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

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2014-04-15 2016 (Part 2, The Political Situation) by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

As we survey the political landscape for 2016, the next presidential election could be historic. In this report, we will examine the domestic political situation using four different archetypes to describe the U.S. political landscape. We will then offer a history of the interaction between these groups and address the likelihood of various policy outcomes based on the relative strengths and weaknesses of the four political groups. Unlike our usual reports, we will not conclude with market ramifications but instead discuss the transition to Part 3 of this analysis.

2014-04-14 Uncovering Opportunities in Emerging Markets by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

Emerging markets have underperformed expectations, but the longer-term secular outlook remains constructive for many regions. Highly negative investor sentiment and outflows have sharply reduced prices, significantly improving relative value in emerging markets. We see opportunities in emerging markets in interest rates, sovereign credit and select companies for investors with a longer-term investment horizon. ?

2014-04-11 Can You Have Your Cake and Eat It Too? by David Braun, David Holdreith of PIMCO

Many insurers would like to optimize both total return and book yield income, which may be seen as competing and divergent goals. In fact many insurers fall somewhere on the spectrum between these goals or shift their objective based on business and market conditions. While it has long been an accepted practice to track manager performance with regard to total return, tracking book income has been more elusive: PIMCO has an innovative and unique solution to help manager’s track alpha generated by active managers.

2014-04-11 Tax Management - Optimized for Investors by Scott Bartone of O'Shaughnessey Asset management

Academic studies of portfolio management often neglect real world considerations. Turnover is often used to gauge tax management capabilities, but used in isolation turnover can be misleading. Tax lot accounting is integral to maximizing after-tax returns. Tax management must be an integral part of a manager’s buy/sell discipline, and should be applied throughout the year. OSAM’s after-tax results in 2013 are indicative of an effective, integrated tax management process.

2014-04-09 Dare to be Great II by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

In September 2006, I wrote a memo entitled Dare to Be Great, with suggestions on how institutional investors might approach the goal of achieving superior investment results. I’ve had some additional thoughts on the matter since then, meaning it’s time to return to it. Since fewer people were reading my memos in those days, I’m going to start off repeating a bit of its content and go on from there.

2014-04-04 Do You Think You Can Be Effective in Market Forecasting? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

It is important to understand that no one can predict the future with certainty. Investors should take so-called expert forecasts with a grain of salt. Effective portfolio management is not about forecasting the future and then clinging to that forecast. It’s about continuously evaluating information and market conditions and then making adjustments when necessary to pursue the ultimate goal. To paraphrase long time market watcher Steve Leuthold, “Predictions are for show, our decisions within the portfolio are for dough.”

2014-04-03 Fiduciary vs. Suitability Standards-Your Need to Know the Difference by H. William Wolfson of American Financial Advisors

Beth Banker, a successful business woman, has been having ongoing neck and back issues. She decided to access web based information as to obtain self treatment options. Upon her reading, she realized that her condition, although appearing musculoskeletal in nature may be more involved with underlying pathologies. Although her intent was to heal herself, in reality she became more concerned and stressed as to the amount of research and data that existed…which she didn’t understand.

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.

2014-03-27 The Media’s Incomplete Coverage of the Active/Passive Debate by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

Barron’s revisited the debate between active and passive portfolio management with it’s conclusion revealed in the article’s title; Go Active for Bonds, but Index Your Stocks. This is an important issue for market participants to explore and the revisit every so often.

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.

2014-03-21 When Will it be Time to Get Back to EM? by David Garff of AdvisorShares

Global investors have been experiencing an ongoing drag on returns to the extent they have had exposure to Emerging Market (EM) equities. It is difficult to abandon the asset class given historical performance, relative economic growth, current valuation discounts, and portfolio management tenets regarding diversification. But the fact that the U.S. has been such a strong performer, along with its size and prominence in the press, creates questions about why any non-U.S. stocks should even be in the portfolio.

2014-03-19 A Preference for Discomfort by Chris Brightman of Research Affiliates

Is the stock market inefficient or do investors have varying preferences? How does behavior affect wealth accumulation? Unpopular choices can result in improved outcomes....

2014-03-17 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

What's another 200 point down day (Dow) when you're having fun? The violent and excessive overreactions of the week prior were added to by Asia and Europe on Thursday/Friday past, just for good measure.

2014-03-14 Deflationary Pressure and Tight Credit Facilities Weigh on Eurozone Recovery? by Andrew Balls of PIMCO

The eurozone is enjoying a broadly balanced resurgence in economic output and domestic demand. Deflation risk is real, and the European Central Bank’s asymmetric attitude toward its inflation target could contribute to a decline in inflation expectations. In the current climate, we continue to favour select regional credit exposure and look to generate attractive returns across European credit and asset-backed securities.

2014-03-13 Waiting for Winter’s End by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors

Undoubtedly, the long cold winter season has many yearning for more pleasant weather. Despite a strengthening economy, the economic data over the past few months appears to have been weighed down by the snow and ice. Come springtime, I believe the data will reflect an economy that is in bloom.

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

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

2014-03-13 The New Face of Failure by Liam Molloy, Charlie Mas of Galway Investment Strategy

A strong year in the domestic stock market - like we saw in 2013 - can create overconfidence in investors, which, in turn, leads them to make a number of predictable errors in judgment.

2014-03-12 Reflections on Ukraine by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Over the past five weeks there have been a number of significant events that have occurred in Ukraine. A president has fled, a revolutionary government is forming and Russia has taken de facto control over the Crimea. The events themselves are momentous but the broader effects are significant as well. In this report, we will offer three reflections—Putin’s Gambit, The U.S. Adrift and A Dangerous New World. Although any of these could be a topic in themselves, we will shorten these issues to offer a single journey through the current crisis. As always, we will conclude with market ramifications

2014-03-03 Casting a Wide Asset Net in a Volatile Sea by Ed Perks of Franklin Templeton

It’s fair to say that investors will likely never be fully comfortable with market volatility. But actively managing the inevitable bumps that accompany equity investments, even in bull markets, can help make the ride a little less harrowing, according to Ed Perks, executive vice president and director of Portfolio Management, Franklin Equity Group®. He explains how understanding the fundamental dynamics behind market selloffs is key to uncovering potential opportunities in the face of a rough market ride.

2014-02-20 Peer Group Analytics and Valuation, an Abstraction by David Kleinberg of Universal Orbit

Peer group analytics and valuation are essential components when assessing the optimal risk-return equation. As opposed to an efficient frontier populated with the regressed correlated expected future returns of conventional securities or asset classes perhaps one determined by business segment operations is more advantageous.

2014-02-14 What Harvard Can Teach Us About Portfolio Management by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

The takeaway for advisors is the need to make sure clients truly understand their time horizons and that their portfolios are being navigated toward their time horizon versus responding to short term events like a Green Mountain Coffee (NASDAQ:GMCR) popping 30% on a deal with Coca Cola (NYSE:KO) or a stretch of poor returns for emerging markets.

2014-02-07 2013 Year-End Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory

We find ourselves with a more sanguine big-picture view, at least over the nearer term, than we have had in some time. U.S. and global economic fundamentals gradually improved over the past year across a number of dimensions, and seem poised for continued improvement or at least stability in 2014. However, as we look ahead, the longer-term risks related to excessive global debt, subpar growth, and unprecedented government policy that we have worried about since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis still remain largely unresolved.

2014-01-31 A Toast- To the Decade by Rick Lear of Sloan Wealth Management

This is the most common question the members of the Sloan Wealth Management (SWM) Portfolio Management Team fielded this holiday season. This common quandary is in the context of the (2010, 2011, 2012 and now 2013) bull-run in the stock market, but we can’t help but visualize the numerous parallels to an actual party. If you have read our previous year-end letters you know we were among the first to arrive at the party and have no plans of leaving any time soon - as this decade remains enticing.

2014-01-31 Value-Hunting in the US by Cindy Sweeting of Franklin Templeton

With key stock indices in the US closing the year near historical highs and many pundits predicting stronger growth rates both in the US and globally going into 2014, one would think bargains would be hard to find this year. January’s volatility, however, proved just how unpredictable markets can be. The recent market gyrations may be somewhat painful for many investors in the short-term, but the silver lining is that corrections can serve up buying opportunities, particularly for long-term, value-oriented investors.

2014-01-28 The TTIP and the TPP by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a trade and investment treaty being negotiated between the European Union (EU) and the U.S. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a similar pact between the U.S. and various Pacific Rim nations. We will examine overall details of each, focusing on how they’re different from traditional trade agreements. From there, we will present an analysis of the controversy surrounding the proposals, followed by a look at the geopolitical aims and likelihood that these treaties will be enacted. We conclude with potential market ramificatio

2014-01-25 Wealth Services at Banks Come Under Central Bank\'s Scanner by Rajat Dhar of Cogent Advisory

RBI, the central bank of India, made critical observations of way in which wealth services were being practised at banks. Also, the clear note was made with respect to the rising cases of misselling at banks. This market commentary covers the draft guidelines issued by RBi and tries to uncover the reason for the same and the way forward for the clients. This has been the first time ever that separate guidelines have come for banks and independent financial advisors or advisory firms in India; and this article covers the wealth services being offered by banks in India.

2014-01-23 EPV: Establishing Predictive Value (i.e., Demand Characteristics) by David Kleinberg of Universal Orbit

EPV: Establishing Predictive Value (i.e., Demand Characteristics) is designed as a complement to quantitative portfolio strategies and fundamental research. Continuing the thread from EPV:RO, tested is the premise of structural bias in performance benchmarks as determined by third party data vendors with implied effects on peer group analytics and valuation.

2014-01-17 Getting Lucky by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

Sometimes these memos are inspired by a single event or just one thing I read. This one - like my first memo 24 years ago - grew out of the juxtaposition of two observations. I’ll introduce one here and the other later on. Contrary to my wife Nancy’s observation that my memos are "all the same," the subject here is one I’ve rarely touched on.

2013-12-17 The 2014 Geopolitical Outlook by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

As is our custom, we close out the current year with our outlook for the next one. This report is less a series of predictions as it is a list of potential geopolitical issues that we believe will dominate the international situation in the upcoming year. It is not designed to be exhaustive; instead, it focuses on the "big picture" conditions that we believe will affect policy and markets going forward. They are listed in order of importance.

2013-12-16 Settling In by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

An improving outlook for U.S. housing will be constructive for consumer spending, confidence and jobs. There are many ways to invest directly and indirectly in companies that should benefit from higher housing prices, a pickup in home repairs and remodeling, and residential investment spending. We continue to favor select investments in homebuilders, building materials, appliance manufacturers, lumber, home improvement, banks, title insurance, mortgage origination and servicing, and non-Agency mortgage-backed securities.

2013-12-15 Lessons Learned in 2013 by Seth Masters of Alliance Bernstein

In 2013, interest rates rose, bonds fell, equities soared, and US income-tax rates climbed higher. Before starting to place bets for 2014, investors would be wise to think about some important lessons from 2013.

2013-12-10 Best Consumed Below Zero? by Bill O'Grady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

In this report, we will turn our attention to Denmark to study its decision to undertake the below-zero rate, the specifics of the situation that prompted it and the effects of the negative rate on financial conditions and the broader economy. We will then briefly look at the possibility of a below-zero rate policy for the ECB and, most importantly, the geopolitical ramifications of the decision by the world’s second largest currency block to ease into unknown consequences of negative rates to stimulate the economy.

2013-12-06 Going Against the Grain, Again by Cindy Sweeting of Franklin Templeton

Going against the grain is never easy, particularly when it comes to investing. But if you don’t take the risk of moving out of the crowd and taking a different path, you can’t really stand out. Templeton has focused on bottom-up value investing, which often puts it at odds with the broader market consensus. We go back in history to describe how the strategy has persevered through different market cycles, and why the Templeton team has been going against the grain by investing in Europe at a time when other investors had lost faith.

2013-11-26 Elections in Chile by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

On November 17, Chileans went to the polls to vote on a new president and parliament. In this report, we offer short biographies of the two Chilean presidential candidates, focusing mostly on Michelle Bachelet. From there, we will provide a short history of Chile, primarily to highlight the tensions between the forces of liberalization and reaction. An examination of the Allende-Pinochet period will detail the factors that have affected Chile’s political structure over the past five decades. As always, we will conclude with market ramifications.

2013-11-20 No Madness and No Crowds by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors

Charles Mackay’s book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, chronicles some of history’s greatest financial manias, including the South Sea bubble and the Dutch tulip mania, among many others. As the stock market continues to make new highs, discussion of a market bubble has been capturing many of the recent headlines. For those that suggest this is the case, they may need to refresh themselves with Mackay’s book, which highlights the “mania” phase a phase that we have yet to encounter.

2013-11-19 Asset Class Allocation and Portfolios: Critique and Complication by Adam Jared Apt (Article)

In Part 1 of this essay, I explained that for asset class allocation to become an investment practice, it required a foundation of theory. And Modern Portfolio Theory was that foundation. But today, most financial journalists and investment advisors who proffer advice centered on asset class allocation are—if I may judge from their writings—oblivious of this. And why shouldn’t they be? Theory is abstract and difficult to apprehend.

2013-11-19 France and the Iranian Negotiations by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Earlier this month, negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 failed to reach an agreement despite great hopes that one was near. In this report, we will examine the reasons behind French objections to a nuclear deal with Iran. We will begin with an examination of France’s relations with the Middle East, focusing on its relations with Israel. Using this history as a guide, we will analyze why the French scotched the potential agreement. A short discussion will follow of the impact of France’s objection on the evolution of U.S. policy with Iran. As always, we conclude with market ramif

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

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

2013-11-06 The Underperformance Culprit by Tony Scherrer of Smead Capital Management

Each year we are reminded of the fact that active management systemically underperforms the benchmark. The scorecards come in, and the tally is drilled back into our consciousness. But has the now long-tenured debate of active versus passive offered us much in the way of new perspective over the last several decades?

2013-11-05 The Saudi Tribulation by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

In this report, we will discuss the basic history of U.S. and Saudi relations, focusing on the historical commonality of goals between the two nations. We will detail how the aims of the two nations have diverged since the Cold War ended and use this to examine America’s evolving plans for the Middle East. We will discuss how the evolution of U.S. policy is affecting Saudi Arabia and the pressures these changes are bringing to the kingdom. As always, we will conclude with market ramifications.

2013-10-25 The Deserted Island Portfolio by John West of Research Affiliates

What would a Deserted Island investment portfolio look like, managed without the distractions of cable news and short-term benchmark comparisons?

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

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

2013-10-22 Revisiting the Debate Over the DFA Research by Scott MacKillop (Article)

DFA’s supporters have elevated that firm’s investment philosophy to the level of religious doctrine. The pitch and fervor expressed in the recent debate over its research suggest that Michael Edesess sinned mightily by questioning the faith. However, an examination of DFA’s approach to investing suggests a more measured reaction: The firm’s approach is sound, but it falls short of the magic that its disciples impart to it.

2013-10-18 Weekly Economic Commentary by Christopher Molumphy of Northern Trust

Closing the books on the U.S. budget... for now; Do we need a debt ceiling?; Study of financial market function earns the Nobel Prize.

2013-10-18 Is Your Portfolio a Five-Tool Player? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

In baseball a “5-Tool Player” is one who has high-level abilities in these areas: hitting for power, hitting for average, running, fielding and throwing. 5-Tool Players are a special breed, and teams covet them. I have identified 5 tools a premier investment approach should have in order to be successful in our arena, the achievement of client goals and growth of advisory practices.

2013-10-10 Better Beta Is No Monkey Business by Patrick Rudden of AllianceBernstein

The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. This makes perfect sense to me, but says more about infinity than it does about monkeys.

2013-10-01 The Ultimate Income Portfolio Revisited by Geoff Considine (Article)

Rising interest rates will be unkind to income-generating assets and the investors who depend on them in retirement. My ultimate-income portfolio (UIP) provides a solution to this problem. It has reliably produced high income and low volatility with respect to the stock market, and its performance is likely to continue, even if rates rise further.

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.

2013-09-27 What Makes Alternative Beta Smart? by Chris Brightman of Research Affiliates

A Smart Beta strategy should be “low cost, transparent and systematic,” according to Towers Watson. Our research suggests many alternative beta strategies fall short.

2013-09-26 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook for Europe: Near-Term Recovery, Long-Term Risks by Andrew Balls of PIMCO

While Europe has emerged out of recession, the relative tightness of monetary policy means the eurozone is still struggling to get back to potential pre-Lehman growth rates. The European Central Bank should be able to maintain stability over the cyclical horizon while policymakers continue to address outstanding issues as they look to build a less vulnerable monetary union. We are selective in our approach to regional credit and remain neutral on the euro, balancing our cyclical outlook with longer-term secular concerns on the eurozone outlook and valuations.

2013-09-25 Secular Trends in Asian Credit Markets Shape Long-Term Investment Themes by Robert Mead, Raja Mukherji of PIMCO

The next several years will likely see many Asian corporate issuers to come to the market for financing, whether to pursue long-term business plans or to employ traditional corporate finance and leverage strategies. Rigorous credit research, flexible resources, experienced local portfolio management and strong relationships with local stakeholders are all crucial to uncovering attractive opportunities while monitoring volatility in Asia’s credit markets.

2013-09-25 More Than a “Sugar High” by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors

The recent decision by the Fed to delay any tapering may be a preview of what to expect by a “Yellen Fed”. As the Fed appeared to remove “virtually every yardstick or goal post” that they have provided recently, one thing is certain, “they seem determined to keep the accelerator nailed to the floor as they drive the economy at full speed.” According to Cornerstone Macro, based on the Fed’s move, it appears increasingly likely that “growth is more likely to reaccelerate.”

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

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

2013-09-23 Happy Anniversary? Perspectives on the Financial Crisis Five Years Later by Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson of Hartford Funds

Since 2008, there’s been slow but steady improvement in the global economypolicy makers’ unconventional tools have helped stabilize financial markets and bought time for economies to rebalance. Expectations are too low for developed-market growth and inflation, in our view. As such, we think this environment will be positive for developed-equity marketsparticularly in Europe and Japan.

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

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

2013-09-18 Dow Changes as a Contrary Indicator by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

The folks who select the companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) came out with their latest changes on Monday, September 9, 2013. They removed Bank of America (BAC), Hewlett Packard (HPQ) and Alcoa (AA) from the DJIA. Added to the index were Visa (V), Nike (NKE) and Goldman Sachs (GS). At Smead Capital Management, we are always looking for important psychological clues to human behavior as it pertains to the popularity of common stocks.

2013-09-12 Cold Hard Facts About Syria and Investment Portfolios by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

What does the Syria situation mean to the financial markets and client portfolios? Will actions (or inactions) by the U.S. be a catalyst to send the stock market plummeting? Everyone around the world is watching Syria as well as Washington as it determines what the response will be to the tragic use of chemical weapons.

2013-09-10 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 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

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

2013-09-06 GSE Reform Lumbers Up to the Starting Gate by Michael Canter of AllianceBernstein

Momentum is finally building to do something with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bipartisan Corker-Warner proposal, now making the rounds on Capitol Hill, aims to dissolve the GSEs and start fresh. Meanwhile, Fannie and Freddie are testing innovative mortgage-security structures that transfer the risk of borrower defaults to the private sector.

2013-08-27 Do Income-Oriented Portfolios Reduce Safe Withdrawal Rates? by Geoff Considine (Article)

Among studies of safe withdrawal rates (SWRs) researchers have followed a common path: constructing portfolios with the goal of optimizing total return. This strategy achieves the highest SWR, but retirees often prefer a more income-oriented portfolio. I will illustrate the tradeoff investors make – in terms of a lower SWR – as they increase allocations to income-producing securities. But increasing income also brings a key benefit: lower estimation risk.

2013-08-22 Summer Whale Watching by David Wismer of Flexible Plan Investments

One of our family’s most memorable and pleasant vacations took place years ago when we visited Cape Cod, Massachusetts for the first time. I thought of this trip in pondering some of the market news this week, where Wall Street was practicing its very own version of “whale watching.”

2013-08-22 Hot Potato: Momentum As An Investment Strategy by Ryan Larson of Research Affiliates

Investors increasingly are attracted to momentum as a key ingredient in their portfolios. But how does momentum fare as a stand-alone strategy? In this issue of Fundamentals, we look at the pros and cons of this important risk factor.

2013-08-19 Temptress Time?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

I don’t equate gambling with investing, but many do by using margin, options, exotic derivatives, and what-have-you to leverage their various market positions. To be sure, some seers say that the public has been buying 2 to 1, and even 3 to 1, leveraged exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on 50% margin, which gives those positions 4:1 and 6:1 leverage, in an attempt to try and outperform the S&P 500. When leverage works in your favor, it can multiply profits enormously.

2013-08-15 Once-a-Generation European Opportunity? by Cindy Sweeting of Franklin Templeton Investments

Sir John’s contrarian conviction was so strong, that in 1939 when WWII had investors fleeing the markets, he bought every stock on the New York Stock Exchange trading under a dollar. Cindy Sweeting, Director of Portfolio Management at Templeton Global Equity Group, espouses Sir John’s contrarian approach, although as a more selective bottom-up stock-picker today. As the markets have bumped along recently she has also echoed his money-where-your-mouth-is action, avoiding the same trend plays everyone else is making by the doing the far more difficult work of going against the grain.

2013-08-13 Envisioning the Planning Firm of the Future by Bob Veres (Article)

Virtually all advisors operate with a value proposition built on bettering their clients’ financial future through management of their assets. But trends in the workforce and capital markets will force advisors to rethink those assumptions and, if Richie Lee is right, the planning firm of the future will adapt a four-factor service model that places much greater emphasis on helping clients maximize their human capital.

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

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

2013-08-08 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.

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

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

2013-08-01 Alternatives for Today's and Tomorrow's Market Challenges by Jennifer Bridwell, Sabrina Callin of PIMCO

Investors should consider alternative investment strategies, which could enhance diversification and the potential for alpha, or risk-adjusted returns, because returns from traditional asset classes in coming years may be lower and more volatile than those realized historically.

2013-07-31 The Context of Price by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors

While the stock market has enjoyed a recent rally, some investors are experiencing some “weakness in the knees” as they continue to ascend the climb. These new all-time highs in the market compound the problem for some investors as they suffer from the recency effect, or the not-too-distant memory of significant market losses.

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

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

2013-07-30 Revisiting “The Cost of Socially Responsible Investing” by Paul A. Ruud (Article)

Endowments have been warned that socially responsible investing incurs a financial cost, based on research by two prominent academicians. But that research – which has been presented and debated in this publication – is based on a tenuous model that is highly sensitive to its assumptions. Change those assumptions reasonably, as I did in my research, and the cost of SRI becomes trivial.

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 Fantasy versus Factors by Michael Nairne (Article)

Investors who wish to earn market-beating returns have a choice. They can indulge in the fantastical quest for “alpha” via high-cost active managers or they can construct factor tilts in their equity allocations via low-cost exchange traded or enhanced index funds. It doesn’t take a PhD in mathematics to determine which route is more likely to take an investor to higher performance.

2013-07-17 The Bernanke Guessing Game by David Wismer of Flexible Plan Investments

There can be little doubt that US equity markets have become more dependent than ever, at least in the short-term, on the every utterance of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his fellow FOMC members.

2013-07-05 Volatility Management: The Key to Investing in the 21st Century by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Volatility Management is the most important consideration in our portfolio management process. In some market environments, we think investors are well-compensated for the risks they take. In others, they are not. Thus, volatility can be either a warning sign or a gateway to outstanding opportunities. It is part of an investment manager’s job to decipher that for you, on an ongoing basis, and make rational decisions.

2013-07-02 Insider’s Forum Conference Names Advisor Perspectives Exclusive Media Partner by Advisor Perspectives (Article)

The Insider’s Forum conference, to be held this year in Dallas, TX, September 17-19, has announced an exclusive media partnership with Advisor Perspectives.

2013-07-02 Do Dividend-Paying Stocks Have Staying Power? by Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson of Hartford Funds

The role of dividend-paying stocks in a diversified portfolio and the environment in which they are likely to outperform the broader equity market are often topics of debate among investors. I believe there are a number of reasons why a strategic allocation to dividend-paying stocks makes sense.

2013-06-28 Reviewing the Dividend Sell-Off by Jeff Middleswart of Ranger International

Higher yielding stocks outperformed for much of this year, but fell sharply with the pop in interest rates.

2013-06-25 How Not to Invest in Dividend Stocks: Seven Mistakes Investors Commonly Make by David Ruff of Forward Management

While investors may assume that dividend investing is relatively straightforward, they commonly make mistakes that may undercut the potential income and total return of their investments.

2013-06-19 The Art of Low Turnover by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

We have argued vociferously that active managers have given up their preferred position in the investing marketplace to passive indexes because of high turnover. A recent Wall Street Journal article referenced 78% turnover as being the average among large-cap US equity funds. Studies have shown that as much as 144 basis points each year in return is chewed up by trading costs. Explaining turnover and its impact is one thing, but it is more important to ask a question. How do you practice low turnover while seeking maximal long-term performance?

2013-06-18 Taking Seniority: Looking to Bank Loans in Uncertain Markets by Elizabeth (Beth) MacLean of PIMCO

Bank loans are senior secured loans to non-investment-grade corporations. They are floating rate instruments, secured by the collateral of that company and senior in the capital structure. Bank loans can be a more defensive way for investors to move into the high yield space, due to the collateral and their senior position. While we have seen yield spreads tightening among loans, on a relative basis we do think loan valuations still look attractive. PIMCO’s investment process helps us seek these attractive opportunities while managing risk.

2013-06-12 Bond Realities: The Changing Landscape for Fixed Income and the Death of the Agg' by Andrew Johnson of Neuberger Berman

Earlier this year Andrew A. Johnson, Neuberger Berman’s Chief Investment Officer for Investment Grade Fixed Income, led a series of discussions with institutional clients about the state of the fixed income market and key ideas in approaching opportunistic fixed income investing in the current environment. Here, Mr. Johnson has adapted, and elaborated on, the concepts described at those meetings.

2013-06-11 A Better Alternative to Cap-Weighted Bond Indices by Geoff Considine (Article)

Capitalization weighting is the prevailing choice for equity index investors, who can choose from low-cost index funds constructed with theoretically proven methodologies. But capitalization weighting in fixed-income markets enjoys no such theoretical foundation, leaving investors without a clear choice for a diversified core fixed-income holding. A portfolio of bond exchange-traded funds that optimizes the tradeoff between yield and risk gives investors a commendable way to own a broadly diversified core allocation.

2013-06-04 Exposing False Claims about Socially Responsible Investing A Response to Adler and Kritzman by Adam M. Kanzer (Article)

When the Domini 400 Social Index was launched in 1990, the common wisdom said that if you limited your investable universe by anything other than financial factors, you would limit your returns. The performance of the index has proven that assumption to be false. Nevertheless, the assumption lives on.

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.

2013-05-28 Six Reasons You’re Charging the Wrong Fees by Bob Veres (Article)

My research has explored the spectrum of advisory fees in considerable detail, and has allowed advisors to compare their fee structures with professional norms, evolving trends and the input of advisors around the country. Here are the six biggest oddities I discovered – each of which is a clear sign that advisors are not charging as much as they should.

2013-05-28 Europe's Crossroads: The End of the Muddle Through? by Andrew Balls of PIMCO

The eurozone may be nearing a critical junction, owing to its weak growth, weak institutions, debt dynamics and domestic and cross-border political challenges. The German government may take a more active leadership role after its national election, but it is more likely it will continue with piecemeal measures. Considering the current low yield environment and ample central bank liquidity, it is important to focus on absolute yield levels and returns, and consider global alternatives such as emerging market securities and currency exposure.

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

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

2013-05-21 Measuring the Cost of Socially Responsible Investing by Adam Jared Apt (Article)

Quite apart from its motivations, the consequences of socially responsible investing have intrigued analysts. The actual results, as distinct from the desired results, cannot be taken for granted. Mark Kritzman has written about the subject, but his research was little noticed until recently, when SRI achieved renewed prominence in the form of popular demands that institutional portfolios divest themselves of investments in fossil-fuel companies. Kritzman’s point, and the conclusion of his analysis, is that SRI, properly understood, incurs a cost to the portfolio.

2013-05-14 Inflation Update by Team of North Peak Asset Management

Basing investment decisions on inaccurate measurements of the inflation rate can result in investors unknowingly positioning their portfolios to lose purchasing power over time. This mis-measurement could be especially dangerous when yields are low. For example, evaluating a nominal 3% investment opportunity using an inaccurate 2% inflation rate indicates a marginally attractive 1% real return opportunity. However, if inflation is actually running at 5%, this becomes a deeply unattractive negative 2% real return investment.

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

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

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

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

2013-05-07 How to Construct a Low-Cost Conservative Portfolio by Geoff Considine (Article)

One of the greatest challenges for investors today is constructing low-risk portfolios that provide the best returns using low-cost funds or ETFs. Doing so requires advisors to define risk as the potential for retirees to fail to achieve their financial goals, instead of as volatility, as it is traditionally measured. I will show how to construct a low-cost portfolio that minimizes this definition of risk while generating a reasonable real return.

2013-05-07 Bail-Ins, Bernanke, and Buyouts: Assessing Key Event Risks for Fixed-Income Investors by Team of Hartford Funds

While the eventual shift to less accommodative central-bank policy and a rise in global interest rates are perhaps the greatest focuses of concern today for bond investors, other risks also merit scrutiny. European sovereign debt worries have resurfaced as the tiny nation of Cyprus, representing just 0.3% of euro-area gross domestic product (GDP), joined the list of bailout recipients. Recent rhetoric from the Fed has prompted investors to consider the impact of an eventual winding down of its asset purchases.

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

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

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

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

2013-04-26 Why The Fed's Balance Sheet Matters Neosho Capital Takes On Alan Blinder by Chris Richey of Neosho Capital

We anticipate the Fed will begin slowing, but not eliminating, its QE purchases later this year, barring another severe downturn in the intervening period. As such, we expect macro-economic factors such as currency, interest rates, growth, and inflation to continue to be a significant influence on stock market returns and that the long-term benefits of active portfolio management and individual company performance will continue to be masked by these macro influences.

2013-04-23 Investment Risk is the Chance of Underperformance by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)

The measures currently used within the investment industry to capture investment risk are really mostly measures of emotion. In order to deal with what is really important, let’s redefine investment risk as the chance of underperformance. As Warren Buffett has said, focus on the final outcome and not on the path travelled to get there.

2013-04-19 First Quarter Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory

Looking ahead, significant uncertainty surrounds fiscal and monetary policy in terms of what policies will be adopted and their ultimate economic and financial market impacts. More broadly, still-high global debt levels pose an economic headwind. Against this backdrop, our outlook for stocks has not improved. If anything, given the sharp run-up in stock prices, we are getting closer to reducing our U.S. equity exposure further than we are to increasing it.

2013-04-16 Using Behavioral Data to Earn Superior Returns by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)

Emotional crowds dominate pricing; that was the first basic principle, which I demonstrated last week. This would seem to indicate that BDIs earn superior returns by taking positions opposite the crowds. But this is not necessarily the case.

2013-04-16 What the Bull Giveth, the Bear Taketh Away by Adam Butler, Mike Philbrick, Rodrigo Gordillo of Butler|Philbrick|Gordillo & Associates

The question of whether to commit new funds to stocks here is nuanced and complex, not least because it isn’t obvious that traditional alternatives - bonds or cash - offer any better value. We are very near all-time low interest rates across most developed government bond markets, credit spreads are near all-time tights, and rates are negative out to 5 or more years in real terms.

2013-04-15 Valuation Based Equity Market Forecasts - Q1 2013 Update by Doug Adam Butler, Mike Philbrick, Rodrigo Gordillo of Butler|Philbrick|Gordillo & Associates

Click to viewWe endorse the decisive evidence that markets and economies are complex, dynamic systems which are not reducible to normal cause-effect analysis. However, we are willing to acknowledge the likelihood that the future is likely to rhyme with the past. Thus, we believe there is substantial value in applying simple statistical models to discover average estimates of what the future may hold over meaningful investment horizons (10+ years), while acknowledging the wide range of possibilities that exist around these averages.

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

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

2013-04-12 The Truth About The Impact Of Dividend Reinvesting by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

What follows will be several examples of different kinds of dividend paying stocks offered in order to provide deeper insight into several commonly held notions. With each example, I will focus on how much return comes from dividends and how much comes from capital appreciation. I will also illustrate the precise benefits and effects of dividend reinvestment as it applies to different types of dividend paying stocks.

2013-04-11 Global Investing in 2013: Policy Dominance, Active Management and a New Paradigm in Currencies by Scott Mather of PIMCO

We expect that the impact of ongoing global policy experimentalism on real economic growth and financial markets will likely vary substantially from country to country, creating both risks and opportunities. With flexible, active global strategies investors can potentially benefit from a broader opportunity set and the ability to go off benchmark in an effort to both avoid risks and tap opportunities.

2013-04-10 Making It Possible for Investors to Be Secure in Their Later Years by Michael Golub of The Golub Group

Stock investing should be viewed as old-age insurance. Stocks are serious business because, for most of us, how we handle them will determine how we will be able to live in our later years. The challenge of living comfortably for the rest of our lives has become more of a challenge as the Prudential Life Insurance Company has recently pointed out that the first human to live to 150 years old is alive today. The Wall Street Journal reported in its March 19, 2013 issue, that many workers are saving too little to retire.

2013-04-09 The Evidence that Emotion Dominates Market Pricing by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)

Last week, I introduced the concept of behavioral portfolio management (BPM) as a way to build superior portfolios. BPM is built on the dynamic interplay between two investor groups and rests on three basic principles. I will discuss the first basic principle in this article, the second in a series of five.

2013-04-09 First Quarter Market Commentary by Mark Oelschlager of Oak Associates

After a strong 2012, the market continued its ascent in the first quarter, shrugging off macro issues like the Sequester and the Cyprus “bail-in.” The S&P 500 rose roughly another 10%, reaching a new all-time high. Normally when stocks are moving higher at a fast rate, it is the economically sensitive sectors that lead and the defensive ones that lag. But the first quarter saw the reverse, as the top three performing sectors were the three traditional defensive ones: healthcare, consumer staples and utilities.

2013-04-09 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook for Asia: How Leadership Changes Are Shaping Asia's Outlook by Q&A with Ramin Toloui, Tomoya Masanao and Robert Mead of PIMCO

For Asia, “slow but not slowing” global growth will likely keep external demand neutral, and policy developments will therefore help shape the economic outlook. In Japan, we see a significant boost to aggregate demand coming from the concerted monetary and fiscal expansion of the new Abe government. In China, concerns about inflation, housing market excesses, and long-term financial stability are prompting policy restraint that should keep growth below 8% this year.

2013-04-02 Choosing an Actively Managed Fund: What Works and What Doesn’t by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Few topics have been studied as closely as selecting actively managed funds that will outperform the market. Advisors who use such funds need to be confident in their choices – and justify their methodology to clients. Here’s what the latest academic research says on this highly contentious issue.

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

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

2013-04-01 Currency and Emerging Markets: What Can We Expect? by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments

Currency markets are making headlines again after taking a low profile amid the crises and the turmoil in financial markets of the last five years or so. I asked Greg Saichin, Head of High Yield and Emerging Markets Fixed Income Portfolio Management here at Pioneer, to provide his views about what is going on, and what he sees as the drivers of investment flows into emerging markets.

2013-04-01 A Fresh Milestone by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Last Thursday the S&P 500 (SPX/1569.19) notched a new all-time causing Ms. Scaggs to pen the aforementioned story in Friday’s Wall Street Journal. I was particularly interested in a sentence further down in the article that read, “The rally in stocks comes as investors warm up to stocks for the first time in years.” That prose sparked memories of an era gone by.

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

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

2013-03-27 Does Blame Predict Performance? by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates

As an econometrician and a fund-of-funds portfolio manager, I spend much time researching quantifiable metrics to help me identify managers who can outperform consistently. There is, in fact, a rich body of literature exploring different manager selection criteria. Academic papers have considered portfolio manager attributes, such as tenure, the CFA designation, advanced degrees, and even SAT scores; they have also examined fund characteristics, such as portfolio turnover, expense ratios, and assets under management.

2013-03-26 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.

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

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

2013-03-19 Rising Political Risk and Ongoing Economic Weakness Challenge a Difficult Journey to Recovery by Andrew Balls of PIMCO

Looking ahead, it will continue to be a very bumpy journey as we anticipate economic contraction in the eurozone by -0.75% to -1.25% over the next year, hampered by growing political risk and fiscal tightening. Although we expect the pace of contraction in the eurozone to diminish over 2013, the duration of the recession is likely to be longer than consensus forecasts.

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.

2013-03-12 The Retirement Income Problem by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

The most vital and pervasive issue investors will face in the next decade is how to wring out enough income from the savings they have amassed to maintain or enhance their lifestyle. To do so, they will need to be far more flexible in their investment approach. They also must adapt to an environment for "high quality bonds" (Treasuries, Municipals and Corporates) that does not at all resemble that which they are accustomed to.

2013-03-06 Welcome Back, Visible Risk by Rob Stein of Astor Asset Management

Risk and more accurately "visible risk" has re-entered the market, and that's a very good thing. Visible risk is what you can measure, evaluate, mitigate, manage, and hedge (at least to some degree).

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 Specializing in Tax-Friendly Investment Strategies by Jim Tillar, Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup

Since the turn of the century (2000) investors have not had to think much about tax-friendly investment strategies due to two major bear markets. But times have changed. The stock market is near all-time highs and many, if not all, of investors' loss carry forwards have been used up. More importantly, the Obama administration has already raised tax rates on the wealthy and the outlook is for tax increases to broaden as part of the solution to taming our debt and deficit problems. The bottom line is that investors need a new strategy for this environment.

2013-02-26 Howard Marks’ Warnings and How to Protect your Portfolio by Geoff Considine (Article)

Howard Marks, founder and chairman of Oaktree Capital Management, wrote in a recent memo that the biggest danger to investors is their willingness to buy risky assets that are likely to provide low returns. Market conditions may not fully reflect current risk; option prices, for example, are very low. Some firms – notably PIMCO – recommend investors buy put options to protect their portfolios. I propose an alternative strategy that will be resilient to the potential shocks of increased volatility and higher interest rates, without incurring the cost of options.

2013-02-22 Uncovering 'Diamonds in the Rough' in Today's Credit Markets by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

There are still good opportunities for yield and total return in the credit markets, but there has been a shift in where and how investors can find them. A "diamond in the rough" is a credit that is under-covered, or not actively followed or researched by many investors. At PIMCO, we identify these opportunities through our top-down and bottom-up investment process. We've identified a number of sectors that appear poised for above-average growth.

2013-02-19 Tough Times for Classic Value Investors by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

While the U.S. equity market has performed exceptionally well since its bottom in March 2009, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has trailed the index by nearly 6%. Buffett is among a number of prominent classic-value investors who have fared poorly over this period. Over long time horizons, value investing has consistently outperformed growth strategies and the broad market index. So what is causing this recent phenomenon?

2013-02-19 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.

2013-02-19 Expanding the Toolkit for Monitoring Your Equity Managers by Markus Aakko, Andrew Pyne of PIMCO

Investors may want to consider active share when assessing whether and how their active equity managers add value beyond a passive benchmark. The methods for monitoring investment managers are well established. But given the importance of getting portfolio allocation right in a low-growth, low-return world, it's worth examining new ways to assess risk and value added. While tracking error has been held as a key measure for active risk, it may include elements that reflect market conditions rather than managers' actual decisions on risk.

2013-02-07 Investing in a Low-Growth World by Jeremy Grantham of GMO

This quarter I will review any new data that has come out on the topic of likely lower GDP growth. Then I will consider any investment implications that might come with lower GDP growth: counter intuitively, we find that investment returns are likely to be more or less unchanged a little lower only if lower growth brings with it less instability, hence less risk. Finally I will take a look at the reaction to last quarter's letter, specifically about my outlook for lower GDP growth.

2013-02-07 We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us by Ben Inker of GMO

If modern portfolio management has a single defining urge, it is almost certainly diversification. We look for diversifying assets, strategies, and managers. A thoughtful investor can argue against almost any asset class stocks, bonds, hedge funds, private equity, commodities, you name it but arguing against diversification is like arguing against indoor plumbing. I dont want to sound like I'm calling for a return to chamber pots and outhouses, so I'm not actually going to argue against diversification.

2013-02-05 Comparing Advisors to Jim Cramer: Measuring your Professional Alpha by Bob Veres (Article)

Jim Cramer, Suze Orman and other so-called investment pundits and gurus are constantly telling consumers that they can do a great job of managing their portfolios on their own. Let's look at what the research has to say about the various investment performance benefits that advisors should be able to give their clients during the accumulation phase of their lives – excess returns above what do-it-yourself investors could obtain on their own. I call those excess returns 'professional alpha.'

2013-01-30 Fiscal Cliff: Making Decisions in Crisis Part I by Brian Singer of William Blair

Having lost touch with mainstream America, neither the Republican nor the Democratic Party enjoys much governing ability. Second, politicians struggle to function as leaders, regardless of competence, as a result of party disengagement. Third, left to their own devices, politicians will respond to their individual incentives. Bringing these observations together, neither party platform nor leadership vision will provide as much guiding force as the incentives of each politician, sometimes individually and other times in coalition.

2013-01-29 Letter to the Investment Committee by Emilio Vargas (Article)

The following is a thousand words on investing that will irritate most every investment professional. Most forms of active portfolio management incur fees, transaction costs and taxes. Whole industries exist due to these costs, and their proponents will argue that they are adding value. In aggregate they cannot; they are all costs. That I am proposing an investment that could take food from the mouths of the children of an army of accountants, brokers and investment professionals will, no doubt, cause them to find flaws in what follows.

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 It's What You Learn After You Know It All That Counts. by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

January is the time of year when strategists, economists, gurus, etc. all join in on the annual nonsense of predicting "What's going to happen in the markets for 2013?" For many, this ritual is an ego trip, yet as Benjamin Graham inferred forecasting where the markets will be a year from now is nothing more than rank speculation. Or as I have noted, "You might as well flip a lucky penny."

2013-01-22 Keep Your Eye On The Ball - 2012 Year End Letter by Team of Sloan Wealth Management

The members of the Portfolio Management Team at Sloan Wealth Management (SWM) coach two baseball teams, two soccer teams, one T-ball team and one basketball team for our collective young children. Thus, we find ourselves stressing the basics. Learning the fundamentals of how to catch a pop-up will eliminate some of the fear of getting hit in the face. In 2012, we found many parallels to the capital markets as our portfolios posted high double digit returns in the face of fear.

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

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

2013-01-15 It's Not What Happens That Matters by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Late in 2008 and in early 2009, a group of what we like to call "brilliant pessimists" hit the airwaves with their economic theories. The prognosticators' vision of the future was and is predicated on the history of similar situations and the mathematical realities of the huge debt overhang from the prior ten years of profligate economic behavior. They put very effective names on their visions like "new normal" and "seven lean years". They marketed their visions incredibly well to the point of shaming anyone who might disagree with their theories.

2013-01-08 The Forecast for Risk in 2013 by Geoff Considine (Article)

With the new year upon us, pundits are issuing their forecasts of market returns for 2013 and beyond. But returns don't occur in a vacuum – meeting clients' goals requires an asset allocation that appropriately balances return and risk. So what follows are my predictions for risk across major asset classes, based on a theoretically sound approach that has proven to be reliable in the past.

2013-01-07 An Unconstrained Approach to Bond Market Investing by Sabrina Callin, Lisa Kim of PIMCO

Investors are increasingly focused on alternatives to traditional investment strategies. Unconstrained bond portfolio construction should be driven by an outcome-oriented goal, with strategies assessed on an individual risk/reward and correlation basis, and each investment in the portfolio evaluated rigorously for the expected risk and return as well as the potential impact of the correlation to other investments in the portfolio.

2013-01-02 Fiscal Cliff vs. Jimmy Cliff: How the leap may look more like Y2K or the Mayan calendar by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

As "Cliff" makes his way from post-election debate to complete absurdity I did some research. As it turns out, many of the potential outcomes of the Fiscal Cliff in January are in sync with the titles of popular songs from this Reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff. No, I'm not a Reggae fan, but it was pretty funny when I looked it up and I think I can get some points across while writing something that will keep advisors into the holiday spiritbefore reality returns soon.

2012-12-27 The Best Investment-Related Quotes by Glenn Frank (Article)

I've compiled a list of my favorite investment-related quotes. They come from a range of sources – including many outside the world of finance. I hope that they provide wisdom and inspiration for the year ahead.

2012-12-19 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook for Europe: Policy Developments Will Shape Growth Prospects and Risks by Andrew Balls of PIMCO

Policy developments in particular, the European Central Banks acceptance of its role as a lender of last resort have helped to normalize European financial markets but been insufficient to promote decent growth. Eurozone leaders recently laid out a long-term roadmap to achieve stability, but the plan faces great execution risk, technically and politically, and in cross-border coordination. We continue to take a cautious approach and underweight European credit risk and European financials in general, looking for specific opportunities rather than broad exposure.

2012-12-06 Meet the New Boss by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

On November 14th, the new Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) was unveiled. The composition of this new group had been anxiously awaited for months. Although most of the members (all men, by the way) had been anticipated, there were some surprises. This committee is the most powerful group in China; it is essentially the legislative and executive branch of the country. And, given that the judiciary is not really independent, the PSC effectively rules China.

2012-11-30 Active Management: Don't Drop the Pilot by Patrick Rudden of AllianceBernstein

For years, we've advised clients to hold diversified portfolios with balanced allocations to stocks, bonds and other assets. Lately, it's been a hard sell, especially after years of underperformance by active equity managers. But the tide may be turning.

2012-11-28 Idiosyncratic Risk...and the Other Kind by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital

If the recent election demonstrated anything of relevance to an investor, it should have been the beginning of the end of the tyranny of the "catalyst." The day before the election, an investor could have legitimately been worried about any number of micro, macro, domestic or global issues. And yet the sun rose, work was attended to by those who have jobs, markets opened, fell, and closed and the collective attention moved to the next "perceived" catalyst-the so-called fiscal cliff. Calling Roseanne Roseannadanna.

2012-11-27 The Superiority of Dividends: A Comparison of Value Strategies by Geoff Considine (Article)

Dividend-focused strategies have won the allegiance of many prominent investors, including Rob Arnott, Bill Gross and Jeremy Siegel. Others claim value-based strategies offer superior risk-adjusted returns. Both sides can claim a partial victory in this debate, but I will show that, when understood properly, dividend strategies offer a crucial edge - one that many investors will find attractive.

2012-11-21 Meet Cliff by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Oh, we had heard about Cliff. We were warned about this nefarious character many months ago. We knew he was lurking and we knew he was not going to just go away. Cliff had invited himself into our lives, and unless we dealt with him, he was not going anywhere. You, the hard-working financial advisor, have probably been wondering when everyone else would notice him. That time came when the sun came up Wednesday after the election. There he was, casting his extraordinarily long and potentially costly shadow. Fiscal Cliff finally entered the national spotlight. It is time to meet him.

2012-11-19 Q3 2012 Market Commentary by Jon Sundt of Altegris

Decisive actions by central bankers altered the course of global markets in the third quarter of 2012 at least temporarily.

2012-11-19 I'll Be Back by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

The call for this week: Obviously, I am back from Europe and y'all have done a pretty poor job of holding the markets together in my two-week absence. Indeed, since the election the SPX has lost 6.28% from its intraday high to last Friday's intraday low. The biggest losing sectors over that timeframe have been Energy (-6.2%), Financials (-5.9%), and Technology (-5.9%). Given the President's views on energy and banks the weakness in those two sectors should not come as a surprise. Still, I think the surprise is going to be a more cooperative environment from our leaders going forward.

2012-11-16 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: The Slippage Continues by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined again in the numbers released today. It is now at 125.4, down from its interim high of 127.6 set five weeks earlier. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) also declined, now at 4.4, down from last week's downard revision to 5.0. WLIg has been in expansion territory for twelve weeks, although it is now at a five-week low, with the revised high at 6.0 on October 12th.

2012-11-12 Surveying the Post-Election Landscape by Team of Lord Abbett

Of all the uncertainties facing investors over the past few years, the U.S. presidential election was among the most significant. And now that the election is over, asset managers are assessing the opportunities and riskssuch as the looming fiscal cliffwithin their respective markets. Indeed, the direction of fiscal policy remains investors' foremost concern, according to a recent survey of nearly 600 financial advisors conducted on Lord Abbett's postelection Web conference.

2012-11-09 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Off Its Interim High by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) declined in the numbers released today. It is now at 126.2, down from its interim high of 127.6 set four weeks earlier. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) also declined, now at 5.1, down from last week's 5.9. WLIg has now spent eleven consecutive weeks in expansion territory, although it is now at a five-week low.

2012-11-06 Asset Location: Nine Tips to Create “Tax Alpha” by Glenn Frank (Article)

With campaign season finally over, taxes are going to dominate the debate in Washington in the months ahead – however things shake out at the polls today. It's going to be confusing; it's going to be uncertain. But many of the most critical questions advisors will ask can be answered with an analytical approach to deciding where to 'house' assets – in taxable or tax-sheltered accounts.

2012-11-06 Six Technology Integration Disasters to Avoid by Jennifer Goldman (Article)

Technology integration is the Holy Grail for today's top-performing financial advisors. When applications talk to each other, advisors can run their practices more efficiently, save money and reduce the size of their staff. That all sounds great, but I'm writing to offer a word of caution: I've seen many such efforts end in disaster.

2012-11-02 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Still Jogging in Place by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped fractionally in the numbers released today. It is now at 126.6, down from last week's 126.7 (revised from 126.8). Likewise, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) slipped slightly, now at 5.9, down from last week's 6.0. WLIg has now spent ten consecutive weeks in expansion territory, although it is off its interim high of 6.1. But for the past six weeks the WLI has been jogging in place in a narrow range (126.2 to 126.7).

2012-10-31 The Role of Risk in Asset Allocation by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates

A traditional asset allocation framework allocates to various asset classes with the goal of matching important risk exposures. In reality, many asset classes share exposures to common risk factors and thus are highly correlated, particularly with equities. This article explains how investors can achieve more intuitive and perhaps more sensible portfolios with an approach based on risk factors.

2012-10-30 A Bombing in Lebanon by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

The larger issue is related to Syria's civil war and the growing potential for the conflict to regionalize. In this report, we will offer a short history of Lebanon and Syria, examine the current state of the conflict in Syria and discuss the potential for the Syrian civil war to become a regional conflict. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.

2012-10-30 Bond Market Primer by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

For years, our tag line "Common Sense Portfolio Management for Intelligent Investors" has served us well. There are times, though, that "Common Sense" can steer us in the wrong direction. Take driving. When a teenager sits behind the wheel of a car for their very first attempt at driving they know, from years of watching Mom and Dad drive, that when they want the car to go to the right, they turn the steering wheel to the right. Even someone who has never driven an automobile knows this. It is common sense.

2012-10-26 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Running in Place by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose fractionally in the numbers released today. It is now at 126.8, up from last week's 126.6 (revised from 126.7). However, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) slipped slightly in expansion territory, not at 6.0, down from last week's 6.1. WLIg has now spent nine consecutive weeks of in expansion territory. But essentially the WLI has been running in place for the past five weeks.

2012-10-25 In or Out? The Case for - and Against - the Stock Market by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

Given ongoing volatility in the stock market, it's no surprise that investors are increasingly bearish on the market's prospects, beset by a lack of confidence in its institutional underpinnings and a general pessimism about the direction of the economy. But is that distrust misplaced? Wharton experts are mixed about the future fortunes of the stock market, with some saying that investors are withdrawing at the worst possible time and others noting that many people had entrusted too much of their retirement savings to the fate of equity markets.

2012-10-25 October 2012 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz Wealth Management

Oh the joys of driving to a baseball game; sitting in endless traffic four miles from the stadium, inching past full lot after full lot, or not finding your car when it's time to go home (was it D-4 or 404 Green?). Now you can streamline your parking experience with ParkWhiz, a Chicago-based company that's recently gone national. This and other missives from Harold Evensky.

2012-10-19 Quarterly Letter by Ron Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp & Company

In his latest quarterly letter, Ron Muhlenkamp, president and portfolio manager of the Muhlenkamp Fund, re-examines Europe, China, and U.S. Politics as the major drivers of the markets. On September 7, 2012, Muhlenkamp published a Market Commentary, headlined "Threat of European Banking Crisis Recedes." In it, he discusses the Outright Monetary Transactions program, introduced by the European Central Bank. Mr. Muhlenkamp thinks this program makes credible the ECB's promise to do all it can to keep the Eurozone together.

2012-10-19 ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Index Slips, But Growth Rises by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index of the Economic Cycle Research Institute declined in the numbers released today. It is now at 126.7, down from last week's 127.6 (revised from 127.7). However, the WLI growth indicator rose further in expansion territory to 6.1, up from last week's 5.7. WLIg has now posted sixteen consecutive weeks of improvement and is at its highest level since May 20, 2011. The divergence between the WLI and its growth derivative is probably attributable to apparent anomaly in the BLS's weekly unemployment data over the past two weeks.

2012-10-15 Lender of Last Resort Move Crucial to Regional Stability by Andrew Balls of PIMCO

While the ECB's engagement as a lender of last resort is crucial, Europe's big four governments must provide political commitments supportive of ECB policy to counter the lingering threat of a Greek exit, address convertibility risk, and build a more stable union. However, this will require sustained growth. Faced with capital flights from the periphery and lowered credit ratings, the key challenge remains crowding-in private and foreign official investors to buy peripheral sovereign debt.

2012-10-12 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicators: Time to Recant the Recession Call? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) made a strong advance in the numbers released today. It is now at 127.7, up from last week's 126.2 (revised from 126.3). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) now marks its eighth week in expansion territory at 5.7, up from last week's 4.6. WLIg has now posted fifteenth consecutive weeks of improvement and is at its highest level since May 27, 2011.

2012-10-11 Inflation Regime Shifts: Implications for Asset Allocation by Nicholas Johnson, Sebastien Page of PIMCO

Investors who are concerned about inflation should focus on increasing their exposure to asset classes that provide a positive beta to changes in inflation. We believe that asset prices are much more sensitive to inflation surprises than actual inflation levels themselves. Given the current macro environment, investors face the possibility that low growth and high inflation may coexist. Commodities provide a levered response to inflation. Investors can hold a relatively small amount of commodities to hedge a much larger portfolio.

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

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

2012-10-09 High-Dividend Yield Strategy under the Microscope by Michael Nairne (Article)

High-dividend yield stocks have become the favorite recommendation of a host of advisors, but an undue focus on income alone obscures the irreducible fact that long-term investment success is based on the total return of a portfolio including both income and capital growth. This raises two questions. How has the total return of a high-dividend yield strategy fared relative to the market? How does its total-return performance compare to the returns of other possible stock-selection strategies?

2012-10-09 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Rob Arnott's commentary, The Glidepath Illusion, which was published on September 25.

2012-10-05 Market Performance and the Party in Power: Is There Really a Connection? by Team of Janus Capital Group

The relationship between domestic securities market returns and U.S. Presidential elections is a favored topic of Wall Street commentators. As the 2012 Presidential election heads toward the tape, the pundits are in full swing once again, and claims about the impact of a Democratic or Republican victory on U.S. stock and bond markets pop up almost as frequently as political ads. In this paper, we address the question, Should investors take these prognostications to heart and, more importantly, apply them to their asset allocations?

2012-10-05 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicators: Mixed Signals in Latest Data by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped fractionally after eight consecutive weeks of growth. It is now at 126.3, down from last week's 126.6 (revised from 126.7). See the WLI chart below. However, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) now marks its seventh week in expansion territory at 4.7, up from last week's 3.8. WLIg has now posted fourteen consecutive weeks of improvement and is at its highest level since June 3, 2011.

2012-10-03 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.

2012-09-28 ECRI Weekly Leading Index Growth at Highest Level Since June 2011 by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose for the eighth consecutive week, now at 126.7, up from last week's 125.3 (revised from 124.7). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) now marks its sixth week in expansion territory at 3.8 (up from last week's 2.7). It has now posted thirteen consecutive weeks of improvement and is at its highest level since June 10, 2011.

2012-09-28 The Permanent Portfolio Turns Japanese by Adam Butler, Mike Philbrick of Butler|Philbrick|Gordillo & Associates

Our last few articles dealt with the Permanent Portfolio, a widely embraced static asset allocation concept proposed by Harry Browne in 1982. To review, the simple Permanent Portfolio consists of equal weight allocations to cash (T-bills), Treasuries, stocks and gold to ward against the four major financial states of the world.

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 How to Build a Portfolio by Adams Jared Apt (Article)

This is the first of a set of three articles intended for the educated layman, in which I will combine the core ideas presented in my preceding articles into a comprehensive description of how to put together a portfolio. In this one, I'll explain what is often called Modern Portfolio Theory.

2012-09-21 ECRI Weekly Leading Index Growth at Highest Level Since July 2011 by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose for the seventh consecutive week, now at 125.4, up from last week's 124.7 (revised from 124.9). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) now marks its fifth week in expansion territory at 2.7 (up from last week's 1.9). It has now posted twelve consecutive weeks of improvement and is at its highest level since July 29, 2011.

2012-09-18 The Trend is Your Friend by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)

John Hussman's recent market commentary, The Trend is Your Fickle Friend, highlighted the limitations of trend-following investment strategies that rely on moving-average crossover rules as a primary filter. But an extensive study conducted by our firm demonstrated that a simple moving-average crossover system outperforms buy-and-hold, while reducing drawdown risk and volatility.

2012-09-14 ECRI Defends Its Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index of the Economic Cycle Research Institute rose for the 6th consecutive week, now at 124.9 from last week's 124.1. The WLI growth indicator now marks its fourth week in expansion territory at 2.1. It has now posted eleven consecutive weeks of improvement. The big news is yesterday's Bloomberg TV interview, in which Lakshman Achuthan, ECRI's COO, reasserted his company's recession call made a year ago on September 21st and his belief that the recession has already begun.

2012-09-11 Hedged Equity Value Goes Beyond Performance by Emmett Maguire III, CFA (Article)

Advisors often overlook the value a hedged equity manager can inject into a portfolio, as recent outperformance of long only indices (S&P 500) has overridden other considerations. The case for hedged strategies, however, goes beyond relative returns.

2012-09-07 Economic Data Continues to Undermine ECRI's Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose for the fifth consecutive week, now at 123.7 from last week's 123.5 (revised from 123.6). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) is in its second week in expansion territory at 1.0 (up from last week's 0.5). It has now posted ten consecutive weeks of improvement.

2012-09-04 The Ultimate Income Strategy - Higher Yield and Lower Volatility by Geoff Considine (Article)

Investors, especially those in the de-accumulation phase of their retirement, count on high income and low volatility. Achieving the best possible tradeoff between yield and risk is a major challenge for advisors. Over the last two years, I've shown how to construct a low-risk portfolio - the ultimate income portfolio (UIP) - that yields over 9.0%. Let's look back at how those portfolios performed and the components of this year's UIP.

2012-08-31 ECRI's Embarrassing Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose for the fourth consecutive week, now at 123.6 from last week's 123.3. See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) has risen into expansion territory at 0.6 after nine consecutive weeks of improvement.

2012-08-30 Dividends: The Next Bubble? by Ed Perks, Don Taylor of Franklin Templeton

Dividend-paying stocks have received a good deal of attention this yearand for good reason. Ed Perks, senior vice president and director of the Core Hybrid Portfolio Management Group at Franklin Templeton, and Don Taylor, senior vice president and portfolio manager for Franklin Equity Group, suspect it's these fearful prognostications that are overinflated, not the asset class. As they see it, the dividend-paying stock universe is expanding, and deserves investor attention.

2012-08-28 Tomatoes and the Low Vol Effect by Ryan Larson of Research Affiliates

For the past 40 years, investors have focused on how much their returns varied from both a benchmark and their peers. Given the volatility of recent years, some investors are thinking about returning to a different approach to riskthe risk of losing money. This shift in thinking requires a very different approach to equity investing.

2012-08-28 Permanent Portfolio Shakedown Part 2 by Adam Butler and Mike Philbrick of Butler|Philbrick|Gordillo & Associates

In our Permanent Portfolio Shakedown Part 1 we investigated the history of the approach, tracing it back to Harry Browne in 1982. The company he helped to found, The Permanent Portfolio Family of Funds, has been running their version of the strategy in a mutual fund for almost 30 years, with fairly impressive results. Harry's thoughts about the portfolio are worth repeating in this second installment.

2012-08-24 A Case for Long-Term Equity Investing by Ric Dillon, Chris Welch, Chris Bingaman of Diamond Hill Investments

The past five years have been difficult for equity market investors and especially for active money managers. Despite recent results, we believe that the next five years will be advantageous for equity investors and for our intrinsic value focused investment philosophy and process.

2012-08-24 Economic Data Continues to Refute ECRI's Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose slightly to 123.3 from last week's 123.0 (an upward revision from 122.8). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) is at -0.1, less negative than the -0.4 for last week, which is an upward revision from the previously reported -0.6.

2012-08-21 Permanent Portfolio Shakedown Part 1 by Adam Butler, Mike Philbrick of Butler|Philbrick|Gordillo & Associates

The Permanent Portfolio is an asset allocation concept first introduced by Harry Browne in 1982. The Permanent Portfolio Family of Funds website has this to say about the strategy, which they have been running in mutual fund format for about 20 years.

2012-08-17 ECRI Weekly Leading Index Continues to Undermine ECRI's Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index of the Economic Cycle Research Institute rose slightly to 122.8 from last week's 122.5. See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator is at -0.6, less negative than the -1.1 for last week, which is an upward revision from the previously reported -1.3. As of today, the ECRI website continues to feature Lakshman Achuthan's July 10th Bloomberg TV interview, in which he reaffirmed his company's recession call and stated that we're already in a recession.

2012-08-13 Invest with the Best?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

I have been a "fan" of the astute Claude Rosenberg ever since hearing him speak. Some will remember him as the author of Investing with the Best, which deals with the daunting task of selecting an investment manager. Given the plethora of investment managers, picking a manager is difficult. That's why many individuals' selection process consists of nothing more than looking at a portfolio manager's track record for the past few years. We think such a simplistic approach is a mistake.

2012-08-10 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Improves, Growth Index Little Changed by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose slightly to 122.5 from last week's 122.1 (a tiny revision from the previously reported 122.2). See the WLI chart below. At one decimal place, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) is unchanged at -1.3 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through August 3. At two decimal places, WLIg is slightly less negative at -1.28 compared to last week's -1.35.

2012-08-09 Is Dodd-Frank the Death of Preferreds? by Mariela Jobson of iShares Blog

Investors wonder whether new regulations will impact the supply of preferred stocks, but iShares Portfolio Manager Mariela Jobson explains what the changes really mean for the future of preferreds.

2012-08-07 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Bob Veres' article, The Alternative to AUM-Based Fees: The Total Profitability Retainer Formula , which was published last week.

2012-08-06 Diamonds in the Rough by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

The demand for most high-quality, income-producing assets continues to exceed supply due to a weaker growth outlook and aggressive policy action by global central banks. Yet we are still finding numerous opportunities globally through our bottom-up research that targets areas around the world where fundamentals are supportive and the outlook remains constructive.

2012-08-03 Real Assets Replication: Solving the Capital Call Conundrum by Andrew Hoffmann, Niels Pedersen, Mihir Worah of PIMCO

Risk factors help to identify the fundamental value drivers of real assets and explain differences in the reported returns of public and private equity investments that hold substantially similar assets. By combining the fundamentals of real asset valuations with the statistical tools required to unlock the component risk factors of asset classes, it is possible to replicate the returns of private real asset investments using liquid publicly traded instruments.

2012-08-03 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Slips But Growth Index Improves by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped to 122.2 from last week's 122.7 (a tiny revision from the previously reported 122.8). See the WLI chart below. However, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) improved, now at -1.3 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through July 27, an improvement over the previous week's -1.7, which was an upward revision from -2.3.

2012-08-03 Time to Row, or Sail? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Earnings are a topic of great debate. At any given time, you can hear someone on TV talking about how "cheap" the market is, while the person on the next channel goes on about how expensive the market is. Today we look at the cycle of earnings, rather than a specific point in time. Let me give you a little preview. In terms of time, this earnings cycle is already longer than average, and in terms of magnitude it is projected to go to all-time highs.

2012-07-31 Venerated Voices by Venerated Voices (Article)

We published our quarterly update for the Venerated Voices awards. Rankings were issued in three categories: The Top 25 Venerated Voices by Firm, The Top 25 Venerated Voices by Advisor and The Top 10 Venerated Voices by Commentary.

2012-07-27 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Improves by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose to 122.8 from last week's 121.8 (a tiny revision from the previously reported 121.9). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) also improved, now at -1.6 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through July 20, an improvement over the previous week's -2.3.

2012-07-24 High Yield and Low Risk: Finding the Best Closed-End Funds by Geoff Considine (Article)

Yield-starved investors have ventured into exotic - and often risky - assets, including hedge funds, non-traded REITs and private placements. But an asset class that has been around since 1893 offers a compelling combination of low risk and high income. A carefully selected portfolio of closed-end funds (CEFs) will yield 8% with less volatility than the S&P 500.

2012-07-24 Why We Don't Rebalance by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates

Research makes a compelling case that investors should rebalance their portfolios, yet most investors do not do so. Why not? The answer is less about behavioral mistakes and more about the fact that rational individuals care more about other things than simply maximizing investment returns.

2012-07-22 How 5 Seriously Overworked Buzzwords Can Come Between You and Your Client by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

In my experience, several investing buzzwords have done more harm than good for investors. While they are important concepts, they have been so commoditized by the financial planning industry that their true meaning has been misinterpreted. All the while, Wall Street firms have reaped the benefits by mass-customizing portfolio management. What started as a concerted effort to help investors has been reduced to a marketing pitch and investors keep falling for it.

2012-07-20 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Declines by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped to 121.9 from last week's 122.9, a downward revision from 123.2. See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) rose fractionally, now at -2.3 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through July 13, an improvement over the previous week's -2.7 (a downward revision from -2.2).

2012-07-13 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Improves Yet Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) again rose fractionally, now at 123.2 from last week's 121.9. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) rose fractionally, now at -2.2 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through July 6, an improvement over the previous week's -2.8 (a slight upward revision from -2.9).

2012-07-10 The Plight of the Conservative Retiree by Michael Nairne (Article)

Today's extraordinarily low rates on top of a lower equity premium leave conservative retirees with the risk of heightened capital depletion as poorer portfolio returns may be inadequate to offset the combined impact of withdrawals and inflation.

2012-07-10 The Disruptive Rainmaker by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We brought a new advisor into our firm two years ago - a rainmaker. In the beginning he added a lot of value and we were excited to have him. Lately he has been disruptive - boldly and publicly questioning some of the decisions my partners and I have made. Should I put up with the behavior?

2012-07-06 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Again Improves by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Click to viewThe Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) again rose fractionally, now at 121.9 from last week's 121.7 (which was a slight upward revision from 121.5). See the WLI chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) rose fractionally, now at -2.9 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through June 29, an improvement over the previous week's -3.6.

2012-07-05 Math, History and Psychology - Part 2 by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Last week we wrote about the math of common stock investing and the effectiveness of mathematical discipline to portfolio management. This week we will focus on history and the importance of that academic discipline to us as common stock portfolio managers here at Smead Capital Management (SCM).

2012-06-29 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Up Fractionally by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Click to viewThe Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose fractionally to 121.5 from last week's 121.2 (a slight downward revision from 121.3). See the chart below. However, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) declined fractionally, now at -3.6 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through June 22, down from the previous week's -3.5.

2012-06-25 Perspective; or where you stand is a function of where you sit! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

Perspective is the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance. And last Thursday the stock markets perspective changed abruptly. The day started out well enough with an opening 20-point pop to the upside, but from there the Dow Dive commenced. The causa proxima for the dive was more softening economic reports from China and Germany followed by a lame Philly Fed report, which saw that index accelerate its swoon from Mays -5.8 reading to -16.6.

2012-06-22 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Slips Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) slipped to 121.3 from last week's 121.8 (a slight downward revision from 121.9). See the chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) also declined, now at -3.5 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through June 15, down from the previous week's -3.0.

2012-06-15 ECRI Recession Call: Weekly Leading Index Up Slightly, But Growth Index Declines by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose fractionally to 121.9 from last week's 121.3 (a downward revision from 122.3). See the chart below. However, the WLI growth indicator (WLIg) slipped, now at -3.0 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through June 8, down from the previous week's -2.2 (a sizable downward revision from -0.7).

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

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

2012-06-08 ECRI Recession Call Update: Weekly Leading Index Declines Further by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) dropped to 121.6 from last week's 122.3 (a downward revision from 122.4). See the chart below. The WLI growth indicator (WLIg) also slipped, now at -2.0 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through June 1, down from the previous week's -0.7 (a downward revision from -0.6). The ECRI numbers are extremely close to the RecessionAlert estimates, posted yesterday, which anticipated 121.9 and -1.9% for the WLI and WLIg metrics.

2012-06-05 Finding the Best Dividend Fund by Geoff Considine (Article)

Assets are flowing into dividend-stock funds. But many experts are warning that those investors are setting themselves up for significant losses. Using an objective methodology that assesses tradeoff between yield and risk, we can determine those funds that investors should prefer - and a few they should avoid.

2012-06-02 ECRI Recession Call Update: Another Weekly Leading Index Decline by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) dropped to 122.4 from last week's 123.0 (a slight downward revision of 123.1). The WLI growth indicator also slipped, now at -0.6 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through May 25, down from the previous week's 0.1. The latest data release to the general public continues to command focus in the wake of Lakshman Achuthan repeated reaffirmation of ECRI's recession call in live interviews around the major business networks on May 9th.

2012-05-31 Institutionalizing Courage by Robert Arnott of Research Affiliates

Most investors measure wealth in terms of the value of their portfolio. We believe it is better to measure wealth in terms of the portfolios ability to support sustainable spending. This months Fundamentals explores why this approach requires courage.

2012-05-26 ECRI Recession Call Update: Weekly Leading Index Declines Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) dropped to 123.1 from a slight downward revision of 124.4 (see the fifth chart below). The WLI growth indicator also slipped, now at 0.1 as reported in Friday's public release of the data through May 18, down from the previous week's 0.4. The latest data release to the general public continues to command focus in the wake of Lakshman Achuthan repeated reaffirmation of ECRI's recession call in live interviews around the major business networks on May 9th.

2012-05-24 Why Invest in Asian Credit? by Showbhik Kalra of PIMCO

Asian sovereign and corporate credit offer more attractive yields than a number of other global fixed income sectors as investors take on additional risk. Given Asian markets diversity and the global macroeconomic environment, investors may wish to consider investment managers with a strong global macro process coupled with strong relationships with local stakeholders and experience in local portfolio management and markets.

2012-05-24 Measuring Active Management: The Basics of Active Share and Tracking Error by Team of American Century Investments

Every investor needs to understand the basics of portfolio management. In a broad sense, portfolio management can be divided into actively managed and passively managed categories. Although we describe both approaches at the outset, we fasten our attention on active portfolio management in this piece. Specifically, we focus on the Active Share and Tracking Error approaches to measuring active management in equities. The goal is to further develop an appreciation for the multi-faceted complexion of active portfolio management.

2012-05-21 Global Shipping: Any Port in a Storm? by Sai Devabhaktuni and Gregory Kennedy of PIMCO

With the exception of LNG tankers, all three major shipping categories have been suffering from a supply glut. This, combined with higher fuel costs, has led many shipping companies into financial distress. Although banks have worked with ship owners through this down cycle, they have also pulled back from financing the industry. We believe downside risks are likely minimized in the shipping industry for new lenders and investors. Vessel values are depressed by rates that are sometimes below owners' operating costs and by an oversupplied market that suppresses secondary market values.

2012-05-17 Our Fixed Income Insights on Yield Traps by Team of American Century Investments

From a fixed income perspective, we explain why aggressive yield-enhancing strategiesresulting from this extended period of historically low U.S. interest rates and yieldscan threaten the potentially valuable long-term portfolio benefits from holding fixed income positions. In particular, chasing yieldand stumbling into yield trapscan derail the important volatility reduction and diversification benefits offered by carefully selected and well-managed fixed income holdings.

2012-05-16 Quarterly Review: 1st Quarter 2012 by Robert L. Worthington of Hatteras Funds

Overall economic conditions are slowly improving in certain developed markets like the U.S. This could result in decent and probably better than expected earnings results for Q1 2012, which of course are announced throughout the early-mid part of the coming quarter. Risks are still prevalent and meaningful in regards to the European debt crisis and may continue to mute economic activity for this part of the world. Finally, while evidence suggests that the major developing economies of China, India and Brazil are slowing, risk of hard landings in these countries is small.

2012-05-16 Core Alternatives Fund Quarterly Review by Josh Parrott of Hatteras Funds

A balanced position seems prudent given liquidity is slowing, credit spreads have tightened considerably and equity valuations have jumped. The destabilizing market force of deleveraging still exists and many economist have predicted that the coming months might produce some drawbacks in the markets like last summer, but also new entry points for growth areas such as Emerging Markets, Technology, Mortgage Backed Securities and possibly European distressed debt.

2012-05-14 Adaptive Asset Allocation: A True Revolution in Portfolio Management by Adam Butler and Mike Philbrick of Butler, Philbrick, Gordillo & Associates

Modern Portfolio Theory has been derided by practitioners, academics, and the media over the past ten years because the dominant application of the theory, Strategic Asset Allocation, has delivered poor performance and high volatility since the millennial technology crash. Strategic Asset Allocation probably deserves the negative press it receives, but the mathematical identity described by Markowitz in his 1967 paper is axiomatic in the same way Pythagoras' equations describe the properties of right triangles, or Schrodinger's equations describe the positional probabilities of electrons.

2012-05-11 ECRI Update: Reaffirming the Recession Call ... Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 0.1 as reported in todays public release of the data through May 4. This is essentially unchanged from last week. However, the underlying WLI again rose fractionally from an adjusted 124.6 to 125.4 (see the fourth chart below). The big news this week, however, is not the weekly data update but ECRI's latest reaffirmation of its recession call in a Bloomberg interview with ECRIs Lakshman Achuthan earlier this week. Ive embedded a link to the nine-minute video on the Bloomberg website.

2012-05-10 Benchmarking Tail Risk Management by Vineer Bhansali of PIMCO

While tail risk hedging is a critically important area of modern portfolio management practice, the relative newness of the area means standard frameworks for benchmarking such portfolios have not developed. In fact, weve found that once the framework for proper tail hedge construction is defined based on key guidelines (including exposures, attachment, cost, and basis risk), the task of creating a proper index becomes relatively straightforward. To compensate for insufficient real-time performance measurement, tail hedges need to be evaluated on the basis of scenario analysis.

2012-05-04 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator: Third Consecutive Decline by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 0.0 as reported in today's public release of the data through April 27. This is the third consecutive week-over-week decline since January 6th. However, the underlying WLI again rose fractionally from an adjusted 124.0 to 124.7.

2012-05-03 How Big is Almost? by Andrew J. Redleaf, Blaise Morton, an Richard Vigilante of Whitebox Advisors

For decades the fondest wish of the finance professoriate has been to prove that money managers who believe they earn alpha are kidding themselves and their customers. The latest attempt, titled Active Portfolio Management and Positive Alphas: Fact or Fantasy? is the work of Cornells Robert A. Jarrow, a prestigious name in mathematical finance. Jarrow, based on some previous work with Philip Protter, sets out to prove that the source of all (or nearly all) alpha must be a true arbitrage. Since true arbitrage is vanishingly rare, he then argues alpha must be as well.

2012-05-03 Rethinking Best Practices for Bank Investment Portfolios by Sabrina Callin and Justin Ayre of PIMCO

The turmoil in capital markets and changes in the regulatory environment have sparked changes in bank investment portfolios and caused many banks to reevaluate portfolio management practices. Banks without the resources to develop new processes may be forced to limit their investment opportunity set, possibly limiting earnings and diversification potential in the securities portfolio. The investment portfolio may represent an opportunity to improve bank revenues and risk-adjusted performance by expanding into investments with improved return and diversification potential.

2012-05-02 Its Good To Be The King by Chris Richey of Neosho Capital

The sovereign Greek debt default will ultimately lead to a sovereign Spanish debt default, and thus we tell you why sovereign debt should not be viewed as risk-free.

2012-05-01 Making the Right Wager on Client Longevity by Manish Malhotra (Article)

Using annuities to fund retirement is anathema to most advisors, who view the loss of control over one's capital and impossibility of a bequest as nonstarters for their clients. But as clients reach the later stages of their retirement, those arguments no longer apply. A single-premium immediate annuity is superior to a TIPS ladder or a systematic-withdrawal portfolio for funding the last phase of retirement.

2012-05-01 Why MLPs Belong in Your Portfolio by Geoff Considine (Article)

One would think that an asset class yielding 7% and carrying less volatility than do equities would be popular with investors. Yet, despite those attributes, master limited partnerships (MLPs) remain unknown or ignored by large numbers of investors. The case for MLPs is compelling, so it's time for a deep examination of the special properties of this asset class.

2012-04-27 Managed Futures and Macro: Q1 2012 Market Commentary by Jon Sundt of Altegris Investments

With Eurozone concerns receding and the macroeconomic picture showing strength, the market outlook at the end of Q1 is notably brighter than at the end of last year. Reduced correlations, lower volatility and the prospect of less government intervention have led some players to hope for a return to a new old period in which fundamentals drive the markets. If that theme does indeed prove to be sustainable, we expect that: a) more managed futures managers, would profit from stronger trends; and b) more circumspect global macro managers may take advantage of increasingly bullish positioning.

2012-04-27 Happy (Third) Anniversary: Now What? by Jon Quigley of Advanced Investment Partners

During the trading day on March 6th, 2009, the S&P 500 Index hit its intraday bottom of 666.79. In the ensuing three years the Index has advanced over 100%. Along the way, weve witnessed the collapse of some of the older and more hallowed names in the financial industry buh-bye Lehman Brothers, so long Merrill), endured the most severe recession in at least 25 years, suffered through incredible spates of market volatility, and gathered a few gray hairs (or lost some hair) along the way.

2012-04-27 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator: The Growth Index Slips Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 0.6 as reported in today's public release of the data through April 20. This is the second consecutive week-over-week decline since January 6th. However, the underlying WLI rose fractionally from an adjusted 123.8 to 124.1.

2012-04-20 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator: The Growth Index Slip by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 1.2 as reported in today's public release of the data through April 13. This is the first week-over-week decline since January 6th, over three months ago. The underlying WLI contracted more dramatically from an adjusted 125.9 to 123.9 (see the fourth chart below). This is the largest decline, in percentage terms, since August 19th of last year.

2012-04-19 Current Conditions Cater to Our Rigorous Muni Investment Process by Team of American Century Investments

The last four years have been a remarkable period in municipal bond (muni) market history. The 2008 Financial Crisis and the Great Recession transformed the high-grade U.S. muni market and how people invest in it. What was once a relatively homogenous bond sector in terms of its credit quality and ratings became much more heterogeneous. Under these conditions, we believe experienced professional credit research and portfolio management are now crucial to investment success. This article outlines our muni investment processes.

2012-04-19 New Breed of Managed Futures Funds May Offer Downside Protection...and Upside Opportunity by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors

The search is on for strategies and portfolio managers that can generate return streams uncorrelated to traditional equities and fixed income. Whether it's due to the low return and high volatility equity markets of 2011 or the historically low government bond yields that persist even today, investors are scratching their heads wondering where to turn. A variety of alternative investment styles are available, many of which take an absolute return approach and aim to generate low market correlation, or at least, relatively low correlation to the broad equity markets.

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

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

2012-04-17 The Elusive Equilibrium: How Financial Markets Shape Global Rebalancing by Ramin Toloui of PIMCO

The mental and organizational infrastructure in the asset management industry has been built for a world with a sharp dichotomy between developed countries and emerging markets. Effective portfolio management requires an integrated approach that eschews the traditional dichotomy between developed and emerging markets. Emerging markets account for about 36% of global output and 68% of global GDP growth, but only represent about 4% of the equity portfolios of U.S. investors. We believe the representation in bond portfolios is even lower.

2012-04-13 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator: The Growth Index Continues to Improve by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 1.4 as reported in today's public release of the data through April 6. This is the thirteenth consecutive week of improving data for the Growth Index and the highest reading since August 5th of last year. However, underlying WLI contracted slightly, decreasing from an adjusted 126.3 to 125.7

2012-04-12 Diversification 201: Implications of Diversification for Investor Behavior by Team of American Century Investments

Here we look at diversification as a tool to address many classic failings identified by the science of behavioral finance. Earlier we explained the rationale behind diversification and how it can be used for structuring a portfolio to help manage risk and maximize risk-adjusted performance. We also provided an Intro to Alternatives meant to highlight the types of strategies that can be used to diversify a traditional portfolio. In future months well address such topics as diversification in a post-Financial Crisis world, and what types of diversification strategies make the most sense.

2012-04-12 Evolution, Impact and Limitations of Unusual Central Bank Policy Activism by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

I will speak in a central bank and to central bankers about the role of their institutions particularly the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank in todays highly complex, perplexing and historically unusual policymaking environment. I will go further and try to link actions to motivations. And, when it comes to implications, I will attempt to put forward questions and hypotheses that, I believe, are critical for the future of the U.S. and global economies but for which I, like others, have only partial answers.

2012-04-06 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator Growth Is Now Positive by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 1.0 as reported in today's public release of the data through March 30. This is the twelfth consecutive week of improving data for the Growth Index and the first postive reading since August 12th of last year. The underlying WLI also improved, increasing from an adjusted 125.8 to 126.5 (see the fourth chart below).

2012-04-03 Gassed Up but No Place to Go by Geoff Considine, PhD (Article)

When a great investor points to a vastly underpriced asset, a natural first reaction is to devise the best strategy for buying it. Sometimes, however, the impediments to that strategy prove too great, something anyone will soon discover who listens to Jeremy Grantham's assertion that 'everyone who has a brain should be thinking of how to make money' long-term on natural gas.

2012-04-02 Bond Investors Beware: Quicksand Ahead by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

There is a potential danger out there lurking for bond investors who are anxious for interest rates to increase. That danger for these yield-seekers is getting stuck in a bond mutual fund that might never deliver an investor the opportunity to realize the return of their capital. Bond mutual funds have been the beneficiary of a huge outflow of funds from the equity markets in 2011. The trend continued through the first quarter of 2012 even as equity markets turned in one of the best quarterly performances in a decade.

2012-03-30 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator Is Poised for Growth by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 0.0, the pivot point between growth and contraction, as reported in today's public release of the data through March 23rd. This is the eleventh consecutive week of improving data for the Growth Index and the highest level since August 12th of last year. The underlying WLI also improved, increasing from an adjusted 125.4 to 125.9 (see the fourth chart below).

2012-03-23 ECRI Indicators Improve, But Beware the ''Yo-Yo Years'' by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) came in at -0.4 in today's public release of the data through March 16th. This is the tenth consecutive week of improvement (less negative) data for the Growth Index and the highest level (i.e., least negative) since August 12th of last year. The underlying WLI also improved, increasing from an adjusted 125.0 to 125.7 (see the fourth chart below).

2012-03-22 Explaining the Stir over Recent Fed-Speak by Team of American Century Investments

The official statement from the Federal Reserves March 13 interest rate policy committee meeting was relatively ho-hum (no significant changes from Januarys statement), but other recent Fed communications have raised more of a stir. In particular, we explain what fiscal cliff and sterilized QE mean, and help put them into context. Its all part of a mixed, uncertain economic outlook in which slower mid-year growth, like last year, cant be ruled out, but higher inflation by next year is also a possibility.

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

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

2012-03-19 Andrew Balls Discusses PIMCO's European Cyclical Outlook by Andrew Balls of PIMCO

The ECBs intervention has helped the European system undergo a slower and more orderly deleveraging process but it does not deal with the twin underlying problems of too little growth and too much debt in the countries at the center of the crisis. The eurozone faces a daunting set of challenges, including technical and economic challenges but highest on the list are politics and coordination. Greeces potential exit from the eurozone remains a significant risk and one that could lead to contagion across the eurozone as investors reassess the potential currency risk.

2012-03-16 ECRI Reaffirms Its Recession Call with New Analysis by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The WLI growth indicator of the ECRI came in at -1.4 in today's public release of the data through Mar. 9th. This is the 9th consecutive week of improvement data for the Growth Index and the highest level since Aug. 5th of last year. The underlying WLI also improved, increasing from an adjusted 124.6 to 125.1. The big news this week is the ECRI commentary: Why Our Recession Call Stands. The most interesting revelation in the commentary involved a shift to the year-over-year WLI change from ECRI's favored, and rather arcane, method of calculating the WLI growth series from the underlying WLI.

2012-03-12 Unlocking Concentration Risk by Nick Reilly, Mark Bennett, and David Templeton of HORAN Capital Advisors

We contend the best time to seek portfolio protection is when its cheapest. This would be comparative to purchasing life insurance when premiums are least expensive. Similarly, one should evaluate stock concentration risk when markets are positive and sentiment is good. The intent of this report is to outline the challenges associated with concentrated holdings and to introduce potential solutions to help reduce the risks associated with such holdings.

2012-03-09 ECRI's Weekly Leading Index Improves (Slightly) Yet Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) came in at -2.6 in today's public release of the data through March 9th. This is the eighth consecutive week of improvement (less negative) data for the Growth Index and the highest level (i.e., least negative) since August 19th of last year. The underlying WLI also improved, increasing from an adjusted 124.1 to 124.3 (see the third chart below). Here again is a recent media appearance by Lakshman Achuthan, the Co-founder of ECRI, defending ECRI's recession call on with CNNMoney.

2012-03-02 ECRI Continues to Defend its Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) came in at -3.0 in today's public release of the data through February 24th. This is the seventh consecutive week of improvement (less negative) data for the Growth Index and the highest level (i.e., least negative) since August 19th of last year. The underlying WLI also improved, incresing from an adjusted 123.1 to 124.2 (see the third chart below).

2012-02-28 Fun, Fun, Fun by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

There have now been 37 trading sessions in 2012 and so far the S&P 500 has yet to experience a 1% Downside Day. This 37-session skein has occurred 11 other times in the past 84 years and has on every occasion except one seen the equity markets higher by the end of the year. Still, the rise since the buying stampede ended, which stopped on January 26, 2012 at Dow 12841.95, has felt unnatural to me. Surprisingly, the Industrials reside only 141 points above their intraday high of January 26th, causing one market maven to exclaim, no wonder I feel like were in the Trading Twilight Zone.

2012-02-27 Game Changer by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

In addition to strong secular tailwinds supporting the energy sector, highly expansionary global monetary policies from many central banks are adding cyclical support to globally traded commodities like oil. In the U.S. energy sector, we believe that onshore natural gas shale and oil shale developments are creating opportunities to invest in energy companies that may grow significantly faster than the overall U.S. economy.

2012-02-24 ECRI Defends its Recession Call by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) came in at -3.5 in today's public release of the data through February 10th. This is the sixth consecutive week of improvement (less negative) data for the Growth Index and the highest level (i.e., least negative) since August 26th of last year. However, the underlying WLI decreased fractionally from an adjusted 123.4 to 123.2 (see the third chart below). This is the second week of slippage in the underlying index.

2012-02-23 Muni Outlook Q&A with Portfolio Manager Alan Kruss by Team of American Century Investments

Municipal bonds (munis) are back in the bond market spotlight, but for different reasons than a year ago (when widespread defaults were projected, and muni funds experienced heavy outflows). Muni performance has rebounded strongly since then, which has triggered follow-up questions about the muni market outlook. We posed them to Alan Kruss, Vice President and Municipal Portfolio Manager at American Century Investments.

2012-02-23 PIMCO by Ed Devlin of PIMCO

Given the bimodal nature of the expected distribution of outcomes, it is important for investors to remain nimble so they can respond to high frequency data and global public policy developments. We expect the Bank of Canada to remain in wait-and-see mode until it is clear which way the economy is tipping. In our base case scenario, we estimate Canadian bond market returns in the range of 2%-4%, and if we tip into a virtuous cycle of economic recovery, we anticipate the possibility of negative absolute returns.

2012-02-22 Our Five Year S&P 1500 and Sector Forecast by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Emotions are and will continue to be the drivers of short-term demand for stocks and bonds. At the individual stock level, we believe we can isolate certain human traits which drive this demand. However, at the broader market levels, we believe that the method to judge emotions is more intuitive than quantitative. In other words, it pays to be somewhat of a contrarian and to try not to become a member of the Buy High/Sell Low Club. History of markets can be a helpful guide to understanding the emotions that have driven previous investor buying decisions after major market declines.

2012-02-14 The Dividend Yield Love Affair by Michael Nairne (Article)

Employee share-based compensation is now a significant expense deduction for public companies and hence, is already accounted for on the financial statements. Concerns that options-related stock issuance nullifies the impact of stock buybacks are accordingly overstated. This bolsters the view that you need to look at stock buybacks as an additional form of cash remittance to shareholders and not simply at dividends.

2012-02-07 Jeremy Siegel, Rob Arnott and Other Experts Forecast Equity Returns by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

A forecast of the equity risk premium (ERP) tells you how much to save, how to allocate assets between equities and fixed income, and how much you can consume. Given its great importance, the CFA Institute recently convened a group of top-level academics and practitioners to forecast future ERPs - and to reflect on similar predictions they had made a decade ago.

2012-02-07 Compelling Valuation, or Value Trap? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

Remember all those Negative Nabobs that caused you to panic and sell-out at the August lows? Or, the Bear Boos who told you the undercut low of October 4, 2011 was the start of a whole new leg to the downside? Then there was the Cowering Crowd that insisted the first half of 2012 was going to be terrible. Such rants have left the world profoundly underinvested in U.S. equities. Revenues and earnings are at all-time highs, yet the SPX is ~13.5% below its October 2007 high; indeed, Strange brew trying to get through to you (Cream 1967; Eric Clapton at his finest).

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.

2012-01-27 Adding to Our Pro-Muni Arguments by Team of American Century Investments

Last month, we outlined multiple reasons why investors and investment advisors should consider high-quality muni investments as core fixed income portfolio holdings. In support of owning funds vs. individual securities, we focused primarily on credit-quality issueshow we believe most of the muni market remains fundamentally sound and resilient, but pressured by the economic and fiscal environment. We think this has created a heterogeneous muni market with generally strong credit quality but dotted with potential credit risks and pitfalls in select areas that require professional vigilance.

2012-01-27 Heart of China Bull Beats Strong by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

With rising incomes and increasing urbanization, we believe China is pursuing the American Dream, and the government has shown great determination to build the necessary infrastructure along with a robust urban labor market. On a purchasing power parity basis, Chinas share of world GDP has risen significantly, from around 3 percent in 1985 to a current world share of nearly 16 percent.

2012-01-20 Emerging Consumers Drive Gold Prices: Who Knew? by Amit Bhartia and Matt Seto of GMO

Conventional wisdom has it wrong. The prevailing view is that the rapid rise of gold prices over the past 10 years has been caused by monetary authorities in the developed world debasing their currencies. By this logic, investors in the developed world have hedged debasement risk by pouring money into gold, both in the form of direct purchases and via ETFs. We believe that gold is an emerging markets asset as much as it is a bet against the Fed and that much of the rise in gold prices has been driven by purchases by emerging consumers, who are driven primarily by financial repression.

2012-01-19 Asia-Pacific Portfolio Managers Discuss PIMCOs Cyclical Outlook by Robert Mead, Isaac Meng and Raja Mukherji of PIMCO

We expect emerging Asia growth below the market consensus due to its less aggressive policy responses compared to 2008-2009. The Asia-Pacific region is less affected than others by eurozone turmoil but contagion is still a risk through direct trade and the regional production chains that characterize Asias export-oriented economies. In this environment, we favor Australian government bonds for their high credit quality, low-beta currencies such as the Chinese yuan, corporate issuers that have delevered, covered bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

2012-01-13 Euro Fears by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

Global investing is likely to be very challenging in the year ahead. While the euro has so far been resilient, many eurozone countries face substantive debt refinancing in the coming year. Given the current political, structural, and economic reality there is no simple cure to the euro crisis. The ECBs evolving pursuit of liquidity policies and potential interest rate cuts may be helpful, but major political changes may be necessary. Beyond Europe, the remainder of the global economy may be very dependent on a continuing expansion of the American economy and improving consumer demand.

2012-01-06 Euro Fears by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

The euro crisis has dominated financial headlines and threatened global economic growth for the last two years. The European Union (EU) has repeatedly failed to articulate an effective plan to address Europes debt problems and deteriorating finances. German demands for austerity and economic rectitude by eurozone members, while politically popular in Germany, ignore basic principles of orthodox Keynes-Samuelson macroeconomics for dealing with a financial slump. There is no historical example of austerity leading to growth.

2012-01-06 ChindopiaA Utopia of Sorts by Vivek Tanneeru of Matthews Asia

China, India and Indonesia have a lot in common. They represent three of the four biggest countries in the world by population and have fast-growing economies. All three were relatively unscathed by the global financial crisis and resumed rapid economic growth soon after. But they are also diametrically different in numerous ways. China has a demand deficit and India and Indonesia have supply shortfalls. China, with its low cost of capital and surplus savings, has the exact opposite problem of India and Indonesia, with their high cost of capital and a capital import dependency.

2011-12-29 What IPOs and Buybacks are Telling Us Today About Tomorrow! by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Supply and demand is the basis for technical analysis and for just about every other short-term trading method. The past years volatility of market prices is pretty good evidence on how quickly demand for shares can change. When the call of the day is risk on the market rises. When the call of the day is risk off, the market falls. The rapid change in price also tells us that in the short-term, the supply of shares is fixed. In the long term, the supply of shares will dominate market pricing. Unlike the demand for shares, which can change instantly, supply of shares changes slowly.

2011-12-28 PIMCOs Scott Mather Discusses the Global Implications of the Eurozone Crisis by Scott A. Mather of PIMCO

The ECB does not want to be a bridge to an unsustainable and adverse economic destination. They would rather force politicians to address the critical problems of the currency union now. Greece will continue to have an unsustainable debt load until policymakers can come up with a credible plan to generate economic growth. Ultimately, the eurozone countries and many other developed economies have very similar problems: unsustainably rising debt loads coupled with structurally weak and imbalanced growth.

2011-12-27 The Ten Best Articles You Probably Missed by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Great articles don't always get the readership they deserve. Here are 10 articles that you might have missed, but I believe merit reading.

2011-12-20 Do-It-Yourself Equity-Indexed Annuities by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

Equity indexed annuities offer retirees a compelling combination of guaranteed income and participation in the market’s upside. But EIAs are exceedingly complex and have been the subject of numerous regulatory challenges. For those who seek a simpler alternative with a comparable return profile, a combination of fixed-income securities and options is viable choice.

2011-12-16 'Tis the Season I Doubt You Will Remember by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital

While deep value investors tend to perform well over reasonable time frames, adjusting reported performance for risk poses a substantial problem. Deep value portfolios contain lower-quality, fundamentally riskier assets. Returns ought to be higher to compensate for greater underlying risk. Under conditions of severe economic distress, higher risk levels in value portfolios lead to disastrous investment results.

2011-12-14 The Credit Research Case for Using Muni Funds by Team of American Century Investments

We believe muni market credit quality remains generally high despite continuing changes and challenges, including the demise of the bond insurance industry (which has created a more heterogeneous muni market) and the slow economic recovery, which has put continued pressures on municipal budgets. However, we believe these challenges have made experienced, professional credit analysis more important than ever. One way for investors and advisors to access expert, experienced credit analysis is through the use of established muni mutual funds that have been through multiple market cycles.

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

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

2011-12-13 Asset Allocation and Risk Management in a Bimodal World by Vineer Bhansali of PIMCO

Fat tails and negative skewness in the distribution curve can arise from the mere possibility of multiple equilibriaeven if both individually appear normal. Once markets arrive at a resting place among different equilibria, they tend to become trapped due to a variety of restraining forces. For all these reasons, we believe that the core building blocks of asset allocation and option pricing in the current macroeconomic environment should allow for the possibility of multimodality. This significantly changes the conceptual approach towards portfolio construction and risk management.

2011-12-12 Rethinking Asset Allocation: PIMCOs Strategy for a Changing World by Mohamed A. El-Erian, Vineer Bhansali and Curtis Mewbourne of PIMCO

Alpha generation is a distinct component of the strategy because it is critical to actively seek opportunities in all global markets in this challenging environment. Explicit tail risk hedging is essential to prepare for more frequent significant downturns, both to mitigate their effects and to potentially benefit from them. The strategy is positioned to navigate a world of muted growth in the Western economies, significant market volatility, recurring balance sheet issues and continued income and wealth convergence of the emerging world with the developed world.

2011-12-08 Buying Cyclical Stocks: Wisdom or Inexperience? by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Buying cyclical stocks and emerging markets under the assumption that secular forces in emerging markets will nullify the cyclical nature of sectors like energy; mining and heavy machinery exposes investors to a great deal of risk and shows a lack of understanding. It would be better to wait for 3-5 years of poor performance in these stocks and until earnings have declined quite a bit before you buy. It is just the first monetary easing move after a year of tightening in China. Besides, China could be starting its first real contraction as a quasi-capitalist country.

2011-12-05 The Facts They Dont Want You to Know by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners

Our industry needs a good old fashioned kick up its backside. Far too much mediocrity is rewarded for nothing other than destroying value.

2011-11-30 Seeking income from AAA rated Corporations by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Earning interest from bonds may seem to be the safe approach to seeking income. But consider this: If you took the same $1,280,683.03 invested in the 5 year Treasury note and instead invested $320,200 (plus or minus a few dollars in each of our AAA rated companies), your dividends would be $38,878. Is the possibility of a dividend cut in the next five years so great that the excess cash from the dividends will not equal the amount of interest earned on the Treasury? As an owner of all four of these companies I believe the potential reward is worth the risk.

2011-11-30 Flex 5, a Tactical, Practical Portfolio for Todays Volatile Markets. by Charles Gelineau of PGA Financial

Volatility has increased dramatically and is expected to continue. It is an extraordinary drag on returns due to the disproportionate impact of losses versus gains. Traditional asset allocations are flawed 5 ways. Style-pure funds are inflexible with extreme exposure to systematic risk and no escape hatch.Flexible funds, by design, can go defensive or opportunistic resulting in better odds for attractive capture ratios. Flexible funds is a practical, tactical replacement for traditional allocations. With flexible fund portfolios, advisors can potentially Improve investment returns.

2011-11-29 Playing \'What If?\' with Oil Prices and a Potential Strike on Iranian Nuclear Facilities by Greg E. Sharenow of PIMCO

The impact of a major disruption in the supply of oil from Iran would depend on the IEAs intervention, the duration and the degree to which any attack might be a surprise. The market has less cushion than it did earlier this year due to production outages and relatively strong non-OECD demand, leading to sharp draws on inventories. Excess capacity is virtually exhausted and we doubt other OPEC nations would be able to compensate for a reduction in Iranian oil production. In light of these possible price spikes, investors should evaluate how their portfolios might be affected by inflation.

2011-11-22 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.

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

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

2011-11-07 Should You Really Care if Stocks are Cheap? by Jeffrey Dow Jones of Draco Capital Management

It's almost axiomatic in this business that investors should buy stocks when they're cheap and avoid them when they're expensive. All of us accept this principle without question, even if we're hardcore technical analysts. But let me run you through a few charts that may raise some questions about your blind faith in the Price-to-Earnings multiple, the most popular way of measuring value. What this first chart does is take a snapshot of the market's P/E ratio on January 1, 1900. Then it fast-forwards three years to see how much money you made or lost if you made an investment in the Dow.

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

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

2011-11-01 What, Me Worry? by Scott A. MacKillop (Article)

As we gnash our teeth over the latest crisis du jour let's remember that difficulties do not, ultimately, prevent progress. On the contrary, over my lifetime progress has continued unimpeded despite a more or less constant stream of difficulties.

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

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

2011-10-27 Outlining the U.S. Economys Growth Dichotomy by Team of American Century Investments

David MacEwen describes the growth dichotomy that has developed during the recovery from the Great Recession, and how its restricted the recovery, softened consumer sentiment, influenced the fixed income teams macroeconomic outlook, and shaped some of the teams sector outlooks. One of the key characteristics of the subpar, slow-growth recovery we have experienced since the Great Recession has been the clear divide between the recovery rates of the business and consumer sectors. Businesses have bounced back faster and stronger than the U.S. consumer who buys their goods and services.

2011-10-26 SAP AG - A European Software Giant Worth Owning by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

If you want to achieve above average market returns then you cant just invest in an index fund. For those willing to venture out of those index funds there are three principles you should keep in mind: You will have to accept less diversification than the market; You must recognize that short-term speculative trading normally ends with your money in someone elses pocket; You must be willing to take a contrarian stance against the majority of investors. So what would be considered a contrarian play in todays market? Based on the flow of funds out of common stocks, it is common stocks!

2011-10-19 Thinking Long-Term by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

We will never be able to remove all the news that influences our investment decisions, nor should we. What we can do is recognize that rapid trading and market timing may work in the short-term, but has reduced individual returns over the long-term. We can recognize that markets regress to the mean over long periods of time, but that may be much longer than you have or want. Our approach is an attempt to reconcile the two. We are fully aware that at times, stock and bond prices exceed value and at other times they are well below value.

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.

2011-10-13 Our Fixed Income Macro OutlookFourth Quarter 2011 by Team of American Century Investments

Our economic outlook has become a bit more defensive and cautious, compared with earlier this year. After improvement last year, economic conditions have slowed. In particular, the financial sector has come under renewed pressure from the European sovereign debt crisis and continued housing market stagnation. It remains to be seen if this slowing is transitory or more significant. Both the consumer and business sectors have experienced slowing. But a subpar recovery with headwinds remains our projected most-likely scenario, not a recession.

2011-10-11 The Global ‘Old Normal’ by Michael Nairne (Article)

Amidst a torrent of dismal economic news and plunging stock prices, investment horizons have become increasingly short-sighted. The new normal of faltering growth and painful deleveraging appears to be only too true. However, investors capable of taking a long-term, global view will find forces at work that will likely drive resurgent world growth akin to that which occurred in the decades right after World War II.

2011-09-27 Reexamining Bill Gross' Decision to Sell Treasury Bonds by Geoff Considine (Article)

Bill Gross made headlines in February by asserting that Treasury bonds were not providing enough yield to make them worth the risk and reducing his allocation to zero in the PIMCO Total Return Fund. The subsequent rally forced him to admit his mistake in August, but by then his fund was trailing 90% of its peers and having its worst year since 1995. I will examine Gross' decision in retrospect, to illustrate its tactical and strategic costs and benefits for his shareholders.

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.

2011-09-21 Muni Veterans Discuss Economy, Downgrades and Silver Lining by Joseph Deane and Julie Callahan of PIMCO

Many municipal balance sheets are in reasonably good shape and default rates remain a small fraction of the overall market. The downgrade of Americas AAA rating to AA+ had a knock on effect on municipal bonds. However, we believe of greater consequence to bond issuers, and to the market, is the outcome of federal budget negotiations. We feel essential service revenue bonds tend to have more consistent revenue streams and lower (or no) pension and medical liabilities than general obligation issues.

2011-09-20 Point & Counterpoint: Value vs. Growth by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

The debate over which investment philosophy is best will continue with winners promoting their own style and losers rationalizing their losses. Value vs. Growth. In 1996 the now defunct Mutual Funds Magazine invited me to contribute my thoughts in this ongoing debate in a featured article titled Speaking Out. The case for growth would be argued by John D. Gillespie. Since the debate between Value and Growth has continued to this day I am providing you, word for word, our Point and Counterpoint.

2011-09-08 The Changing Landscape of Global Investing by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

National and global realignments are fundamentally and durably changing the global investment landscape. Investors face the challenge of recalibrating some of the traditional parameters that are key to managing risk and delivering returns. There are also implications for investment management firms which are yet to be sufficiently reflected in the thinking and actions of the industry as a whole.

2011-09-02 Target Fixation by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

When it comes to portfolio management, most professionals are forced to practice target fixation with your money. Their target is normally a predefined index of common stocks or bonds and they are rewarded based on their ability to exceed the returns of their target. This target fixation leads to all kinds of problems. Your manager will invariably take on increasing risk knowing that it is one of the few ways he or she can exceed their target. You or your financial advisor tend to use this outperformance as proof of superior management instead of what it really is, just higher risk.

2011-09-02 The Land of Free Lunches by Team of Broadleaf Partners

Weve recently concluded that the innovation cycle will become paramount to wealth creation in an environment of slow growth and when credit is relatively scarce. The economy and financial markets are fluid and dynamic. While scarce today, banks will eventually start lending again, changing the dynamics of a muted economic cycle. And while innovation is always an investable theme, in an environment where growth is scarce, such scarcity can also lead to situations where select groups of stocks become wildly overvalued as was the case for the Nifty Fifty in the 1970s and technology years ago.

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

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

2011-08-30 Why High-Yield Bonds Make Sense Today by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

None other than Gluskin Sheff's Dave Rosenberg, the widely followed analyst who was been consistently bearish in the current market cycle, said last week that high-yield bonds are 'a good place to be right now.' Recent price declines have made them attractive in the short term, and their risk-adjusted returns make them attractive to longer-term strategic investors.

2011-08-17 The Common Stock Commandments of Claude N. Rosenberg, Jr. by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Through the years of our parents and grandparents markets there were a few voices of reason to help guide them. One of these voices was Claude N. Rosenberg, Jr. whose legacy is kept fresh through RCM, formerly Rosenberg Capital Management, a global asset manager and a company of Allianz Global Investors. Over the years he shared his thoughts with his writings. I have chosen to highlight a few of these ideas that he called his Common Stock Commandments that I consider timeless and can guide you just as he did years ago to your parents and grandparents.

2011-08-16 A Commentary on the Correction by Michael Nairne (Article)

Market corrections are always painful and this one particularly so because of the lingering anxiety from memories of the 2008-2009 market crash. I explore the history of stock market corrections and examines the dynamics of the recent downturn as well as actions that may be warranted, depending on individual circumstances.

2011-08-09 Do You Want Cheap Stocks? Then Take a Look at the S&P 100 by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

For those of you who have been sitting in cash or wanting to add to your portfolio due to the recent market decline placing a few dollars into the S&P 100 at these levels can be accomplished by purchasing an ETF. For those of you who are enterprising investors, then surely you can find a few issues from the bargain list that would meet your needs. The 52 stocks with a P/E of less than 13.3 times earnings include representation in 9 of the 10 major economic sectors of the economy. All are available to build a complete portfolio or increase diversification.

2011-08-03 Converging On The Horizon by Ed Easterling of Crestmont Research of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

By the end of this year, the earnings cycle is likely to be well above its typical thresholds of duration and magnitude. Although earnings could again rise in 2012, the magnitude of excess margins portends a fairly significant decline when the earnings cycle reverts. In addition, the profile of cyclical cycles in the stock market may have also run its course. The market may sustain or extend its gains for 2011 by year-end, but another up-year in 2012 would make history. Not only is duration stretched, but also the magnitude of cumulative gains has now matched the historical average.

2011-08-02 Improving on the Ultimate Income Portfolio by Geoff Considine (Article)

The Ultimate Income Portfolio, which was published in this newsletter July 6 of last year, has delivered the risk-adjusted returns that I projected. Here's a detailed look at how last year's portfolio performed and several ways it can be improved in today's environment.

2011-07-18 Equity Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

As evidence of a global economic slowdown accumulated, the stock market suffered a correction during the second quarter. This is hardly surprising given the market’s strong recovery from the depths of the 2008-2009 financial meltdown. After surging just over 100% from its low in March of 2009 and nearly 30% since August of just last year through the end of the first quarter 2011, the S&P 500 Index needed a breather. The 7% correction that occurred from the April high through the June low looks relatively modest to us in light of how far and how fast the market has rallied.

2011-07-12 Harold Evensky on the New Rules for Wealth Management by Robert Huebscher (Article)

If you don't have a copy of The New Wealth Management on your bookshelf, you should. From gauging the risk tolerance of your clients to measuring the performance of their portfolios, this book provides comprehensive guidance for virtually every aspect of a financial advisory practice. Harold Evensky, the lead author, spoke with me last week and highlighted some key themes in the newly released second edition.

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

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

2011-07-12 A Common Sense approach to Biotech Novartis by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

A common sense approach to finding a winner in biotech is to own shares of a business that can afford the cost of R&D and have access to the brightest minds in the field. Novartis is one that can meet these requirements. In 2010 Novartis net sales exceeded $50 Billion more than all 37 of the profitable Biomed/Genetic companies combined. Their R&D spend last year exceeded $8 Billion, more than the total market value of all but 7 of the 293. Granted, this is not exclusively spent on biotech research, but what they do spend exceeds the budget of all but a few in the biomed/genetics industry.

2011-07-05 The Chinese Black Swan by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

Party rulers in China are trapped in a position that chess players deeply fear - zugzwang - where any move make puts you at disadvantage. In China, the cost of both action and inaction is potential economic collapse.

2011-06-29 ​Attractive Yield Opportunities Remain in Floating Rate Loan Markets by Elizabeth MacLean of PIMCO

We believe the general trend toward more diversified capital structures may be positive for investors in the loan market. Recent changes in loan market investor mix have had and will likely continue to have a positive impact on loan spreads. In addition to price, leverage and other quality measures in new issues also generally remain attractive.

2011-06-28 An Important Challenge to ‘Stocks for the Long Run’ by Geoff Considine (Article)

Jeremy Siegel's dictum - to invest in stocks for the long run - faces a new challenge. A recent paper by Robert Stambaugh, a Wharton colleague, and Lubos Pastor of the University of Chicago says that once you take into account the uncertainty of estimating future returns, stocks are not nearly as attractive to retirement-oriented investors as Siegel has claimed.

2011-06-22 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.

2011-06-08 So The Market Stinks – Just Plug Your Nose and Buy Proctor & Gamble by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

The road to the creation of wealth in the U.S., the greatest economic power the world has ever seen, has been paved by owning and operating a business many years, not a few weeks. When the majority thinks the market stinks and the gamblers have taken a break from the gaming tables, shrewd business buyers jump at the opportunity to gain ownership interest at an attractive price. One such opportunity today is Proctor and Gamble.

2011-06-07 Has the hour of the dividend stock arrived? by Team of Columbia Management

Surveying the present financial landscape-what are investors’ options? Bonds have been enjoying historic popularity. But they are at market highs and come with return and income potential inherently capped by their coupons. Turning to Treasuries, the price-to-yield is particularly unattractive. Then there’s the specter of interest rate risk. The steep rebound of equities off the crisis bottom ended with the arrival of 2010, and double-digit returns for many formerly cheap stocks went with it. Following a period of volatility, we appear to have settled into the slow-growth stage.

2011-06-01 10 Reasons to Think about Munis and Professional Bond Management by Tom Dalpiaz of Advisors Asset Management

Municipal (muni) bonds remain a very workable asset class – one worthy of investment in spite of the recent uncertainty and volatility of the past six months. Properly done, munis can provide dependable, attractive levels of after-tax income with modest expected volatility for conservative investors. Here are 10 reasons to think about munis and professional bond management right now: 1. Munis make sense for top tax bracket investors. 2. Muni bond credit quality challenges are real, but muni bond issuers have the resiliency and tools to help remedy their difficult budget situations. Continued.

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

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

2011-05-20 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Last week, I wrote about a phenomenon in global markets “at the top” as being almost like perpetual motion inertia, constant movement, seemingly ending up static. Why does that exist, and what can we do to enhance its portfolio benefit and to reduce its incumbent risk? I believe that today’s risk derives from overvaluations created from “efficiencies” which magnify profitability, but don’t reflect declining top line revenue or demand.  Indeed, as stock prices have migrated upwards, relative strength quotients within my proprietary measurements have disconnected, instead moving downwards.

2011-05-16 Secular Outlook: Navigating the Multi-Speed World by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

It is a world that heals slowly and unevenly, and remains structurally impaired. Balance sheets, both across and within economies, are still out of equilibrium. We expect advanced economies will face sluggish growth and persistently high unemployment over the secular horizon. Emerging economies will achieve higher growth but face recurrent inflationary concerns. We do not expect policymakers to boldly address structural problems. By targeting negative real interest rates, they will pursue financial repression that undermines the “real return” contract that savers expect.

2011-05-11 Supreme Moment by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Kairos - is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). The world of value investing and portfolio management includes mean reversion and patience. Speculative episodes typically go on for much longer than expected. This fact forces us to take a stand by avoiding overvalued common stocks and owning undervalued shares. Everyone would love to make their adjustments at the “Kairos”. We believe that the greatest existing misallocation of capital in the world today is based on over-confidence in the uninterrupted growth of emerging markets.

2011-05-10 Lessons from the Farm by Michael Nairne (Article)

Farmers know all about droughts. Droughts occur in nearly all climates and impair all types of crops. They are unpredictable, yet are recurring and can last for years. Likewise, performance droughts abound in the world of investing.

2011-05-10 What Return can we Expect from Stocks? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)

What return can we expect from stocks over the long term? This sentence contains four problematic terms: 'return,' 'expect,' 'stocks,' and 'long term.' Intended for the educated laymen, this article considers each in turn.

2011-05-10 Howard Marks on the Human Side of Investing-Q & A by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Howard Marks is widely regarded for his thought-provoking essays on the discipline and process of value investing. He is the chairman and co-founder of California-based Oaktree Capital, and he delivered the keynote address at the Value Investing Congress in Pasadena last week. Here are excerpts from the Q&A.

2011-04-28 Weekly Market Update by Team of American Century Investments

Total returns began looking better for municipal bonds (munis) after mid-January this year as issuance eased and a wave of non-traditional (not tax-exempt income-seeking) buyers entered the market in pursuit of relative value and return opportunities provided by falling muni prices and rising yields compared with those of Treasuries. But the rewards from that influx of demand have not been uniform across the muni market, the non-traditional “crossover” buyers have targeted some segments much more than others, creating a divided market that has rewarded some investors at the expense of others.

2011-04-26 When is a Fiduciary not a Fiduciary? by Jeffrey Briskin (Article)

You would think every investment professional who claims to be acting in a fiduciary capacity for his or her clients understands exactly what that entails. But the results of a recent survey of brokers and RIAs indicates that many apply their own personal 'fiduciary litmus test' when determining where these responsibilities start and end.

2011-04-21 In Tough Times, Remember All That Bonds Can Do by Tom Dalpiaz of Advisors Asset Management

These are tough times for bond investors. It’s not surprising that higher inflation and rising rates are becoming more of a focus. Economic growth continues to accumulate and oil and commodity prices are rising. Labor markets are showing some improvement and anticipation is growing concerning the eventual end of easy monetary policy. In times such as these, we typically see investors wring their hands about the comparatively meager total returns they expect from bonds going forward. This concern may cause them to inappropriately reduce their exposure to bonds or even abandon them altogether.

2011-04-18 Letters to the Internal Revenue Service by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

On April 8th our elected representatives reached a compromise to keep our federal government’s doors open. It was hailed a victory, yet we all know that this cutback (39 Billion) does nothing to alleviate the government’s need to borrow $6 Billion every working day. Every decision Congress has made concerning your money, since the beginning of this great country, has been a struggle. None of us enjoy paying taxes, yet we know it is necessary. We have deferred the decision on who will pay and who will receive, to Congress. We can only be thankful that the fight is taking place out in the open.

2011-04-11 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Every Year, every new calendar quarter in fact, brings a heightened sense of anticipation about market performance. In its proper perspective, we have a unique demarcation that allows us both to look back and to look forward. Whether we are “licking our wounds” from a beating we took previously, or rebalancing our assets and expectations for future success, investing is by its nature a regenerative endeavor, always filled with hope. That is why I find it almost comical that day-traders, hedge fund managers and strategists calibrate their successes, or failures, by the minute, day, or month.

2011-04-09 Risk 3.0 Investment Solutions for the New Market Realities by Mitchell Eichen and John Longo of The MDE Group

In spite of the stock market rebound from its March 2009 lows, the 2007-2009 bear market still looms large. Investors have lost faith in the conventional methods of portfolio management. Investor confidence was not merely shaken, but shattered. Risk was either improperly measured, or considered a distant second to return. In this paper, we introduce a new approach to portfolio management that builds upon prior work. The main contribution is that specific kinds of risk are explicitly considered. The portfolio is then optimized, using human judgment, for the current market outlook.

2011-03-30 Andrew Balls Discusses PIMCO’s European Cyclical Outlook by Andrew Balls of PIMCO

Europe’s outlook hinges on limiting contagion from the most troubled peripheral countries. The European Central Bank has signaled its intentions to start tightening, which could complicate the outlook for the more distressed countries. We think the Bank of England will begin to tighten rates over the summer. The UK outlook depends on the impact of fiscal tightening.

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

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

2011-03-18 The Southern Classic IRC, A Reason for Ben Graham to Smile & Can Share Prices Diverge from Value? by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

The belief that share prices can at times diverge from underlying business value is the driving force behind security analysis as practiced by active investment managers. My example is not to lay out a case to buy or sell shares of IBM. Instead, it is to look at the value the market has placed on IBM over many years and let you decide if the price has diverged from the value of IBM as a business. To be fair, and to honor the many professional investors and students of investing who do not believe in active management, I at least need to give you their beliefs.

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

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

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

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

2011-03-07 The Philosophy of Tops by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

This week I am celebrating the two-year anniversary of the stock market's bottom by attending our institutional conference where more than 300 companies will be presenting to nearly 600 portfolio managers. It's a great conference, as well as an appropriate time to reflect on the past 24 months. Recall, the bottoming process began on October 10, 2008 when 93% of the stocks traded on the NYSE recorded new annual low prices. It was then I declared, "The bottoming process has begun."

2011-03-04 Are Emerging Markets Still by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors

Political unrest in Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere in the Middle East, along with surging food prices around the world, has provided fresh reminders of the inherent risks of investing in emerging markets. Indeed, while the U.S. stock market has been inching steadily upward in recent months, emerging markets have been struggling. Year-to-date through February 28, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index is down -3.79%, while the S&P 500 Total Return Index has gained 5.88%.

2011-02-24 Our Five Year S&P 1500 and Sector Forecast by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

We believe that predicting short term swings in the market is an exercise in humility. Longer-term market predictions have value, but they should be based on a form of valuation methodology of the underlying securities that make up the market of choice. A consideration of the current mood of the market participants should also be included in that short term prices are driven by emotions.

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

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

2011-02-15 Toward an Understanding of Risk by Robert Huebscher (Article)

How should clients think about risk in their portfolios? Advisor Perspectives put that question to a cross-section of prominent advisors and academics. Their answers encompassed diverse opinions and underscored how crucial that question is to the investment process.

2011-02-08 Optimizing Your Fixed Income Allocation by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

Here's a little-known fact: The traditional 60/40 portfolio, when using the aggregate-bond index for its fixed-income allocation, has a 99% correlation to the returns of the S&P 500. One way to overcome the limited diversification value offered by the aggregate index is to use a risk-parity approach. In this article, I explore the concept of risk parity in asset allocation and how it provides value for portfolio management.

2011-02-01 Into the Great Wide Open by Whitney George of The Royce Funds

Overall, our outlook is fairly positive. Corrections in the 10% or greater range should create opportunities for us on a global scale. We think that returns will remain positive and that volatility will remain a presence which we seek to use to our advantage in the months and years ahead.

2011-02-01 Fourth Quarter Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital Management

In spite of Bernanke’s objective to put a floor on asset prices, including equities, we remain conservatively positioned. Equity and credit markets appear overvalued. In addition, with the U.S. and most developed-market economies significantly more leveraged than in the last 50 years, economic growth will likely be more volatile. Further, many potential exogenous forces could negatively influence public markets: over-leveraged municipalities, the PIIGS, and continued issues in the US housing market to name a few. Finally, there is no evidence that monetary policy can create real growth.

2011-01-24 Weapons of Mass Poverty by Mark Elliott of Elliott Asset Management

Modern financial management dogmas may be fundamentally, terminally, and irreparably flawed – and may be key ingredients in modern asset bubbles. I believe what could be the most serious catastrophe to face retirees and other investors since The Great Depression may be currently underway and, as in past recent financial catastrophes, most investors and financial “professionals” will fail to act – despite what appears to be clear writing on the wall.

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.

2011-01-11 What's Past is Prologue by Michael Nairne (Article)

With nearly two centuries of stock market performance history now available, investors should be well-armed intellectually to deal with the vicissitudes of equity investing. Many, however, are not. I explore this history and what it means for future performance.

2010-12-27 Lessons by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

Lessons, I’ve learned a few over my 40 years in this business: A fool and his money are soon parted. There is no free lunch. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Spend interest, never principal. You cannot eat relative performance. Don’t be afraid to take a loss. Watch out for fads. Act. Take the long view. Remember the value of common sense.

2010-12-14 US More Likely to Learn From (Than Repeat) Japan's Mistakes by Bob Doll (Article)

In this report, Bob Doll, BlackRock's Chief Equity Strategist for Fundamental Equities and head of the US Large Cap Series equity team, homes in on some of the most striking points of comparison between the two countries' situations and experiences to support the contention that the United States will avoid Japan's fate.

2010-12-06 The Dangers of Rebalancing by Michael Edesess (Article)

Every portfolio should be rebalanced to its targeted asset allocation, we are taught. Indeed, there may be no other precept as routinely and studiously practiced among financial advisors. But does rebalancing either increase expected return or reduce risk? If so, why? The answers to those questions reveal that it may be prudent to rebalance, but not for the reasons you think.

2010-12-06 Real Return Expectations by Michael Nairne (Article)

There is nothing more important to long-term investors than the real rate-of-return that they can reasonably expect to earn on their investments. We forecast the expected real annual return for US stocks over the next 10 years and then set out ways to potentially improve on what many will find to be a discouragingly low expected return.

2010-11-30 QE2: Beware the Perils of its Success by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

QE2 is like a drug prescription that comes with a list of side effects that are often worse than the disease it was supposed to cure. It is difficult to know the unintended consequences of QE2, but it may result in a substantial decline in the dollar, stagflation, lower economic growth and much higher interest rates.

2010-11-30 Bond "Bubble" Fears Overblown by Team of American Century Investments

In this paper, we consider the argument that there is a bond “bubble” in the context of current economic and market conditions. We examine academic literature for commonly accepted characteristics of speculative bubbles, finding little evidence to support the notion that the bond market is currently experiencing a “bubble.”

2010-11-16 A Reading List for 2010: Part 2 by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

Updated for 2010 and in time for the holidays, here is the latest installment of my recommended books. I originally wrote this list in 2008 and again last year. I intend to keep adding to and revising it every year. It contains seven sections: Selling, Think Like an Investor, Behavioral Investing, Economics, Stock Market History, Risk and Books for the Soul. The first three sections were presented last week and the remaining four are presented here.

2010-11-16 Using Buy-Side Analytics to Improve Stock Selections by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)

Buy-side active equity managers regularly "put their money where their mouth is" by ranking and weighting their best stock ideas within their portfolios, and this information can be used to better identify which stocks will deliver superior future performance.

2010-11-09 A Reading List for 2010 by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

Updated for 2010 and in time for the holidays, here is the latest installment of my recommended books. I originally wrote this list in 2008 and again last year. I intend to keep adding to and revising it every year. It contains seven sections: Selling, Think Like an Investor, Behavioral Investing, Economics, Stock Market History, Risk and Books for the Soul. The first three sections are presented below and the remaining four will be presented next week.

2010-11-09 Bogus Numbers by Michael Nairne (Article)

The crux of the difference between the 'cheap' and 'overvalued' market valuation views lies in the selection of earnings numbers, of which there are two basic sets. The broadest traditional measure is 'as reported' earnings which includes all charges except the cumulative impact of accounting changes, discontinued operations and extraordinary items. Is the market cheap by the appropriate measure?

2010-10-26 An Exceptional Resource for Asset Allocation by Michael Edesess (Article)

Roger C. Gibson's fine and exemplary book, Asset Allocation: Balancing Financial Risk, Fourth Edition, shows that character and conscience-based counseling still exist, even in the financial profession. It is still possible for advisors to look out for their clients' long-term interests.

2010-10-13 Perfect Investing by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Global equity markets are doing a poor job of mirroring the fundamentals. The key to equity performance is earnings acceleration. Despite year-over-year improvements from their depths one year ago, real integers are still down from their highs, and are unlikely to show any improvement without marked top-line demand. Du Pasquier is therefore continuing to underweight equity exposure, even as certain individual companies become more attractive from a valuation standpoint.

2010-10-12 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

In this letter to the Editor, a reader responds to our article, The Misguided Promise of 529 Plans, which appeared last week. We were wrong, the reader says, to compare 529 plan performance to the 'market,' and solutions superior to our recommended zero-coupon muni bond strategy are available through actively-managed equity funds.

2010-10-11 Shrugging Off Bad News by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

With more quantitative easing on the way, the risk of another downdraft in housing has been taken off of the table. It has also boosted commodities, which is plainly good for our 'stuff stocks.' Additionally, QE2 should spur more mergers and acquisition activity, increase share repurchases, and lower the U.S. dollar (good for export companies), all of which is positive for the S&P 500.

2010-10-05 The Myopic Bond Market by Michael Nairne (Article)

Many investors seem to believe that today's low bond yields are proof positive that inflation rates will stay low for many years. Michael Nairne assesses how successful the bond market has been in anticipating future inflation and how well bonds have performed historically in low yield environments. Bond strategies today need to reflect our findings.

2010-10-05 A September to Remember by Ron Surz (Article)

In his quarterly market analysis, Ron Surz notes that September has historically been the worst performing month for US stock markets, losing 1% on average over the past 85 years, while the average return in the other 11 months was a positive 1.3%. Not so this September. Surz reviews global market performance and provides his thoughts on peer group analysis and target date funds.

2010-09-28 A Better Alternative - Natural Resource Equities by RS Investments (Article)

Investors look to the commodity market to provide three primary benefits: portfolio diversification, inflation protection, and equity-like returns. However, empirical data shows that over the last decade, shifts in underlying fundamentals have undermined the role which commodities are expected to play in a diversified portfolio, particularly relative to natural resource equities. RS Investments reviews the return streams generated by both commodities and natural resource equities in the context of the benefits expected from each investment option. We thank them for their sponsorship.

2010-09-15 Are High-Quality Firms Also High-Quality Investments? by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

The Standard and Poor's Earnings and Dividend rankings (also known as 'quality rankings') score the financial quality of several thousand U.S. stocks from A+ through D, with data going back to 1956. The better the growth and stability of earnings and dividends, the higher the ranking. A recent study found that low quality dominated high quality in 2009. This has continued into the current year with low-quality continuing to dominate. If this study is accurate, however, then the 'quality cycle' will begin to favor high-quality holdings within a short period of time.

2010-09-10 Municipal Bond Market August 2010 Q&A by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management

In their quarterly commentary, Clinton Investment Management answers questions regarding municipal bond market conditions. As the U.S. economy stabilizes, they argue, higher interest rates will likely follow. That is not to say, however, that investors should avoid fixed income, let alone municipal bonds. As an asset class, fixed income, and tax-exempt bonds in particular, have proven to be a stabilizing force in asset allocations during what has arguably been one of the most challenging three-year periods in financial market history.

2010-09-07 The Free Lunch Illustrated by Michael Nairne (Article)

One of the most remarkable discoveries in modern finance is the ability to improve the expected return of a portfolio while simultaneously reducing its risk. In this guest contribution, which advisors can share with clients, Michael Nairne explains that the proverbial "free lunch" does exist, its exploitation requires a focus not only on the returns and volatility of the assets in the portfolio but on the degree of covariance between those assets.

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

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

2010-08-18 Ten Ways to Improve The Returns on Your Portfolios by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

On May 25, 2010, Dr. Paul Woolley, former head of the International Monetary Fund's investment and borrowing activities and founder of the UK arm of Grantham, Mayo, van Otterloo, laid out 10 policies that if adopted, could increase annual returns after inflation by 25 percent and long-term returns by at least 50 percent. He addressed his comments to the world's biggest public pension and charitable funds. His 10-point manifesto, however, will work just as well for individuals, offering the same, if not greater, potential return benefits to their portfolios.

2010-07-30 Inflation in 2010 and Beyond? Practical Considerations for Institutional Asset Allocation by Michael Katz and Christopher Palazzolo of AQR Capital Management

Traditional institutional portfolios with risk characteristics similar to a 60/40 stocks/bonds allocation are not well-positioned for unexpected inflation. Stocks are not effective inflation hedges, particularly in the short and medium term. Meanwhile, traditional institutional allocations resemble a 'bet' on low inflation. A risk-based approach to strategic asset allocation, however, may generate more balanced performance across both inflationary and deflationary periods.

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

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

2010-07-23 Portfolio Strategy by Bradley Turner of Chess Financial

With most of the globe showing signs of economic recovery, and many developed countries facing heavy debt burdens, it is hard to imagine a future that does not include higher interest rates. Since bond prices move inversely to interest rates, most fixed-income investments will face a headwind sometime in the next few years. If this outlook for bonds is correct, it's likely that stocks will deliver better overall returns over the next 3-5 year market cycle. High-quality stocks offer the best risk-adjusted returns given their reasonable valuations and attractive dividends.

2010-07-20 Beyond The Stars: Improving Active Fund Selection Based On Manager Skill by Michael Ervolini (Article)

After a brief review of known shortcomings of common fund evaluation methodologies, Mike Ervolini introduces a new approach based upon analytics that his firm has developed. Rather than relying on non-predictive metrics such as past performance, his approach looks at investment processes in relation to deeper skills that managers possess regarding buying, selling, and position-sizing.

2010-07-14 The Battle for Investment Survival and Our Five-Year Forecast by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

The S&P 500 has gained 52 percent since the March 2009 lows. Although this seems extraordinary, the current recovery is still slightly less than average compared to historical bear markets. An average recovery would have the markets appreciate more than 25 percent from this level over the next two years. Meanwhile, the potential return on equities over the next five years is just slightly above the normal returns for U.S. stock markets. All of this, combined with low interest rates, suggests that it would seem logical to remain in common stocks.

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.

2010-07-09 Emerging Market GDP Growth: The Past Two Decades, and Our Projections for the Next Decade by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Even with all the problems currently experienced in Japan, Europe, and the U.S., some parts of the world continue to grow vigorously. Guild's focus will be on the countries above which have strong prospects for growth. They will also focus on high-yielding income stocks which earn cash flows from the production of oil, and from gold, which will provide an anchor to windward in the current turbulent economic times. Today's markets will continue to produce those opportunities in the form of price weakness if we remain patient.

2010-07-06 And the Winner Is... by Michael Nairne (Article)

As investors rush into U.S. Treasury bonds in response to a weakening economy that may portend the onset of deflation, this begs the question whether there is a superior deflationary hedge. History can be instructive in this regard, as Michael Nairne explains in this guest contribution.

2010-06-15 Monthly Letter by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

On Friday the Dow Jones Industrial average lost 3.2 percent. The Standard & Poors 500 lost 3.4 percent, while the Nasdaq composite fell 3.6 percent. The reason for the drop was the monthly job report, as issued by the Labor Department, which indicated that only 41,000 out of 431,000 new jobs were created by the private sector. Of course this report brought with it images of an economy in trouble - that the recovery we've all been hoping for has stalled and the future is bleak. Kendall J. Anderson's response as an investor, and his suggestion to you, is to 'seize the day.'

2010-06-10 The 10 Most Likely Contributors to the Next Market Panic by Isbitts of Emerald Asset Advisors

Swings in the collective investment psyche have been particularly dramatic over the past few years. Starting in October 2007, a 55 percent decline in the S&P 500 Stock Index in 18 months was followed by an 80 percent gain over 13 months. Now we find ourselves in the midst of another decline and the accompanying high volatility. The question we must consider now is whether this correction is simply the breeding ground for the next global market panic.

2010-06-08 Three Words to Blow Away Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Every advisor's goal is to build deep relationships with key clients, partly to foster loyalty and increase the assets you have from them, partly to open the door to referrals. One way to do that is to have clients "wowed" by their experience in dealing with you, and Dan Richards says three key words will create that "wow" effect with important clients.

2010-06-01 Municipal Bond Market Insights by Northern Trust Investments (Article)

Not surprisingly, the most profitable investment trends tend to be those with the most staying power. That could be particularly good news for investors in municipal bonds, since structural forces are in place that may make tax-free bonds - and the income they generate - even more valuable in the years to come. Northern Trust provides their secular outlook for municipals, and we thank them for their sponsorship.

2010-05-28 The Real Deal by Michael Nairne of Tacita Capital

Investors will face turbulent markets over the next several years as the world's credit implosion, now mutated into a sovereign debt crisis, plays out. Broad global asset class diversification is essential to riding out this storm. However, in the long run, it is the real economy that matters to equity returns. In today's climate of uncertainty, long-term investors should take heart that the drivers of world GDP growth - labor force growth and productivity increases - remain intact.

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

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

2010-05-18 A Four-Star Manager's Confession by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

If there is one confession that trumps all others for Anderson Griggs as a company, it is this: They only want to own very important, high quality firms. This may not seem to be a dramatic confession, but in the dog-eat-dog world of asset gathering you need to produce a product that fits nicely into one or more categories so that your relative performance can be measured. In addition, in order to produce relative returns in the short term you must include in the portfolio companies that are the current market darlings, independent of any other criteria.

2010-05-07 The Big Picture, the Investment Landscape, and Our Portfolio Strategy by Team of Litman Gregory

Debt reached binge levels during the past decade. Money to reduce the debt will have to come from somewhere, and much of it will come from reduced spending. Spending cuts could produce a sluggish economy, possibly for many years to come. There are some positives that could contribute to a better outcome, however, including continued strength from emerging economies. Domestically, we could see stimulus spending, low rates, and inventory rebuilding create a virtuous circle in which businesses with strong balance sheets add jobs, and consumer and business confidence builds and feeds on itself.

2010-05-01 The Bond Roller Coaster by Michael Nairne of Tacita Capital

The bond market has been characterized by long-term secular cycles. From 1946-1981 yields steadily rose; since 1981 they have steadily declined. The good times for bonds couldn’t last forever. Although some longer-term bond exposure is needed today as a hedge against a deflationary scenario, investors should recognize that in the next year or so the bond roller coaster is about to get underway.

2010-04-26 Fifty Years of Popularity Weighted Indexing by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

For all but a few, fame and favor is fleeting. This holds true for fashion and for stocks. The top of the capitalization index is filled with companies that are at the height of their popularity and, judging by the amount of fallen angels, due for a fall. By contrast, the fundamental index approach, which selects stocks based on economic scale rather than market capitalization, is immune to the way that popularity pushes select stocks' prices - and portfolio weights - into the stratosphere.

2010-04-20 Lessons from Yale’s Endowment Model and the Financial Crisis by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

The Yale endowment's performance during the financial crisis was worse than what would be mathematically expected, but not significantly enough to question the endowment model's tenets. Moreover, Yale's performance and philosophy suggest two very important lessons for advisors and investors- to diversify beyond equities and fixed income, and that some illiquid asset classes can be an important source of alpha.

2010-04-14 Will Inflation Reemerge as a Dominant Force? by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

The current monetary policy of developed nations is to reinvigorate consumer demand through massive monetary stimulus. There is no doubt that this policy will have its intended effect and revitalize the private sector. Increasing demand from the private sector, along with the fiscal demands of new government obligations, however, could easily create a round of inflation where the aggregate demand of government and the private sector will exceed available supply. There is therefore a real possibility that inflation will be higher in the next 10 years relative to the past.

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.

2010-03-23 The Best Books on Passive Investing by Indudeep Chhachhi & Edward R. Wolfe (Article)

Two finance professors, Edward Wolfe and Indu Chhachhi, survey the literature on passive investing and offer their recommendations for authors and books. Whichever side of the active-passive debate you take, these books should be required reading. The evolution through which the literature on passive investing has gone is striking. Early writers started out with a point to prove: that passive investing is the only way to invest that makes sense. Today, the writing in this area has moved beyond "proving a point" to expanding on what is a settled issue.

2010-03-19 The Folly of Peer Group Analysis by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

The global financial crisis has led to a significant remake of the active manager opportunity set, but don’t let the ever-shifting sands of survivorship and backfill biased peer group returns fool you. Indexing is a smart bet. Importantly, if you want to be a “survivor,” remember the biases of peer groups because what may look like a smart active manager “alliance” could turn out to be a vote off the island of investment success…caveat emptor!

2010-03-16 The Trifecta - Okun's Law and Unemployment - Is the Law of Supply & Demand Obsolete? by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Okun's law explains the relationship between unemployment and real output, and calculates the gap between real GDP and potential GDP. Based on current GDP growth forecasts, the law predicts a one-half percentage point decline in unemployment this year and a full-point decline in 2011. Despite very positive returns, however, investors continue to allocate to bonds instead of stocks. The laws of supply and demand tell us that this is unwise.

2010-03-11 Market Comment by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Government stop-and-go policies have fostered an environment of intense volatility for equity markets over the past 12 years. The market has basically been flat for a buy-and-hold investor during this period. While this may make a great case for active portfolio management, chasing performance at this juncture is probably unwise. Housing is the quintessential leading indicator for economic activity, and many realtors still say business is slow. As the Japanese experience shows us, a double-dip recession may come faster than we think.

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

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

2010-03-02 The Elusiveness of Persistence by Michael Nairne (Article)

In this guest contribution, Michael Nairne examines a manager's track record, and highlights the critical question of persistence in performance - whether a manager's past performance is predictive of future performance. Certainly, he says, considering the avalanche of media articles on top winning funds and the endless sales pitches to investors trumpeting "best in class" managers, one would assume that there is some reasonable level of persistence in performance...

2010-02-25 The Institutional Advantage When Buying and Selling Bonds by Josh Gonze of Thornburg Investment Management

Retail investors are at a disadvantage compared to institutional sellers such as mutual funds when selling bonds. An individual must call his broker and request a quote. This quote contains a mark-up for the trade desk and a sales credit for the broker, and may be a low-ball number to begin with. By contrast, an institutional investor enjoys economies of scale, has the expertise to judge the true value of bonds and has numerous methods for completing a sale.

2010-02-25 structured myopia by Tom Brakke of the research puzzle

Structured myopia, the institutionalized focus on a narrow range of sectors, makes no sense for the individual investor or the biggest firm, but it is everywhere. Equity investors rarely pay attention to fixed income markets. Developments in fixed income bond and credit markets often presage changes in equity markets, however, as the recent financial crisis showed.

2010-02-24 Leading Indicators Reflect Positive Trends by Ken Taubes of Pioneer Investment Management

GDP growth forecasts of 3 percent to 4 percent could mean gains in credit and equity markets. Higher growth could lead to quicker tightening by the Fed, however, which could depress bond prices, as well as increase discount rates for equity markets. Corporate credit and equity markets should provide strong opportunities in 2010. While inflation is not a threat in the near term, investors should consider incorporating inflation hedges such as bank loans or multi-sector inflation products as tensions grow between fiscal deficits and monetary policy.

2010-02-12 The Forgotten Benjamin Graham by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs says in his monthly letter that the lessons of security analyst Benjamin Graham still apply today: Judge the risk of holdings independently of market volatility, and balance portfolios evenly between stocks and bonds.

2010-02-09 Transforming Your Business with an Integrated Solution by Marie Swift (Article)

Marie Swift evaluates the various systems and processes that are kicked-off at a typical firm from one of the most common client interactions - an inbound call. Many firms work with disparate software systems and utilize far too many manual tasks - resulting in duplicate data entry and poor customer service. Conversely, Marie evaluates this same scenario utilizing an integrated software and services solution, Tamarac Advisor 9, and finds dramatic gains in efficiency, accuracy and overall firm profitability. We thank Tamarac for their sponsorship.

2010-02-09 China’s Quest for a Shortcut to Greatness by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

The Chinese economy must be getting out of control, because the Chinese government is doing the unthinkable: It is desperately trying to put the brakes on its economy. Author and fund manager Vitaliy Katsenelson looks back at how China got into this trouble and looks forward to China's prospects.

2010-02-05 Discounts and Relative Performance by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

Arnott reviews the methodology behind fundamental indexing. Over the short term, fundamental indices take on much greater exposure in volatile markets to companies which underperformed relative to their economic size. This article explores the performance implications of the difference in relative valuation multiples.

2010-02-02 Who will Pay for the Burlington Acquisition? by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

According to investment manager Vitaliy Katsenelson, Warren Buffett overpaid in Berkshire's acquisition of Burlington Northern. He states, "Though I agree with Buffett's assessment of the Kraft-Cadbury deal, I fear that investors and media are completely ignoring Berkshire's own, $30-billion-plus acquisition of a very cyclical, capital-intensive, not terrifically high-return-on-capital business - Burlington Northern."

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 Diversification Really Does Pay Off by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

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

2010-01-22 Give Bernanke a Break by Michael Nairne of Tacita Capital

In a recent speech, Bernanke pointed out that it was low real long-term rates (i.e. nominal rates less inflation) determined in the bond market that were a major contributor to the housing bubble, not

2010-01-21 Unlocking Potential Through Corporate Governance by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

I cannot stress enough my belief of the strength of the correlation between good governance and good corporate performance. As a result of this connection, we often see stock prices rise as a result o

2010-01-15 Rationalizing with Big Red, Ben Bernanke and Harry Markowitz by Anderson of Anderson Griggs

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

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

2010-01-05 Risk Management through Costless Collars by Geoff Considine (Article)

Nassim Taleb and Zvi Bodie are among those who advocate a wealth management strategy that includes options. Despite their evangelism, though, options are rarely a part of retirement portfolios. The costless collar, a straightforward options strategy, gives investors the upside of an asset class (such as equities) while absolutely limiting the downside risk.

2010-01-05 Perspectives on 2009 and Beyond by Ron Surz (Article)

We are again privileged to provide Ron Surz' award-winning market commentary. Surz examines global performance in Q4, 2009 and the prior decade.

2009-12-17 Good Things Come in Small Packages by Michael Nairne of Tacita Capital

2009-12-15 Investing in Range-bound Markets by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

Vitaliy Katsenelson, a frequent contributor to these pages, reviews his thesis for secular market cycles, why the US markets remain locked in a range-bound state, and what it will take for them to exit from that state.

2009-12-08 Dubai’s Moon Shot by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

Dubai is like NASA; both have proven that anything is possible when you ignore economic costs. As Vitaliy Katsenelson writes, many technological discoveries were made in the process of putting a man on the moon; but the project did have, and was expected to have, a negative return on capital.

2009-12-01 To Roth or not to Roth, That is the Question by David B. Loeper, CIMA, CIMC (Article)

With the new Roth conversion rules about to be lifted next year and a "one-time special offer" available to allow investors to spread the tax bite of conversion over two years, more and more Roth conversion calculators are showing up every day. Be wary, says Dave Loeper of Wealthcare Capital. If you use one of these calculators, don't say he didn't warn you about how misleading the results can be.

2009-11-17 Our Steroidally Challenged Economy by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

Vitaliy Katsenelson writes that the US economy is like a marathon runner who, after suffering an injury, takes steroids in order to return to racing. His performance is fine, but what don't see are the risks, just as our economy is now "steroidally challenged."

2009-10-27 Managing Downside Risk in Retirement Planning by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

Boston University professor Zvi Bodie advocates a retirement investment strategy that offers investors some of the upside potential in equities tempered with downside protection against bear markets and a low-risk inflation hedge via heavy allocation to TIPS. Geoff Considine examines Bodie's strategy and shows that it will work very effectively, including in a bear market like the one just experienced.

2009-09-29 Strategic and Tactical Perspectives on Gold by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

There are good reasons for investors to maintain a long-term strategic allocation to gold, which has clear, positive portfolio benefits (due to low correlation to other asset classes). That said, gold is in an historic run-up in value and has been generating unsustainably high returns. Because of its high price and rising volatility, Geoff Considine argues there is significant tactical risk in gold.

2009-09-29 Taste Testing Investment Style Sausages by Ron Surz (Article)

Equity indexes, like those offered by Russell and S&P are the investment-world equivalent of sausages - chopped up pieces of meat in tightly wrapped packages. Most shoppers buy sausages based on brand name, as do investors when they choose their benchmarks. In this guest contribution, Ron Surz dissects these index sausages and explains the real differences in their ingredients.

2009-09-15 Theoretical Support for the Moving Average Crossover by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)

In this guest contribution, Keith Goddard matches an appropriate descriptive theory about how asset markets work with recently published normative theory using Ted Wong's moving average crossover as an indicator for timing portfolio changes in active portfolio management strategies. He proposes that the theory of "Rational Belief Equilibrium" in asset markets, developed by Stanford professor, Mordecai Kurz, helps to explain why moving average crossovers have demonstrated predictive value in the stock market, and why they might continue to offer predictive value in the future.

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

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

2009-09-08 Infrastructure Investing by Michael D. Underhill (Article)

With global markets improving, liquidity returning to the credit markets, and valuations improving, the infrastructure market looks promising. In this guest contribution, Michael Underhill argues that infrastructure assets,when chosen correctly, can diversify an investor's portfolio because of their low correlation with other asset groups, their consistent returns coupled with lowered levels of risk, and their potential for inflation-linked returns.

2009-09-08 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

We have two letters to the Editor, commenting on our articles about Politics and Fund Mangers and Jim Cramer.

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

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

2009-08-25 Should Investors Hold More Equities Near Retirement? by Ron Surz (Article)

A just-published paper argues that investors should hold more equities as they near retirement, contrary to conventional wisdom and to the glide paths employed by the target date fund industry. Ron Surz examines this research, and argues that the authors of the paper failed to properly consider the risks inherent in such a strategy.

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

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

2009-07-21 The Retirement Portfolio Showdown: Jeremy Siegel v. Zvi Bodie by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

When investing for retirement over long time horizons, advisors can choose from two apparently conflicting approaches. They can follow the advice of Wharton professor Jeremy Siegel, who has steadfastly advocated equity-centric portfolios, most notably in his highly popular book, Stocks for the Long Run. Or they can listen to Boston University professor Zvi Bodie, who says equities are simply too risky over the long term, and the core of a retirement portfolio should be Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS). Geoff Considine's article shows how to resolve this conflict.

2009-07-21 Taking Care of Compliance by William G. Mulligan (Article)

Without technology and automation, compliance will consume valuable time and resources. Even when things go relatively well, important regulatory obligations and requirements often fall through the cracks. William Mulligan of HedgeOP argues that getting the right tools in place doesn't just simplify a firm's regulatory responsibilities; it also sends a strong message to clients that the firm is trustworthy, operationally sound and up-to-date with its fiduciary responsibilities.

2009-07-07 Letters to the Editor Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale by Various (Article)

In the second set of our letters to the Editor, we publish a series of responses to Ted Wong's article last week, Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 2.

2009-06-23 Compelling Evidence That Active Management Really Works by Ken Solow (Article)

The majority of academic studies conclude that active management does not add value for investors. However, a closer look at how many studies were conducted reveals several flaws in their methodology that are not as well-known as the accepted conclusion about active versus passive management. Guest contributor Ken Solow revisits work by two Yale researchers showing the value added through active management.

2009-06-16 High-Yield Bonds A Potential Opportunity for the Risk Tolerant by Northern Trust Investments (Article)

High-yield bonds have recently offered investors historically high spreads relative to Treasury and investment-grade corporate bonds, presenting attractive current income potential in today's low-rate environment. The current recessionary environment also poses a heightened risk of default, underscoring the importance of security selection and intensive analysis of underlying fundamentals. We thank Northern Trust Investments for this contribution and their sponsorship.

2009-06-16 What Separates Great from Ordinary CRM Systems by Gary Kinghorn (Article)

In this guest contribution, Gary Kinghorn of AdviceAmerica says that effective CRM system must be centralized applications where all team members can view, share and update information, such as client tasks, documents, data and portfolios. This ensures everyone has current and accurate information at a glance.

2009-06-02 Helping Advisors Grow by Susan Weiner (Article)

George Tamer, Director of Institutional Sales at TD AMERITRADE Institutional, discusses the innovative strategies advisors are using to add clients and improve profitability. Tamer is also seeing an upturn in merger activities, and describes how advisors looking to buy or sell a firm can best position themselves. We thank them for their sponsorship.

2009-05-19 David Swensen's Ascent by Mebane Faber (Article)

Mebane Faber provides an excerpt from his new book, The Ivy Portfolio, on the ascent of David Swensen and the development of the tools employed to manage Yale's endowment. Faber shows the data Swensen used to determine Yale's aggressive allocation to alternative asset classes.


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