commented in November, the market risks are geopolitical and the sentiment is driven by government policies. Our themes for 2012: Germanys Euro, Inflation versus Deflation, Election Year and It Isnt All Bad . For the year 2011, stocks basically broke even, although the 37 days where the Dow was plus or minus 200 points certainly made for a wild ride.
2012-01-04 Towards the Paranormal by Bill Gross of PIMCO
The New Normal, previously believed to be bell-shaped and thin-tailed in its depiction of growth probability and financial market outcomes, appears to be morphing into a world of fat-tailed, almost bimodal outcomes. A new duality credit and zero-bound interest rate risk, characterizes the financial markets of 2012, offering the fat left-tailed possibility of unforeseen policy delevering or the fat right-tailed possibility of central bank inflationary expansion. Until the outcome becomes clear, investors should consider ways to hedge their bets.
2012-01-03 Good Defense, Slow Progress a Win for 2011 by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors
The stock market finished flat for the year, but an absence of loss in the face of a wave of negative news coupled with improving economic conditions are cause for optimism in 2012. While the stock market took us on a wild ride to nowhere, investors are better off than they were a year ago.
2012-01-03 We Were Too Optimistic by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors
When government tilts toward redistribution, the growth rate of potential GDP slows down.This hurts job creation.We should have more fully accounted for this in our forecast last year. Some will ask: Then how can you forecast 3% growth in 2012?The answer is relatively simple.1) The Fed is even more accommodative today than it was last year.2) Government spending will be basically flat in 2012 for the third consecutive year.3) Technology continues to advance. These developments mean the tailwinds are stronger at the same time the headwinds are diminishing.
2011-12-30 Beyond Beasts and Bossa Nova:The Brazilian Boom by Team of Guild Investment Management
What does all this mean for those who wish to invest in Brazil? It means that when it is time to buy Brazil and the time isnt here yet you will want to consider banks and credit card companies as a way to capture the wave of consumer cash since many consumers go abroad to buy personal and pricey consumer goods. To take advantage of rising internal Brazilian spending you will probably want to consider autos, housing, and big ticket durables that will not fit into the luggage of shoppers returning from spending trips abroad.
2011-12-23 Banking Reform: Hopefully Britannia Creates A Wave by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management
The British government has set in motion this week a future overhaul in the way that individual banks do business. British banks will be required to separate their basic lending and deposit operations from investment activities involving trading and speculation on behalf of clients and the banks themselves. This should mean that the deposits of retail customers will be shielded and protected from bank investment and trading ventures.
2011-12-21 Hot Potato by Tony Crescenzi, Ben Emons, Andrew Bosomworth, Lupin Rahman and Rob Mead of PIMCO
The world is playing a game of hot potato with European financial assets, and the European Central Bank is a reluctant player. Together, Europes fiscal and monetary authorities can likely avert a systemic accident, but they must act quickly and courageously. Differentiation among emerging market monetary policies is increasing. And in Australia, the central bank will likely need to ease further in 2012. If every central bank enacts similar monetary policy tools, those tools compete for the same targets (financial and inflation stability), thereby potentially eroding their effectiveness.
2011-12-20 Gundlach on the Key Threat to Global Economies by Robert Huebscher (Article)
If class warfare is to be the dominant theme in next year’s presidential campaign, it will revive the premise of Ernest Hemingway's 1937 novel, To Have and Have Not, which he wrote in the midst of the second downturn of the Great Depression. That was also the title Jeffrey Gundlach gave his conference call with investors last week, during which he warned that wealth inequality will threaten European and domestic economies. Last week also saw Morningstar pass over Gundlach as a candidate for its fixed-income manager of the year award, so we’ll look at whether that decision made sense.
2011-12-20 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Readers respond to several articles: GLWBs: Retiree Protection or Money Illusion?, Did Congress Cash In on Insider Stock Trading?, and Can this be Serious?, all which appeared last week, and to John Mauldin's commentary, The Center Cannot Hold, which appeared on Saturday.
2011-12-19 The Three Rs of Investing by Marc Seidner of PIMCO
The inability to achieve sustainable levels of economic growth raises the risk of recession in many developed world economies. Under financial repression, market interest rates are kept very low for a very long time period with the hope of stimulating investment, but repression also starves savers to the benefit of borrowers. Increasing risk with an uncertain distribution of possible outcomes should lead to caution regarding traditional models and asset allocation practices.
2011-12-13 Self Sustaining by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
Last week the ECBs interest rate cut took center stage, but that cut should be viewed within the context of the 40 world wide interest rate cuts that preceded it. Clearly, there is a global easing cycle underway; and, we think you will see more such news this week when the FOMC announces it policy statement Tuesday. Stocks will continue to grind irregularly higher driven by portfolio managers trying to play catch-up, the upside seasonal bias, low valuations, still depressed sentiment readings, and the knowledge that we have now entered the best performing six months of the year for stocks.
2011-12-13 The Borrowing Has Finally Begun by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Since all the financial troubles began in 2008, the Fed has pumped massive amounts of liquidity into the economy: first to stem financial collapse, then to ameliorate the effects of the recession, and more recently to spur the all too sluggish recovery. For a long time, this liquidity remained bottled up in banks and other financial institutions, where it helped, but less than it otherwise might have. Now however liquidity seems to have begun to flow more generally, suggesting 1) that Fed policy is finally having its looked-for effect and 2) that in future, the economic climate will improve.
2011-12-09 Portfolio Strategy by Bradley Turner of Chess Financial
As of this writing, the most probable (and optimistic) scenario is that the European Central Bank (ECB) agrees to act as the lender of last resort and embark on a program of buying as many sovereign bonds as necessary to stop the rise of eurozone interest rates (see chart below). In return, eurozone members would agree to a so-called fiscal union, which would control the deficits individual countries could run. The resulting austerity measures would probably push Europe into a recession but the global financial markets would likely experience a relief rally.
2011-11-29 Jeremy Siegel on Why Stocks are 'Extremely Attractive' by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Jeremy Siegel is the Russell E. Palmer Professor of Finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His book, Stocks for the Long Run, now in its fourth edition, is widely recognized as one of the best books on investing. We spoke to him last week about equity valuations and the prospects for the economy.
2011-11-28 Are Corporate Balance Sheets Really the Strongest in History? by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
At an aggregate level, corporate balance sheets look reasonable, but are certainly not "stronger than they have ever been in history." Cash levels are elevated, but this is at best a second-order factor (with excess cash representing only a few percent of total assets), while debt remains near record levels relative to total assets and net worth.
2011-11-28 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
Despite generally improving economic data, the stock market continues to be held hostage to the circus over in Europe. As we warned last Monday, replacing two elected but misbegotten leaders with two technocrats who developed the modern day Europe and who lack political support, was a recipe for disappointment. Europe is nothing if not disappointing. They simply cannot muster the courage to either take apart their 50-year experiment run amuck or alternatively take the actions necessary to rescue the sovereigns in trouble.
2011-11-22 The Joy of Cooking by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
Last Friday CNBCs Maria Bartiromo asked me what was going to happen with this weeks Super Committee decision? After jokingly responding that if past is prelude if the Super Committee doesnt arrive at a decision they will appoint a SuperDuper Committee, I then stated, I dont think the Super Committee will reach a consensus.I also opined, I believe there is a wink and a nod between President Obama and Speaker John Boehner to not implement the mandatory cuts and let the 2012 Presidential election resolve the debate between increased taxes and spending cuts.
2011-11-18 Behavioral Finance (Why Watching CNBC Wont Make You Rich) by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
The current confluence of strong and rising earnings, low stock price valuations and exceptionally low interest rates presents one of the best stock buying opportunities in 50 years. Most Americans will not take advantage of that opportunity because most invest with their hearts, not with their heads, and right now their hearts are filled with fear! To help our clients invest with their heads, we present this commentary on behavioral finance.
2011-11-14 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Incredibly low interest rates are telling us a story that few seem able to decipher. For well over a year, interest rates on cash deposits have been near zero, while the reward for being a long-term Treasury investor has hovered below 3%. The last time rates coalesced around 2% was more than a generation ago. Concurrently, the economy has lost buying power, jobs, and valuation. As every global bourse in my universe struggles to gain upside traction, a worldwide decline in sentiment, earnings acceleration, and pricing power has diminished the foundation of free-exchange and capital markets.
2011-11-11 Get Paid to Play Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
With money markets and Treasuries yielding next to nothing these days, investors are finding income in new places. One area those investors should consider is gold mining. With gold rising in value, mining companies are reaping record profit margins, yet the stock prices are depressed due to lack of investor interest. A solution for both gold companies and investors may be dividends, specifically gold-linked dividends. Several top-tier gold producers that are benefiting from higher gold prices have begun to share a portion of their profits with shareholders via a dividend payout.
2011-11-01 Regulatory Armageddon by Bob Veres (Article)
Suppose you were somehow able to convince 40 advisors, who are all well-known thought leaders in the profession, to gather in the same room for a six-hour brainstorming session. The goal: to identify the single most important thing that the financial planning profession should be thinking about now. What do you think they'd come up with? Fasten your seat belts, because this may be the most important report you'll read all year.
2011-11-01 Why Invest? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
Investing has its rational justifications, but like any human activity, it's contingent upon history. American society has come to regard investing in stocks and bonds as a matter of personal responsibility and even an obligation, which in part explains why we invest.
2011-10-21 How to Succeed at Auctions by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management
We believe weve suffered more from the illiquidity and greater volatility of many of our smaller cap holdings, but thats where we are finding the best values with the greatest potential. When the markets recover, that same illiquidity should boost performance on the way up. Maybe sooner than is believed.
2011-10-19 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
We continue to favor short-term high yield securities.While the high yield market has generally been under pressure due to fears of lower economic growth, lower gross domestic product growth does not necessarily translate into weaker credit fundamentals. In light of all the uncertainty in the market, we have generally reduced our exposure to convertible bonds and have continued to favor bonds with high coupons that we think are likely to be refinanced before maturity.In addition we are keeping some cash on the sidelines so that we are in a good position to buy as future opportunities arise.
2011-10-19 All That Glitters Is Not a Cash Equivalent by Jerome M. Schneider of PIMCO
The latest volatility has investors asking questions about the securities they own, in particular probing any exposures to European issuers. Cash investors often over-allocate to money market and bank investment vehicles, while the most attractive risk-adjusted opportunities might fall just outside of this space. We currently see opportunities in short-dated, non-financial BBB-rated corporate bonds, along with dollar-hedged bonds and bills issued by sovereigns with solid balance sheets.
2011-10-18 Economic Data Receives Another Dose of Positive News by Chris Maxey of Fortigent
Not only was key economic data, such as retail sales, better than expected, but also the start of earnings season brought about a number of positive corporate earnings surprises.An important caveat is that analysts earnings estimates were routinely cut over the past several weeks, leading to a lowered bar and higher likelihood of upside surprise.Regardless, markets appear pleased by the news, at least for the time being. Over the latest week, each of the major indicators, excluding consumer sentiment, came in above consensus.
2011-10-18 Volatility Rears its Ugly Head by Jeremy Blackman of Hester Capital Management
The major debate in the financial markets today revolves around whether or not the U.S. is going to experience a double-dip recession. We do not expect a recession, but if that does happen it should be a shallow one. We remain cautiously optimistic that the politicians in the US and Europe will eventually do the right thing as the consequences of not acting in a prudent and responsible manner are not pretty. We anticipate that markets will continue to be volatile until Europe finds resolution for its problems and until politicians across the globe learn to compromise across party lines.
2011-10-17 Europe: Just Getting Warmed Up by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
At present, the S&P 500 is again just 10% below the high it set before the recent market downturn began. In my view, the likelihood is very thin that the economy will avoid a recession, that Greece will avoid default, or that Europe will deal seamlessly with the financial strains of a banking system that is more than twice as leveraged as the U.S. banking system was before the 2008-2009 crisis.
2011-10-17 \'\'Savings Lost\'\': The True Cost of Zero Interest Rate Policy by Chris Turner guest commentator of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)
Savers beware. Bank bailouts and an"easy money" Federal Reserve policy cause financial injury to nearly everyones bottom line in at least three distinct ways. First, we taxpayers funded the "bailouts" through higher taxes. Second, your bank pays minimal interest to your savings accounts. Third, the increased dollar printing causes commodities to rise, which increases gas and food prices. Each injury requires a little more explanation than a simple statement. The first injury is easy-the "bailouts" took bad stuff from the balance sheets of banks and placed them in our hands.
2011-10-11 Market See-Saw Brings Us Back to April 2010 Double-Digit Third Quarter Losses Erase Previous Gains by Ron Surz (Article)
Stock markets around the world plummeted in the third quarter, with the US market losing 16% and foreign markets faring somewhat worse with 17% losses. This quarter's loss reverses the gains of the first quarter and brings year-to-date returns below water, with domestic markets losing 11% and foreign markets losing 13%.
2011-10-11 3rd Quarter 2011 Newsletter by James G. Tillar and Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup Advisors
Despite our macro concerns there are opportunities in the stock market, especially in the mega-cap arena where valuations are attractive and yields are high. Investors are in a unique period of time where they can own very high-quality stocks and generate a sustainable and growing income stream well above money markets and medium term U.S. Treasury securities. High-quality stocks have started to outperform after being ignored over the past decade. We believe this asset class is underrepresented in institutional portfolios and will benefit as this group rediscovers the value in this area.
2011-10-07 The Hunt for (Sustainable) Yield by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors
In any low-rate environment, it is easy to be seduced by any investment that can deliver high yields. But to achieve a consistent total return, you need to carefully weigh the risks and focus on investments that can deliver attractive yields that are sustainable, while also providing the potential for higher income in the future. Our answer thus far has been a combination of sources. Given the current miniscule yield environment, we expect these higher-quality asset classes to move the income-generation meter at least a little for client portfolios without exposing them to inordinate risk.
2011-10-04 Is Recession a Certainty in the U.S.? by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management
There is certainly much greater economic risk out there than there was just a month or two ago. My sense is that any recession that the United States may experience would be associated with a slowing of U.S. GDP because of a fall of in Europe, and potentially China. I believe that China would act quickly to reverse their tightening bias to spur growth. Calling recessions is a dangerous game. We all try to make logical sense of markets and try to forecast the future. All I know is that folks that have done well decade over decade, like Buffet, are buying and not selling.
2011-09-30 Schwab Market Perspective: Perception vs. Reality by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab
Economic data continues to reveal sluggish activity, and markets have been increasingly trading in a risk-on, risk-off mode. The Fed continues to try to stimulate greater economic growth, most recently with the announcement of operation twist. We have serious doubts this will engender any broad upturn. We continue to look toward Washington to move beyond short-term rhetoric and provide some serious long-term plans that allow businesses to have more confidence in the future. European policymakers continue to delay any real action, increasing the risks of an escalation of the debt crisis.
2011-09-27 Markets Struggle to Reconcile Macro and Micro by Chris Maxey of Fortigent
It was a difficult week from a number of standpoints, not the least of which was the growing number of downside risks that rose to the surface. A broad number of financial markets broke down this week, including copper, the Hang Seng and precious metals. Struggles in those markets came from any multitude of reasons, including the acknowledgement of slower growth ahead from the International Monetary Fund and the US Federal Reserve.
2011-09-26 Corporate Cash by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
It will take time before a return of confidence can move matters beyond the recent, tentative expressions. Cash and the lack of confidence it reflects remain high. But investors should, nonetheless, remain aware of the tremendous potential for dramatic expansion in corporate spending, hiring, and M&A activity from even a modest improvement in confidence. Especially since equity market valuations these days make it cheaper to buy than to build, the M&A potential, with its always immediate market impact, looks particularly powerful.
2011-09-26 Reflections and Outrage by Bob Rodriguez of First Pacific Advisors
Here is address given at the 2009 Morningstar conference which has just as much relevance now as it did then. Last years performance was a terrible one for the market averages as well as for mutual fund active portfolio managers. It did not matter the style, asset class or geographic region. We managers did not deliver the goods and we must explain why. In letters to shareholder will this failure be chalked up to bad luck, an inability to identify a changing governmental environment or to some other excuse? We owe them more than simple platitudes, if we expect to regain their confidence.
2011-09-24 Catastrophic Success by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Rick Perry touched the third rail of Social Security and called it a Ponzi scheme, which of course immediately made him the leading candidate in the shoot the messenger category. Behind the rhetoric, I look at some actual numbers. Not the unfunded liabilities, thats too easy. Lets look at what a heartless, uncompassionate man President Roosevelt was when he started Social Security. And of course, we must start off with the results of the FOMC meeting, which has me feeling not at all amused. What are they thinking? Apparently, they are seeing the results from another, alternative universe.
2011-09-23 Germany and the Euro Bailout Fund by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management
Last week, five important central banks offered one-time funding lines to large commercial banks. Why? Access to capital from money markets was drying up and liquid first aid was needed. The commercial banks were having a hard time borrowing dollars needed to repay loans in U.S. currency made by U.S. money market funds that decided not to renew the loans. U.S. money market funds had been huge lenders to large European banks. Now, bad news about Europes sovereign debt situation is scaring U.S. money market institutions away. The greater fear is trumping higher returns.
2011-09-22 Talking Our Way to Recession! by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
The Europeans do not yet have a political structure for engineering a rescue, and that will be the over-hang in Europe. They will figure it out - eventually. The risk remains whether Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland will require equivalent rescues. The largest unknown risk is: of all the banks and hedge funds that sold Credit Default Swaps on Greek bonds, do any have enough capital to pay off their exposure. Remember that the US Treasury directed $62 billion to AIG to cover CDS exposure at that firm in 2009. We doubt that the European central banks are prepared to do the same.
2011-09-22 The Dangerous Phase by Bill Mann of Motley Fool
A falling stock market is one of the few arenas where the human instinct of flight is a net negative. Two homilies that you hear over and over from investors are 'dont catch a falling knife" and 'wait out the uncertainty.' Consider this: August had the biggest monthly fund outflows since March 2009. It's easy to forget now, but there was nothing to signify that March was the bottom. In fact, the news during that month was horrible. People who deployed capital into the market in March 2009 were doing something extremely uncomfortable, when every sinew screamed at them to run.
2011-09-20 Ya Gotta Believe! by Tony Crescenzi, Ben Emons, Andrew Bosomworth, Lupin Rahman and Isaac Meng of PIMCO
Central banks around the world consider easing monetary policy amid concerns of a global economic slowdown. At least one major central bank, however, appears to be taking an opposite stance: China. Policymakers there are concerned about inflation, excessive credit and property speculation. In other emerging nations, central bankers are generally poised to ease, but have less ammunition than they did after Lehman collapsed.
2011-09-19 Preparing for a Greek Default by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
The yield on 1-year Greek government debt ended last week at 110%, down slightly from a mid-week peak of 130%. Even with the pullback, the Greek yield structure continues to imply default with certainty. All the markets are really quibbling about here is the recovery rate. That figure was still hovering near 50% as of Friday, but was a bit higher than we saw a few days earlier. A bailout today does not avert default, but at best defers it to a later date, and squanders funds that could otherwise be used to stabilize the European banking system once that inevitable default occurs.
2011-09-17 Twist and Shout? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
What in the wide, wild world of monetary policy is the Fed doing, giving essentially unlimited funds to European banks? What are they seeing that we do not? And is this a precursor to even more monetary easing at this next weeks extraordinary FOMC meeting, expanded to a two-day session by Bernanke? Can we say 'Operation Twist?' Or maybe 'Twist and Shout?'
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.
2011-09-06 Five Strategies for a Sideways Market by Kane Cotton, CFA and Jonathan Scheid, CFA (Article)
If this slow growth environment coupled with asset price volatility continues for (to steal a quote from Fed Chairman Bernanke) 'an extended period,' what additional portfolio strategies might aid the overall risk/return profile of investor portfolios? More specifically, how do you manage investments in a sideways market?
2011-09-06 An Imminent Downturn: Whom Will Our Leaders Defend? by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
The global economy is at a crossroad that demands a decision-whom will our leaders defend? One choice is to defend bondholders-existing owners of mismanaged banks unserviceable peripheral European debt, and lenders who misallocated capital by reaching for yield and fees by making mortgage loans to anyone with a pulse. Defending bondholders will require forced austerity in spending of already depressed economies, continued monetary distortions, and the use of public funds to recapitalize poor stewards of capital. It will do nothing for job creation, foreclosure reduction, or economic recovery.
2011-09-01 Updated Ideas for Fixed Income Positions by Team of American Century Investments
The current environment and related factorsincluding double-dip recession concerns, equity and high-yield corporate bond market volatility, moderate inflation expectations in the near term, and premium pricing for U.S. Treasury securitieshave raised questions for investors as they return from summer activities and re-examine fixed income investment positions. It is difficult to address all investor situations and scenarios. So for our hypothetical allocations in this piece, we will focus on fixed income positioning within employer-sponsored retirement plans, both qualified and non-qualified.
2011-08-24 Much Ado About Debt: Dollar vs. Euro by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
A key reason for recent market turmoil may be the long overdue untangling of important debt-driven interdependencies between the U.S. and Europe. Not only has the Feds ultra-low monetary policy taken away any incentive to engage in meaningful reform in the U.S., but the easy money also spilled far beyond U.S. shores, providing European banks with hundreds of billions of reasons not to shore up their capital bases. With volatility riding high, investors appear to be chasing emotions rather than facts.
2011-08-22 Follow-up - First Half of 2011 Looks Like 2007 by Sean Hanlon of Hanlon Investment Management
As written on July 20th, our research uncovered potentially dangerous activity in the equity markets which could lead to a break and high volatility. Using our proprietary research methodologies, we elected to make a major Tactical move on June 17th. That move reduced all Equity and High-Yield Bond exposure, creating 50% cash or cash equivalent allocations across all portfolios. This defensive move was shown to be prudent as volatility erupted and considerable downside was experienced in equity markets in the first week of August.
2011-08-19 Emotion in Motion by Rob Isbitts of Carson Wealth Management Group
We don't normally feel compelled to discuss short-term market activity. However, once in a while a month comes along that is very different from most other months. This is one of those months. With the S&P 500 down over 12% for the month of August (as of 2:30PM on Friday, 8/19/11), and Europe's economic and banking system woes weighing on the markets again, here are our current thoughts on global markets and our current positioning.
2011-08-17 The European Debt Crisis: Key points to consider by Tom Fahey & Ed Thaute of Loomis Sayles
A toxic combination of factors contributed to the recent selloff in risk assets and the sharp decline in German and US government bond yields. The lingering European sovereign debt crisis, exacerbated by political bickering, weak economic data and doubts about the potential effectiveness of monetary and fiscal policy tools, fed investor anxiety. Ever since Greece requested its first rescue package in May 2010, the European sovereign debt crisis has been simmeringwith occasional flare-ups.
2011-08-16 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group
Volatility set a record last week when, for the first time in the Indexs 115 year history, the Dow Jones moved by more than 400 points for four consecutive days. The Index was down 635 points on Monday, up 430 points on Tuesday, down 520 points on Wednesday, and up 423 points on Thursday. We all know that the value of the underlying businesses did not change drastically even day by day. Jason Zweig said it well in his book, Your Money and Your Brain: In the short run, a stocks price will change whenever someone wants to buy or sell it and whenever something happens that seems like news"
2011-08-12 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
Markets around the world fell last week as Europe crumbled over the bankruptcy of Italy and what to do about it. As the charts above illustrate, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 5.8% while the NASDAQ Composite dropped an astounding 8.1% last week on both sovereign debt issues as well as global growth concerns.
2011-08-12 The Real Problem with the Market - Lack of Growth and Leadership by Ronald W. Roge of R.W. Roge
It's clear to almost everyone, except the politicians, what needs to be done. Leadership requires the President to call Congress back from vacation and get working on the problem. It requires European politicians to come to the table and take their bitter medicine. A growing U.S. economy is good for everyone in the global economy, because even after the recent rating downgrade by Standard and Poor's, we are still the world's largest economy and our U.S. Dollar is still considered to be the world's reserve currency.
2011-08-12 Buy, Sell or Hold? Relax and Don't Panic by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
There was more blood in the streets Monday as the world continued to digest S&Ps downgrade of US debt, the two-week market selloff, and the likelihood the US economy could possibly slide back into recession. These concerns, combined with continued political/economic struggles in the eurozone from socialist policies, have created a potent concoction of fear across global markets and sent volatility skyrocketing Monday to its highest level since the May 2010 Flash Crash. While many investors are running for the exits, others have chosen to ride the wave of volatility or buy depressed shares.
2011-08-10 Run, Ride or Buy? What Should Investors Do? Dont Sell on Mondays! by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
With trillions of dollars in debt acting as a ball-and-chain for much of Europe, the U.S. and the rest of the developed world, must detoxify their balance sheets before hitting the ground running. On the other hand, emerging market economies carry low levels of debt and operate like a cash business, making them the final frontier for strong economic growth. A key reason is emerging market governments have the long-term policies in place to facilitate growth of their economies.
2011-08-10 Rumours by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
When asked how he made his money, Mr. Rogers answered, I sell euphoria and buy panic. Currently, gold and Treasuries are gapping on the upside; and, stocks are gapping on the downside. The implication, though I believe gold is in a secular bull market, suggests positions should be sold in metals and the freed-up cash should be used to buy sound stocks with decent dividend yields. The weeks ahead will determine if this is the correct strategy. All said, IMO it is too late to panic. The time raise cash, was months ago. Now it is time to selectively redeploy that cash into select equities.
2011-08-09 S&P's Downgrade of Long Term U.S. Debt by Ronald W. Roge of R.W. Roge
Expect the markets to remain volatile between now and the 2012 election. Over the next few weeks, there will be plenty of talk about the impact of the S&P downgrade. Clearly it's not positive, but I don't buy into the catastrophic talk. Many insurance, trust companies, money market funds and municipalities (Muni Bond Issuers) will have to review their contracts and trust documents to see exactly how they are worded as far as the quality of the bonds they are required to hold. Until this legal review is completed, there is no way of assessing the impact of the downgrade on the markets.
2011-08-09 Don't Shoot the Messenger by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
With large-scale bond purchases announced, the ECB is moving closer to how the Fed operates in a crisis. In 2008, then NY Fed President Geithner conferred with Treasury Secretary Paulson whether to "foam" the markets. That referred to massive liquidity injection by buying Treasuries. Now the ECB may buy bonds of the largest European bond market, the Italian. The ECB has indicated it would sterilize any purchases. Let's not forget that some of the market tension comes from U.S. money market funds having dumped commercial paper issued by European banks after a lot of scrutiny.
2011-08-09 US Debt: Moody?s AAA / S&P AA+ by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors
If this move by S&P helps the US get more serious about cutting spending, then it will have been a very positive development. If it influences the political environment by pushing the US to a more conservative set of fiscal values it will be even more positive than that. There is a titanic battle of economic and political philosophy taking place in the US today. S&P wants to be a player in this battle, but in the end it will have a relatively minor role.
2011-08-09 U.S. Downgrade Shouldnt Cause Liquidity Investors to Cash Out by Jerome M. Schneider of PIMCO
Surprises are not a new phenomena for money market and other short-term investors. Our sense is that that money-market funds and other short-term strategies seem well positioned for the aftermath of the downgrade. In the short-term, we believe U.S. Treasury bills will continue to be highly sought after as a short-dated liquidity alternative, especially by central banks. S&Ps downgrade should serve as another wake-up call to investors to continually determine their liquidity needs.
2011-08-08 U.S. Downgrade Heralds a New Financial Era by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO
There will be endless debate on whether S&P, the rating agency, was justified in stripping America of its AAA rating and even attaching a negative outlook to the new AA+ rating. But this historic action has now taken place, and the global system must adjust. There are consequences, uncertainties, and a silver lining. Not so long ago, it was deemed unthinkable that America could lose its AAA. Indeed, risk free and US Treasuries were interchangeable terms so much so that the global financial system was constructed on the assumption that Americas AAA was a constant at the core.
2011-08-05 Dow Down 500, But Fundamentals Still Strong by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors
Major stock market indices are down 4-5% today as investors move into panic mode. There is no single piece of news driving the sell-off; rather the market seems to be gathering downward momentum on its own. Selling is creating more selling. Like 1987, the sell-off does not appear to be driven by fundamental factors. In fact, the fundamentals suggest the market is undervalued and getting more so as it drops. Many investors assume (or wonder) if the sell-off is indicating deep economic problems. However, there is no evidence that this is true.
2011-07-30 An Economy at Stall Speed by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The economy is at stall speed, it is quite possible well see further downward revisions to the already anemic growth numbers, and Congress and the President are dithering over the debt ceiling. It will not take much to push us into an outright recession. We can go a few days, I think, with the latter problem, but not too long or the markets will throw up.
2011-07-26 Income Opportunities in Municipal Bonds and Stocks by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In this interview, Brian McMahon and Chris Ryon of Thornburg Investment Management assess the opportunities for income-oriented investors, particularly in the municipal bond market. They answer questions such as when a separate account is better than a fund, and why a barbell is inferior to a laddered portfolio.
2011-07-22 Debt Ceiling Myths by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital
With the Tea Party gaining traction in Congress, and causing nightmares for incumbents, Republicans have little incentive to raise the debt ceiling (although they raised it 7 times under George W. Bush). Democrats arent going to reduce entitlements without raising taxes on the rich and Republicans arent going to raise taxes when the unemployment rate is 9.2%. Theres your stalemate and anyone expecting a significant deal to cut more than $4 trillion in spending by the August 2nd deadline will be severely disappointed.
2011-07-22 Why We Think the U.S. Wont Default on Its Debt by Team of American Century Investments
We believe its highly unlikely that the U.S. government will miss any of its scheduled debt payments in coming months, or that related market uncertainty and volatility will cause our money market funds to break the buck (be forced to transact share purchases and redemptions at prices less than the usual $1 per share). To help explain market behavior under unstable conditions, we often repeat the following adage: investment markets hate uncertainty. We tend to be leery of uncertainty because it can trigger investor skittishness, irrational behavior, and volatility.
2011-07-19 Earning 'Extra Credit' Through Short-Term Strategies PIMCO by Jerome M. Schneider of PIMCO
Given renewed concerns over liquidity and credit, investors can potentially do better by considering actively managed short-term strategies that invest beyond traditional U.S. money-market guidelines. The current credit situation in Europe is different from that in both 2008 and 2010 because initial liquidity conditions in the short-term markets are better. In our view, investors should evaluate potential investments within the wider scope of relative value opportunities and not simply for the incremental yield they may offer above risk-free returns.
2011-07-14 Ben Bernanke channels Genworth Financial; Chris Laursen on bank trading under the Volcker rule by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst
This week we republish an important article by Christopher Laursen, NERA Vice President, on bank trading under the Volcker rule. And we ask whether Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke knew he was saying about the conforming loan limit yesterday before the House Financial Services Committee.
2011-07-14 Sovereign Debt Blows Big Holes in Big Banks by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital
The past few days have been very bad for the world’s largest banks. American behemoths Citigroup and Bank of America are down about 7% each. Across the Atlantic, things are far worse. BNP Paribas, Barclays, and Banco Santander are all down 13% or more... and Société Générale is down an astounding 16%! Some pundits warn of an overreaction and suggest this is a buying opportunity for the beat-up financials. I disagree. Rather, I think the financials should now be considered toxic assets. Caution is justified.
2011-07-12 Balancing Debt, Value and Earnings by James G. Tillar and Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup Advisors
The quarter was weak. If this is due to factors like the earthquake and high energy prices, the soft patch should end in the second half of 2011. However, even if this plays out, longer term headwinds remain. What has become clear is that we are in a period of suboptimal economic activity, despite aggressive fiscal and monetary policy. Almost all rich countries are still stuck with a toxic mix of modest growth, depressed housing markets, negative real interest rates, even more asset concentration at our financial institutions, and uncomfortably high unemployment and government deficits.
2011-07-12 Making the U.S. Dollar Safer: Return OF Your Money by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
Money market funds try to keep a stable net asset value by employing what is called amortized cost accounting: the market value is ignored, assuming the issuer of the debt will pay in full. The justification for this practice is that money market funds invest in highly rated securities of extremely short duration. That may be correct, but in case of a systemic shock and a flight from money market funds, there is a risk that money market funds would need to liquidate holdings at a loss; additionally, an outright default cannot be ruled out in light of the Lehman Brothers experience.
2011-07-07 Politics of Default: Roadmap to Debunk the Dollar by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
We were one of few who defended the euro when many pundits predicted parity to the U.S. dollar in the spring of 2010, when Greece’s issues first came to the fore. Since then, Old Europe’s currency has had a dramatic comeback, although not without significant jitters along the way. A roadmap is playing out that may lead the euro to debunk the dollar. Not convinced? Let’s look at what is and what isn’t working on both sides of the Atlantic, and how dynamics may play out. If one thing has been working in Europe, it’s the “dialogue” between the bond market and policy makers.
2011-07-05 Is Europe’s Debt Crisis a “Lehman Moment” for America? by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO
Europe’s debt problem is a headwind for what remains a disappointing U.S. economic recovery. There is now broad-based recognition of America’s persistent economic weakness. The Federal Reserve has been forced again to revise downwards its growth projections for both 2011 and 2012. In order to avoid a repeat of the total Lehman paralysis in the face of an external shock to the U.S. economy three conditions must be met: a banking system that remains robust, no disruptions to money market funds and limited blockage to the plumbing of the country’s payments and settlement system.
2011-07-01 Expert Roundtable on Interest Rates by Mark W. Riepe, Liz Ann Sonders, Kathy A. Jones, Rande Spiegelman & Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab
US short-term interest rates have hovered near zero percent for a record period of time. The Fed has kept the funds rate extremely low, not only to boost economic growth, but also to ward off the threat of a deflationary spiral. Given the economy's recent soft patch, we don't expect the Fed to raise rates too soon. But, at some point rates will rise, it makes sense for clients to start planning now. With this in mind, Mark Riepe, led a roundtable discussion of investment and debt strategies for both the current low-interest rate environment and a future point when rates begin to tick up.
2011-06-25 The Contagion Risk of Europe by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Europe would be better off just taking the money they are giving to Greece and using it to recapitalize their banks. Let Greece go. Give it up. Let them enter a 12-step program or whatever it is that insolvent nations do. That is harsh, but it is also the truth.
2011-06-22 We’re Still Patiently Positioned for a Flatter Yield Curve by Team of American Century Investments
In this Weekly Market Update, we discuss the steep Treasury yield curve and our yield curve flattener trade. This economic cycle-based, duration-neutral, mean-reversion strategy—and how it fits with our other active positions—helps illustrate the investment process and outlook of the fixed income team. The gap between short- and long-maturity U.S. Treasury yields has been at or near historically wide levels since 2009. It’s an interesting facet of the latest economic cycle. One of our active positions is tied to an eventual narrowing of this spread to a more historically average level.
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 Quick Update by James G. Tillar and Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup Advisors
Currently the stock market is rightly focused on the many risks emanating from the macro environment. The European debt crisis, inflation and social unrest in emerging markets, especially China, and our economy has slowed while unemployment remains elevated.Most of these conditions were peculating well before the stock market started its decline in early May. We took advantage of that period to reduce risk in our portfolios by selling some stocks, especially the more cyclically oriented companies. As aresult our portfolios are holding up better than their benchmarks in the current correction.
2011-06-21 Euro: Safer than the U.S. Dollar? by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
Which one is safer: the euro or the U.S. dollar? Before jumping to a conclusion one way or the other, let’s look at different sides of the respective coins. We have been warning for years that there may be no such thing anymore as a safe asset and investors may want to take a diversified approach to something as mundane as cash. We believe Greece has rather serious issues, but concerned investors may want to take a closer look at their dollar holdings for potential “contagion” risks.
2011-06-15 RMB Liberalization —What All the Excitement is About by Kenneth Lowe of Matthews Asia
Investors tend to be a fairly excitable bunch, always looking for the latest trends and themes to try to make a profit. But many trends have little relevance or impact over the longer term. During the past 12 months, one of those more “exciting” topics that have been discussed is the initial stages of renminbi (RMB) liberalization in Hong Kong—a concept that allows foreigners to get their hands on, and trade in, Chinese currency for the first time. But how excited should long-term investors be? A roundtable discussion among Matthews’ managers, on the same topic, is also included.
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.
2011-06-07 New Challenges for the Endowment Model by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The multi-billion dollar endowments of elite institutions like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are supposed to never be strapped for cash, but that's not how things played out during the financial crisis, when all those schools and many others were forced to raise liquidity under adverse market conditions. The endowment model, despite those failures, is still basically sound, according to Luis Viceira, but it needs several key improvements before institutions and individuals can rely on it.
2011-06-02 Cash Hoards by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
In Saturday’s WSJ, Jason Zweig asked the question, “What will it take for companies to unlock their cash hoards”? Here we expound on his thoughts and examine our own portfolioin this light. First, companies with large cash balances are adding to them. Second, payouts are historically low. Third, the point has probably come where the best interests of corporate management and the shareholders are at odds. Zweig zeroed in on Ben Graham’s thoughts in regards to why big companies that generate high levels of free-cash flow are hesitant to return cash to shareholders.
2011-06-02 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group
As the first of the Baby Boomers begin to turn 65, they are being greeted with some bad news concerning Medicare and Social Security, especially since they hope to enjoy a longer time in retirement. Social Security is now scheduled to be exhausted by 2036, a year earlier than was projected last year. In addition to longer life spans, the 2% reduction in Social Security tax this year was a major factor in this updated information. As bad as things are for Social Security, things are worse for Medicare, which is projected to be bankrupt by 2024, five years sooner than was projected last year.
2011-05-31 So you have no frame of reference, Donny by Liam Molloy and Bethany Carlson of Galway Investment Strategy
Using Mr. O’Neill’s own metric, the market’s shrug on April 18th indicates that the ongoing value of S&P’s business has dropped rather dramatically. Continued investor confidence in the credibility and reliability of its ratings is in question, at best. On April 18th, 2011, S& P did something that no credit rating agency had ever done: it released a negative outlook on US debt. The reaction of the market to this historic news was anything but historic. Insurance on Treasuries barely budged up to less than half of its all time high at the trough of the credit crisis.
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.
2011-05-24 Debt Ceiling Jeopardizes Dollar’s Reserve Status by Axel Merk of Merk Funds
While borrowing costs for the U.S. government have not yet risen, irreparable harm may have already been done to the U.S. dollar and its status as a reserve currency. Ironically, it’s not a plunging, but a rallying bond market that is a symptom of the problem. Most observers believe that a) the Treasury has a big bag of tricks to continue servicing the debt; and b) politicians will play a game of chicken, but eventually do what they always do: agree to spend more money. We don’t know how the bond market will react; but we do know that policy makers are playing with fire.
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.
2011-05-09 Inflation Threat? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Any serious discussion of inflation today must separate short- from longer-term prospects. For the short run, the risks of a generalized inflation remain small, recent increases in commodity prices notwithstanding. For the longer run, the risks rise. Perhaps recent commodity price hikes anticipate this longer-term potential, though there are other explanations. But whatever the specifics, the fundamental risks lie almost entirely with policy in Washington, that is, how the Fed treats the excess liquidity in markets today and how the federal government deals with its huge budget deficits.
2011-04-29 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 Long-term Failure with Short-term Bonds by Hildy and Stan Richelson (Article)
Fear of an impending rise in interest rates has many recommending short-term bonds. Such fears are misplaced, however, and investors can better position their portfolios by constructing a ladder of high-quality individual bonds, rather than moving assets into only short maturities.
2011-04-26 The End of QEII: It’s Time to Make the Donuts by Tony Crescenzi, Ben Emons, Andrew Bosomworth and Lupin Rahman of PIMCO
With quantitative easing the Federal Reserve has in essence picked the pockets of Treasury bond investors throughout the world. Ultimately, the U.S. must own up to its past sins and let the deleveraging process play itself out. The U.S. must invest in its people, its land, and its infrastructure, as well as promote free trade, to achieve economic growth rates fast enough to justify consumption levels previously supported by debt.
2011-04-11 Charles Plosser and the 50% Contraction in the Fed\'s Balance Sheet by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Last week, an unusual event happened in the money markets that should not escape the attention of investors. The yield on 3-month Treasury bills plunged to less than 5 basis points. As I noted this past January in Sixteen Cents: Pushing the Unstable Limits of Monetary Policy, a collapse in short-term yields to nearly zero is a predictable outcome of QE2, based on the very robust historical relationship between short-term interest rates and the amount of cash and bank reserves (monetary base) that people are willing to hold per dollar of nominal GDP.
2011-04-07 Weekly Market Update by Team of American Century Investments
“Dodd-Frank” is shorthand for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. The main focus of the legislation is on increasing regulation/supervision of banks and other major players in derivatives, lending, and securitization businesses. Few of the law’s provisions are aimed directly at the registered fund industry, likely reflecting the industry’s distance from the 2008 financial crisis and general effectiveness of the framework already in place. Nevertheless, a number of provisions could affect mutual funds and their investment advisers in meaningful ways.
2011-04-04 The Revolving Door at the Fed of New York; Dick Alford on False Dichotomies in Monetary Policy by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst
This week in The Institutional Risk Analyst, we feature a comment by Richard Alford on the false dicotomy between discretionary and rules-based regimes when it comes to monetary policy. But first we want to do a little review of the latest disgorgement of documents by the Fed. Listening to the debate between the "borrow and spend" camp led by Paul Krugman et al and the cut the deficit camp led by the Tea Partiers in Congress and around the nation, we are reminded again of the film "The Matrix" and its predecessors.
2011-03-22 What Investors Should Fear in the Permanent Portfolio by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)
Over the last decade, the assets of the fund PRPFX have swelled from $50 million to more than $10 billion. The concept underlying that fund, Harry Browne's Permanent Portfolio (PP), has rewarded PRPFX investors with attractive risk-adjusted returns. Those investors, however, may want to rethink their exposure - especially if PRPFX is the core of a retirement-oriented strategy.
2011-03-07 Quantitative Easing and the Iron Law of Equilibrium by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
If you think about equilibrium, it helps to clear up all sorts of fallacies that people hold about the financial markets. For example, the currency and money market securities that are held by investors will - in aggregate - never "find a home" in any other form or market. If one takes their cash and tries to buy stock, they get the stock and the seller gets the cash. Nothing disappears, and nothing is created. The money-market securities held by investors is not a reflection of "liquidity looking for a home," but is a measure of how borrowers are on short-term sources of credit.
2011-03-07 Toryism, Socialism and Housing Reform: Real and Imagined by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst
This commentary is background for the presentation entitled "GSEs: The Future Role of Government Sponsored Enterprises in the US," at the Global Association of Risk Professionals event on Tuesday, March 8, 2011, in New York. The Obama Administration recently advanced some proposals to reform several government agencies that control the market for housing. Treasury/HUD plan is really a menu of possible options, eliminating what would not work and making it clear that change will happen slowly, if at all.
2011-03-04 On Regulation by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital
You can tell businesspeople precisely what to do, but you can’t make the economy or companies comply with policies and social aims. Regulations are limited in their scope and effect, and like a balloon, when you push in one place, self-interested behavior pops out in another. Those who enact regulation are rarely able to anticipate and control the response of those being regulated or the second-order consequences of the rules. Bubbles will lead to crashes, and the willingness to dispense with regulation and rely on free markets will never be complete, regardless of regulation’s limitations.
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.
2011-02-17 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 Baby Steps in the Complex Global Recovery Wasatch Funds by Sam Stewart and Roger Edgley of Wasatch Funds
The U.S. recovery is generally headed in the right direction. The good news is that credit markets are easing and many economic indicators are slowly improving. The bad news is that unemployment remains stagnant, companies are hoarding cash, and we have a growing federal deficit to address. The recently passed tax bill is good psychologically. People are generally pleased that their taxes won’t be going up this year, despite other concerns they may have with the bill. More importantly, this was one of several pieces of recent legislation showing the renewed possibility of bipartisanship.
2011-02-12 Ignorance is Confidence: Fedtalk or Newspeak? Andrew Jackson on Repealing a Central Bank by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst
In this issue Richard Alford, Christopher Whalen and members of the Herbert Gold Society opine on the Fed's attitude toward veracity and transparency in an age when confidence is the paramount policy concern. In the process of seeking to restore and maintain confidence, in the financial system and in the Fed as an institution, the Board of Governors in Washington led by Chairman Ben Bernanke seem to follow the last of the three slogans of the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's book, 1984: "Ignorance is Strength."
2011-02-10 The Housing Market Remains a Weak Link in the Current Recovery by Team of American Century Investments
Recent data on single family home selling prices for the 20 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. indicate that prices in most markets continue to decline. The monthly decline for the Case-Shiller Home Price Index was -0.5% in November, which marks the 5th consecutive monthly decline. So while other measures of our economy such as GDP growth (3.2% annualized increase for the fourth quarter of last year) or corporate profit growth continue to show solid progress, home prices—which are important in affecting consumer confidence and spending—continue to exhibit vestiges of deflation.
2011-02-02 Devil’s Bargain by Bill Gross of PIMCO
Money has become the economic and political wedge for profound changes in American society. Perhaps the most deceptive policy tool to lessen debt loads is the “negative” or exceedingly low real interest rate that central banks impose on savers and debt holders. Old-fashioned gilts and Treasury bonds may need to be “exorcised” from model portfolios and replaced with more attractive alternatives both from a risk and a reward standpoint.
2011-01-29 A Bubble in Complacency by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The just released Q4 GDP of 3.2% may be overstated by 0.5% to 1.0% as a result of statistical adjustments. Consumer spending advanced, but that must be tempered by the support from fiscal and monetary policies. The growth in the deficit poses imminent danger of another recession, and the political landscape makes it unlikely a solution will emerge. Mauldin would like to see 'thought leadership' in the upcoming presidential election cycle, in order to build support for viable policies to revive the economy.
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 Monetary Stimulus is Gaining Traction by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
The Federal Reserve’s recent recommitment to a second round of quantitative easing (aka QE2) has come at a time when past efforts at monetary stimulus seem at last to have gained traction. Accelerations in various measures of money supply suggest that the economy is finally drawing on the copious amounts of liquidity the Fed previously injected into it even before the most recent round of quantitative easing.
2011-01-20 James Tobin’s Advice; Look 'Anywhere insight may be found' by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs
For 99% of all investors in the United States, risk control can be simplified by separating your funds into buckets of “risk-free” and “risky” assets. Just remember that “risk-free” cannot be substituted with investments that are almost risk free. With FDIC Insurance coverage of $250,000.00 per person, and unlimited amounts available from the U.S. Treasury, the ability for most investors to incorporate risk free investments into their portfolios is easily accomplished.
2011-01-20 December’s Unemployment Report Masks Lingering Challenges by Team of American Century Investments
On January 7, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issued its Employment Situation report for the month of December. On the surface, the news appeared very good: The national unemployment rate dropped 0.4% from 9.8% to 9.4%. That is the lowest rate of unemployment we’ve experienced in nearly two years (April 2009 was the last month unemployment that was under 9%). And nonfarm payroll employment increased in December by 103,000. However, financial markets reacted with some pessimism that day. Overall, the S&P 500 declined 0.2% while broader indices also registered slight declines.
2011-01-14 Quarterly Review and Outlook, Fourth Quarter 2010 by Van R. Hoisington and Lacy H. Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management
An even slower growth rate of real GDP should be recorded over the next four quarters, suggesting the unemployment rate will be essentially unchanged a year from now. As we have noted previously, this modest expansion is due to the significant over-indebtedness of the U.S. economy. We see seven main impediments to economic progress in 2011 that will slow real GDP expansion to the 1.5%-2.5% range.
2011-01-11 Inflation a Growing Concern for Emerging Market Countries by Team of American Century Investments
As a group, emerging market countries have rebounded from the Great Recession in much better shape than developed economies. And driven by higher commodity prices, robust domestic consumption, and a growing middle class with buying power, the emerging market asset class appears poised for more growth heading into 2011. While investors have been focusing on the European debt crisis, however, many emerging market economies have been getting a little overheated from the rapid pace of growth, and inflationary fears are quietly becoming a daily reality.
2011-01-10 "Illusory Prosperity" - Ludwig von Mises on Monetary Policy by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Perhaps more than any other economist, Ludwig von Mises got the theory of money and credit right, because he made distinctions between various forms of money and credit that are often conflated by other theorists. The amount of real physical investment in the economy is, and must be, precisely equal to the amount of output not allocated to consumption but instead to savings. Unlike many other economists, Von Mises not only recognized this identity, but carried it through to what it implied for monetary policy.
2011-01-10 The Key Asset Classes For 2011 Will Be: Oil, Gold, And Stocks by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management
Investors are moving from bonds to stocks and the huge cash balances at money market funds will likely find their way into stock and commodity markets in 2011. This means inflation and commodities prices are likely to rise faster than wages, and those living on fixed incomes or bond interest will be affected the most, due to the fact that their money buys them less of everything; both luxuries and necessities. However, the ramifications of this inflationary trend are also serious for wage-earners. In every inflationary period in recorded history, wages have risen more slowly than inflation.
2011-01-09 2011 Outlook: U.S. Equities Cyclical and Seasonal Trends (Part 2) by Martin J. Pring of Pring Turner Capital Group
Part II addresses the cyclical and seasonal factors that will be in force during 2011. An analysis of the seasonal aspects will give us a better feel for the expected pattern of price behavior as the year unfolds. Since we do not know when the peak will actually materialize well discuss some indicators that should be monitored from the point of view of confirming when they have taken place. First though, lets take a closer look at some of the seasonal/cyclical patterns and how they might affect 2011.
2011-01-04 The 2011 Economic Outlook – Credit Given Where Credit Is Due by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust
With regard to 2011 real GDP growth, we now expect Q4/Q4 growth of 3.3% vs. 3.0%. An upward revision of 2011 Q4/Q4 real consumption growth to 2.9% from 2.5% in November is the primary factor accounting for the upward revision to the real GDP growth forecast. We are more optimistic about 2011 real GDP growth primarily because QE2 implies that the Fed will be purchasing all of the additional Treasury debt issued in conjunction with the Obama-McConnell tax and unemployment insurance compromise. We currently see more upside risk to our 2011 real GDP growth forecast than downside risk.
2011-01-02 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.
2010-12-31 The Enigma Decoder by Ronald W. Roge of R.W. Roge
Our outlook for 2011 remains cautious, as we were last year. We will continue with most of our 2010 strategies for 2011, with the exception of bonds and municipal bonds which may present problems. We have already lowered our allocation to bonds in the third quarter, lowered our bond duration, and may lower it further, especially in the municipal bond area. We are still formulating our strategy as we gather more information.
2010-12-21 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.
2010-12-20 Things I Believe by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
1) Investors dangerously underestimate the risk of an abrupt and possibly severe equity market plunge. 2) Agreement among "experts" is not your friend. 3) Downside risk tends to be elevated precisely when risk premiums and volatility indices reflect the most complacency. 4) We did not avoid a second Great Depression because we bailed out financial institutions...
2010-12-14 Encouraging Signs of Life from the U.S. Consumer by Team of American Century Investments
Early data from the start of the 2010 holiday shopping season indicate this could shape up to be the best year for consumer spending (and retailers) since 2005. Some have attributed this simply to consumer psychology based on pent-up demand and frustration after nearly three years of relative austerity. However, there are other indicators suggesting that consumer finances are at least on the mend.
2010-12-13 Bullish Sentiment Nears Extreme Levels As Investors Pile Into Equities by Chris Maxey of Fortigent
According to EPFR Global, a research provider that aggregates mutual fund flows, the week ending December 8th saw investors allocate $13.7bln of new capital to stocks funds while only investing $146mln in fixed income funds. Domestic bond funds experienced withdrawals of more than $1bln. Interestingly, money market funds picked up more than $32bln in new funds, the highest total in 22 weeks. Whether this is a wise time to jump back into equity securities remains a hotly debated issue but based on several metrics, this may not be the most opportune time to increase equity exposure.
2010-12-07 'Shadow' NAVs for Money Funds Available by Team of American Century Investments
In January 2011, so-called "shadow" net asset values (NAVs) for money market funds (MMFs) will become available publicly for the first time. They will be posted by the SEC on their Web site 60 days after they are filed monthly with the commission by fund management companies, including American Century Investments(R). As one of the investment industry's MMF pioneers, American Century Investments supports the new regulations and manages five MMFs.
2010-12-01 Open and Shut by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital
Today some assets are fairly priced and others are high, but there are no bargains like those of 2008. Capital and nerve can’t hold the answers in such an environment. We’re no longer in a high-return, low-risk market, especially in light of the inability to know how today’s many macro uncertainties will be resolved. Instead of capital and nerve, then, the indispensable elements are now risk control, selectivity, discernment, discipline and patience.
2010-11-23 Ned Davis - Still Positive on Stocks by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Just over a year ago, Ned Davis correctly forecast a continuation of the cyclical bull market in stocks. In February of 2008, he foresaw that year's market upheaval, and a year later he predicted the rally that began in March of 2009. Today, Davis is moderately bullish on stocks, as long as the Fed maintains its policy of quantitative easing.
2010-11-23 Global Tensions Rising Over Fed's QE2 Initiative by Team of American Century Investments
QE2 represents a dramatic intervention in the capital markets, and its ultimate impact is hard to predict at this point in time. Critics of the plan, including some Fed members, believe that too much monetary stimulus might lead to runaway inflation, which in turn could derail economic growth or even create future asset bubbles. Alternatively, a weaker dollar could create incentives for other countries to implement capital controls and foreign exchange interventions that negatively impact global trade.
2010-11-23 7 Things to Watch for as 2010 Ends by Isbitts of Emerald Asset Advisors
The cyclical (1-4 year) picture is getting better for U.S. stocks, and even better in the Emerging and Frontier markets. Put us in the camp of people who believe the Fed is too focused on fighting deflation, and at some point in the next half a decade, we will pay for it dearly. Perhaps the most remarkable trend will be the rise of the "Emerging Nations," particularly those in Asia.
2010-11-16 Jeremy Siegel on the Upside for Equities and the Virtues of QE2 by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In our annual interview, Jeremy Siegel, the Russell E. Palmer Professor of Finance at the Wharton School, offers his forecast for equities - a 10% to 20% gain in 2011, along with a continued rally through the end of this year. He also explains why the current round of quantitative easing is exactly what is needed to stimulate the economy.
2010-11-11 A Kind Word For Ben by Paul McCulley of PIMCO
The Fed makes policy consistent with its legislative mandate handed down by the democratically elected government of the United States. Price stability (mandate-consistent inflation) that promotes bubbles in asset prices and debt creation is a prescription for a debt-deflation bust and a subsequent liquidity trap. Acting irresponsibly relative to conventional wisdom is precisely the right approach for reversing an economy facing, or worst yet, mired in a liquidity trap.
2010-11-09 Latest GDP Growth Report Points to Continued Economic Weakness by Team of American Century Investments
After one quarter of robust gross domestic product (GDP) growth late last year - characteristic of an economy snapping out of a recession - the trend that has followed has been very uncharacteristic, with a substantial downward shift in GDP growth. American Century Investments investigates quarterly shifts in consumer spending and investing and other factors that effect GDP.
2010-11-08 Fed Follies by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
With the Federal Reserve seeming to embrace another round of what it calls “quantitative easing” and what the cognoscenti in the financial community quaintly refer to as “QE2,” a couple of questions naturally emerge: first, will the additional monetary ease help the economy? and second, is it warranted? On both counts, the weight of argument seems to fall on the negative side, though in the short run the added liquidity will likely boost markets.
2010-11-06 Equity Valuation, Earnings and Relative Yield: A Compelling Point in the Cycle? by Richard Skaggs of Loomis Sayles
Large-cap US stocks, as represented by the Dow Jones Average, quadrupled in the 1980s and again in the 1990s. Given this historical perspective, the market’s long pause since 2000, accented by calamitous financial events, particularly in 2008, has left investors impatient and fearful. That said, investors would be wise not to wallow in this sentiment and overlook the long history of stocks returning to good form following lengthy periods of underperformance. The S&P 500 Index could be on the cusp of a positive long-term cycle based on its valuation, earnings and relative yield.
2010-11-05 Global Market Commentary by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management
Investors should keep gold for long-term investment, as well as oil-related holdings. The U.S. dollar, Japanese yen, British pound and the euro are poor long-term prospects. Investors should continue to hold shares of growing companies in India, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Colombia, Chile and Peru, as well as food-related shares such as grains, wheat, corn, soybeans and farm suppliers. Finally, investors should continue to hold U.S. stocks for a further rally.
2010-11-02 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)
In a letter to the Editor, a reader highlights a few generalizations in a recent article on that, he says, unfortunately cast the entire universe of 529 plans in a uniformly unpleasant light.
2010-11-02 'Bubble' Bashing Does Not Imply a Risk-Free Bond Outlook by Team of American Century Investments
The present bond environment still doesn't fit previous 'bubble' profiles. We are, however, in a period of historically low interest rates and Treasury bond yields, with more room to rise than fall. Future bond price declines are a realistic expectation, but these declines are unlikely to rival other post-bubble, extended price plunges. Bonds continue to provide a cushion for equity exposure in diversified portfolios and a source of steady income for those who need it.
2010-10-26 Have the Financial Markets and the Real Economy Become Disconnected? by Team of American Century Investments
There are solid and logical reasons why equity markets have been up substantially since the start of the third quarter. The U.S. economy remains in a fragile situation and the global financial system is far from healthy. Nonetheless, progress is being made and, barring any new crises or setbacks, the case for the market's recent rise can be justified. What's different this time is that two sectors that have traditionally led economic recoveries in the U.S. - consumer spending and real estate - will remain on the sidelines for the foreseeable future.
2010-10-22 Fed Forces Interest Rates Lower by Jim Ulland of Ulland Investment Advisors
Demand for fixed income securities is so great that companies with strong credit ratings, like IBM and Microsoft, can issue debt at record low interest rates. It is therefore remarkable that trust preferred securities issued by the largest U.S. and European banks continue to yield upwards of 7 percent. Because of these historically wide spreads, a defensive growth strategy using trust preferred securities earn vastly superior returns than any combination of CDs, cash, money markets, muni-bonds, corporate or government securities.
2010-10-19 The World According to TARP by Team of American Century Investments
Taken together, initiatives enacted under the Troubled Asset Relief Program will provide up to $45.6 billion in home mortgage foreclosure relief. Proponents of these programs argue that if they finally stabilize the housing market and pricing, all homeowners will benefit. Opponents believe they create a huge problem of moral hazard in the residential housing market. They also point out that stabilizing home values above what may be a lower floor based on market supply may preclude other individuals from being able to enter the market and purchase a home they can afford.
2010-10-19 Tales of the Bull and Bear Bond Market by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs
The investment advisory business is competing to capture retirement dollars by offering new products that emphasize income. The greatest risk to any retiree is running out of money before they die. Most retirees understand this, so the idea of income for life sounds wonderful. What good is a guaranteed income payment, however, if the payment is not enough to cover the future cost of living? Current interest rates will not allow adequate income from bonds, or protect against the risk of inflation.
2010-10-12 The Great Depression, the Great Recession and Lessons from 1937-1938 by Team of American Century Investments
While much shorter and less severe than the Great Depression, the recession of 1937-1938 added approximately three years to the recovery period. It is extremely unlikely that we will see a repeat of this type of recession. However, depending on the outcome of elections in November, there could be substantial shift in the fiscal and taxation policies of the federal government away from Keynesianism and toward fiscal discipline and supply side economics.
2010-10-12 How Not To Get Screwed by the Bond Bubble by Isbitts of Emerald Asset Advisors
Bond funds, particularly those that invest in U.S. Treasury securities and other types of bonds at the low end of the risk spectrum, have seen piles of new cash in 2010. Whether it is through long-short funds, arbitrage, multi-strategy or 'equity surrogates' like convertibles and REITs, however, it is possible to create a portfolio with a low standard deviation without having to be trapped by a low fixed rate and the threat of rising bond prices.
2010-10-12 It's a Mad World by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Gold could be the only asset class that makes sense right now. If the bond market is right, then we will get deflation, and gold is a hedge against the uncertainty such an environment would entail. If the equity market is right, then we will get gobs of liquidity out of the Fed and then go off to a new reflationary credit cycle - gold would benefit in this scenario, too. And if the commodity complex is right, then we are heading towards a new inflationary cycle, and of course gold is a classic way to play this scenario.
2010-10-07 You Can't Make This Stuff Up! by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
In the October 6 New York Times, op-ed contributor Daniel Gross called on the American consumer to 'get back into the game.' 'The renewed willingness and confidence to spend money we don't have,' Gross wrote, 'is vital to the continuing recovery.' There was no mention in the article of the fact that with a 70 percent share of GDP, U.S. consumer expenditures never exactly went into hibernation, even if spending decisions have changed. And haven't employment and income always been the vital components to sustainable growth?
2010-10-06 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
The economy remains unsteady as an uncertain labor picture continues to limit consumer activity. And yet, corporations have accumulated trillions of dollars in cash and money markets yielding near 0 percent have forced managers to seek other options. Looking ahead, the Fed's stimulus debate wages on although many expect a more limited bond buying program than the $1.7 trillion one offered last year. As for the markets, companies still have lots of cash looking for a home and hopefully equities have more room to run.
2010-10-05 Thinking Bond Market Bubble? Consider Short-Term Bonds by RidgeWorth Investments (Article)
The current market environment - characterized by historically low interest rates and money market reform - has created an opportune time to invest in short-term bonds. RidgeWorth believes investors with excess cash reserves earning near zero percent, as well as those invested in long-term bonds who may be most impacted by a rise in rates, will be well served to consider an allocation to short-term bonds. We thank RidgeWorth for their sponsorship.
2010-10-05 Challenges and Solutions for Income-Seeking Investors by Team of American Century Investments
The Fed's prediction that it will keep its short-term interest rate target at 0-0.25 percent for 'an extended period' continues to affect the near-term game plan for risk-averse investors and savers. A period of potentially heightened uncertainty and low absolute returns means that maximizing risk-adjusted returns is crucial to investment success over time. An optimized mix of fixed income holdings with a variety of different risk levels can add value to investor portfolios in this low-yield and low interest rate environment.
2010-10-04 What's On My Mind?: Five Developments Driving Investor Sentiment by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The bottom-up S&P 500 operating EPS estimate currently driving equity valuations is $95. That would be a 14 percent gain on top of this year's anticipated 36 percent bounce. Here's the rub: to get that $95 operating EPS for 2011, we either need to see at least 7 percent nominal GDP growth, which last happened in 1989 when inflation was 5 percent, not close to zero, or margins manage to reach new all-time highs. The base case now, however, is for low single-digit nominal growth and some margin compression so frankly we could be looking at something closer to a $75 earnings stream next year.
2010-09-27 Are 401(K) Investors Fighting Yesterday's War? by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates
It is time for investors and their advisors to look forward, not backward, in their 401(k) investment planning. Inflation is the biggest single enemy to long-term investors. A portfolio of real return assets balanced with a stock- and bond-heavy 401(k) fund menu is the best way to build a portfolio for an uncertain future. To do this, one needs to include inflation hedges before inflation strikes and when they are least costly.
2010-09-27 Is Deflation Still a Risk? by Team of American Century Investments
Last Friday's Consumer Price Index report found that prices rose 1.1 percent on an annual unadjusted basis in August. Because the U.S. Federal Reserve Open Market Committee noted in last week's statement that inflation is currently at levels somewhat below what it judges to be consistent with long-run price stability, some have suggested that the central bank is still concerned about deflationary pressures in the economy. Whatever happens, one thing is clear: As long as the residential housing crisis drags on without resolution, the risk of deflation should remain a concern for investors.
2010-09-21 American Century Investments by Team of American Century Investments
Among the first items the U.S. Congress is likely to deal with after the midterm election are the federal budget deficit and taxes. The accepted wisdom is that markets prefer the more incremental change based on political compromise brought by divided governments. However, median returns data looking back 60 years do not provide any strong support for this. Indeed, if a divided government leads to intransigence and gridlock, then it will take another two years and the next general election before key issues can be addressed.
2010-09-20 A Long Recovery Road by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research
It's well known that recessions caused by financial crises tend to be more severe and longer-lasting, and the recovery process is typically lengthy. In a 'typical' recession, consumers postpone purchases of homes and motor vehicles. As the economy recovers, you get a slingshot effect as that pent-up demand comes back into play. However, that's not going to happen this time. The key element in this recovery is time. Fiscal and monetary policy can help limit the downside, but there's no miracle cure. Ultimately, the recovery is dependent on the private sector.
2010-09-15 Ten Questions: USA vs. Japan by Asha Bangalore and James Pressler of Northern Trust
The combination of lackluster growth and disinflation in the U.S. has led to comparisons with Japan's dire experience following the collapse of asset prices in the 1990s. A frequent question is whether Japan's 'lost decade' will play out in the United States. The Q&A included in this commentary identifies similarities and differences between the experiences of the two countries, with an emphasis on the recovery path. It appears that the U.S. is unlikely to mimic the economic path of Japan in the 1990s.
2010-09-14 Identifying Opportunities in the Municipal Bond Market by RidgeWorth Investments (Article)
Ridgeworth Investments shares its perspective on the muni bond market in a recent white paper entitled "Identifying Opportunities in the Municipal Bond Market" which outlines the historical benefits of municipal bonds, the changing market dynamics in 2009 as well as RidgeWorth's outlook for municipal bonds in 2010 and potentially beyond. RidgeWorth concludes that despite a challenging market environment, munis still offer attractive investment opportunities. We thank them for their sponsorship.
2010-09-14 Latest Bond 'Bubble' Fears are Overblown by Team of American Century Investments
Despite considerable discussion in the financial media about the existence of a bond market bubble, the fixed-income team at American Century Investments finds little evidence to support this claim. Bond bubble proponents base their argument largely on record flows into fixed-income investments, bonds' extended outperformance over stocks, and record low interest rates. However, a confluence of economic headwinds argues for a prolonged period of low interest rates and inflation, while investor demographic and behavioral finance trends also appear to favor further bond inflows.
2010-09-10 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Labor Day…Religious holiday…hardly worth coming to work at all this week. After some early fears about European financial institutions being more “stressed” than initially reported, investors (who chose to work this week) focused on some positive signs in the economy. On light volume, stocks traded relatively flat, while fixed income investors struggled to digest all the new supply (treasury and corporate). By next week, the summer doldrums should be long forgotten and investors can once again get back to work and focus on the keys to the markets.
2010-08-31 Why Mid-Cap? by RidgeWorth Investments (Article)
RidgeWorth Investments has published research detailing six distinct reasons why investors should consider a specific allocation to mid-caps. Specifically, it explores historical performance, evaluates current conditions that favor mid-caps as well as examines how mid-caps have performed during different points in market and economic cycles. Finally, the research looks at the incremental benefit of adding an allocation of up to 40% of mid-cap stocks to a portfolio of solely large and small cap stocks. We thank RidgeWorth Investments for their sponsorship.
2010-08-31 Merger and Acquisition Activity Rises by Team of American Century Investments
Merger and acquisition activity has jumped dramatically in the past few months. The good news for investors is that increased M&A activity can help sustain the market during a period of economic softness or a slowdown that we may face in the next several quarters. The risk for investors is whether the money spent on M&A activity will be done wisely and with a clear eye on creating shareholder value. If not, that money is probably better spent buying back shares or increasing dividend payouts.
2010-08-30 Hussman Funds 2010 Annual Report by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
At present valuations, exposure to market and credit risk is not likely to be well-compensated over the long-term, and may be associated with substantial losses in the intermediate term. Recent advances may simply be the product of a fragile post-crisis bounce, similar to those following other historical credit crises in the U.S. and abroad. The quarters immediately ahead present the greatest risk of fresh credit strains and concentrated economic risk.
2010-08-24 Improving on Buy and Hold: Asset Allocation using Economic Indicators by Georg Vrba, P.E. (Article)
Most long-term stock market investors follow a buy-and-hold strategy, one that makes big losses unavoidable when major downturns strike the stock market. This strategy assumes that an investor cannot know when to switch from one asset to another and that if one avoids the bad days of the market, one is also likely to miss the best days. In this guest contribution, Georg Vrba presents a way to resolve this dilemma, based on various economic indicators that provide timely buy and sell signals for the S&P 500 index.
2010-08-24 Bonds or Stocks - Who is Right? by Chris Maxey of Fortigent
Over the past several months, bond and equity markets have been on starkly divergent paths. Investors are growing increasingly concerned that perhaps the bond market knows something that the stock market is overlooking. One reason for this divergence is corporations. Emerging from one of the most severe recessions in the last century, companies are more than willing to hoard cash and favor a 'wait and see' approach before resuming expansion. Meanwhile, individual investors continue to sell equities in favor of fixed income securities.
2010-08-20 And That\'s the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Positive earnings AND an array of new M&A activity. Taken together, these two factors should mean one thing…strength in equities. Unfortunately, investors looked past the week’s business headlines and focused on the economic data, much of which depicted a sluggish recovery. Many skeptical investors took the easy way out and turned to the safe-haven of treasuries in lieu of the riskier equities.
2010-08-17 Cerulli Survey Results: New Themes in Advisors’ Portfolio Strategies by Bing Waldert (Article)
New ideas, such as tactical asset allocation and the use of alternatives, have seen some uptake even before the market crisis, particularly within large institutions, but they are receiving increased attention as solutions for risk-averse clients. This article examines some of the evolutions, using data from a Cerulli Associates survey of Advisor Perspectives readers conducted in June and July of 2010.
2010-08-17 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group
Yields on 10-year Treasury bonds are hovering under 3 percent, which basically means that buyers anticipate inflation will only be 3 percent over the next 10 years. In spite of all the talk about deflation, however, can anyone really believe that inflation won't exceed 3 percent over the next decade given all the money the government has made available? That is why for the most part, ProVise is avoiding long-term bonds in their portfolios - remaining on the short to intermediate side of the yield curve.
2010-08-16 Late Summer Slumber? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab
The stock market rallied nicely in July after reaching the bottom of its recent range. Incoming data remains mixed but indicates that the economic expansion continues. However, risks remain elevated. The Federal Reserve downgraded its view and is discussing how to combat possible deflation, while federal and state governments continue to grapple with budget issues. Chinese growth has slowed, but the stock market is providing some positive indicators. Central banks around the world are creating a muddied picture.
2010-08-16 Consumers, Credit Cards and Deleveraging by Team of American Century Investments
The August 6 report from the Federal Reserve on consumer credit and indebtedness depicts consumers and households that are still in the throes of a difficult deleveraging process. In the longer term, this is exactly what is needed to help put the U.S. economy back on a solid foundation for recovery and renewed growth. Because deleveraging involves two steps, however - first, avoiding spending based on new borrowing, and, second, directing current discretionary income toward debt repayment rather than consumption - it limits how much consumers can contribute to the recovery.
2010-08-12 Fed Downgrades Economic View by Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab
The Fed isn't yet ready to raise interest rates, even though doing so could be beneficial. Raising rates would give savers a bit of a return in money market-type vehicles, potentially spur those now on the sidelines of the market into action, and give the Fed some wiggle room down the road should it need to slash rates again.
2010-08-09 Corporate 'Cash' - Cheering the Asset and Ignoring the Liability by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
There is a lot of apparent 'cash on the sidelines' because the government and many corporations have issued enormous quantities of new debt, often with short maturities, while other corporations have purchased it. It will remain on the sidelines until the debt is retired. The government debt has been issued to finance deficit spending. At the same time, a great deal of corporate debt has been issued over the past year apparently as a pre-emptive measure against the possibility of the capital markets freezing up again.
2010-08-06 Comparing Our Path to Recovery with Past Recessions and Recoveries by Team of American Century Investments
What appears to be a preliminary trend in declining rates of GDP growth has led many to speculate that the current economic recovery is weakening, or that we are slipping into another recession. The latter scenario seems very unlikely given the number of simulative factors at work in our economy, such as record-low interest rates and record-high deficit spending by the federal government. But the fact that we are less than three months away from an important midterm election in the U.S. Congress means that the state of our economy will be hotly debated and in the headlines.
2010-08-03 Insights from the U.S. International Balance of Trade by Team of American Century Investments
The U.S. trade deficit increased to -$42.3 billion in May. Large and increasing trade deficits are sustainable as long as the rest of the world is willing to lend money to finance them. Growing trade deficits, however, are unhealthy in the long term. Trade imbalances also cause imbalances in capital flows. There was a time when it was argued that, as the U.S. entered a post-industrial society and economy, its growing trade deficit in goods would be offset by a growing trade surplus in services. Nearly three decades of experience, however, have demonstrated that this isn't the case.
2010-08-03 Fear and Trembling Marked the Year's First Six Months by Whitney George of The Royce Funds
In roughly two years, we have moved from a market collapse to a market malaise driven by heightened fears concerning Greek debt. A slow-growth economy could lead investors to focus on two areas - high-quality companies and fast-growing companies. Any business that looks to be capable of swimming ahead of the pace of the economy as a whole is going to be in high demand, and this could benefit small-caps that boast strong balance sheets, high returns on invested capital and the ability to generate free cash flow.
2010-07-27 Sizing Up the Jobs Growth Challenge by Team of American Century Investments
While labor market data indicates the economy is still adding jobs, the pace of additions is far slower than what is needed to meaningfully reduce our 9.5 percent unemployment rate. Much of the half-a-percentage-point rise in employment during the second quarter of this year came from the hiring of up to 700,000 temporary workers for the decennial Census survey. Now that this effort is winding down, some economists are forecasting that short-term unemployment will rise again.
2010-07-23 So What Else are the Bulls Looking at Right Now? by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
This is still a meat-grinder of a market. The bulls have the upper hand, but only until the next shoe drops in this modern-day depression and post-bubble credit collapse. The best we can say is that we do have a tradable rally on our hands and that we are at a critical technical juncture at the 50-day moving average on the S&P 500 - but remember, in a secular bear market, these rallies are to be rented, not owned. To be sure, 140 companies have reported so far and the news overall is good … but earnings are a coincident, not a leading indicator.
2010-07-20 Cash Investing: Considerations for Investing in a Low Interest-Rate Environment by Northern Trust Investments (Article)
Northern Trust's chief economist, Paul Kasriel, forecasts that interest rates will remain low for the remainder of 2010. Investors are looking for guidance on how they should best position their cash and fixed income portfolios to take this environment into consideration, and should consider the tradeoff between liquidity and yield. We thank Northern Trust for their sponsorship.
2010-07-19 Double-Dip? Seven Reasons Why Not by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
It seems these days that half the headlines in the financial media fear a double-dip recession, as do half the conversations on Wall Street. There certainly are risks, not the least in Europe's financial difficulties. But still, there are reasons to question such widespread concerns. History, after all, offers only one true double-dip experience, and that grew out of a policy error. Moreover, the actual data on the economy flies in the face of such an outlook. Milton Ezrati outlines seven reasons to doubt the double-dip outlook.
2010-07-17 The Public Has Moved Out Of Stocks. Time For Wise Investors To Move In. by Michael Golub of The Golub Group
Today, we are at a point when the public is extremely pessimistic about the outlook for stocks, leading to very low public participation and the lowest valuations (when compared to bonds) in 60 years. The stock market is not about news. The stock market is about mass human behavior. We recommend you do what we are doing now, and buy the asset class for which public expectations are far too low – blue chip high dividend paying stocks.
2010-07-13 Quarterly Commentary by Michael Golub of The Golub Group
Four main factors will help provide capital gains for blue-chip stocks over the next few years. The first is an over-inflated bond market, which will cause poor returns down the road. The second is a slow but steady return to an economy which has recovered to normal employment levels. The third is that corporations have more cash on their balance sheets than ever, and will use this cash to grow their businesses and hire new employees. The fourth is that due to cost-cutting and improved efficiency, leading corporations will show improved profitability, earnings and cash flow growth.
2010-07-13 Our Muni Market Perspective: The Sky is Not Falling by Team of American Century Investments
The muni market sky is not falling. Municipal credit downgrades and defaults are indeed likely to increase in the months ahead, even as the U.S. economy regroups and moves forward. It may seem odd that muni credit quality faces continued challenges at a time when businesses and other sectors of the economy are going ahead, but that's just an unfortunate feature of a lagging market, one that municipalities share with the labor market. In the long run, municipal bonds as an asset class still have credit quality second only to U.S. Treasury bonds.
2010-07-12 Four Major Impediments to Economic Normalcy by Van R. Hoisington and Lacy H. Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management
Although the four coincident indicators that the NBER utilizes in judging recession troughs have turned positive, two of them (income less transfer payments and employment) have only marginally shifted upwards and are subject to significant revisions. Thus, history may come to judge that the NBER was very wise to hold off making this end of recession call. The past several quarters may be nothing more than an interlude in a more sustained economic downturn, with further negative quarters still ahead. Such an outcome will suppress inflation further and quite possibly lead to deflation.
2010-07-06 Liquid Assets Are at a 37-Year High on Corporate Balance Sheets: Is This a Bullish or Bearish Sign? by Team of American Century Investments
Whether bullish or bearish, the rapid growth in corporate liquid assets does reflect one undisputable fact: The corporate sector of the economy generally responded quickly and effectively to the Great Recession, cutting costs, shedding excess inventory and curtailing unnecessary investments. As a result, corporations are poised to perform well based on the overall strength of the current economic recovery. Earnings growth over the past five quarters has been impressive. However, whether this trend and rate of earnings growth can continue will increasingly depend on what happens to revenues.
2010-07-03 The Dismal Science Really Is by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Yesterday's unemployment numbers were very bad, and Mauldin explains how they were calculated and the implications of adjustments, such as the birth/death model. Personal income was also down, which is a very rare occurrence. Other indicators, including the money supply, are not indicative of economic growth. The Fed will act aggressively to thwart deflation.
2010-06-29 General Motors and Lessons of Externalities by Team of American Century Investments
The decline and collapse of GM was a long-term phenomenon and not that uncommon a story for corporations in the history of U.S. business, except for its sheer size and (perhaps) the length of time over which it unfolded. One after another attempts to salvage the company fell short of expectations. Why GM failed—and why other companies in similar situations have managed to execute successful turnarounds or avoid collapse is an important question.
2010-06-16 Look for the Silver Lining by Michael Dana of Dana Investment Advisors
As an investor it is important to keep your eye on the big picture. Daily news items are causing extreme volatility in the market place, and investors focused on these daily news items will be whipsawed in this market environment. The money supply is growing and there is plenty of capital in short-term bonds and money market funds just waiting for better investment opportunities. As momentum builds in the economy, this money will flood into investments that create real private sector jobs.
2010-06-15 'May Momentum Killers' Supported Economic, Rate Outlooks by Team of American Century Investments
Now that stocks are suffering a bona fide correction this quarter and Treasury yields are again pricing in low inflation expectations in the near term, the case for a long, slow, grinding economic recovery with continued low interest rates for months to come is a lot easier to make than it was seven weeks ago. Money market and FDIC-insured accounts should provide the most predictable path with the least price fluctuation. Investors who want more yield and return should consider high-quality short-maturity bonds and bond funds.
2010-06-15 Airplane Musings - Part Deux by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust
Although U.S. federal government spending continues to increase, the rate of growth in that spending has slowed enormously. In the 12 months ended May 2010, accumulated spending by the federal government totaled $3.437 trillion, just 2.6 percent higher than the 12-month accumulated total federal spending for May 2009. This is quite a deceleration in growth from the 15.3 percent registered for the 12 months ended 2009 vs. 2008, near the trough of the last recession.
2010-06-08 Five Strategies for a Rising Rate Environment by Kane Cotton, CFA and Jonathan Scheid, CFA (Article)
The Federal Reserve can't accommodate forever, and the global stimulus effort will likely lead to inflation. Our growing indebtedness can only result in increased borrowing costs. That much we know. What we don't know is when and how quickly interest rates will rise. In this guest contribution, Kane Cotton and Jonathan Scheid examine five strategies for a rising rate environment.
2010-06-08 Insight on the Current Status of the Housing Market by Team of American Century Investments
Both existing and new residential homes sales have seen impressive increases in volume over the past several months ending in April. Two factors will likely weigh on residential home sales for the remainder of this year, however. The first factor is the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit. The second is the rate of economic recovery and growth in employment for the remainder of this year. Over the next one to three years, little can contribute more to recovery in the residential housing market than reduced unemployment accompanied by rising incomes and increased consumer confidence.
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.
2010-05-25 Three Reasons Why the Economy is Mending, Despite the Rise in Unemployment by Team of American Century Investments
Despite the rise in the unemployment rate to 9.9 percent in April, there are at least three reasons why the economy appears to be on the mend after the recent recession. First, growth in labor productivity foreshadows new hiring. Second, the economy is adding jobs. And third, the civilian labor force is growing again. These three trends mean we could continue to see official unemployment figures inch higher despite an improving economy overall.
2010-05-21 Warning Flags by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital
The fact that we don't know where trouble will come from shouldn't allow us to feel comfortable in times when prices are high. The higher prices are relative to intrinsic value, the more we should prepare for the unknown. Anecdotal evidence of rising risk tolerance does not mean entire markets have returned to dangerous levels. The door is open to transactions that wouldn't be possible if risk aversion were higher. The clear inference is that fear of loss has declined and fear of missed opportunity has come back to life.
2010-05-20 An Emerging Conundrum by John West of Research Affiliates
Emerging economies have nearly doubled relative to the developed world since the mid-1990s. Despite this growth, however, emerging financial markets have performed relatively poorly over the long term as measured by the traditional indices. This gap between emerging market economic and stock market performance is a direct result of the return drag from capitalization weighting. Often, one, two, or at most a handful of stocks dominate local emerging markets. Not once have these large capitalization stocks collectively outperformed the rest of the market over a five-year period.
2010-05-18 Actively Passive or Passively Active? by Craig L. Israelsen, Ph.D. (Article)
The active-passive debate typically centers on the nature of the investment product - whether it is an actively managed fund or a passive index fund. This, however, is only one aspect of that debate, and to consider it alone represents too simplistic a view, says Craig Israelsen in this guest contribution. A broader issue, namely how a portfolio of actively or passively managed funds is managed over time, has a more profound impact on whether one is truly an active or passive investor.
2010-05-11 Two 'Takes' on the Latest GDP Growth Figure by Team of American Century Investments
Overall, the preliminary report of first quarter GDP growth was good news for consumers, businesses and investors seeking to finally put the Great Recession in the past. Consumer spending and business investment are both showing healthy signs of growth, which is to be expected during the early phases of a recovery. Concerns are now focused not on whether we are in a recovery phase, but whether the recovery will be strong enough to pull us out of the large hole the recession created.
2010-05-10 Euro-Sclerosis No Longer and Last Week's Market by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
In what can only be described as a spectacular showing of solidarity, European Union finance ministers managed to cobble together a 750 billion euro stabilization program. This is over and above the 110 billion euro Greek bailout package announced last week and is widely seen as a very powerful countermove against the 'wolf pack' that had been attacking the peripheral euro area financial markets over the past few weeks. Equities, commodities , credit and lower-tiered sovereign bonds should all improve markedly. Gluskin also comments on last week's uncertainty in capital markets.
2010-05-10 After the Crisis: Planning a New Financial Structure - Learning from the Bank of Dad by Paul McCulley of PIMCO
This commentary contains remarks by PIMCO's Paul McCulley at last month's Hyman Minsky Conference on the State of the U.S. and World Economies. McCulley says that the Federal Reserve, the FDIC and the Treasury all provide public goods to banking by guaranteeing that demand for liquidity will not exceed bank assets. It's quite natural that levered-up non-bank financial intermediaries don't want to be treated like banks. If they are going to have access to the public goods associated with banking, however, then they must follow the same rules that banks do.
2010-05-04 Consumer Sentiment and the Economic Outlook by Team of American Century Investments
The animal spirits John Maynard Keynes described in 1936 as a substantial force in determining the direction of the economy are still with us today. At the moment we are in a prolonged period of below-average consumer sentiment that began in mid-2007. Ultimately, consumer sentiment will rebound. When this occurs, the change in sentiment as measured by the Consumer Sentiment Index is likely to be quick and large. However, there will likely have to be some change in the environment or course of events to convince the population that our difficult times are behind us.
2010-04-28 Greece, Europe and the Significance of Yesterday's Market Action by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The Euro bounced back this morning, and the flight to higher quality German and French bonds has partly reversed course as markets swirl with speculation that the IMF will announce a stepped-up aid package. The problem, however, is that if Greece is bailed out then Portugal, Ireland, Spain and perhaps Italy may not be far behind. The inability of Greece - and others within European monetary union - to enact an independent monetary policy at a time of crisis has exposed the flaws of the union. The lack of a cohesive national government is another flaw in times of turbulence.
2010-04-27 Paul McCulley’s Design for Financial Regulation by Robert Huebscher (Article)
PIMCO's Paul McCulley parents his 20-year-old son with an overarching principle: If you want access to the "Bank of Dad," then you must comply with the regulations of the "Bank of Dad." Wall Street abandoned similar tenets with in the run-up to the credit crisis, and now McCulley says that core principle - to play the game, you must accept regulation - needs to be restored before another crisis unfolds.
2010-04-21 The Bernanke Put: Creating Tetrodotoxin Investors by Cliff W. Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors
The 'Bernanke Put' of low interest rates over an extended period of time has effectively lured investors to pursue greater and greater levels of risk without critically thinking about the ramifications of upcoming mortgage resets, consumer spending versus income, credit contraction, valuations, and unemployment. Our country has never experienced leverage of this magnitude. In this environment, we must remember the lesson from Benjamin Graham: 'The margin of safety takes priority over all other investment considerations.'
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 Goldman SEC Litigation: The End of OTC?; Alan Boyce on the Duration of Fed Open Market Operations by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst
This piece features a comment from Alan Boyce, chief executive officer of Absalon, on the impending end of the Fed Purchasing Program. Boyce says that as FPP ends, there is the real potential for unintended consequences in domestic and foreign markets. If markets were to become unglued, the Fed may purchase more mortgages and Treasury debt. Foreign central bankers will likely snap and become sellers, however, if the Fed decides to monetize more debt. Markets would likely take it as a sign that the Fed is politically unable to exit the mortgage market, or quantitative easing.
2010-04-12 Setting the Record Straight on the Bond Debate by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
Bond bears argue that the U.S. government has never before raised so much debt to finance the bloated fiscal deficit and roll over existing obligations. With credit contracting, rents deflating, the broad money supply measures now declining and unit labor costs dropping at a record rate, however, it hardly seems plausible that inflation is a risk at any time on the near- or intermediate-term forecasting horizon. Rosenberg also comments on currency, equity, commodity and corporate bond valuations, as well as money and credit contractions.
2010-04-12 Sizing Up a Saw-Toothed Portrait of Potential Sustainability by Team of American Century Investments
A number of key leading indicators - including recent stock market performance, the expanding manufacturing sector, and the steep upward slope of the Treasury yield curve - point toward continued recovery. In addition, the unemployment rate, while still high, does not appear to be moving higher, and has in fact come down from its recent 10.1 percent high reached last October. History suggests that after an unemployment peak is attained, significant improvement follows soon afterward; there hasn't been a historical tendency for the unemployment rate to 'plateau' at levels near its peaks.
2010-04-06 Don't Discount Dividends by Team of American Century Investments
During long and sustained bull markets, investors tend to overlook the importance of dividends in long-term wealth creation for equity investors. Benjamin Graham and David Dodd emphasized the importance of dividends in the overall valuation process for equities in a classic 1934 text. Because of their consistency in both good times and bad, dividends and dividend reinvestment can help cushion the downsides as well as enhance ultimate wealth. Investors, therefore, should not 'discount dividends.'
2010-04-05 Weekly Commentary and Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
The unemployment report for March showed that employers added 162,000 nonfarm payroll jobs last month, but the unemployment rate stayed steady at 9.7 percent. The economy needs to add 200,000 jobs per month just to stay even given population growth and new entrants into the labor pool, including immigrants and college graduates. From an investor's perspective, however, the news remains encouraging. The data shows conclusively that economic activity is advancing despite the sluggish job market. Higher activity without higher costs spells higher profits.
2010-03-31 The Price of Emotion by Michael Nairne of Tacita Capital
Emotionally driven investment decisions often lead investors to buy high and sell low, and can exact a huge price on a portfolio over time. The antidote to emotional investing is threefold. First, investors must clarify their ability to tolerate risk in financial and psychological terms, and use this profile as the primary determinant of portfolio design. Second, investors should back-test the asset class performance of recommended portfolios. Finally, investors must document their investment strategies in writing.
2010-03-26 Comments Before the Money Marketeers Club: Reflections and Ruminations by Paul McCulley of PIMCO
In a technical discussion of monetary policy, McCulley argues the 2 percent real federal funds rate constant in the Taylor Rule should be toast. In a world of deleveraging and cash hoarding, it makes absolutely no sense to reward holders of cash with an after-tax real rate of return. May Wall Street relearn the doctrine of profit-motivated stewardship, he says, and unlearn the false god of speculation-driven avarice.
2010-03-26 Inflation in 2010 and Beyond? Practical Considerations For Institutional Asset Allocation by Michael Katz and Christopher Palazzolo of AQR Capital Management
The monetary stimulus has justifiably focused investor attention on potential inflation. Despite significant growth in the U.S. monetary base, however, the money supply has grown only modestly. Furthermore, there is excess capacity in the economy, as evidenced by an approximate 70 percent capacity utilization and a 10 percent unemployment rate. Inflation rates remain below pre-crisis levels, and the trend in the CPI index is not currently showing signs of a dramatic increase in inflationary pressures.
2010-03-16 Latest Unemployment Report Reveals the Growing Problem of the Long-Term Unemployed by Team of American Century Investments
Four out of 10 unemployed workers are designated as long-term unemployed, meaning that they have been seeking a job for at least six months. This rate exceeds any other since the 1940s. As we have evolved towards a service- and knowledge-based economy, people with at least an undergraduate degree have fared better both in terms of lower unemployment rates and higher wages. This trend has become even more pronounced during the recession that began in December 2007 relative to the past two periods of peak unemployment in June 1992 and 2003.
2010-03-11 Headlines Fail to Derail Munis by Team of BlackRock
Municipal bonds of all maturities enjoyed positive returns in February, outpacing their U.S. Treasury counterparts. Money market rates remain low, however, encouraging investors to move further out on the municipal curve to capture yield. While state and local governments continue to face fiscal challenges and worries over bond defaults, Moody's released an updated default rate study that continues to point to the relative safety of municipals.
2010-03-09 What's Next for the High Yield Market by Team of Pioneer Investment Management
The economy can achieve 3 to 4 percent growth in 2010. This growth rate, along with low interest rates, should provide a favorable environment for riskier fixed income asset classes such as high yield. Corporate profit margins, cash flows and productivity are all near record levels relative to prior cycles, and balance sheets are relatively healthy. This puts companies in a good position to capitalize on the recovery. A strategy that balances high yield, equity, convertible and bank loan securities is prudent, given the anticipated investment environment.
2010-03-09 Underwater in the Housing Market by Team of American Century Investments
The number of negative equity mortgages, situations where the borrower owes more on their mortgage than the current market value of the home they bought, increased substantially since the housing bubble burst in 2007. While these homeowners continue to make payments, there is a weak correlation between how badly their mortgages are underwater and foreclosure rates. This is also a problem because many middle and lower income people use their homes as their most important source of retirement savings. In addition, negative equity may diminish labor mobility at a time of high unemployment.
2010-03-09 A Looming Lack of Liquidity by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Headlines warn that the rapid buildup in the money supply, caused by the Federal Reserve's efforts to confront the financial crisis, is destined to result in inflation. That may be the case, but a more ominous signal from the money supply warns of impending economic contraction.
2010-03-04 The Retirement Lottery by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners
Aggressive advertising feeds us the fallacy that as long as we invest for the long term, equities will always provide us with solid returns. This may be true if your investment horizon is 30 or 40 years, but most people do not start saving for retirement until they are in their 40s. Hundreds of millions of baby boomers are now chasing whatever returns they can to ensure that they can retire in relative comfort. Jensen also examines the relationship between net private savings, foreign capital inflows and government debt.
2010-03-03 A Blizzard of Dividend Increases! by Ingrid R. Hendershot of Hendershot Investments
Steady dividend growth can provide powerful returns to long-term investors. While many weak businesses collapsed during the financial meltdown of 2007-2009, a number of companies managed to deliver dividend increases during the past three months, and some even had dividends compound strongly over the last five years. These companies all featured a combination of strong cash flows and sturdy balance sheets. A select group of firms with strong competitive advantages have managed to increase their dividends every year for the past 50 years.
2010-03-01 Reputational Risk: Living in a Derivative World by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst
While bank securities holdings are rising in the aggregate, loan portfolios and overall assets are shrinking at a quickening pace. This is evidence that deflation remains the chief threat to the global economy. The only way to reverse the deflation of bank balance sheets is to restructure and recapitalize insolvent institutions and allow interest rates to rise to positive real levels. This, however, will require the Fed and Congress to admit the policies of the past two years were wrong.
2010-02-23 Stock Market Performance and Inflation by Team of American Century Investments
The world is awash in liquidity as a result of the recent financial crisis and subsequent risk of deflation. Many investors are concerned that this \"cheap money\" will result in rising inflation. Historical S&P 500 data suggests, however, that the highest price to earnings ratios occur when inflation is between 1 percent and 6 percent.
2010-02-16 Two Sides of the Cuve by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management
Scotty George of du Pasquier says in the Arlington Econometrics weekly market commentary that the disinflationary curve is at an inflection point, and that we are likely to see an upswing in the cost of money, savings rates and prices. All of this could usher in a new cycle of economic phenomena.
2010-02-14 Growing Problems in the Residential Real Estate Market (Part 2) by Team of American Century Investments
The problem of growing housing delinquencies has spread to states not originally affected in the sub-prime crisis and to higher-quality prime mortgages as the nation’s unemployment rate has reached double-digit levels. This commentary looks at the failure to-date of policy initiatives intended to stem defaults, and at the range of possible future policies.
2010-02-11 Fixed Income Investment Outlook January 2010 by Team of Osterweis Capital Management
Osterweis Capital Management says in its fixed income investment outlook that increased investor appetite for risk drove up prices of high-yield bonds, equities and other financial assets in 2009. Investors may want to avoid Treasury bonds and other underweight longer-dated assets in order to avoid the impact of a possible interest rate hike.
2010-02-11 Chairman Bernanke on Fed's Exit Strategy/ Trade Gap Widens in December by Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust
Asha Bangalore discusses the “exit strategy” from quantitative easing, and notes that the interest rate on reserves could soon replace the federal funds rate as the Federal Reserve's main policy tool. The large volume of reserves in the current banking system and the resulting loss of activity and liquidity in the federal funds market have made the federal funds rate less reliable as an indicator. The Q4 trade deficit data are also discussed.
2010-02-09 Growing Problems in the Residential Housing Market by Team of American Century Investments
American Century Investments says in its weekly market update that rapidly rising delinquencies and foreclosures on residential housing could soon eclipse unemployment as an object of focus for economists, policymakers and the public. Delinquencies on loans secured by one- to four-unit properties, including home equity lines of credit, have soared since the end of 2007 to approximately 10 percent of the total value of mortgages.
2010-02-04 Market Review & Outlook by Ronald W. Roge of R.W. Roge
R.W.Roge is a NY-based advisor and fund manager. They call for a "slow and bumpy" recovery, and expect interest rates to rise. They are investing in the shorter end of the yield curve, TIPS, and high-quality dividend paying stocks.
2010-02-02 More Government in the Financial Sector to Save Capitalism by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)
In this article, Vitaliy Katsenelson argues that, despite his free market bias, the "too big to fail" banks will benefit from tighter regulation.
2010-01-26 Robert Merton on Regulating Derivatives by Dan Richards (Article)
Robert Merton is a professor of finance at the Harvard Business School and the 1997 winner of the Nobel Prize in economics for his work on pricing models for options and derivatives. In this interview with Dan Richards, Merton explains the role of derivatives in creating the financial crisis, and what steps regulators should take to address them.
2010-01-25 If M Does Not Pickup, Will V Save Us? by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust
“To summarize, M2 growth currently is extremely weak. It likely will remain relatively weak through 2010 as credit creation by depository institutions will be impeded by capital constraints. If invest
2010-01-16 Q1 2010 Newsletter by Bradley Turner of Chess Financial
It is our expectation that the returns of the major assets classes will generally be lower and less correlated in the year ahead. We reach this conclusion based on several factors, the first of which
2010-01-06 And That's the Week that Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
2010-01-02 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
2009-12-29 End-of-Year Letter Templates by Bob Veres (Article)
Bob Veres is the editor and publisher of Inside Information, a publication focused on practice management and related issues for the financial planning profession. He just introduced a new monthly service, Client Articles, which will contain articles (and cartoons) that can be sent to clients, for example as part of your quarterly newsletters. He provides two sample letters.
2009-12-21 Predictions of 2010: The Best is Yet to Come by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst
2009-11-24 Interview: Brian McMahon of Thornburg Investments by Robert Huebscher (Article)
We speak with Brian McMahon, CEO and CIO of Thornburg Investment Management about the Thornburg Income Builder Fund (TIBAX) and the challenges of finding income-producing securities in today's markets.
2009-11-24 Buy Bonds and Not Bond Funds by Hildy and Stan Richelson (Article)
Record inflows into longer-term bond funds in the last six months have provided investors purported relief from the near-zero returns in money market funds. Do not mistake those inflows or rising prices for an endorsement of bond funds, write Stan and Hildy Richelson in this guest contribution. Bond funds are inferior to individual bonds, as those who are now buying bond funds may soon discover.
2009-09-29 Interview: Jeff Mortimer, CIO of Charles Schwab Investment Management by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Jeff Mortimer is Senior Vice President and Chief Investment Officer-Charles Schwab Investment Management, Inc. (CSIM). Mortimer has overall responsibility for approximately $240 billion in Schwab Funds and managed accounts. We spoke with Mortimer two weeks ago about the economy and why he believes the market has already priced in the bad news trumpeted by the media.
2009-08-04 How to Think about Return and Risk at the Same Time by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
In this guest contribution targeted to the educated layman, Adam Apt discusses the relationship between return and risk. Only when you can keep in mind at one and the same time these two concepts can you properly understand how to invest. And you will also understand why you should invest. Without the marriage of the concepts, you will be playing the market-or shunning it-as if it were a casino.
2009-08-04 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
In our letters to the Editor, readers respond to last week's article, How Long is the Long Run?, Geoff Considine's article, The Retirement Portfolio Showdown: Jeremy Siegel v. Zvi Bodie , and Ted Wong's article, Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 3.
2009-06-09 Let’s Talk Stocks: Berkowitz, Marsico and Weitz by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Three of the industry's most accomplished value investors - Bruce Berkowitz of the Fairholme Fund, Tom Marsico of Marsico Capital Management and Wally Weitz of Weitz Funds - spoke at a panel discussion at the Morningstar Investor Conference on May 28. We present some excerpts of their thoughts on key questions raised during the panel.
2009-06-02 John Bogle and the Lantern on the Stern by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In his remarks at the Morningstar conference last week, Vanguard founder and index fund pioneer John Bogle criticized many aspects of the mutual fund industry. Bogle, who turned 80 this year, is primed to fight his next battle - reducing investor reliance on past returns - which he likens to a lantern on the stern of a ship.